Kids Prefer Cheese
Credibly promising to be irresponsible...since 2004!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Murdering the Data
These guys got in touch with their inner Grier. Turns out if you poke a fork at the wall around econometric studies of death penalty deterrence, then roaches come pouring out.
Estimating the Impact of the Death Penalty on Murder
John Donohue & Justin Wolfers, American Law and Economics Review, forthcoming
Abstract: This paper reviews the econometric issues in efforts to estimate the impact of the death penalty on murder, focusing on six recent studies published since 2003. We highlight the large number of choices that must be made when specifying the various panel data models that have been used to address this question. There is little clarity about the knowledge potential murderers have concerning the risk of execution: are they influenced by the passage of a death penalty statute, the number of executions in a state, the proportion of murders in a state that leads to an execution, and details about the limited types of murders that are potentially susceptible to a sentence of death? If an execution rate is a viable proxy, should it be calculated using the ratio of last year's executions to last year's murders, last year's executions to the murders a number of years earlier, or some other values? We illustrate how sensitive various estimates are to these choices. Importantly, the most up-to-date OLS panel data studies generate no evidence of a deterrent effect, while three 2SLS studies purport to find such evidence. The 2SLS studies, none of which shows results that are robust to clustering their standard errors, are unconvincing because they all use a problematic structure based on poorly measured and theoretically inappropriate pseudo-probabilities that are designed to capture the key deterrence elements of a state's death penalty regime, and because their instruments are of dubious validity. We also discuss the appropriateness of the implicit assumption of the 2SLS studies that OLS estimates of the impact of the death penalty would be biased against a finding of deterrence.
(Nod to Kevin L)
Europe: you guys know it's not a single country, right?
The latest debate in the blogosphere revolves around comparing the economic performance of the US relative to Europe. This is problematic, as people are not using a common metric or any real data analysis. Krugman has claimed that any superior US performance in growth is only due to increased population.
In 1980, where this debate seems to start, we can see that all the European countries I've chosen were considerably poorer than the US except for Switzerland.
Below I list Per Capita GDP as a % of US Per Capita GDP for selected European countries in 1980 and 2008:
Austria 74.06 76.72
Denmark 81.96 78.82
France 81.31 72.91
Greece 48.29 52.33
Ireland 45.97 90.70
Italy 70.78 63.70
Neth 79.15 78.83
Norway 81.15 93.01
Portugal 43.30 46.07
Spain 49.53 55.62
Sweden 80.40 78.81
Switz 101.0 79.56
UK 69.61 76.47
Germany 66.34 (2008 only)
As one can see, the European experience is quite varied. Greece, Portugal and Spain have done a little bit better than the US over the period but are still extremely poor in comparison at roughly half of US per capita GDP in 2008.
So, it's very misleading to talk about growth or wealth levels in "Europe" as if one number captured the European experience. Italy and France appear to be from different worlds than Norway and Ireland!
It is also not correct that US growth has been higher only due to population growth. Many European countries, including large ones like France, Germany and Italy have seen their per-capita incomes fall relative to the US since 1980.
Why No "Credit" for BHO?
My good friend, Jennifer Merolla, chair of Claremont Grad School's Politics and Policy Department, has a piece in the HuffinPuff Post. Interesting...
Throughout most of his presidency, public support for George W. Bush increased in conjunction with the terror threat level. Conventional wisdom tells us that the public rallies behind the sitting president when its national security is perceivably threatened. Yet, following the recent Christmas Day bombing attempt, approval ratings for President Barack Obama have remained fairly flat. Is this lukewarm response to our current president symptomatic of public apathy toward terrorism?
Hugo Cracks Down on Inflation
Monday, January 11, 2010
The Venezuelan devaluation
The Bolivar has been pegged at 2.15 to the dollar for about 5 years. Over those 5 years, Venezuelan inflation has ranged from 15 - 30 percent per year while US inflation ranged from 0 to 5 percent per year. That is to say, unless the Bolivar was massively overvalued when pegged in early 2005, it has become way overvalued. Yesterday, President Chavez ordered the devaluation of the Bolivar to 4.3 per dollar (2.6 per dollar for some specific imported goods).
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Rush Can't Play Tom Sawyer?
A post in the Chronicle
A Sunday stroll in Normatopia
Robert Frank pummels a straw man
In todays NY Times "Economic View" Frank opines:
Saturday, January 09, 2010
How not to do statistics
Let me start by saying that i like The Painted Area blog. However, they have cooked up a stinky statistical stew that I suggest you do not eat:
We've found examining a team's rebounding margin is a quick, simple way of projecting playoff success....it was no surprise that strong rebounding is a key component to winning titles. But we found it interesting that out of the 40 teams to make the Finals in that 20-year span between '87 to '06, only four teams had a negative rebound margin for the regular season. We also found that the +1 rpg margin threshold seems to be a strong indicator if a team can win the title....Currently (stats as of 1/6/10), the Lakers (+2), Magic (+2.6), Cavs (+3.8) and Spurs (+4.1) are in good shape in the rebound margin department.
Ok, people got that? Rebound margin = playoff success and look, the best teams this year seemingly have a good margin.
Or do they?
Well folks, the league leaders in rebounding margin (as of 1/8/10) are the Memphis Grizzlies at 5.3. Interestingly the blog does not mention them as playoff contenders, but does mention the number 2 and 3 teams in the league which are the Spurs and the the Cavs. They also do not tell you that Portland and Chicago also have rebound margins higher than the LA Lakers.
