Saturday, February 22, 2014


Chivalry?  Common sense?  Sexism?  You decide.

I generally do #1, #3, and #8, and try to do #5 and #6 regularly.  

The third one (open the door) just makes sense; the LMM often actually waits for a beat at the door, on the assumption that I will open it.  We're a team, here, and I need something to make me feel like I'm on the team!  And some doors are very heavy.  MM=2.4*LMM. 

The second (pull out her chair) is probably a good idea; I should try it.

The reason many men do NOT do these things may be this.

Ladies:  do you want men to want to do more of these things?  Or is it insulting?

Friday, February 21, 2014

All My Friends are Dead!

If you only watch ONE video tonight, then this will be the best video you watch tonight.  And the most realistically skanky trailer park lasses you are likely ever to see.  Not surprisingly, robustly and exuberantly NSFW.  Any video that contains the line, "My wife hasn't had to wear tampons, for at least 40 years" is not for the faint of heart.  Unless they have pacemakers.

Senior Citizens!

From Jackie Blue, who actually knows these folks.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mother Superior Jumped the Gun (the case against the case against VARs)

Man, Arnold Kling is so cranky! While it's sometimes on point, and often entertaining, it's also sometimes just plain wrong.

Case is point is his recent anti-VAR rant.

Here's a snippet but do read the whole thing:

"The VAR crowd cheerfully ignores all the details in macro data. The economist with a computer program that will churn out VARs is like a 25-year-old with a new immersion blender. He does not want to spend time cooking carefully-selected ingredients. He just wants to throw whatever is in the pantry into the blender to make a smoothie or soup. (Note that I am being unfair to people with immersion blenders. I am not being unfair to people who use VARs.)"

It did take macro folks quite a while to come to the following realization, but pretty much everyone is on the same page now and agrees that,

In order to do policy analysis with a VAR you have to solve the same identification problem that a old fashioned structural model has to solve. It's not a free lunch.

Further more, pretty much everyone agrees (except for a few special cases) that 

achieving identification by making the system recursive is not a very smart strategy.

So "the VAR crowd" is working on improved identification strategies (long run restrictions, sign restrictions, identification via covariances) and has made a lot of progress. Look, identification issues are not unique to VARs. They plague virtually all non-experimental studies.

Another area that, contra Kling, the crowd has made huge progress on is structural change.

VARS with common factors whose loading are time variant. VARs with regime switching both in the means and in the conditional variances. VARs with time-varying coefficients.

One area where VARs have gone var beyond old fashioned structural models is modeling time varying conditional variances (and covariances) using either GARCH or stochastic volatility.

A lot of this work is being done using Bayesian computational tools, but it's very mainstream. Primiceri's 2005 RESTUD piece is a good place to start.

New Jersey has a "Jones" for Salt, But Can't Act

The U.S. has a  law that protects... no one, actually.

The Jones Act.

It may help some unions a little bit, but not really.  The main point seems to be to protect U.S. pride in a shipping industry it doesn't (and shouldn't) have.  This fellow...he's not good.  This fellow, not surprisingly, is more sensible.

I can't blame DHS, tho.  They have to enforce the law as it's written.  There is no "common sense" ground for a waiver.  So this, I think, is mistaken.  For once, the administration is actually enforcing the law.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Computer Science

In insight into the thinking of the NPR crowd.  A story about how public schools are failing to provide any education at all in computer science.  

Because they are forced to pay equal salaries to all teachers, and the products our education "schools" can't use a calculator, much less a computer.  But then the NPR conclusion?  It's a problem of "inequality."  No, it's the consequence of the fact that anyone who possibly can is pulling their kid out of the dysfunctional public school system, and trying to save them. 

Spending more on public schools will not help; as the story notes, the people who run public schools think that having a computer available means students know how to code.

That's about like saying that having a car in my garage makes me a mechanic.  No.  It doesn't.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday's Child

1.  Insane person forces way into home, rambles, makes up stuff, tries to steal time.  It happened here, to a poor fellow.  Happened to me, too, in 2000.  The "excited delirium" guy's name was George W. Bush, in my case.

2.  We outsource to China and India.  Russia outsources to Coca-Cola.

3.  If a dog has two noses, can he sniff twice as many hineys?


Sunday, February 16, 2014

What is academia good for?

Letting or cajoling academics to make their work "relevant to the real world" is a common theme in popular culture, epitomized by Nick Kristoff's Op-Ed in today's NY Times.

There is conversation all over the Twitters about it. For example,

Delicate balance. Don't want to ruin what makes academia special. Do want to enable people to make maximum contribution to world.

But people, I am here to tell you that the last thing you really want is academics out in the real world. Academia is a socially efficient institution that has evolved to effectively keep highly intelligent but basically useless people out of the the real world labor force. Believe me, putting them back in would lower, not raise, national wealth.
Just like the real purpose of social security is to nudge unproductive older people out of the labor force and thus raise average productivity, the real purpose of the academy is to keep academics out of the real world labor force. It's really win-win.

Can you imagine if Noah Smith worked in an office? Everyone would be learning Japanese, laughing, speaking in Doge, and not getting anything done. But compared to everyday pedestrian slackers, Noah could and would spin their antics into raises not pink slips.

Could you imagine the level of workplace violence Bryan Caplan's opinions might inspire if he worked on an assembly line?

Can you even begin to picture the amount of labor unrest that Pete Boettke and Steve Horowitz would stir up if they worked in a factory?

Think about the gross insubordination, crude jokes, and overall humiliation me and Mungowitz would dish out to the bosses so unlucky as to have employed us. We would bring any company to its knees in a couple of quarters, without really even trying.

And economists are among the most likely academics to be able to pass a real world Turing test!

People, the best thing you can do is keep having kids and keep sending them to University. We need a safe place to warehouse people like me.