Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Today the cap, tomorrow the news

Roll over LeBron, and tell Chris Bosh the news!

LBJ will announce his location decision on a ONE HOUR SPECIAL on ESPN Thursday night!


There are two considerations here that are not necessarily mutually exclusive. First, money. Cleveland can pay him substantially more than any other team. A lot of people (yes, I'm talking to you Tyler) minimize this, but consider that (a) salaries are likely to fall in the future, and (b) endorsement money has already fallen. LeBron is not (nor should he) going to take a low paying job for next year.

The question is, how does he weigh the tradeoff between the loss of money from leaving Cleveland with the increased chance of winning a title?

As currently constituted, none of the teams in the LeBron derby have great title hopes (sorry Chicago). Is Joakim Noah really that much better than Andy Varejao? Plus the Bulls now have a first time head coach and a GM who got physical with the last coach!

New Jersey (which was my initial pick for where he'd go) has hired the Lil General as their coach. The over/under for when Avery would be on LeBron's very last nerve is probably what, 15 minutes?

Miami has a good owner and a high status GM who has also been a high status coach. Playing with another superstar is easier said than done though.

Cleveland stinks. Besides LBJ, the only guys I like on that roster are JJ Hickson and Varejao. Plus, Byron Scott ain't no Red Aurbach!

That leaves the Knicks. They have made one bad move (that's a LOT of $$ for Amar'e, people), and it is far from obvious how LeBron would fit into D'Antoni's vaunted "system" (it only works for people with apostrophes in their name).

Wow, I think I am saying that LeBron is screwed on the championship front!

Ironically, the team that ruined his chances (Cleveland, by not building anything reasonable around him for 7 freaking years) is the team that can pay him the most, and money is all that LeBron can be certain about when making his decision.

Takeaway: In Which I Play Scrooge

I was on "The Takeaway" this morning. National NPR program. You can listen by clicking "listen" here.

They asked me to do a little blog post, so I did. Call me Scrooge-mael.

My Banquet Keynote Speech at Lib Nat Conv

At the Libertarian National Convention in St. Louis this past Memorial Day Weekend, I was privileged to give the Banquet Address. And the LNC was kind enough to put it up in three parts (b/c of the YouTube length restriction).

Part One

Part Deux

The Last Part


Linkulus Maximus

Some links:

Delightful. Obama administration deserves more credit for what they are trying to do in education policy. Not sure there should be a federal education policy, but if there is, "race to the top" at least has some good ideas. (Nod to Anonyman)

Dan Klein: Assist the Everyman! (Nod to @IHSAcademic)

The sky is falling. Or, is the ocean rising? It's so hard to keep track, when the warmists are making up stuff. 'Cause a year later they will deny having ever made a prediction. (Nod to Paul Jacob)

You can get a Utah concealed carry permit without (1) ever visiting Utah, or (2) ever actually firing a gun. Why do so many states have reciprocal arrangements with Utah? (Nod to Anonyman)

Rob Jenkins was kind enough to cite my article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, and make a very nice extension. His idea for a "space" of administrative types is quite interesting.

Complexity and local maxima in the study of economics. (Nod to Neanderbill)

Jeff Miron is well out on the "true dat!" scale, on gun control.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

It Takes A Thief?

To catch cheaters, colleges go to great lengths.

I went to Davidson, here in NC. We had an Honor Code. My impression is that it worked. But does it still work? Could it work elsewhere?

That is, could trust deter cheating better than spying deters cheating?

Good Luck Charms and Hope

Keep Your Fingers Crossed! How Superstition Improves Performance

Lysann Damisch, Barbara Stoberock & Thomas Mussweiler
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract: Superstitions are typically seen as inconsequential creations of irrational minds. Nevertheless, many people rely on superstitious thoughts and practices in their daily routines in order to gain good luck. To date, little is known about the consequences and potential benefits of such superstitions. The present research closes this gap by demonstrating performance benefits of superstitions and identifying their underlying psychological mechanisms. Specifically, Experiments 1 through 4 show that activating good-luck-related superstitions via a common saying or action (e.g., “break a leg,” keeping one’s fingers crossed) or a lucky charm improves subsequent performance in golfing, motor dexterity, memory, and anagram games. Furthermore, Experiments 3 and 4 demonstrate that these performance benefits are produced by changes in perceived self-efficacy. Activating a superstition boosts participants’ confidence in mastering upcoming tasks, which in turn improves performance. Finally, Experiment 4 shows that increased task persistence constitutes one means by which self-efficacy, enhanced by superstition, improves performance.


