Saturday, September 19, 2009


A fantastic KPC contest, with a FAAAAAAABulous prize!

The 500,000th hit on this site will receive a free, collectible "Munger for Governor!" t-shirt from the 2008 campaign.

So go out there and click like crazy! The current count is in the red box, on the right side, about two screens down.

(Winner has to REALIZE s/he has won, and send me an email with her/his snail mail address, to qualify)

UPDATE: A commenter points to this. Nice.

Also, another commenter notes that the "counter" does not update. Yes, there is a pretty long lag. But all hits are recorded at the Sitemeter website, and so I will have the IP address of the BIG WINNER. All we need is for the winner to send me the physical address, and I'll check to see that the IPs match.

Plus, let's open this up. ANYONE who comes in between 499,997 and 500,003 is a winner. Just check sitemeter to see if you are in the lucky interval, and then claim your FAAABULOUS prize! As the xkcd folks note, the 500,000th person, or any specific number, will likely be some schlep looking for a graphic on "Google Images," and will never even know that s/he qualified!

UPDATE 2: Only about 500 hits away from that FAAABULOUS PRIZE! Just check at Sitemeter

I Hate It When I Don't Know What to Think....

Okay, now what is the deal here? I mean, what is REALLY the deal?

University of North Carolina, with a long history of defending free speech the administration happens to agree with, has axed a student club, Youth for Western Civilization. (What did they axe them? No, I mean "got rid of."). The reason is that the faculty adviser made a joke about defending himself. Here is the News and Observer story, from Saturday morning's paper.

Another story, about the events of last spring. The N&O story about local grumpiness, back in April. Also, an Inside Higher Ed story on l'affaire Tancredo. So, in no particular order, some things that confuse me.

1. Tancredo, and all the other "we hate brown immigrants, but blue-eyed immigrants are good" people, are wrong. I personally think the way to discredit Tancredo is to let him speak, and then quote him verbatim and in context. He is a ham-handed goofball, but the protests at UNC made him look like a martyr.

2. Using violence and intimidation to shut down an invited speaker is bad. It doesn't matter if it is 1964, and the speaker is a civil rights leader, or if it is 2009 and the speaker is Tom Tancredo. (UNC has a sad history of administrative thuggishness on free speech, I should note.) You can't take over a room, pushing and shoving, go up on stage, and break a window, and then say you favor free speech. The kids who shut down Tancredo's speech are thugs and bullies, and the system exonerated them. That's wrong.

3. But....but. What obligations do we have to ensure that a group gets to be a group on campus? Chancellor Holden Thorpe fired the adviser of the UNC group for making a joke about a gun. The "joke" was simply that the guy was good at target practice: "I have a Colt .45, and I know how to use it. I used to be able to hit a quarter at 50 feet seven times out of ten." Wow. I have posted videos of my son and me using guns to shoot targets. Would I lose my job if I worked at UNC?

4. The so-called "joke" was in the context of anonymous flyers posted around campus where the leftist thugs were again threatening violence. (You may say that no violence was threatened. But if the UNC lefties can say that "Western Civilization" is code for "White Supremacist," then I can say, "Go to this prof's house, and here is his address" is code for "physical threat." That's the problem with claiming that there are codes: you can make up stuff you think they meant, instead of what you know they said). And the flyers clearly included the adviser's name, photograph, home address and telephone number with the caption, "Why is your professor supporting white supremacy?" That is an exhortation to go confront the guy. AND THE FLYERS ARE ANONYMOUS.

5. On the other hand...Youth for Western Civilization openly calls itself "right wing." They are completely, totally wrong on immigration, and most other things. They call Obama's speech in Cairo "An Inspiration to Islamic Terrorism." * So, now suppose that they can't find a faculty adviser, and that means that they can't exist as a student group. Is that right? Should the faculty have an implicit veto on which groups students can form, based on ideology? I assume that the left-o storm trooper kids have an easy time finding a faculty adviser for their window-breaking and thuggish censorship of invited speakers. Should we censor student groups based on whether faculty endorse the ideological content of the group's mission?

*I do have to point out one passage in this article. Remember, this was actually published on the YfWC website!

In his speech, Obama goes on: “It was Islam — at places like Al-Azhar — that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment.” Really? Have the monasteries of Europe, the libraries and universities of Byzantium been suddenly replaced by an Islamic madrassa in Egypt? I would hope that the folks in favor of Western Civilization had a little more concept of the history of Western Civilization. Yes, it actually is true that the libraries of Islamic scholars really, really were the sources for much of what we now know of Greek and Roman history, literature, and poetry. Perhaps the author should take a class in Western Civilization?

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Are we crazy"?? "Maybe!!

Bulls Win! Bulls Win!

