Saturday, October 10, 2009
In fact, given that both of the men in drag were professional cage fighters, the skinny punk is lucky he is still alive. Not sure that it is really right to bring charges only against the punks. Sure, punks had something coming. But that kind of punch, when the guy is not even looking, from a professional fighter? Assault, in my book.
Not that it's not fun to watch, mind you. Have to look the way the guy stands up, and then does the "I'm not feeling so good" dance.
(Nod to Tommy the Wannabe Cage Fighter)
Regulatory collusion Canadian-style: If you're eating organic turkey this weekend [for Canadian Thanksgiving], savour it, because by next Thanksgiving it may be easier to buy crack cocaine in Ontario than a drug-free bird. Why? While the turkey industry marketing board tells growers to confine their turkeys indoors to reduce the chance of transmission of viruses from wild birds, new organics standards administered by the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency mandate raising organic birds outdoors. (Nod to RL)
Ambiguous headline...(More Gas!) (Nod to Anonyman)
Sean Connery on slapping... (Nod to SZ)
McLovin GETS slapped....
"They are absolutely fuming. It's about their professionalism and the notion that they haven't got a clue about what to wear when they are teaching," Varney said.
Friday, October 09, 2009
Made "several excellent presentations in class," and gave other students hope that they might understand the complex math in journal articles. (They don't yet understand it, but the NP winner gave them hope that they might, by telling them, "Yes, you can!")
(Greg M thought of it first. Darn)
"So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far. He is still at an early stage. He is only beginning to act," said former Polish President Lech Walesa, a 1983 Nobel Peace laureate.
and by act he means???
Well as the article soberly informs us:
Still, the U.S. remains at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Congress has yet to pass a law reducing carbon emissions and there has been little significant reduction in global nuclear stockpiles since Obama took office.
Wow, who knew Norwegians were so darn wily??
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Well, you know, two chiefs ago, Chief Justice Burger, used to complain about the low quality of counsel. I used to have just the opposite reaction. I used to be disappointed that so many of the best minds in the country were being devoted to this enterprise.
I mean there’d be a, you know, a defense or public defender from Podunk, you know, and this woman is really brilliant, you know. Why isn’t she out inventing the automobile or, you know, doing something productive for this society?
I mean lawyers, after all, don’t produce anything. They enable other people to produce and to go on with their lives efficiently and in an atmosphere of freedom. That’s important, but it doesn’t put food on the table and there have to be other people who are doing that. And I worry that we are devoting too many of our very best minds to this enterprise.
And they appear here in the Court, I mean, even the ones who will only argue here once and will never come again. I’m usually impressed with how good they are. Sometimes you get one who’s not so good. But, no, by and large I don’t have any complaint about the quality of counsel, except maybe we’re wasting some of our best minds.
I mean really, people, is that any different than this?
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night...
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
$188,206 to ask the question, “Why do political candidates make vague
statements, and what are the consequences?” “In addition to advancing
our understanding of politics, the project will have several broader impacts,” according to NSF, including “practical lessons for candidates, advisors, and citizens who are involved in political campaigns;”
$152,253 to examine ―Political Discussion in the Workplace‖ to
examine “practical insights into how the workplace might be utilized better as a context for promoting the goals of both broader and deeper public discourse;”
$11,825 to study “Prime Time Politics: Television News and the Visual
Framing of War;
$91,601 to conduct a survey to determine why people are for or against
American military conflicts;
$130,525 to conduct a survey on the impact of Medicare reform on
senior citizens’ political views and participation. This research
examines whether or not changes to the program enacted by the Medicare
Modernization Act of 2003 is influencing seniors‟ “orientations toward
government, vote choice, and regard for the two political parties.”
According to NSF, “this project not only presents a significant advance for
the scholarly literature on policy feedback effects, but it will also contribute to future debates on one of the largest public programs in the United States. By examining how senior citizens have fared under this highly consequential reform of Medicare, this study will help lawmakers and other policy actors as they continue to reform the program and address the needs of this vulnerable population.”
