Friday, November 11, 2011

Boys Named Sue: Blown Call, Injunction Sought

Here's the story: high school football team denied chance to kick field goal, on what was clearly a terrible call.

The video:

They have a point. But suing? Really? It was 41 yard field goal attempt, in high school. That is not a gimme.

Meme: Koch vs. Soros

How come CG Koch is a bad guy, but G Soros is a good guy? When you look at it objectively, Mr. Koch has done a whole lot of really good things.

Right here in NC, a lot of people have been ugly to Art Pope for supporting right wing think tanks. Like this transparent, ill-informed hack job. (Okay, the picture made me laugh, I liked the picture. But the article is idiotic. Saying Dems have to run against Art Pope? Wow. Hard for Dems to believe the truth, which is most people in NC just don't share their lefty values.)

There are a lot left wing think tanks, you know, supported by public funds. They are called "universities." But again, somehow that's okay, just like Soros gets a pass.

Why do I think that this comparison is a new meme? Two words: Will Wilkinson. King of new memes. Of course, when I looked, I saw this, also. Heee! And then there is this...

Let's put the future behind us

Look, Greece is toast, Italy is toast. The problem is not temporary or caused by the global crisis. Neither austerity or bailouts will solve it.

The problem is that German monetary policy and Mediterranean governance are not a match made in heaven.

We have seen this situation over and over in Latin America. Countries peg to the dollar and things start out great, but their policies don't match US policies, their economy loses competitiveness, and they have a financial crisis. Argentina was just an extreme case.

It was exceedingly dumb to not put an orderly exit process into the rules of the game when the Euro was created. It was exceedingly dumb for France and Germany to not accept penalties on themselves when they breached the deficit limits set by the stability and growth pact a few years ago. It was exceedingly dumb of investors and bankers to believe that Greece had become a little Germany and loan it so freakin' much money at German interest rate levels.

But above all, it's exceedingly astonishingly dumb to keep kicking this can down the road and putting the PIGS deeper and deeper into a hole.

Default and devaluation will be very ugly. As Tyler has pointed out, Argentina has not become an economic paradise. Yet it is the best chance for the PIGS to recover and start growing again given where we now stand. Even if they got a "good" bailout and some expansionary monetary policy from the ECB (LOL), the structural mismatch between monetary policy and governance would not go away.

Crappy governance requires crappy monetary policy. The theory is that adopting US or German monetary policy will force crappy governance to reform itself. However, we have seen time and time again that the reality is the opposite. Crappy governance will win out and crappy monetary policy will return.

Let's put the future behind us!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Time Lapse of BBall Court on Aircraft Carrier

UNC is playing some loser school, I forget which, from the Little Ten.

Cool time lapse of the building of the court where the Little Ten will be humiliated.

test your economics knowledge

The JoePa Faux Pas: Only the Globe

Okay, JoePa is not a good man, as it turns out. He only is out because he was fired. And he was only fired because he got caught. His legacy is forever tarnished.

But....suspend the team? What did those young men do wrong? Fire all the admins, and hate on JoePa, fine. But the young men who are on that team don't deserve the hate they are getting.

The most idiotic, and unintentionally hilarious, suggestion I have heard so far is... I can barely say... well it's in this article.

The scandal should start a national conversation—perhaps including congressional hearings—on how the pursuit of athletic glory has created sports subcultures on campuses in which no one is accountable to anyone.

Did you catch that? CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS! Not even the Onion would have juevos that size. Only the Boston Globe could possibly propose that the collection of perverts and criminals in the US Congress* should investigate the wrong doing of college sports. Maybe the "members" could all stand up and post twitter pictures of their packages? Other members of Congress lined up to support Weiner boy for a long time before they finally gave up. I understand that forced sodomy of a 10 year old is worse then sending out pix of your winkie. But the coverup works the same, in sports and in Congress. Protect our own. Don't admit anything, and maybe it will blow over.

The problems of moral bankruptcy, coverups, and "the rules don't apply to me" are if anything worse in Congress than in NCAA sports.

*There are plenty of good people in the Congress, mind you. Just like JoePa was a good guy. Until he covered up for a friend. Even the good members of Congress do that, too.

