Kids Prefer Cheese
Credibly promising to be irresponsible...since 2004!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Classic moments in politics
In this video, Nixon takes action to "defend the American dollar" by closing the gold window and ending the Bretton Woods era. It is a masterpiece of doublespeak and obsfucation.
Of course, by defend the dollar he meant let it drastically depreciate against the German Mark. The speech was in August of 1971. Here's a picture:
Pretty Cute: Prez Obama Wishes My Niece "Happy Birthday"
Went to JBJovi Concert Last Night
My thoughts from Bon Jovi concert, from Twitter...Most recent first, read up from bottom...I believe I was one of seven males in a sold-out crowd of 19,500.
Jeez, the women here just went feral. "Bad Medcn" caused a shriek that rose far above the range of human hearing. Not sound, just pain. 11 hours ago
JBJovi concert: never has so much bleach been swinging and so much silicone flopping. These ladies are going to be sore in the morning! 11 hours ago
Opening act for JBJ was Billy Falcon. Impressive opening, charismatic guy. "Power Windows" 12 hours ago
Guy at Bon Jovi concert just walked up to me, said "You don't work here." He's gonna be busy. 13 hours ago
At Bon Jovi concert. Thousands of inappropriate 50 year old women, roaming in Chardonnay scented packs... 14 hours ago
The LMM is a BIG JBJ fan. He makes her happy. And if sometimes she calls me "Jon" when we go upstairs, it's a small price to pay.
Here is a representative sample of the entire arena.
With all that bouncing, there was a lot of Victoria's Secret product being asked to bear load factors, fore and aft, that had to be well beyond design tolerances. But I don't think there were any injuries. Hooray for American engineering!
And it was fun. (N&O: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/02/21/1005895/bon-jovi-in-concert-022111.html)
(For these and other pix, go to N&O site...)
The People have spoken
Monday, February 21, 2011
Griffin or Krugman: You make the call
People, here's my situation.
Consumer: Control Thyself
(Along the lines of "Physician: Heal Thyself!", I mean)
Francesca Righetti & Catrin Finkenauer
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming
The present research tested the hypothesis that perception of others' self-control is an indicator of their trustworthiness. The authors investigated whether, in interactions between strangers as well as in established relationships, people detect another person's self-control, and whether this perception of self-control, in turn, affects trust. Results of 4 experiments supported these hypotheses. The first 2 experiments revealed that participants detected another person's trait of self-control. Experiments 3 and 4 revealed that participants also detected the temporary depletion of another person's self-control. Confirming the authors' predictions, perceived trait and state self-control, in turn, influenced people's judgment of the other person's trustworthiness. In line with previous research, these findings support the positive value of self-control for relationships and highlight the role of perceived self-control for the development of a fundamental relationship factor: trust.
Self-Regulatory Strength and Consumers’ Relinquishment of Decision Control: When Less Effortful Decisions are More Resource Depleting
Murat Usta & Gerald Häubl
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming
Based on the self-regulatory strength model and prior research on self-esteem threats, the authors predict and show that delegating decisions to surrogates – such as financial advisors or physicians – depletes consumers’ limited self-regulatory resources more than making the same decisions independently, thus impairing their subsequent ability to exercise self-control. This is the case even though decision delegation actually requires less decision making effort than independent decision making (Study 1). However, the resource depleting effect of decision delegation vanishes when consumers have an opportunity to affirm their belief in free will (Study 2). Moreover, remembering a past decision that one delegated impairs self-control more than remembering a decision that one made independently (Studies 3 and 4). The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
Labels: articles to read
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Angus Is Right, As Usual!
Holy cow, why so much hatin' on Angus?
Look, the welfare economics case for free trade could be built on (a) the Pareto criterion, or (b) the Kaldor-Hicks Compensation Principle.
As Angus notes, no way you can say moving from protection to free trade is a Pareto improvement. There are winners and losers.
And no Libertarian can invoke the KHCP, because it's collectivist and utilitarian. KHCP does not require compensation be made, and doesn't even require individual consent, and so it is inherently coercive. A majority decides on a policy, and the minority is harmed without its consent. Yes, perhaps the harm was caused by eliminating a policy (protection) that was itself coercive (consumers were harmed without THEIR consent), but you can't get to free trade unless you go the collective-coercion route. Angus is obviously right about that.
Two points: First, less of a problem if compensation is actually made, as I suggested last summer at the Takeaway.
Second, I have a paper coming out in an edited volume that points out the equivalence of KHCP and Coase, in terms of costs (in both cases, you are adding up costs and benefits). Differences are (a) KHCP doesn't require consent or compensation, while Coase requires both, and (b) KHCP faces the Hayek problem, because there are no prices to measure welfare costs. Coase forces bargaining and honest preference revelation, EXCEPT when transactions costs of collective action and preference revelation are too high.
In last Sunday's NY Times economics column, NGM quite reasonably points out that voluntary exchanges benefit both parties in the exchange.
However, he then makes an unsupportable leap to the following:
Listening to the president, you might think that competition from China and other rapidly growing nations was one of the larger threats facing the United States. But the essence of economic exchange belies that description. Other nations are best viewed not as our competitors but as our trading partners. Partners are to be welcomed, not feared. As a general matter, their prosperity does not come at our expense.
