Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Appalling. And Hypocritical.

I'm sorry. But this is an unbelievably bad video.

First, for a rock video, you need a MUCH prettier girl on the treadmill. That girl is more attractive than I am, but less attractive than Angus. And I don't think "prettier than Angus" is too high a standard for rock videos.

Second, the lyrics don't explain enough about what the "fight" is about. It's cryptic. If you are willing to fight, the video should be pretty obvious. Presumably "mortgaged youth" is about the deficit.

Finally, "Ambassador Tom" is a drug warrior. The irony of someone's puritanical, nanny-state-loving, bald, pencil-necked uncle yammering about "freedom" while yanking at a guitar is too much for me.

"You think you're so smart, you can run my life, I don't need your help, neither does my wife." Hey, Tommy, how many thousands of people are having their lives run by you and your insane "war on drugs" boys, IN PRISON?

Shut up.

(Nod to Angry Alex)

I'm On a Plane. I Can't Complain.

Brit Law Prof Snoozes, Air Canada Loses!

"The last thing I remember was taking off from Calgary," Mr. Lines, who was en route from London, told Canada's National Post. "I knew I was safely on board and there was no further destinations and it was all good. ... Somebody would wake me up at the end."

That the "somebody" would be a plane mechanic in an otherwise empty aircraft came as a shock to Mr. Lines.

"If I'd been a vulnerable passenger, a young girl or elderly, it could have been a lot worse," he said. "The other implication is that if I was a terrorist, then I've got an hour-and-a-half after the plane's landed, all by myself, in a secure area on a plane."

After complaining to Air Canada, he was told that the flight attendant who should have checked the plane was instead assisting passengers in wheelchairs. By way of apology, the airline offered Mr. Lines 20 percent off the cost of four future flights.

I laughed, at first. But he's right. You can't just leave a guy on the plane, in a secure area. Even if he is asleep.

C-section: strike one

C-section performed on woman who was not pregnant, in Fayetteville, NC.

No, not from the Onion. The Onion has real news, about an archeologist who is tired of unearthing unspeakable ancient evils.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Why Don't Academics Have Real Jobs?

The question might be, why do lefties seek jobs in academics?

But another question, answered adroitly by Robert Nozick, is why do intellectuals hate captialism? Perhaps THAT is the reason they gather in self-protecting academic ghettoes to congratulate one another on how clever each is.

Big Monday

You know who had a good day Monday? Sure Krzyzewski and Mungowitz and the Dookies, but I'm talking about reigning NL MVP A-Poo.

4-5, 2 homers, 3 RBI and 4 runs scored.

Project those numbers out over a full season why don'tcha?

Student Athletes

Whatever else you say, Duke has student athletes in the old style. They graduate, they take real classes, and live right there with all the other students. No separate lives.

A nice NYTimes article, recognizing this.

My basketball team's name is Gay Human Bones!

Harlem's debut album "Free Drugs" was one of my top picks for 2008. Now they are in the big leagues, on Matador, and have another album, "Hippies", out.

It's a good one people!

Here is their Myspace page. Check out "Friendly Ghost" and note that they're on tour.

Here is a link to the video for "Gay Human Bones". I hear they are especially tough at home!

Monday, April 05, 2010


The "Fear the Boom and Bust" video, now with well over 1 million views, wins a Sammy!

Also, I have to point out this extremely balanced and informative review / exposition of the video on the Daily Kos.

Like, The Valley Girl

Tom Campbell, candidate for Cal Gov, goes on the Valley Girl show.

(Nod to Kevin L)

Earned Media

TV appearance on Political Connections, News 14 Carolina.

And my man Dr. Mike Beitler is there, too!

Lead, Nudge, or Get Out of the Way

KPC Pal and Most Excellent Fellow Will Wilkinson writes:

Perhaps you can set aside your ridiculous Duke boosterism for a moment and consider sharing the lead essay of Cato Unbound's new issue on "Slippery Slopes and the New Paternalism." The multi-talented Glen Whitman, economist extraordinaire and writer for TV's Fringe,kicks us off with an essay on "The Rise of the New Paternalism." Call it "soft paternalism," "asymmetric paternalism," or "libertarian paternalism"... with Cass Sunstein as Obama's regulatory czar, we all may be feeling the tender nudge of the new paternalism soon enough. Whitman puts us on guard, arguing that the logic of the new paternalism puts us on a slippery to not-so-tender plain old-fashioned paternalism.

