Saturday, November 03, 2007

Necessity is the mother of invention!

Twins invent wedgie-proof underwear

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Wedgie-proof underwear earned 8-year-old twin boys a spot Friday on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." Using rigged boxers and fabric fasteners to hold together some seams, Jared and Justin Serovich came up with the "Rip Away 1000.""When the person tries to grab you — like the bully or the person tries to give you a wedgie — they just rip away," Justin explained Thursday by phone from Los Angeles, where the TV segment was taped Wednesday.

The third graders from Gables Elementary School began brainstorming one day after they were horsing around, giving each other the treatment. Their mother's partner sarcastically said someone ought to invent wedgie-proof underwear, the family said.

The project got the boys to the finals of a central Ohio invention competition earlier this year, followed by the television appearance.

Aid: yer doin' it wrong (special french edition)

African Orphans Weren’t, U.N. Says

Virtually all of the children a French aid group tried to fly out of Chad last week had been living with family members in villages and were not orphans of the Darfur conflict, as the group claimed, the United Nations said Thursday.

That finding was based on interviews conducted with some of the 103 children as the government and aid groups try to figure out where they came from and how to reunite them with their families. The plane carrying the children was stopped moments before it was scheduled to take off from Abéché, a small, dust-choked city that is the base of operations for dozens of aid groups working in eastern Chad.

“These were not orphans in the desert,” said Annette Rehrl, a spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency. “They were living with their families.”

A French aid organization, Zoé’s Ark, had claimed that the children were sick, hungry and abandoned, and had raised money from European families to rescue the children and place them temporarily in French homes. But checkups showed the children to be in good condition, Ms. Rehrl said.

“In the context of Chad these are healthy, well-fed children,” she said.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Life takes a turn for the better in Oklahomee!!

SuperSonics new owner Clay Bennett wants to move team to Oklahoma City. He's even filed him some papers, real official like with the NBA office to that effect. The Angii ponied for season tickets during the Hornets run here and will gladly do so again for the OKC Durants if and when they arrive. Godspeed Clay!!

Do not adjust your monitor

This is a BRAND NEW video from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Makes me remember listening to soul music on the little am radio hidden under my pillow in bed at night growing up in the suburbs of Detroit. Very cool. Listen for the Hammond B-3.

Now the market will REALLY tank!

The October jobs number has arrived and it's a good'un. 166,000 net new jobs, more than twice the consensus forecast number of 80,000. So Monday, growth comes in at 3.9% (and well above expectations) and another rate cut is tossed to the Wall St. beasties. Tuesday the market tanks.

Now this.

I don't think my pension funds can stand much more good news.

Morning sports roundup

1. Minor League Team offers A-Rod a contract. Haters point out that he's never won an International League title either!

2. Swiss Miss tests positive for blow at Wimby and then announces her retirement. so THAT's why she lost in straights to Laura Granville!

3. Pacman seeks time off for good behavior, after all, he hasn't been arrested or caught makin' it rain since getting suspended.

4. The Ricky Davis Era has officially begun in Miami. God help us all (Davis 19 shots, Shaq 6).

Thursday, November 01, 2007

But what have you done for us LATELY???

Dow drops more than 360 on fears interest rate cuts will end

So let me get this straight. One day after finding out that current growth is a robust 3.9% AND getting a second rate cut, the sky is now falling because the FOMC hinted that their might not be any MORE rate cuts? It's like dealing with a spoiled child!

"Wall Street is in love with the idea of a rate cut, and realized that the Fed said inflation is still a concern — that lowered the chances of a cut in December," said Ryan Detrick, a senior technical strategist with Schaeffer's Investment Research. "We're now feeling the pain now that investors have slept on it, and figured out what they said."


T2's Last Video

T2: I'm not sure why I like this.

Apologies if YOU don't. You are probably right.


Dude of a thousand meanings....

The New Nostradamus

I give you, without commentary....BDM.

If you listen to Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, and a lot of people don’t, he’ll claim that mathematics can tell you the future. In fact, the professor says that a computer model he built and has perfected over the last 25 years can predict the outcome of virtually any international conflict, provided the basic input is accurate. What’s more, his predictions are alarmingly specific. His fans include at least one current presidential hopeful, a gaggle of Fortune 500 companies, the CIA, and the Department of Defense. Naturally, there is also no shortage of people less fond of his work. “Some people think Bruce is the most brilliant foreign policy analyst there is,” says one colleague. “Others think he’s a quack.”