Regarding the magic +1 margin as the cut off for greatness, there are 10 teams in the Association with such a mark and 6 of them are Memphis, Portland, Chicago, Detroit, Oklahoma City, and Utah. Will any of these teams win a playoff series this year?
Friday, January 08, 2010
Man! Lance Armstrong has really let himself go
Life imitates art
As previously noted, Jayson Williams appears to be a devotee of "Arrested Development", while this rascally miscreant clearly is a big "Seinfeld" fan:
Thirty-two-year-old Craig David Jr., of Smithfield, was charged Wednesday with robbery and disorderly conduct.
Thursday, January 07, 2010
Wow, I am watching the BCS championship game and it's like watching a rousing game of Russian roulette!
Labels: tuck fexas
This week's sign of the apocalypse
Stupid Okie tricks
I wonder how many KPC readers are familiar with this quaint Oklahoma New Year's tradition:
Gives new meaning to the term "buns of steel", eh?
Hat tip to Jack Hobson and his facebook friends.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Not quite how I remember it
I am a fanatic for the late lamented Unicorns. "Who will cut our hair when we're gone" is a classic of the 'aughts. Some of them are now in a good but not great group called Islands, and Islands have put out an awesome video with Micheal Cera.
Smells Like Clean Spirit
The Smell of Virtue: Clean Scents Promote Reciprocity and Charity
Katie Liljenquist, Chen-Bo Zhong & Adam Galinsky, Psychological Science, forthcoming
"Two experiments demonstrated that clean scents not only motivate clean behavior, but also promote virtuous behavior by increasing the tendency to reciprocate trust and to offer charitable help...The link from cleanliness to virtuous behavior appears to be a nonconscious one: in neither experiment did participants recognize an influence of scent on their behavior, and in Experiment 2, perceived cleanliness did not differ by condition nor correlate with the effects. These findings carry important implications for environmental regulation of behavior...By demonstrating that the association between morality and cleanliness is bidirectional, the current research identifies an unobtrusive way – a clean scent – to curb exploitation and promote altruism...The current findings suggest there is some truth to the claim that cleanliness is next to godliness; clean scents summon virtue, helping reciprocity prevail over greed, and charity over apathy."
(Nod to Kevin L)
Labels: articles to read
Just do it?
An interesting new NBER working paper by Aizenman and Marion (ungated version here), tries to figure out how much we will use inflation to reduce the debt to gdp ratio, which is predicted to hit 70, 80 and 100 percent in 2019 by the OMB, CBO and IMF respectively.
They argue that shorter debt maturities weigh against using inflation while increased debt holding by foreigners increases the attractiveness of using inflation and come up with a 5% inflation semi-prediction:
"When economic growth is stalled, the U.S. debt overhang may trigger an increase in inflation of about 5 percent for several years."
Go Ben, get busy.....????
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Here's an update on Jayson Williams:
How to make a bad impression
Say that you are ex-NBA player Jayson Williams. Your original murder trial partly cleared you, and now you are just chillin' waiting to be retried for reckless manslaughter.
Lord Acton was, and is, correct
Power Increases Hypocrisy: Moralizing in Reasoning, Immorality in Behavior
Joris Lammers, Diederik Stapel & Adam Galinsky
Psychological Science, forthcoming
Abstract: Five studies explored whether power increases moral hypocrisy, a situation
characterized by imposing strict moral standards on others but practicing less strict moral behavior oneself. In Experiment 1, compared to the powerless, the powerful condemned other people's cheating, while cheating more themselves. In Experiments 2-4, the powerful were more strict in judging others' moral transgressions but more lenient in judging their own transgressions. A final study found that the effect of power on moral hypocrisy depends on its legitimacy: When power was illegitimate, the moral hypocrisy effect not only disappeared but reversed, with the illegitimate powerful becoming more strict in judging their own than others' behavior. This pattern, which might be dubbed hypercrisy, was also found among low-power participants in Experiments 3 and 4. We discuss how patterns of hypocrisy and hypercrisy among the powerful and powerless can help perpetuate social inequality.
Monday, January 04, 2010
Best dancing in a music video
I've been thinking about this for a while and I have it narrowed down to two choices:
The first is this gem for the song "Praise You" by Norman Cook (Directed by Spike Jonze):
The second is this classic by OK Go:
What do y'all think? Which is your favorite? Or suggest another contender.
Economic Competence of the Parties
An excellent reason to trust Libertarians, because our party
is NEVER in power!
Partisanship, Political Control, and Economic Assessments
Alan Gerber & Gregory Huber
American Journal of Political Science, January 2010, Pages 153-173
Abstract: Previous research shows that partisans rate the economy more favorably when
their party holds power. There are several explanations for this association, including use of different evaluative criteria, selective perception, selective exposure to information, correlations between economic experiences and partisanship, and partisan bias in survey responses. We use a panel survey around the November 2006 election to measure changes in economic expectations and behavioral intentions after an unanticipated shift in political power. Using this design, we can observe whether the association between partisanship and economic assessments holds when some leading mechanisms thought to bring it about are excluded. We find that there are large and statistically significant partisan differences in how economic assessments and behavioral intentions are revised immediately following the Democratic takeover of Congress. We conclude that this pattern of partisan response suggests partisan differences in perceptions of the economic competence of the parties, rather than alternative mechanisms.