Consider it shared, punkin'! And, I predict lots of fire on Duke's campus tonight ....and celebration.

I Can't Be the Only One....

I can't be the only one to think that Senator Mitch McConnell and Steve Forbes are becoming the same person, right?

Reader: Which one is which?

(The middle one is McConnell, top and bottom are Forbes)

Hamid Karzai has a very good idea

Here is change we can believe in:

"Afghan President Hamid Karzai threatened over the weekend to quit the political process and join the Taliban if he continued to come under outside pressure to reform, several members of parliament said Monday."

Hey Hamid: Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out, bro!

People, if Karzai was in charge of the Taliban, we'd have wrapped this whole business up quite a while ago.

The Main Thing We Stand For is Reelection

(Nod to Tommy the Brit. Careful with the video camera in the rubbish bin, Tom!)

The Nets? THE NETS?

Bizarre timing: Coach K to the Nets?

Couldn't they have waited a day? Why leak it now?

I guess I know, so people will write about it, but wow.

Tiny Butler

I am getting (as Cheech Marin used to say) a little sick up and fed with the dominant story of mighty Duke versus tiny Butler.

...on the verge of another improbable David-vs.-Goliath story, with tiny Butler in the NCAA national championship game against mighty Duke, you have to understand that the impact of this historic confrontation can't be contained within Indiana's boundaries.

It's so much bigger than that. Butler's presence in the national championship game is a true American sports success story.

"This," said Butler guard Ronald Nored, "could never happen in major-college football."

Sure, Butler has 4,500 students.

But Duke has only 6,250 undergrad students.

Michigan State, by contrast, has 47,000 students. West Virginia U has 30,000. U of NC, Duke's arch-rival (and my own favorite team) has 25,000 students.

Duke is also "tiny." But Duke kicked WVU's ass, and nobody talked about "David" winning that game. Duke beat UNC like a drum this year, and nobody raved about the tiny school winning.

The reason that Butler is not favored to win tonight is NOT that they are tiny. The reason is that Butler is not very good.

The real story (and frequent readers here know I am no Duke fan) is that Duke, in spite of being 1/4 the size of its most frequent rivals, consistently wins, doesn't cheat, and graduates all of its players with actual college degrees in actual college subjects. Why isn't THAT the story here:

Duke University provides education to students who otherwise could never afford it, and manages to win while doing it!

Mungowitz Gets Adam Smith Pin Factory Wrong!

Fred Stahl writes:

Dr. Munger,

I enjoy your podcasts with Russ Roberts. You two always sound like you are having more fun than you deserve. ( MM NOTE: Russ is certainly having more fun than HE deserves!)

Yesterday I was searching for the hunters and sandwich shop story—you know, the one showing how economies of scale make specialization more efficient even if everybody is equally skilled. I was a student in Dr. Roberts’ microeconomics class last semester when he presented the story, attributing it to Buchanan. I found a transcript of you and Roberts talking about it in an April 2007 podcast. I also came across your 2007 article on division of labor in the Library of Economics and Liberty: FEATURED ARTICLE | APRIL 2, 2007
I'll Stick With These:
Some Sharp Observations on the Division of Labor

On reading the article, I saw that it might leave misconceptions about Adam Smith’s analysis of the pin factory. Here is the relevant part: And this is the period where Smith formed his impression: he saw pins being made by 3-6 men, in a small shop, each of whom performed several tasks at different points in the production process. Smith's widely quoted conclusion, which was actually just a quick estimate, was that there 18 different steps in the pin-making process.

The best research I have seen says that Smith never actually visited the pin factory he wrote about. Consequently, he would not have been able to make a estimate of the number of operations, quick or otherwise. Smith used data on a French pin factory published decades earlier. As Rothbard tells it, Smith accused his friend Adam Ferguson of plagiarizing his bit about the pin factory. Ferguson fired back that they both got the story from a French source.[1] The facts fit Ferguson’s charge. The French factories had 18 fabrication operations, as Smith mentions, whereas an English factory typically had 25. Edwin Cannan attributes the source of Smith’s production information to an article on pins that appeared in a mid-17th century French encyclopedia, thirty years before Smith wrote Wealth.[2]

