Kids Prefer Cheese
Credibly promising to be irresponsible...since 2004!
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Best athlete out of Russia since Maria Sharapova!
Monday, January 16, 2012
Look, This is Not Complicated
If you are invited to go on the Jon Stewart Show, you should go. It will be fun, Jon asks softball questions, it will be great, you will get to talk about your book
If, on the other hand, John Oliver, or Asif Mandvi, or Jason Jones, want to talk to you, just laugh at loud and hang up the phone. Do NOT talk to them. Do not do an interview. Do not even answer questions in writing. They already have an angle. They are smarter than you are, or at least they will seem smarter after they finish editing the interview.
Why do otherwise smart people convince themselves that they are going to be anything other than reamed? Froma Harrop is revealed here to be an unbelievable hypocrite and a self-important fool.
Now, I have always just thought Froma Harrop was another economically illiterate lefty journalista. Given that she never took any actual courses in college, it's not her fault.
But.... it turns out she is actually a really, really scary lady. Thanks, Jon Stewart, and thanks to John Oliver! Don't ever call me, by the way. I won't answer, John O.
Lagniappe: From Wikipedia.... Harrop is the President of the National Conference of Editorial Writers. One project of the NCEW is the Civility Project, aimed at restoring civility to America's public discourse. Her position was criticized by the Wall Street Journal, which noted the contrast between this role and her comparison of the Tea Party to terrorist groups such as al-Qaida. In her response to the criticism, Harrop stated, "I see incivility as not letting other people speak their piece." She subsequently deleted all the comments from the post and shut down the commenting feature of her blog.
On Computers / WiFi in Class
It is so important to this professor that people only pay attention to him in all his narcissistic glory that he forced the class into a smaller room....
JUST so there is no wifi.
Wouldn't it have been easier to stay in the large class and ban laptops? Or make it possible to jam wifi somehow? It can't be hard.
Or, you could just let the students decide. As I argued before.
Lee Siegel Is An Idiot
You don't have to be an idiot to write for the NY Times.
But it helps. P-Krrog, for example, is certainly not an idiot. But he has to act like one to publish in the Times.
Being an idiot is the only qualification I can see for Lee Siegel writing a column.
Some analysis, from NO MORE MISTER NICE BLOG.
A lagniappe: Here is Mr. Siegel being an idiot on the Daily Show. Now that "Kim Jong Il Looking at Things" won't have any new entries, perhaps someone can have a blog entitled "Lee Siegel Being An Idiot." It would have daily entries.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Hashtag of the day
Darned Tricky Numbers
Or perhaps they are just another idiot who got some fraudulent "______ Studies" major. And so they never learned how to calculate percentages or hold a real job. Now they blame the system for how much their little lefty lives suck.
Survey: Illegal Corporate Campaign Contributions Up 400%
By Alex Seitz-Wald on Jan 12, 2012 at 6:41 pm
In 2009, just 1 percent of respondents to National Business Ethics Survey — a large industry study funded by major corporations like Walmart — said they had witnessed illegal corporate political donations. This year, that number quadrupled to 4 percent. Management-level employees at large, publicly traded companies were most likely to see the illegal activity, with seven percent of senior managers saying they had witnessed it.
If this guy had not majored in International Relations (at Brown, no less, the home of "Studies Studies"), he would know that this is:
3 n.e. 4
But of course the actual numbers don't matter. It's the truthiness of the scare tactic that's important.
A complicating factor is that the Dems got FAR more corporate money than the Repubs in 2008. The problem for the left is not that corporations can give money. The problem is that corporations can give money to Republicans. THAT cannot be allowed.
Nod to Chateau
Fair Trade Frolics
This is just remarkable. Mr. Overwater did convince me of the importance people on the left attach to good intentions, regardless of whether the consequences are actually good. I think that is a big explanation of the popularity of "fair trade": I am paying more for this, an act of sacrifice and therefore of virtue. The fact that essentially none of the money actually makes it to the farmers is beside the point. I sacrificed, and therefore I am a good person.
But it's bizarre that people actually think the fair trade scam makes food healthier, or that it has fewer calories. Wow. You bedwetters believe that whatever lame secular god you worship will bless you with thinness, because you performed the good work of paying more for regular old coffee that happens to have a "fair trade" label on it.
The “Fair Trade” Effect: Health Halos From Social Ethics Claims
Jonathon Schuldt, Dominique Muller & Norbert Schwarz
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming
Abstract: The authors provide evidence that social ethics claims on food packaging (e.g., fair trade) can promote the misperception that foods are lower-calorie and therefore appropriate for greater consumption. In Study 1, participants evaluating chocolate provided lower calorie judgments when it was described as fair trade — a claim silent on calorie content but signifying that trading partners received just compensation for their work. Further establishing this effect, Study 2 revealed that chocolate was perceived as lower-calorie when a company was simply described as treating its workers ethically (e.g., providing excellent wages and health care) as opposed to unethically (e.g., providing poor wages and no health care) among perceivers with strong ethical food values, consistent with halo logic. Moreover, calorie judgments mediated the same interaction pattern on recommendations of consumption frequency, suggesting that amid the ongoing obesity crisis, social ethics claims might nudge some perceivers to overindulge. Theoretical and applied implications are discussed.
Nod to Kevin Lewis
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Romance is Costly?
Does the number of sex partners affect educational attainment? Evidence from female respondents to the Add Health (older version, ungated)
Joseph Sabia & Daniel Rees, Journal of Population Economics, December 2011, Pages 89-118
Abstract: We use data on young women from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to explore the relationship between number of sex partners and educational attainment. Using the average physical development of male schoolmates to generate plausibly exogenous variation in number of sex partners, instrumental variables estimates suggest that number of sex partners is negatively related to educational attainment. This result is consistent with the argument that romantic involvements are time consuming and can impose substantial emotional costs on young women.
Not sure this is right. Not directly a "cost," as much a correlate. Wasting time on promiscuity is dangerous and a sign of poor judgment, maybe also an artificially short time horizon. People with good decision making skills and a longer time horizon just aren't tempted to be promiscuous. This isn't sex, this is NUMBER of sex partners.