Hope uniquely predicts objective academic achievement above intelligence, personality, and previous academic achievement

Liz Day, Katie Hanson, John Maltby, Carmel Proctor & Alex Wood
Journal of Research in Personality, forthcoming

Abstract: A 3-year longitudinal study explored whether the two-dimensional model of trait hope predicted degree scores after considering intelligence, personality, and previous academic achievement. A sample of 129 respondents (52 males, 77 females) completed measures of trait hope, general intelligence, the five factor model of personality, divergent thinking, as well as objective measures of their academic performance before university (‘A’ level grades) and final degree scores. The findings suggest that hope uniquely predicts objective academic achievement above intelligence, personality, and previous academic achievement. The findings are discussed within the context of how it may be fruitful for researchers to explore how hope is related to everyday academic practice.

(Nod to Kevin L)

Porn, However, Will Still Be Available.

The TSA is set to block "controversial opinion" from work computers.

(Nod to the NCM)

Stuff My Dad Says

So I follow "S*hit My Dad Says" on Twitter (along with more than a million other people who also follow).

I had heard that there would be a TV show, with William Shatner. But it's actually true...

Some background...

(Nod to Angry Alex)

Monday, July 05, 2010


A classic example of rent-seeking. Because the police can "make money" by distorting their efforts to focus more than is appropriate on marijuana busts. As the Wall Street Journal reported.

In private markets you can only make money if you produce something other people value.

But in the presence of artificial rents like this drug enforcement subsidy, the link between "make money" and "produce something of value" is broken. It is an artificial rent. And the resources devoted to seeking the rent, to the extent that such resources are taken away from other useful purposes (preventing property crimes, protecting citizens) are wasted.

Rent-seeking isn't really about the rent, which is a transfer. The cost of rent-seeking is the wasted resources devoted to capturing the rent.

Here's the bizarre thing to me. You know who IS producing something of value? THE FOLKS WHO GROW AND SELL MARIJUANA! Yikes!

(Nod to Angry Alex)

Pie in the Sky

Or, Robert Frank phones it in yet again. His current NY Times column, which tells us how to stimulate the economy and reduce the deficit at the same time, is interesting to say the least.

His first program is one where the Federal government borrows money at 3%, loans it to consumers at 8%, and the consumers use it to pay off their outstanding credit card debt which charges a higher rate.

Win-win, right?

Well, first of all outstanding credit card debt is around $900 billion so that is a lot of new borrowing. Pretty hard to imagine that would fly.

Second, what is the mechanism to implement this? Would each consumer have to submit a notarized statement of their credit card debt levels? How would the government force the consumer recipients to use the money to pay off their credit card debt?

Third, what does Frank expect these debt ridden consumers to do with their money once they've gotten a break from usurious credit card interest rates? Why, spend it of course!

Fourth, what will the government do when people start defaulting on their payments? Repo their flat screens?

Frank's second program is to implement a carbon tax that will come into force when the economy reaches full employment. He says this will immediately cause a huge surge of new investment.


Because the tax will destroy a lot of our existing capital stock!

People, I am not making this up:

"once a carbon tax was announced, the design of nearly every existing machine or structure that uses or produces energy would be rendered suddenly obsolete."

Holy crap! I am pretty sure this is the definition of the broken window fallacy, innit?

I guess you kind of have to admire the guy for trying to sell cap and trade as a economic stimulus program!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy Birthday, America!

No Brainer

I was home this morning watching my boy Rafa ruin two sets of underpants (his and Berdych's) when I heard John MacEnroe lamenting that "they have to do something" about the state of the Davis Cup.

Hey John: You know what "they" ought to do with that anachronistic, nationalistic, boring, interminable, no-compensation-paying POS?


No one cares about Davis Cup. No one wants to play Davis Cup. Tennis is in the Olympics for the foreseeable future and that particular anachronistic, nationalistic institution crushes the Davis Cup.

You know what else they ought to scrap?

Any shots of Rafa from the waist down. C'mon, dude. You're better than that!

The lives of economists

Great article in the NY Times on Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhardt.

Rogoff was an international grandmaster in chess (and a "ragged hippy"), while Reinhardt was a Cuban refugee. Both found economics in a roundabout manner.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Al Gore: Poodley

Some questions:

1. Why is it that "women's gropes... um, groups" support these losers? All creeps like John Edwards and Al Gore have to do to get unquestioning support from women is to jabber about how much they like women's causes. But groping, attempted rape, and bizarre adultery schemes don't seem like support to me.