$143,254 to evaluate whip counts by party leaders in the United States Congress to determine the impact of party leaders in the legislative process and how successful party leaders are at mobilizing support for party programs;
$50,000 to hold a conference on the effect of youtube.com on the 2008
$8,992 to study campaign finance reform, with the stated intent of
providing “a basis for assessing future proposed changes to campaign
$70,731 to examine the ―costs of voting, such as the time associated
with locating the voting place, waiting in line to vote, traveling to and from a polling place and “learning enough about the ballot choices to make one's vote minimally informed;”
He then lists some results of the NSF funding "real" science:
NSF researchers developed new, promising solutions to use
robotics to help individuals with severe disabilities;
NSF-supported engineers created a bone that blends into
tendons, which mimics the ability of natural bone, and provides
better integration with the body and can handle weight more
NSF-supported researchers used synthetic biology technology to
engineer the next generation of biofuels;
NSF-supported researchers developed a powerful new microchip-
sized fan for use as a silent, ultra-thin, low-power and low-
maintenance cooling system for laptop computers and other
NSF-supported researchers at the University of Michigan designed a
new type of fiber-reinforced concrete that bends without
cracking—300-500 times more resistant to cracking and 40
percent lighter in weight.
Given that the NSF Economics program is much larger than the NSF Polysci program, and given that us economists haven't been making microchips or artificial bones, it is amazing to me that Tom gives us a pass and only goes after polysci.
Well, after sucking down enormous tax subsidies from the city, and cash subsidies, from the state, the plant is closing. It was only here four years, but it burned through tens of millions of taxpayer dollars.
I have to give my fellow Poli Sci prof., and state rep., Paul Luebke credit: He voted no from the outset. Paul and I agree on more than you might think, even though he is a liberal Dem. Or, maybe BECAUSE he is.
All the other "Will Lay Down For Money" prostitutes in the NC Legislature, including a whole lot of Repubs, voted yes.
Look, as I said repeatedly during the campaign: If a company will come here for money they will leave for money. We don't want Dell, or Google, to throw us crumbs. We want a business and tax environment such that the NEXT Dell, or Google, STARTS here in NC!
And the "cross" dressers prove to be not just cross, but downright pissed off. (The black-haired guy, who looks like a weightlifter, sucker punches the shirtless guy at about 1:15 in the video; just nails him. And kicks him, with those pointed pumps).
Sure, hard to defend the violence, or the sucker punch. But why go up and grab the other guy in the first place? Once you grab someone, and start screaming drunkenly in his face, you may get the right "cross" dresser.
(Nod to UEC)
"After taking control of the House in 2006 — and again when President Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 — Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) boasted that lawmakers would work four or five days a week to bring change to America.
But midway through Obama’s first year in office, Hoyer’s House has settled into a more leisurely routine. Members usually arrive for the first vote of the week as the sun sets on Tuesdays, and they’re usually headed back home before it goes down again on Thursdays."
Ah, you say, Angus! don't be so cynical. Having such a short work week is a bad thing, not a good thing!
"Since the House returned for its fall session on Sept. 8, it has stuck around to vote on a Friday just once: to approve a 5.8 percent increase in Congress’s own budget."
I rest my case! The full story is here.
I did not know this..... I would have guessed $20s and $100s were about the same. I would have been wrong. So, I did not know this.
But Craig did.
UPDATE: In comments, Mr. Thacker points out a rather obvious error that was NOT obvious to me!
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
In fact, reading it again, that is FANTASTIC article. A hard point to get across, but Mr. Brooks does it very well.
Even if he does look just like Brian Roberts.
But it is important for the rest of you pusillanimous poltroons to overcome your unexpurgated nescience, and worship us as your divine daddies! Complete list here....but for the top five:
1. Raleigh-Durham, NC....2. San Franciso-Bay Area, CA
3. Boston, MA............4. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
5. Denver, CO
Two factors worked in Ral-Dur's favor, I think. (Well, three, since Raldur sounds like the name of one of the Elvish lords in Lothlorien).
