Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Bishop on Waterskis

The Bishop is skiing on Lake Powell, in all its (and his) majestic splendor.

When Literary "Theory" is Used for Science

Sovereignty and the UFO

Alexander Wendt & Raymond Duvall
Political Theory, August 2008, Pages 607-633

Modern sovereignty is anthropocentric, constituted and organized by reference to human beings alone. Although a metaphysical assumption, anthropocentrism is of immense practical import, enabling modern states to command loyalty and resources from their subjects in pursuit of political projects. It has limits, however, which are brought clearly into view by the authoritative taboo on taking UFOs seriously. UFOs have never been systematically investigated by science or the state, because it is assumed to be known that none are extraterrestrial. Yet in fact this is not known, which makes the UFO taboo puzzling given the ET possibility. Drawing on the work of Giorgio Agamben, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida, the puzzle is explained by the functional imperatives of anthropocentric sovereignty, which cannot decide a UFO exception to anthropocentrism while preserving the ability to make such a decision. The UFO can be "known" only by not asking what it is.

Yeah. And "tenure" in political science can only be obtained by not asking anything about the actual world. "Drawing on the work..." of three literary theorists who think that the idea of planes flying is socially constructed? And this is supposed to tell us something about science.

Jesus on a stick. Gimme a break.

(nod to KL)

(UPDATE: This was edited to remove a crude ad hominem. I earlier said that Agamben, Foucault, and Derrida were "human dildoes." But, in fact, I only consider Derrida to be a human dildo. A vibrating one. I do apologize to the other two gentlemen, who were only muddled-headed, not full-fledged sex toys like Derrida.)

Is "Costly Signal" Such an Obscure Concept?

I'm finishing an article for the Chronicle of Higher Education, on recruiting upper level administrators at universities. (It should be out August 18, and I'll post it).

One of the editors had questions about a section where I touted "costly signals" as being a useful way to commit. The context was trying to get folks to come to campus for a final visit. I proposed that the Provost, not the headhuntrix employed by the Provost, make the call. Because "costly signals make the world go round."

And....I got the question: What in the world are "costly signals"?

Is it that obscure a concept?

Male peacock tails: wastes energy, makes the birds vulnerable to predators. But, chicks dig it. Because only a healthy male peacock can maintain that huge tail and not get caught by a fox.

Psychologists use "costly signal" theory to explain human social customs. Say a couple has been dating for a while, have not been intimate. Valentine's day rolls around.

If the guy buys the woman nothing, she is upset. "He doesn't love me." They don't go upstairs and get busy.

If the guy buys her chocolates, a card, and flowers, "He DOES love me!" Getting busy is a real possibility, either upstairs or they may end up staying downstairs and using the couch.

Here's the point, though: Suppose the guy had given the woman MONEY, cash equal in
value to the chocolates and flowers. That would be a crude insult, treating her like a prostitute.

She would throw the cash in his face, and tells him to get out, and take his stupid "764-Hero" CDs with him. (She hates emo, but didn't want to tell him).

You have to WASTE the money for it to have value as a signal. Card

All a pure waste, in terms of practical value. But NOT irrational, because they are costly signals of commitment.

"Costly signal" theory is very common in zoology and biology/evolutionary theory.
Grazing on the savannah, a gazelle spots a leopard moving through the tall grass fifty meters away.

What does the gazelle do? It jumps STRAIGHT UP, two meters high!
That wasteful release of energy shows the big cat, "I'm not easy to catch!" and the cat looks somewhere else for prety. (Yes, gazelles really do this, as you likely know).

You see this in birds a LOT: Mother bird comes back with a juicy worm. ALL the babies in the nest go nuts, wasting energy. Mama gives worm to most vigorous squawker. Baby bird is wasting energy, but signalling fitness, gets the worm. Weak baby starves, but might not have survived anyway.

The Great Wall of China was a costly signal. Barbarians riding along on horseback,
suddenly see a wall stretching out of sight in both directions. Wow! A kingdom that wealthy must be able to maintain a huge army. Lets go somewhere else.

The basic result is that only signals that cost resources, that WASTE resources convey information.

Signals that don't waste money are called "cheap talk," like "No, honey, I'll respect you in the morning. Seriously, I will."

Is this really not a widely known concept?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Say yes! to M!ch!gan!

Before I got myself in a pickle in Medina OH, we had some fun in MI on the shores of Lake Michigan by the Nordhouse Dunes.

We also climbed Sleeping Bear. It seemed a lot bigger when I was a kid!

Funky Cold Medina

I am back from a doubleheader family visit (mine in Michigan and a bunch of Mrs. Angus' in Ohio). Our last stop was Medina Ohio where I never tired of asking "Where's Tone Loc?" However, in a case of karmic justice, a very very bad thing happened to me there. Mrs. Angus asked her 88 year old grandfather (who downloads and listens to Econtalk podcasts by the way) what kind of movies he liked. "Musicals" he said. After I ran out of breath singing a few bars of "Surrey with the fringe on top" at the top of my lungs, I found myself in a local multiplex with the two of them watching (though I mostly had my eyes closed) Mamma Mia!

Holy Crap people. It will be months before I will have any testosterone back flowing through my body. The singing is bad. The dancing worse. The acting still worse. The camera work worser still. I am serious. Here you can check an actual professional review by the best movie reviewer in the world if you don't believe me.

If you told me this was a vanity project by Meryl Streep who had personally paid all the production and distribution costs and then was committed to an asylum immediately after its filming, I would easily believe you. That and she had some kind of photos of Pierce Brosnan with several goats that she used to convince him to humiliate himself the way he did in this film.

Friendship and Complex Interdependencies in Markets

Friendship and commercial societies

Neera Badhwar
Politics, Philosophy & Economics, August 2008, Pages 301-326

Critics of commercial societies complain that the free-market system of property rights and freedom of contract tends to commodify relationships, thus eroding the bonds of personal and civic friendship. I argue that this thesis rests on a misunderstanding of both markets and friendship. As voluntary, reciprocal relationships, market relationships and friendship share important properties. Like all relations and activities that exercise important human capacities and play an important role in a meaningful life, market relations and activities are essentially structured and supported by ethical norms and, in turn, support these norms. The so-called norms of the market, such as instrumentality and fungibility, come in varying degrees and characterize not only market, but also nonmarket, relationships, including friendship. Furthermore, although market relationships are primarily instrumental, the individuals involved are not. The virtues of markets have their counterparts in friendship, as do their vices. For these and other reasons, market societies are not only not inimical to friendship, they create a more secure matrix for civic and personal friendship, as well as for other important values such as art, science, or philosophy, than any other developed form of society.

