Saturday, September 18, 2010

Angus and Ezra live on different planets

Let me just quote three of Ezra's sentences from the WAPO to illustrate my point:

A $787 billion stimulus? Yes, it was too small. But everything Washington does is always too small.


Friday, September 17, 2010

He was there once, but he's never going back

Prehomosexual? Interesting article. A little irreverent, but that's never stopped us here at KPC. And, after all, it's Scientific American.

(Nod to Angry Alex)

She's Beating Them Off With a Stick

Ms. O'Donnell is having to face up to her past. This may have been tongue in cheek (I'm trying to be careful, here), but ... nice video.

I watched, I watched it again, I still don't believe it. The ending... wow.

Yakov forever!

Don't hate the playa!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

hot links

1. Does Comic Sans have to choke a font?

2 Sometimes a bagel is just a bagel.

3. Precise Modern Lovers Order.

Recycling is Fake

Recycling is simply a fake, and recycling zealots are shameless mountebanks.

In Raleigh, if you follow the "recycling" trucks, you will see that they mostly take the stuff to the landfill. Recycling is too expensive. Rather than saving money, it costs MORE to recycle. And, friends, "costs" means that it uses more resources.

In Toronto, the mayor promised that "Toronto will never burn what you put in the bins." Toronto was so proud of its recycling bins. And composting produces black gold.

1. The "black gold" that was supposed to be compost is actually toxic. That would be fine in a modern landfill, because landfills have to have an impermeable layer, and a thick layer of material to capture and confine the leachate. But since these con artists don't care about the environment, focusing only as symbolic religious ceremonies, they conceal the fact that the "compost" has to be disposed of as if it were hazmat!
2. Toronto, remarkably, tells people to put plastic diapers into the RECYCLING/ORGANIC WASTE stream. There is absolutely no current technology, zero, for composting diapers. They know for a fact it is a lie. This is not a grey area, people.
3. Glass recycling? A sham. An amazingly expensive sham. Listen to what the guy at the facility in charge of "recycling" glass in Colorado has to say.

Oh, and a tasty lagniappe: Toronto kept its word about never burning the material. They send it to... MICHIGAN, and Michigan burns it. They say they will stop doing that at the end of this year. They lie.

(Nod to Pelsmin)

My New Favorite Headline

One-legged man escapes Florida deputies on foot.


(Nod to the blonde, who sent this out after someone explained to her why it was funny)

Tea party article

Did an interview with McClatchy Papers yesterday.

About Tea Party, and November elections. Write-up is here, and likely also in a paper near you. There are LOTS of McClatchy newspapers.

Back Now

Back now. Took a break, as some noticed.

My posts are usually quite frivolous, and it just didn't seem right. I still can't believe my friend Mel Hinich is dead. I owe him a whole lot.

Kevin Grier clearly got me tenure, by writing a bunch of articles with my name on them.

And Mel Hinich got me promoted to full, and got me the job at Duke, by letting me write or edit three books with his name on them. People always laughed when, after they asked me which parts Mel wrote, I said, "Tell me which parts of our books he has even read!"

The answer was not much. Mel was a talker, and a thinker. And I profited enormously from writing down what he said. Well, I only wrote down about 1/3 of it, and some of that turned out to be wrong. But the 1/6 or so that was good was SO good that it made all the difference in the second half of my career.

I owe Mel more than I can say. I was a better scholar just being his stenographer than I could ever be writing down whatever vapid crap I came up with on my own. Thanks, Mel.

Beer and a Bump

“There Is No Such Thing as an Accident,” Especially When People Are Drunk

Laurent Bègue, Brad Bushman, Peter Giancola, Baptiste Subra & Evelyn Rosset
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract: The intentionality bias is the tendency for people to view the behavior of others as intentional. This study tests the hypothesis that alcohol magnifies the intentionality bias by disrupting effortful cognitive abilities. Using a 2 × 2 balanced placebo design in a natural field experiment disguised as a food-tasting session, participants received either a high dose of alcohol (target BAC = .10%) or no alcohol, with half of each group believing they had or had not consumed alcohol. Participants then read a series of sentences describing simple actions (e.g., “She cut him off in traffic”) and indicated whether the actions were done intentionally or accidentally. As expected, intoxicated people interpreted more acts as intentional than did sober people. This finding helps explain why alcohol increases aggression. For example, intoxicated people may interpret a harmless bump in a crowded bar as a provocation.

(Nod to Kevin L)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Cradle of Democracy?

Fantastic article in Vanity Fair by Michael Lewis on the mess that is Greece. It is very long but very well worth reading. Funny, informative and downright scary.

Here are a couple quick quotes, but do read it all if you can:

In Greece the banks didn’t sink the country. The country sank the banks.

As he finishes his story the finance minister stresses that this isn’t a simple matter of the government lying about its expenditures. “This wasn’t all due to misreporting,” he says. “In 2009, tax collection disintegrated, because it was an election year.”


He smiles.

“The first thing a government does in an election year is to pull the tax collectors off the streets.”

“You’re kidding.”

Now he’s laughing at me. I’m clearly naïve.


Astonishingly, it’s widely believed that all 300 members of the Greek Parliament declare the real value of their houses to be the computer-generated objective value. Or, as both the tax collector and a local real-estate agent put it to me, “every single member of the Greek Parliament is lying to evade taxes.”

Dude: you have no Quran!

Selft explanatory and self recommending:

Hat tip to Norman from Norman.