UPDATE: I think this article has it exactly right.

Axelrod Tournament: KPC Style!

I run an Axelrod-type tournament among my students each year. (This software is not exactly the same as the tournament we will run, but it is useful for demonstration purposes). And some background on THE EVOLUTION OF COOPERATION.

This year resulted in a particularly strange outcome: one of the student entries thumped the bejeezus out of Tit-for-Tat, and also did well against other strategies. It wins consistently, in various trials and contexts.

Is this an important new discovery? Well, the new strategy is....

HEY, WAIT A MINUTE. A hallmark of science is replicability. So let's throw this open to the smartest folks in the world, the real 1%: THE READERS OF KPC! If the new strategy is really that good, then let's prove it against the first team!

My main man David Sparks and I will run a wide open tourney. You can submit your strategies here. But READ THIS FIRST... Okay, you went to the web site, and had no clue what to do, and now you are back. I TOLD you to read this first. Jeez.

Instructions: Here is a useful planning sheet for writing out your entries before you send them in. You have two options for determining your strategy: You may

(A) choose your first round strategies and responses for each of the 4 second-round and 16 later-round combinations of your and your opponent's two most recent histories, or

(B) choose a play for each of the 25 rounds against each opponent. Choose one (1) method, and plan accordingly. Each play must consist of a number between 0 and 1, inclusive. 0 indicates that you will always defect, 1 indicates that you will always cooperate, and some decimal p between 0 and 1 indicates that you will mix with probability p of selecting cooperate.

In other words, A-type strategies have a maximum memory of two periods. You load the lags in the first two entries, and then after that go forward by specifying your response to any possible combination of your play and opponent's play in the previous two rounds.

B-type strategies allow you to specify a non-contingent stratgey, simply saying here is your play (possibly mixing) for each of the 25 rounds.

Each entry will play a tournament (25 consecutive rounds) against the same opponent, for all opponents who enter, plus a replica of your own strategy, plus 50 doves (All Coop) and 50 hawks (All Def). In other words, the tournament is round-robin, where everyone plays against everyone, plus 100 automatons (50 Doves and 50 Hawks).

The top five winners will get a free "I fought Tit-for-Tat, and I WON!" t-shirts in your chosen size.

And, not least important by any means, you get to name your strategy. Here are the best five name entries from the recent Duke PPE student tourney:

1. "Megan Fox (Great tits, Bad tats)
2. "Remember, kids, ALWAYS use protection!"
3. "Suck on my Rawls"
4. "Munger's Favorite Little French Fry"
5. "Fielder's Tits, Pujols's Tat(ers)"

(And, yes, friends, two of those beauties were submitted by women, so don't get all snooty...)

My own entry: "Hey, Euvolunteer DEEZ!" It did not do very well.

Remember, the actual strategy has to be entered here. If you have questions, post them in comments here and we'll answer them as a kind of ad hoc FAQs section.

Deadline: All entries put into the web site in usable form by Monday November 28 will be eligible for the fabulous prize.

BTW: Check out some of D. Sparks' other good work, which has been featured in KPC before.

Two songs about my favorite Hindu God

People, you KNOW it's Hanuman.

First up Mexican guitar heros Rodrigo & Gabriela:

Now for something completely different, Krisha Das:

just beautiful.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Nice call

And unfortunately, the lack of serious economic reforms in Italy implies that there is a growing risk that Italy may end up like Argentina. This is not a foregone conclusion but, if Italy does not reform, an exit from EMU within 5 years is not totally unlikely. Indeed, like Argentina, Italy faces a growing competitiveness loss given an increasingly overvalued currency and the risk of falling exports and growing current account deficit. The growth slowdown will make the public deficit and debt worse and potentially unsustainable over time. And if a devaluation cannot be used to reduce real wages, the real exchange rate overvaluation will be undone via a slow and painful process of wage and price deflation. But such deflation will keep real rates high and exacerbate the growth and fiscal crisis. Without necessary reforms, eventually this vicious circle of stagdeflation would force Italy to exit EMU, return to the Lira and default on its Euro debts.

~Nouriel Roubini, January 2006

Turn out the lights

Yikes! 10 year Italian government bond yields are now well over 7%!! That was the level that sent Ireland, Greece, & Portugal down the rabbit hole of "bailouts".