Body art, deviance, and American college students
Jerome Koch, Alden Roberts, Myrna Armstrong & Donna Owen, Social Science Journal, forthcoming
Abstract: This research examines the relationship between body art (tattoos and
piercings) and deviance. With the increasing mainstream presence of visible tattoos and piercings among entertainers, athletes, and even in corporate boardrooms, we wonder the extent to which long-time enthusiasts and collectors regard the phenomenon as encroachment. We use sub-cultural identity theory to propose that individuals with increasing evidence of body art procurement will also report higher levels of deviant behavior in order to maintain and/or increase social distance from the mainstream. We tested this proposition by surveying 1753 American college students, asking them to
report their level of body art acquisition and their history of deviance. Results indicate that respondents with four or more tattoos, seven or more body piercings, or piercings located in their nipples or genitals, were substantively and significantly more likely to report regular marijuana use, occasional use of other illegal drugs, and a history of being arrested for a crime. Less pronounced, but still significant in many cases, was an increased propensity for those with higher incidence of body art to cheat on college work, binge drink, and report having had multiple sex partners in the course of their lifetime.
Tattoo and piercing as signals of biological quality
Slawomir Koziel, Weronika Kretschmer & Boguslaw Pawlowski, Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming
Abstract: Tattoos and non-conventional piercings are used in many societies. There are several social reasons for which people use these forms of body decorations (e.g., marking social status or signaling membership within a subculture). However, it is interesting why only some people within a group that uses body decoration as a badge of membership decide upon such decorations. Since both tattoos and piercings can present health risks (e.g., due to blood-borne disease transmission risk), we postulate that people who decide to have such a body decoration might have relatively higher biological quality and that tattoos/piercings can be an honest signal of genetic quality. The possible opposite hypothesis is the “attractiveness increase hypothesis,” according to which people use body decorations to increase their own physical attractiveness or to hide some shortcomings in their appearance (e.g., low body symmetry). To test these hypotheses, we compared body fluctuating asymmetry, which is considered a good measure of developmental stability, between individuals wearing tattoos and/or non-conventional piercings (n=116) and a control group (without such body decorations) (n=86). We found that majority of the absolute and relative fluctuating asymmetry indices had significantly lower values in individuals
with tattoos/piercings than in the control group. This effect was strongly driven by males. Higher body symmetry of the men having tattoo or piercing indicates that this type of body decoration in the western society can be related to the honest signal of biological quality only for men. We did not find support for the “attractiveness increase hypothesis” for either sex.
This all seems rather odd to me. "Multiple sex partners over the course of a lifetime" is a sign of deviance? Maybe multiple sex partners at the same time, sure, but not over a lifetime.
And tattoos and piercings are signs of higher biological quality? But then men of higher biological quality are more to have had multiple female sex partners, if women use this signal correctly. And then it's the tatoos that cause the multiple partners, not the "deviance" that leads men to have tattoos.
(Nod to Kevin L, who has multiple tattoo partners)
Your Hugo Chavez update
As academics around the world emerge from the holiday and shuffle back to work, I know that one question is foremost in their minds: What's Hugo Chavez been up to lately?
Sunday, January 03, 2010
Oops! Sorry, man. Here's a new computer for you. (Did they lose the other one?)
As is usually the case in situations like this, the TSA hasn't admitted to doing anything wrong, and in a letter to Elliott's attorney, simply states that his subpoena is "being withdraw [sic] as no longer necessary."
(Nod to Anonyman, who also notes that it seems odd that confiscation was even an issue in a civil case, before there was a hearing.)
(UPDATE: Shawn notes, in comments, that this lady had her laptop "blown up" by Israeli TSA. And, it appears to be true. Yike!)
Development: It's a lot funnier than you might think
In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates.
2. Why your aid project won't work. For example:
Rich countries should open their markets to exports from developing countries. Therefore your aid project won’t work.
Rich countries do things which are very bad for poor countries, like erecting trade barriers, buying oil and enforcing intellectual property rights. This is unassailable proof that aid does not work.
3. Why your aid project will too work. Here's a taste:
Thousands of children die of X every day, so my project will work.
You may think my project to prevent/enhance/promote/incentivise/develop/reduce/empower X won’t work, but don’t you know that 1,000 children die of X every second (it’s a well established fact that Dambisa Moyo is now personally responsible for the death of every African child). Because so many people will die every day without our help, my project will work.
Saturday, January 02, 2010
GPS: Doom, or Lifesaver?
What is it with these people in Oregon? It happened again, like it happened before. 100 years ago this sort of behavior would have meant the end of that strain of the human family. After all, there are no lifeguards in the gene pool. And men are idiots.
On the other hand, I have mostly had the opposite problem, about using GPS. Usually it happens when I am riding with a woman (either the LMM, usually, but during the campaign my manager, Barbara, wife of frequent commenter Tom). I can't get the women to trust the thing enough.
The problem is that (many) men think in terms of a grid, with the car being a point in two dimensional space. North, South, East, West, that sort of thing. Women (many, not all) think in terms of executing a sequence of instructions: Go to Red Lobster, turn right, then go a ways and turn left before you get to that BP station with the giant yellow tire. Women (many, not all) seem disturbed if you violate the sequence of instructions, to take a "short cut." Men (basically all) love the idea of short-cuts, and are (almost always) wrong about it being shorter. So the skepticism of women, as in the two Oregon cases above, is well founded. Not saying one is better, just saying there really is a difference between man directions and woman directions. Like here.
