Saturday, April 24, 2010

gREeNT -Seeking

JS writes:

The pursuit of the green cash flow has begun. Here are some Transit and Highway marketing efforts. For a little perspective on the Transit end, here is Thomas Rubin Writing for the Reason Foundation.

Rubin states “The purpose of this critique is not to attempt to show that buses are bad for energy use, air quality, or the economy. It is, rather, to show that any proposal to achieve improvements in any of these through transit, including bus transit, must be based on a realistic presentation of the current situation, the historical trend, and the practical potential for improvement. Any evaluation based on wholly ridiculous bus load factors and misstatements of auto load factors, using this analysis as the basis for future promises of improvements, fails this test badly.”

Jobs labeled green now have the highest market value. “Green” is even better than “free”, because policy makers can justify tax increases to help pay for their winning coalition (link...).

Why Give It Away? Do They Love Us?

KPC Friend Robet Eaton writes:

I saw David Pogue (NYTimes' tech guru) wonder aloud in his blog "why would these cable companies offer free wi-fi service???" It seemed like a scam, or a trojan horse to him.

He got his response quickly, in comments. It wasn't a scam, it was competition. "The free WiFi hot spots are an enticement to ward off defections to Verizon (and its Fios service) and AT&T."

I love how incredulous people can be that actual competition brings about such favorable results for us consumers ...


Well, yes, RE, the incredulity is amusing. But their refusal to update their beliefs can only be explained as religious devotion to a view that markets are bad, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.

Video on Price Gouging

The Bishop sends a video some students did for class.

And the truth will set them free.... Read about the incident itself.

Answer to Matty

Context available here.


Angry Professor

I like the Angry Professor.

This is something that we might do at the Mungowitz house. (Warning: Not PETA safe. Now that Angus is the darling of Greenpeace, I have to be careful...)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Don't Stop That Train....

Train doesn't stop, yet passengers get off. Nice.


(Nod to A.V., who doesn't care--he's just dying to get off)

Force Bad, Persuasion Good. Guns Rule Out Force.

One of those internet sensations going around. Still, worth thinking about.

The Gun is Civilization

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we'd be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a [armed] mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger's potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat--it has no validity when most of a mugger's potential marks are armed.People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society.

A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then there's the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser. People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don't constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level.

The gun is the only weapon that's as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn't work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn't both lethal and easily employable.When I carry a gun, I don't do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I'm looking to be left alone.

The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don't carry it because I'm afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn't limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation... and that's why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

by Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)

Long strange trip

I've been an NBA fan since the late 1960s. I've seen games in Detroit (Cobo Hall), Milwaukee (when they played at the Mecca), Dallas, San Antonio, New York (the Gah-den), New Orleans, Los Angeles (Sports Arena, Fabulous Forum, and Staples).

Tyler and I for years were season ticket holders for the Washington Bullets in the Cap Center (people, we saw Muggsy Bogues and Manute Bol standing side by side).

All of this is preface for saying that last night's Thunder - Lakers game was the loudest crowd and probably most exciting game I've ever seen in person.

As in the previous two games, the Thunder came out extremely sloppy and fell far behind early. They somehow convince themselves that the Lakers are just another team and seem shocked by the intensity of the start of the game.

Kobe had a pretty good first 3 quarters and KD had a pretty poor first three quarters.

But, oh, that 4th quarter was fun. Kobe was 2-10 (10 - 29 total with no free throws) and Durant, who ended up guarding Kobe down the stretch, was huge. The key sequence was KD blocking Kobe's jumper, the Thunder recovering the ball and then Durant hitting a baseline floater on the other end.

Plus I guess Scotty Brooks must follow me on Twitter, because Jeff Green only got 27 minutes of PT to stink it up, rather than the 41 he's been averaging in this series.


Party Time!