Missing the point

The sometimes reasonable Matt Yglesias tweets that "we can incentivize savings without huge giveaways to rich people". Over at Slate, the rarely reliable Dan Gross opines that people making over $250K can afford a tax hike. Over at Econospeak the title is "Tax increases on the rich will not greatly reduce aggregate demand".

All of this is so strange. How is not raising someone's taxes a "huge giveaway"? Who is "we" exactly? Since when is whether someone can afford it the rule for choosing how much to tax (well, I'm given to believe that's how taxes were collected back in the middle ages)? How is the fact that a person may not do exactly what 1960s Keynesian economics wants them to do with their money grounds for taking their money?

Look, I am not disputing that they can "afford" to pay the tax or that those stingy bastards probably will just save the money if "we" let them keep it.

But I am pretty sure that the top 1% of earners are already paying over 40% of the total Federal income taxes, even at the "giveaway" Bush rates. Over 40% of households pay no Federal income taxes at all. "We" are also popping the rich in other areas of taxation besides their top income tax brackets.

On top of all this, the fact remains that taxing "the rich" will not come close to balancing the Federal budget.

On this issue, the progressive blogosphere seems more like a herd of villagers with pitchforks and torches than a group of sophisticated intellectuals.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

(not) Taking the piss

I didn't know that Irish were such wimps:

Motorists using Ireland's new motorway network can expect to find themselves thirsty or bursting for the lavatory because the government hasn't any money left to build roadside service stations.
The government body in charge of roads has begun erecting signs warning drivers not to expect any rest stops along a network that stretches from the Irish Sea to the Atlantic.

Struggling to plug Europe's biggest budget deficit and to kickstart the ailing economy simultaneously, Ireland set aside scarce funds to revamp a road network still reminiscent of its past as one of Europe's poorest countries.

As money ran out the National Roads Authority (NRA) had to scrap plans to build service stations in most places. It is now putting up signs warning of no "online" services ahead and pointing motorists toward petrol stations in nearby towns.

"It's as important to let people know what's there as what is not there," a spokesman for the NRA told the Irish Independent newspaper.

The AA motoring group said it was unacceptable for drivers not to have anywhere stop for the toilet or a coffee for the entire 250 km (155 mile) journey between Ireland's two biggest cities Dublin and Cork for example, even from a purely safety perspective

People, 155 miles is NOTHING. You can drive from OKC to Santa Fe and easily go that far without a gas station or rest stop. That's what, 2 hours of driving if you have a real car?

I guess maybe the typical Irish bladder on the highway is a tad fuller than the typical American bladder?

It's not just me

People, I know I've been boring you with the FIBA tourney and the roles played by OKC Thunder players Durant and Westbrook and the non-roles played by Billups and Rose.

Turns out that Bill Simmons agrees with me:

First Chauncey:

(The most frustrating thing about Team USA in 2010: Every moment involving Billups. His "Mr. Big Shot" name might be the most misleading nickname of the new millennium. It's like calling M. Night Shyamalan "Mr. Box Office.")

Next Rose and Westbrook:

We went into this tournament thinking Rose and Rondo were the two best under-24 point guards in some order. Rondo got sent home, then Westbrook outplayed Rose so convincingly in the tournament that, at some point, everyone who loves basketball glanced around in confusion and said, "Hold on, does Oklahoma City now have the best young guard AND the best young player in the league?"

And finally, KD:

Kevin Durant, last three USA games: 100 points, 35-for-59 shooting (59 percent), 15 3-pointers.

Everyone else on Team USA, last three games: 159 points, 57-for-146 shooting (39 percent), 14 3-pointers.

And he doesn't turn 22 until later this month.

And I never thought we'd get here this soon.

And I will never wager against him again.

Salir de Guatamala y Llegar en Guatapeor

Life is so strange. From today's WSJ comes the story that Cuba is desperate to create jobs in the private sector.

Now one might think that the way to create jobs in the private sector would be to create a favorable institutional environment for a functioning private sector, and then let people with entrepreneurial talent enter, flourish, grow their businesses and hire employees.

But that's not the Castro brothers' way.

They are simply going to fire over 500,000 state employees to create those private sector jobs! It's a strange way to go about trying to double the amount of people working in the private sector.

And here's the kicker:

"Cubans who decide to go into business for themselves will find a series of obstacles, including very high taxes, lack of access to credit and foreign exchange, bans on advertising, limits on the number of people they can hire, and a litany of small-print government regulations".


I guess that one way or another those poor people will become private sector workers or else!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Re-balancing trade with China

First Stephon, now AI?

The AP reports that "The Answer" may be following Starbury into Chinese basketball exile.

I wonder if we could work out a scenario where the Chinese would take Andy Stern?

Hat tip to Leeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

FIBA links

#1. Wojo

#2. My neighbor and the king of OKC sportswriters, Berry Tramel

#3. KD his ownself, here and here.

#4. Pete Thamel from the NY Times

Sunday, September 12, 2010

USA Bas-ket-ball: 2010 FIBA World Champs

USA beat Turkey 81-64 behind 28 points by KD along with 15 points and 11 boards for Lamar Odom!

Man I can't wait for the NBA season to start.

Incentives matter

I had posted earlier about the immortal Japanese (who collect their pensions at age 100+ despite being invisible to the untrained eye), and now LeBron posts this morning about the same phenomenon and another interesting manifestation thereof.

We can also toss in this paper by Raj Chetty et. al. showing how the Danish tax code creates sizable labor supply responses around the kinks in the tax brackets, thus creating a large macro elasticity.

What does it all mean?

How about that official estimates of the revenue consequences of tax changes will generally be incorrect in a systematic direction (overestimating the revenue gain of tax increases and underestimating the revenue loss of tax cuts).