Kids Prefer Cheese
Credibly promising to be irresponsible...since 2004!
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
BFFs: du Process
Interesting talk at dinner the other night about friendship. What does it mean, how do you tell, and how do Germans and Americans differ in their understanding of the meaning, obligations, and limits of friendship.
Germans see Americans as superficial or even manipulative. We smile too much, we presume too much intimacy too fast. In German, there is a distinction between different forms of "you." I found this article, and also this one, if you are interested.
The money quote from the article:
The real problem isn't just grammar; it is also a matter of culture. An English-speaker is not used to making the distinction between the familiar and formal you (except in the similar "Mr. Brown" vs. "Bob" situation). German-speakers are very much aware of it and can become very uncomfortable when the du/Sie rules are broken. German-speakers tend to keep their distance longer with acquaintances than English-speakers do. German business colleagues who have worked together for years continue to address each other as Sie. It does not mean they are unfriendly, but they are maintaining the important German division between truly close friends and mere acquaintances.
This can manifest itself in ways that seem odd to the boundaries. As I wrote before, to an American, Franconia can seem like the land of state-sponsored autism.
But it is just as odd, or maybe more so, for Germans, and especially Franconians. If I said "Good Morning," in perfect German with a German accent, to someone on the street, they would stare in amazement. That is absolutely not done. "We have not been introduced!" would be the reaction. The circle of friends, real friends, for a German is generally smaller than the circle an American with precisely the same set of relationships might identify. But at the center of that circle the friendships seem deeper and with more reciprocal obligations for a German, especially German man.
Americans, on the other hand, can count their friends on Facebook. Where Americans might want many friends, Germans might want good friends.
There was a lot more, but that's the gist of it. I personally am more comfortable with being friendly, and the "superficial" criticism is not very persuasive. Why not be nice? It's more fun. Germans, at first, when they visit the American south assume that people are trying to get something, maybe even rob them, if a conversation is struck up. Americans don't need to be introduced. Germans also find it tough to tell where a friendship starts with an American, and I think they have a point here. Americans are a bit too intimate too fast, but then pull back. How can tell who is a friend, without "du" process?
Schadenfreude? Or Just Another Excessive Law Exploited in a Way That Amuses Us?
Monday, June 13, 2011
Uganda trip report #3: The big Kahunas
You can see more gorilla photos from the trip here.
A Not Bad At All Mexican Restaurant
T.G. is the man. He felt moved to defend the honor of Erlangen, after reading about the "Worst Mexican Restaurant in the World" incident.
So, we went to La Pasion. Here is the menu (PDF, a download).
It was just fine. First, the chips/dip. You may recall that in the WMRITW this was crackers with ketchup-with-tomatoes. At La Pasion, a perfectly eatable bottled salsa, nothing special, but actual salsa. The guacamole was fine, and they HAD guacamole, which was an improvement.
The food came with beans, canned jalapenos, and fiery little fresh chiles with stems. The quesadillas...well, check the menu. They had...pollo! At the WMRITW the very idea of pollo had been mocked by the waitress, who had insisted only puten (turkey) could be used in Mexican food. But La Pasion lists chicken, pollo, and hanchen, which makes sense for a multi-lingual menu.
And the beer was first rate. A very excellent hefeweisse. (To be fair, even the WMRITW had managed to get that right).
So, overall, a perfectly acceptable Mexican restaurant. Wouldn't survive in Los Angeles, perhaps, but they used ingredients and flavorings that strongly reminded one of Mexican food. One of our party said the food was what you might get if your mom cooked Mexican, but I think that's not right. This was what you might get at Applebees or some chain. In any case, thanks to T.G.! Erlangen's honor is restored. I liked the restaurant very much.
Tales from the Berg II: Ran into a chum, with a bottle of rum....
And wound up drinking all night. I blame Martin. Will post about Mexican restaurant soon, though.
Went out for lunch at Carpaccio. An Italian restaurant with actual Italians. Great little courtyard, with lattice and umbrellas (it was sunny here, by the way; a miracle!) The boys and I went, along with Martin, the lovely Ulla (who should have known better) and the indomitable Dominik.
Martin insists on ordering a whole liter of chianti, even though he was the only one who wanted any. Well, actually, I did that. Martin was kind enough to go along. But I need to work something like a chum with a bottle of rum in here, to make the Buffet allusion work. Really great lunch, first rate, kind of Martin to suggest it.
Our waiter was hilarious. Funny, insulting, did a little dance. Long hair pulled back, oiled down, about five foot ten and 150 pounds, looked like an Italian waiter should look. Kept checking back, brought the food quickly. I briefly forgot I was in Germany, with such service. The pizzas and pasta all very good.
Then we climbed the Huguenot Church in the main square. Yes, we did. It's tall.
. Amazing view.
Then the boys and I went back to the Hotelchen, where I immediately napped for 20 minutes. Fortunately, Hajo called and woke me up. He was at Berg, waiting for us. We didn't get up there until nearly 17:00, and it was really hard to find a table. Martin was going to join us later (after HIS nappie). Finally found a table, near "The Kessel" at Entla's Keller. This description is funny, both the "boiling" and the list of cheesy sing-along songs. Here is the Kessel (yes, that's really what is going on; our table was above a bit, though, not in the boiling):
After we found a table, shared with some other folks (Ha-Jo did this, crucial to be quick and speak German), we sat for quite a while (Ha-Jo had some entla, which was cool). Our table companions left, leaving half a table open. This is like a pretty girl in a tight tube top sitting alone at a dance for sailors just back from the sea. LOTS of people were hitting on us, though of course they only wanted us for our table. We were trying to hold seats for Martin, Ulla, and Dominik, but we were under constant attack. Apparently (Martin insists) I left a phone message for him (he was still napping) that was like a call for an air strike in a bad war movie: "Martin! You have to get here. We can't (loud noise)...Wow! That was close. We can't hold on much longer. Please...(loud crashing and banging)... You have got to get here!"
And then they did get there, and it was all good, and we sang and danced on the tables at the Kessel.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
So, Erlangen is never like this, EXCEPT during Berg. Then your Bavarian getaway is exactly like this.
(No, I have no idea what this is about. Blame Martin)
Last night Berg was so crowded I literally could not move. And some really drunk guys were doing the "throw the shoulder and elbow" thing to try to start fights.
On the other hand, I also walked by "The Worst Mexican Restaurant in the World," with fond memories.
