Saturday, November 14, 2009

Drive Your iCar with your iPhone



(Nod to Angry Alex)

Lock the Barnes Door--Blue Heaven!

Harrison Barnes does the right thing, and heads for Carolina. I have seen him listed anywhere from 6'6" to 6'8", but no matter what he is mighty.

Ol' Roy has, again, the best recruiting class in the ACC, and top 3 in the nation.

Three years from now, you'll see Harrison Barnes and my Carolinas in the Final Four again. This year could be sketchy, unless Ginyard and Davis really come up big. But three years from now....

Mark it down.

(Cute story, about Barnes' mom taping Michael Jordan, before Harrison was even born.)

An Important Announcement

Remarkably, a large number of folks in North Carolina have gotten big headlines, simply by announcing that each of them is NOT going to seek the Democratic nomination to run against US Senator Richard Burr, R-NC. Most recently, Rep. Bob Ethridge got big coverage for this staged non-announcement.

Well, okay, here goes. A press release.

RALEIGH: Dr. Michael Munger, Chair of Political Science at Duke and former (2008) candidate for North Carolina Governor, made an important announcement today.

"After thinking it over, and talking to my wife and family, I have decided NOT to seek the Democratic nomination for Senator. There were many considerations, not the least of which is that I am not a registered Democrat, and therefore am ineligible to run. But I am also hoping to spend more time at home now, and having to live in Washington as a Senator would get in the way of all that."

Munger has agreed that he will not endorse anyone in the Democratic primary, after thinking it over for about 3 seconds. "They are all crooks, why would I endorse one of them?" he asked.


(UPDATE: Note--the above was edited to acknowledge reader suggestions...)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Spitzer's Raincoat is to Spitzer as NYC Condom is to....

When I first heard of the "NYC Condom," I thought it was just a metaphor for Eliot Spitzer's trenchcoat.

But apparently they are real. And, the subject of research.... The NYC Condom: Use and Acceptability of New York City's Branded Condom

Ryan Burke, Juliet Wilson, Kyle Bernstein, Nicholas Grosskopf, Christopher
Murrill, Blayne Cutler, Monica Sweeney & Elizabeth Begier
American Journal of Public Health, forthcoming

Abstract: We assessed awareness and experience with the NYC Condom via surveys at 7 public events targeting priority condom distribution populations during 2007. Most respondents (76%) were aware of NYC Condoms. Of those that had obtained them, 69% had used them. Most (80%) wanted alternative condoms offered for free: 22% wanted ultra-thin, 18% extra-strength, and 14% larger-size. Six months after the NYC Condom launch, we found high levels of awareness and use. Because many wanted alternative condoms, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene began distributing the 3 most-requested alternatives.

No Money for Nothing, And Your Chicks For Free

This woman lives without money.

If everyone in Germany tried this the welfare state would collapse, since it is much harder for the state to expropriate in a barter economy.

So, while this woman seems very proud of herself, all this really is is a big tax evasion scheme.

To which I say: YOU GO, GIRL! Bring down the German government!

There Are No Atheists in Foxholes, Or Singles Bars

It is said that there are no atheists in foxholes.

There are apparently no atheists in singles bars, either.

Mating Competitors Increase Religious Beliefs

Yexin Jessica Li, Adam Cohen, Jason Weeden & Douglas Kenrick. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract: It has been presumed that religiosity has an influence on mating behavior, but here we experimentally investigate the possibility that mating behavior might also influence religiosity. In Experiment 1, people reported higher religiosity after looking at mating pools consisting of attractive people of their own sex compared to attractive opposite sex targets. Experiment 2 replicated the effect with an added control group, and suggested that both men and women become more religious when seeing same sex competitors. We discuss several possible explanations for these effects. Most broadly, the findings contribute to an emerging literature on how cultural phenomena such as religiosity respond to ecological cues in potentially functional ways.


(Nod to Kevin L, who could be an atheist anywhere, he's that brave)

Round up the usual suspects!

I pretty much laughed out loud when I saw the title of this piece from the Atlantic:

"Did Christianity cause the Crash?"

As ridiculous as the premise is, the article itself is actually pretty interesting.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kung Fu Polars






Donorcycles

Here is another reason we should get rid of motorcycle helmet laws:

MORE. ORGAN. DONATIONS! (Really)

The point is that while it is true that helmets may reduce DEATHS, they increase total costs. If you have a bad motorcycle accident, wearing a helmet means (a) the casket can be open, because your face is still all pretty, or (b) you are a paraplegic, and a permanent tax on society. Helmets don't protect from spinal injuries or broken necks. And bad accidents are nearly always going to result in spinal injuries or broken necks. So the cost of wearing helmets is enormous, unless you really value the lives of people who can only communicate by blinking.