Party Strength, the Personal Vote, and Government Spending

David Primo & James Snyder
American Journal of Political Science, April 2010, Pages 354-370

Abstract:
"Strong" political parties within legislatures are one possible solution to the problem of inefficient universalism, a norm under which all legislators seek large projects for their districts that are paid for out of a common pool. We demonstrate that even if parties have no role in the legislature, their role in elections can be sufficient to reduce spending. If parties in the electorate are strong, then legislators will demand less distributive spending because of a decreased incentive to secure a "personal vote" via local projects. We estimate that spending in states with strong party organizations is at least 4% smaller than in states where parties are weak. We also find evidence that strong party states receive less federal aid than states with weak organizations, and we theorize that this is because members of Congress from strong party states feel less compelled to secure aid than members from weak party states.

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

Are Congressional Leaders Middlepersons or Extremists? Yes

Stephen Jessee & Neil Malhotra
Legislative Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract: Influential theories of legislative organization predict that congressional
leaders should be selected from the center of their parties. Yet, the extant literature has generally rejected the "middleperson hypothesis," finding that leaders are extremists. We reexamine these findings by testing more appropriate null hypotheses via Monte Carlo simulation. We find that congressional leaders (and leadership candidates as a whole) tend to be closer to the party median than would occur by chance, but also tend to be selected to the left of the median for Democrats and to the right for Republicans. Compared to the pool of announced candidates for leadership positions, winners are not ideologically distinctive, suggesting that factors affecting the ideology of leaders tend to operate more at the
candidate emergence stage.

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

The multidimensional nature of party competition

Jeremy Albright, Party Politics, forthcoming

Abstract: Left-right is a convenient tool for summarizing the complexities of voter- party linkages in a manner that is comparable across contexts and that avoids the pathologies of preference aggregation in higher dimensions. Yet several reasons exist to believe that left-right is increasingly incapable of summarizing political behavior: the inability of left-right to capture policy concerns beyond economics and religion; the accumulation of new issue concerns over time; pressures for policy convergence stemming from the globalization of the world economy; and the decline of social cleavages that historically structured vote choice. This paper shows that parties are indeed talking about a growing number of issues, they are converging on the left-right scale, and the ideological cues they are sending to voters are
growing increasingly ambiguous. Social democratic parties have in particular been affected by these trends.


Nod to Kevin L.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Come to Durham.... to EAT!

Or so says my EXCELLENT friends at the NYT. Really.

The article mentions two of my favorite places, Crooks Corner and Watts Grocery.

(Nod to Anonyman)

Was He Out of the Basepath?

Jonathan Chait? I am linking Jonathan Chait?

Yes, but it's a baseball play. Catcher missed the tag, because he was falling forward, expecting to get hit.

(Nod to Steve Grant)

1:19 pm: less than 100,000 minutes of Chairity!

The Chairity meter goes below 100,000 today at 1:19.

Oh, BABY!

Earth day special: the bravest eco-warriors

No, people, it's not the Greenpeace dudes ramming whaling boats with their rubber dinghies. It's not the folks who chain themselves to bulldozers at construction sites.


Mrs. A and I lived in that lovely metropolis for 2+ years and I would rather be slathered with honey and walk through a grizzly bear exhibit than cycle on the streets of Chilangolandia!


"every Ecobici user interviewed said they are gravely concerned about drivers who don't follow rules that allow cyclists to have their own lane. They told of near misses with buses, aggressive drivers leaning on their horns, cars on sidewalks, cars going the wrong way on one-way streets, virtual mayhem at traffic circles.

"Nobody respects the bicyclist," said Gustavo Gonzalez, slipping an Ecobici from a downtown rack. "But I like it. It's a very good program. I wish they'd extend it further.""

So on this earth day let us salute Gustavo Gonzalez and his bike riding cuates: the bravest eco-warriors ever.

Toronto--Not the Brightest Move

"Free" mass transit passes will jump start mass transit use!

Not.

If you sell a condo, you have to buy a year's worth of Metro passes, and leave them in the condo. Which raises the price of the condo by approximately....the cost of a year's passes for the Metro. Which, since that is not the thing most people would buy with that amount of cash, means that buyers will substitute away to other forms of housing.

This is how central cities become ghost towns. They try to use location rents to extract all sorts of social rents, and then when people move out to the suburbs, planners blame greed and racism.

When the actual blame should go to the idiots on the city council.

(Nod to RL, who is looking around)

Chris Dodd Must Go

In which I rant about Chris Dodd. I don't really admire the senior senator from CT very much.