So, it's not, "Ya know, I could go to a bar, pick up a guy I've never met, and then do the bouncy-bouncy until daylight. But that would cost me too much time that I should spend studying for my PhD in physical chemistry. I would prefer to go out, of course, but I'll stay home." Rather, someone with ambition would just never consider doing those things. It's not appealing.
What I am trying to say is that the level of appeal of random hook-ups is the same for every woman, not that great. What differs is access to something else, an ambition for a career, which may come from having role models or parental encouragement from a young age. The hook-ups thing is just not that much fun.
Blogoverse needs Pritchett
Friday, January 13, 2012
A NOTY problem
Name of the Year. You can vote, America.
WARNING: NSFW. NSF anything, really. Utterly pointless. But if you read this blog, that must be attractive to you.
As our correspondent M-Ka notes, "I know from following your blogs every day, and listening to you on EconTalk, that you and Dr. Grier disdain both frivolity and low culture. But I do think you might like to promote this on KPC:
I voted for La'Peaches (check out the link to her), and Monsterville Horton IV (because of his obvious aristocratic status). And Vernon Lee Bad Marriage Jr. won his round!"
Labels: a rose by any other name
White Girl Problems
Okay, I'm not proud of this.
But if I need a pick me up, no more than twice a day or so (no, really), I just crank up Twitter and watch #whitegirlproblems . It's extremely rewarding. Some are likely serious, some are certainly not. But rewarding.
In five minutes, you will laugh out loud at least five or six times.
I prayed for your forehead last night.
Pulled up to a stop light, blaring Lil' Wayne, & 2 black guys just broke up laughing.
If only I could unf**k you
So pale.... so pale
Kindle wouldn't connect to wi-fi, so I had to buy an actual book
Too busy to work on job applications
It's art, actually.
David Theroux: Secular Theocracy II
Krueger on Inequality
This would be Alan ("Nominal") Krueger, not Anne ("Real") Krueger. The problem is that Alan is not adjusted for infliction (of nonsense).
His screed on inequality and its causes.
The slides for the speech.
The topic is an important one. Dr. K's presentation of the problem are interesting. Not sure why he decided to go all simplistic on the "causes," tho. This is complicated.
(Nod to E-Chris)
Thursday, January 12, 2012
There is no great stagnation II (DJ style)
Check out these amazing turntable decks made from LEGOS! This one came from Germany and has a construction manual available here along with more pics:
more info here):
There is no great stagnation
Let us now praise famous men
(clic the pic for an even more glorious image)
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Che says, "Down with capitalist pigs! Buy my merchandise!"
umm....this kind of stuff happens all the time
Headline on Yahoo this morning condemning "human zoo" where indigenous people danced for tourists in exchange for food.
People, to different degrees, this happens all the time all over the world. Mrs. A and I have seen it advertised in Africa, Asia & Latin America. Heck it happens in Hawaii quite a bit!
I don't like it. We avoid such suggested outings, and have at times simply left our hotel when groups were brought in to perform. I feel like the people must hate doing it and that makes me embarrassed to watch/listen. (I have enjoyed gamalan concerts in Bali and traditional dance performances in Bali though (at places where you went and bought a ticket) so maybe I am a hypocrite here?) It is usually very hard to convince local people that you don't want to go to the "show".
But, food is good. Money is good. If the "performers" aren't slaves and choose to do their thing in exchange for the offered remuneration, how is it like a zoo? By my refusal to attend, am I sending people home to be hungry?
Every day, all over the world, millions of people voluntarily do things we generally consider unseemly or unsafe or undignified. This is one reason why, to me at least, global economic growth is still imperative.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
I don't think you are TRYING hard enough
Fuel companies fined for their petty refusal to an additive in gasoline.
Look, the law says they have to do it. Stop fooling around, guys.
Of course, their lame excuse is that the additive does not actually exist.
The answer is that if your government is smart enough to imagine what it wants, the least you can do is actually make the stuff.
(Nod to Anonyman)
Monday, January 09, 2012
Hashtag of the day
People, check out the tweets at #ronpaultroofs
Here's one I especially liked:
"Ron Paul gave George Washington Carver his first peanut."
"If you smoke like Ron Paul smokes, then you're high, like, every day."
Why Is This So Difficult?
Three suggestions about things you never say, or always say, or should say, to a potential mentor.
This week...THIS WEEK... I have gotten messages or had phone conversations that violated all three.
In particular, I suggested we meet at 10 am. Two different people wanting advice said, "No, that's too early for me. Can we do it some other time?"
Sure, we can do it during that time when I otherwise would have been writing you a pretty good letter of recommendation. Because now it is NOT going to be a good letter of recommendation.
Just read this. The guy has it right. And hopefully you are angling for being mentored by somebody WAY better than I am anyway, so it will actually matter!
Labels: good advice
Get your money out of PIMCO....
....because its CEO, the ubiquitous Mohamed El-Erian is a nincompoop!
Check out this gibberish in today's WSJ:
"Fat tails"—the technical term for the extremes of an outcome distribution—are risks for any global system that loses its anchors. Economies and markets function differently, companies and households feel unsettled, and policy measures become less effective.
Oh my. Where to begin.
First, "fat tails" is not a "technical term". The technical term is excess kurtosis. Fat tails is the colloquial, layman's term.
Second, fat tails is decidedly NOT a term for "the extremes of an outcome distribution"! The normal distribution is an outcome distribution. It does not have "fat tails". In fact it is the lack of fat tails in the normal distribution that lead so many models to go astray
How can this dude spew nonsense like this and get away with it? He's failing Stats 101. It must be the 'stache.
Finally, the second sentence is even weirder than the first. I cannot make out what he is saying. Is he trying to say that recent events have changed the shape of the "outcome distribution"? Or that when we realized the outcome distribution had fatter tails than was previously thought, people changed their behaviors? The second interpretation at least makes some sense.
