Saturday, January 25, 2014


I got an email listing quite a few interesting emails for undergrads.  If you want more information, please feel free to call

Program Manager, Higher Education
Charles Koch Foundation
1515 N. Courthouse Road, Suite 200 
Arlington, VA, 22201, US 
PH: 202.215.7491 

Koch Internship Program - Charles Koch Institute - Application deadline 3/1/2014 (Washington, DC area)
Koch Summer Fellow Program - Charles Koch Institute - Application deadline 03/1/14 (Nationwide)
Summer Internship - Philanthropy Roundtable (Washington, DC)
Summer Internship - Heritage Foundation - Application deadline 2/1/2014 (Washington, DC)
Summer Internship - Cato Institute - Application deadline 03/01/14 (Washington, DC)
Summer Internship - American Council of Trustees and Alumni - Application deadline 03/30/14 (Washington, DC)
Summer Internship - Tax Foundation - Application deadline 04/01/14 (Washington, DC)
Summer Internship - Competitive Enterprise Institute - Application deadline 04/15/14 (Washington, DC)
Summer Internship - Center for Competitive Politics (Alexandria, VA)
Summer Internship - American Legislative Exchange Council (Washington, DC)
Summer Clerkship - Institute for Justice (Arlington, VA)
Web Development/Communications Intern - E21 (Washington, DC)
Strategic Research Internship - Institute for Justice (Arlington, VA)
Internship - The Center for Individual Freedom (Alexandria, VA)
Academic Programs Internship - Institute for Humane Studies (Arlington, VA)
Learn Liberty Internship - Institute for Humane Studies (Arlington, VA)
Development Internship - Institute for Humane Studies (Arlington, VA)
Internship - Bill of Rights Institute (Arlington, VA)
Outreach and Operations Intern - Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity (Alexandria, VA)

NPR does that thing that NPR does. Again.

 An NPR reporter makes all the usual mistakes in describing "price gouging" in taxi rides.  It's as if the case is prima facie:  "The price went up, someone is evil."  Not "I was able to get a taxi ride for a price less than infinity in a snowstorm; it's a miracle!"

I particularly like the "When a $65 cab ride costs $192."  Interesting that God decreed that taxi rides are $65.  Not true for corn, or hog bellies, or oil, whose prices change all the time.

In fact, the Feds actually commanded housing prices to rise, or there would be a market failure.  So it must be okay for some prices to rise compared the-price-yesterday-that-came-from-God.

Why would it be true that a service that sometimes costs one price should always cost that price?  And why pick the low price?  Why is it not, "In slack times, cab ride that really costs $192 is discounted to $65!"

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gimmie Shelter (in Place)

Such siren, much kevlar, so SWATTY, Wow!

On the heels of the Purdue shooting, we had a report of shots fired on the OU campus yesterday. Let me not bury the lede and say right up front that it was a false alarm.

But the campus was put on lockdown, or as we more gently say these days, we "sheltered in place".

We were in our conference room. Having a job seminar. We are right across the street from the alleged shooting site.

Did I mention that our conference room has a wall of windows?

The speaker was so dialed in and focussed that he didn't miss a beat (gave a fantastic talk).

This has happened at OU before. On the heels of the Blacksburg tragedy, we got reports of a person on campus with a rifle.

That time the rife turned out to be a yoga mat! (not making this up)

This time the shots fired most likely was just noise from the construction equipment operating right outside the buildings where the report came.

All ended well, even for us, as by the time the seminar was over, we had been cleared to leave our building and a group took our guest to lunch off campus with no incident.

People, recruiting is hard enough without SWAT teams dropping in during the campus visit!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Through the Looking Glass

I just received this email.  Really, I did.

Dear Duke Employee, 

We are graduate students in the Nicholas School of the Environment working on our masters' project. The project is focused on analyzing the bicycle manufacturing process and using the results of our analysis to drive change in the bicycling industry. As part of the project, we are also conducting a survey of the Duke community to gauge consumer demand for sustainably produced bicycles. You are receiving this email because your department was randomly selected. We would greatly appreciate your help with our project! Every individual who takes the survey will increase the success of our project and the impact on the cycling community. Please note that you may skip any question you do not wish to answer and we guarantee that your answers will be kept strictly confidential. Thank you very much for your time and assistance!, highly educated young people are spending time and money trying to save the environment by making BICYCLES more environmentally friendly.  Think of all the margins on which we might work to reduce our environmental impact (suppose you care about that.  You may not, but suppose for the sake of argument you do...)