The admirable T.G. took us last night to a different Mexican restaurant. I have two posts later today about the experience. Stay tuned.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
I did this podcast (or, some of what I said made up a small part of the podcast) with CBC.
Canucks in the Cup Final, and may not be again ever. What should tickets cost?
The question is not what people are CHARGING, but rather what people are PAYING.
Oh, and the games....
There is no Great Stagnation!
Tales From Berg I: Martin
So, frequent commenter and KPC BFF Martin and I had spent nearly 4 hours at a table at Berg, eating the chocolates that Der Geist (Scrounger forever) demanded I open and drinking mass biers (Maßkrüge). (By "mass biers" I don't mean many, or Spanish for more, I mean 1 liter bier glasses, which are different from bier goggles).
Anyway, Martin and I were walking back toward town from Berg, along the Haupstrasse, with 10,000 or so other merry folks. The atmosphere is a little charged, a lot inebriated.
Some moron decided he was going to drive. A car. On the Hauptsrasse. Now, it was so crowded, curb to curb, that you really couldn't walk. Drive a car? Really? Goofball in the car, and his passenger, are yelling, revving engine, squealing brakes, and going exactly the same speed as the people walking.
I got out of the way, but Martin (you have to know Martin; he is basically a psychological twin of Angus, if Angus were a German Socialist) not only didn't get out of the way but walked a little slower. Goofball in the car keeps revving/braking, finally actually touches Martin's leg with the car.
More happened then. I was watching Martin, who turned,gave an excellent wind up and released a nice high arching spit onto the car's windshield. I followed the trajectory, like a camera cut, to...pandemonium. The crowd was enraged that one of its own had been touched intentionally by a car. There were 2 or 3 guys with their legs sticking out of both front windows. They had dived (diven?) into the car, turned it off, put it in neutral, and were now beating the crap out of the occupants.
Martin and I walked on. Half a km later, we looked back, and the car was in exactly the same place, though by now the flashers were on. (Nice touch). Martin felt bad about the spitting (which I thought was fully called for). The beating... hard to say.
And der Geist ate all my damned chocolates. Scrounger.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Democracy is Overrated
(Update: This did come from a public speech. The laughter/applause is real, though of course undeserved. It is on YouTube; just click on bottom right of the embedded image, or use this link...
I had no role in making the video, which is nearly 3 years old. It was created by Libertyfizz from a speech I gave permission to use. Libertyfizz may or may not choose to identify him/herself; that's not for me to decide. But whatever claim or credit you want to give, it is Libertyfizz's, not mine. If you are interested in the text of the speech...this is pretty close.)
Some little stories... I was hoping to be funny, but I still want to be serious.
Tocqueville rocks, by the way.
The mysterious recession, take II
Yesterday I claimed that the behavior of the US economy in our current recovery is, contra Matt Ygelesias, "mysterious", in that we have not seen the common "v-shape" or recovery to the original trend.
Gotta Do This
Sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Was trying to avoid it.
1. The John Edwards prosecution: witch hunt. There is no way that what he did was illegal. And if it is, he could not have known it was illegal. There was no campaign contribution. This is just prosecutorial harrassment of someone where our political judgment is that he's a bad guy. And, okay, he is a bad guy. But that's not a crime. All Edwards has to say is that he kept it secret to hide his affair and the bimbette's pregnancy from his wife. That is reasonable doubt. End of story. If prosecutors are free to bring trumped up charges like this, we are all less safe.
2. The Anthony Weiner saga: really? What the hell? There is not even an allegation of a crime. And I can't blame the media, 'cause they are just serving up what you bunch of Rocks are cookin'-smellin'. Not saying media can't write about it, that's fine. But I pledge that I will change channels, URLs, or tweets any time I see anything more about the Congressman's weiner. This is a softer, but still ugly, kind of public harrassment. Why would anyone want to run for office? (If they had a chance to win, I mean, something I don't know anything about). This is just puritannical garbage.
Labels: political theatre
Thursday, June 09, 2011
Apparently, there's three kinds of people in this world.
The mystery of Yglesias
Matty Y has put up a mysterious blog post called "The non-mystery of the recession".
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
If these be sweatshops, give me MORE of them!
Just after midnight in Munich. Tremendous doner durum for dinner, then a variety of locally brewed malt beverages. Nonetheless, I am over here watching my boy Ben Powell. And you should watch, too.
Still, here at KPC we strive for fairness. Since Ben Powell is a smart guy, and he's right, the opposing view should be a nonsensical article written by an idiot. Here you go; enjoy!
All hail Frank Esser!
Uganda trip report #2: Kazinga channel cruise
For a long time, I've wanted to canoe down the Zambezi river among the hippos and other riverine creatures, but Mrs. Angus wants no part of it. The closest I've gotten so far is the pontoon boat ride down the the Kazinga channel, a 30 km "river"which connects lakes George and Albert in the northern part of Queen Elizabeth park as seen in this aerial photo:
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
The Wal-mart of Weed
A 21,000 square foot one stop shop for growing the chronic, complete with an on-site doctor to get you signed up for using medical marijuana has just opened up in Phoenix.
Uganda trip report #1: Non-primate wildlife
Price Controls Lecture
Anthony Davies. Not sure about some of those graphs, as "proof" about min wage increasing unemployment. But a good video for a general audience.
Labels: free market videos
When You Read This, I'll Be in Munich
Get to Munich at 7:30 am on Tuesday, staying at the Conrad Hotel de Ville on Schillerstrasse, right by the Hauptbahnhoff.
Heading up to Erlangen on Thursday, giving several talks, and staying at the Hotelchen am Theater on Theaterstrasse.
Of course, it just HAPPENS to be time for ... Bergkirchweih!
Also "on tap" (forgive me): A return to the very worst Mexican restaurant in the world! The single most viewed page in KPC history, and the YYM and I are going to see if it has gotten even worse.
Monday, June 06, 2011
Woman Aroused? How Can You Tell?
So, German police are flummoxed. (I write this in the air, using GoGo wifi, heading for Munich). A law written for male flashers requires that the flasher be visibly sexually aroused before the crime can be prosecuted.
But this woman has been flashing...and who can tell? I've been married 25 years, and I have no idea. Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe later, maybe not? Part of a lady's charm, that fickle mystery.
Men not very mysterious. I think more research needs to be done.