It does make one think of Adam Smith's discussion (WN, I, 1, 11) of the complexity of cooperation and dependency in market societies:

Observe the accommodation of the most common artificer or day-labourer in a civilized and thriving country, and you will perceive that the number of people of whose industry a part, though but a small part, has been employed in procuring him this accommodation, exceeds all computation. The woollen coat, for example, which covers the day-labourer, as coarse and rough as it may appear, is the produce of the joint labour of a great multitude of workmen. The shepherd, the sorter of the wool, the wool-comber or carder, the dyer, the scribbler, the spinner, the weaver, the fuller, the dresser, with many others, must all join their different arts in order to complete even this homely production. How many merchants and carriers, besides, must have been employed in transporting the materials from some of those workmen to others who often live in a very distant part of the country! how much commerce and navigation in particular, how many ship-builders, sailors, sail-makers, rope-makers, must have been employed in order to bring together the different drugs made use of by the dyer, which often come from the remotest corners of the world! What a variety of labour too is necessary in order to produce the tools of the meanest of those workmen! To say nothing of such complicated machines as the ship of the sailor, the mill of the fuller, or even the loom of the weaver, let us consider only what a variety of labour is requisite in order to form that very simple machine, the shears with which the shepherd clips the wool. The miner, the builder of the furnace for smelting the ore, the feller of the timber, the burner of the charcoal to be made use of in the smelting-house, the brick-maker, the brick-layer, the workmen who attend the furnace, the mill-wright, the forger, the smith, must all of them join their different arts in order to produce them.

(Nod to KL)

Monday, July 28, 2008

LOL Cats

(Nod to Bureaucrash)

Edenton Tea Party, and Friends in Edenton

A video with good friends John and Robin Sams (actually, this is about Robin, a wonderful artist and art gallery operator on Broad Street in Edenton).

Thanks to John Sams for organizing my visit to Edenton. A great time.

I did NOT know this....

A note from an old friend of KPC, appropriately redacted, but with a good question. I did not know of this provision, and it is an interesting question......

"I get out of the army after [many] years of [type of duty] on [date in 2010]. My plan was to fight to get into grad school at [some good places in the East, not on the coast].

My incentives have changed because of the new GI bill. The old GI bill paid a set amount of money per month for 3 years, regardless of where you went to school. The new GI bill pays your school tuition at any public school plus a set amount of money based on army allowances for housing. The highest allowances for housing are in San Francisco and Hawaii. I like sandy beaches and money so its time to apply to the University of Hawaii's economics masters program.

I wonder if colleges in high housing allowance areas will see an increase in applications from soldiers using GI benefits. How about colleges in really nice places that would normally be costly to attend? Interesting set of new incentives guys getting out now face."

And there are lots of those "guys," too. An interesting question. Thanks for writing.

Help the President with Law Enforcement!

I have an old metal sign, framed and hung on my office wall.

It says: Help the President with Law Enforcement! Repeal the 18th Amendment....for Prosperity!

Lots of stuff is illegal just because it happens to be against the law. Or to paraphrase the old gun slogan: If everything is criminalized, then all citizens will be criminals.

Interesting conference at Heritage; MP3 here.

Thanks to William G. Atwell, Prison Fellowship Ministries, for sending it along.

But...I have to ask: Ed Meese? Ed MEESE? I accept that big Ed has it right on the federalism (return police power to the states) issue. But yikes.

By itself the pure "return power to the states" perspective is only a half measure, or quarter measure. Here is my view.....

The ideal is self-ownership, and self-responsibility. I drink too much, I have an accident, I owe very large restitution, and since I committed violence, I go to jail. I have violated, egregiously, my promise not to initiate violence against others.

In most matters, I would like for the "policy" choices (say, do we smoke marijuana?) to be "local." Meaning, I decide for me, and you decide for you. My mind decides for my body. That's local control.

Once politics gets into it, then I start deciding for you, and you start deciding for me. Not good, but less is better. Better if these choices are local, made at the small town level than at the county level. Better at the county level than the state level. And better at the state level than the federal level. And better at the federal level than at the North American Union level. (EEK!)

So, sure, moving from the fed level down to the states is a small improvement (although the states abused that right in Jim Crow, and resisted basic human rights for blacks for decades).

But the real problems is criminalizing everything. It's not FEDERAL criminalizing everything, it's making crimes of consensual behavior at ANY level. Moving from fed to state control simply makes it easier to get some states to do the right thing, the opposite of Madison's argument in Federalist #10.

I don't see that it matters that much if you are in fed prison, or a city jail. In both cases, you might as well free your mind, 'cause your ass ain't goin' nowhere.*

Help the President, the Governor, the Mayor, and the traffic cop with law enforcement. Get rid of a bunch of laws.

(*Plagiarized from John Stewart)

If you think the currency shortage is bad, wait two weeks

That's a quote of a quote from this article by David Theroux.

There's no bottom to the abyss of political destruction in Zimbabwe.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

And, now: A word from Mike Munger

A doppelganger Mike Munger. United Steel Workers Mike Munger. USW Local 1660 President Mike Munger

Same belly, you'll notice. And "sense" of style.

Lolcats from Bureaucrash!

Most excellent LOLcats, from the good folks at Bureaucrash.

(Nod to the incomparable Orvetti, who knows stuff)

Never Look Down The Barrell of a Loaded Spudgun

The U.P. suggests this use for those Munger 'taters: Spudgun, from Spudtech.

Wait! You can't really buy one.....Interesting.

There Are So Many Things to Do With A Potato....

Potato, potato, who's got the hot potato?

Perhaps some lucky youngster competing in all sorts of potato games today at the Munger Potato Festival taking place on the grounds of Merritt Township Hall.

Today is Kids Day, and festival chairman Don Smrecak of Munger says there are all sorts of games centering around potatoes and kids beginning at 10:30 a.m. with a tractor pedal pull.

Modeled after the big kids' tractor pull, children ages 4-14 will pedal tractors pulling a dray, which is a weight. Those pulling it the farthest will win prizes. Actually, anyone showing up will win a prize.

Children can also compete in potato sack races, Mr. Potato Head decorating contest, potato face painting and a potato toss.

"There are so many things to do with a potato," Smrecak said. "

A new Lake Wobegon style sign-off: Munger, Michigan. Where even the ugly potatoes are hot, and all the children can pull a dray really far.

Two Views on Credit

First, my friend and co-candidate (LIB, SENATE from NC) Chris Cole:

Second, my friend and co-pissed off economist, Dr. Robert Higgs.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Caricature: The Reason Men Need Wives

So, I was very pleased that the News and Observer in Raleigh
took the final full step to include me as a candidate: A caricature
of the "Under the Dome" form.

Here it is:

My wife, looking over my shoulder: "That's awful. Looks just like you, though!"

She is dedicated to keeping me real. And I am much the realer for it.

Oh, by the way, an actual USE of the caricature, announcing that...yes....I've been invited to the final state-wide debate. October 15. Get your popcorn for that evening.

I have to sound a word of caution, though. I am not convinced that Bev Perdue will show for that debate, now that I am invited. Too many imponderables, and hard to control. So, stay tuned: I'm predicting a "schedule conflict."

W is Batman.....Is Cheney the Joker?

W is Batman?

I think this gentleman is batsh*t. But here at KPC, we report, you deride.

What do YOU think?

There seems to me no question that the Batman film "The Dark Knight,"
currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a
paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by
George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified
and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand.
Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal
with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when
the emergency is past.

And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a
free society -- in which people sometimes make the wrong choices -- and a
criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its
moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

(Nod to KL)

King BIll The Priapic, and the Golden Child of Shy-Town

From G-man in Los Angeles (who knows from priapic!), I got this link....

