Saturday, May 21, 2011

A German Orgy?

So, Germans pay for orgies for top salesmen.

The idea of a German orgy is a little sketchy, I think. Like a Bahamian ice skater.

The real question, as Anonyman points out, is: What's with the stamping numbers on peoples' arms? Didn't those madcap Germans already try that?

Representin' Public Choice

Interesting.

Why Muslims like democracy yet have so little of it

Robbert Maseland & André van Hoorn
Public Choice, June 2011, Pages 481-496

Abstract: This paper explains the observed combination of relatively low levels of
democracy and positive attitudes towards it in the Muslim world. It argues that this democracy paradox is understandable from the perspective of the principle of diminishing marginal utility: people value highly that of which they have little. This reasoning implies, however, that surveys like the World Values Surveys (WVS) elicit circumstance-driven marginal preferences rather than culturally determined attitudinal traits. Empirical evidence showing that individuals living in undemocratic societies have much more favorable inclinations towards democracy supports our argument.


(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Public Choice, fool. You better recognize.

A Little Bit Softer Now....

Not sure why I think this is desperately cute. But I do.

We're off to see the shoebill...



...the wonderful shoebill of Uganda!

Friday, May 20, 2011

We Are in Deep Trouble

If Ruth Bader Ginsberg is the

ONLY

member of the Supreme Court who understands the 4th Amendment, we are in deep doo-doo.

This case illustrates

1. Why we actually need liberals on the Supreme Court. F*cking conservatives like Alito and John Roberts only care about the Constitution when it's conveeeeenient. This case is like something you use in an undergrad class to illustrate the 4th Amendment. Instead, 8 yo-yos used it to OVERTURN the 4th Amendment.

2. Why the insane war on drugs is insane. The only reason cops are all armed and jumpy and going after people who have not hurt anyone is the stupid laws. Like the Corporate Avenger said, "I don't fault the police. 'Cause the people who run 'em got 'em on a short leash."

John Lithgow Performs Newt Gingrich Press Release



Fantastic.

Nod to Ace of Spades...

Grand Game: Jeannie Needs A Solar

Excellent Grand Game topic, from Anonyman.

Toronto schools go solar! They suck down solar subsidies for new roofs.

There's a bunch of dumb stuff here, but the one that made me gasp was their stating all the electricity generation in terms of "capacity." Friends, the "capacity" of solar power is calculated under the assumption that the sun is directly over head 24 hours per day, there are no clouds, and the sun does not move.

This is TORONTO.

The sun moves everywhere. But for 5 months of the year in Toronto the sun is nearly invisible, or at such a low angle that it will generate next to nothing.

And there are two other problems:
Even in Toronto, the sun moves.
Even in Toronto, even in the summer, they have the phenomenon known as "night." It's between evening and dawn (sun moving thing, again), both of which are bad for solar power. But not as bad as "night."

The actual performance of the solar roof? Likely to be 7% of the "capacity" numbers. We are talking about generating power at a cost of 20 cents / kwh, or more, and even then most of the time there won't be any power. If you include the cost of the panels when they are not generating power (Night. Winter. Clouds. That sort of thing.), the cost is probably nearly 50 cents per kwh. (Canada generates power at about 10 cents per kwh, on average, btw, from coal and nuclear plants).

I find it amazing that these schmoes in far northern countries where IS NO FREAKING SUN are the ones who think that anything they do to worship Gaia the Earth Mother is better than having actual schools.

Anyway, your turn. And, enjoy. (I have to go back this, because it is fantastic. First two paragraphs amazing. The reason sunny countries don't use solar is NOT that oil is too cheap. It's that...solar is too expensive! The only reason idiots in Germany and Canada do it is the artificial subsidies, and the belief that no cost is too high if it involves worship of Gaia.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Pokey-Pokey

I do the POOOOOKey-pokey.

I do the POOOOOKey-pokey.

And that's what it's all about!



As you watch this, some TSA guy is grabbing Angus's tingly bits.

Separate your trash, your recycling, and

...and your babies.
Really.

(Nod to Anonyman)

Not the Onion

This is one of the stupidest things I've ever seen.

But they are apparently not kidding.

The whole world is "losing" jobs to productivity. And that's a good thing, Jack Davis.

Some things never change

Lars Von Trier:

"What can I say? I understand Hitler, but I think he did some wrong things, yes, absolutely. But I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end," von Trier said. "He's not what you would call a good guy, but I understand much about him, and I sympathize with him a little bit. But come on, I'm not for the Second World War, and I'm not against Jews. ...

"I am very much for Jews. No, not too much, because Israel is a pain in the ass."