(Nod to the Blonde)
Air France Does a DSK Move
What is it with the French and taking responsibility? Jeez, DSK goes after the chambermaid, and all the French hoity toits fall over themselves blaming the woman.
The Air France plane falls 30k feet because it stalled.... stalled! When the stall warnings went off, Bozet the Clown in the pilot's seat pulled back on the stick to bring the nose up. Did he never play "Flight Simulator"? Amazing. Yet the Air France hoity toits...here's the quote from the WSJ article:
Air France praised the three pilots, who "demonstrated a totally professional attitude and were committed to carrying out their task to the very end," the airline said in a statement.
The carrier, a unit of Air France-KLM SA, noted that "the initial problem was the failure of the speed probes which led to the disconnection of the autopilot and the loss of the associated piloting protection systems."
The largest trade union representing Air France pilots, SNPL, said Friday the report "describes only part of the sequence of events experienced by the crew" and it awaits the full report.
Now, I understand that the disconnection of the autopilot would be a problem, if (for example) I or even the intrepid world traveller Angus were sitting up front. We are not...PILOTS. Losing the piloting protection systems would indeed be a big problem for anyone who is not a trained pilot.
But I would have expected that the term "pilot" would connote some ability to fly a plane, and in particular it should mean you have training in flying the particular plane you are "piloting" across the big old ocean.
I also understand that the guys are dead, and that Air France is trying to avoid massive liability for what appears to be simple negligence in training.
Still wonder, though, how a stall alarm would say to any trained pilot, "Get your nose up!" (Two analyses, one here and then a really interesting one here. The actual pilot, the last link, seems to think it was a tough situation. And he mentions what it must have been like to have a 40 degree up angle, and then the long stall, falling into the ocean. Must have been terrifying.)
A video of the problem of stalling.
The partners from Hell
Mrs. A and I have returned from two weeks in Uganda. It was a fantastic trip. We saw and did so much, I'm still kind of trying to process it all (and get over the jet lag).
Sunday, June 05, 2011
Standing In the School House Door
Refreshing honesty from one of the commissars in the dark hierarchy of the education-industrial complex. Article in the N&O today, by UNC Ed School Dean Bill McDiarmid. Please do read it.
His essential points go as follows:
1. Students who have uninterested or unsupportive parents fail to do well in school.
2. Students whose parents are interested, involved advocates have the potential to do well.
3. It is not fair to open opportunities for the type 2 kids, since the type 1 kids won't have those opportunities.
4. Therefore, it is more fair to have a system where all students fall well short of their potential than to have a system where some students escape the trap of poverty and the cycle of educational failure.
Dean McDiarmid actually goes so far as to say that the desperate parents in the movie "Waiting for Superman" should be forced, literally forced, to keep their kids in the horrible public school system of Washington D.C. The ideology of our education commissars is that unless everybody escapes, nobody escapes.
Why would someone who at least pretends to care about children take such an abusive position? After all, if we are to ensure social mobility and a chance for some people to realize their dreams of a better life for their children, shouldn't we want to save at least some of those poor kids? Because, remember, the research the commissar cites shows that kids without adult advocates are GOING TO FAIL EITHER WAY. The only actual question is whether we let kids who DO have adult advocates succeed. Dean McDiarmid does not want that to happen. Again, why?
A remarkable story from New York tells us why. The NAACP is mounting an aggressive defense of failing schools in Harlem. Some of these schools have success rates (proportion performing at grade level) of 3%. (That's 97% NOT at grade level, for those of you who got degrees in education...)
Who is on the other side? Who is the NAACP valiantly fighting against? Poor black people. Nice. Check this article; it brings tears to your eyes. Shame on you, NAACP, and shame on Dean McDiarmid. At the end of the day, you are happy to sacrifice the future of our poorest children for a few pieces of silver for your public unions and their ideological fellow travellers.
Several polls near the end of the 2008 race showed my support among African-Americans was 50% higher than among whites. Some of this was because I was opposed to capital punishment. But people I talked to told me their support was based on educational reform, giving choice to poor people. Rich people have always had choices, and they are leaving the system to go to private schools. Poor people are the ones who need choices, and only changing government policy can do that.
(UPDATE: Link is fixed. Thanks!)
Saturday, June 04, 2011
Links and Links
Spontaneous order in Alabama: talk radio and aid announcements in Spanish
Tanning beds, no question. And other stuff with Bob Lee.
Darned microphone. Republicans broadcast "secret" meeting into press room...
Peak Volts? Limited supply of ridiculous car allows dealers to get their own charge from tax credit...
Docs and Glocks in FLA: I like the part about over-ruling the state bird.
Surely this is a hoax? And don't call me Shirley.
Are you experienced? Facebook: arbiter of what can be said, and how.
Make your own jokes: solar iKini made from many "waffer thin" panels
Finally, no gag, just gift: Free hugs (video, work safe)
(Nod to Angry Alex and the Blonde)
Friday, June 03, 2011
The Grand Game: Medical School Edition
A truly remarkable proposal: make med school free, but make specialties really, really expensive. Read it here, comment you know where. My own view: If you think doctors are maximizing the following function:
Income = f(x) + $155,0000 (Where x is choice of specialty)
Then the same x will maximize the following function:
Income = f(x) + $0
In other words, it cannot be true that the choice of specialty will be affected by the fixed cost of attending med school in the first place.
The other part of the argument is that we need to charge for studying specialties. For some reason, our brave authors assume this is a fixed choice: "There are nearly as many doctors enrolled in specialty training in the United States (about 66,000) as there are students in United States medical schools (about 67,000), the forgone stipends would cover all the tuition costs."
I have news: if this cockeyed plan is implemented, those numbers will change, quite a bit. And only the people with specialties will have those big debts. Which will mean elective MRIs for everyone; papa's got debts to pay!
Fear Your Cell Phone, Eat Your French Fries...
An excellent point. We make up stuff to worry about, things that there is little evidence that we should fear. But we eat french fries and smoke when we KNOW those are dangerous.
"Radiation — from power lines, microwave ovens, cell phones, and (went there) nuclear power — has always occupied outsized concern in the public mind relative to its true health impact. Meanwhile, our collective choices and private behaviors on so many matters display rather astonishing neglect of basic public health concerns." [Harold Pollack, TNR}
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
Thursday, June 02, 2011
NC Budget Hardball
My friend Bob Geary at Indie Week notes that Gov. Bev has come out swinging hard and effectively.