Sunday, January 08, 2012
My Guy Tom Ferguson Analyzes Rick Santorum
Saturday, January 07, 2012
Americans Against Logic
Okay, so a tactical tip: If the Jon Stewart show wants to interview you, say no. Because not only will you be reamed, you will be complicit in your own reaming. I cannot understand how JS can find such self-important idiots. The Republican here... wow.
I think Republicans are hypocrites, how 'bout YOU?
(Nod to Anonyman)
The Economics of Faking Ecstasy, Hugo Mialon, Economic Inquiry, January 2012, Pages 277–285
Abstract: In this paper, we develop a signaling model of rational lovemaking. In the
act of lovemaking, a man and a woman send each other possibly deceptive signals about their true state of ecstasy. For example, if one of the partners is not in ecstasy, then he or she may decide to fake it. The model predicts that (1) a higher cost of faking lowers the probability of faking; (2) middle-aged and old men are more likely to fake than young men; (3) young and old women are more likely to fake than middle-aged women; and (4) love, formally defined as a mixture of altruism and demand for togetherness, increases the likelihood of faking. The predictions are tested with data from the 2000 Orgasm Survey. Besides supporting the model's predictions, the data also reveal an interesting positive relationship between education and the tendency to fake in both men and women.
So, I wondered a couple of things.
1. This would not apply just to het couples. Is it different for gay men or for lesbian women?
2. It took me a minute to realize that the "2000 Orgasm Survey" was referring to a year, not a benchmark.
3. I asked the LMM, "You never fake, do you!" She said, "Of course not! Then she went upstairs and closed the door, but I could still hear her laughing.
Lagniappe: Here is a video of the author presenting the above paper...
(Nod to Kevin Lewis, who never fakes)
Can Men and Women Be Just Friends
On the Utah State U campus, a team of crack investigators ask the question, "Can men and women 'just' be friends?"
Women say "yes." Men laugh at the very idea. Men are not good people.
Now, the Bishop and I know that married men can be just friends with women.
First, we fear our wives enough to know we had better not even think about anyone else.
Second, if we piss off our wives, we are going to be "just friends" even in our houses for several nights. "Honey?" "Don't touch me..."
(Nod to the Blonde, who is not surprised by any of this.)
Friday, January 06, 2012
Regulatory Capture Video
D-Bro Loses His Mind
David Brooks says this:
"If you believe in the centrality of family, you have to have a government that ... SUPPLIES WAGE SUBSIDIES TO MEN TO MAKE THEM MARRIAGEABLE." (ellipsis/emphasis added to make sure you don't miss it.)
You can look it up. He says that.
Thanks to Jim D for pointing this out. I had missed it. I thought it was just a run-of- the mill paean to Santorum. The collective values, the communitarianism, that's all fine.
But D-Bro raised it to a whole other level. We have to PAY men to get married. He actually comes close to saying, "If you are getting the milk for free, why buy the cow?"
Funny or Die
We need a new scare for funny.
This, for example, is veryveryvery funny, and outrageous.
But then this is even funnier.
And the commercial in that clip above, starting just after 3 minutes in, with Mike Tyson as Herman Cain...we need a new word. Mr. Tyson totally nails it.
Made me laugh, it did.
Labels: political theatre
More good news
Thursday, January 05, 2012
Long, Huang Eat Pussy, Long Goes Down, Huang Hung
Wealthy Chinese man dies after eating poisoned stew made from slow-boiled cat.
A Chinese billionaire is dead after apparently ingesting some slow-boiled cat meat stew — though it wasn’t the cat meat that killed him.
Police in southern China have detained a local official on suspicion of poisoning the stew at the restaurant where the two were eating in Guangdong province on Dec. 23.
Agriculture official Huang Guang, billionaire Long Liyuan and a third diner were sharing a cat meat hot pot — a local delicacy — when Huang allegedly dropped some toxic herbs into the stew, the BBC reported.
Long, who ran a forestry company, was taken to the hospital after feeling dizzy and sick and later suffered a cardiac arrest. Huang and the third diner were hospitalized as well, though both survived.
According toFlickr user MowT the New York Times, Huang had apparently eaten some of the poisoned stew himself to avoid suspicion.
Police detained Huang on Dec. 30, after discovering evidence that Huang had embezzled money from Long.
Police initially took the restaurant’s owner into custody on suspicion of serving unsanitary food, according to the BBC. Long’s family, not believing he died simply of food poisoning, offered a $16,000 reward for information and insisted police keep the case open.
(Nod to the Blonde, who of course was mostly all excited about the title. I think she rented this movie last week.)
(UPDATE: Yes, I was thinking of Tom G. when I wrote this)
would you believe?
Would you believe me if i told you that, before roasting and eating that marshmallow, Kanzi the bonobo had (a) collected the wood, (b) built the fire (c) grilled up some burgers, and (d) ate them?
How about if I told you after he was done that he put the fire out with a bottle of water?
Well, it's all true!
Kanzi apparently lives in Iowa and to my mind is much more qualified for the GOP presidential nomination than any of the other "primitive creatures" who just left the State.
Okay, NOW You Can Kill Eagles (But Not Bats), To Show You Love Gaia
So, if all you are doing is building a factory that will create hundreds of jobs, and produce something people want to buy, you will be blocked by the Endangered Species Act. In fact, you may even have to close an existing golf course, because the nice froggies might not like it.
But if you want to build a "wind farm," which actually is a net loss of energy (counting the costs of construction and decommissioning), and produces almost zero jobs, then the feds will happily WAIVE the ESA. Kill all the eagles you want! (But not bats, apparently. Interesting.)
Now, in my view, the ESA is a death sentence, a stupid law that kills more creatures than it saves, by far. But still, if you believe the ESA works, why suspend it for such a marginal "industry" as wind?
Unless of course the whole thing is fake and all you really care about is the costly signal of worshipping Gaia, the Earth Mother? In that case, building an idiotic temple of wind and sacrificing eagles to Gaia actually count twice. We worship you, Gaia! And higher costs mean we love you more! Abraham was only willing to sacrifice his son. WE are willing to sacrifice eagles!