Still....let me give an example on the other side. After the Charlotte debate on Oct 15, Barbara and I were heading back to our hotel rooms. "Bertha" (my name for the female GPS voice) said to turn left on a particular road, call it Smith Road. Barbara refused, because she didn't know that way. ("We have to go over to the Roy Rodgers, then cut behind the Bojangles, and go past the Kroger, and then take the next left...Course that Kroger isn't there anymore. But it used to be.")
After 20 minutes, we pass Smith Road again, this time coming in from our left. It had cut straight through, while we did a ten mile loop. Clearly, it would have been much shorter to blindly follow the GPS. Barbara: "I know, I know. It would have been shorter, but I didn't know that way!"
Bottom line: when it comes to campaign managers on the road, or wives anywhere, anywhere at all, just do what they say. You will all be happier.
(Nod to Anonyman for the Oregon link)
Somali pirates are the Alan Greenspans of Kenya!
It's true people, the Associated Press wouldn't lie:
NAIROBI, Kenya – Property prices in Nairobi are soaring, and Somali pirates are getting the blame.
The hike in real estate prices in the Kenyan capital has prompted a public outcry and a government investigation this month into property owned by foreigners. The investigation follows allegations that millions of dollars in ransom money paid to Somali pirates are being invested in Kenya, Somalia's southern neighbor and East Africa's largest economy.
"Pirates have money not only in Nairobi but also other places like Dubai, Djibouti and others," said Abdulle. "I have invested through my brother, who is representing me, in Nairobi. He's got a big shop that sells clothes and general merchandise, so my future lies there, not in the piracy industry."
You gotta love the forward thinking, eh? After all you can't spend your whole career in the piracy industy.
I resemble that remark!
Very funny story in the WSJ about how weird economists are.
Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss.
Top 10 disasters of the 2009 Obama administration (in no particular order):
1. Cash for Clunkers
2. War escalation in Afghanistan
3. Giant government health care expansion bill
4. Post office loses money hand over fist
5. Stimulus package
6. Expansion of "state secrets" doctrine
7. Big increase in unemployment
8. "Bailout" Geithner as Treasury Secretary
9. Skyrocketing federal spending
10. Huge federal deficits
Top 10 disasters of the 2001-2008 Bush administration (in particular order):
1. Cash for Car Companies
2. War in Iraq
3. Giant Medicare expansion bill
4. Post office loses money hand over fist
5. Stimulus "rebate" checks
6. PATRIOT Act
7. Big increase in unemployment
8. "Bailout" Paulson as Treasury Secretary
9. Skyrocketing federal spending
10. Huge federal deficits
(Nod to Wes Benedict...)
Friday, January 01, 2010
The KPC approach for 2010...
Am Econ Assoc Meetings RAP VIDEO PREMIERE!
In 2010, whatever you do, don't welsh on Javaris!
This story is shocking even to this jaded old blogger:
NEW YORK (AP)—Washington Wizards teammates Gilbert Arenas(notes) and Javaris Crittenton(notes) drew guns on each other during a Christmas Eve locker room argument over a gambling debt, according to The New York Post.
Citing an anonymous source, the newspaper reports in Friday’s edition that the standoff was sparked when Crittenton became angry at Arenas for refusing to make good on a gambling debt. That prompted Arenas to draw on Crittenton, who then also grabbed for a gun, league security sources tell the Post.
Labels: OK Corral
1994? Or 1964?
New Years Miracles
1. OU won a bowl game! Go Stoops!
Labels: Okie horn blowing
Thursday, December 31, 2009
I can! Canoe?
Shareholder Value Destruction
Shareholder Value Destruction following the Tiger Woods Scandal
Christopher Knittel & Victor Stango, University of California Working Paper, December 2009
Abstract: We estimate that in the days beginning with Tiger Woods' recent car accident and ending with his announced "indefinite leave" from golf, shareholders of
companies that Mr. Woods endorses lost $5-12 billion in wealth. We measure the losses relative to both the entire stock market and a set of competitor firms. Because most of the firms that Mr. Woods endorses are either large or owned by large parent companies, the losses are extremely widespread. Mr. Woods' top five sponsors (Accenture, Nike, Gillette, Electronic Arts and Gatorade) lost 2-3 percent of their aggregate market value after the accident, and his core sports-related sponsors EA, Nike and PepsiCo (Gatorade) lost over four percent. The pace of losses slowed by December 11, the date on which Mr. Woods announced his leave from golf, but as late as December 17 shareholders had not recovered their losses.
Labels: articles to read
The LMM Dances with Neanderbill
Rowland S. Howard has died!
People it has been a very bad week for the music world. On the heels of Vic Chesnutt, Rowland Howard has died of liver cancer.
Stupid Human Tricks
Article from the Wilmington Star News (I was in Wilmington to do a radio interview on THE BIG TALKER)
Man arrested day after leading Wilmington PD on chase through town
A man was arrested Tuesday night after he led police on a chase in Wilmington the night before, officials said. Johnnie Mack Shingler, 23, faces charges including speeding to elude arrest, driving the wrong way on a divided highway and driving without a license, according to Sgt. Matt Hardee of N.C. Highway Patrol.
Shingler is from the state of New York.
