Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Time Like the Present

Two photos out the back "picher window" this morning. 5+" of new snow...




































(UPDATE: The YYM points out that if you look carefully at the second picture, at the center left, under the tree house, you will see our dog Tanzi taking a dump. Nice. I'm not a very good photographer. Or, maybe I'm a GREAT photographer.)

The Capitalist Peace

You hear a lot of crap about "democratic peace." "Capitalist peace" is more like it, as others have said.

"Trade networks and the Kantian peace," (working paper version)
Han Dorussen & Hugh Ward, Journal of Peace Research, January 2010, Pages 29-42

Abstract: Classical-liberal arguments about the pacifying effects of international trade are revisited, and it is argued that they consistently refer to the ability of trade to provide ‘connections’ between people and to create a perceived ‘global community’. Dependency and openness are commonly used to test for any pacifying effects of trade in the current literature, but these measures fail to capture some of the classical liberals’ key insights. Several network measures are introduced in order to give natural expression to and to develop the classical-liberal view that trade linkages reduce interstate conflict. These measures applied to trade flows are incorporated in the Russett & Oneal triangulating-peace model. The main results are that trade networks are indeed pacifying in that both direct and indirect trade linkages matter, and as the global trade network has become more dense over time, the importance of indirect links by way of specific third countries has declined, and the general embeddedness of state dyads in the trade network has become more relevant. These findings suggest that the period since World War II has seen progressive realization of the classical-liberal ideal of a security community of trading states.


Background.... More.... The Final Word.

Idiots.

(Nod to Kevin L)

Friday, January 29, 2010

I am not alone

KPC readers know that I cannot abide Novak Djokovic, the Serbian clown. Apparently it's not just me. Here is the beginning of Jo-Willie Tsonga's press conference after he beat Djokovic in the Aussie open quarters:


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Novak talked about his problems. He had some problems during the match. When did you first notice that he was having problems?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Five years ago


Ummm, oh snap??? Jo Willie, you have a new fan even though Federer beat you down in the semis 3,2 and 3 in 88 minutes.


That's a mighty good number

The initial estimate of 4th quarter GDP growth is 5.7% (this is an annualized rate), a welcome improvement from the 3rd quarter's anemic 2.2%. It is not thrilling that a big chunk came from "inventory investment" (stuff produced that wasn't sold), but business investment grew almost 3% after falling almost 6% in the third quarter. Export growth continues to be very robust, growing at an 18.1% annualized rate in the 4th quarter, which is only a slight improvement over the 3rd quarter's strong 17.8%.

A couple quarters like that (assuming the number survives revisions), and unemployment will definitely start coming down.

  

Thursday, January 28, 2010

post-regional politics

Y'know, when I read the erudite and witty posts of my esteemed co-blogger Mungowitz, I sometimes even forget, for a minute or two, that he's from Florida!

Carter Wrenn Dishes

I understand that Bev Perdue claimed she was looking at ways to cut the budget.

And I understand that the News and Observer, ever credulous (that's the BEST interpretation...), reported it as fact.

But....allowing the state to make only no-bid contracts so that it can channel money directly to friends and cronies...wouldn't that be a place you would think of cutting, if you were serious? Why is it that the News and Observer only tries to go after the corruption of ex-governors? Why not question this horrible mess while they are still in office?

Look, even Mickey Michaux is surprised.

It's just them and Stephon, them and Stephon

Starbury has arrived and set up shop in Taiyuan, China.  But for how long I wonder? Forgive me for being cynical about his chances, but here are some things to consider:


"Wang Jianguang, a spokesman for Zhongyu, said the team has hired an interpreter for Mr. Marbury to help with his adjustment, but the team expects Mr. Marbury to be at all of its twice-a-day practices, which start at 9 a.m., six days a week."

"Taiyuan is the capital of China's northern Shanxi province and the center of China's coal-mining industry. The whole city is covered in a thin layer of coal dust, including Zhongyu's Binhe Sports Stadium, which seats about 4,500 people. It has less than a fourth the capacity of New York's Madison Square Garden where Mr. Marbury played from 2004 to 2008. Courtside seats in the arena, which run about $1,464 a season, are a collection of worn red sofas and lounge chairs."