Worse, wearing a helmet likely causes more accidents, by increasing risk taking behavior. (I can hit a truck when I am driving 150 km/hr on my donorcycle, because I am wearing a HELMET!)...

(Nod to the Bishop. The Bishop also thinks "get 'em out of the gene pool" is a legitimate argument against helmets. Bad, bad Bishop!)

Unsafe Deposit Box

Why does anyone live in California?

This story is remarkable.

New York 23

Interesting post from my wife's paisan, Roy Cordato.

He writes about the strangeness of the NY 23 ballot. Very cool, very interesting. Excerpt:

Here is what the voter saw when he or she went in to the voting booth.

Democrat--Owens
Republican--Scozzafava
Independence--Scozzafava
Conservative--Hoffman
Working Families--Owens
My guess is that this peculiarity alone could account for the fact that Scozzafava received over 5 percent of the vote, more than the margin of difference between Owens and Hoffman.


Remember, Scozzafava had DROPPED OUT of the race, but her name is listed twice on the ballot, because of New York's "fusion" laws.

Do Colleges Favor Male Applicants?

A typically overwrought NPR story, about colleges "favoring" male applicants.

Here's the deal: if you went simply by SAT scores and grades, and proportions of applicants, women would be 62%, or even as high as 65%, in many colleges. (Would I mind going to such a college, were I 18? No, I would not mind. But try to focus, here).

So, it may well be true that, at the margin, colleges are taking some men over women with slightly higher scores and grades. But only at the margin. The colleges have long argued, and I agree, that a diverse class, on every dimension, is a worthy goal.

But now that diversity means "admit males," apparently some of the folks down at the Womens Studies Dept have their big supportive Sears catalog-style undies in a slipknot.

Discrimination would mean that the colleges systematically choose men over women. Diversity means that the last few choices, at the margin, are made based on an eye toward the overall composition of the class.

Let there be no mistake: I would make the same argument (and have) for women, African-Americans, region of the US, and economic background. Student learn from each other, and having a diverse class is a perfectly legitimate goal for a private college to pursue. It improves the educational atmosphere for everybody.

As Anonyman put it, in an email this morning, "Colleges discriminate against women because NOT all college students are women." Yep, hard to say that women, who constitute 55% to 65% of these classes, are being discriminated against, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Electoral Politics in Colleges

(source: xkcd)
As I have said, students from the left should sue colleges for nonperformance on the contract. All they learn is the ideological equivalent of one move chess openings.

(Nod to MDW)

It's a groovy way to go

Last week, Mrs. Angus and I visited the shores of Hudson Bay in Manitoba to try and see polar bears. We were successful (click on pic to see a larger image)!



We also saw several arctic foxes



We stayed in a strange hostel on wheels called the Tundra Buggy Lodge right out on the edge of the bay!



We were there for three days and saw between 12 and 30 bears per day!





We also spent a bit of time in the town of Churchill and in Winnepeg. My impression of Manitoba is that it is caught in a time warp. It's still 1977 there. Three or four locals actually said "right on!" to me without any trace of irony.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Buried in BS

People, it seems that it now takes 1000+ pages to write a piece of legislation!  

The stimulus bill? Check. 

The House's health care bill? Check. 

And now, Chris Dodd's overhaul of bank supervision bill? Check mate! It weighs in at 1100+ pages.

Is it too late to buy stock in paper, ink and printer companies?

And, does anyone beside me think it's funny that "friend of Angelo" Chris Dodd, who should probably be in jail for financial irregularities, is in charge of bank oversight reform?

YIKES!

Deer Me!

Game Bill writes:

The WaPo runs this story reporting that a whitetail deer wandered into the Washington D.C. zoo and made the very unfortunate decision to jump into what turned out to be the lion park.

There links to three short videos shot by onlookers.

In the first, one of the lions jumps into the moat to go after the deer but the lion quickly drags itself back onto the dry bank. An onlooker comments, "that's one wet p**sy."

In the second, one of the lions has captured the deer on dry land and is playing with it like a cat with a mouse. But the deer makes a second valiant escape to the moat.

In the third, zoo officials try to wave off both the spectators and the lions.

Glen Beck has a doppelganger

Jon Stewart shows some talent as a mimic.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Seasonality....