On Monday, Hardee said, troopers joined a pursuit, which was started around midnight Monday by Wilmington police who spotted a 1972 Plymouth Valiant driving without a license plate, Hardee said. The chase went from Wilmington, down Carolina Beach Road and toward Monkey Junction. At one point, Hardee said, the fleeing driver drove north in the southbound lanes of College Road. Rather than following, troopers tracked the driver from the other side of the road. Eventually, the driver ditched his car off of Trombay Drive, ran into the woods and escaped.
Authorities found pictures of Shingler and his birth certificate in the car, Hardee said. – David Reynolds
1. A 1972 Plymouth Valiant? REALLY?
2. The guy left his picture and birth certificate in the car. IN. THE. CAR.
3. Monkey Junction?
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Gas Me With a Spoon: Three Articles....
Pain at the Pump: The Differential Effect of Gasoline Prices on New and Used Automobile Markets
Meghan Busse, Christopher Knittel & Florian Zettelmeyer, NBER Working Paper, December 2009
Abstract: The dramatic increase in gasoline prices from close to $1 in 1999 to $4 at their peak in 2008 made it much more expensive for consumers to operate an automobile. In this paper we investigate whether consumers have adjusted to gasoline price changes by altering what automobiles they purchase and what prices they pay. We investigate these effects in both new and used car markets. We find that a $1 increase in gasoline price changes the market shares of the most and least fuel-efficient quartiles of new cars by +20% and -24%, respectively. In contrast, the same gasoline price increase changes the market shares of the most and least fuel-efficient quartiles of used cars by only +3% and -7%, respectively. We find that changes in gasoline prices also change the relative prices of cars in the most fuel-efficient quartile and cars in the least fuel-efficient quartile: for new cars the relative price increase for fuel-efficient cars is $363 for a $1 increase in gas prices; for used cars it is $2839. Hence the adjustment of equilibrium market shares and prices in response to changes in usage cost varies dramatically between new and used markets. In the new car market, the adjustment is primarily in market shares, while in the used car market, the adjustment is primarily in prices. We argue that the difference in how gasoline costs affect new and used automobile markets can be explained by differences in the supply characteristics of new and used cars.
Qualitative Effects of Cash-for-Clunkers Programs
Eugenio Miravete & Maria Moral Rincón
University of Texas Working Paper, October 2009
We document how automobile scrappage incentives similar to the '2009 Car Allowance Rebate System' (CARS) may influence drivers' tastes in favor of fuel-efficient automobiles. Between 1994 and 2000 the market share of diesel automobiles doubled after Spanish government sponsored two scrappage programs. We show that demand for diesel automobiles was not driven only by better mileage; that gasoline and diesel models became closer substitutes over time; and that automobile manufacturers reduced their markups on gasoline automobiles as their demand decreased. These programs simply accelerated a change of preference that was already on its way when they were implemented.
Malapportionment, Gasoline Taxes, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Lawrence Broz & Daniel Maliniak
University of California Working Paper, November 2009
Gasoline taxes vary widely among industrialized countries, as does support for the United Nations’ effort to curtail the use of fossil fuels to address the climate change problem. We argue that malapportionment of the electoral system affects both the rate at which governments tax gasoline and the extent to which governments participate in global efforts to ameliorate climate change. Malapportionment results in a “rural bias” such that the political system disproportionately represents rural voters. Since rural voters in industrialized countries rely more heavily on fossil fuels than urban voters, our prediction is that malapportioned political systems will have lower gasoline taxes, and less commitment to climate change amelioration, than systems with equitable representation of constituents. We find that malapportionment is negatively related to both gasoline taxes and support for the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (where “support” is measured as the duration of the spell between the signing of the Protocol and ratification by the domestic legislature).
Nod to Kevin L, who walks)
Labels: articles to read
Sneak peek at Andy Roddick's tennis wardrobe for 2010
Izod has really outdone themselves!!
Labels: I love Twitter
Flip Saunders has had enough!
Flip went medieval on his team's sorry ass after the Wizards lost to my Thunder last night. Here are some selected quotes:
Spots will be open. If guys don’t like it, that’s fine but that’s the way it’s going to be,”
“Guys want to come out of the zone and play man-to-man, but they can’t guard anybody. I can go out there on that floor and take anybody on our team on one-on-one at 52 years old and drive right around them,” Saunders said. “We’ve got to wake up. As I told them: Don’t think it can’t get any worse, because it can. There’s no question it can. We’ve got to have a sense of urgency.”
Montesquieu famously had this amazingly racist explanation of the different "characters" of nations. And it was based on....weather! Weather causes "certain" people (for the racist M, that would be "dark" people) to be lazy and no 'count. Check this:
Spirit of the Laws: Book XIV. Of Laws in Relation to the Nature of the Climate
1. General Idea. If it be true that the temper of the mind and the passions of the heart are extremely different in different climates, the laws ought to be in relation both to the variety of those passions and to the variety of those tempers.
2. Of the Difference of Men in different Climates. Cold air constringes the extremities of the external fibres of the body; this increases their elasticity, and favours the return of the blood from the extreme parts to the heart. It contracts those very fibres; consequently it increases also their force. On the contrary, warm air relaxes and lengthens the extremes of the fibres; of course it diminishes their force and elasticity.