How far down the list of "biggest problems" would you have to go to find "improve bicycle manufacturing process"?  You skip over coal-fired power plants, efficiency of aircraft engines, incentives for burning / clear-cutting forests in developing nations. 

 And get all upset about those nasty, polluting bicycles.  Amazingly, this is actually a thing.


Some interesting videos on "downsizing" specific parts of the federal government.  From my man Caleb Brown....





Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On being a REAL Libertarian

There's an old joke about Libertarians and their desire for purity.

Conservative guy is berating Libertarian:  "Why, if you had your way, there would be six-year-old kids working as prostitutes and shooting up heroin in public parks!"

Libertarian, instead of objecting that that's stupid, says, "Hey!  HEY!  What the $%^&*! do you MEAN, 'public' parks?"

I have a piece in the most recent print version of FREEMAN (the article).  The piece contains the following paragraph:

We are for a libertarian society, where a couple wakes up, in their own home, on land that they control, on property that they can defend with the help of their neighbors. This couple formed a bond, by mutual consent, without needing the license or endorsement of any outside agency. They send their children to schools that they have chosen, whose curriculum they endorse. When they go out to their car, they don’t take an I.D. It’s no one’s business who they are, or where they are, so long as they initiate no violence and break no laws. They work in jobs they have trained for, and they enjoy the full fruits of that labor. They contribute to charities or work for causes they believe, and are not forced at gunpoint to support causes they loathe. (emphasis added; you'll see why)

To be fair, several people have said they like this sentiment, and agree with it.

But. this morning (and I am absolutely NOT making this up), I got an outraged email that called me names and said, "Hey!  HEY!  What the $%^&*! do you MEAN, 'laws'?"

Sir, people like you are the reason that the Libertarian Party flounders when it tries to participate in politics.  If you don't concede that some sort of state--necessary or not--is going to be with us for the foreseeable future, why are you attending meetings of a political party whose avowed goal is to elect people to public office?  

Two Cheers for The Bernank

Bernanke's days are numbered and Janet Yellen is primed and ready to take over the Fed.

People, she has big shoes to fill.

Bernanke did exactly what he told Milton Friedman the Fed would do in the next crisis. He remembered the lessons from the Great Depression and made sure the Fed would not make the same mistakes.

Bernanke threw the kitchen sink at the problem in 2008 and it worked. The money supply did not fall, the banking system did not fail, we made it through.

And the extraordinary/unconventional policy actions of the Fed did not unleash the inflationary genies we were warned would follow.

As the recovery "progressed" in its halting and unsatisfactory manner, Bernanke undertook additional unconventional policy actions. Three round of quantitative easing. Time based forward guidance. Outcome based forward guidance. And while these policies produced no great stimulative effects for GDP or employment, neither did they create inflation.

The worst we can say is that maybe all the QE has helped to spark bubbles in asset markets here and abroad, but really is anyone unhappy that the Dow is over 16,000? I for one am not. And if we were seriously worried about the developing world, our immigration, trade and farm policies would be diametrically different than they currently are.

I know that it is hard to think of Bernanke as even mediocre, let alone exceptional, because of the massive strident criticism he's faced from an array of monetary cranks all convinced that they have the magic bullet to achieve prosperity and only Bernanke's stupidity or cowardice kept him from firing it.

If only he'd target nominal GDP! If only he'd raise the inflation target to 4%, If only he'd promise to keep inflation above its 2% target for years after the economy has fully recovered.

It is true ladies and gentlemen that if the Bernank had wheels, he'd be a bicycle. But he's not a bike, he's an economist and the Fed is not so powerful as to be able to fix our economy with a new nominal target or a new promise.

People take as given that monetary policy can hit any output target it wants to and use the failure of the economy to perform satisfactorily as prima facie evidence of Fed incompetence.