The party is indeed over.

Your NBAPA / Eurozone deathwatch updates

1. Wow, players now say they'll take 50/50 revenue split (down from 57% in the last CBA) if the league will negotiate some "systems" issues. The owners are saying that unless they take the 50/50 deal currently offered by today, the new offer will be 47% for the players.


While I absolutely hate the way the owners are treating the players here (I was, after all, a member and minor official of the United Electrical Workers), the players are in a weak position. It is rumored that a sizable majority of them would vote yes on the current offer if union officials would allow a vote.

2. Italian bond yields hit 7.6% yesterday. People, Silvio's resignation is not going to make reform any easier or growth any faster. Probably all it will do is make Italy more compliant to the misguided policies of the German and French run EU "braintrust".

Phone call for Spain! Get ready for your closeup.

Libertarian Tim Rohr Wins Lenoir City Council Seat

Tim Rohr, one of my favorite people, won reelection on the town of Lenoir City Council. The results:

We have a much better chance at the local level.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

This is really, really good

This is interesting, and useful.

Totally nails the problem with the "production v. distribution" mistake that JS Mill made and that so many have repeated since.

And, doesn't it matter that the poorest are much better off? That, unless you want to elevate the sin of envy to the status of virtue ("let's call it 'social justice!', and then it will sound like a good thing!"), should be the main concern.

Update on "Wanker v. Tosser"

A response from a native speaker of the Queen's English, R the Royal, on the earlier "Wanker v. Tosser" question:

This is the kind of question I like having a go at. My views:

Basically, your man Munger is spot on that 'wanker' is stronger. While almost everyone would agree that 'wanker' is full-on swearing, I think some people would place 'tosser' into that grey area (alongside words like 'nob' and 'dickhead' that seem somehow gentler and more like slang even if their sexual connotations are, shall we say, unambiguous). But, although 'tosser' may not be as strong, I think it's almost equally harsh. That is, while it may be more acceptable to use it in company (whatever that means), I'd be careful who I used it about. I'd be readier to use terms like 'twat' or 'cock' to rebuke a friend who was being, well, a twat or a cock. To hiss 'tosser' at him would really sound like I'd lost my rag. Which underlines the key point for me, viz. that it's not what you say but the way you say it, and I think there are few words into which you can inject as much cold contempt as you can into 'tosser'. As such, if anything the Lansley-Bieber example works the other way round for me. While I don't have much complaint about AL, people who do would feel more strongly about him and prefer 'wanker', whereas JB deserves only the disdainful dismissal for which 'tosser' is tailor-made. (Though even that's giving him too much credit. I would favour the description "f*cking non-event".)

And thanks to Tommie the Brit, for the assist.

For Those of Us Gearing Up for Deer Season

Don’t Mind Meat? The Denial of Mind to Animals Used for Human Consumption

Brock Bastian et al., Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract: Many people like eating meat, but most are reluctant to harm things that have minds. The current three studies show that this dissonance motivates people to deny minds to animals. Study 1 demonstrates that animals considered appropriate for human consumption are ascribed diminished mental capacities. Study 2 shows that meat eaters are motivated to deny minds to food animals when they are reminded of the link between meat and animal suffering. Finally, Study 3 provides direct support for our dissonance hypothesis, showing that expectations regarding the immediate consumption of meat increase mind denial. Moreover, this mind denial in turn reduces negative affect associated with dissonance. The findings highlight the role of dissonance reduction in facilitating the practice of meat eating and protecting cultural commitments.

They should probably have controlled for people who were hunters. We don't really think deer are stupid, or have diminished mental capacity. They are, however, delicious. That's why we shoot them, cut them up, cook them, and eat them.

The lead author is Brock Bastian, who has also discovered that violent video games cause violent behavior. (Though, as this article notes, the specifics of the study framework were not "revealed," presumably because they were too disturbing for peer review). I'm not sure we should attribute "mind" Brock Bastian.

Best Abstract Ever

Raoul sends "the best abstract ever..."

Monday, November 07, 2011

How not to write!

Dutch Boy sends a link, and a viewpoint.

The link....