People are therefore more vigorous in cold climates. Here the action of the heart and the reaction of the extremities of the fibres are better performed, the temperature of the humours is greater, the blood moves more freely towards the heart, and reciprocally the heart has more power. This superiority of strength must produce various effects; for instance, a greater boldness, that is, more courage; a greater sense of superiority, that is, less desire of revenge; a greater opinion of security, that is, more frankness, less suspicion, policy, and cunning.
In short, this must be productive of very different tempers. Put a man into a close, warm place, and for the reasons above given he will feel a great faintness. If under this circumstance you propose a bold enterprise to him, I believe you will find him very little disposed towards it; his present weakness will throw him into despondency; he will be afraid of everything, being in a state of total incapacity. The inhabitants of warm countries are, like old men, timorous; the people in cold countries are, like young men, brave.
Now, unbelievably, check this!
The Income–Temperature Relationship in a Cross-Section of Countries and its Implications for Predicting the Effects of Global Warming
John Horowitz, Environmental and Resource Economics, December 2009, Pages 475-493
Abstract: Hotter countries are poorer on average. This paper attempts to separate the historical and contemporaneous components of this income–temperature relationship. Following ideas by Acemoglu et al., we use colonial mortality data to account for the historical role of temperature since colonial mortality was highly correlated with countries’ average temperatures. The remaining income–temperature gradient, after colonial mortality is accounted for, is most likely contemporaneous. This contemporaneous effect can be used to estimate the consequences of global warming. We predict that a 1°C temperature increase across all countries will cause a decrease of 3.8% in world GDP. This prediction is robust across functional forms and an alternative method for separating historical effects.
Wow! Global warming allows lefties to be racists! Yikes!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Doing the least with the most
Quien es lo mas Loco?
People, who the craziest? Janet Napolitano or Al Queda?
Monday, December 28, 2009
Starry, Starry Bush Roads
Anonyman writes, "They followed a forest road for 35 miles?!? GPS doesn't seem like their biggest problem."
About this, I mean.
What's your favorite thing about this incident? Here are two of MY favorite things:
1. Thinking about the conversation the LMM and I would have if I got us that lost in the mountains, for three days, using GPS. "STOP and ask for directions!" "Ask WHO? Besides, I know where we are. Look at this map!" "I told you not to...." and "I think there are some lights up ahead," and so on.
2. The woman's name is Starry Bush-Rhoads. No, really. They got lost for three nights in the mountains on bush roads, and her name is....well, you see my point.
Labels: We get letters
The Grand Game!
Sometimes here at KPC someone sends a link that is just SO sweet that we have to examine it, savor it, and then leave it by the side of the road to rot.
While Sweden has a large state and well developed public services, in Japan government social expenditure makes up an unusually small part (compared to other OECD countries) of its Gross National Income. The same contrast exists among US states - even between neighbouring states like Vermont and New Hampshire. Vermont takes the big government route and New Hampshire the small. But despite the contrast in how greater equality is achieved, Sweden, Japan, Vermont and New Hampshire all enjoy good health, lower rates of most social problems - i.e. all the benefits of greater equality.
Here is just such a link, a set of "studies" so noisome, so nonsensical... well, enjoy. Here is the "evidence" page. This is a rare combination of almost painful self-importance and bad social science.
J. Gruber joins the dark side
People, did you know that any money you actually get to keep is simply a temporary tax break generously allowed to you by a beneficent and magnanimous government?
"So in the end, we have a policy that provides the necessary financing to pay for subsidies to low-income families; induces employers to buy more cost-effective health insurance, lowering U.S. health-care spending; offsets a bias in our tax system that favors more expensive insurance; and raises wages by $223 billion over 10 years."
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I have written about nachas before. But about sports.
Today, I had to take the YYM down to the Urgent Care Clinic, because he had pink eye, and we needed some antibiotic eyedrops.
On the way home, we were talking about theories of the origin of the moon, and the problem of caclulating mass, and LaGrangian points (I had not heard of these...)
The YYM is quiet for a minute, and then says, "I was wondering the other day about kinetic energy of a bullet. So I calculated the kinetic energy of a .50 caliber bullet from a M-82".
(I'm thinking, okay, not so hard, you just need estimates of the mass of the bullet, and the muzzle velocity....Still, very cool that he would actually try to calculate it!)
He goes on, "And I wondered how fast a small car, say a Smart Car, would have to be going to have the same kinetic energy."
He looks over. "About 16 miles per hour. A .50 caliber round from an M-82 sniper rifle has the same kinetic energy, at least when it leaves the barrel, as an empty Smart Car traveling at 16 miles per hour."
This, for a father, produces a flood of pure hormonal nachas. To think that this is an interesting question is pretty great. To be able to solve for it is a sign that he actually has learned something in physics. And to bring it up in casual conversation, as a random factoid, ensures his admission to the club of geek-nerds.
I'm so proud....
(UPDATE: I haven't checked the algebra. He may have gotten it wrong. But it SOUNDS about right, in order of magnitude)
Vic Chesnutt, R. I. P.
American poet/songwriter Vic Chesnutt is dead.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Beginners' Guide to Liberty
Registration Map of NC
Thanks to the good work of Ray U., we can construct the following registration map of NC. As the legend suggests, the GREEN counties are those with Libertarian regisration proportions (as % of registered voters) greater than 0.11%. And the YELLOW are counties with registration proportions of 0.09% to 0.109%. And that's about half the counties. The RED counties are those with the lowest percentages, below 0.03%. The counties left white, then, are those between 0.03% and 0.089%.