The cool thing is that Michael Moore reams Dodd a new one in Capitalism: A Love Story. Makes it worth watching the movie. (Barney Frank, the rankest Dem on House Finance, also gets pounded by Mr. Moore).

Two Papers on Internet and Information Use, Disintermediation

Is the internet reflecting, or perhaps causing, increased segregation of news consumption and information exposure?


Ideological Segregation Online and Offline

Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse Shapiro
NBER Working Paper, April 2010

Abstract: We use individual and aggregate data to ask how the Internet is changing the ideological segregation of the American electorate. Focusing on online news consumption, offline news consumption, and face-to-face social interactions, we define ideological segregation in each domain using standard indices from the literature on racial segregation. We find that ideological segregation of online news consumption is low in absolute terms, higher than the segregation of most offline news consumption, and significantly lower than the segregation of face-to-face interactions with neighbors, co-workers, or family members. We find no evidence that the Internet is becoming more segregated over time.

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

The World Wide Web and the U.S. Political News Market

Norman Nie, Darwin Miller, Saar Golde, Daniel Butler & Kenneth Winneg
American Journal of Political Science, April 2010, Pages 428-439

Abstract: We propose a framework for understanding how the Internet has affected the
U.S. political news market. The framework is driven by the lower cost of production for online news and consumers' tendency to seek out media that conform to their own beliefs. The framework predicts that consumers of Internet news sources should hold more extreme political views and be interested in more diverse political issues than those who solely consume mainstream television news. We test these predictions using two large datasets with questions about news exposure and political views. Generally speaking, we find that consumers of generally left-of-center (right-of-center) cable news sources who combine their cable news viewing with online sources are more liberal (conservative) than those who do not. We also find that those who use online news content are more likely than those who consume only television news content to be interested in niche political issues.


(Nod to Kevin L)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hey General, you just broke my BS meter!

People, sometimes it's just too easy:

School lunches called a national security threat

Retired military officers say kids are growing up too pudgy for service


By MARY CLARE JALONICK
Associated Press Writer
updated 9:36 a.m. CT, Tues., April 20, 2010

WASHINGTON - School lunches have been called many things, but a group of retired military officers is giving them a new label: national security threat.

That's not a reference to the mystery meat served up in the cafeteria line either. The retired officers are saying that school lunches have helped make the nation's young people so fat that fewer of them can meet the military's physical fitness standards, and recruitment is in jeopardy.....

The military group acknowledges that other things keep young adults out of the armed services, such as a criminal record or the lack of a high school diploma. But weight problems that have worsened over the past 15 years are now the leading medical reason that recruits are rejected.

Although all branches of the military now meet or exceed recruitment goals, retired Navy Rear Adm. James Barnett Jr., a member of the officers group, says the obesity trend could affect that.

"When over a quarter of young adults are too fat to fight, we need to take notice," Barnett said. He noted that national security in the year 2030 is "absolutely dependent" on reversing child obesity rates.


Hey Kid: Every time you eat a tator tot, you're letting the terrorists win!



Another other shoe drops

The scandal broke in North America, then re-erupted in Europe. Now it's Latin America's turn to proclaim the joys of Catholicism:

The detention of an 83-year-old priest in Brazil for allegedly abusing boys as young as 12 has added to the scandals hitting the Roman Catholic Church in Latin America, even as Chile's bishops asked pardon Tuesday for past cases.

The allegations against Monsignor Luiz Marques Barbosa — and two other Brazilian priests — have made headlines throughout the world's most populous Catholic nation and come amid accusations of sexual abuse by priests around the world.

Latin Americans priests have faced a cascade of accusations of abuse of minors.

A priest in Chile was charged recently with eight cases of sexually abusing minors, including a girl he had fathered.

Chile's bishops' conference issued a statement Tuesday apologizing for priestly sexual abuse and vowing a "total commitment" to prevent it in the future
.

YIKES!

spring forward


You gotta admit that this is much better than the alternative of having two sets of clocks!


Jeff Green: please report to the foreman's office

In the Thunder's two playoff games Green is averaging over 40 minutes per game of playing time and simply put, is not producing at all. He has scored in the two games a total of 22 points on 6 of 23 shooting and grabbed a total of 7 rebounds. He also has a total of 2 assists.