One other small point, Wealth has 10 workers in the pin factory. By the way, apparently few if any economic historians know that in his 1832 On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, Charles Babbage re-analyzed Smith’s pin factory. In contrast to Smith’s arm waving, Babbage used detailed cost and time data and concluded that Smith missed an important source of productivity. Smith wrote about division of labor by task. Babbage pointed out that the manager who divides labor by skill can hire cheap children and women for the unskilled work and expensive men for the bundles of skilled tasks. The productivity gain is a factor of 3 to 4, as measured in cost per pin.[3]

Rothbard comments about Smith:
Much of his analysis was wrong, and many of the facts he did include in the Wealth of Nations were obsolete and gathered from books 30 years old

[1] Rothbard, Murray. An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, Vol. I and II, Edward Elgar Pub. 1995. Chapter 16. Excerpt available from Mises Institute, March 31, 2010 from under title “The Adam Smith Myth.”
[2] Edwin Cannan edited the 1976 edition of The Wealth of Nations published by The University of Chicago Press. The attribution appears in Footnote 4 on page 8 as Vol. 5 of Encyclopédie.
[3] Babbage, Charles. 1835. On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures. 4th ed. London: Charles Knight. Reprint: New York: Augustus M. Kelly, 1963. Babbage presents his detailed cost and time study data along with his analysis of the pin factory in Chapter 19.

Very interesting, Fred, and thanks! I haven't seen footnotes in an email in a while; many people have gone in the direction of the thing called "links." Still, I'm sure you are right, and that I am wrong about the story. Lots of good info there, Fred!

I'd be interested to know what ASLL thinks of my errors. Sufficiently corrected now?

Saturday, April 03, 2010

A delightful piece

A delightful little article, on one man's travels among the strange and mysterious "Econ" tribe.

One of the chief priests, a "Dr. Romer," once appears to have worshipped different dieties, but now worships the god called "Porkulus." Angus had pointed this out at the time, of course, but it is worth remembering.

(Nod to the NCM)

Hot Links!

1. Kobe cashes in before the new CBA bites down on superstars.

2. Turns out Kenyon Martin does NOT like popcorn.

3. Tyler C is a club kid?

4. According to this, me and Mungo should just give up and fold KPC.

5. Ray Fisman strikes again.

Some Days, You Learn Things.

JS writes:

There some days when you learn things. I have been looking at transit data and saying that transit only covers 15% to 30% of operating expense from their fare boxes except in top 5 markets where it can up to 30% to 48%. Well after reading Sam Staley’s blog at the Reason Foundation, I now have to rethink this since it now appears that there has been some fare box stuffing. It turns out “Some 120,000 federal workers in the Washington region receive up to $230 a month for transit, which amounts to taxpayer-funded free rides or at least a hefty bite out of even the most expensive trips.” according to the Washington Examiner. Amazingly that could add up to $331 million a year for a transit agency that collects $683 million a year in fares with a $1.9 billion operating budget.
The examiner later states that “For years, federal employees received free and subsidized parking. Taking away the perk hasn't been a viable option: When President Carter tried it in 1979, federal employees protested and started a boycott of U.S. savings bonds”.
So what can be done? May be the Feds can apply a little Ricardian comparative advantage. Find the price point that Federal employees think the dough that they will get is equal to the transit or parking and get out of the “Green Washing” with the transit and the diametrically opposed “Brown” parking subsidy at the same time. There are markets in everything and I for one would be happier to be paid in dollars than in subway tokens or parking passes. I think it would be worth seeing if federal employees felt the same way.
Nor is it gloom and doom for the transit agency. There are plenty of consumers who would be willing to pay to avoid DC traffic. Now, they just would be a little more like choice riders.

Tell the Truth?

Interesting concept. Get politicians to promise to tell the truth.

"I, as an elected official, make a personal pledge to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth while representing my constituents and conducting the business of the office to which elected."

Only about their public acts and duties, mind you. If Bill wants to lie to Hillary about Monica, that's between them.

I should note that I met Miles when we both had kids at RCHS.

Discuss, please.

Thundercats are go!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Problem is NOT That Women Don't Know What They Want....

...the problem is that they DO.

Mike, in an earlier comment, is led to think a bit out loud about an analogous experience.

It WOULD be amazing if one could build a single custom made piece of furniture for less than a manufactured unit that sold thousands.