Overall, only 1 in 1,000 registered North Carolinians are L's.
Labels: Libertarian Party
Republicans are Hypocrites
Remarkable that the best defense the Dems can come up with for their "sell your children" deficit is "The Republicans did it!"
I thought that the Dems, and Obama in particular, had promised to make DIFFERENT mistakes. So far, foreign / military policy is Bush III. And, since the Republican fiscal policy was "run up the deficit, and pay off Goldman Sachs," and the Dem policy is "run up the deficit much faster, and pay off Goldman Sachs,"...well, I don't see much to pick from here.
Still, sure, for the record, the Republicans are stone liars. I agree.
Six years ago, "it was standard practice not to pay for things," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "We were concerned about it, because it certainly added to the deficit, no question." His 2003 vote has been vindicated, Hatch said, because the prescription drug benefit "has done a lot of good."
"Standard practice not to pay for things"? Only if you are a Senator, Orrin. And the idea that spending "does a lot of good" is amazing. Clearly, if I take money from A at gunpoint, and give some of it to B (keeping the rest to pay my expenses), then B is, in terms of that one program, better off. That is NOT the same as "does a lot of good," even if there are many people in the B category.
And the prescription drug benefit, since it was paid for with deficit, actually takes money from B's grandchildren in the future, and gives it to B NOW. B likely would not do that straight up, but give B the smoke-screen of this being a "government program," and it DOES A LOT OF GOOD!
(Nod to Anonyman, who never lies. Just ask him.)
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Op Ed in Durham Herald
Sing it Bing!
Labels: that explains everything
Labels: I guess they're on to us
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The Cutest Darned Baby Panda
To each according to their needs
Seth Roberts great post about appreciative thinking (link is here, it's well worth reading) got me thinking about my own career teaching grad students. I realized that, in alternating waves, I've dealt with students who needed to learn appreciative thinking and students who needed to learn Cowen's Law.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Lazy Students, or Just Clueless?
There is an interesting divide. Some of my students work, and some don't. Most of the ones who work, do well. (They got into Duke, so they have SOMETHING going for them)
And some of the ones who DON'T work much, still do well, at least in the B+ range. To be honest, Poli Sci is just not that hard. If you are smart and write well, you can write a perfectly acceptable paper in four days. Even just crunched in at the end of the semester.
An interesting article, on working and time management. The amazing thing is that you just need to work a little, every day, to succeed.
Same thing for faculty: 3 hours actual work, writing, every day and you will be pretty successful.
Happy Solstice from Angus & Mungowitz!
Back From NYC, and Rapping It Down
So, I'm back from NYC, and have finished my (truly trivial, probably will die on cutting room floor) role in the rap video. It was SO great to watch the film crew in action, though. Very, very cool. Also colder than heck in NYC, post-blizzard.
For more info on the video, and the rap song, and the people who actually matter, check this video....
Monday, December 21, 2009
Spanish is so great
One of my favorite dichos (sayings) in Spanish is "salir de Guatemala y llegar a Guatepeor" which is in the same spirit as "out of the frying pan and into the fire" only much much funnier.
Labels: Doin' It Wrong
The EYM Comes Home
The Elder Younger Munger returned home from UNC, resplendent. He pulled the intermediate microecon and macroecon courses out. He had skipped the intro courses (which are always dreadful) and the second level courses (which are only slightly less so). But it does help to know the definitions. Still, he got through them both, with just enough for the "gentleman's A-" that is what the "gentleman's C+" has turned into at American universities. Two anecdotes of the return.
1. In the car, he was describing a friend of his. The EYM has a great deadpan, which drives the LMM a little nuts. EYM: "I have a friend. He just got his nipples pierced. His first piercing experience."
LMM: "Why? And YOU had better not do that."
EYM: "Whimsicality. He got curved barbells inserted into his nipples. But invisible to others, most of the time. Whimsicality."
LMM: "And he's better now, somehow?"
EYM: "Well, he is considerably more sensitive to temperature changes...."
2. Then, the EYM noted that he is in a "band," THE PRETENSE. They have "tracks" up on MYSPACE, at http://www.myspace.com/thepretensemakesense
They are, as you will hear if you listen, a noise rock band. Three tracks have particular historic value, I think:
"Exams at 8 and 12, Featuring 'The Neighbor'" (listen at the end; that's an actual neighbor coming in and telling them to STFU)
"Stupidly Hot Shower" (just because)
"Kentucky" (this track was of course much too commercial and calculated for the band's core fans. It has, after all, both something like a melody and something like lyrics. NOT those things, but something like them. So the band broke up over creative differences, but reformed after promising NEVER to "sell out" with any commercial pandering like this again. A turning point, I predict.)
Finally, I should point out that they are playing a gig January 18, at Elon, as a warmup band. I predict injuries, inflicted by the audience, and inflicted on "The Pretense."
UPDATE: Old KPC friend Martin comes home for Froehliche Weihnachten, and sends warm props to the EYM. Thanks, Martin. And of course I will elevate your suggested link to the front page. That's amazing.
As for Principles of Econ, Patrick, you MAY be right. But the EYM read Hazlitt, Hayek, and Heilbroner, Read and Rand before he was 12. He is almost finished with a math major in college. I don't see why memorizing the definition of "elasticity" in a large principles class is going to help. Having me as a dad has many obvious drawbacks. Why not acknowledge the one benefit: He has had "Principles" shoved down his throat since birth?