I do agree that China is not one biggest problems the US is facing, but not for the reasoning that NGM uses which is that all voluntary exchanges are mutually profitable (read the article, it's the only principle he speaks of before giving the quote i reproduce above).
Yes, going from autarky to free trade will raise the GDPs of both nations, but that is a very far cry from saying that a large number of individuals will not be made worse off in the process. I figure that NGM is familiar with the Stolper-Samuelson theorem, so I guess he is assuming the political process always provides adequate compensation for the losers??
Here's a case for free trade:
A TED Talk
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Winning An Argument
Labels: welcome to my world
How I'll be spending spring break
Men's Brains and Women's Brains
Friday, February 18, 2011
the element "woman"
(click for more readable, and of course glorious, image)
(Nod to the LMM)
Labels: she blinded me with science
Don't park illegally in England
This is Kind of Whack...
Markets in everything: non-surgical sterilization
Levi's is actually marketing and selling what they call "ex-girlfriend jeans" to men.
Remember the girlfriend with the great style? Here's a tribute to her -- a fit that's super-snug allover, an update of the five-pocket classic that's as skinny as it gets.
Here's a pic:
I can totally see this fad sweeping through the membership of the American Economic Association, can't you?
Thursday, February 17, 2011
More anti-GOP bias
Labels: they be hatin'
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Full Press on Guttenberg!
Feaver v. Munger: The Grid
Andrew Sullivan Making Sense
Grand Game: CPAC Edition
Wow. This guy Kevin McCullough is a piece of work. Were being a prick the same as wisdom, ol' McCull would indeed be the wisest of men (as he appears to believe). Really a fantastic article. Enjoy, and do share your thoughts.
Check McCullough's web site; he is basically Taliban, in terms of his world-view.
As for me, just the fact that someone would write "Disrespectful Libertarians" is pretty hilarious, something I should refer to the Department of Redundancy Department.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The Culture that is Korea: Economies of scope in the Korean banking industry
In the R.O.K., banks will pay you a higher interest rate on your deposits, the more weight you lose!
SEOUL (Reuters) – Park Keun-jun is determined to fulfill two resolutions this year: bulk up his bank account but slim down himself.
Enter South Korean banks, with plans to help with both.
"I'd like to bet my money on a bank's savings plan if the bank gives credits to me for not giving up on my New Year's resolutions," said Park, a 32-year-old car designer.
Hana Bank, the banking arm of Hana Financial Group, sells an installment savings product called "S-Line," a Korean word that means an hourglass figure -- just one reflection of the current Korean obsession with being slim and in shape.
The more calories a customer burns, the higher interest rate the bank gives. If a customer loses more than five percent of their weight within a year, or holds a gym membership, the bank grants special rates...For Park, who wants to save money for several years but fears burning a hole in his wallet by following his fitness resolution since many gym memberships in Seoul are expensive, such banks' plans give him guarded hope.
Now I am waiting for the gyms to retaliate by letting you use more or better equipment as you progressively dis-intermediate your funds.
Markets in Everything: Principles texts for under $250
I guess NGM didn't get the memo that his taxes were NOT going up, because he's charging $238.95 for the new edition of his principles text.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Profs Gone Wild
Ron Paul Kicked Out of Popular Front for the Liberation of Judea....Splitters!
This is so unbelievable,
YAF kicks out Ron Paul.
In the same story we learn that YAL is the "group of the future." Made me think of this...
In fact, for "real" conservatives, the relationship with Ron Paul was like the Sam Goldwyn bon mot: "I never liked you, and I always will!"
(Nod to Anonyman)
Quien anda lo mas despistado?
People, who is the most clueless, the NY Times or the WaPo?
WASHINGTON – President Obama, pivoting at midterm from costly economic stimulus measures to deficit reduction, on Monday released a fiscal year 2012 budget that projects an annual deficit of more than $1 trillion before government shortfalls decline to “sustainable” levels for the rest of the decade.
There is just not enough koolaid in the world to wash this kind of crap down. Obama is not pivoting from the stimulus; he's freezing spending at the stimulus levels. Plus his PLANNED deficit for 2011 is $1.65 Trillion and for 2012 it's $1.1 Trillion. After that, it's not clear he'll even BE IN OFFICE. It's incredibly brave of him to shrink the deficit in 2021!!
Obama administration studies recent revolutions for lessons applicable in Egypt
As the Obama administration works to shepherd the Egypt uprising toward a democratic government, it is drawing on the experiences of a half-dozen other nations whose revolutions have been the focus of internal White House study in recent weeks.
A horse is a horse...
...of course of course, but sometimes it turns out to be a Trojan horse. Like the stimulus bill.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
The New Kirkpatrick Doctrine
Why didn't Fubarak resign sooner?
Two competing views.
Gerry Gaus and David Schimdtz
They are who we thought they were
In a fascinating new NBER working paper (ungated version here), Bertrand, Bombardini, & Trebbi try to sort out whether it's expertise or connections that make lobbyists valuable. Here's the bottom line (the extra emphasis is mine, not theirs):
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
Behind The Music: The Pretense
An underground version of "Behind the Music."