And the Child spake and the tribes of Nato immediately loosed the Caveats that had previously bound them. And in the great battle that ensued the forces of the light were triumphant. For as long as the Child stood with his arms raised aloft, the enemy suffered great blows and the threat of terror was no more.

From there he went forth to Mesopotamia where he was received by the great ruler al-Maliki, and al-Maliki spake unto him and blessed his Sixteen Month Troop Withdrawal Plan even as the imperial warrior Petraeus tried to destroy it.

And lo, in Mesopotamia, a miracle occurred. Even though the Great Surge of Armour that the evil Bush had ordered had been a terrible mistake, a waste of vital military resources and doomed to end in disaster, the Child's very presence suddenly brought forth a great victory for the forces of the light.

And the Persians, who saw all this and were greatly fearful, longed to speak with the Child and saw that the Child was the bringer of peace. At the mention of his name they quickly laid aside their intrigues and beat their uranium swords into civil nuclear energy ploughshares.

From there the Child went up to the city of Jerusalem, and entered through the gate seated on an ass. The crowds of network anchors who had followed him from afar cheered “Hosanna” and waved great palm fronds and strewed them at his feet.

In Jerusalem and in surrounding Palestine, the Child spake to the Hebrews and the Arabs, as the Scripture had foretold. And in an instant, the lion lay down with the lamb, and the Israelites and Ishmaelites ended their long enmity and lived for ever after in peace.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Voters: I forget....

Sam Popkin, my man.

Sam is entertaining:

"If I say to you, 'What did the guy you didn't marry say to you in bed?' " and you can't remember, "does that mean you didn't enjoy it?" Popkin says.


(Nod to Corn in the Cemetery Boy)

Tight Genes

Individual Differences in Executive Functions Are Almost Entirely Genetic in

Naomi Friedman, Akira Miyake, Susan Young, John DeFries, Robin Corley & John
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, May 2008, Pages 201-225

Recent psychological and neuropsychological research suggests that executive functions-the cognitive control processes that regulate thought and action-are multifaceted and that different types of executive functions are correlated but separable. The present multivariate twin study of 3 executive functions (inhibiting dominant responses, updating working memory representations, and shifting between task sets), measured as latent variables, examined why people vary in these executive control abilities and why these abilities are correlated but separable from a behavioral genetic perspective. Results indicated that executive functions are correlated because they are influenced by a highly heritable (99%) common factor that goes beyond general intelligence or perceptual speed, and they are separable because of additional genetic influences unique to particular executive functions. This combination of general and specific genetic influences places executive functions among the most heritable psychological traits. These results highlight the potential of genetic approaches for uncovering the biological underpinnings of executive functions and suggest a need for examining multiple types of executive functions to distinguish different levels of genetic influences.


Two Genes Predict Voter Turnout

James Fowler & Christopher Dawes
Journal of Politics, July 2008, Pages 579-594

Fowler, Baker, and Dawes (2008) recently showed in two independent studies of twins that voter turnout has very high heritability. Here we investigate two specific genes that may contribute to variation in voting behavior. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we show that individuals with a polymorphism of the MAOA gene are significantly more likely to have voted in the 2004 presidential election. We also find evidence that an association between a polymorphism of the 5HTT gene and voter turnout is moderated by religious attendance. These are the first
results ever to link specific genes to political behavior.

(Nod to KL)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Immigration: The Issue?

Munger and McClain talk about immigration and the elections of November.

I love those Crazy, Musical Clowns

Update from Potato Festival in Munger, Michigan

Crazy, musical clowns join the mix in Munger

Members of the Scottville Clown Band, who will not only march in Sunday's 1 p.m. parade but also perform in the entertainment tent later in the day, are newcomers to the Munger spud fest.

Munger Potato Festival Chairman Don Smrecak has been inviting the band of clowns to perform at the festival for years but, due to scheduling conflicts, it never worked out.

"We're finally going to see our way clear to take them up on their offer," said Charlie Weber, secretary for the Clown Band.

Weber, who has performed with the band for 21 years, said the Scottville-based group plays a lot of John Philip Sousa marches, some novelty tunes, some show tunes and some polkas, with a few surprises mixed in.

The band's roster includes more than 200 members, most of whom hail from Michigan, but there are some who live in other states like Ohio, Illinois, Texas and California.

Just who and how many members of the band will show up in Munger this weekend is anyone's guess.

"We never know who's going to show up. ... The guys just show up," Weber said. "We usually have about 40 guys on average for a performance."

Weber, who plays trombone with the band, said he has developed a new costume this year. A financial advisor with Edward Jones, Weber will be dressed as a brown bull with horns on his cap.

Angus is in Grand Rapids. He should drive over. I know that I would hate to miss Crazy, Musical Clowns, particularly when they are so hard to schedule.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Munger Potato Festival

This year, another Munger Potato Festival.

Don't miss the Figure 8 Race!

And, hopefully, there won't be any "incidents" in the whole
queen thing, like LAST year.

The Scholarship of Location, Location, Location....

Real Estate Roundup, for KPC readers!

Inequality in Land Ownership, the Emergence of Human Capital Promoting Institutions and the Great Divergence

Oded Galor, Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrathy
Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming

This paper suggests that inequality in the distribution of land ownership adversely affected the emergence of human capital promoting institutions (e.g., public schooling) and thus the pace and the nature of the transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy, contributing to the emergence of the great divergence in income per capita across countries. The prediction of the theory regarding the adverse effect of the concentration of land ownership on education expenditure is established empirically based on evidence from the beginning of the 20th century in the US.

Does Hazardous Waste Matter? Evidence from the Housing Market and the Superfund Program

Michael Greenstone & Justin Gallagher
Quarterly Journal of Economics, August 2008, Pages 951-1003

This paper uses the housing market to develop estimates of the local welfare impacts of Superfund-sponsored cleanups of hazardous waste sites. We show that if consumers value the cleanups, then the hedonic model predicts that they will lead to increases in local housing prices and new home construction, as well as the migration of individuals that place a high value on environmental quality to the areas near the improved sites. We compare housing market outcomes in the areas surrounding the first 400 hazardous waste sites chosen for Superfund cleanups to the areas surrounding
the 290 sites that narrowly missed qualifying for these cleanups. We find that Superfund cleanups are associated with economically small and statistically insignificant changes in residential property values, property rental rates, housing supply, total population, and types of individuals living near the sites. These findings are robust to a series of specification checks, including the application of a regression discontinuity design based on knowledge of the selection rule. Overall, the preferred estimates suggest that the local benefits of Superfund cleanups
are small and appear to be substantially lower than the $43 million mean cost of Superfund cleanups.


Estimates of the Impact of Crime Risk on Property Values from Megan's Laws

Leigh Linden & Jonah Rockoff
American Economic Review, June 2008, Pages 1103-1127

"Using very detailed data on the locations of convicted sex offenders (whose identities and residential locations are made public on the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry) and the dates on which they move into a neighborhood, we estimate that, on average, the values of homes within 0.1 miles of an offender fall by roughly 4 percent. This effect dissipates quickly with distance of homes from the offender; homes between 0.1 and 0.3 miles away show no effect...Our estimates suggest that individuals have a strong distaste for living in close proximity to a sex offender. We estimate that a single offender depresses property values in the immediate vicinity by about $5,500 per home. If we aggregate these effects across all homes affected and all offenders, we find that the presence of sex offenders depresses property values in Mecklenburg County by about $60 million. This suggests that
households would be willing to pay a high cost for policies that remove sexual offenders from their neighborhoods."