On the other hand, my friend Jim Morrill from the N&O says that Repubs smell victory. They are hoping to override Gov. Bev's veto on the budget.
My own view is closer to Mr. Geary's. (To be fair, Mr. Morrill makes no predictions himself, merely citing the Repub conventional wisdom). Bev is doing some fine work, politically. And the Repubs only seem to talk to people who agree with them. That kind of "my whole family and staff agree with me" polling may just reach up and bite 'em on the butt.
Gov. Bev is generally not a very inspiring stumper. But she actually cares about this issue, particularly education (whether she understands it is a different question). And the Repubs would make a big mistake to ignore her genuine speaking ability on issues she cares about. Yes, she will oversimplify and distort. Yes, she only has one effective emotional tone, and that's mad grandma-style indignation. But she will also make a lot of people mad at the Republicans. This is not over.
Regulation is Not Kosher
RL sends an interesting article, about Israeli and Palestinian meats.
Excerpt: In a recent report, the state comptroller wrote that the cost to Palestinian importers of importing refrigerated fresh meat is about 10% of the cost to their Israeli counterparts. What is the reason for that gigantic difference? Two reasons, says the comptroller: the high cost of kosher slaughter abroad, and a 190% tax Israel imposes on imported fresh meat. No such tax is applied to meat imported into the Palestinian Authority.
For instance, a Palestinian importer pays $1.55 per kilo of fresh fillet, while the Israeli importer pays $11.80 for the same cut of meat: 7.6 times more.
The answer to the problem: get rid of the stupid law. (Yes, this is usually my answer to problems, but it would work!) If Israel is a secular state (and in some sense it has to be), why not allow import of all (safe) meat, and then let kosher butcher shops do the work they have done for thousands of years? Under the current system, consumers pay too much, and eat meat that is not only not kosher, but of unknown and possibly unsafe origin.
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
You are Canadien, Not You Are?
The Ward Boss shares this column on American hockey rubes.
I have been asked by The Seattle Times if, as a Canadian, I might offer pointers on hockey "to American rubes," which, I would point out, is a direct quote from The Times reporter, not me. I can't speak to the reporter's characterization of his own countrymen in this case. I use the term "American rubes" only after my regular cavity-search at the border.
I would also say that I find it quaint that Americans, rube-ish or otherwise, believe the stereotype that they have of Canadians. Just because we live in igloos does not mean we all know something about hockey. This would be akin to me randomly phoning up someone in Seattle and asking them, "Hey, you're an American. Give me pointers on military intervention and the overthrow of oil-rich autocracies." I would never presume to typecast people in a country as great and diverse as the U.S., and I'm sure most of you are engrossed in many other pursuits, such as monster truck rallies.
I don't even mind being mocked by Canadians anymore. For years, their bizarre fear of free speech and aggressive local content codes surprised me. But they mostly avoided huge bailouts of criminals, by mostly avoiding a huge economic collapse, by mostly having a sensible economic policy (no FNMA, no FHLMC) in the first place.
Oooh, look. The monster truck rally is on TV. Gotta go.
Darn that center!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Koch brouhaha--My take
I went all Boudreaux on the Koch controversy in Florida, published an op ed today in the Tallahassee Democrat, link here but behind paywall. But you, lucky KPC reader, get it fast, fresh, and free!
Koch brouhaha is hardly news in academia
Florida’s universities, and media, are in an uproar about the Koch Foundation’s “strings” on grants to FSU’s Economics Department. But I’m not sure why.
As chair of Duke’s Political Science Department for the past ten years, I have competed for dozens of grants, large and small. And I have dealt with the reporting requirements of funders including the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and George Soros’ “Open Society.”
These organizations, not surprisingly, want to make sure their money is spent legally and fruitfully. But the media has been shocked that "information on publications, presentations, courses taught, students supervised and outreach activities'' was to be provided by recipients of Koch grants.
Look: that’s boiler plate. It’s essentially the same requirements that are imposed on any operating grant I have ever dealt with. There are two kinds of grants: endowment and operating. Endowment contributions go to a university’s investment principal, and all that can be spent is the income from that principal. In 1995, Yale returned $20 million to the Bass family, when the donors wanted control over hiring tenured professors. Princeton finally settled—in 2008—a lengthy lawsuit brought by the Robertson family over a $900 million endowment for support for the Woodrow Wilson School. Universities generally reject strings on endowment gifts.
But operating gifts are different. Most foundations give operating gifts exclusively. Endowment gifts produce investment returns, while operating gifts are spent directly. If I get $100,000 to spend on my Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program at Duke, then I spend the whole $100,000 during the term of the grant.
And then I have to file an annual report. How was the money spent? Was it effective? What is the evidence that it had an impact? How can I justify a future renewal of this money? Operating contributions come with strings, because they are spent directly, and then evaluated immediately.
I grew up in Central Florida, and still feel a strong kinship with the state. Full disclosure, though: I accepted operating contributions from the Koch Foundation last year. We used it to bring in outside speakers, including a New York Times columnist and an expert on economic development in Africa, for my classes in the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program at Duke University.
There were strings. As one condition of the grant, we distributed questionnaires to find out if students thought the speakers added learning value to the class. I did not have to get permission from Charles Koch, mind you. What the Foundation wanted to know was whether the students, the customers if you will, thought that the money was well spent, in terms of their own individual educational goals.
And well spent it was. I had 60 students, and got the highest evaluations I have ever received. The chance to have in a variety of experts, with direct experience to challenge students from across the ideological spectrum, was an enormous help.
I have studied the grant process used by the FSU economics department. There was nothing unusual, or underhanded, about what went on in Tallahassee. The funds were operating donations funds, not endowment. But I am concerned, as a long time Florida resident, about the media maelstrom. Why is it that even a hint of real intellectual diversity--the kind that represents differences in ideas--is seen as being so problematic at our state universities?
Michael C. Munger, PhD
Professor of Political Science, Economics, and Public Policy
Director, Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program
For an alternative view, see (for example) the DK....
For Don Luskin's view, see the WSJ article...
The problem, as I often tell my students, is that the fact that the PD has a dominant strategy is more determinative than they think.
The reason is that it does NOT depend on guilt or innocence. Think about it: knowing that I go free if I rat you out, but that I get the death penalty if you rat me out, has NOTHING to do with who did what, if in fact either of us did anything. Barring a joint defense, it's tough to resist.