That's what we call not showing up, people.

Phone Call for Mr. Green!


Monday, April 19, 2010

Economic Geography

Interesting. P-Kroog's address to the American Association of Geographers.

Excerpt:

Many economic geographers proper were furious at the rise of the new geographical economics. That was predictable: near the end of that 1990 monograph I foretold the reaction, and also explained why I was doing what I was doing:

“The geographers themselves probably won’t like this: the economics profession’s simultaneous love for rigor and contempt for realism will surely prove infuriating. I do not come here, however, to fight against the sociology of my profession, but to exploit it: by demonstrating that models of economic geography can be cute and fun, I hope to attract other people into tilling this nearly virgin soil.”

Actually, the reaction was even worse than I expected. As it happens, starting in the 1980s many geographers were moving even further from mainstream economics -- there was a widespread rejection not just of the assumptions of rational behavior and equilibrium, but of the whole notion of mathematical modeling and even the use of quantitative methods


(Nod to Neanderbill)

The Elastrator

Didn't Ray Bradbury write a book called "The Elastrated Man"? Maybe not.

Anyway, the Bishop sends this little tidbit.

Here's the bigger version, for bulls.

Fear the elastrator. For the elastrator will set you free.

The 10,000 Minutes, and Bon Jovi....

If I have this right (and I may not!), then the Chairity Counter at right will go below the magic 10,000 minute mark just after noon (12:43 pm) on Thursday, April 22.

Of course, the LMM and I will be in the car, headed to Charlotte to get ready for the Bon Jovi concert. (Did you hear that? I think it was one gun shot, the sound of Angus killing himself in anguish...) Yes, Bon Jovi. The LMM likes to pretend that I am John BJ, and I like to encourage this. WHOA! WE'RE HALF WAY THERE! WHOA-OH! LIVIN' ON A PRAY-ER!

She loves it.

Podcastrians! Love, Money, Profits, and Gifts

Russ Roberts and I wonder about a bunch of stuff. Youknowhowwedo.

Careful with that ash, Kazem

Here's one of the best entries ever in the "minister's explain nature" category:

"A senior Iranian cleric has claimed that dolled-up women incite extramarital sex, causing more earthquakes in Iran, a country that straddles several fault lines, newspapers reported on Saturday.

"Many women who dress inappropriately ... cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes," Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi told worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran.

"Calamities are the result of people's deeds," he was quoted as saying by reformist Aftab-e Yazd newspaper. "We have no way but conform to Islam to ward off dangers.""

My thoughts:

1. Man, I have GOT to go visit Iceland!

2. This is a pretty warped and sick view of what causes sex. "Of course I had sex with her your honor, I saw her ankle and her nose. What else could I do?"

3. "When in doubt, blame the woman" seems to be a common position among at least some groups of Islamic clerics.


Here's to Homicide!

This weekend, Mrs. Angus and I were invited to dinner at the Snow household. Clyde is a national treasure and Norman institution and the title of the post was his pre-meal toast.

Clyde testified at Saddam Hussein's trial about forensic evidence from a mass grave of Kurds.

Apparently, Saddam rejected the idea that the grave had anything to do with him, claiming that Iraq was full of mass graves and in all likelihood it was a leftover from the Hittites!

(in other words, as I pointed out during this discussion, Saddam's defense was, "it wasn't me, it was Nebuchadnezzer")

Clyde allowed that, while he knew the Hittites were quite an advanced civilization, he was not aware that they had actually developed digital watches with batteries so powerful that the watches were still running when the grave was exhumed.

Oh.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fugly

Well, the Lakers had their way with my Thunder this afternoon. OKC was totally unprepared for the defensive intensity of LA and for how rough and tumble playoff basketball can be and got way behind early.

That said, they hung tough and managed to get it semi-close several times in the second half.

People, Kobe is toast! He's pretty much got nothing. I am not sure if that is temporary or permanent, but he is not playing well at all.

Bottom line: Thunder may win a game or two, but their bigs cannot hang with Bynum, Gasol and Odom.