Tuesday, August 07, 2012

7,000 extra page views per day, 4 days?

Anybody have any idea what could have caused this?  We got 7k+ extra page views per day, for four days, and then it stopped.

Extremely lame denial of service attack?  Bots looking for emails to harvest?  Some readers with extremely short attention spans?

Angus and I have no clue.  Very odd.  Never seen anything like it.

Beliefs and Actions

Divergent Effects of Beliefs in Heaven and Hell on National Crime Rates

Azim Shariff & Mijke Rhemtulla
PLoS ONE, June 2012

Though religion has been shown to have generally positive effects on normative ‘prosocial’ behavior, recent laboratory research suggests that these effects may be driven primarily by supernatural punishment. Supernatural benevolence, on the other hand, may actually be associated with less prosocial behavior. Here, we investigate these effects at the societal level, showing that the proportion of people who believe in hell negatively predicts national crime rates whereas belief in heaven predicts higher crime rates. These effects remain after accounting for a host of covariates, and ultimately prove stronger predictors of national crime rates than economic variables such as GDP and income inequality. Expanding on laboratory research on religious prosociality, this is the first study to tie religious beliefs to large-scale cross-national trends in pro- and anti-social behavior.


Support for Redistribution in Western Europe: Assessing the role of religion

Daniel Stegmueller et al.
European Sociological Review, August 2012, Pages 482-497

Previous sociological studies have paid little attention to religion as a central determinant of individual preferences for redistribution. In this article we argue that religious individuals, living in increasingly secular societies, differ in political preferences from their secular counterparts. Based on the theory of religious cleavages, we expect that religious individuals will oppose income redistribution by the state. Furthermore, in contexts where the polarization between religious and secular individuals is large, preferences for redistribution will be lower. In the empirical analysis we test our predictions in a multilevel framework, using data from the European Social Survey 2002–2006 for 16 Western European countries. After controlling for a wide range of individual socio-economic factors and for welfare-state policies, religion plays and important explanatory role. We find that both Catholics and Protestants strongly oppose income redistribution by the state. The cleavage between religious and secular individuals is far more important than the difference between denominations. Using a refined measure of religious polarization, we also find that in more polarized context the overall level of support for redistribution is lower.


Nod to Kevin Lewis for the references

Monday, August 06, 2012

Optimistic Predictions are Garbage

I'm not a bear.  I would like for things to get better.  Really.

But, this is not good.  Garbage is falling off very fast, just like export orders.  It could be that this means the recycle-topians are actually doing good work, but what it really means is that the economy is in the dump, because we are not buying stuff.

Click for a more trashy image.

How to make $$$ selling drugs!

With thanks to Angry Alex, who passes on this gem pointed out by Radley Balko.

On the other hand....drugs in Russia.  Pretty bad, depressing story.  I guess in (ex)Soviet Russia, drugs do YOU.

Lagniappe:  Imagine what Michael Phelps could have accomplished if he had not done those bowls!

Who needs economic freedom? After all, you can VOTE!

Wake Up! It's a Truck!

Would I have done this?  Yes.
Would the repurcussions have been worse.  Yes.
Would it have been worth it?  YES.

Amusingly, this was done I-40, just west of the RDU airport.  So it would work pretty well, only a few miles away.  And the LMM always sleeps in the car...

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Gimme back my bullets

The Fed fired its bullet. The bear wasn't scared. And the bullets may be blanks, anyway. But the point is that there is no secret gun. Or so says Sy Harding...

My dinner with Raoul, in trendy Ballard

So, had a great time visiting Raoul.  (Also known as "Mr. Joy."  Pictured before here at KPC).

We visited the Ballard Locks, and salmon run ladders.  Amazing.

Drove at least half an hour looking for a coffee shop.  Now, remember, this is Seattle.  There are more than two coffee shops.  Per block.  But Raoul has standards.  I have to admit the coffee was pretty fine.  Notice that the word "Starbucks" is not coming up here, as an alternative.

Then to the brew pub, the Jolly Roger Taproom.  Beers were very fine.  Get the onion rings, called "Smokers."  Top three onion rings all time, for me.  Smashing.

Then to dinner.  I was going to describe the place, The Walrus and Carpenter.  But that wouldn't really capture the ambiance as well as this NYTimes review.  On the other hand, the food was really, really great, not expensive, and the servers were so hip they almost weren't hip, just naturally cool.  Since the restaurant is in Ballard, you have to be pretty hip just to get in.  I would never have made it, but Raoul talked to the staff and they let it slide.

I had six really remarkable oysters, from the al la carte menu.  It's printed daily, in case the oyster-nazi doesn't "like the look" of anything, and says, "You!  Can't have these oysters!"  Our visit, there were seven types of oysters, ranging from Samish Bay Sweets (mild) to Baywater Sweets (strong and briny, from Thorndyke Bay).  The other five were sorted in order of less mild to more briny, in between.  Except the oyster-nazi had apparently said, "No!  No Baywater Sweets! I don't like the look of them!"  The waitron actually told us this, then took a marker and marked through the Baywaters so that even idiots like us would understand that the oysters were not available.  (I'm not making fun of the server, btw.  Anyone who sees Raoul and me out on the town will NOT think, "There go some geniuses!")