The problem is that prosecutors don't care. A conviction means they win, and can get reelected. And then, to get parole, the guy has to admit guilt yet again, even if he is innocent.
Downside? Our prisons have a lot of innocent people in them, particularly the ones who can't afford real representation. A new book....
(Nod to Angry Alex)
Monday, May 30, 2011
Monday's Child is Full of Links
Advice to the newly tenured.... including how to stay out of government. (Nod to Angry Alex)
Natural rights? How would we know? A right is the power to do something; property is the power to do it exclusively, to prevent others from using the thing also. Hobbes thought we all had too many rights, or liberties, in the state of nature. Must the state by its nature restrict "natural" rights? And don't we want it to, for the reasons Hobbes gave? (Nod to Anonyman)
Ohio State cheats, gets caught, acts surprised, fires coach. Yawn.
Mormon Spring Break? "Next weekend, hundreds of young singles will descend on a small North Carolina beach town for a rowdy weekend of late-night partying and anonymous hookups — not unlike your average episode of Jersey Shore. The difference? Instead of well-muscled guidos on the hunt for one-night stands, the shores will be teeming with Mormons searching for their future spouses. Welcome to Duck Beach: host to the most bizarre spring break on the planet." Proving once again that men can act like complete idiots, even if they have nothing but a chocolate milkshake to drink. (nod to Kevin Lewis)
He...PRUNED...a shrubbery! He must be...made of wood? NO! A WITCH! Kill him. Or, in Charlotte, fine him $100 per branch pruned. Really. (Nod to the Blonde)
Is Sex Work? A Memorial Day Post
Is Sex Work?
A U.S. Marine Colonel was about to start the morning briefing to his staff. While waiting for the coffee machine to finish its brewing - the colonel decided to pose a question to all assembled.
He explained that his wife had been a bit frisky the night before and he failed to get his usual amount of sound sleep. He posed the question of just how much of sex was "work" and how much of it was "pleasure?" A Major chimed in with 75-25% in favor of work. A Captain said it was 50-50%. A lieutenant responded with 25-75% in favor of pleasure, depending upon his state of inebriation at the time. There being no consensus, the colonel turned to the PFC who was in charge of making the coffee. What was HIS opinion?
Without any hesitation, the young PFC responded, "Sir, it has to be 100% pleasure." The colonel was surprised and, as you might guess, asked why.
"Well, sir, if there was any work involved, the officers would have me doing it for them." The room fell silent.
God Bless the enlisted man.
And God Bless all our men and women in uniform, around the world, and since the beginning. For my own part, a remembrance of Captain Herbert Munger, 100th Infantry Division. On a morning in November, 1944 he was riding in the lead six-wheel drive armored car racing northeast after retreating German forces. The company hit a roadblock ambush, with machine guns and sighted in mortars. The second car was disabled. (Then) Lt. Munger got out of his (undamaged) car, got the wounded out of the disabled car, got the platoon turned around, and escaped the trap without loss of life. And so, sometimes, God Bless the offers.
He got a Bronze Star. I ended up with a father.
DSK Fail, Francophonies Fail
Okay, so this has been building up for about a decade. In me, I mean. Listening to all my leftoid friends worshipping France. We need something like their system of government, their culture, their possession of an actual political left, to protect the workers from those big mean capitalists. Well, Maureen Dowd, of all people, put it rather brilliantly in the NYT yesterday.
(The title of the article, "Cherchez la femme," was opaque to me. After reading an explanation, still not sure what Ms. Dowd was going for with that title. There was no woman affecting a man's behavior here, only a rape. And the story is about Christine Lagarde, who is impressive, but... Intriguing.)
Anyway, the article does a fine job of laying out the issues. I do want to emphasize just two things:
1. How can you socialist-lovers defend as "socialist" a society where the phrase "troussage de domestique" is common? And where it is used seriously as a DEFENSE of a man's actions? As Ms. Dowd puts it:
The journalist Jean-François Kahn said he was “practically certain” that DSK was not trying to rape the Sofitel maid, but was merely engaging in “troussage de domestique,” lifting the skirt of the servant. Jack Lang, a former government minister, cracked, “It’s not like anybody died.”
So if a rich man employs a poor woman, he is simply entitled to lift up her skirt? And as long as no one dies, he can actually physically enjoy her, against her will? No wonder all you lefites love France. This is Bill Clinton's idea of heaven, because you can say "So what?" instead of having to lie to the grand jury. And your wife, instead of making up some absurd "great right wing conspiracy," can proudly say that she admires your seductive prowess? (Though you francophones will have to explain to me how forcible rape is seduction...)
(Hilarious, this bit from FT. Nice arse, indeed.)
2. Capitalist elites have rich tastes, but they expect to pay for it. Socialist elites have tastes at least as rich, but think they are entitled to take, by harnessing the state's coercive force if necessary, because they "serve the people." $50k per month apartment? $3,000 per night suite? And this guy is a man of the people? The case reveals not just the hypocrisy of protecting male sexual predators in France, but also protecting the political predators who call themselves socialists. I think that part of the story is underreported. National Review hits on it, but that hardly counts among the "real" media you lefties take seriously.
Here is one honest person of the left, I'll admit.
UPDATE: Anonyman sends this tidbit. The title of the article could be expanded to ANY socialist organization, including our own Congress. And before you guys go all, "He's not a socialist" out of your little reflexive talking points, I have to point out that DSK calls HIMSELF a socialist. So go argue with him.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
An interesting map, and an interesting concept: The USDA lets you view "food deserts," or "low income neighborhoods with high concentrations of people who are far from a grocery store."
Link to map
Usually the complaint from you lefty bed-wetters is that corporations are too greedy. But the cool thing about this case is that you must believe corps are not greedy enough. Right?
Because the premise of this whole idea of food deserts is that it is perfectly possible to open a grocery store, and make money, in these neighborhoods.
The only reason that no one does open those potentially profitable grocery stores is... racism! Those greedy corporations won't open grocery stores. I admit it's heartbreaking to hear problems like those described in this video. But listen to the diagnosis: racism. Racism, racism, racism, from greedy groceries.
Logic fail! Greed is the enemy of racism, folks. In fact, greed is the enemy of all discrimination. Branch Rickey, who famously "broke the color line" in beisbol by hiring Jackie Robinson... was an even more famous skinflint and miser. My man Branch was no social crusader. BR signed JR because blacks could be paid less, for much higher performance, in that era of the color line.