(Nod to the Blonde)
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Great Essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates
It's in the Atlantic and it's called "Why do so few blacks study the civil war?"
It rejects the idea that the war was a tragedy; that is was a result of a failure to compromise, or of misunderstandings, the romanticizing of the gentlemanly southern generals.
For African Americans, war commenced not in 1861, but in 1661, when the Virginia Colony began passing America’s first black codes, the charter documents of a slave society that rendered blacks a permanent servile class and whites a mass aristocracy. They were also a declaration of war.
The final part of Charles Mann's excellent 1493 gives a good overview of the war between Europeans and slaves fought across the Americas.
Gun Control, Okie style
When faced with a home invasion, this Oklahoma woman, grabbed the family shotgun and pistol, called 911 for directions, and then shot and killed the person who kicked down the door to her home.
The intruders seemed to be targeting her house because her husband had just passed away.
Mrs. Angus and I go target shooting at a local firing range, and the gender mix there is easily 30% female.
By the way, Mrs. Angus is a pretty good shot!
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
John D. Lewis
An energetic and compelling speech by my friend John Lewis, on July 4, 2009, in Boston. If you get to give a speech in Boston for the Tea Party on July 4, you are pretty cool.
And he was pretty cool. But John Lewis died this morning at 7 am. Esophageal cancer hammered him, as brave as he was. And he was very, very brave.
This is not a good day. I'd rather think of him like he was, on that day in Boston.
UPDATE: Two more good memories.
1. JDL's terrific lecture this fall in my "Econ for Non-Majors" class. Excellent talk on Greek and Roman views of exchange. He could barely speak. And yet there he was, bustin' it for the kids.
2. JDL's also terrific HuffPo piece on the deficit (Thanks to Dan Green for the reminder)
I'm going to guess that admiration for this car (and this clip) will largely be divided along gender lines.
(Nod to Herr Fuchs)
Not the Onion?
For our occasional "Not the Onion" feature...which of the following is a fake news story?
1. EEOC says that requiring people to have a high school diploma, or to be able to read, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. After all, idiots need jobs, too! And there are only 100 seats in the US Senate.
2. N. Koreans called on to provide "human shield" for Kim Jong (Big) Un. Presumably, the herd of shielders will also be available to be butchered for food, in case Big Un gets peckish. The story does also note that there is a "burning issue" of food shortage. What's a Big Un to do?
3. New Fox network reality show to choose candidate for President of Iraq. The winner will receive $1 million in campaign cash, and several truckloads of dates to use as bribes.
4. Solar plant in Idaho unable to generate enough power to supply even itself. Utility company is going to cut off electricity to so-called "power" plant, because they can't pay the bill for all the electricity they are using up in the process of not generating electricity.
(Nod to the Blonde)
Many people, including me, have decided that the overclass poses the most serious threat today to the middle class in the United States because it markets the assertion that the underclass is the source of all our problems.
The author is Nancy Folbre, the source is the NY Times Economix blog.
I ran it through various translators and the best I could come up with was, I hate rich people and you should too.
Anyone else? Bueller?
Labels: economics is harder than that
Iowa: The Caucuses Mountains
I was on the Takeaway yesterday, with my pal Celeste Headley. She shamelessly promotes the (admittedly miraculous) fact that the D-Lions are in the playoffs.
And we also talk about Iowa. Click and play, if you want. It's about 7 mins.
Smiles: Fake? And can you tell?
Poker faces often have "tells;" so do smiles.
Spot The Fake Smile
(be sure to click the button to watch the smile.)
This experiment is designed to test whether you can spot the difference between a fake smile and a real one. It has 20 questions and should take you 10 minutes. It is based on research by Professor Paul Ekman, a psychologist at the University of California. Each video clip will take approximately 15 seconds to load on a 56k modem and you can only play each smile once.
In case you are wondering, they did it by taking real smiles that occurred spontaneously in interviews, or by telling the person to smile. Obviously you can't say, "Give us a genuine smile, now!"
Bizarrely, I got 18 out of 20 correct. Had a bit of luck, I expect. But that's better classification than I would have expected. Only missed two, one F that was a G, and one G that was an F.
How do YOU fare?
(Nod to the Blonde, who never fakes it)
Monday, January 02, 2012
Ballot Access Kerfuffles
A nice mess you have gotten us into this time, Stanley!
Gov. Perry, of Texas, is all upset because (gasp!) voters might not get to vote for the candidate of their choice! He failed to get the signatures required to get on the ballot in Virginia.
I have to agree with him. That's a dumb law, a ridiculous and arbitrary distinction on the ability to compete for office. Here is the complaint (from BAN, with thanks)
But then how come the Guv-meister has not said a peep about the fact that Texas, the state where I hear he has some pull, has made a complete hash of ballot access? Et tu, Ricky?
Some more background from Brian I, here...
it might take half the country
North Korea (i.e. Kim Jong Un) has called for its citizens to form a human shield around its leader (i.e. Kim Jong Un)!
Given that many North Koreans eat dirt and sticks, and that KJU looks like this:
I am wondering, how many North Koreans does it take to make a human shield for "The Great Consumer"?
I am waiting for KJU's catchphrase to come out. I loved his dad's: "Let's eat two meals a day"
Sunday, January 01, 2012
Trying Blogsy on the iPad
To Prevent Abuse, Create a Cartel?
Anonyman sends this remarkable article. Excerpt:
While the Food and Drug Administration monitors the safety and supply of the drugs, which are sold both as generics and under brand names like Ritalin and Adderall, the Drug Enforcement Administration sets manufacturing quotas that are designed to control supplies and thwart abuse. Every year, the D.E.A. accepts applications from manufacturers to make the drugs, analyzes how much was sold the previous year and then allots portions of the expected demand to various companies.
So, to "prevent abuse," what the gubmint is doing is protecting cartel profits, even in a GENERIC drug. And of course if there is a shortage, that means that rich people who want to abuse the drug will still get it, but poor people who want to use the drug legally can just go screw themselves.
I would like to propose that before you work for the US federal government you have to pass a high-school level econ class. Is that too much to ask?