Way, way behind. Or, perhaps in front, or a little off to the side with a small table and an ottoman.
UPDATE! The Pretense video has gone feral! That's like going viral, but with a lot fewer views.
separated at birth?
P-Kroog Hat Trick!
What a great op-ed, a P-Kroog trifecta.
First, and entirely gratuitously, he calls all conservatives racists. Later, he says Republicans want to return to slavery (the "ante-bellum period" is clearly code). This is a total non sequitur, even by P-Kroog standards.
Second, he poops all over KPC-friend "Guido" DiLorenzo!
Finally, it's worth pointing out that the title, presumably ironic, is "Lincoln, Inflationist." Um, Paulie baby, annual inflation from 1862-1866 was 20%+. Yes, in the North. South was a basket case. But North had huge inflation, too, because of (wait for it!) paper money.
Lincoln WAS an inflationist. Sure, there was a war, maybe there were good reasons. But making fun of the idea that inflation even existed under Lincoln is a little silly.
Most entertaining. People used to say that Doonesbury should be moved to the editorial page. Perhaps. But by that logic P-Kroog's columns should be moved to the comics.
So, perhaps David Lightman was trying to protect me.
I had said that these first few votes in the House are a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. And that's what David quoted, for the McClatchy chain (likely in a paper near you!). Then I switched and said, "No! Say, 'a battle to see if the Republican Party HAS a soul!'" David laughed and said he'd go with the first version. But I'm not so sure. The vote on the Patriot Act was interesting.
This post at Monkey Cage, make a reasonable point, based on this graph:
(By all means ATSRTWT!)
That point is that Tea Party-endorsed candidates are no more likely than "regular" Repubs to have voted no on Patriot Act extension.
In fact, if you look at proportions of the Tea Party Caucus in the House, there are 52. Of those, 44 voted to reauthorize Patriot Act. That's the number those 'Cagers should have quoted, instead of just the proportion. 8 votes! So Tea Party didn't affect PROPORTIONS.
So what is the story? First, the Tea Party affected partisan proportions, back in November. The Republicans have a majority because of Tea Party mobilization. Sure, a lot of members don't caucus. But without the Tea Party, no Republican majority and we aren't having this conversation.
Second, the new House leadership can't count. Why put this to a vote? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad. This humiliation may well embolden those "libertarian- leaning" Republicans to join with the Dems on some other bills, and block the agenda of the bright orange Republican leadership. The story is that a few Republicans bucked the leadership and voted no.
There is a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. The Tea Party affected the election by helping the Repubs get a majority. So the story on Pat Act was, and is, that the majority is fractious. Sure, perhaps not Tea Party vs. Establishment, but Big Gov thugs against Small Gov protesters, with Partido de Te folks on both sides of that divide. And the Small Gov folks won one battle in what is going to be a long war.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
there is no stagnation
What does Egypt mean for China?
Fubarak gets hosed?
Wow, people. According to the AP:
President Hosni Mubarak will meet the demands of protesters, military and ruling party officials said Thursday in the strongest indication yet that Egypt's longtime president may be about to give up power.
The military's supreme council was meeting Thursday, without the commander in chief Mubarak, and announced on state TV its "support of the legitimate demands of the people." A spokesman said the council was in permanent session "to explore "what measures and arrangements could be made to safeguard the nation, its achievements and the ambitions of its great people."
And then comes the money quote:
Gen. Hassan al-Roueini, military commander for the Cairo area, told thousands of protesters in central Tahrir Square, "All your demands will be met today."
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
UNC v. Duke--Two Ties Day
Annual picture in front of K-ville sign. Note neckwear: I have ties to both schools!
Here is the tent city of K-ville. Doesn't smell good at this point.
Background on K-ville.
K-ville rules for this year. Just in case "You've never been to K-ville! But you've been to Oklahoma! For they tell me it has snowed there...but I really don't remember."
He Lied and Said He was a ... Lobbyist
Rep. Lee is married, and 46. And a Congressman.
But he lied and said he was single, 39, and a lobbyist.
The woman on Craigslist was not impressed.
Reminds me of the story about the economist. Mom was coming to visit, and economist made his friends promise NOT to tell mom he was an economist. "She would be so embarrassed, so don't tell her! She thinks I play piano in a whorehouse!" You can see why saying you were a congressman was even worse. In effect, Rep. Lee said that he was an economist.
@mattyglesias says: "Not sure I understand what wrongdoing Rep Lee has committed." Dude! Being a pathetic idiot is not illegal, but it is certainly embarrassing. Congressman gots to go.
Mission Impossible Squirrel
Vile McBride of the abused Ukulele
Six new inches of snow and I am not yet in the mood to finish my paper with Aaron (sorry dude!), so here you go.
What's In a Name
Good Advice for the People of Egypt
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Different Hues, Identical Views =/= "Diversity"
Interesting that the explanation of "bias" occurs to psych-os so readily, but not so much when it comes to the obvious bias against conservatives.
