Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A starving Leviathan?

P. Krugman posted today that:

"there’s a pretty good argument to be made that we are, in fact, starved for public goods in this country, so that it would actually be a good idea to shift some resources to public goods production even if we were at full employment."

Now, Federal Government spending in 2010 is what, $3.7 Trillion? Toss in State and Local spending and we get a total government spending figure of around $6.4 Trillion.

That's Trillion with a "T" and, that's every freakin' year. And we somehow can't produce nearly enough public goods?

If that is true, every single elected offical should be tossed into stocks and given a few turns on the rack.

Total government spending is predicted to level out at over 40% of GDP and we are "starved for public goods"?

Krugman, please!!!!

looks like the Flaming Lips are gonna be doing a Guided by Voices tribute?

Check it here!

Mel Hinich, R.I.P

KPC friend Chateau emailed me this morning with the sad news that social scientist extraordinaire and frequent Mungowitz co-author Mel Hinich passed away last night. Mel was 71, and our thoughts go out to his family in this tough time.

uhm, I think I saw her last night getting her a** kicked up in Queens!

Hey "Petkorazzi"! Less blogging, more practicing!


My piece on writing, in the Chronicle of Higher Ed. I really would say that writing often is the key difference between success and failure in Poli Sci.

Unfortunately in Econ you also have to be smart. So I can't help there.

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Grand Game, Duke Edition

I'm sorry to have to do this. But I have to call out the Grand Game about an article written about Duke's bacchanal "Tailgate" party on saturdays before football games.

My son Brian attended the Tailgate. I will not quote his response, but it was quite an event.

And now, the article: what's your favorite part? (I'm not mocking the article, which is well written and factual. But the fact....well, have at it, folks!)

I'll go first: Duke administrators decided to take a FIRM stand, and cut off the number of beers students can bring to the event. They drew a line in the sand: no more than 30 cases of beer per car! (Later said that was a mistake, but... yes it was a mistake).

Some commentary from last year....

Anyway, like I said, not proud. But this had to be done. Emjoy.

Robots need love too

I posted about being impressed with Dan Mangan at a recent live show. Here's the video for the song they closed their set with:

(Dan is the leader of the yellow gang)

Here's another DM video for a song I like:

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Deepak AIIMed high

Whatever you may think of Deepak Chopra today, he was once a very confused young man:

I was trained as a medical doctor. I went to medical school because I wanted to ask the big questions. Do we have a soul? Does God exist? What happens after death?

People, he's an endrocrinologist! Maybe he, like Hunter S. Thompson, thinks/thought that God was in the pineal gland?

Or perhaps I misunderstand the nature of the curriculum at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences?

As far as I can see, going to med school to learn about theology and philosophy is like going to the Gracie Jujitsu Academy to learn how to be a plumber.


A far right version of the Onion. NOTE: They are kidding. But it's not clear who they are making fun of. But since HuffPo actually believed some of their satires were real, HuffPo is making an idiot of itself. That's good enough for me.

For example consider this (NSFW, deeply offensive) column. Nice, I laughed. And then I laughed again at the comments. You actually can't tell who is making fun of whom. Excellent.

(Nod to Anonyman, who makes fun of everyone)


After his second round match against the previously invincible Peter Polansky, James Blake thumped his chest and proclaimed that the US Open was "his house".

I guess he forgot the facts that (a) he has never actually won the US Open (or even gotten past the quarters in this, or any other Slam), (b) he only got into his house in the first place by virtue of the USTA giving him a wild card, and (c) his next opponent would be Novak Djokovic.

After the slinky Serb routinely dispatched Blake in straight sets last night, I told Mrs. Angus that poor James was now homeless and probably would be sleeping in the bus station.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Berlin Fashion Week: Mohr is Less

Germany has decided that it weakness and death are cool. Check out this show by Mr. Mohr at Berlin Fashion week.

Now, I see the point. Nationalism and patriotic pride in Germany tend to make Belgians - Dutch - Danes - French...hell, everybody... a little nervous.

But, wtf? Here is a picture from the show.
Thanks for coming, now everyone please go home and kill yourselves.

Well, not for me. At chez Mungowitz, we'll be snacking high on the food chain and doing our best to provide enough consumer spending to pull this world out of recession.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The OC

The concert idea seems to mess with peoples' heads on Opportunity Cost.

(I managed to get Angus's question right, btw, and am amazed that an economist could get it wrong).

Here is my example of concerts and opportunity cost, from EconLib

(UPDATE: Commenters on post d'Angus below....Good lord, people. If the answer is not ten, then the concept of OC itself has no meaning.)

Are you smarter than an economist?