Ahoy Mateys!

Judging from the attire of the horde of rugrats that extorted treats from me last night, Pirates are super popular these days, but no more so than in Somalia! Earlier Mungowitz posted about how some markets are working in Somalia despite its lack of a functioning government so here's an example from statist Angus about one "market" that isn't.

U.S. Navy helps ship battle pirates off Somalia

What an awesome headline!! Here is the full story.

Selected quotes: A U.S. Navy spokeswoman said piracy was a scourge in Somalia's waters, and American ships were available to intercede.

An international watchdog reported this month that pirate attacks worldwide jumped 14% in the first nine months of 2007, with the biggest increases in the poorly policed waters of Somalia and Nigeria. Reported attacks in Somali waters rose to 26, up from eight a year earlier, the London-based International Maritime Bureau said through its piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Interestingly this rise in piracy corresponds with the ouster of a form of private government and its replacement with, well, nothing!

Somalia has had 16 years of violence and anarchy, and is now led by a government battling to establish authority even in the capital. Its coasts are virtually unpoliced.

Piracy off Somalia increased this year after Ethiopian forces backing Somali government troops ousted an Islamic militia in December, said Mwangura.

During the six months that the Council of Islamic Courts ruled most of southern Somalia, where Somali pirates are based, piracy abated, Mwangura said.

At one point, the Islamic group said it was sending scores of fighters to crack down on pirates there. Islamic fighters even stormed a hijacked, UAE-registered ship and recaptured it after a gunbattle in which pirates — but no crewmembers — were reportedly wounded.

If there was such a thing, how would you like to work for a Somali travel agency? Here's a possible advertising pitch: Visit Somalia: maybe an Islamic Militia will protect you!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Politician is EXACTLY the Sum of Her Parts

Something to do.

But...."a mathematical equation"?

(Nod to Arwen)

Surely You Joust?

A man was actually killed, jousting.

It IS dangerous, one can see that. Just an impossible chance
to be killed, though. The coin lands on its edge, sometimes.

(Nod to Nokes, who adds the following comment:
You know, I hestitated to say this in the original post, fearing that it might seem flippant, but I mean this with all due respect in light of the fact that a relatively young man died suddenly:

Since man is mortal, and we are all going to die anyway, this is a relatively cool way to go. There ought to be a reverse-Darwin award honoring people who die doing something especially cool or especially heroic. I'm not sure this qualifies as heroic, but it does qualify as cool.
And, of course, he is right.)

Stupid Baseball Beliefs

Baseball is done, now we can have fun!

But first, here's some baseball wisdom to ponder during the offseason:

1. A high payroll is negatively correlated with on field success
2. A batted ball picks up speed when it bounces on astroturf (4th paragraph in the link)
3. Real men don't rub it when they get hit by a pitch
4. David Eckstein is a good baseball player

The Fed will Lead us to Ruin I say!!!

So, now that he's not in charge, the maestro sez that without a gold standard or currency board, "all of history" tells us that we will have rampant inflation.

Can this fool sink any lower?? (I mean yes, he might be right, but where where these libertarian views when he was the head of the organization he's now throwing under the bus???).

note: final sentence amended.

The Game's Afoot

The initial third quarter GDP number is in this morning at a smoking 3.9%, well above the consensus forecast of 3.2%, driven in part by a very large increase in exports (16% on an annualized basis), the biggest increase since the beginning of 2003 (underestimating export growth seems to have caused forecasters to underestimate GDP growth for over a year now).

Later today of course, the FOMC will announce whether they will feed or starve the beast of "the markets" with another rate cut. Last time the Fed made a bold half point cut in the face of the alarming (and ultimately incorrect) news of a negative jobs number. When the jobs figure was revised upward KPC wondered if the Fed had panderer's regret.

This time it will be interesting to see if the Fed will cut again in the face of such a strong current growth number. Ironic symmetry would require them not to cut only to see this number then revised substantially downward!

Japan Roundup

1. Measurement: Yr doin' it wrong: In an interesting new NBER working paper (ungated version here) Broda & Weinstein argue that Japan is systematically undermeasuring its deflation rate and thus also its rate of consumption growth.