Or so says John Haidt, in this speech here, nicely power pointed. Terrific talk, < 30 mins. In fact, one of the best talks I have ever seen.
And John Tierney wrote about it, and the New York Times published it. I'm pinching myself. Must be dreaming.
Some little pieces on this debate in which I have had a voice.
Mr. Overwater? Thoughts?
(Nod to Neanderbill)
With another storm supposedly heading our way, I want to remind everyone that shoveling snow is way more dangerous than you think.
Labels: this is a bad business
Monday, February 07, 2011
A mob of his own
Sunday, February 06, 2011
As the blogosphere turns
Jeez. This is a weird mess. First, on Saturday, the NYTimes runs an article called "The lucky break of rent stabilization", which details the ups and downs of negotiations between tenants and developers over buyouts. Then N.G. Mankiw links to it for textbook promotion under essentially the same title, "The lucky break of rent control"
For those instructors teaching about the economics of rent control (Chapter 6 of my favorite textbook) or the Coase Theorem (Chapter 10), this article about buyouts of rent stabilized tenants should generate a good class discussion.
But then, some blogger named Buce just goes off on NG with a post called "Mankiw's luck"
Here are some excerpts:
"Honestly, I sometimes wonder why this guy (i.e. NGM) gets taken seriously, but I suppose I know: he plays into every instinct for smug self-satisfaction that you would expect among cosseted, comfortable Harvard students--and that you would want a proper education to beat out of them."
"Now strictly speaking, I am no great fan of rent control: I think it often does more (social) harm than good. But "luck"? Why is rent control more a "lucky break" than being born blond, beautiful, Norwegian and blessed with great ski-jumping skills? "
Maybe I've got other friends who, say, bought apartments in the East 60s back in the Dinkins administration when those puppies were going for $65k a pop, tops. I suppose Mankiw might want me to think that those buyers (as distinct from those renters) were operating out of pluck and foresight and deserve every penny of the appreciation that they've enjoyed. I doubt it. I suspect that most of them were hard-working strivers who wanted to live in a nice place (considering) and got, well, lucky. Does Mankiw spend a class hour trying to delegitimatize their hold on good fortune, to figuring out ways of clawing it back from them?
Wow, WTF is this about? Again neither NG or the Times article says anything pro or con about price appreciation for homeowners! This guy/gal is basically unhinged.
Ok you say, that's amazingly bad, but hey, it's just some creepy corner of the interwebs, only NG fanboys like me (LOL) would ever find it.
Well actually I found it because Mark Thoma the king of econ blog links decided for some inscrutable reason to link to it! Why, Mark, why? Don't hate the Playa!
All Hail Keith Gaddie
Keith is professor of political science at OU, a publishing machine, an expert in southern politics, a sought after consultant in cases involving re-districting and voting rights, and a novelist!.
People, you should fire up the Facebook and beg Keith to friend you. He has the consistently best FB posts of anyone in my vast network (of 116) friends. Here is a koan-like gem from this morning:
"Anderson Cooper is the little miniature dog in America's designer handbag."
HerHonor The Mayor
Saturday, February 05, 2011
Members of leadership of Egypt's ruling party, including President Hosni Mubarak, submit resignations, state TV reports. CNN
UPDATE: No, CNN message was cryptic, at least to me. It just said "resigned," not "resigned as head of party." HN remaining as Prez, resigning as head of party. Laughable.
Fubarak's new Cabinet: A Photo Essay
Friday, February 04, 2011
Is this anyway to WTF?
It depends. If WTF means "win the future", then no. But if it has its more traditional meaning, then yes!
No Quixotes! Munger v. Google Rejected by NC Supreme Court
Damn! Munger v. Google has such a nice ring to it. But it was rejected by the NC Supreme Court.
Sure, it was actually "Munger, et al. v. State of North Carolina." But it was Google that took all that cash and built a "server farm." (That's basically an insulated warehouse with some extra HVAC, btw)
We had brought suit, and I was lead Quixote...um... lead plaintiff. (Robert Orr did all the work, of course. I was just eye candy. Or maybe BOB was Quixote, and I was Sancho Panza. That's more like it.)
But the NC Supreme Court today smashed all my dreams. Went so far as to say that the very idea of reviewing the review of the appeals decision was "improvidently granted." Oh, that hurts. Improvidently granted? "Sorry, nothing to see here folks. Just an everyday violation of the NC Constitution. Move along, citizens, move along. Because there is NO STANDING! NO STANDING."
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Not Making This Up: Activist Accused of Being Too Smart
I would have thought the oppressive apparatus of the state could no longer surprise me with its never-ending creativity. But...I am surprised, by this.
The NC DOT did an engineering study of a local road widening project, and concluded that no new signals were required at two intersections. A citizen, David Cox, had the gall to disagree. He did some research, and put the research in the form of an organized argument.
The state could have responded by ignoring the request. Or the state could have pointed out the errors in the study. (I myself have no position on the merits; haven't studied it, don't know the issues).