Anonyman asks, do you understand this econ adjustment thingy? maybe you can explain it on yer blog...

He is referring to this article in the NYTimes...

Why, yes, yes I can. Suppose I go outside here in North Carolina on a day in January, and it's 65 degrees and sunny. I might say to the LMM, "Gosh, it's warm! This is the warmest day I can remember."

Now, suppose I go outside on a day in August. It's 68 degrees and sunny. I might tell the LMM, "Gosh, it's so cool today. This the coolest day I can remember!"

Why would I call a 65 degree day "warm" and a 68 degree day "cool"? It's obvious, almost silly: 65 degrees is a warm day in winter, and 68 degrees is cool day in summer.

But, in some absolute sense, 68 is warmer than 65. Yet was not the knight foresworn! (From "As You Like It," see below). Because the 65 is unusual warm direction compared to the mean temp in January, while 68 is unusual in the cool direction compared to the mean temp is August.

The point being that seasonality adjustments (to over-simplify) are calculated as deviations from the (monthly, seasonal, whatever) mean. In fact, the actual data are "adjusted" to ensure universal comparability, after taking seasonality out of the numbers. What THAT means is that you can get apparent gibberish like the lead 'graf in the Times article:

The economic reactions over the weekend to Friday’s employment report all started from the assumption that things grew much worse in October. The unemployment rate leaped to 10.2 percent from 9.8 percent. Another 190,000 jobs vanished. Actually, none of that happened.

In reality, the government report says unemployment rates remained steady at 9.5 percent. And the number of jobs actually rose, by 80,000. And the number of jobs for college-educated Americans rose more than in any month in the last six years....

So why is this the first time you’ve seen those better-looking numbers? It is because the government adjusted them before they were released. The adjustments are for seasonality. For some reason, October is the month with the largest seasonal adjustment down in jobs. So the increase in the unemployment rate does not reflect people actually losing jobs. It reflects the belief that seasonal factors should have added more jobs than they did.


One more shot at explanation: suppose the high temp in NC for each day in January stuck at 56 degrees. And suppose it stayed at 56 degrees for the daily high all through the summer. Would you say that the climate stayed the same? No, you would say that the climate cooled, dramatically, because you mentally "seasonally adjust" the numbers for ...well...seasons. Same with economics: what seems like good news in October is not good news because it takes great news in October to be good.

Finally, for the explanation of the Shakespeare reference:

AS YOU LIKE IT, Act I, Sc. II

TOUCHSTONE: Of a certain knight that swore by his honour they
were good pancakes and swore by his honour the
mustard was naught: now I'll stand to it, the
pancakes were naught and the mustard was good, and
yet was not the knight forsworn.

CELIA: How prove you that, in the great heap of your
knowledge?

ROSALIND: Ay, marry, now unmuzzle your wisdom.

TOUCHSTONE: Stand you both forth now: stroke your chins, and
swear by your beards that I am a knave.

CELIA: By our beards, if we had them, thou art.

TOUCHSTONE: By my knavery, if I had it, then I were; but if you
swear by that that is not, you are not forsworn: no
more was this knight swearing by his honour, for he
never had any; or if he had, he had sworn it away
before ever he saw those pancakes or that mustard.


So, maybe the answer is that the economists swear by their honor, though they never had any, and that's why seasonality makes sense!

There are no "Banned Images"

So, I was one of the signatories on the "statement of principle" regarding the newly published book, "Muhammed: The 'Banned' Images." (The book)

Eugene Volokh announced it, and rightly so.

Here is the "Statement of Principle," excerpted:

A number of recent incidents suggest that our long-standing commitment to the free exchange of ideas is in peril of falling victim to a spreading fear of violence. Not only have exhibitions been closed and performances cancelled in response to real threats, but the mere possibility that someone, somewhere, might respond with violence has been advanced to justify suppressing words and images, as in the recent decision of Yale University to remove all images of Muhammad from Jytte Klausen's book, The Cartoons that Shook the World.

Violence against those who create and disseminate controversial words and images is a staple of human history. But in the recent past, at least in Western liberal democracies, commitment to free speech has usually trumped fears of violence. Indeed, as late as 1989, Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses continued to be published, sold, and read in the face of a fatwa against its author and in the face of the murder and attempted murder of its translators and publishers. In 1998, the Manhattan Theater Club received threats protesting the production of Terrence McNally's play Corpus Christi, on the ground that it was offensive to Catholics. After initially canceling the play, MTC reversed its decision in response to widespread concerns about free speech, and the play was performed without incident.