And in fact for at least a decade after that, the average stats were higher, and the average pay was lower, for black baseball players.** GREED!You better recognize, folks.
Of course, I may be wrong. The grocery companies may be leaving money on the table here, in those "food deserts." And it is easy to prove me wrong, friends. All you arrogant, condescending lefty public sector nannies have to do is leave your protected job and go out and start a grocery store. According to your own world view, you'll be making big profits, AND helping the community. Of course, if you feel bad about the profits, you can always donate the $$ to Pres. Obama's campaign fund....
(Nod to Kevin Lewis for the link...)
**CITATIONS ON DISCRIMINATION IN BASEBALL:
Pascal, Anthony H. and Leonard A. Rapping (1972) "The Economics of Racial Discrimination in Organized Baseball", in RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN ECONOMIC LIFE
Scully, Gerald. (1974) "Discrimination: The Case of Baseball," in GOVERNMENT AND THE SPORTS BUSINESS
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Williams Hoax, But Still True Conclusion
So, there's list of ten reasons why BHO will win, written by my friend Dr. Walter Williams (better friend of long-time GMU colleague Angus, of course, but still my friend).
Except that it's a silly hoax. Really.
Except that in fact the conclusion is correct, and I said so months ago. BHO cannot lose the election, now that the idiot Repubs took the House. No one will vote Repub after being reminded what a bunch of fakes and frauds the US House is led by.
Oh, yes, I did go there.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Just some questions that occur to me.
1. Is President Obama going to demand that the U.S. negotiate with Mexico based on the 1840 borders? Are we going to return the occupied "North Bank" of the Rio Grande? After all, it is the traditional home of the Mexican people, many of them speak Spanish, and thousands have crossed the border illegally so they can live in their ancestral homeland. We are putting more and more settlements in the region, but it's not clear that ethnic Mexicans should have to endorse this blatant land grab. I'm sure the French would like Obama him more for insisting on a Mexican "right of return" to this region. And the President appears to be running for President of France.
2. Many of Scotty McCreery's votes, by some estimates up to 60%, came from women in the 40-60 age range. Let me ask this: suppose that Lauren Alaina had won, and most of HER votes had come from 40-60 year old men. Wouldn't we all have found that really creepy? Both Scotty and Lauren are 16, so the comparison is fair. Why is it okay for middle aged women to lurk a 16 year old boy? Ick.
3. Is it the end of the world, for real? People laughed at the folks who thought the world would end on May 21st at 6 pm. But it may still happen. The LMM threw away a pair of shoes, and I don't believe she bought an offsetting new pair. That reduces her reserve to just under 400 pairs of shoes. So, I ask again, is it the end of the world?
Thursday, May 26, 2011
FDA: Feed the Dim Administrators
Sometimes I wonder if the FDA sucks as much as I think the FDA sucks.
And, it turns that it DOES.
An article, "Medical Devices: Lost in Regulation," by retired medical device researcher Paul Citron in the Spring 2011 Issues in Science and Technology [downloadable here] argues:
Although the United States is still home to numerous medical device companies, these companies no longer bring cutting-edge innovations to U.S. patients first. And U.S. clinical researchers now often find themselves merely validating thea pioneering work that is increasingly being done in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Worse still, seriously ill patients in the United States are now among the last in the world to receive medical innovations that have secured regulatory approval and clinical acceptance elsewhere in the developed world.
Citron cites several cases in which European patients benefited from early access to new medical devices: Deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson's disease by 44 months; a ventricular support device to improve circulation by 29 months; a pacemaker device to manage irregular contractions in failing hearts by 30 months. Why is this happening? Citron maintains:
What's behind this erosion of leadership and late access to innovations? Simply stated, an overreaching, overly burdensome, and sometimes irrelevant Food and Drug Administration regulatory process for the most sophisticated new medical devices.
(Nod to Angry Alex)
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Fear of Crime=>Purchase of Gun
Note that if the state actually did the only job that we really want from us, which is to protect us from bad people, this would not be true.
The effect of perceived risk and victimization on plans to purchase a gun for self-protection
Gary Kleck et al., Journal of Criminal Justice, forthcoming
Purposes: To determine if perceived risk of criminal victimization, and past criminal victimization experiences, increases the likelihood of a person owning a gun for self-protection, and to determine if defects in past research concerning the way gun ownership was measured had obscured such effects.
Methods: We analyzed data on over 2,500 U.S. adults, using different ways of measuring gun ownership, and also analyzed future plans (among persons who did not own a gun at the time of the survey) to acquire a gun for self-protection. The latter procedure avoids the causal order problem attributable to the possibility that acquiring a gun might affect victimization risks and perceived risks, as well as the reverse.
Results: The estimated effect of perceived risk and prior victimization changed from being nonsignificant when household gun ownership was the dependent variable (as in most prior research) to being increasingly strong, and statistically significant, when gun ownership of the individual respondent for defensive reasons was measured. Further, once the causal order issue was side-stepped, risk and victimization showed even stronger, significant positive effects on planning to get a gun.
Conclusions: Crime affects gun ownership, in addition to any effects that gun ownership may have on crime.
Two friends of mine have written books on this. They disagree, with each other at least.
Nod to Kevin Lewis
The New "Don't Go To College" Scholarship
Don't go to college, do get $100,000
The winners were announced today for a new fellowship that has sparked heated debate in academic circles for questioning the value of higher education and suggesting that some entrepreneurial students may be better off leaving college.
Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, will pay each of the 24 winners of his Thiel Fellowship $100,000 not to attend college for two years and to develop business ideas instead.
The fellows, all 20 years old or younger, will leave institutions including Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University, to work with a network of more than 100 Silicon Valley mentors and further develop their ideas in areas such as biotechnology, education, and energy.
More than 400 people applied for the fellowship, and 45 of them were flown out to San Francisco in late March to present their ideas to Thiel's foundation and the network of Silicon Valley mentors.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Paying For It: Laws and Norms
Do laws affect attitudes? An assessment of the Norwegian prostitution law
using longitudinal data
Andreas Kotsadam & Niklas Jakobsson
International Review of Law and Economics, forthcoming
Abstract: The question of whether laws affect attitudes has inspired scholars across many disciplines, but empirical knowledge is sparse. Using longitudinal survey data from Norway and Sweden, collected before and after the implementation of a Norwegian law criminalizing the purchase of sexual services, we assess the short-run effects on attitudes using a difference-in-differences approach. In the general population, the law did not affect moral attitudes toward prostitution. However, in the Norwegian
capital, where prostitution was more visible before the reform, the law made people more negative toward buying sex. This supports the claim that proximity and visibility are important factors for the internalization of legal norms.