But the state engineer instead threatened the citizen with legal action... for... being smart! They investigated, saying Cox was "practicing engineering without a license." Yes, really. The state DOT head engineer, Kevin Lacy, did not dispute the facts, the analysis, or the conclusions of the report. All he did was try to get the report dismissed because it was "engineering quality work." Read that again: the citizen made a petition to government for redress of a grievance, and the state wants to prosecute the citizen because the quality of the analysis is too high. (If the petition, redress, etc. thing sounds familiar that's because it is a right guaranteed in the 1st Amendment).
Now, the citizen had NEVER claimed to be an engineer, and had simply signed his name to the report. And he had organized the report in a way that made sense to him, presenting information that he thought was important for the question of whether the intersections needed traffic signals.
The cool thing is that the state is going to say, "We never ACTUALLY brought charges!" Just like the Mafia thugs say, "Nice restaurant. It wud be a shame if sumpin wud to happen to it, like youknowafireorsumpin, capisce?" The fact is that the state can exert an enormously chilling effect simply by suggesting that citizens should be investigated.
But the idea that a citizen can be investigated for being smart and making an effective counter-argument.... wow, I did not expect the state to be willing to be that thuggish.
Finally, I should note that this may all be self-serving for the KPC staff. Because if being really smart, persuasive, and disagreeable is a crime now...well, Angus and I should just assume the position.
Grand Game: Government Investment Edition
It's been a while, for the Grand Game. That's where I put up a link, and you bright and good-looking KPC readers look for unintentional hilarity. Today's edition: Government investment in science!
I'll go first! My favorite part is where the government shill "proves" that these are worthwhile investments....
Success is probably 10 to 20 years away, said Arun Mujamdar, director of the program, which is called the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.
But the private investment is “a good sign, an endorsement of some sort,” he said. “The best thing the government can do is to catalyze investment.”
While 31 projects have not yet attracted outside help, all are continuing, according to the department. Josh Lerner, a professor at the Harvard Business School and an expert on venture capital, said he would have been surprised if most of the projects had attracted private financing quickly.
If all the projects had quickly drawn private money, it would have suggested that the projects would have happened without government intervention, Mr. Lerner said.
With a track record of six of 37 being picked up, “it’s hard not to feel it’s a reasonable indicator that they’re doing something right,” he said.
So, to cut to the chase, there are three possible outcomes:
1. These are silly wasteful boondoggles. Nonetheless, private capital might be attracted because the research is backed up with huge artificial subsidies, as is the case with ethanol. The only reason ethanol is a fuel additive is that we spend $1.50 per gallon in subsidies. Still, it's true you can "profit" in this industry, because govt policy is distorting price.
2. These are good projects, but would have been invested in by private capital, precisely because they are good projects.
3. These are good projects, but because of imperfect capital markets or basic public goods problems in research no private firm would have invested in them.
I say they are mostly #1. Sure, by dumb luck some of them would have been useful anyway, but then they are category #2.
Note the genius move of the description in the article: We know that some are not #1, because a few have attracted some private investment. And we know that the rest are not #2 because...MOST OF THEM HAVE NO PRIVATE INVESTEMENT!
He actually claims "If all the projects had quickly drawn private money, it would have suggested that the projects would have happened without government intervention."
Brilliant. The lack of private investment PROVES that the public investment is justified, and in fact foresighted and even visionary. Unfortunately, nowhere is it explained why the fact that there is no private investment doesn't imply that these are blue sky bullshit pork projects.
Now, your turn, folks!
(nod to Anonyman)
Two Catholic Jokes
Apropos of pretty much nothing, two Catholic jokes:
There once was a religious young woman who went to Confession. Upon entering the confessional, she said, 'Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.'
The priest said, 'Confess your sins and be forgiven.'
The young woman said, 'Last night my boyfriend made wild passionate love to me seven times.'
The priest thought long and hard and then said, 'Squeeze seven lemons into a glass and then drink the juice.'
The young woman asked, 'Will this cleanse me of my sins?'
The priest said, 'No, but it will wipe that big grin off of your face.'
Muldoon lived alone in the Irish countryside with only a pet dog for company.. One day the dog died, and Muldoon went to the parish priest and asked, 'Father, me dog is dead... Could ya' be saying' a mass for the poor madadh?'
Father Patrick sniffed, 'I'm afraid not; we cannoa be havin' sairvices for animals in the chairch.... But there's a pack o' Baptists down the lane, un there's no tellin' what strange things they believe. Maybe they'll honor yer poor creature.'
Muldoon said, 'Aye, that's a good idear. I'll go right away Father. Do ya' think 5,000 punt is a big enough donation?'
Father Patrick exclaimed, 'Sweet Mahry, Mother of Chay-sus! Why din' ya tell me the blessed dog wahr Catholic?
(nod to the LMM)
Is the economy (finally) picking up steam?
I'm going to answer this question with a firm "I think so"!
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Women Are Better
Women are better at financial planning than men.
Dan was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the family business. When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with which to share his life and his new fortune.
One evening at an investment meeting he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away.'I may look like just an ordinary man,' he said to her, but in just a few years, my father will die, and I'll inherit $650 million.'
Impressed, the woman obtained his business card and three days later, she became his stepmother.