Von Trier went on to say he also admired Hitler aide Albert Speer.


Lars now says he was "joking".

How is the IMF managing director chosen?

DSK is down and everyone has a thought on who the next managing director should be or how the process should work.

"Europe" is demanding that the new appointment be a European.

Since the founding of the IMF and World Bank, a "gentleman's agreement" has been in place that the head of the Bank will be an American and the head of the Fund a European.

The managing director is chosen by the executive board, i.e. the 24 executive directors of the Fund. Here is a link to who they are and who they represent along with the weight that is attached to each of their votes.

Here are the official rules for choosing the managing director:

"The IMF’s Managing Director is both Chairperson of the IMF’s Executive Board and Head of IMF staff. The Managing Director is assisted by a First Deputy Managing Director and two Deputy Managing Directors. He or she is appointed by the Executive Board for a renewable term of five years. Although the Executive Board may select a Managing Director by a majority of votes cast, the Board has in the past made such appointments by consensus."

It doesn't say whether the vote, if one would ever be taken, would be simple majority or weighted majority.

In sum, there is no formal nomination process, no hearings, no debates, just the consensus of the managing directors.

No wonder there is such a rabid free for all going on over the succession.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What Greg and Dan will be reading


Link is here. Note the endorsement by the mighty Jonathan Lethem.

If at first you don't succeed....

bail, bail again!

Looks like some "soft" haircuts will be included in "Grease II", the amazingly cheesy codename for the second round of EU bailouts for Greece.

They won't call it a default, and they'll probably try to make sure that whatever happens doesn't trigger default events in outstanding CDS contracts, but (a) it's a default, and (b) it won't be enough this time either.

I don't understand why the PIG countries just don't flat out default and be done with it. They are destroying their economies for the sake of German and French bankers.




Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Not the Onion?

Atheists demand chaplains who share their views. Strange as it sounds, groups representing atheists and secular humanists are pushing for the appointment of one of their own to the chaplaincy, hoping to give voice to what they say is a large - and largely underground - population of nonbelievers in the military...Defense Department statistics show that about 9,400 of the nation's 1.4 million active-duty military personnel identify themselves as atheists or agnostics, making them a larger subpopulation than Jews, Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists in the military. But atheist leaders say those numbers are an undercount because, they believe, there are many nonbelievers among the 285,000 service members who claim no religious preference on military surveys. "We deserve our own chaplains, people we can go to and talk about our deeply held non-beliefs and know they will be sympathetic," said one serviceman. (LINK)

Watermelons Explode In Farm Fields In China. BEIJING -- Watermelons have been bursting by the score in eastern China after farmers gave them overdoses of growth chemicals during wet weather, creating what state media called fields of "land mines." About 20 farmers around Danyang city in Jiangsu province were affected, losing up to 115 acres (45 hectares) of melon, China Central Television said in an investigative report. Prices over the past year prompted many farmers to jump into the watermelon market. All of those with exploding melons apparently were first-time users of the growth accelerator forchlorfenuron, though it has been widely available for some time, CCTV said. ..."If it had been used on very young fruit, it wouldn't be a problem," Wang said. "Another reason is that the melons they were planting are actually nicknamed the 'exploding melon' because they tend to split." (LINK)

Tense standoff in Dearborn, MI, at a Wal-Mart. Gunman holds hostages, but hostages all insist that they really never shop at Wal-Mart and so in fact were probably not really there. This is going to make it difficult to obtain any witnesses if the case goes to trial. Apparently one college professor who was taken hostage insisted that in fact he was confused, and thought it was a "Whole Foods," rather than a Wal-Mart. "Someone needs to look into the way these stores are labeled," complained Dr. Andrew Pinns-Waite, associate professor of English at Spring Arbor University. (LIN(K)

(Nod to Kevin Lewis and the Blonde)

MHP on Cornell West and BHO

I consider Melissa Harris-Perry a friend. Got to know her well while she was at Duke. She is a fine woman. There are some things we disagree about, but then I'm often wrong.

This I do know: Writing this little number took some courage. Well done, MHP.

I understand that MHP is in some ways simply defending the Democratic establishment here. But she also says quite a few needful things. I doubt she is going to be on Tavis Smiley's show anytime soon. But then, Tavis Smiley had it coming.

Photo of the day


Will the meeting of the DSK fan club please come to order?

Perfect

Sometimes you come across a post that is so perfect, in every way, that there is nothing more to say. This post is like that.

Your Job Counts on Account of the Way It Is Counted

Interesting. Our boy LeBron points out that the way we count matters, and that "offshoring" may overcount the portion of value created in the U.S. (And this in reference to an article he cites. Nice.)