Rob Kendall Gets Sworn In
Now that Rob Kendall has been sworn in, he may get sworn at.
But for today, he is the newest member of the Brownsburg, IN town council, representing ward #3.
I enjoyed the part where the commenter compared the speech to the Gettysburg Address. The commenter said, "That was NOT the Gettysburg Address."
And so, it begins. But seriously, good luck to Rob! We need more ambiguously Libertarian Republicans in this world.
Not So Much Predictions
I was going to call this predictions.
But it's more like "fun resources so YOU can make predictions." Here we go:
1. There are lots of models that predict share of two party vote in Presidential elections, based on the economy. Here is one that's fun to fool around with...
With plausible assumptions, that would imply that the Dems will get 49.7 -- 50.5 of the two party vote in November. Given the way the Electoral College "counts" votes, that would likely mean a narrow win for the Repubs. Of course that depends on who the Repub nominee is. But if you want to go strictly by the "economy determines whether incumbent Prez wins" theory, right now it's a toss up.
On the other hand, if there is 4% growth in the first two quarters of 2012, you would get a 53.5% vote in the states, and that is close to a landslide. So, the point is, to the extent the models matter, 2% growth and Obama loses. 4% growth and Obama wins in November.
This map is VERY fun for doing simulations, state by state, in Electoral College. (of course, the fact that I think that is fun may explain why I never had dates in high school)
2. Conference Board is predicting 1.5% growth for 2012. If that is right, then Obama loses. Again depending on who the Repub nominee is, of course.
3. Any prediction, based on any reasonable assumptions about the economy, predict that Repubs keep the House, and maybe even add a little to their majority. Redistricting will help here, because many state legislatures were taken over in 2010 election, and the winner redraws the maps.
4. Ben Nelson's (D-Neb) retirement puts the range of outcomes for the Senate at 51 D - 49 R to 47 D -- 53 R. But these are not equally likely. Most likely is 50 D -- 50 R, with VP Biden breaking tie votes in favor of Democrats. So, if I had to guess, Dems retain control of Senate, though only by the thinnest of margins.
5. Consumer confidence: on the economy, seems on the upswing. Still very weak. As long as the Euro is all covered with Greece, very scary situation. Our banks bought up a LOT of PIGS sovereign debt, with MF securities being only the most greedy. Other institutions are lined up like dominoes. World economy could get hammered here. That would be bad.
6. Congressional job approval is at its lowest level EVER, 11%. The House and Senate are each profoundly dysfunctional. But "we hate Congress, though we love our Congressman" is the old saying. The disgust with Congress rarely translates into voting out incumbents. Each election is separate, and based on personality and local factors. So the so-called "triple flip" where people vote against incumbents in Prez, House, and Senate races is very unlikely. People say they are mad, and then they line up and vote for incumbents.
7. Presidential approval is very bad also, but still in the mid 40% range. The difference is that we do vote on the Presidency, directly, in a way we do not on Congress. The rule of thumb is that if your negatives, of "disapprove" numbers, are above 45% you are toast. Right now, President Obama is toast, by that measure.
Oh, and happy new year, all you KPC fans! I am on leave until September, so I shall be blogging from many places around the globe, and I'm looking forward to it.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
A Year in Review
RP's Xmas List
My guy T-Schall will likely not be on Ron Paul's Xmas list.
Article from Bal Sun here (reprinted pretty widely)
Now, full disclosure, T-Schall is my student, back from UNC-CH days. We have published together. So I am hardly neutral on this topic.
But it seems to me that Dr. Schaller has this right. The attraction of Dr. Paul has always escaped me. Yes, he is clearly right about several things. But he is wrong, and not just a little bit wrong, about a lot of important things.
Overall, I am grateful to Dr. Paul. He has been brave and consistent about advancing his views. But the people who come up to me and say, "Oh, you must like _________, he's a libertarian," only to have me stare at them in horror....you people are crazy.
Here is a partial list of people you goofballs think are libertarians. They can call themselves what they want, of course. But they are NOT libertarians.
So, when one of this group is discussed, or lauded, or is for some other reason in the news, please don't say, "Oh, you must be happy."
What DOES make me happy? Harry Browne's New Year's Day Resolutions. Harry Browne was a Libertarian.
Here we go:
US unemployment rate no higher than 7.5% by the end of 2012, real GDP growth > 2.5% for 2012
Republicans keep House and barely get Senate
Heat defeat Thunder in NBA finals
Albert Pujols will be AL MVP
Putin ain't gonna be President of Russia for 12 more years
Assad Jr. gets the boot in 2012
The Euro zone makes it through 2012 intact
China's 2012 growth rate will be < 7.5%
Let me re-phrase
Thanks for your comments on my previous post. I am interested in being able to use the iPad for blogging when I travel to avoid having to lug a laptop around so I have been experimenting with it.
I have an external keyboard, so typing is not the problem.
I am finding that I can't put in hyper-links to other webpages or include images in my posts either when I log in to Blogger via safari on the iPad or when I use the Blogger iPhone app on the iPad.
It's hard for me to accept that there's not an app that makes blogging from the iPad as easy as using Blogger on a laptop.
But I guess that's what the universe is telling me?
Friday, December 30, 2011
Blogging on the iPad
So far it sucks. Any suggestions??
Labels: Help me Rhonda
35 >> 25
Some partial year end good news!
People, it looks like both the 45 cents / gallon subsidy for domestic ethanol AND the 54 cents / gallon tariff on imported ethanol are both dead as of January 1!
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Education: yer doin it wrong
In this Times piece on young women leaving the labor force to increase their human capital, the author focuses in on one such person, getting an MA from the university of Denver.
Is the CIA giving Latin American leftists cancer?
Hugo Chavez says that he wouldn't doubt it one little bit.
He says he got the notion from Fidel:
"Fidel always told me, 'Chavez take care. These people have developed technology. You are very careless. Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat ... a little needle and they inject you with I don't know what,'"
Hell we stole Panama from Colombia and huge chunks of Mexico too in the Mexican American War.