Making Property Productive: Reorganizing Rights to Real and Equitable Estates in Britain, 1660 to 1830

Dan Bogart & Gary Richardson
NBER Working Paper, June 2008

Between 1660 and 1830, Parliament passed thousands of acts restructuring rights to real and equitable estates. These estate acts enabled individuals and families to sell, mortgage, lease, exchange, and improve land previously bound by inheritance rules and other legal legacies. The loosening of these legal constraints facilitated the reallocation of land and resources towards higher-value uses. Data reveals correlations between estate acts, urbanization, and economic development during the decades surrounding the Industrial Revolution.


Lessons from Strange Cases: Democracy, Development, and the Resource Curse in the U.S. States

Ellis Goldberg, Erik Wibbels & Eric Mvukiyehe
Comparative Political Studies, April 2008, Pages 477-514

The work linking natural resource wealth to authoritarianism and under-development suffers from several shortcomings. In this article, the authors outline those shortcomings and address them in a new empirical setting. Using a new data set for the U.S. states spanning 73 years and case studies of Texas and Louisiana, the authors are able to more carefully examine both the diachronic nature and comparative legs of the resource curse hypothesis than previous research has. They provide evidence that natural resource dependence contributes to slower economic growth, poorer developmental performance, and less competitive politics. Using this
empirical setting, they also begin parsing the mechanisms that might explain the negative association between resource wealth and political and economic development. They draw implications from intranational findings for resource abundant countries across the world and suggest directions for future cross-national and cross-state work.

(Mega-nod to KL. All praise be unto him)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hey Golf: Get out of the stone age!

I like the commercials for Top-Flite Balls where the guy checks to see if the golfer is worthy of the product: "Winter rules?" "Cheating". "Gimmies?" "Make the putt". "Mulligans?" a withering stare.

However, there are a slew of ridiculous rules that are selectively enforced that make no sense, give the "perpetrator" no competitive advantage and need to go. Two great examples occurred this past week.

The first is the insane DQ-ing of Michelle Wie for "failing to sign her scorecard". She actually did sign it, but she left the scorer's trailer without signing, was called back by volunteers and signed. After playing her next round, she was informed by the LPGA that she was out of the tourney. Now I know the LPGA hates Wie, but this is ridiculous. What is the injury to other competitors that happened here? And even if such an injury could be conjured up, why DQ? Why not 2 strokes? Or an hour in the stocks? Or the comfy chair?

The second example is from the British Open. In 35 mph winds on slick greens, golf balls will move without being hit. Yet if you ground your putter behind the ball and it moves before you hit it, you incur a penalty. Even worse, according to the rules official. If you address the ball and then back away without re-marking the ball and the ball moves, it's a penalty. So we treated to the sight of golfers altering their putting styles, trying not to ground their putters behind the ball, twitching and jitterbugging around worried about breaking this rule. Why?

It's beyond time to modernize and streamline the rules of golf.

A surprising beneficiary of the weak US dollar

NBA players are starting to go (or go back) to European pro leagues. Well it's not too surprising really as it's just another example of how the weaker dollar spurs US exports. Some of the players in question are Europeans. Carlos Delfino and Juan Carlos Navarro have left to go back to a Euro team and the Spurs' first round draft pick (the improbably and wondrously named) Tiago Splitter decided to stay in Europe and refused to sign with the Spurs. But the most significant development is that Josh Childress is allegedly on the point of signing a pretty nice contract with a Greek team. Childress is a restricted free agent with the Hawks, but can sign with a foreign team without restrictions. This would be a juicy coup for European professional ball.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Can Ya Digg It?

With apologies to Isaac Hayes.

Can ya digg it? I'd sure appreciate it...

Court to Ohio: Be Serious

Hey, hey, ho, ho!

We're on the ballot in....Oh HI oH!

Stossel on Staddon

I have a good friend here at Duke: John Staddon.

Staddon wrote this extremely cool article for the Atlantic.

And then I guy I admire, John Stossel, picked it up
and wrote this.

Good ON ya!

Batman: Yes

Gosh, that's a good movie.

My son and I, walking out of the theater.

Me: "I don't see how that could have been much better."

Him: "Nope."

Since he's 16, this passes for a conversation. And having him AGREE with
me is a major concession.

So, let me note, without spoilers, the following:

1. The photography and lighting. The night scenes, outside
high up in Hong Kong and New York. Wow.

2. Heath Ledger. Unbelievable. I mean, the role was well-written,
but he inhabited it. Actually moved in and lived there, in the Joker.

3. Separately, the character of the Joker, in the movie. Extremely
disturbing, and integrated into the plot, and the feeling, of the movie.

4. The conception of human nature. "Do you have any idea how alone you are?"

5. The riffs, intentional or not, on Machiavelli's theme that the Prince
must sacrifice his soul to damnation if he is to save the city. Utterly sacrifice
his soul, and break his principles, if the city is to survive. There is
no hypocrisy, no morality. There is only survive, or not survive.

I don't see how it could have been much better. Nope.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Would Pigou join Mankiw's Pigou Club?

A great quote from good old AC himself via Gabriel:

It is not sufficient to contrast the imperfect adjustments of unfettered enterprise with the best adjustment that economists in their studies can imagine. For we cannot expect that any State authority will attain, or will ever wholeheartedly seek, that ideal. Such authorities are liable alike to ignorance, to sectional pressure and to personal corruption by private interest. — Pigou A., Wealth and Welfare 1920, p. 296

This is basically what I told my professors when I was in grad school over and over. Its not fair to compare actual market outcomes with idealized public outcomes. It has to be actual vs. actual. I was considered a right wing nut. Then when I took my first job as an assistant professor at GMU, I found myself having to say things like not all market outcomes are unimprovable by real world governments. I was considered a left wing nut!

On balance, I guess though the right wing nut label is more accurate. It never ceases to amaze me how people look to government for solutions to problems at least partly caused by government. For example, is it really a good idea to expand the Fed's powers given their recent performance? Yet that is pretty much what is happening. Similarly, people are looking to governments to deal with rising food prices which are significantly caused by the self same governments' insane agricultural and alternative fuel polices.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Candidate of Change

That's going to leave a mark

In a stunning development, Argentina's Senate rejected the new export taxes that the Executive branch had imposed on certain agricultural exports back in March. It is stunning because the president's party, the Peronists, also have (had?) a functional majority in the Senate. The vote was tied and the vice president of the country (who used to be a member of the main opposition party, the radicals, but got kicked out when he ran with Kirchner) cast the tiebreaking vote against the tax.

President Kirchner only deigned to put the policy to a vote in the legislature after having first imposed it (and witnessed the sometimes massive demonstrations against it over the last 4 months) in order to try and legitimize the policy, but that has failed (Argentina has been essentially ruled by the executive branch under an emergency decree since the 2001 crisis there, which explains why the tax did not originally come through the legislature).