I have taken the other side, claiming that the way we count dramatically UNDERCOUNTS how much value is created in the U.S. Sure, the "jobs" may be offshored, but they are a tiny part of the value of the product, and what is being done overseas is easy, repetitive, and cheap, not something U.S. workers need to do. Our other boy, Mark Perry, writes it up for the iPhone. Here's the value pie chart:

Who is right? I find the Houseman, et al., article pretty persuasive. So, I am, as usual, confused. It can't be that we BOTH overcount and undercount, can it?

(UPDATE: Meant to say that the title is stolen from the evil "May the Schwartz Be With You!")

(UPDATE II: LG and JN had an interesting exchange. Here is my own view: we might well want to soften the blow. Globalization helps all of us a little, but hurts a few of us a lot. Why not smooth out a little?)

Monday, May 16, 2011

We are who we thought we were!

Yesterday....my governor in action:

(Gov. Beverly) Perdue said, according to her staff. "We are North Carolina, and we have chosen to become that because of our generational legacy of education."

1. I have no idea what that means. But I'm pretty sure it doesn't actually mean anything.

2. That was not a direct quote. That was the part of what Bev said that her staff thought was hard-hitting and meaningful. Imagine what they left out.

Here's the thing. NC's Dept of Public Instruction employs hundreds of androids and goof-offs who NEVER go near a classroom. Our state DPI has a huge building right down from the Leg Office Building with a big mural. "You are suitable to be awed."

(Nope, not a clue what that means, either. Guy must write for all the state offices, including Bev.)

Prime real estate. Has to be worth $10 million or more, with a payroll of another $10 million. I'd say, "you are suitable to be SOLD," NCDPI building.

How about this: abolish the NCDPI, sell the giant admin building. That would be $10 million this year for schools, and $10 million a year from now on in savings. AND NOT ONE ACTUAL TEACHER WOULD BE LAID OFF. Just a bunch of professional Democrats sucking on the public teat.

Seems to me the Gov should get back to her real specialty, taking money from poor people and pretending to help them.

UPDATE: Got this email... "I looked at the pic of the dept of ed building, and it looks like it actually says: "You are a child. You are suitable to be awed." Of course I first thought it was a translation from a well-known Japanese saying, or maybe some unique translation from the bible. But after reading it again I'm convinced they got it from a child molester that used it as a pick up line. "And ya know what will awe you? DEEZ!"

What kid doesn't want to be "awed" - even if they don't know what it means.

It's really creepy, I hope you're planning to run again...please."

New Americans Proud, Dept Homeland Security Americans Not So Much

An account from a reader, about citizenship. He is a citizen; his spouse, Alician, has a green card and has finally qualified for full U.S. citizenship. (No, Alician is not her real name). I have inserted some comments in [ ] branckets.

[A while ago ] at 5pm Alician got a call from the gubmint. Homeland Security said that they finally found her file [misplaced for six weeks! No explanation...] and to show up at 3pm the next day at the [regional] office, to be sworn in as a U.S. citizen. We showed up at 3 and were herded into a windowless conference room with about 20 other people. I started to think this was a set-up and everyone was going to be handcuffed and led onto a bus [or maybe a "shower"?].

But then a clearly bored "official" turned on the dvd player and left. We watched a 20 minute video showing pictures of 19th century immigrants while inspiring piano music played. After that another video began, which consisted of more pictures of immigrants with "I'm proud to be an American" as the soundtrack...the entire song!
[If you want the experience, here is the Lee Greenwood video...]


I think DHS saw this as their last chance to torture foreigners before they become citizens. After that video ended nothing happened, no actual person was around, and so we waited half an hour. Eventually, some soon to be ex-immigrant showed the entrepreneurial spirit [and that's why we need immigrants!] and flagged someone down to point out that we were all waiting to be sworn in.

Finally a woman showed up looking completely flustered and proceeded muy rapidamente to give the oath and pass out certificates. Then we were told to leave, quite abruptly. I think she was too busy not processing paperwork to be interrupted from not swearing in new citizens. Balancing the not-doing of all that work has to be pretty stressful.

So: After over five years, thousands of dollars in fees (as it's not supposed to cost the taxpayers any $), and hundreds of documents, it came down to this... "Would you just take your pathetic certificate and leave? We don't really have time for this, and we don't have any more awful videos to show you. We certainly don't have time to say anything, because then you would see we ourselves don't believe in all this patriotism crap. We at DHS actually hate Americans."