"The Binhe Stadium looks like an abandoned building in the daytime while the team is practicing, its gates held closed with bicycle locks." \

"Taiyuan is markedly less tourist-friendly, internationalized and cosmopolitan than bustling cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. It's hard to find a bank ATM that will accept foreign credit cards."


Add the facts on the ground to the fact that Starbury is Starbury, and, well, I guess the upside for him is that there are only 17 games left in the league's regular season.

What is the over/under on how many games he lasts? Does it depend on how many shoes he's selling?

Here is my best memory of Steph:

 




The Importance of Religion

Why Religion’s Burdens Are Light: From Religiosity to Implicit Self-Regulation

Sander Koole, Michael McCullough, Julius Kuhl & Peter Roelofsma
Personality and Social Psychology Review, February 2010, Pages 95-107

Abstract: To maintain religious standards, individuals must frequently endure aversive or forsake pleasurable experiences. Yet religious individuals on average display higher levels of emotional well-being compared to nonreligious individuals. The present article seeks to resolve this paradox by suggesting that many forms of religion may facilitate a self-regulatory mode that is flexible, efficient, and largely unconscious. In this implicit mode of self-regulation, religious individuals may be able to strive for high standards and simultaneously maintain high emotional well-being. A review of the empirical literature confirmed that religious stimuli and practices foster implicit self-regulation, particularly among individuals who fully internalized their religion’s standards. The present work suggests that some seemingly irrational aspects of religion may have important psychological benefits by promoting implicit self-regulation.


(Nod to Kevin L)

In our increasingly secular society, I think public commitment to environmentalism have taken the place of traditional religion, and likely have some of the same psychological benefits. The idea that "recycling is cheaper, no matter how much it costs," is clearly a religious claim, not a practical one....And you can see the religious fervor in the reactions, when someone points this out! (Check the comments, smell the incense)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We Get Letters!

We get letters. This from a stalwart reader and commenter, who shall remain anonymous....

Get an email to pick up my new and improved ID for which I was fingerprinted and photographed 6 weeks ago. Email says to go online and schedule a day/place/time to pick it up. Show up at designated gubmint building, go to security, they call the ID office to ask if they should let me in.

ID office says my ID is not ready. I ask why the email says it is in fact ready to be picked up, and the official website let me make an appointment, if it is not actually ready.

They tell me they have no control over what the email says or the on-line system, and I should have remembered that they told me that 6 weeks ago when I went in for the fingerprinting. Therefore it is my fault and maybe it will be ready by next week, but I can't call and check and will only know when I show up to pick it up.

Your tax $ at work.


Now, this person works at an actual government agency, one you have heard of, one that has a budget in the billions. Wow.

Markets in everything: Weight-loss cutlery edition

What if your fork was a dumbbell? What if your knife was too? How cool would that be? I guess just about this cool:




They weight 1.5 lbs each and are real enough to have the LA Times write about them.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

visit exotic Oklahoma

One of the highlights our our trip last summer to the Pantanal in Brazil was seeing tons of kingfishers (my favorite type of bird). Here is an example:




I have been extremely surprised by seeing and hearing a similar bird on our morning walks in Normotopia. I've been telling Mrs. Angus, "hey that bird looks, sounds and flys like a kingfisher, I wonder what it is"? Turns out WE GOTZ KINGFISHERS IN OKLAHOMIE!! Like this one:


Awesome!

And, while I am pretty sure we don't have jaguars here, we do apparently have mountain lions!

Sweet home Oklahomie, people!

Markets in everything: Celebrity smells edition



Headline Magic! News on Great Tits....

So, here's the headline:
"Flashier Great Tits Produce Stronger Sperm!"
Now, I expect that's right, on the merits.

But it turns out that the article is about how bright and colorful chests, on birds called "Great Tits," are a sign of fitness.

Excerpt:
The birds' vibrant plumage appears to act like a flashing billboard, broadcasting the males' reproductive superiority to females eager to produce offspring.

The advertisement likely finds an appreciative audience in female great tits, since snagging a male with high-quality sperm isn't exactly a lark.

That's in part because free radicals threaten sperm cells in many animals, including humans. Created by cells when stressed by pollution and other factors, free radicals are groups of oxygen-activated atoms that can damage sperm cells, weakening their swimming ability. (Learn how DNA works.)