The voting ended at 4:30 in the morning and all 72 Senators voted. The vice president, Julio Cobos, announced later this morning that he does not plan to resign, and the farmers are jubilant.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Some Pix

No reasons, just pix....

The guy must be having one of his "spells."

The nearest exit may be your behind....

5% and rising

From the BLS news release:

Consumer prices advanced at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate
(SAAR) of 7.9 percent in the second quarter after increasing at a 3.1
percent rate in the first three months of 2008. This brings the year-to-
date annual rate to 5.5 percent and compares with an increase of 4.1
percent in all of 2007.

Wow! So soon after we were told that central bankers had "figured it out", that previous inflations were due to insufficient knowledge or the use of a bad macro-model and that the era of inflation was over, we are heading right back into the soup. Yes I know that unemployment and recession are painful experiences that should be avoided if possible. But I also know that the one thing the Fed actually can control is inflation. I am not so sure they can provide a monetary solution to an adverse real event (or sequence of events).

Monetary policy: yer doin' it wrong!

Karma Kronicles

1. "That's how we roll in Philly". Jose Canseco got the livin' crap knocked out of him in a 97 second "fight" with ex-boxer and NFLer Vai Sikehema.

2. On their way to their ritualized, barbaric senseless slaughter, the bulls of Pamplona at least manage to wound 45 humans.

3. I can finally watch college basketball again (LOL not really, there are still only about 4 or 5 good players in division I)! Billy Packer is OUT! In the words of another overrated basketball announcer, YESSSSSSSS!!!

4. Brett meet pine, pine, Brett. You two will be spending lots of time together! The Packers finally pull the plug on the Hamlet of the NFL with a brutal 1-2 punch consisting of "Aaron Rogers is our starter" and "We will not give you your release".

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

From Aggieland

From my pal Steve Pejovich:

The following is the winning entry from an annual contest at Texas A&M University calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term.

This year's term was Political Correctness.

The winner wrote:

"Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

English to English translation needed

S. Africa's Amla overcomes England bully-boy tactics

This is a good start. The colonial power picking on the ex-colony. Maybe verbal abuse or a knee to the groin? I can't wait for the details.

LONDON (AFP) - Hashim Amla was a quietly proud man after his unbeaten century helped see South Africa to the safety of a first Test draw against England here at Lord's and in the process erased some painful memories.

He must be an old man too if he's been unbeaten for a century!!

During the 2004/05 series in South Africa, Amla averaged just nine in two Tests against England before being dropped after struggling against the short ball. But the men who got him out back then - Stephen Harmison, Simon Jones and Matthew Hoggard - weren't in the England side at Lord's where a placid pitch made life tough for fast bowlers.

Come again please? Seriously, what could this possibly mean? "Weren't in the England side"?

That didn't stop England peppering Amla on Monday with a succession of short-pitched deliveries and packing the legside, close-in field.

So they were hitting him with the ball? If not, just exactly how does "throwing the short ball" and "packing the legside" equate to "bully boy tactics"?

"I am satisfied to score a hundred at Lord's," said Amla, who was 104 not out when the match ended prematurely thanks to what South Africa captain Graeme Smith said was a "gentleman's agreement" even though the Proteas were only 47 ahead with a minimum of 19 overs left in the day.


"To score a hundred anywhere is a lovely feeling," Amla added.

Sure, just ask Wilt Chamberlain! That's the only part of the story I understand.

Monday, July 14, 2008

And when I die, I'll be Sooner dead

Holy Crap. Stop the presses! Norman OK is #6 on Money Magazines top 100 places to live? Wow. Who knew?

Actually Norman is OK (sorry). All we need here is a good grocery store (there's a Whole Foods in Tulsa now so who knows, we may get one), a theatre that shows art films (Angelika-Norman anyone?), and a giant bubble to keep the wind and boiling hot weather out (like in the Simpsons Movie!).

Banality, thy name is WALL-E

Wow, what a crappy movie. I just kept looking at the clock and wondering if the running time of the film included the cartoon short (which was way better than the movie) and when I could get out of there. It wasn't quite "Antonement" unwatchable, but it was boring, preachy and PC.

America is Walmart. Walmart is bad. Fat people suck. ok ok I get it. Can I see the rabbit electrocute the magician because he won't feed him again?

is about the same stuff only 1,000 times better. Chunks of WALL-E actually seemed to have been lifted from Mike Judge.

Tyler Cowen cost me 2 hours out of my life and I WANT THE TIME BACK, BRO!!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Radio Ad....Please Listen, and Comment!

A blog post about the radio ad I'll be running this week.

Comments welcome!

Mike Munger

Greg Mankiw's Platform: I give it a gentleman's C

Professor Mankiw "gives an 8 plank platform designed to attract a majority of economists."

1. Support free trade. Sounds good, but it's just not that simple. Bilateral FTAs run to 1000s of pages and often just inefficiently divert trade rather than create trade. It's ridiculous to call the proposed pacts with Colombia and Korea free trade. If you really are in favor of free trade you should oppose these pacts.

2. Oppose farm subsidies. Agreed.

3. Leave oil companies and speculators alone. Agreed.

4. Tax the use of energy. Huh? The first sentence of plank #2 reads "Economists like free markets" so why increase taxes on energy (which, since we already have substantial energy taxes is what the plank should have said)? To make this argument, one needs, in my opinion, to (a) show the negative externality that is not already being addressed by current taxation and then (b) show that our government's marginal tax policy would reduce said externality more efficiently than simply assigning property rights and letting the free markets that some of us do actually like do their work.

5. Raise the retirement age. I have to give an incomplete here. Raise it for whom? workers already in their 60s? In their 50s? How old do you have to be before it's too unfair to change the rules in the middle of the game? In my view you can only consider doing this for workers under 30 and those who follow them.

6. Invite more skilled immigrants. Again, incomplete. Why be so stingy? Lets go with the inscription on the statue of liberty.

7. Liberalize drug policy. Agreed. Well said, and courageously said.

8. Raise funds for economic research. (to be fair there is a good change that GM is kidding here but) Wow, the NBER raises social welfare? Sorry sir, but I think abolish funds for economic research would be more to the point. The NBER is welfare for the well to do.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Belarus to McCain: What did we do to deserve this??

Yes, Dr. No has become Dr. Phil and Johnny Mac has elegantly tossed him under the bus. All in one day. Golly, I love American politics!

To recap:

1. Phil Gramm is video taped saying that "we have sort of become a nation of whiners" and that the country is in a "mental recession" (Ironically, Gramm himself was whining when he made these remarks and quite obviously not running on all cylinders in the mental department either)!

2. BO gleefully points out that America already has a national psychiatrist named Dr. Phil and notes that we don't need another.

3. McCain, who has been going around the country taking great pains to feel everyone's pain, says Gramm does not speak for him and when asked about Gramm's likely position in a McCain Administration more or less says he'd like to send him to Belarus but he doesn't think the locals would stand for it!!!

Could we please have presidential elections every two years? That would be great.