2. Those who don't like history can always try to re-write it: The Japanese government thinks textbooks are too hard on Japan vis a vis World War II. Specifically the Government is ordering textbook producers to eliminate, among other things, the accounts of forced civilian suicides that the books currently contain.

3. Brother can you spare a riceball? If you are a hobo thinking of relocating internationally, I'd think twice about choosing Japan.

4. Japanese love Hummers!! um, to be more specific, they love the original H1 Hummer from General Motors.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Good Nokes, a Bad Nokes, and Anglo-Saxon Prose

The Good Nokes admires Chertoff, in a limited way.

Orwell's essay.

("Good Nokes" might imply a "Bad Nokes," of course. But all I could find is a Nokes who was once, by his own admission, bad, but who is now good.)

Haas School: Leading Through Grabbing Its Ankles

Actual email, sent out at Haas B-school, Berkeley, today:

Dear Haas Community,
I want to alert you to a potential protest/rally today at 11:30am.
If marchers enter the building, let them. Try to carry on business as usual. If the noise becomes too great, or the crowd too large, feel free to close and lock your office doors - this is a departmental decision.
As always, feel free to contact the UC Police department at 642-6760.
Kind Regards,
Gerardo Campos
Facilities Coordinator
Haas School of Business
University of California at Berkeley
545 Student Services Building, MC 1900
Ph.: 510-642-4617 Fax: 510-642-4700
Cell: 510-847-4707

The Haas School of Business: Leading Through Innovation

(nod to KL, who NEVER locks his doors)

UPDATE: The protest described....

What's the Buzz?

When I saw the headline: "Low Buzz May Give Mice Better Bones and Less Fat", I thought, why those lucky labrats, smoking the chronic and getting in shape at the same time. However, it turns out that the buzz in question is an electrical buzz.

It's still an interesting story, mice stand on plates that produce a low frequency buzz for 15 minutes a day and they end up with 27% less body fat and greater bone density than their non-buzzed control group brethren. Of course the results are preliminary and all that.

Interestingly, the NIH now plans a human trial using elderly people in assisted living centers. Who says we don't respect our elders in the USA??

On IQ, Fables, and the Onion

Article in the WaPo that could have been from the Onion.

cartoon: tablet-carrying Moses looking incredulously toward the heavens.

"Now, let me get this straight," the bearded figure says. "The Arabs get the oil, and we have to cut off the ends of our what?"

I like articles that could have been from the Onion.

(nod to SdM)

A Priest, A Rabbi and A Putin walk into a bar.........

Separated at Birth: TRIPLETS!!!!

Check these. And, match them up!

Peter Feaver, Duke Prof. and Recent NSC Staff
Peter Fenn, Gore advisor and pundit
Fred Barnes, Editor of Weekly Standard

(Belated, and red-face, nod to JR!)

They Stab it with their steely knives but they just can't Starve the Beast!

Romer and Romer in a new NBER working paper (ungated link here) ask: Do Tax Cuts Starve the Beast?

Short answer from the paper: NO

Their slightly longer abstract:

The hypothesis that decreases in taxes reduce future government spending is often cited as a reason for cutting taxes. However, because taxes change for many reasons, examinations of the relationship between overall measures of taxation and subsequent spending are plagued by problems of reverse causation and omitted variable bias. To deal with these problems, this paper examines the behavior of government expenditures following legislated tax changes that narrative sources suggest are largely uncorrelated with other factors affecting spending. The results provide no support for the hypothesis that tax cuts restrain government spending; indeed, they suggest that tax cuts may actually increase spending. The results also indicate that the main effect of tax cuts on the government budget is to induce subsequent legislated tax increases. Examination of four episodes of major tax cuts reinforces these conclusions.

I like the bit that goes "the main effect of tax cuts is future tax increases".

Richard Dawkins Goes Into The "No Win Zone"

From Economic Investigations, the YT link.

Bust Roundup

Pretty interesting stuff lately:

1. La Kirchner: the woman with an economic bust in her future.

2. La Edwards: a bust in Iowa. I have been thinking Edwards would get the proverbial "better than expected" in Iowa, since he has pretty much lived there for three years. And he was doing well.

3. MP3 player in your bust. Leading to the question: "Which one of these is the volume control?"

Monday, October 29, 2007

Separated at Birth!