1. Raleigh-Durham is less than half the size of the other areas in the top five. Since the ranking is done "per capita," this is a big help. Not clear WHY it is per capita, but there you are. On the other hand, this Forbes story used percentages, which is even sillier than an indexed per capita measure. The Triangle was only 14th in the Forbes ranking, well behind that metropolis of intellect situated at (wait for it...) Columbia, MO. Columbia came in at #11. (If you could see me, you would see my, "I don't THINK so!" face right now.)
2. The ranking appears to have been conducted back when Angus and Ms. Angus* were living in Raleigh-Durham. An enormous advantage to ANY metro area to have that kind of brain power. It's like we were cheating, bringing in ringers.
I do have to give a big KPC shout-out to #55, the worst metro area in the U.S.: Fresno. Here is the description....
#55, FRESNO (CA.) Metro Area Population: 1,335,429
Daily Beast IQ Score: 3
The race to the bottom wasn’t even close. The largest city in California’s San Joaquin breadbasket, Fresno, had deficiencies across the board. College education (less than 20 percent of the local population have four-year degrees), graduate studies, academic institutions (not much besides Fresno State), book purchases, voter engagement—it ranked in the worst 5 percent in almost all of our categories. Problems with gangs and crystal meth tend to deter the best and brightest.
*(And also Mr. Tootie, of course)
Smith said the woman told police the box was too big to go inside the van, and that her daughter was inside the box to hold it down.
No Mom could be that callous, could they? There surely must be some mitigating circumstance, some justification. What's that Maam?
Smith said the mother told officers it was safe because she had the box secured to the van with a clothes hanger.
See, I told you!
I'm doing a logit estimation in Stata and want to generate predicted values afterward. The problem I'm finding is that my dataset includes cases that are blank values for the dependent variable -- and when I enter the "predict" command, Stata imputes predicted values for those blank cases. I don't want this, but can't figure out a way to tell Stata to just generate predicted values for cases in which there's a value for the dependent variable. Any thoughts?
A helpful person was able to think of an answer, after long (I assume) deliberation:
Delete the cases with missing values on the dependent variable before you estimate the model.
This is, I submit, sound advice. Of course, another later commenter also has good advice:
Become a qually. It's not too late yet.
Again, on the mark. For quallies, confused obscurantism passes for profundity.
Water Taxi Fiasco
Here’s a great example of how our government works:
This weekend, I visited family on the North Carolina coast near the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Cape Lookout is among several barrier islands that are uninhabited and accessible only by boat. The area is a popular recreational destination for locals and tourists. There is a thriving cottage industry here that provides water taxi service to the islands. About ten different businesses run small water taxis that carry patrons to the lighthouse and the nearby islands. Each has their own docking facilities on the mainland, scattered over a broad area. The destinations are virtually anywhere on the islands. Their schedules are flexible and fees reasonable. All of them are family owned and operated. Many have grown to multiple boat operations that employ local citizens.
Well, the National Park Service has discovered that private enterprise has found a profitable niche. The Park Service is now preparing to explore a single source provider to replace the small operators. The plan appears to be to contract with one firm to use larger ferries that have only one or two departure points, thus accessibility will be reduced. Landing will also be limited to only two islands, one dock on each. The schedules would of necessity have to be rigid and the fees will be regulated. As with many other national park services the bidding process is likely to result in a contract with a large corporation rather than the smaller businesses currently providing services as well as employment to local citizens. Adding insult to injury the consolidated operation will result in greater congestion at the departure and arrival sites and severely reduce the flexibility of services that are currently available to those wishing to visit the park areas. This action will effectively shut down all the local water taxi services that are currently available year-round.
The results will be less access, less flexibility, no competition, local families out of business and numerous unemployed local workers. Such is the wisdom of our federal government.
My question for Mark, and for all, is: Why is this so hard to understand? Mark's description pretty much contains all the essential elements of an economic explanation of government failure. Anyone reading this, it seems to me, should be persuaded. (An example of an existing "water taxi"/ferry service)
And yet we are going to do the wrong thing. Now, these boats operate at a profit. The "new" service is going to require a subsidy, at least in the form of building dock facilities. Ooooooh, I could just SPIT.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Downsides: 1. Electricity? Really? I don't think so.