Many animals' bodies produce antioxidants that fight free radicals—including male great tits. The birds have an antioxidant called carotenoid that not only defends against free radicals but also gives their breast feathers a yellow hue.


ATSRTWT

Now, it will not be news to avid birders that there are many types of tits. I have to admit that I have never seen, and frankly would not WANT to see, the "bearded tit." I'm pretty open minded, but... One has to draw the line somewhere.

(Nod to Taren S-K, who has a highly refined sense of the absurd)

How Could This Possibly Be Funny? Or, Worse, Serious?

1. What kind of idiot could think that this was going to be funny?

TSA Agent plants white powder in bag....


Next: Hilarious pranksters plant bomb in ladies underwear! "I got punk'd! I got punk'd!" laughs victim.

2. This guy, Lt Gov of South Carolina, appears to believe that no humans should have an "ample food supply." You can see the point, I suppose, if you are a naive Malthusian, but his point would also appear to apply to charity soup kitchens and homeless missions. I'm a Libertarian, but even I donate money to homeless shelters and charities. As long as it's voluntary, those organizations do good work and I support them.

(Nod to Anonyman)

Monday, January 25, 2010

KPC: Your Hip Hop Headquarters!

The video. I humbly present the video: Fear the Boom & Bust.....



LAGNIAPPE: Here is an actual picture (really) of Russ Roberts with Ke$ha.

One size fits all

We pretty much all know that the real answer to questions of the sort "why does X occur"? is "to get the girl".

You know what I mean right? "why do birds grow elaborate feathers?", "why do rams butt heads at 30 mph?" Why do boys play football?", "why do bloggers blog?".


Now, LeBron informs us that this simple, powerful answer also applies to explaining our current global imbalances, viz:

Q: Why do the Chinese save so much?

A: To get the girl!

Life in America just keeps getting better

First our overlords decided to let us eat jamón ibérico, and now, in even a bigger culinary coup, HAGGIS IS AGAIN LEGAL IN THE USA!!!!

From the Guardian:

Smuggled and bootlegged, it has been the cause of transatlantic tensions for more than two decades. But after 21 years in exile, the haggis is to be allowed back into the United States.

The "great chieftan o' the puddin-race" was one of earliest casualties of the BSE crisis of the 1980s-90s, banned on health grounds by the US authorities in 1989 because they feared its main ingredient ‑ minced sheep offal ‑ could prove lethal.

Some refined foodies might insist it always has been and always will be: in the words of Robert Burns, in his Ode to a Haggis, looking "down wi' sneering, scornfu' view on sic a dinner". But now, as millions of Scots around the world prepare to celebrate Burns's legacy tonight with an elaborate, whisky-fuelled pageant to a boiled bag of sheep innards, oatmeal, suet and pepper, its reputation has been restored, on health grounds at leas
t.

Some notes on the above quote:

1. they banned sheep guts due to concerns about mad cow? WTF?

2. "great chieftan o the puddin' race"? Robert Burns, who ranks right behind Andy Murray but ahead of Robert the Bruce as the second greatest Scottsman ever.

3. In actuality, ALL meals in Scotland are "whisky-fuelled pageants"! However, speaking from experience, copious amounts of whisky would be a huge help in getting down a plateful of haggis.

hat tip to Felix the Fish


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Los Partidos del Te

Boy, once you get in the old Rolodex...

Article in El Mercurio, Santiago, Chile. Excerpt:

...el republicano terminó por quedarse con el estado que perteneció a Kennedy por 47 años, y el Tea Party se anotaba su primera victoria política.

"Para nosotros no se trata tanto del apoyo a Scott Brown, sino sobre la idea de que si colaboramos en masa podemos ganar cualquier asiento (parlamentario) en el país", dijo Eric Odom, del America Liberty Alliance, otra institución bajo el paraguas del Tea Party.

Y es que así funciona el movimiento: es descentralizado, se organiza espontáneamente, y carece de un manifiesto claro. Hasta el momento no se consideran parte del Partido Republicano.