Of course Gramm was totally right in that the gloom and doom rhetoric far outpasses any actual bad current economic outcomes, but totally wrong in the sense that when you want a bunch of whiners to vote for your candidate so that you can get a cushy government job the last thing you should do is call them a bunch of whiners!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Left Handedness and Beisbol: A Wash U Study

"Ninety percent of the human population is right-handed, but in baseball 25 percent of the players, both pitchers, and hitters, are left-handed," said Peters, a devoted St. Louis Cardinal fan who attended "Stan the Man's" last ball game at Sportsman's Park in 1963. "There is a premium on lefthanders for a number of reasons. For starters, take seeing the ball.

"A right-handed batter facing a right-handed pitcher actually has to pick up the ball visually as it comes from behind his (the batter's) left shoulder. The left-handed batter facing the right-handed pitcher has the ball coming to him, so he has a much clearer view of pitches."

Then, Peters says, consider the batter's box. After a right-hander connects with a ball, his momentum spins him toward the third-base side and he must regroup to take even his first step toward first base. In contrast, the left-hander's momentum carries him directly toward first.


A question: Angus and I are BOTH left-handed. But I suck at baseball, and he is only slightly better. Is this another of those "neither necessary nor sufficient" things? I HATE those.

(Nod to Bayou Jack, who doesn't really suck at anything)

Press Release

RALEIGH (July 9) – Dr. Mike Munger, Libertarian candidate for governor released his position on off-shore drilling for oil and natural gas today.

"The proposals I see coming from both the Democrats and Republicans are half-measures and stop-gaps," Dr. Munger said. "And the sudden support for off-shore drilling by Mayor Pat McCrory and others, is a cheap gimmick. It will have no effect on the price of oil, and will do nothing to affect the prices that NC consumers pay for gas at the pump."

Dr. Munger has a PhD in economics and experience working in regulatory policy at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. He holds a current joint appointment in Duke's Economics Department. He believes that only comprehensive energy reform will work to solve the nation's energy security problems, and help consumers in our state.

"It's an election year, which means that it is silly season for politicians. The supporters of new drilling are promising miracles, and the opponents are predicting disaster. They are both exaggerating for their own political purposes," Dr. Munger said.

Dr. Munger's proposed comprehensive solution would require broad cooperation at the federal and state level. The key points are:

1. End tariffs on ethanol imports.

2. Allow drilling and new exploration for high-yield sources of oil and natural gas on Federal lands and offshore in all U.S. waters.

3. End domestic ethanol subsidies, which waste both energy and money.

4. Allow the increasing price of gasoline and oil to do its job, by encouraging consumers to conserve, and rewarding oil companies for finding new reserves.

5. Allow the immediate development of new domestic refining capacity and cracking facilities, which has been held up for more than a decade by short-run political gamesmanship.

"The key is to recognize that the increased price of oil and gas will solve this problem for us, if we let it," according to Dr. Munger. "Oil companies will develop new reserves, and new refining capacity. Consumers will choose more fuel-efficient cars, and heating options. Alternative fuels and energy sources will become competitive, and will be developed rapidly in the marketplace."

As for the current proposals by both Bev Perdue and Pat McCrory, "They will have no effect, and in fact they are not even making any real effort" to solve the problem," said Dr. Munger.


Dr. Munger is available for interviews. Call him at his direct cell number (919) 369-6453 or email

Brand pulls a Boozer

Wow, say it ain't so Coach K!

Elton is now a 76er and Baron is S.O.L.

At least Boozer only burned his owner while Brand burned his boy (and one of my favorite players) Baron Davis.

I guess when it comes to dealing with Dookies you better get it in writing and get it notarized!

Like Carlos Boozer, Elton Brand signs with another team after saying he was willing to take a pay cut to make Clippers competitive. 82,000,000 clams and a sure spot in the playoffs was enough for him to leave his good friend Baron and a young, talented Clippers team. Money and Championships talk in this business son.

Sorry, Baron Davis: Elton Brand apparently is heading east. Sources told Marc Stein on Tuesday the longtime Clipper informed the 76ers he will accept a five-year deal worth an estimated $82 million.

Said one source close to the process: "Elton wants to go East."

Will the Sixers be the next Utah and the Clippers the next Caveliers? Sure feels like it as the Sixers become a solid contender in the East with a bright future. A squad of Brand, Dalembert, Miller, AI, and Young will definately make make the playoffs, and even get out of the first round and do some damage. And the Clippers are stuck with a superstar in Baron Davis and no real supporting cast in the competitive West, much the way Lebron is in Cleveland. Livingston, Gordon, and Thorton are young, Mobley at the end of his career, and in the West, they will need to win at least 50 games to make the playoffs.

For those who do not remember the Boozer controversy, here is a summary:

Boozer could have been Cleveland's in the '04-'05 season for $695,000, but the Cavaliers did not pick up their option after, the club said, Boozer had committed to re-signing for the team's full midlevel exception -- somewhere around six years and $40 million. That allowed Utah to pick him up for 6 year at $68 million

YouTube Ad

The first YouTube ad of the campaign.

Major, major props to Rusty Sheridan. His company.

Name that Team part deaux

Over at Ball Don't Lie, they have a list of names and a virtual voting booth set up. The blog suggestions stink (in my opinion), but the commenters have some good ideas like

The Panhandlers

The Twisters

The Drillers

I really like the Panhandlers. It has great mascot costume potential for sure.

Context is King

And here's a little for the announcement Mungowitz posted last night, Tom was a year or so ahead of us in grad school. He was the total teacher's pet both in the Econ and Finance departments. He was popular among his classmates because his lovely wife would invite us over to eat real food (which otherwise we could only get from Naugles). When our benefactor Murray Weidenbaum became Reagan's first CEA chair, he took Tom along with him to Washington (yes we are all way way way old).

My personal favorite memory of the Tom Gilligan era at Wash U? Has to be his subtle charm. Some examples:

"Grier, you work out every day and still look like crap. Why is that? How is it possible?"


"Grier, you know why you never keep a girlfriend for more than 3 months? Because that's how long it takes for someone to really get to know you!"

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Gilligan: A Visionary Leader

Press Release From UT-Austin

Date: July 9

Thomas C. Gilligan Appointed Dean
Of McCombs School of Business

AUSTIN, Texas – Dr. Thomas C. Gilligan, the E. Morgan Stanley Chair in Business Administration and professor of finance and business economics at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles, has been appointed dean of the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.

The appointment of Gilligan, who from February 2006 to April 2007 was interim dean of the Marshall School of Business, is effective Sept. 1, said Dr. Steven Leslie, provost at The University of Texas at Austin. He said the selection of Gilligan followed a nationwide search by an 18-member committee headed by Dr. Michael Ganof, a professor in the McCombs School of Business.

Gilligan will replace Dr. George W. Gau, whose six-year appointment as dean of the business school ends in August.

Granof said there was remarkable unanimity among members of the committee, as well as other people who met Gilligan in the selection process, that he has the scholarly credentials, administrative experience and charisma they would like to see in the dean of their business school.

“There is no question that the McCombs School of Business has the potential to be one of the truly top business schools in the world and Thomas Gilligan has the ability and skills to take us in that direction,” Granof said.