Go Josef, it's your birthday
We gonna party like it's your birthday, sip Bacardi like it's your birthday and, for at least one day, no one in Russia is gonna badmouth you!
Despite overseeing political purges and widespread famine that killed millions of Soviet citizens, Stalin is still embraced by many Russians nostalgic for Soviet times.
His popularity has even risen in recent years amid a Kremlin-backed campaign to burnish his image as the man who led the nation to victory in World War II.
"We would very much like for any discussion of the mistakes of the Stalin epoch to be silenced today, so that people could reflect on Stalin's personality as a creator, a thinker and a patriot," Communist deputy parliament speaker Ivan Melnikov said on the party's Web site. The Communists represent the country's second most powerful political party after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia.
You got it Ivan!!
Labels: Biden Please Shut Up
Don't walk him, but don't give him anything good to hit
As a mere lad, pre Mrs. Angus and digital cable, I followed baseball. At one point in this (admittedly low) stage of my life, I recall watching a show about the Atlanta Braves on the "Superstation" where the pitching coach came out to the mound and offered up the zen koan of unhelpful advice that comprises the title of this post.
President Nicolas Sarkozy has ordered the head of the French train authority to get Eurostar traffic moving again by Tuesday.
Eurostar has suspended traffic between Paris and London pending tests to determine what caused five trains to get stuck inside the Channel Tunnel late Friday, trapping more than 2,000 people for hours.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Markets in one less thing
Reuters informs us that Horse is "falling off restaurant menus" in France:
"Many people love horses and traditionally, many French people have loved them even more with a side of salad. That passion, however, has slowed to a trickle in the last couple of years as crisis-hit French consumers buy less meat and years of campaigning by animal rights groups take effect.
Consumption of horse meat has fallen 12 percent in the last two years and currently makes up less than 1 percent of all meat consumed in France, the ministry said in a report.
"Horse is indeed a French dish, but you'd be very hard-pressed to find it in any restaurants now," said the chef at restaurant Le Central in Paris, adding: "There's so much publicity against it.""
Labels: the sausage factory
Good Books, Bad Books
On the "good" side of the ledger:
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Incontrovertible proof that Economics is a Science!
Twitter Experiment: Avatar today, Rap Video Tomorrow!
So, I'll try out this whole TWEET thing.
Today, going to see 3D Avatar.
Tomorrow, flying to New York to play the role of "The Bouncer" in Russ Roberts' rap video production. I can't post details, but the Wall Street atmospherics should be worth something.
So, follow if you will....
Just too obvious
Friday, December 18, 2009
Anonyman sends this link, noting that the LMM and Anonyspouse have similar views on Tiger-Edwards-Spitzer-Sanford. (My wife has made it clear that if I dillied or dallied, she would leave. But she would not leave empty-handed. She would be carrying with her the official "Lorena Bobbitt" souvenir edition portion of me, as a keepsake. Since I would not be needing it any more.)
Why is it, then, that Hillary Clinton gets so much respect? Remember that extraordinarily condescending interview, where she said she would NEVER bake cookies and stand by her man? And then she did EXACTLY that, like a whipped dog? Sure, she made Bill miserable, for more than a year. But she stayed with him, as a calculation of her own interests, in effect selling and demeaning herself. She did "make" him sleep on a couch. That is a little funny, because they already had separate bedrooms!
Why would any woman with independent financial means stay around to be humiliated?
You go, girl. Go out the door. Leave. You are better than that.
UPDATE: I have to add this. Here is the treatment the Hill had to endure after the scandal, and Bill fessed up. WHY did she stay?
The big story continues to be President Clinton's best selling book. On the
news tonight they interviewed Clinton's editor. Editor? The book is 957
pages long! What the hell did he edit?
The book is huge. And actually, it folds out into a bed.
The "New York Post" is reporting today that Clinton now feels he has two more autobiographies left to write. That's what I love about Clinton. He's the only guy in the world who has three different versions of his life story. One for him, one for Hillary, one for the grand jury.
In the book, Clinton says that "in politics, if you don't toot your own horn, it usually stays untooted." And if you get someone else to toot your horn, you get impeached.
In his book, Bill Clinton talks about the point where Hillary started to laugh again. It was when he told her "Look, I'll never cheat on you again. I promise." Apparently she got hysterical.
It's only been out a day, Bill Clinton's book is already number one on the
"New York Times" bestseller list. The book is called, "My Life...As A Dog."
It's a fascinating read, this Clinton book, in the book he claims he led a double life. There were 2 Bill Clintons. Bill Clinton claims he led a double life. He was kind of like Dr. Jeckyl and Mister Hyde the salami!
In the book, Clinton reveals one night when he was five or six years old back in Arkansas. His step dad fired a gun in the house but it didn't hit him or his mother. So it looks like this bad aim thing runs in the family.
The most quoted thing in the book is where Clinton talks about after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, he slept on the couch for two months. That's how you know Hillary was mad, they had separate bedrooms and she still made him sleep on the couch!
Today Monica Lewinsky was not sympathetic. She said if Bill thought the couch was uncomfortable, he should try getting under that little desk.
Bill Clinton is really busy right now. He's so busy signing books that he had to cancel his 3 o'clock intern.
I went to the book signing and I was surprised the book was already 30 percent off. Just like his pants.