England = Scary

Popehat gives some details about England.

Tommy, you okay, man?

The EYM Lays Down Some Smack

A letter in the Deadly Tar Ball. The letter:


Though I’m thrilled to learn that our University is attempting to provide sustainable dining, Tuesday’s article, “Local Food, Big Business,” failed to explain what that actually means.

I’m inclined to think that “sustainable food” is food produced, transported, prepared and consumed without consuming finite natural resources or damaging the environment.

The article implies that subsumed under the term “sustainable” are the terms “local,” “organic,” “smaller farms,” “grass-fed beef” and “free-range eggs.”

The first two agree with my understanding of the term, but they get increasingly ridiculous.

Eggs produced by caged chickens are no more or less sustainable than free range eggs; they are more humane, but not more sustainable.

So by using the word “sustainable” to mean so many different things, the article robs itself of any actual weight or significance.

In my eyes, “sustainable” now means “any of a variety of liberal buzzwords designed and propagated to make people feel better about themselves.”

Kevin Munger

Oh, where, WHERE did I go wrong? Clearly, I failed as a father. A kid who doesn't realize that "sustainable" is something we worship.... well, I blame the LMM. She's a lawyer, and tends to think that words have meanings, rather than emotions.

"The Entire Island Will Tip Over and Capsize"

I just keep watching this. WTF?

Watch the question asked at 1:20.

This should be on the Onion. Is he kidding? He must be kidding.

If he is NOT kidding, then is he perhaps worried about underpopulation? I mean, the island might well float up into the sky and block out the sun if there are too FEW people on the island. Has anyone thought about that? I mean, no one worried about global warming, right?

(Nod to Angry Alex)

Lord Gaia Himself

Prof. Lovelock..."Lord Gaia himself..."

And these are our allies?

"The lawyer of a Lebanese TV psychic who was convicted in Saudi Arabia for witchcraft said Thursday her client could be beheaded this week and urged Lebanese and Saudi leaders to help spare his life.

Attorney May al-Khansa said she learned from a judicial source that Ali Sibat is to be beheaded on Friday. She added that she does not have any official confirmation of this. Saudi judicial officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

A Lebanese official said Beirut has received no word from its embassy in Riyadh about Sibat's possible execution. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The Saudi justice system, which is based on Islamic law, does not clearly define the charge of witchcraft.

Sibat is one of scores of people reported arrested every year in the kingdom for practicing sorcery, witchcraft, black magic and fortunetelling. These practices are considered polytheism by the government in Saudi Arabia, a deeply religious Muslim country.

Al-Khansa said she has called upon Saudi King Abdullah to pardon Sibat, a 49-year-old father of five. She also says she is in contact with Lebanese officials about the case.

She added that Sibat did not make predictions in Saudi Arabia and was neither a Saudi citizen nor a resident in Saudi and therefore should have been deported rather than tried there.

Sibat made predictions on an Arab satellite TV channel from his home in Beirut. He was arrested by the Saudi religious police during his pilgrimage to the holy city of Medina in May 2008 and sentenced to death last November."

The full story is here.

I guess I just can't stomach the "realist" school of international relations because our propping up of heinous regimes like this disgust me.

Pirate To-Do List

Pirate to-do list:

1. Remember to get parrot and AK-47, and other "effects"
2. Make sure that ship you attack at night is not extremely heavily armed US warship

They forgot #2
, it appears.

Here is what USS Nicholas was packin':

One OTO Melara Mk 75 76 mm naval gun
two Mk 32 triple-tube (324 mm) launchers for Mark 46 torpedoes
one Vulcan Phalanx CIWS
four .50-cal (12.7 mm) machine guns.
SM-1MR Standard anti-ship/air missiles (40 round magazine)

What is a Phalanx? It's a 20mm Gatling gun, which fires 4,000 high explosive/incendiary rounds per minute. That is putting quite a bit of lead downrange in a hurry.

Furthermore, the main gun, the Melara Mk 76 mm, can fire more than 80 rounds per minute, with each shell carrying 15 pounds of high explosive. (Yes, 80 rounds per minute, and that's limited only by the loading device. The rate of fire on the gun is actually more than 100 rounds per minute. So a three second burst is 5 or 6 massive shells.)

Wilt's Crib