“Tom Gilligan is a visionary leader,” said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. “In cooperation with our outstanding faculty, he will take the McCombs School to a new level of distinction.”

Gilligan said his family is excited to join The University of Texas at Austin community.

“I am honored and invigorated by the prospect of leading the McCombs School of Business to even more accomplishments and greater prominence,” Gilligan said.

Leslie said, "Tom Gilligan has the personal and professional capabilities, the energy and commitment to excellence, and the leadership skills to be a superb dean. I look forward to working with him to build upon the excellence of the McCombs School of Business."

Gilligan, who received his bachelor of arts degree with honors from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, and doctor’s degree in economics from Washington University in St. Louis, has held positions at the University of Southern California as vice-dean for undergraduate and doctoral education and chair of the Department of Finance and Business Economics. He also has been a visiting professor at the J.L. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business in Stanford, Ca. Gilligan’s areas of interest are microeconomics, applied price theory, industrial organization, antitrust economics and public choice.

Prior to his first academic position as an assistant professor of economics at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, in 1982-1983, Gilligan served four years as a Russian linguist in the United States Air Force.

Gilligan has been a co-editor of the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization (2001-2006), Business and Politics (1999-present), Journal of Economics and Management Strategy (1998-2005) and Asia-Pacific Journal of Accounting and Economics (1996-present), and has been a referee over two dozen other journals. He has authored and co-authored articles in numerous journals and other publications.

(Nod to Chateau, who knows just how "visionary" Dr. Gilligan really is....)

Hancock: a metaphor for America?

not so super superhero Hancock causes massive collateral damage when he saves the day, is crude and unlikeable, and picks on French kids. So of course he's meant to represent the USA, or so says Kyle Smith in a very fun review of the movie (full disclosure: I have not seen it and don't plan to at this point). Here's an excerpt:

Not for nothing does Hancock share his name with one of the fiercest patriots in American history; the movie also takes pain to establish the eagle (a frequently seen image) as Hancock’s symbol, even at the beginning when it’s merely a patch on his ratty ski cap. “I’m the only one of my kind,” Hancock complains, by virtue of explaining his difficulties as the world’s only superpower. He has trouble getting along with others.

So I wonder does that make Jason Bateman a metaphor for Karl Rove?

If you think the Shrub is unpopular

(and of course, he is) you should check out the latest public ratings of our legislative branch:

The percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category.

While I endorse the sentiment, I fear that the people are rating Congress so low because they are not "doing anything" to help them, whereas I rate Congress low because they are doing things!

And despite these heinous ratings, I predict that incumbents running for re-election will win at least 88% of their election races (Way way way back when I was a lad being mis-educated at Wash U., I read a cool article by Dick Fenno called "If Congress is the broken branch, how come we love our congressmen so much?" that addressed this phenomenon of low approval ratings and high re-election rates. Can't find it on the web though).

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Go Bulls!!

Now that Wimbledon is over, the current international sporting spectacle is the running of the bulls in Pamplona Spain. It may not surprise KPC readers to learn that I root for the Bulls to create as much carnage and mayhem as bovinely possible. So far, they are off to a good start.

Yesterday was the first running and:

Thirteen people were taken to hospital, one of them seriously injured, on the first day of the annual bull running festival in the northern Spanish town of Pamplona on Monday, organizers said. A 37-year-old man suffered a collapsed lung, ruptured spleen and broken ribs, while two people were concussed and 10 others were treated mainly for cuts and bruises.

but what about today you ask? Well we had our first goring:

Since 1924 the bulls have managed to kill 14 humans during these events. Go Bulls!

Rogoff and the ECB vs. Everyone else?

Last week the ECB raised their policy interest rate 25 basis points to 4.25%. This of course is a stark contrast to the Fed's recent "move" of keeping its rate at 2.00%. The policy histories of these two institutions are interesting:

Is the ECB too bureaucratic and inertial as some have argued? Or is the Fed too much of a fine tuner / over-reacter? Or maybe both? Certainly it's a big advantage for the ECB that it's a multinational organization because it doesn't have to worry about national elections like the Fed does.

One prominent economist has recently sided with the ECB's policy choices:

The spectacular and historic global economic boom of the past six years is
about to hit a wall. Unfortunately, no one, certainly not in Asia or the US, seems willing to bite the bullet and help engineer the necessary co-ordinated retreat to sustained sub-trend growth, which is necessary so that new commodity supplies and alternatives can catch up.

Instead, governments are clawing to stretch out unsustainable booms, further pushing up commodity prices, and raising the risk of a once-in-a-lifetime economic and financial mess. All this need not end horribly, but policy makers in most regions have to start pressing hard on the brakes, not the accelerator.

Ben Bernanke!! it's Ken Rogoff on line 1!!

Monday, July 07, 2008

New Podcast

Hey, you podcastrians!

It's a new installment of the Russ and Mike show.

For which, I should add, I was paid my full market wage.

We talked about the Transantiago cluster fig. And talking to Russ is always fun.

A boy and his racket

Wow, for those few of us who still love tennis, what a great weekend! Venus and Serena finally played a good match against each other and Rafa and Roger's showdown fully deserves the overused adjective "epic".

Still, for me, the highlight of Wimbledon was the return of Marat Safin, both for beating that punk Djokovic and for his entertaining press conferences. Here is Safin on racket abuse:

"You can destroy one racket. You can destroy a chair. But you can't destroy a racket and a chair in the same match. There has to be a limit. Otherwise this is the tennis of a sick person."

This is apparently kind of a special Russian thing. Here's another interesting quote:

"You know, some rackets just like it rough," said Dmitry Tursunov, a Californian-based Russian. "Afterwards, you feel a bit sorry that you've done it, and you're like, 'Yeah, I'll make it up to you darling, my little racket'. But the racket is broken and you know that it's never going to be the same again."

(Here is the article where I found these quotes)

Of course, sometimes the racket wins (and look, it's another Russian in the tussle!)

Thanks, and thanks, and THANKS!

Lots of folks helped with the Money Grenade, and with getting word out about the difficulties I have been having even getting access to the normal assets of campaigning.

I can't cite them all. So, for those I have missed: a blanket thank you, and a heartfelt one. In addition to the net postings I have missed, I want to thank Joy Elliott, Paul Elledge, Linda Ellis, Susan Hogarth, Barbara Howe, Tom Howe, Phillip Rhodes, Rob Rose, Rusty Sheridan, John Szamosi, and Richard Schilhavy. (Again, I'm sorry if I left you out, but it's 6:30 am, and I am at the beach celebrating my anniversary with my wife, and I have to get back to the room; there's marital work to do...)

As I noted, there were lots of internet mentions, and I appreciate them. But there are some I have to mention specifically.

Bill Anderson, on LR's site.

Art Carden, with a nice thought piece. Very nice.

Ed Cone helped out. Thanks, Ed!

Greg Dirasian has his little boxer shorts all twisted up in knots.

Last Free Voice posted the announement; thanks!

Scottille News came up big, too.

Third Party Watch posted the info on the Money Grenade. A BIG help; we 'pree-shayt it, man!