Supposedly almost 80% of 200 economists surveyed at their annual meetings got this multiple choice question wrong:

"You won a free ticket to see an Eric Clapton concert (which has no resale value). Bob Dylan is performing on the same night and is your next-best alternative activity. Tickets to see Dylan cost $40. On any given day, you would be willing to pay up to $50 to see Dylan. Assume there are no other costs of seeing either performer. Based on this information, what is the opportunity cost of seeing Eric?"

Is the answer $0, $10, $40, or $50?

No googling this, people. Give me your thoughts in the comments.

Tactical Fallacy

A nice piece by Mr. Sensible, Brendan Nyhan, who is ....sensible.

I had a nice lunch at Tip y Tap in Santiago with John Londregan, in early July, where John made much the same argument.

But there is more to the argument. This is not just a mistake, but a bias. Dem activists are convinced (quite wrongly) that if someone would just come out and SPEAK THE TRUTH, that voters would flock to them. So the failure to speak the truth (capitalism is evil, government should control everything) is only a sign of weakness. Since they only talk to each other, these activists suffer from the "Polled my friends, and we all agree" fallacy.

So it is not just the attribution of good tactics to successful campaigns that is going on, but the belief by activists that the reason Obama is doing poorly is that he is trying to court the center.

Now, the same (mutatis mutandis) is at least as true, and maybe moreso, for Republican activists, I admit. And for Libertarians? It isn't a problem, because we don't have any friends, and don't believe in polls.

Oil Rig Explodes off Louisiana Coast

Damn. Another oil rig explodes.


A Lose / Lose Situation

At the US Open, Novak Djokovic compared having shade on the tennis court to sleeping with his girlfriend!

Really. See your yourself:

People, I live in Oklahoma where it's been at or around 100 for a month and a half now. Believe me, us Okies appreciate shade as much as anybody. But I've never heard anyone make a comparison remotely like that.

Of course, this leads to several intriguing possibilities. Perhaps Novak's lady friend is just not very sexy? Or maybe Novak is DOING IT WRONG?

Either way, I bet he had some 'splaining to do when he got home.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

You and me baby we ain't Nothin' but mammals

Hostages like they do at the Discovery Channel.

He is a "Malthusian." Why didn't he just kill himSELF?

(UPDATE: Angry Alex suggests this headline, and implicitly also this video...)

What do you call a lawyer wearing a bow tie?

Let's just say it's something that Pablo Picasso was never called (at least not in New York):

Raymond E. Stauffer was shopping at a New Jersey mall when he noticed something peculiar about the bow ties on display at Brooks Brothers: They were labeled with old patent numbers.

Mr. Stauffer, who calls himself a "sharp-dressed man," also happens to be a patent lawyer. He sued Brooks Brothers Inc. in federal court, claiming it broke the law by marking its adjustable bow ties with patents that expired in the 1950s.

And of course we are off to the races:

Marking a tube of toothpaste or paper cup with a patent that is out of date or doesn't exist has been against the law for years. It is considered anticompetitive. Until late last year, the most a violator had to worry about was paying a $500 penalty for misleading the public.

But in December, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington ruled that defendants could be held responsible for up to $500 per offense.

Lawyers for product manufacturers now fear clients are liable for up to $500 for every tube of mascara or box of garbage bags marked with an expired patent—an error that turns out to be quite common.

In recent months, would-be plaintiffs have been fanning out across retail stores and the Internet searching for expired patent numbers on everything from toothpaste to toilet plungers.

I have to admit that to me the most baffling part of this story is that there once were patents on bow ties and toilet plungers!

The Charlie Wilson Chair in Pakistani Studies

Yes, really. THAT Charlie Wilson. Interesting that it is "Pakistani Studies," yes?

The University of Texas at Austin--The Charles N. Wilson Chair in Pakistani Studies

The Department of Government invites applications from distinguished senior scholars for appointment to the Charles N. Wilson Chair in Pakistani Studies. This is the first privately endowed chair of its kind at a US public university and honors the late Congressman from Texas. The successful candidate will hold a tenured position in the Department of Government and is expected to carry out research directed at understanding the geo-political importance of Pakistan, provide intellectual leadership on campus promoting the study of Pakistan’s culture, history, and literature, teach effectively at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and perform service for the department, the College of Liberal Arts, and the University. Applicants must have a PhD in hand at the time of appointment. Candidates must demonstrate a record of excellence and agenda for research contributions to the field of Pakistani Studies and teaching at the college level. Position funding is pending budgetary approval.

Interested parties should send a letter of application and vitae to: Professor Gary Freeman, Chair, Department of Government, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A1800, Austin, TX 78712-0119. The priority deadline is October 1, however applications will be accepted until the position has been filled. A background check will be conducted for successful applicants. AA/EEO employer.

Gary P. Freeman
Professor and Chair of Government
University of Texas at Austin

(Nod to Chateau)