2. In any other setting, a woman who sells herself for a small consideration would be a prostitute. But when women's "interest groups" do it, it's called lobbying, right?

(Nod to Anonyman, who never was poodley)

The Grand Game


I think there are some silly mistakes here. But there are also some insights. And the animation is tremendous.

However, all the actual insights are Public Choice insights. Marx was, after all, the first public choice theorist. The basic Marxist syllogism is this: 1. If government is powerful... 2. Then in a democracy that government will be dominated by business interests. 3. Therefore, get rid of private business.

The "if" part (1) and the "then" part (2) are both substantially correct, actually. But the "therefore" part is dumb. The correct "therefore" is:

Therefore, get rid of powerful government, which mostly restrains competition. Competition won't be perfect, and in fact there will be problems like those in 2008-9. But the problems will be much smaller, and of shorter duration, without the meddling of powerful and self-interested government agencies.

(Nod to Kindred, from here)

I'll have what he's having

Man, NBA executives have got wicked good drugs. How else can one explain that Rudy F. Gay getting a max contract from Memphis wasn't even close to the worst deal done at the beginning of free agency.

Don't get me wrong, it's pretty bad. Rudy went for 17 points and 5 rebounds per game with more turnovers than assists last year and he's a max guy?


But you have to consider that the T-Wolves are signing Darko Milicic for $20 million and the Bucks are going to go for Drew "8 teams in 8 years" Gooden at $32 million.


I know that's chump change compared to what will get thrown at LeBron et al, but you have to remember that Darko and Drew are completely and totally worthless! Seriously, they should be playing in a rec league somewhere.

As bad as those deals are though, they pale in comparison to the worst deal done so far, which is Atlanta signing Joe Johnson for 6 years at $119 million.

People, Joe Johnson is a ball-pounding machine who makes his teammates worse, not better! Plus he'll be 29 when next season starts. So the Hawks will be paying him over 20 million a year when he's 34 and 35 (i.e. unable to do even the crappy stuff he does now).

So far, Joe's career averages are 17 points, 4 boards and 4 assists per game.

This is a signing worthy of the Knicks. In fact, if they give a 5 year guaranteed max contract to Amar'e Stoudemire, that will be ultra dumb, but nowhere near as bad a move as what Atlanta has just done.

So whatever those NBA suits in Atlanta, Milwaukee, Minnesota and NYC are smoking, sign me up!

And thank goodness for Sam Presti.

Time Warp

Water balloon face

Lighter in a blender

Friday, July 02, 2010

A Real Debate, For Once

Three candidates.

Three candidates, representing three parties, debating as equals on the same stage, on television.

(Photo Credit: Matt Born, Wilmington Star-News)

And the voters get to decide.

My respects to the NC Bar Association. As sponsors, they got to decide whether to include the Libertarian Party candidate for US Senate, Dr. Michael Beitler, in the debate. And for the first time ever, they did.

So, it's up to us, now. We have a seat up on the stage. We just have to use it.

The most recent poll I have seen on the Senate race....
Burr 50%, Marshall 40%, Beitler 6%. The crosstabs are interesting, in the poll. For example, Beitler gets 4% among "Conservatives," 5% among "Moderates," and 8% among "Liberals." The Libertarians need to run as the center-left party, and emphasize the futiilty of the war on drugs and the war on gay people.

Voting on How to Vote

The Brits are thinking of ending their FPTP voting system.

Perhaps the experience of the Liberal Democrats is the reason.

(nod to THE Chelsea)

A Scot on a Desert Island

One day a Scotsman, who had been stranded on a deserted island for over 10 years, saw a speck on the horizon. He thought to himself, "It's never a ship. Too small." As the speck got closer and closer, he began to rule out even the possibilities of a small boat or a raft.

Suddenly there strode from the surf a figure clad in a black wet suit. Putting aside the scuba tanks and mask, and zipping down the top of the wet suit, there stood a drop-dead gorgeous blonde!

She walked up to the stunned Scotsman and said to him, "Tell me, how long has it been since you've had a good cigar?"

"I've nod hae a smook in ten yahrs!" replied the amazed man.

With that, she reached over and unzipped a waterproof pocket on the left sleeve of her wet suit and pulled out a fresh package of cigars and a lighter.

He took a cigar, slowly lit it, and took a long drag. "Help ma boab!" said the castaway. "Och, that is verra goot! I'd forgotten how gra' a smook ken beh!"