Mark Perry of Carpe Diem and Steve Kroft of 60 minutes. I've known Mark for over 15 years and I'm not sure which is which!!!

Charlie: Dick Armey is trying to ruin our Love!

Specifically, he says you don't really love me at all. In todays WSJ he calls your plan "the mother of all tax hikes" and says it will raise taxes for "individuals earning above $150,000 and couples earning over $200,000".

Could the love note Greg passed me have been a fake? Do you just want my money?

Amazingly though, Armey is touting a tax plan that almost certainly will raise my taxes:

All taxpayers would have a standard individual deduction of $12,500, and individuals earning below $100,000 would pay a flat 10% of income, while individuals earning above that would pay 25%. Calculating taxes would take less time than brewing a pot of coffee.

Dick, I'm pretty sure I do better than that with the current system, so stop trying to come between me and my Charlie!

Lo, the Noble Savage!

From The Right Coast, a reminder that only civilized nations are...well....civilized.

(Nod to MH)

Down in Front, and a Separated at Birth

Quite a video.

(Nod to Ed C)

Anyway, seeing the stars on the video made me realize that we have missed an important "separated at birth":

John Ritter.........................................John Edwards

(NOTE: This thought, like most of my thoughts, is quite unoriginal)

If you asked Hillary and Obama, the problem in Iowa is that "Three's Company," (careful: .wav download!) and Edwards needs to drop out. "Come and knock on MYYYY door..."

Charlie for President!

Hey, Charlie Rangel loves me and he loves most other economics professors too. Via Greg Mankiw (who is probably a bit too wealthy to feel the Charlie love) comes word that in Rangel's new tax plan: those making between $75,000 and $500,000, would receive much more substantial tax cuts. Those in the $200,000 to $500,000 range, who are in the 96 to 99 percentile of the income distribution, would get a tax cut of about $3,600 per year.

This is according to work done by the Tax Policy Institute. Who pays? The top 1 percent, those making over $500,000, would pay substantially more in taxes. Those making more than $1 million would see their tax bill rise by an average of more than $100,000.

Having already been hit by the AMT the last two years, I am strangely A-OK with this!!!

Don't get me wrong, I'm on record saying that 10% of GDP is a nice number for funding all governmental activity in the US. But since a tax change/increase is surely going to come in 09, Mr. Rangel has done me the supreme favor of taxing the fella behind the tree (er, sorry Greg)!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Ed Cone's article

Nice article by Ed Cone on News and Record today. (And, as you likely know, he is also a prominent blogger in Greensboro. Or, maybe ABOUT Greensboro).

My reaction, on my campaign blog.

Sunday Sports Links

1. As if the NBA didn't have enough trouble, Sheedy decides to compare it (unfavorably) to pro wrestling on the eve of the regular season.

2. Tennis Matches Fixed and no one cares. Putin look alike Nikolay Davydenko already under suspicion of match fixing get fined for "a lack of effort" on the court.

3. The results are in and.... Charlie Weiss is the worst coach in the history of the universe.

Lets be more specific, shall we?

Last week, uberblogger Tyler linked to an article about how not to bore people in conversation. The advice includes not talking about dreams, meals you've eaten, and your children's sleep habits. However, this advice is not Economist Specific and thus dangerous for many readers of Tyler's blog. In an attempt to remedy this omission KPC presents Rules for Economists on how not to bore people in conversation.

1. Do not speak at all. Really. NO, Really! Remember, we, after all, are the people with insufficient personality to be actuaries. Just hang loose, rockin' your Harris tweed with elbow patches and pleated Dockers pants and let the good times roll.

2. If you do feel you must break rule 1, for God's sake do not talk about economics! Really, NO, Really! Some one will either start quizzing you about the stock market and then mock all your random walk down Wall St. patter, or some one will loudly proclaim that they took an econ class in college and it was the worst thing that ever happened to them while everyone else nods sympathetically and glares at you, or someone will mock all your invisible hand junk and bust out about the Illuminati or the Free Masons while everyone else nods sympathetically and glares at you.

3. However, if you ever find yourself exclusively in the company of other people with Harris Tweeds and dockers, rules 1 and 2 do not apply. You are at home, young Skywalker, spread your wings, speak your mind, especially if the others also have large plastic name tags clipped to their lapels.