Thursday, January 07, 2010

Stupidity Bowl

Wow, I am watching the BCS championship game and it's like watching a rousing game of Russian roulette!

While Alabama made two idiotic plays that led to two Texas field goals (a pathetic fake punt on the first series of the game and then the failure to field the ensuing kick-off which resulted in the worlds longest onside kick), Saban still looks like a freakin' genius compared to Mack Brown.

Brown decides to take his super-star, his indispensable man, QB Colt McCoy and have him run a sweep. 'Bama defender drills him, McCoy heads to the locker room for x-rays, and now Texas has no offense.

People, Mack Brown is a moron! 

You could go pick some dude out of any LA barbershop or Pilates studio to coach Texas and they wouldn't send McCoy plunging into the line in a million years.

I picked Texas to win this game but now, I don't think so.


***** UPDATE******

Nice time-out there right before the half too, Mack. Just what you needed, to have your deer in the headlights backup shovel a pick 6. That poor kid was crying when he came off the field.

This week's sign of the apocalypse

From Billboard: Lil Wayne to be cartoon Jesus!

I hate to break it to the Mayans, but if this actually happens we 
probably won't even make it to 2012!

Stupid Okie tricks

I wonder how many KPC readers are familiar with this quaint Oklahoma New Year's tradition:

Oklahoma City police arrested a Midwest City man early New Year's Day after his ex-girlfriend said he kicked in her door, fought with her current boyfriend and used his rear end to smash her television set.

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)

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:

He's been charged with DWI now.
He's probably going to get his bail revoked.

and, despite video and eyewitness evidence, he's still claiming that he was not the driver of his car when it crashed!


BTW, if you think you had a bad 2009, consider these other Jayson Williams facts from last year:

"His wife filed for divorce, and police used a stun gun on him in a New York hotel after a female friend said he was acting suicidal. He was charged with assault in May after allegedly punching a man in the face outside a North Carolina bar, but charges were dropped. In November, Williams' father, E.J., with whom he owned a construction business, died in South Carolina."

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. 

You have some time on your hands so.... why not go out, drive drunk and crash your SUV

Sure, that's the ticket!

The funniest part of the story is that when police arrived at the scene, Williams was sitting in the passenger seat as if someone else was driving. However witnesses told the cops that he was the only one in the car the whole time. 

I guess he's a fan of Arrested Development.

Who knows, this may work out for him by making jury selection in his retrial impossible.

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.

Tattoo You

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?

Well here you go:

1. Chavez ordered that a Venezuelan judge, who released a prisoner that the Chavez government wouldn't put on trial or grant bail for two years, be sent to prison for 30 years. He helpfully suggested that she was lucky that he didn't have her shot.

2.  He put international automakers with plants in Venezuela on notice that they would be next on the nationalization list if they didn't start making the "right" kind of vehicles and stop worrying about profits.

3. He accused Colombia of sending drone aircraft into Venezuelan airspace as a preparation for invasion. When the Colombian defense minister said that it was probably just Santa Claus that the Venezuelans saw, Hugo didn't see the humor.

Meanwhile, Venezuela continues to deteriorate.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

TSA--Whoopsie Daisy

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

1. How to write about Africa. Here's a quick sample:

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.

The article also features excellent quotes from gen-u-ine pirates:

Pirates in Somalia say they invest their ransom money outside their war-torn country, including in Kenya. One pirate who gave his name as Osman Afrah said he bought three trucks that transport goods across East Africa. A second pirate, who only gave his name as Abdulle, said he's investing in Kenya in preparation for leaving the pirate trade.
"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.

The best part was how Bob Hall wanted to pay people to trim his christmas tree (I am pretty sure that is not a metaphor for something else)!

The takeaways are that economists are:

(1) Cheap

(2) Greedy

(3) Have no social skills

They forgot that we are generally bad dressers and are often suspect in our personal hygiene!

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
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... pretty much like the KPC approach for 2004-2009. And it can be summarized by our good friend Bucky:

Happy and Merry from Haus der Mungowitz!

Am Econ Assoc Meetings RAP VIDEO PREMIERE!

The Rap Video that has been "going back and forth for a century!" Check it here....

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.

Ready people? 1-2-3-YIKES!!

What do you think, fine them each 1 million and suspend for the rest of the season? Pete Rose them? I guess they could end up in jail, couldn't they?

1994? Or 1964?

At KPC, we distort, and you deride.

Still, feel free to comment, on my view on the question in the title of this post....

New Years Miracles

1. OU won a bowl game! Go Stoops!

2. Thunder have a 5 game winning streak after pulling one out last night against Utah (with me and Mrs. A in attendance). If the playoffs started tomorrow, Thunder would be in!

3. December of 2009 was the highest traffic month in the history of KPC! Thanks y'all. We are climbing up the Technorati ladder. Keep them links coming.