2. There is a claim that wearing zombie make-up, to look like a zombie, will protect you, because "zombies don't really mess with each other." Wrong! And the reason is....
3. These are not zombies, because they are not dead. They suffer from a virus that makes their brains swell, and makes them crazy. Thus, they would also go after each other, and anything else that moved....leading me to.....
4. They are FAST, so they are not zombies. If they were dead, and slow, then sure the make-up thing might work, because zombies only want to bite the living. These creatures are simply deranged, smelly, poorly dressed, back-biting ammoral humans, like you might find in Duke's Literature Department. Sure, they are scary, but they are NOT zombies. So, instead of a zombie movie, "Zombieland" is really more like "28 Days Later" or the "Modern Language Association Meetings." Terrifying and blatantly anti-intellectual, sure.
Upsides: 1. Woody Harrelson. I have tried to think if anyone else could have played this as well. I think not.
2. The not-zombies did at least play by the "chase and bite only" rule. They did not use weapons, and they did not coordinate. They simply keep on coming in infinite numbers. Well done by the director, Rubin Fleischer.
3. Woody Harrelson is at one point on a roller coaster with an Uzi. Now, for the rest of my life, I want to take an Uzi onto a roller coaster. Each of those things is really fun. Together, unbelievable. Add zombies to kill....well.
4. The movie carries the premise through pretty well. Extremely gross, but once you get used to that, very funny. Very, very funny.
5. The "rules" that the kid used to survive were a nice touch. But the director seemed to get bored with them, and they nearly disappeared. Likewise the kid's "irritable bowel" problem: important at the outset, seems to get cured halfway through, and never mentioned again. Still, the rules were a nice touch, and to be fair the rules do come up again twice in the final "Playland" scene.
6. The two female characters are good. Everyone knows that the older girl is the smartest of the whole group, and they just accept that. It did seem natural. Less posturing in a world with with survival on the line; go with the smart person to lead. The older girl (Wichita) also offered the boy (Columbus) an "intentional walk" to first base, but the kid got picked off. To be fair, the girl had a really deceptive move.
7. 80 minutes long. Not one of these over-blown, when-will-this-ever-end, epics of ego. Lots of noise, lots of gunfire, boy meets girl, girl becomes murderous zombie, boy smashes girl's skull with ceramic toilet cover (double tap), boy meets new girl, some adventures...and we're done. Heartwarming.
Overall: B+. And it's only not an A because the zombies are alive, and fast.
LAGNIAPPE: Two quotes from the WikiPedia page....
1. The zombies in Zombieland have been described by the casting director as:
"Ferocious, infected people that move erratically. They are diseased, as opposed to undead. These are not the lumbering walking dead of Romero’s zombie movies, but instead the super jacked up 28 Days Later/Dawn of the Dead zombies. They are scary and gnarly and gross."
2. Shortly after finishing the filming of Zombieland, Woody Harrelson had an altercation with a TMZ photographer at New York City's La Guardia Airport. His defense was that he was still in character and thought the cameraman was a zombie.
Gogol. A Gogol ambigram.
Yes, the Russian writer. On his leg (my son's, not the writer's), in 2 inch tall letters that read as an ambigram.
Who tatoos "Gogol" on their leg?
The LMM is NOT amused.
UPDATE: A commenter notes, "The picture has been around for more than a decade." Well, I think that is not exactly big news. If the white text is correct, it has "been around" for nearly two and half decades. Clearly, I am not claiming to have taken this picture myself, recently, since the date on the thing says "85"...
And both are worth reading. The first is "Conservatism and the Curriculum," from the WSJ. I might quibble with his omission of Duke's courses on "The History of Conservative Thought," and other courses in the Gerst/American Values curriculum, but basically he makes good points.
The second is "Constitutional Conservatism," in Policy Review. Some points he makes on the "way forward":
A constitutional conservatism provides a framework for developing a distinctive agenda for today’s challenges to which social conservatives and libertarian conservatives can both, in good conscience, subscribe. Leading that agenda should be:
• An economic program, health care and social security reform, energy policy, and protection for the environment grounded in fiscally sound, growth-oriented, market-based solutions.