Durham Bulls win 3rd Gov's Cup (IL AAA World Series) this decade. Yippee!

Glen Beck: Libertarian?

"Beck is 45, tireless, funny, self-deprecating, a recovering alcoholic, a convert to Mormonism, a libertarian and living with ADHD. He is a gifted storyteller with a knack for stitching seemingly unrelated data points into
possible conspiracies - IF he believed in conspiracies, which he doesn't,
necessarily; he's just asking questions. He's just sayin'." [TIME]

I assume that Mr. Beck is not really a Mormon, either. Both Libertarians and Mormons expect people to have a consistent set of beliefs.

(Nod to Kevin L)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Harry Shearer dishes on polysci

DIA: You were a politics major at UCLA, but I've also read that you did some graduate work at Harvard. What was that all about?

Mr Shearer: Firstly, it was about staying out of the draft. Secondly, it was about urban government. And thirdly, it was about discovering that I really had had enough of academe, most particularly since my writing style—given my proclivity for mimicry—had grown as tediously unreadable as that of any other "political science" practitioner.

Gee, he says it like it's a BAD thing!

Whole article here.

Money, Sex, and Love

Fatal (Fiscal) Attraction: Spendthrifts and Tightwads in Marriage

Scott Rick, Deborah Small & Eli Finkel
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, February 2009

Although much research finds that "birds of a feather flock together," surveys of married adults suggest that opposites attract when it comes to emotional reactions toward spending. That is, "tightwads," who generally spend less than they would ideally like to spend, and "spendthrifts," who generally spend more than they would ideally like to spend, tend to marry each other, consistent with the notion that people are attracted to mates who possess characteristics dissimilar to those they deplore in themselves (Klohnen and Mendelsohn 1998). In spite of this complementary attraction, spendthrift/ tightwad differences within a marriage predict conflict over
finances, which in turn predict diminished marital well-being. These findings underscore the importance of studying the relationships between money, consumption, and happiness at an interpersonal level.


Why Love Has Wings and Sex Has Not: How Reminders of Love and Sex Influence
Creative and Analytic Thinking

Jens Förster, Kai Epstude & Amina Özelsel Personality and Social Psychology
Bulletin, forthcoming

This article examines cognitive links between romantic love and creativity and between sexual desire and analytic thought based on construal level theory. It suggests that when in love, people typically focus on a long-term perspective, which should enhance holistic thinking and thereby creative thought, whereas when experiencing sexual encounters, they focus on the present and on concrete details enhancing analytic thinking. Because people automatically activate these processing styles when in love or when they experience sex, subtle or even unconscious reminders of love versus sex should suffice to change processing modes. Two studies explicitly or subtly reminded participants of situations of love or sex and found support for
this hypothesis.

(Nod to Kevin L.)

Lifted from the comments

KPC mainstay Kunal weighs in with the pithy essence of the difference between China and India:

"Sadly, China, with its oppresive one-party state, can only censor with a broad-brush - they've banned all of Blogger. By contrast, in India, with our superior multi-party censorship apparatus, more targeted displays of intolerance are possible."

Yes, people, it's sad but true: no KPC for the Chinese. They do get KFC, but it's a poor substitute at best.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

She Crossed Her Arms, She Must Like Me!

Mimicry and seduction: An evaluation in a courtship context

Nicolas Gueacuteguen
Social Influence, October 2009, Pages 249-255

Recent studies have found that mimicking the verbal and nonverbal behavior of strangers enhances their liking of the individual who mimicked them. An experiment was carried out in two bars during six sessions of speed dating for which young women confederates volunteered to mimic or not some verbal expressions and nonverbal behaviors of a man for 5 minutes. Data revealed that the men evaluated the dating interaction more positively when the woman mimicked them, and that mimicry was associated with a higher evaluation score of the relation and the sexual attractiveness of the woman. Mimicry appears to influence perceptions of physical attributes in addition to personal and social attributes.

(Nod to Kevin L. Women always mimic him, for some reason)

AK v. Cans

AK wins. (My annual fall post to remind you all that we ain't right, here in NC)

Mrs. Wilson: Pretty Darned Sensible, Everything Considered

T. Friedman: Tired of Democracy, Need Dictatorship

wow, amazing article.

since the American people don't agree with Friedman's little schemes, we need a dictatorship. And for some reason he assumes that the dictator will agree with him.

Enforcing government defined happiness

It can be a tricky business. Consider the current news from Gross National Happiness pioneer, Bhutan:

Bhutan has warned its citizens over cutting down thousands of young trees every year to make prayer flags, a threat to the tiny kingdom's lush scenery and the government's duty to bring "Gross National Happiness."

Himalayan Buddhists put up prayer flags for good luck or to help the dead find the right path to their next life. The more flag poles put up for the departed the better, and Buddhist monks say fresh poles must be used each time.