Basically the US has been a huge bully / PITA/ jerk to Latin America, at least since 1846.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Pour some (corn) sugar on me!
People, the nefarious corn growers want to change the name of high fructose corn syrup to "corn sugar".
It's all over now, baby blue?
Monday, December 26, 2011
Germany: Sorry, I gave at the State
The US is the number 1 most charitable nation in the world.
Germans like to see themselves as "giving," but of course when it comes to voluntary giving they actually suck. In fact, most of Europe "gives" by taking money from people at gunpoint. That would be "stealing," friends.
Germany is #26.
Of course, I suppose Germany could claim they gave at the Euro. Still, strong evidence that Tocqueville was right, and state action crowds out private initiative and personal moral responsibility. So, for all my German friends who jabber about how generous Germans are and how stingy American are... how do you like us now?
Germany and France Discuss the Future of the EU
Have been wanting to try to make a XtraNormal video.
This is my first effort. It's time consuming, but pretty fun.
Germany and France discuss the future of the EU in a closed door meeting, with a frank exchange of views...
Roll over and see what you can do!
Recently saw this ad, on a site.
Not easy to read, but it says, "Menopause made intercourse dry and painful? Roll over to see what you can do!" And then, I shudder to think why, the picture of a doorknob.
However, to be fair, it made me look twice. Perhaps that is the real function of advertising, yes?
Warning: Contains Graphic Content
After this quite delightful little kerfuffle, Zach Wiener was kind enough to send me the original of this cartoon. Interesting Rorschach test: we learn something about YOU, from who you think is being mocked. This issue discussed at greater length here. (Hint: Zach always mocks everyone, including himself. He is not really a fan of false certitude, or ideologies. Check the crest here...)
Anyway, I got this for Christmas:
In the place of honor, right over the throne, so that men are obliged to stare it, and women will have plenty of time to look at it, too, while they are doing whatever it is that they do that takes 45 minutes in there. (Not very high quality, it's a cellphone pic, so if you want the original comic it's here...)
Way too early instant analysis of the Thunder
One game against a bad team (yes Orlando is a quite bad team) isn't much to go on, but here goes!
The Thunder had (at least) 4 questions going into the season.
1. Would Russell Westbrook take another step forward to becoming an efficient point guard?
2. Could Kendrick Perkins return to his pre-injury level of play?
3. Is James Harden the real deal?
4. Is Serge Ibaka the real deal?
Well, 50% fails most tests, but it does get you into the hall of fame in baseball.
Perkins was awesome. After a bit of a slow start, he did the job on Dwight Howard, ran around like a crazy man, and just generally was a badass. My favorite thing about Perk is how mad he gets when a TEAMMATE gets a rebound away from him.
Harden showed a lot more calmness and confidence. He knows what he can do and he looked ready to be a star.
Westbrook had 7 turnovers and shot 6-17. I have to say though that I am a huge Westbrook fan and I'm hoping for big improvements here. He probably needed training camp more than any other Thunder player.
Ibaka was a no-show. I don't know if he'd rather still be playing in Spain, but he was lost and totally ineffective out there. He was scary bad.
To switch gears, the Magic stink!
Hedo is done. He can't move. He and Anderson can hit wide open 3's when they don't have to move, but little else. If it wasn't for Ibaka's hideous defensive effort and the Thunders perverse penchant for fouling J.J. Redick, Orlando wouldn't have gotten 75 points!
The Magic have both Jason AND Quentin Richardson on their team! In the NBA we call that "two Richardsons too many".
I don't think they were both on the floor at the same time, but if that happens, basketball will never be the same.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Christmas Wisdom from LeBron
"good regulation should take account of our rather extreme ignorance. That means emphasizing the more general protections, as embodied in a ready supply of safe liquid assets, rather than obsessing over the regulatory micromanagement of particular bank activities."
Saturday, December 24, 2011
An Italian-American Christmas Greeting
With all proper respect and much love to Jenn Musirolla, who posted this video. I put it up for the enjoyment of KPC friend Shirley, who has lived it.
The menu at the Mungerella House tonight:
The main event:
calimari in a white wine and garlic sauce
meatballs in homemade sauce (cooked for two days with stew beef and hot sausage and sweet sausage)
broccoli in sauce
cauliflower breaded and fried in olive oil
bread for boonging
Salad with olive oil and vinegar
Can I be an honorary gorilla too?
Mrs. Angus and I have been on 4 mountain gorilla treks and saw this same group of gorillas in Bwindi this summer. However, we had to hike for over 3 hours to reach them. This video is AMAZING. OK, the blathering guy for the first minute is a pain, but it gets real good around the 1:55 mark and just keeps getting better from there.
Friday, December 23, 2011
A Recurrent Meme: Flying Genitals
Last week I posted on the outrage over flying vulvas in England.
This week....a flying male organ disturbs a press conference in Russia.
Security did have to take it seriously, because it could easily have squirted out flammable liquid. (What? I'm just accepting the metaphor! If this were Batman, that's what would have happened.)
Not very sophisticated. Still...I was amused.
The Maxtrix: 1890s edition
Thursday, December 22, 2011
As in medicine, so in development?
Jonah Lehrer has a great article in Wired documenting the difficulty of truly understanding causal forces.
Here is a representative section:
The story of torcetrapib is a tale of mistaken causation. Pfizer was operating on the assumption that raising levels of HDL cholesterol and lowering LDL would lead to a predictable outcome: Improved cardiovascular health. Less arterial plaque. Cleaner pipes. But that didn’t happen.
Such failures occur all the time in the drug industry.
To recap. HDL is the "good" cholesterol and LDL the "bad". Pfizer found a drug that did what the quote describes, but it turned out to kill subjects in the phase III trial and ended up costing the company billions in market capitalization.
In my opinion, much of macro development advice has worked the same way.
Experts observe that successful countries exhibit qualities A, B & C. Developing countries are advised, subsidized, threatened to emulate the successful countries on these attributes. But the patients do not improve!