But it's just not true. It's a bureaucracy, not a bicycle! The illusion that the Fed can finely control the economy was borne from the "great moderation" a tiny blip on the time scale that managed to validate the Fed's awesome powers at the expense of all the rest of its history.

The Fed can avoid screw ups. It can prevent rampant inflation and it can stand as a supplier of liquidity and a lender of last resort in a crisis. But the notion that monetary policy can hit any desired output target in normal times or abnormal times is a foolish and dangerous notion, sadly often promulgated by macroeconomists in the Fed's employ.

So as you leave Great Bernank, I salute you for a job well done. Your biggest mistake was allowing your minions to over-promise what the Fed can actually do.

Monday, January 20, 2014

They run from your love!

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. everybody:

Monday's Child

1.  I did not realize that "4-20" was connected with smoking of the weed.  Some truths, and not truths, about what it "means."  But it's widely enough known among the REAL hipsters that people have been stealing the 420 mile sign in Colorado.  So they changed it to 419.99.  To me, THAT is a cooler sign, anyway.  I'd steal it.

2.  You should, on the other hand, talk to Bill Murray.  He may be the most interesting man in the world.

3.  O, Davidson!  Some of the earliest experiments in the Americas using X-Rays.   Long history of this sort of night-time thing at Davidson.  In my case, it was attaching the male parts of a bull (Yes, a butcher will sell you this) to the office door of an administrator in January 1979, about 2:00 am.  Very scientific.  Now, I'm sure there are security cameras.  I don't remember why the administrator had offended us, but I'm sure it was a very good reason.

4.  Pretty amusing, tho very NSFW.  A video/song, about PBR, from Scuzz Twittly.  Not sure that country stars wear a "budgie smuggler" like that tho.   If you want to see budgie smugglers in action, here is...I'm not sure what this is.

5.  This was interesting, because I was sure someone was going to get hurt.  But no one did.  And that truck is pretty strong.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tullock Mentioned in ASR? Wow.

By the extraordinary G. Rossman, the world's last sensible sociologist.

 His article "Close, But No Cigar: The Bimodal Rewards to Prize-Seeking," actually by Gabriel Rossman and Oliver Schilkea. A link if it lasts. Gated link if it doesn't. Wow!  In the ASR.  Much respect.  The word "Tullock" in the ASR?  The force is strong in this one...


This article examines the economic effects of prizes with implications for the diversity of market positions, especially in cultural fields. Many prizes have three notable features that together yield an emergent reward structure: (1) consumers treat prizes as judgment devices when making purchase decisions, (2) prizes introduce sharp discontinuities between winners and also-rans, and (3) appealing to prize juries requires costly sacrifices of mass audience appeal. When all three conditions obtain, winning a prize is valuable, but seeking it is costly, so trying and failing yields the worst outcome—a logic we characterize as a Tullock lottery. We test the model with analyses of Oscar nominations and Hollywood films from 1985 through 2009. We create an innovative measure of prize-seeking, or “Oscar appeal,” on the basis of similarity to recent nominees in terms of such things as genre, plot keywords, and release date. We then show that Oscar appeal has no effect on profitability. However, this zero-order relationship conceals that returns to strong Oscar appeals are bimodal, with super-normal returns for nominees and large losses for snubs. We then argue that the effect of judgment devices on fields depends on how they structure and refract information.  

Light Causes Heat

A study of interest to the LMM:

Incandescent Affect: Turning On The Hot Emotional System With Bright Light 

Alison Jing Xu & Aparna Labroo 
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming 

Abstract: We propose turning on the light can turn on the hot emotional system. Across six studies we show that ambient brightness makes people feel warmer, which increases intensity of affective response, including sensation seeking from spicy-hot foods, perception of aggression and sexiness (“hotness”) in others, and generating more extreme affective reactions toward positive and negative words and drinks. We suggest these effects arise because light underlies perception of heat, and perception of heat can trigger the hot emotional system. Thus, turning down the light, effortless and unassuming as it may seem, can reduce emotionality in everyday decisions, most of which take place under bright light.