(nod to Kevin Lewis)
Labels: articles to read
Crime is Falling
That cute Will W writes about Gary Johnson in the Economist.
Mr Paul and the tea-party movement are each in their separate ways creatures of Cold War-era conservative-libertarian "fusionism", which remains a powerful ideological and institutional force on the right. In contrast, Mr Johnson comes off as a post-fusionist, libertarian-leaning fiscal conservative. The very existence of such a creature heartens me, but it remains that there exists in our culture no popular, pre-packaged political identity that celebrates and defines itself in terms of these laudable tendencies. "Liberaltarian" pragmatism has no electoral future in the absence of support from social movements and institutions dedicated to promoting it. Mr Johnson's main contribution during the race for the Republican nomination may be simply to show voters that the lonely ground on which he stands is there to stand on. And that's quite worthwhile. But I don't think the MSM has been out of line in treating him as even more of a long-shot than, say, Tim Pawlenty, a similarly uncharismatic but recognisably conservative ex-governor.
Wascawy Wabbit Seller!
This is almost unbelivable. He stopped. He stopped selling wabbits....um... rabbits. Now they fine him.
Because they can. Make an example of him. That sort of thing.
If it was so important to shut him down, why didn't they shut him down? They did nothing, except impose a fine long after he stopped the activity.
(Nod to Angry Alex)
You're So Vain, You Probly Think This Post is About You
No good deed goes unquestioned: Cynical reconstruals maintain belief in the
power of self-interest
Clayton Critcher & David Dunning
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming
Abstract: In four studies, we examined how people maintain beliefs that self-interest is a strong determinant of behavior, even in the face of disconfirming evidence. People reflecting on selfless behavior tend to reconstrue it in terms of self-interested motives, but do not similarly scrutinize selfish behaviors for selfless motives. Study 1 found that people react to new information that selfless behavior is common by interpreting it as more reflective of self-interest. Studies 2a and 2b, applying a Bayesian analysis, demonstrated that people see "too much" self-interest in seemingly selfless actions, given their prior beliefs, but see the predicted amount of self-interest in seemingly selfish actions. This demonstrates that people do not possess internally consistent belief systems, but rather undue cynicism. In Study 3, participants read about real philanthropists whose acts of generosity had been heralded by major news outlets. As participants spent more time considering why such philanthropy was performed, they formed more cynical impressions of the philanthropists' motives. Beyond offering insight into why belief in the norm of self-interest persists, these studies introduce a novel route by which beliefs resist disconfirmation.
Reminds me of Gordon's old paper...
Labels: articles to read
It's The Expenditures, Stupid!
(Nod to Tim Hedberg, at IHS)
Labels: free market videos
Will the Fair Tax Raise Cain?
Monday, May 23, 2011
Cross Talk: Arab Spring?
Wanting Money is Okay; A Golden Toilet is Not Okay
Moral Signals, Public Outrage, and Immaterial Harms
David Tannenbaum, Eric Luis Uhlmann & Daniel Diermeier
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming
Abstract:Public outrage is often triggered by "immaterially" harmful acts (i.e., acts with relatively negligible consequences). A well-known example involves corporate salaries and perks: they generate public outrage yet their financial cost is relatively minor. The present research explains this paradox by appealing to a person-centered approach to moral judgment. Strong moral reactions can occur when relatively harmless acts provide highly diagnostic information about moral character. Studies 1a and 1b first demonstrate dissociation between moral evaluations of persons and their actions - although violence toward a human was viewed as a more blameworthy act than violence toward an animal, the latter was viewed as more revealing of bad moral character. Study 2 then shows that person-centered cues directly influence moral judgments - participants preferred to hire a more expensive CEO when the alternative candidate requested a frivolous perk as
part of his compensation package, an effect mediated by the informativeness of his request.
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
Not the Onion?
1. WOMAN STOOD UP IN GLOUCESTER; NOW PREGNANT: British couple arrested for having public sex against the wall of the police station in Gloucester, England. According to the arresting officer: "Mr Moore's trousers were around his ankles and Miss Howell had a pile of clothing beside her. We were called from the station and it seems they had a measure of difficulty disengaging Miss Howell and Mr Moore from their activity...They were arrogant and aggressive and said 'If you don't want to look, you don't have to.'"
During the scuffle that followed as police tried to arrest them, both officers were slightly injured. Lisa Ellis, defending, said Moore and Howell were in a relationship together. "They had a couple of drinks and got carried away," she said. Miss Howell is now pregnant, and apparently will NOT be naming the baby "Gloucester." (LINK)
2. ET PHONES JIA: "Everybody from fund managers to jet-setting diplomats is talking about the world's center of gravity shifting to Asia. Now, extraterrestrials appear to be taking notice, too...'It's not surprising, really,' says Debhanom Muangman, a 75-year-old Harvard-educated physician and one of Thailand's leading UFO investigators. 'Aliens have been coming to Asia for decades, but now they sense a change. This is where the progressive countries are, so they are coming here much more often now.'" (LINK)
3. HAIR: New rash of thefts of hair and hair extensions. Ebay blamed for increased of ease of selling hair, because of course you want to rub up against hair that you buy from someone on Ebay. "During the past two months alone, robbers in quest of human hair have killed a beauty shop supplier in Michigan and carried out heists nationwide in which they have made off with tens of thousands of dollars of hair at a time." (LINK)
Nod to Tommy the Brit and to Kevin Lewis
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Angry Alex is en fuego. Thanks for the link....
Amazingly brazen. The great part is that the cops actually steal it from each other. And they ONLY try to get the money. Don't care at all about drugs.
We are about 3 years from being Northern Mexico. The temptation to steal drug money, illegally or "legally" as these Tennessee ubergropintheives are doing, is too much.
Grand Game: Hoosier 4th Amendment Edition
I am incredulous about many things in this case.