I felt bad for the people in uniform [a number of U.S. soldiers were gaining their citizenship for the first time] and from war-torn countries. They should have been treated better on their first day as U.S. citizens. Alician had the perfect one-word description: "Graceless." Still, she actually is proud to be an American, even if those DHS folks aren't.

Photo of the day

(clic the pic for a more glorious perp walk)

People, who will join me in contributing to a fund to purchase razors and decent neckties for the NYPD??

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hurtful, MOST Hurtful.

Darn, that hurts.

I thought Paul and me was tight, ya heard?

But apparently NOT, since "ALL his favorite libertarians" write for one blog, JUST ONE BLOG.

That's aaight, Paul, I see how it is. That's cool, you go ahead on. I'll get over it. If you really think that that brazen hussy Zwolinsky is cuter than Angus and I, FINE.

Fair Trade Revealed As Feel-Good Hoax

I have for some time been a basher and hater of "Fair Trade," in coffee and other commodities. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, Russ Roberts and I podcastrated the whole issue nearly four years ago. Sarah Marchmont wrote a very fair-minded article about it.

Here is the basic economics--a rent is being created: a price above market price is being charged. In countries where property rights, contracts, and rule of law is tenuous, feel-gooders and scam artists have put together an unholy coalition. The feel-gooders create something called "Fair Trade" certification, which means that the farmers get paid well above market price for the coffee they produce.

Not surprisingly, many farmers want to get in on this action. But less than all can be certified "fair trade" recipients, since a price that much above the market price would create a surplus. The fair trade feel-gooders would never be able to sell the glut of coffee if EVERYONE gets fair trade certification.

So, the feel-gooders stick their fingers in their ears and shout "LA-LA-LA-LA-LA" and pretend that their partners the scam artists are doing the right thing when they hand out the "fair trade" certifications.

But remember that these are countries with little rule of law, and shoddy police enforcement. So what the scam artists in effect do is sell off the rent (the high price of fair trade certification) to the highest bidder.

The result is that, after a fairly short period, three years at most, the "fair trade" farmers are getting no more, and maybe less, than everyone else, and no more than they got before the "fair trade" scam was started. The scam artists, it's true, are skimming the profits, but the competition to become a scam artist then becomes the valuable commodity, and rent-seeking to get to be the guy who certifies "fair trade" then also dissipates THAT rent. Some government official in the country, the one who licenses the guy who licenses the guy who certifies "fair trade" farmers ends up sucking down the rent.

Consumers pay more, and feel good about themselves. The feel-gooders who started the program move on to abuse some other group of farmers with false promises. And the results are a substantial increase in dead-weight loss.

Don't believe me? Article in the National Post, by Lawrence Solomon, founder of Green Beanery in Toronto, a suburb of Buffalo.

And the German study that really reveals how it all works. In fact, as the Hohenheimers note, the certification process is so corrupt many don't even bother, and just mislabel the coffee as "fair trade" from the get-go.

All you need to know to figure out why "fair trade" and similar feel good programs are dumb is have lunch with Bob Tollison once, and have him explain what rent-seeking is. Or you can read this, I suppose, though Bob is a better bet. (Dr. Henderson gives a nice short history.) The point is that once you understand rent-seeking, you can PREDICT that stuff like "fair trade" won't work. It can't work. And it doesn't work.

UPDATE: Dalibor Rohac has a nice piece on same subject. Thanks for the tip, DR!

Note to Anonyman: Anonywife Is NOT Pleased....

Anonyman was passing the sink, there in lovely Anonytown. And noticed this:


Dude, go out RIGHT NOW, get some nice flowers, and just start saying "I'm sorry, honey I'm sorry, look, I'm sorry." Do NOT wait to find out what "the matter" is. Go. Et bon chance...

A cultural bouillabaisse

1. The culture that is France; the enablement of DSK. (Hat tip to LeBron)


2. The culture that is Australia; "boozed-up idiots running wild all over the country"


3. The culture that is Mexico; the toes knows!


I guess Paul Krugman shops at the Gap...

....because he doesn't know much about Banana Republic!

Paul says trying to link spending cuts to raising the debt ceiling makes America more likely to be seen as a Banana Republic, because it will show that "crazy extremists" have so much "blocking power" that we can't "get our house in order".

I would venture the view that the opposite is more likely to be true. Unconditionally raising the debt ceiling (again) without changes to path of future spending is likely to re-confirm the view that America is well on the road to becoming the mother of all Banana Republics.

Historically, Banana Republics were not run by "crazy extremists", they were run by corrupt plutocrats who governed in favor of foreign companies that controlled the export of the country's primary product (Wow, is Goldman Sachs the USA's United Fruit??).