The viewpoint: This 'piece' should be plastered on every school room wall with 'How not to write' written above it. Amazing. She's a PhD candidate at, not surprisingly, Harvard. I thought it might be a satirical piece,

But it's not I'm afraid. Pretty bloated and pretentious stuff, from top to bottom. See if you can read it all the way through. Go ahead, try.

Well, Dutch Boy: I did try. And I sort of did read it, all the way through. But I have no idea what it was trying to say. The impressive thing is that this is likely the third or fourth draft, at least. So it has been cleaned up and clarified considerably.

Fat People are Impatient and Time-Inconsistent

Impatience, Incentives, and Obesity

Charles Courtemanche, Garth Heutel & Patrick McAlvanah, NBER Working Paper, October 2011

Abstract: This paper explores the relationship between time preferences, economic incentives, and body mass index (BMI). Using data from the 2006 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we first show that greater impatience increases BMI and the likelihood of obesity even after controlling for demographic, human capital, occupational, and financial characteristics as well as risk preference. Next, we provide evidence of an interaction effect between time preference and food prices, with cheaper food leading to the largest weight gains among those exhibiting the most impatience. The interaction of changing economic incentives with heterogeneous discounting may help explain why increases in BMI have been concentrated amongst the right tail of the distribution, where the health consequences are especially severe. Lastly, we model time-inconsistent preferences by computing individuals' quasi-hyperbolic discounting parameters (beta and delta). Both long-run patience (delta) and present-bias (beta) predict BMI, suggesting obesity is partly attributable to rational intertemporal tradeoffs but also partly to time inconsistency.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

It was 1979

Dutch Boy sends this video. It was 1979. Pretty impressive.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Tosser v. Wanker

Okay, so the above sounds like a legal case, perhaps where a sociologist is suing an English prof.

But it is a serious question of "dicktion." (Apologies; couldn't help meself)

Both names are insults, clearly, and both refer to Onanism. (I assume that women are never called tossers / wankers, yes?* I mean, they can technically do the analogous thing, but it's just not the same. Brits, or Tommy the Brit, feel free to join in here...)

My impression is that calling someone a wanker implies total dismissal, not just an insult but saying the person wanking is beneath contempt.

Tosser is in relative terms more jovial, less insulting. The tosser is perhaps a pompous and useless idiot, but a wanker is not serious, someone who is just fooling around. In short, then, Andrew Lansley is arguably a tosser, but Justin Bieber is clearly a wanker.

Of course, I probably have this wrong. Since I am going to London soon to visit Tommy the Brit, I need advice.

Wanker, or Tosser, for the well informed visitor looking for just that right holiday insult? Some other possibilities...

*I found some references that would claim that a female tosser is a "strummer." But that misses the point. The goal is not to find a word for a woman pleasing herself (as the '80s Franklin-Lennox anthem said, "Sisters are doing it for themselves!"). Rather, the question is what is the analogous INSULT. I also found "bean flicker." I wish I hadn't found that, but I did.

D-Boo Deals

I think D-Boo pretty much p'wns this guy. But to be fair the other guy appears to be an idiot.

Still, give credit where credit is due: Donald Boudreaux, we salute you! Grow on, you crazy China! I would like for all of us to be rich, NOT for the US to be dominant.

Main Dog Faces Difficult Choice

As many of you know, our main dog is Hobo (aka "The Wonder Dog.")  He'll also answer to Ho-dizzle, of course, if it's done respectfully.  (Tanzie, our safety back-up dog, is kept around in case the main dog goes down, as often happens.)

Yesterday Hobo faced the kind of difficult choice that only a Wonder Dog could hope to solve successfully.  It was quite cold, so I built a nice fire.  But the sun coming in the picture window has reached the angle where it is very warm also.  Well, you see the problem.

Not even a Wonder Dog can be in two places at once.  So Hobo divided his forces. He scooted his butt as close as he could get it to the fire, and then kept his front half in the sun.  This optimization problem was so tiring that he needed a nap.