• A national security policy that maintains American military preeminence because it is indispensable to the defense of freedom at home and to the discharge of global responsibilities abroad, and which, in its commitment to defending the nation against the new threats of megaterror, is as passionate about individual liberty as it is about security and is prepared, based on constitutional principles, to responsibly fashion the inevitable, painful tradeoffs.
• A foreign policy that builds on the Truman Doctrine, the Reagan Doctrine, and the Bush Doctrine by recognizing America’s vital national security interest in advancing liberty and democracy abroad while realistically calibrating undertakings — military, diplomatic, and developmental— to the nation’s limited knowledge and restricted resources.
• An orientation toward international relations that promotes free trade, respects international law and institutions while protecting the legitimate prerogatives of national sovereignty, and seeks alliances and opportunities to operate within multilateral frameworks but, particularly where vital national security interests are at stake, is prepared to act alone.
• A focus on reducing the number of abortions and increasing the number of adoptions.
• Efforts to keep the question of same-sex marriage out of the federal courts and subject to consideration by each state’s democratic process.
• Measures to combat illegal immigration that are emphatically pro-border security and pro-lawful immigrant.
• A case for school choice as an option that enhances individual freedom while giving low-income, inner-city parents opportunities to place their children in classrooms where they can obtain a decent education.
• A demand that public universities abolish speech codes and vigorously protect liberty of thought and discussion on campus.
• The appointment of judges who understand that their duty is to interpret the Constitution and not make policy, who bring to their task a presumption in favor of vindicating constitutional principles and protecting individual liberty, and who, where the Constitution is most vague, recognize the strongest obligation to defer to the results of the democratic process.
I should point out that these plausible proposals have NOT risen to the forefront of the Republican agenda. (Yes, even these proposals are pretty tepid, and would hardly satisfy a Libertarian, but I am thinking in directional terms here: The Rs are still going fast in the wrong direction!) And so I am still most definitely not a Republican. You folks who send emails proposing that I am "really" a Republican need to realize that the Repubs are "really" full of goose dung.
And, rather strangely anachronistic. Here are two examples of questions from the actual test:
Which THREE should you do when passing sheep on the road?
a) Go very slowly b) Be ready to stop
c) Allow plenty of room d) Pass quickly but quietly
e) Briefly sound your horn (correct answers are a, b, and c)
A person herding sheep asks you to stop. You should
1 ignore them as they have no authority... 2 stop and switch off your engine
3 continue on but drive slowly... 4 try and get past quickly
(correct answer is #2, though of course #1 is clearly the Angus/Mungowitz approach to this, and to ALL other of life's great questions)
Tommy the Englishman notes, in an email: AND I mocked the North Carolina test for asking questions about travelling with passengers in the back of your pickup!
Aye, Tommy: That'll DO, sheep!
UPDATE: I want to add my own favorite topic from the test, having looked at the questions here....The problem involves riding a horse on the road (really, it does):
Before you take a horse on to a road, you should
-ensure all tack fits well and is in good condition
-make sure you can control the horse
-Always ride with other, less nervous horses if you think that your horse will be nervous of traffic. Never ride a horse without both a saddle and bridle.
Now, if *I* obey the command to ride only with other "less nervous" horses, it simply must be true that at least one, and strictly speaking ALL, of my companions are breaking the rules. If their horses are less nervous than mine, then mine must be MORE nervous than theirs. Blimey!
The book also suggests that one should make the horse wear a "fluorescent/reflective tail guard." I'm not sure, but I think that Angus and I once went to a club in New Orleans where the dancers were wearing those, at least at the start of their dance.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
When citizens in a poor constrained society are very unequally endowed, they are likely to
find it hard to agree on reforms, even though the status quo hurts them collectively. Each
citizen group or constituency prefers reforms that expand its opportunities, but in an unequal
society, this will typically hurt another constituency’s rents. Competitive rent preservation
ensures no comprehensive reform path may command broad support. The roots of
underdevelopment may therefore lie in the natural tendency towards rent preservation in a
P.S. Dan Sutter and I took a crack at why reforms are delayed a while ago (paper is here).