Education, Institutions, "getting the prices right", openness to trade, the list goes on of macro advice given and to a surprising extent taken by the developing world, without the implicitly promised results.*
The only real difference in the medical and developmental analogy is that Pfizer lost billions of dollars due to their misreading of cause and effect, while the World Bank just chugs on and on with an ever growing size and budget, producing a new World Development Report every year and acting as if the past had never happened.
That is to say, there is little to no accountability for bad advice or improper diagnoses among the IFIs compared to pharmaceutical companies.
* In our 2007 JDE paper, Robin and I show that school enrollment rates, government spending, openness to trade, political constraints on the chief executive,bureaucratic quality, corruption, and overall law and order are all converging over time.
Portugal Fires Back!
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Me, Lebron & the TicketCity Bowl
Our latest piece is up at Grantland.
In sum, we have a system where the games are not designed to produce the best on-field matchups, the competitors often lose money but fight fiercely to participate, outsiders and observers complain vehemently, and the organizers amass and waste a great deal of money with little oversight.
Welcome to capitalism, American style. Get back to us when you’ve found a better system.
What is the capital account?
Writing in the Economist, Mark Thoma says something remarkable:
"A COUNTRY that runs a current account deficit is borrowing money from the rest of the world. As with any loan, that money will need to be paid back at some point in the future. The cost of these loans is the interest that must be paid, and any vulnerabilities to speculative attacks that come with them."
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Two Excellent Emails on the "Laptops in Classrooms" Question: Part Deux
Another email I got after posting the "Laptops in Classrooms" screed.
Hi Prof. Munger, I very strongly disagree with you, and I'll try to say why to get my thoughts on the table:
All through my undergraduate years, I brought my laptop to class with every good intention: more than any of the reasons you present, a searchable record of computerized notes is, I think, the most compelling reason for allowing computers in the classroom, and that was my goal.
But when I actually opened up the computer, I found myself struggling to accomplish this. I'd just check this one email, look at this one funny website, just have one more line of gchat with my girlfriend (who would have been doing the same from a different seminar), and then get back to the lecture. And suddenly, class would be over, and I'd be kicking myself, vowing never again to use my laptop that way during class.
Sure enough, the next class would come, and my laptop would be out, primed and ready for excellent, attentive note-taking, and a little message would pop up on my sidebar. Or I'd get bored for ten seconds and find myself sucked in as a result to a half-hour-long wikipedia quagmire.
The extent to which I was kidding myself every time I brought my computer to class, thinking it would help me to be productive, is a fascinating study in self- delusion, but I know that I was not alone in this addict-like behavior. Everyone else was doing it too --- some of my gchats were with them! It took me four years, but by my last semester of undergrad, I had quit taking my laptop to class, and I haven't taken it once since entering graduate school. It turns out that forcibly limiting your options is a great way to focus your attention. Human are impulsive --- too many choices can be crippling rather than liberating, because what seems in the moment like a good idea is not, of course, always what you really want to be doing. Feel free to deny this aspect of our nature if you will, but caving to students' demands about having laptops in class is like untying Odysseus from the mast at his first pathetic cry.
By telling your students you do not allow laptops in class, you are not enslaving them: you are setting them free. They are free from the constant distractions of the rest of the world. They are confined in a way, yes: confined to the path they have chosen for themselves --- to the education they are supposedly receiving and the classes they have supposedly chosen.
Pandering to psych studies about attention will not save you. Yes, paying attention is hard. But our minds are not simply ticking attention timers. I have had good teachers who have engaged my attention for 2 full hours (without gimmicky "activities"), and bad teachers who couldn't hold it for 2 minutes. A laptop would have provided an easy escape in the latter case, but it would also have prevented me from having the kind of direct, intense, and full experience in the former. I know because it did, many times, as an undergraduate, and freeing myself from my laptop was a revelation.
Perhaps you will say that this sort of experience is one that all students should have for themselves, but I disagree. The classroom is not a polity, and it is not a typical exchange relationship, as you seem to envision it: it is meant to provide students with an education --- and if a student (or, in most cases, their parents) wants to pay for a Duke degree, then we have the prerogative to decide what that means. And in this case, it should mean helping students form the good habits that my own undergraduate professors didn't have the guts to help me form. We are training them to pay attention in a world that does not simply consist of 15-20 minute segments punctuated by the naptimes or clapping games of our kindergarten teachers.
And this, in turn, should give us a greater sense of responsibility. I agree that there are too many professors out there who "suck" at teaching (inevitable, given the incentive structures in academia, but that's another story). But laptops are not a solution --- agreeing to have laptops in the classroom is simply giving up on good teaching at all. At least without laptops, there are no excuses.
"Pandering to psych studies"? Yikes. To be fair, the author is a political theorist, and the whole empirical thing tends to escape them. Still, a useful analysis.
So, It was Crack Cocaine?
Man eats cocaine in brother's butt, dies
Police: Man trying to hide drug evidence in squad car
You could read the rest of the story, but frankly there's not much more to tell.
(Nod to Jackie Blue, who misses Florida....not so much)
Labels: So Proud of Florida
Two Excellent Emails on the "Laptops in Classrooms" Question
I got quite a few emails about the "Laptops in Classrooms!" screed.
Thought I'd post two of the emails I got from people who thought I got it wrong. Here is one. It is a bit long, but quite thoughtful, and from someone who has seen how things work.
Person 1: I appreciated your post, and I agree with you wholeheartedly that poor teaching deserves 90% of the blame for extended periods of student distraction.
But my anti-laptop views began to take shape during my first semester as a TA at [redacted] University. The professor was a phenomenal teacher, one of the best in our top-ten department. (I don't think I've ever seen a longer or heartier standing ovation for an instructor than the one s/he received at the end of his/her intro course.) There was a significant amount of student-teacher interaction (course enrollment was 80). And yet, a ridiculously high number of students had Facebook and other non-course-related sites up on the screen for ridiculously long portions of the class. From my perch at the back of her classroom, I could see most student laptops. Of course I knew students sometimes check email or Facebook or ESPN.com, but the sheer magnitude of the thing struck me (and I admit, scandalized me). I don't have any way of quantifying this in retrospect, but I can only say that I would bet a small fortune on the proposition that they spent more time more profoundly distracted with laptops than they would have spent distracted without them.