(Nod to the LMM. Unfortunately, that disproves the thesis. I married WAY better than she did)
All Hail Robert Kagan
This to me, really nails it:
“What are we going to do — support dictators for the rest of eternity because we don’t want Islamists taking their share of some political system in the Middle East? We’ve got to put our money where our mouth is."
“Obviously, Islam needs to make its peace with modernity and democracy. But the only way this is going to happen is when people speaking for Islam take part in the system."
I'm from your government lottery monopoly, and I'm here to be an idiot. Plus, the guy who discovered this goes all Canadian on us. Nice! (Nod to @mbellemare )
Zero tolerance laws are intolerable. (Nod to Anonyman)
Only those of us who have no interests are pure... (Nod to K-Wine)
Danny Drez drops some truth bombs... (Nod to K-Wine, who is en fuego)
Prof. Barnett, on the Vinson ruling on O-Care
A battle for the scientific soul of anthropology. Me, I suspect the forces of post-modern superstition and anti-science are too deeply entrenched. It's not like they can get jobs in English departments anymore. Those Cult Ant doofuses are stuck for the duration.
The Wisdom of Kobe Bean Bryant
Referring to his teammate Pau Gasol:
serial double dippers
Ah Peru, is there anything you won't do? Fresh on the heels electing Alan Garcia (perhaps the worst ex-president who got to return to his country ever!) in 2005, comes word that the front-runner in this year's presidential election is Alejandro Toledo??
talk like a Egyptian
Via Salon, here's a truly excellent post about how NOT to talk about events in Egypt.
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
Thomas Friedman gives us his philosophy of life
The ambulatory ICU
Fantastic article in the New Yorker about applying crime mapping and policing the "hot spots" to medical care. In a lot of situations, a small fraction of the relevant population is responsible for an outsized fraction of medical costs (this is NOT including catastrophic events like organ transplants). The article outlines some currently small programs where lavishing attention and money on these "hot spots" increases the quality of care and produces better outcomes while actually saving money. It's long, but it's a fascinating article.
Monday, January 31, 2011
The Girl Store
Ignoring Costs and Benefits
"Even when agencies find that the cost of a given regulation does exceed the benefit, political considerations often keep the rules on the books. In 2007, Congress passed a law, named in honor of a 2-year-old child crushed as his father backed down the driveway, that effectively required the installation of rear-view video cameras in cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, charged with writing the new rules, found that the technology would save lives but — assuming a human life was worth about $6.1 million, a figure used by the agency for its calculations — that the cost would exceed the benefits by more than $1 billion. Nonetheless, the agency proposed the requirement, noting that it was responding to the will of Congress and that 'there is a special solicitude for protection of children.' Under the rule, automakers will be required to start installing cameras by 2014." [NYT]
"Long ago, cost-benefit analysis was a rallying cry for conservatives. It was brought to government by none other than Ronald Reagan, in Executive Order 12291 of 1981...Outraged liberals charged that cost-benefit analysis was a pretext to stifle regulation, and that it was arbitrary because of the difficulty of attaching dollar values to lives, environmental goods, and other regulatory benefits. Conservatives replied that cost-benefit analysis blocks bad regulations: Why would one support a regulation that produces higher costs than benefits?...The debate continued in this vein for decades, but over time, positions shifted. Some liberals came to see cost-benefit analysis as a good-government tool that promotes transparency and accountability, while some conservatives began to wonder whether it confers legitimacy on the New Deal state...[A]cademic research has shown that many of the cost-benefit analyses issued under all administrations were shoddy; in fact, there is little evidence that the introduction of cost-benefit analysis has improved the quality of regulations. The reason is that courts do not usually force agencies to comply with cost-benefit analyses, so unless the president steps in, the agency can do what it wants." [Eric Posner, TNR]
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
If the NY Times and the New Republic both think Pres. Obama's signature reform program is balloon juice...it's probably balloon juice!
178 things you probably don't want to do
But now, in Cuba, you can now apply for a license to be allowed to do them. Here are a few of my favorites, indicating that maybe there is not a lot of production of new goods in Cuba:
6. Door-to-door knife and scissors sharpener
21. Operator of Children's Fun Wagon Pulled by Pony or Goat
22. Buyer and Seller of Records (LPs, 45's, CDs)
23. Used Book Seller
24. Builder/Seller/Installer of Radio and TV Antennas
25. Craftsman/Seller/Repairman of Wicker Furniture
36. Door-to-Door Non-Alcoholic Beverage Seller
37. Home or Street Based Seller/Preparer of Non-Alcoholic Beverages
39. Charcoal Preparer/Seller
46. Electric Motor Rewiring (wraps new wire around bobbin on burned motors)
49. Button Coverer (Wraps buttons in cloth for upholstery and cocktail dresses popular in the 50's
62. Spark Plug Cleaner and Tester
107. Watch Repair
108. Leather Repair
109. Jewelry Repair
110. Bedframe Repair
111. Automobile Battery Repair
112. Bicycle Repair
113. Costume Jewelry Repair
114. Fence and Walkway Repair
115. Stove/Range Repair
116. Mattress Repair
117. Small Household Goods Repair
118. Office Equipment Repair
119. Electronic Equipment Repair
120. Mechanical and Combustion Equipment Repair
121. Eyeglass Repair
122. Sewing Machine Repair
123. Saddle and Harness Repair
124. Umbrella and Parasol Repair
125. Disposable Lighter Repair and Refill
127. Doll and Toy Repair
The most amazing to me is #125: Disposable lighter repair & refill? That is no way to win the future, Fidel.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Such a deal!