"And how long has it been since you've had a drop of good Scotch whiskey?" asked the blonde.

Trembling, the castaway replied, "Ten years, but Crivvens, I ken still take a goot bucket!"

Hearing that, the blonde reached over to her right sleeve, unzipped a pocket there and removed a flask and handed it to him.

He opened the flask and took a long drink. "Tis nectar o' the gods!" murmured the Scotsman. "Losh, 'tis truly fantastic!!"

At this point, the gorgeous blonde started to slowly unzip the long front of her wet suit, right down the middle. She looked at the trembling man and asked, "And how long has it been since you've played around?"

With tears in his eyes, the Scot fell to his knees and sobbed ........."Michty me! Ken it really be ya hae golf clubs in there too!"

(With thanks to Shirley)

Democracy and the Deliberative Conceit

Mark Pennington, "Democracy and the Deliberative Conceit." (A little over an hour...)

Mark Pennington - "Democracy and the Deliberative Conceit" from oxford libertarian on Vimeo.

From Kosmos.


What a remarkable fellow. The first five seconds are hard to beat. He looks a bit like the British goalie in the match with USA.

Now, this is manipulative, and the guy is just trying to make money. That's enough to make me send him some. Well played.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

James Booker, Henry Byrd, Mac Rebennack

Who ya got, people??

Henry Byrd was better known as Professor Longhair and Mac is Dr. John. I love the Doctor for introducing me to New Orleans piano, and Fess for pioneering it, but James Booker is my favorite.

This post is dedicated to Mark Perry!

Apparently sombody is not an Obama fan

People check out this cartoon by Steven Pastis (the strip is called Pearls Before Swine):

As always, you can click the pic for a larger image and thanks to "Not a Sheep" for the pointer!

Wilmington - Wrightsville Beach

Had a great time in Wilmington - Wrightsville Beach last week. Had some adventures. First, went to Redix several times. Hard to explain Reddix. Here is the sign out front:

So....yes, they really do sell fine clothing (if you are a frat boy like me, who likes orange and blue plaid pants with a pink polo shirt, all way over-priced. This is HEAVEN for my tastes in clothing.) (If you put Angus in Redix, he would be screaming like the witch in Oz after they poured water on her: "I'm melting! MELTING!"). And they really do also sell hardware and fishing tackle. You have to see it. Lots of hardware, and lots of appropriate clothes if your name is "Trip" or "Trey" or "Reg."

Of course, a declaration on a sign that anything is "in" is suspect. Perhaps they meant that they had just received a shipment of SillyBandz, but I think they were trying to tell their audience about style. (No hipsters go to Redix, unless they were sentenced to community service among the hip-impaired like me).

Later one evening we went to Jungle Rapids, a finely tuned entertainment complex that hoovers the wallets of parents most effectively. That's fine, I played pinball and put a new high score on the Simpsons machine, easy because I think no one had played it at all since the last power failure. Then we played Putt-Putt, and I got smoked by the EYM and the YYM, neither of whom have any respect for their elders. (If Angus had been there, he could have told the boys that I am really, REALLY good at Putt-Putt. But he wasn't).

There was one appalling thing at Jungle Rapids: This game below. You likely know the game "Whack a Mole!" where you take a mallet and hit the mole that pops up. Pretty fun, especially when I used to pretend all the moles were Ken Shepsle. (Okay... I still do that). But this game with the cow? You have to hit the lit tit, or rather milk it. They light up and go dark, quickly and in random sequence. If you look closely (click on the pic, for a better view) you will see that the back left tit is lit.

I watched for a while, and only saw one little kid play it. His parents thought it would be cute, and tried to take pictures. But when the tits started lighting up in sequence, the little kid (he was maybe 4) starting crying his head off. He was NOT going to grab those things.

Sachs Bomb

People, Jeffrey Sachs is pissed! I know, I know, what else is new, right?

But in this case he's mad because aid from the G-8 nations to the world's poor went up by $40 billion relative to 2004!

You see, the G-8 leaders pledged in their 2005 summit to raise it by $50 billion.

For this offense, he argues that the G-8 should be disbanded!

I don't even know what that means, that the component countries should cease to exist? That they shouldn't be allowed to meet? Or make statements? Or give aid?

He also seems angry that aid to non-African poor went up by more than was promised.

Dr. Sachs is definitely not a "glass half full" kind of guy.

Face it people, we are all evil. Like the great Louis C.K. says people are dying every day and we drive around in fancy cars with that knowledge in our heads.