Having failed to convince its citizens to switch from wood to steel for prayer flags, the government of the Himalayas' last Buddhist kingdom is growing bamboo, which it hopes will be an attractive alternative.

"The pressure on forest is from all sides -- from flagposts to hydropower. We are discussing this every day," Agriculture Secretary Sherub Gyaltshen, said.

Bhutan's constitution, which emphasises the importance of Gross National Happiness over Gross Domestic Product, stipulates the country must have at least 60 percent forest cover.

Himalayan Buddhists believe winds will carry positive vibrations of tantric symbols written on the prayer flags in yellow, green, red, white and blue to represent the five elements, and 108 prayer flags are put up when someone dies.

So I guess my question is, what actions produce national happiness? What the people obviously want to do, or what the government wants them to do? Why wouldn't a program to plant renewable prayer flag seedlings be the way to address this issue?

Or maybe is this actually a weird reverse prisoner's dilemma problem, where everyone individually would like to stop with the prayer flags already but can't risk the stigma from being the only one who quits? And the government really is doing their people a favor?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

the "it" man of Norman

Mrs. Angus and I practice yoga at a space called Pilates Plus in Norman. It houses a variety of entrepeneurs with business ranging from yoga to accupuncture to reflexology to........... intuitive touch?

Here is a photo of the sign on the side of the car of one of the business people housed there:

I especially like how Mr. it has carefully matched his headband to his pocket square!!!

Lula Strikes Again!

Last spring, Brazilian President Luis Ignatio Lula de Silva kicked up a ruckus when he pinned the blame for the financial crisis on "white, blue-eyed bankers".

Now he has decided to clear the air and dispel any possible misunderstandings:

"What I wanted to say is more noteworthy today than it was then. What I wanted to say was that it wasn't the indigenous or the black population who should pay the bill [for the crisis] but those really responsible, the blue-eyed bankers.

"It was the rich who were responsible for the crisis. And we weren't going to allow them to put the blame on the poor people of the world, as always happens when there is an economic crisis", President Lula said.

Yikes! Does Lula really think that Geithner and Bernanke were going to pin the US financial meltdown on poor people in South America? And only his courageous rhetoric stopped them?

Get a grip sir!

Hat tip to Boz

The best sentences I've read this month

are written by John Cochrane and Luigi Zingales:

"The big banks know the government will bail them out, and they are already bigger, more global, more integrated and "systemic" than ever. They are making huge trading profits—profits that must someday turn to losses. If brokerage and banking are "systemically important," they cannot be married to proprietary trading. Yet the financial-reform plans do not even talk about breaking up this marriage—they hope simply to regulate the behemoths instead."

The whole article is well worth reading for its take on the "blame it on Lehman" meme.

Monday, September 14, 2009

France joins Bhutan

In the quest to measure "gross national happiness". In this case though, President Nic has commissioned a couple of heavy hitters to create an alternative index to GDP. Here is an article on what they've come up with:

"Sarkozy asked U.S. economist Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the 2001 Nobel economics prize and a critic of free-market economists, and Armatya Sen of India, who won the 1998 Nobel prize for work on developing countries, to lead the analysis of growth tracking.

Sen helped create the U.N. Human Development Index, a yearly welfare indicator designed to gear international policy decisions to take account of health and living standards.

Their report, delivered to Sarkozy on Monday, recommends shifting the emphasis from gross domestic product, which measures economic production, to well-being and sustainability.

The report recommends looking at household income, consumption and wealth rather than production in the economy as a whole for a better reflection of material living standards. Non-market activities such as house cleaning should also be tracked, it says.

More prominence should be given to the distribution of income and wealth, as well as to access to education and health.

Attention should also be given to whether countries are over-consuming their economic wealth and damaging the environment, the report says."

OK, got all that? Our index measures house cleaning, income distribution, access to particular goods and services, plus measures of over-consumption and environmental damage.

I will have to see if I can find the actual report and see if Stiglitz and Sen were so foolhardy as to list a concrete quantitive formula containing all this that could be computed.

Let me conclude by saying that on a 0 - 100 scale, my happiness today is around 97.34!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Tale of Two Rookies

Matthew Stafford the overall #1 pick making his pro debut for the Lions:

16-37 for 205 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs and a QB rating of 27.4

Mark Sanchez the overall #5 pick making his pro debut for the J-E-T-S Jets:

18-31 for 272 yards, 1 TD, 1 INTs and a QB rating of 84.3

Need I even say that the Lions lost (for 18th straight time) and the Jets won?

The good people of Michigan shouldn't despair (about football at least) as another rookie quarterback, Tate Forcier (I am not making that up) led the Wolverines past Notre Dame yesterday in a thrilling game.