Wow. Either we have different definitions of "success," or our Prez just doesn't even care about actual facts. Check this:
WASHINGTON – In this week’s address, President Obama called Orion Energy Systems in Manitowoc, Wisconsin an example of how America can win the future by being the best place on Earth to do business. Orion was able to open with the help of small business loans and incentives that are creating demand for clean energy technologies. By sparking innovation and spurring new products and technologies, America will unleash the talent and ingenuity of American workers and businesses, which will lead to new, good jobs.
As Doug North would say, "BUHH-uht..." (he says it with two syllables, really he does). The "but" in this case is more like a "but, but, but, but...wtf?...but..."
Orion Energy is well on its way to bankruptcy. It produces no products that anyone wants to buy. It's a boondoggle. Here's a 4 year stock price chart on AMEX for you: The Obama Admin has a two part test for "succes":
1. Are you receiving money taken at gunpoint from taxpayers, and using it for some purpose that makes lefties happy? Most important, is this something that has no actual market, in the market?
2. Did you spend the money? All of it?
If you can answer "yes" to both sets of questions...you are a SUCCESS! So we'll give you more money.
Archimides is reported to have said, "Give me a large enough lever, and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I will move the whole world!"
Obama says, "Give me enough deficit-financed subsidies, and a second term, and I will employ the whole world in failing to produce products that no one wanted to buy in the first place."
Nod to the Blonde
D. Kucinich: Poster Boy for Tort Reform
Congressman Kucinich appears to be trying to prove we need tort reform.
Unless of course this is an ironic attempt to call attention to the problem of nonsensical, frivolous suits.
I think not. But here is a pic of a nonsensical, frivolous suit, worn with a pretty bad tie.
"Pharaoh out of Egypt"
This is my favorite bit out of Egypt so far:
In surreal scenes, soldiers from Mubarak's army stood by tanks covered in anti-Mubarak graffiti: "Down with Mubarak. Down with the despot. Down with the traitor. Pharaoh out of Egypt."
Asked how they could let protesters scrawl anti-Mubarak slogans on their vehicles, one soldier said: "These are written by the people, it's the views of the people."
Egypt is a military dictatorship, propped up by the United States and has been for over 50 years. The key here is not whether Mubarak stays or goes (pero, que se vaya ya!) but whether or not Egypt will cease being a military dictatorship, and I guess what that would mean for its relations with us.
I am not a scholar of the Middle East, but the people out on the streets don't seem to be Islamicists to me. They seem like they want what most people want; jobs, opportunity, a less corrupt government. I don't see reporting that they are chanting "death to Israel" or asking to have a theocracy.
In other words, while I regret the looting and loss of life, the events in Egypt seem unmitigatedly good. Perhaps the military will actually relinquish a chunk of it's power over everyday life. It happened in Brazil, Chile, & Uruguay; maybe it can happen in North Africa too.
and that's the reason I'm a Bullets fan!
Saturday, January 29, 2011
From a Friend
From a friend with contacts in Egypt....
Well, the writing is on the wall it seems. I could be wrong, but appears Mubarak is done. His sons have left the country and Omar Suleiman has been sworn as the first vice president Egypt has had in 30 years. I expect an announcement of power transfer reasonably soon. Judging by the tweet streams, appears most people there believe the military has pushed Mubarak into this. Something has to happen soon, as police and internal security are abandoning posts to join in semi-organized looting. Several police stations have come under direct attack by armed protesters. The declared 4pm curfew seems to have been largely ignored, most recent reliable est I've seen is over 50k still in streets in Cairo. Cairo is 7 hrs ahead of US eastern time.
Suleiman would be a very acceptable replacement to Israel & the West. Whether he'll be acceptable to the Egyptian people is another question. He has been the director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Services (EGIS) since 1993. Prior to that he was director of military intelligence. He is considered a relatively liberal Muslim, strongly opposed to radical Islam. He was the mastermind behind the fragmentation of Islamist groups who led the uprising against the state in the 1990s. He's been a key behind the scenes player in the Israeli/Hamas/PA/Egypt/US back-and-forth, and appears to be trusted [in a relative sense] by the current Israeli govt. He's been more public in direct diplomacy between Israel and Egypt. As Egypt's intelligence chief, Suleiman has been in charge of the country's most important political security files, the ultimate insider. He is 75.
Aviation chief Ahmed Mohamed Shafik, until a few hrs ago widely considered the front runner to replace Mubarak, has been appointed Prime Minister.
NOT clear that being in Egypt means one knows more than the rest of us, of course. But there it is, for what it's worth...