Women Drivers: A Political Test

Women drivers make me nuts.  They are (as a central tendency, obviously with variance) timid and unwilling to drive effectively.  I have spent far too much of my life waiting behind a woman waiting to turn left.  As long as there is a car VISIBLE coming the other way, the lady waits.  If I blow my horn, nothing happens except she totally freezes up.  She may flip me off.  But she won't ever pull out.  (This is safer, in a sense, but it causes accidents all around this island of timid female tranquility)

The LMM agrees that all driving, from taxis to bus driving to personal driving, should be done by men.  We'd all be safer, and less frustrated.

PROVIDED that in exchange we agree that all political offices above, say, state Senate are held by only women.  And in particular those offices where decisions about going to war would be held by women.  Again, we'd all be safer.  The same impulse that makes men better drivers makes them worse decision makers on the whole war thing.

And Condi Rice and Maggie Thatcher don't count.  Give them a driving test.  Unless they DRIVE like women, they don't get to make war decisions.  

(And, yes, of course we jest.  When one controls for other factors, especially for whether the aggressive act is "prosocial," as in the case of war, women are experimentally indistinguishable from men.  And they are better drivers.  Still it was fun.)

Adam Kokesh

There is in fact a danger in supporting the Iraq War, either as a Krugmaniac growth strategy or as good foreign policy.  Not only will you be wrong, you will also sound like a moron.

Full disclosure:  I know Adam Kokesh pretty well.  It's quite true that he's an extremist.  In the sense that he says stuff that is clearly correct that most people have no idea how to respond to.

Paul Krugman: meet a libertarian

One thing that amazed me in Mungo's Krugmanectomy below is Paul saying, "Spend money on some useful goal, like the promotion of new energy sources, and people start screaming, 'Solyndra! Waste!' Spend money on a weapons system we don’t need, and those voices are silent, because nobody expects F-22s to be a good business proposition."

Let's ignore the loaded phrases like "useful goal" and "we don't need" as those are purely statement of preferences (i.e. unproven and unprovable), and concentrate on the claim that people who object to the Solyndra Subsidy are silent on big Pentagon programs.

Paul, meet me and my ilk. We are libertarians.

We are against out of control military spending and bogus business subsidies. Not just to "green" firms like Solyndra but to big corporations and big agriculture. We rail against Solyndra, perpetual wars, ethanol subsidies, $700 billion dollar defense budgets and all manner of policies that distort incentives and cause people to act in sub-optimal ways.

walking through a doorway increases chances of forgetting

Walking through a doorway increases the chances of forgetting what you were doing, or why you went into the room.

Okay, I went to the kitchen and got some coffee. Wait... why was I writing this?

(Nod to the Blonde)

P-Kroog's new prescription for growth: Whimsy-Cal!

Military spending does create jobs when the economy is depressed. Indeed, much of the evidence that Keynesian economics works comes from tracking the effects of past military buildups. Some liberals dislike this conclusion, but economics isn’t a morality play: spending on things you don’t like is still spending, and more spending would create more jobs. But why would anyone prefer spending on destruction to spending on construction, prefer building weapons to building bridges? John Maynard Keynes himself offered a partial answer 75 years ago, when he noted a curious 'preference for wholly ‘wasteful’ forms of loan expenditure rather than for partly wasteful forms, which, because they are not wholly wasteful, tend to be judged on strict ‘business’ principles.' Indeed. Spend money on some useful goal, like the promotion of new energy sources, and people start screaming, 'Solyndra! Waste!' Spend money on a weapons system we don’t need, and those voices are silent, because nobody expects F-22s to be a good business proposition. To deal with this preference, Keynes whimsically suggested burying bottles full of cash in disused mines and letting the private sector dig them back up. In the same vein, I recently suggested that a fake threat of alien invasion, requiring vast anti-alien spending, might be just the thing to get the economy moving again. NYTimes

So, all you lefty bedwetters who wanted to defend Krugman as being "not serious" about the alien invasion thing...what now? I guess you have a new answer: Krugman was NOT serious, but he had overdosed on that new Keynesian diet supplement: "Whimsy-Cal!"

The alternative is that we need GW Bush back in office. Right? Elective wars are good for the U.S. and good for the digestive system. Or was that madcap P-Kroog just being "Whimsy-Cal" again?

UPDATE: Some pretty good reasons why this "Whimsy-Cal" thing is pretty dangerous.