And it turns out that the Attorney General, who in principle benefits from the decision, actually had the juevos to ask Bozo and the Clown Court to think this over. This judge is Mitch Daniels' big achievement, as a nomination? I'm glad Daniels dropped out of the Prez race. One fewer Constitution-breaker for me to hate. The judge who wrote the opinion, Steven David, is an idiot. Don't take my word for it; it says so on the interwebs, and so it must be true.
The first point is that this was clearly within the scope of probable cause. No 4th Amendment issue need be raised. The Indiana Court is just engaging in recreational judicial legislation. It's not (just) that they got it wrong, THERE WAS NO ISSUE THEY HAD TO ADDRESS.
But they also got it way wrong. The point is not that there is a remedy for false arrest and home invasion. The point is that there has to be a presumption that protects citizens from harrassment and to be secure in their homes and their possessions. "They can sue"? Are you kidding me? Sovereign immunity protections aside, even if that WERE somehow a remedy, the 4th Amendment is explicit, and the body of court decisions is clear. I don't have to sue, because the cops can't come in. And if they do come in, they can't use the evidence. End of story.
Yes, in THIS case they had probable cause, and could have entered. But that's what's so outrageous about writing a 4th Amendment opinion on these facts. You can't freakin' amend the Constitution just because in your opinion another remedy has become available. And, again, let me point out that this is a "conservative" court. God save us from conservatives, as Dan pointed out.
Jeez. Am I going to have to vote for Obama? Cause that's messed up. But we need liberal judges, on both state and national courts, to stop this erosion of our most basic, and until now settled, civil rights.
Nod to Angry Alex. Thanks!
A Guest Blog: Best and Worst World Economies
(While Angus is out...Uganda Africa Again?....I'm accepting guest blogs, even those with opposing views on globalization. So, here you go!)
Comparing the Best and Worst World Economies (by Jeremy Fordham)
Economies thrive when a country has something to sell that the rest of the world wants. Whether it's animal, vegetable or mineral, or in the case of a service economy, human, trade creates wealth. One would think that the richest nations would be the ones with the most natural resources, but it's not necessarily true. For example, Botswana is the world's largest producer of diamonds, but has a GDP per capita of only $6,000.
Once a country identifies its resources, it must have the infrastructure to develop them and the political will to build that infrastructure. This can be done in two ways. One is to use public money for building roads, rails and ports to transport resources to market. The other way countries can grow their infrastructure is by creating trade and tax policies, which foster respect for human rights and the rule of law and will attract businesses to invest and develop the resources, creating wealth for both the companies and the host countries.
The U.S. has been enormously successful by all of these methods, with a public infrastructure that supports business, trade policies that attract foreign investment and one of the world's best human rights records. On the other hand, the Democratic Republic Congo, which is the poorest country on earth, has failed miserably at all three. The country has almost no infrastructure for developing and transporting resources. Likewise, it repels foreign business investment with one of the worst, most violent strings of mass human rights violations on the planet.
As anyone who has studied economics will tell you, there are similarities and differences between the richest and poorest economies. However the differences are stark when viewed statistically. According to the International Monetary Fund, the United States still leads the top ten economies in the world, with a 2010 GDP per capita of $47,400. At the other end of the spectrum, the Democratic Republic of Congo has a GDP per capita of $332. Yet both are republics. Both are rich in natural resources. The U.S. sits on vast deposits of coal, oil, natural gas and minerals. The Congo has oil, natural gas, gold and magnesium in abundance. Why then is the U.S. so rich and the Congo so poor?
One of the major reasons may be that the Congo's $24 trillion in mineral resources also fuels political corruption, and with no infrastructure to speak of, there is no support for industry. Violence prevents businesses from investing and extracting the resources that would make the country rich. This is a problem for many poorer economies in Africa, from Rwanda to Niger.
However countries that have no resources to sell, are small in geographical area, and isolated from the rest of the world have the worst lot of all. Though Nepal is home to Mt. Everest, its people live on an average of less than two dollars a day. Somalia, riven by political violence and with 73 percent of its population living in poverty, has found an unlikely source of income: piracy.
Yet Japan, which is also isolated, geographically small and resource-poor has the third best economy in the world, according to the CIA. Though Japan is a small island, it has invested all over the world in developing resources far from its shores. Technological innovation, a strong work ethic, high educational standards and research and development by industry led it to topple the U.S. "big three" car companies when it developed economy cars during the gas crisis of the 1970s. Following the market, Japanese car companies built factories in the U.S. to accommodate demand.
Undoubtedly geography and environment play an important role in shaping an economy, no matter what the level of natural resources and human determination. Siberia has untold mineral wealth beneath its frozen tundra. Yet it's the frozen tundra that makes them difficult to extract. On the other hand, the United Arab Emirates has vast oceans of oil under its sands that are extremely easy to access. As a result, the UAE has soaring skyscrapers and hotels shaped like sailboats, while Siberia has, well, snow and an economy that ranks 51st in the world.
As climate change progresses, weather and accessibility to clean water will have important impacts on economies. Climate change is one of the great levelers among countries. All countries need to be able to grow food and ship goods. The increasing severity and frequency of floods and storms may wipe out crops and destroy roads and bridges. Likewise, a lack of water for growing populations in some areas will also become a problem that nearly every country will have to face.
In the meantime, trade policy has had a great effect on both poor and rich economies, and not always for the better. When the push for "globalization" began in the 1980s, American businesses shipped jobs and then entire industries overseas into low-priced labor markets. The result of outsourcing has been that the economies of China and India have surged, while the U.S. economy has stagnated and wages have dropped.
Last but not least, the level of education and accessibility of health care affect the vibrancy of a nation's economy, which cannot thrive in the long term without a healthy and intelligent workforce. Here the U.S. suffers, as its education rankings have sunk to 36th in the world, right next to Poland and Estonia. Similarly, Although the U.S. has the most expensive health care in the world, the World Health Organization ranks it 37th for effectiveness, which is about as effective as Costa Rica's health system (which is not near as costly).
It appears that gaps between some of the richest and poorest economies are gradually closing. China was once a fountain of cheap goods for America's insatiable consumers, yet now the country owns much of America's debt. Countries with high populations of young people like India are surging in economic power, while America's aging infrastructure, high deficits and continued outsourcing drain its buying power. It will be interesting to see what country will be the economic "superpower" in another ten years.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
A German Orgy?
Representin' Public Choice
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....
We're off to see the shoebill...
Friday, May 20, 2011
We Are in Deep Trouble
If Ruth Bader Ginsberg is the
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
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.)