There are signs, however, that the commitment to free speech has become eroded by fears of violence. Historical events, especially the attacks of September 2001 and subsequent bombings in Madrid and London, have contributed to this process by bringing terrorist violence to the heart of liberal democracies. Other events, like the 2004 murder of Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh in apparent protest against his film Submission, and the threats against Hirsi Ali, who wrote the script and provided the voice-over for the film, demonstrated how vulnerable artists and intellectuals can be just for voicing controversial ideas. Under such threats, the resolve to uphold freedom of speech has proved to be lamentably weak: in the same year as Van Gogh's murder, Behzti, a play written by a British Sikh playwright, was cancelled days after violence erupted among protesters in Birmingham, England on opening night.

...The failure to stand up for free expression emboldens those who would attack and undermine it. It is time for colleges and universities in particular to exercise moral and intellectual leadership. It is incumbent on those responsible for the education of the next generation of leaders to stand up for certain basic principles: that the free exchange of ideas is essential to liberal democracy; that each person is entitled to hold and express his or her own views without fear of bodily harm; and that the suppression of ideas is a form of repression used by authoritarian regimes around the world to control and dehumanize their citizens and squelch opposition.

To paraphrase Ben Franklin, those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, will get neither liberty nor safety.


Discuss. (I'll go first: I have never co-signed anything with the head of FIRE, IJ, and the head of the AAUP. A first...)

(UPDATE: FIRE posts.)

(UPDATE II: Already, some confusion. I do not endorse the publication or contents of the book. The whole point is that the publisher does not NEED endorsement, or permission. If the book were a collection of cartoons blaspheming Jesus (yes, I'm Catholic), I would still have signed the SoP.)

The real reason the wall came down

Here at KPC, we do honor and celebrate the end of the Berlin Wall. Bad, bad craziness.

But it is important to remember that a big reason for the fall of the wall was one of the core problems with socialism (and the Obama health plan): GDR didn't do anyting because everybody was in a meeting!

Soon, you will be, too....

Andre knocks one out of the park

From his new book "Open":


— On Chang: “He thanks God—credits God—for the win, which offends me. That God should take sides in a tennis match, that God should side against me, that God should be in Chang’s box, feels ludicrous and insulting. I beat Chang and savor every blasphemous stroke.” When Chang wins the 1989 French Open, Agassi thinks, “I feel sickened. How could Chang, of all people, have won a slam before me?”






Sunday, November 08, 2009

Now he's the Answer to the wrong question

People, I am OLD. I have followed Allen Iverson's career since he was a high school phenom in Virginia.

He pretty much has no one to blame but himself, but it is really kind of sad to see him end up this way. After being injured at the beginning of the season, he has played 3 games off the bench for the Grizz and seems to be saying "no mas":

Iverson debuted for the Grizzlies on Monday in Sacramento after missing all the preseason and the season’s first three games with a hamstring injury. The Grizzlies lost to the Kings in overtime, and Iverson immediately questioned his limited role after the game. He also criticized his teammates for not noticing he was open on the final possession of regulation.

“I’m not a reserve basketball player,” Iverson said. “I’ve never been a reserve all my life and I’m not going to start looking at myself as a reserve.”

Iverson made similar comments two nights later after the Grizzlies lost to the Golden State Warriors.


and now?


A frustrated Allen Iverson has left the Memphis Grizzlies and is not expected to return anytime soon, if at all, a source close to the situation told Yahoo! Sports on Saturday.

The Grizzlies granted Iverson a leave of absence to allow him to return to his offseason home in Atlanta. The source said Iverson wants to clear his head and is extremely unhappy about the lack of communication with Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins over his playing time and role with the team. Team sources told Yahoo! Sports that Iverson did not ask the Grizzlies to waive him, but there was no timetable for his return.

Still, Iverson has done nothing to hide his frustration after he returned from a hamstring injury this week and was relegated to coming off the bench. A source with knowledge of Iverson’s thinking said he “probably wasn’t coming back.”


The crazy thing is, he could be a valuable reserve player, getting say 18-22 minutes per game on a contending team with unlimited chucking privileges, but I guess he can't somehow get over the "insult" that would be. 

To me the only thing stranger than Iverson's fierce pride is the fact that the Grizz signed him to begin with.


I'll Huffington, and Puffington, and I'll Promote Your Book!


Friends de Marchi and Hamilton have a new book out this week.

Interesting book.

Already promoted at Huffington Post. And reviewed here.

Colber Repor can't be far behind, right?