The W&C is quite careful about its food, as the Times article notes.  My favorite part was the notice on the menu (remember, this is an oyster and seafood restaurant) that "Oysters and other shellfish are prepared in our kitchen."  Can't be too careful, I suppose.

Anyway, I had the Hammersleys, from nearby (!) Hammersley Inlet.  Very nice.  Extraordinary, in fact.  Came with a very mild shaved fresh horseradish, and an acidy citrus topping, on the side.  I used them.  Yum.

We basically did the tapas thing, ordering bread and butter, toasted almonds (a huge, spicy portion, still warm), simple sliced tomatoes with salt and olive oil (tremendous).  Excellent bread, as it should be, but it was.

Talked about our families.  Many college faculty have "interesting" families, I think.  Raoul and I are no exceptions.

A great night.  Raoul took me to the airport, to get ready for my 11:50 pm redeye.  Thanks, Seattle, that was great.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

LeBron speak with forked video on macro

I've never seen anything like this before.  LeBron dishes on different macro-economic theories.

The thing is, the video is itself hyperlinked.  So, you can click WITHIN the video to go to any of the four embedded videos, and then return to the top.

Plus, the explanations are really good.  I just can't get over how much Tyler sounds like John F. Kennedy in inflection and accent, though.

Seattle Food Quick Hits

Several nice meals in Seattle.  A quick review of four of them.  This is pretty long, so I'll continue below the fold.  In the meantime, here is the YYM at Safeco.  Mariners have overcome their sadness at losing Ichiro by playing their best ball of the year.  Pretty fun, beautiful place.

Food reviews below...

Suppose 2001 Were a "Summer Blockbuster"

If 2001 were advertised now, as a "summer blockbuster," would you go see it?

Funny part is the comments.  They don't seem to get the fact that this is a MOCKERY of current ads, not a celebration of them.

With a nod to my guy John O.

Expressions entirely relevant for these trying times

"The trend is your friend till the bend at the end" (hat tip to Noah S.)

 "It's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the end"

 "Bulls make money, bears make money, hogs get slaughtered"

 "Both teams played hard my man" (Rasheeeeeeeeed!!)

 Give me more in the comments!!

Friday, August 03, 2012

le deluge

Wow.  This totally sucks.  Really, really sucks.

Three sigmas.  We don't like three sigmas.

I killed the party again

Here's a tremendous video for one of my favorite Jens Lekman songs, "Black Cab". Jen's is on tour this fall; I'll catch him either in DC or Dallas!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Wow!! Doug Hibbs basically calls the election for Mittens!

Here is the money quote:

"according  to  the  Bread  and  Peace  model  per  capita  real   income  growth  rates  must  average out  at  nearly  6  percent  after  2012:q2  for  Obama  to  have  a   decent  chance  of  re-­‐election."

You can get to the whole paper from here (and obviously a hat tip goes to Brendan).

Beyond this bombshell, the paper is well worth reading as Hibbs excoriates his competitors for using ad-hoc and ex-post dummy variables as well as endogenous approval ratings as explanatory variables in their vote-share equations.

The Koreas at the Olympics

In response to my Grantland Olympic piece with LeBron, a few people have asked why we didn't specifically discuss  the Koreas. Maybe I'm missing the question, but the basic economic model seems to explain them very well.

From the 2000 games to date (including what has happened in London), North Korea has won 20 total Summer Olympic medals, while South Korea has pocketed 101.

South Korea has almost twice the population of the North (48.5 million to 22.6 million) and a per-capita income that is more than 15 times greater ($31,700 to $1,800).

Of North Koreas 20 medals, 15 have come in weightlifting and judo. These are examples of the "easy-pickings" sports we discussed in the piece. South Korea is also strong in tae-kwon-do and archery.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Olympic fever

If you like NBC's tape-delayed coverage, you'll love this.

Here's me and LeBron's Olympics "preview" piece for Grantland.com.

Private education for the poor?

Mrs. Angus and I greatly enjoyed "The Beautiful Tree" by James Tooley and have become very interested in the potential making private education available for the poor especially in areas where the public school system has failed them.

So I was happy to see that the Oxfam Blog "From Poverty to Power", was hosting a debate on the merits of private schooling for the poor.

Arguing in favor is Justin Sandefur from the Center for Global Development.

Arguing against is Kevin Watkins from Brookings.

Public education is a real problem in many parts of many poor countries. While enrollment rates are rising, as called for by the Millennium Development Goals, achievement (i.e. actual learning) is often quite poor. Even Watkins concedes this point.

your aging rap star round up

1. Dr. Dre is in dutch with Jacque Rogge and the IOC for giving away free headphones to Olympic athletes without giving the IOC a taste.

2. Snoop Dogg is banned from Norway for two years! For possession of weed! Really! Unlike his ban from the UK, which he fought and got reversed, He will not be filing an appeal, "his lawyer said. "[Snoop] can live with the decision."" Actually Snoop got hassled in Norway last year for bringing in "too much money". I don't get it, if he can't bring money to buy weed and he can't bring weed, what the hell is he supposed to do?

3. Gore Vidal is dead.