"Sería un error pensar que son una fuerza capaz de dar un apoyo continuo. No son un partido, son una masa acéfala que puede ser peligrosa incluso para quienes la abrazan", dijo a "El Mercurio" Michael Munger, director del departamento de Ciencias Políticas de la Universidad de Duke.

¿Qué unió entonces a Brown y al Tea Party? El mismo descontento que ha hecho a este último impulsar a miles de ciudadanos a protestar en los últimos meses contra la administración Obama. Decirle que "no" a Washington y a los demócratas, y representar el enojo contra el sistema político contra el plan de salud, los paquetes de estímulo y el desempleo.


ATSRTWT

(I'd translate, but my Spanish is terrible. And, hopefully, Mr. Autodidakto will do the honors...again)

Dance Dance Revolution




Yikes!

Reelin' in the grants: The things that pass for research, I don't understand.

Looking for Gender: Gender Roles and Behaviors Among Online Gamers

Dmitri Williams, Mia Consalvo, Scott Caplan & Nick Yee
Journal of Communication, December 2009, Pages 700-725

Abstract: Several hypotheses regarding the importance of gender and relationships were tested by combining a large survey dataset with unobtrusive behavioral data from 1 year of play. Consistent with expectations, males played for achievement-oriented reasons and were more aggressive, especially within romantic relationships where both partners played. Female players in such relationships had higher general happiness than their male counterparts. Contrary to stereotypes and current hypotheses, it was the female players who played the most. Female players were also healthier than male players or females in the general population. The findings have implications for gender theory and communication-oriented methods in games and online research—most notably for the use of self-reported time spent, which was systematically incorrect and different by gender.

-----------------------

Get Back into that Kitchen, Woman: Management Conferences and the Making of the Female Professional Worker

Jackie Ford & Nancy Harding
Gender, Work & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract: Conferences are a little studied aspect of working lives. In this article we explore how management conferences contribute to the continuing imbalance of power between men and women in management. We analyse data gathered from a reflexive ethnographic study of a management conference. We show that women arrive at conferences as knowing subjects, able easily to occupy the subject position of conference participant, but they are then subjected to processes of infantilization and seduction. They are made to feel scared and are given the order, as were their mothers and grandmothers: get back to the kitchen. We avoid using a theoretical explanation for these findings, preferring to offer them without much explanation, for we favour instead a political approach, and we use the findings as a way of making a call to arms to change the ways in which conferences are hostile to women.

-----------------------

Fast-girls, babes and the invisible girls. Gender relations in snowboarding

Mari Kristin Sisjord
Sport in Society, December 2009, Pages 1299-1316

Abstract: The purpose of this essay is to examine gender relations in snowboarding through conceptions and experiences articulated by female participants. The main objective is to focus on relations between female and male snowboarders as well as relations between different groups of females. The empirical investigation was conducted in conjunction with a workshop organized by the Norwegian Snowboard Federation. Methods employed were participant observation and personal interviews. The results reveal male domination in different snowboarding contexts during practice and competition. Moreover, the analysis revealed different femininities among the female snowboarders, characterized within the subculture as the Babes, Fast-girls, and the Invisible Girls. The results are discussed in relation to perspectives on subculture and Bourdieu's conceptions of field, capital and masculine domination.


So if you select for females who play a lot of video game, they play a lot of video games.

And the second paper: Really? Isn't that from the Onion, instead of a journal? I LOVE that paper. "We avoid using a theoretical explanation..." Yes, that is correct. But, "They are made to feel scared and are given the order, as were their mothers and grandmothers: get back to the kitchen." That's a paraphrase, right? In my experience, woman are allowed to sit with the boys during the actual conference proceedings. And if someone told the new chair of my department, Karen Remmer, to go back to the kitchen, that person would need to visit the Emergency Room, stat.

Finally, the third paper: "The results reveal male domination in different snowboarding contexts during practice and competition." It's snowboarding. Women are fine at playing video games; no reason they can't be better than men. But men are likely to be better at purely physical sports, Billy Jean King aside. Roger Federer v. Serena Williams: anyone want to bet on Serena? Finally, as for "the invisible girls," they had better be careful on the mountain. Make them wear an orange reflective vest or something. Some boy is going to run smack into them, if they are invisible, and then some researcher is going to write that down as a "male dominance behavior."

(Nod to Kevin L)