She Ran Over...Herself
Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t China and Iran really far away? I realize that both pose a potential threat to American security. But don’t they also pose a threat to lots of other countries that are actually in their neighborhoods? So, if we appoint ourselves world police, and foot the bill for a correspondingly gargantuan arsenal, aren’t we suckers? You might reply that our disproportionate role in policing reflects the fact that these nations threaten the United States disproportionately. On Iran’s vitriol list, the United States ranks high. And Chinese leaders direct more coded warnings toward America than toward, say, Brazil. But this logic is circular. A big reason that some nations view us so warily is that we assume the role of global cop — or, as they see it, of global bully.
...By declaring ourselves global cop, we direct so much of the world’s lethal animus toward us that increasingly it does seem to make sense to take the lead in policing the world. So we dig ourselves into an ever deeper hole with a policy that, in a perverse and ultimately catastrophic way, renders itself ever more plausible.
... People who, like me, raise questions about the value of global military engagement are sometimes called 'isolationists.' But that term rightly applies only to people who don’t realize that there are threats to our security out there. If you perceive the threats but realize that they’re collective action problems, you realize that we do have to be involved in their solution. [Robert Wright, NYT op-ed]
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
Friday, January 28, 2011
Nobel Peace Prize incarceration watch
1. Currently incarcerated:
MOHAMED ELBARADEI Egypt 2005
AUNG SAN SUU KYI, Burma 1991
HENRY A. KISSINGER, USA 1973
Death is not all it's cracked up to be
Wow! Turns out that Hamlet was wrong; death is no sure inoculation against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
For example, you might get snorted up some punk's nose! (what was up with those guys, had they never seen cocaine before?)
Or maybe your body might get snatched out of the grave after 16 months and held for ransom! (would someone really pay ransom for a corpse? Even in Italy?)
Or you might be able to "enjoy" post mortem sex! (I guess it's the ultimate "break-up sex")
Labels: it sounds great when you're dead
In Socialist Sweden, Piano Plays YOU!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Congrats to Timur Kuran
Nice article in The Economist about Timur Kuran's new book.
Timur may be the single nicest economist* I have ever met. Duke is lucky to have him.
(*Yes, nicer than Angus. Sure, that's hard to believe, but I'm just sayin'...)
I had heard about this history before, but this article is just heart-breaking.
Some elaboration, and interesting comments, from '03.
Tempting to say this is a parable of government incompetence. But it's unfair to call MILITARY incompetence "government." All military procurement, everywhere, is aggressively snafu-ed and always will be.
(Nod to Mr. Overwater)
El Mercurio: Fue un discurso 'de postre'
My amiga linda Carolina gives me a chance to talk about the SOTU in El Mercurio.
And she quoted me accurately, because I did say "Fue un discurso 'de postre': dulce cuando lo estás comiendo, pero después te sientes con sueño y algo lento y te preguntas qué había en él", añadió.
That is, "It was a dessert speech: sweet while you eating it, but afterwards you feel all sleepy and sluggish, and wonder what was in it."
Putting the P back in PhD
Umm, your pessimistic forecast is way too optomistic
and just plain wrong!
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Let's put the future behind us
One day later and confirmation arrives that the economic illiteracy on display at SOTU was not a just a mirage or bad dream.
Here are some money quotes from today:
The president said Wednesday that while China invested in clean energy technologies, "we fell down on the job. We weren't moving as fast as we should have."
"We're going to need to go all in. We're going to need to get serious about winning the future,"
People, this is just plain nuts!
China subsidizing investments in clean energy technology is VERY VERY GOOD for us. If they make a breakthrough, what, they won't sell the product to us? Really?
Is it surprising to anyone that Jeffrey Immelt, Obama's new "jobs czar" runs a company that makes wind turbines?
"We're going to need to get serious about winning the future" is the stupidest thing I've heard a president say since "Too many OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country."
America is not going to recover its greatness by pissing money away on choo-choos and windmills.
Winter: Not right for America! (Nod to the Blonde)
News coverage of Wake County school board called "too balanced." Funny, my own recollection is that S. Colbert was pretty unbalanced (as is his right, of course; far be it from me to criticize a lack of balance, especially when it is quite funny)
Hand Grenades From TSA Blog: Not the Onion (I think?) (Nod to Angry Alex)
Socialized seamen then....Obamacare now? (Nod to MAG)
Students socialize rather than study. Next: Sun rises in East!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Nice letter from UCONN alum, breaking off relations.
My favorite part: the "Personal and Confidential" thing at the top. If you cut off ties, bail on your skybox, and renege on contribution pledges, then tell me why oh why would you expect them to keep the letter confidential. Here's the first page. What an asshat.
Makes me think of "LIFE OF BRIAN": You are only making things worse for yourself.
Worse? How can they get any worse? Jehovah, Jehovah, Jehovah! Now read your letter in the PAPER, pumpkin! How do ya like me NOW?
(Nod to UCONN prof friend, who will remain anonymous)
Monday, January 24, 2011
Everybody's got something to hide (except Idaho)
Here's a fun map showing one bad thing that every state is best at (clic the pic for a more glorious image):
except of course Idaho's badge of shame, "weakest government influence", sounds like a badge of honor to me!