(Of course, I TA-ed for other classes with less talented professors, and level of web-wandering was astronomically high in these cases--approaching 90% of screen time spent on non-class-related pages. As you suggest, those professors were asking for it in some measure.)
This is my case study evidence, but I would make three further random points on this topic.
First, while I appreciate your point about web-based distraction as a mere substitute for daydreaming or doodling, I think there are important distinctions to be made here. This is probably a task for real social scientists, but my hunch is that web content is far more engrossing and tends to account for far lengthier bouts of distraction than daydreaming or doodling. Daydreaming can be fun, but checking Facebook updates is just so much easier on the imagination. I can't remember the last time I've daydreamed or doodled for, say, two hours. But two hours wasting time online? No problem. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone here.
Second-- and this is an explanation that I often give to students in small seminars (20 or under)-- laptops constitute not only source of distraction but also a physical barrier. It is hard to imagine having an excellent dinner conversation with little ten-inch plastic walls sitting in front of each guest. I think these little walls somehow denature or degrade the conversation. I'm here, but not completely. I would also add that they introduce seemingly endless voices and minds into the room whereas (inky view) the high-octane seminar is about the 10 minds in the room engaging one another and a text.
Third, I think laptops encourage stenography as opposed to listening and real note-taking. The pen and paper forces the student to digest material then and there, to discern what is most important, and to get it down. This requires listening, and it even leaves little time for critically evaluating what you're hearing and asking questions about it. Stenography not only doesn't require listening, I think it suppresses listening and critical thinking. (The court reporter is the last person I'd ask to tell me the highlights of the day's testimony. I'll talk to the journalist with the Steno pad.) So in this light, it seems that even the best students--those with Word open rather than Facebook-- are bad laptop users.
Fourth, and most intangibly, I think there is something freeing about removing the web as an option for students. (Here's dangerous claim about positive freedom.) They spend every minute of every day with the web as an option. For one blessed hour, three days a week, my students are free, absolutely free, from the alluring glow of the iPhone and the MacBook. Believe it or not, I think this makes them happy. I think they like to pay attention. But of course, they won't admit it...
Dr. James Harrigan on why laptops should NOT be allowed in the classroom....
Butter Crisis Prompts Desperate Video
"What if it was YOU who didn't have any butter? What if I took your butter away from you?"
TOMMY! Listen. YOUR. GOVERNMENT. is doing this to you, sweetie. There is no butter shortage. It is the state who is f***ing you. You are hilarious because the shortage is entirely a product of your protectionist trade policies. If you needed actual help, we'd be there for you. But if we tried to ship in emergency supplies of butter, we would be ARRESTED. Just like those Swedish butter thugs...
(If you have missed the story, check out our man Angus, with his finger on the private parts of Norway and the butter crisis.)
Grandma Got Indefinitely Detained Now
KPC recently broke the story of Norway's tragic, self-inflicted butter shortage (or as Matt Yglesias would have it, Norway's heroic defense of a diversified economy).
Student Brings Typewriter to Class
Monday, December 19, 2011
A Sweet Tribute
Laptops in Class: I say "Allow Them"
So, a debate between truth and craven falsehood over at KOSMOS.
With me, as always, taking the side of truth. Should laptops be required / allowed / prohibited in class?
Falsity gets its chance, arguing the "ban laptops! They are da debbil's woikshoppe!" tomorrow.
Excerpt: If you have to pay someone to attend you, that’s prostitution. If you have to force someone to attend you, that’s slavery.
I have never understood why so many professors believe that students must be prostituted or indentured. But that is what the “ban laptops” crowd is arguing: We can’t count on students to learn voluntarily. So we have to bribe them, or we have to force them to leave their laptops home.
Look, profs: If you seriously find that most of your students are daydreaming, facebooking, or cruising porn sites (not that that’s a bad thing…), you might want to try an old and honorable solution. Two words.
Men Think Women Dig Them, Women are Surprised By This
The Misperception of Sexual Interest
Carin Perilloux, Judith Easton & David Buss
Psychological Science, forthcoming
Abstract: The current study (N = 199) utilized a "speed-meeting" methodology to study sexual misperception. This method allowed us to evaluate the magnitude of
men's sexual over-perception bias, whether and how women misperceive sexual interest, and individual differences in susceptibility to misperception. We found strong support for the novel prediction that women underestimate the sexual interest of male interaction partners. Men inclined to pursue a short-term mating strategy and men who rated themselves as attractive were especially likely to over-perceive women's sexual interest. As targets of misperception, women's physical attractiveness predicted the magnitude of men's sexual over-perception bias. We discuss implications of gender differences and individual differences within sex in susceptibility to sexual misperception.
Interesting that the prettier the woman, the more the man thinks she is interested in him. All men think they are good drivers, good dancers, and good...you know.
To be fair, though, this is clearly adaptive. Type 1 and type 2 error problem. If only one out of ten women who smile at you actually thinks she wants you, it makes sense to be embarrassed nine times and have a shot at reproducing once. There is no fitness penalty for embarrassment. But there is a fitness penalty for thinking you are ugly and not trying. The fact that most men are in fact ugly is irrelevant.
Nod to Kevin Lewis, who is always a gentleman.
She's Just Capturing the Regulators
(with apologies to Elvis Costello)
Venn diagrams = good. And here are several describing the overlap companies and the fed gov.
Nod to MAG
We are ALL Humean Beings Now
My favorite philosopher, by a wide margin, is David Hume. (Never mind the epistemology stuff, not sure what he was doing there, forget that).
Very nice article in NYT on Hume, and why he gets disrespected.
In fact, it seems to me that Ron Paul is the modern political version of David Hume. Everyone says that he's right about a lot of things, perhaps wrong about some things, but in any case they certainly can't take him seriously, because.... hard to say why, actually.
As Bertrand Russell put it: "Rousseau was mad but influential; Hume was sane but had no followers."