BUT: The main prize, the above and beyond, the hardest working man in the Blogosphere for the Munger campaign, has got to be.... Steve Newton! This post clearly brought in quite a few contributions, and I appreciate it!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

We gotta call our NBA team the "Noodlers"!!

From the Sunday Oklahoman:

I think a noodler should have been on our state quarter.

Thanks to the now legendary "Okie Noodling” film and the tournament it spawned, noodling for flathead catfish is part of the Oklahoma lore as much as cowboys and Indians, the Dust Bowl and football.

A reader of The Oklahoman recently suggested that the newspaper stop using the word "kin” in stories and instead use "relatives.” The word "kin,” he said, created a perception of backward country folk and made people think of banjos and "Deliverance.”

I can't imagine what this guy must think of noodling.

And here's the quote of the week:

Mark Murray, 36, a game warden in Oklahoma County, has been a noodler for almost 20 years.

"When a big fish grabs you, it doesn't matter how many times it's happened to you in your life, it's a huge adrenalin rush when a fish bites your hand,” he said. "It never gets old.

I can't help thinking that in actuality, for me at least, it would get real old real fast.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy July 4th from KPC!

Halfway: Tick, Tick!

The July 3-4 Money Grenade is halfway home!

We got 150 contributions yesterday, for just over $5,000. That's a huge help, folks; thanks!

But if you are so nerdy that you are reading this site on a HOLIDAY, fercrissakes, GET THE WORD OUT.

Today is the last day. Post the web site somewhere, and let people know.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

A tribute to Yakov Smirnov

In America, people are suspicious of the food.
In Communist China, the food is suspicious of you!

(big ups to commenter Sudo on

The Grenade is Going Off!

We’re doing pretty well on the growth of the Grenade Brigade!

As of noon today:

–60 contributions
–nearly $2,600

If you haven’t given yet….please go to the web site, and click on donate!

Name that Team!!

So OKC has got another NBA franchise, this time (maybe) for keeps! We are pretty happy here at Chez Angus. The owners have even said they will start by offering season tickets to folks who had Hornets season tickets (i.e. me!). Some possible bad news though, is that given how much $$$ has been forked already in the process, these tickets may be a tad pricey (Maybe Mungowitz will share his mailing list with me and we can have an Angus season ticket money bomb???).

Among the various pounds of Okie flesh extracted in the settlement is that the name "SuperSonics" stays in Seattle. Whatever, dudes. But it raises a fun question; what to call the new team?

Boomers? Noodlers? Tribe? Tornadoes?

Any of these strike your fancy? Any alternative suggestions?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Uribe to Farc: "I'm in ur base, freein' the hostages!!"

Wow, wow wow! Huge ups to Uribe and the Colombian military for tricking the FARCsters and freeing Ingrid Betencourt, 3 Americans and 11 Colombians without firing a shot!!

From the AP:

military intelligence agents infiltrated the guerrilla ranks and led the local commander in charge of the hostages, alias Cesar, to believe they were going to take them to Alfonso Cano, the guerrillas' supreme leader.

The hostages, who had been divided in three groups, were taken to a rendezvous where two disguised helicopters piloted by Colombian military agents were waiting. Betancourt said her hands and feet were bound, which she called "humiliating."

The pilots, she said, were posing as members of a relief organization, but "they were dressed like clowns," wearing Che Guevara shirts, so she assumed they were rebels.

But when they were airborne, she looked behind her and saw Cesar, who had treated her so cruelly for so many years, lying on the floor blindfolded.

"The chief of the operation said, `We're the national army. You're free,'" she said. "The helicopter almost fell from the sky because we were jumping up and down, yelling, crying, hugging one another. We couldn't believe it."

The operation, Santos said, "will go into history for its audacity and effectiveness."

"We wanted to have it happen as it did today," added armed forces chief Gen. Freddy Padilla. "Without a single shot. Without anyone wounded. Absolutely safe and sound, without a scratch."

This is huge, people. Now more than ever, I think Uribe's government can by and large eliminate the FARC!

First Lady Mary Easley Gets Big Pay Raise

WRAL has this story to tell:

First Lady Mary Easley said Wednesday that she wasn't bothered by criticism of a new contract she has with North Carolina State University that almost doubles her annual salary.

"Negative stories and exaggerations and partial stories go with the territory, and that's part of public life," she said in an interview with WRAL.

Easley has been an executive-in-residence and senior lecturer at N.C. State for the past three years, developing a speakers program and teaching a graduate course in public administration and courses in the Administrative Officers Management Program, which provides leadership training to law enforcement officers.

Her previous salary was $90,300 a year, but that increased Tuesday to $170,000 a year – an 88 percent increase – as part of a five-year contract.

Let's this a negative story, an exaggeration, or a partial story?

1. Negative story: some attack on an action that misrepresents, or distorts.
2. Exaggeration: a claim that (for example) the salary is $170k, when in fact it is only $125k
3. Partial story: a claim that, while true, leaves out important relevant details.

Well, no details are supplied by the First Lady, so it can't be partial. No corrections are offered, so it can't be an exaggeration. I suppose it is a negative that the taxpayers of NC found out how much money Queen Mary is being paid.

But only from Queen Mary's perspective. From my perspective, it is NEWS.

And it is news because of this:

Gov. Mike Easley said Tuesday that high overseas travel bills are unfortunate but necessary if North Carolina wants to attract business, tourists and blockbuster art exhibits.
Easley's public comments were his first about the cost of trips he and his wife, Mary Easley, have taken. In April, the Easleys participated in a business-recruiting and tourism-promoting trip to Italy that cost more than $170,000. Last year, Mary Easley went to France with two others at a cost of more than $53,000. And in May, she went to Estonia and Russia with five others at a cost of more than $56,000.

Easley said high bills are unavoidable.

"It costs what it costs," Easley said. "I wish it didn't cost that much, but you know, let's be honest about it. A cheeseburger and onion rings is $60 over there. The dollar is very, very weak now. And that is why we were over there, in order to get those euros coming to the United States for tourism."

Um....what is the deal with all the $170,000's? If Mary Easley buys a car, does THAT cost $170,000, like her salary and her trip? Is this a favorite number/numerology thing? (Like Nancy Reagan, perhaps? Mary Easley thinks $170,000 is her lucky number?)

And, well...the mechanism escapes me. If I send my wife to Russia, and spend money taken at gunpoint from taxpayers, that means Euros come to the U.S.? And, not just the U.S., but to North Carolina?

That would be remarkable indeed. Since Russia is not part of the European Union, they would have to borrow Euros to send them over. Even if they enjoyed their lunches with Mary Easley a LOT, I don't think that would happen.

A Favor, Seriously. I Need Your Help!

Dear Friends:

As you know, I have been working to run for Governor of North Carolina, as a Libertarian, for the past two years. Well, we got the 105,000 signatures, and we got on the ballot.

But then things got…weird. I was invited to the final debate, in October, at Queens College in Charlotte. But then that debate got cancelled, and ANOTHER debate, only without the Libertarians in it, got scheduled instead.

The state of NC is really dragging its feet in getting out new forms, so Libertarians can register. The state Board of Elections will barely meet with us, and the county Boards of Elections won't accept checks for filing fees for our candidates. I put up more than $1,000 worth of yard signs, and the state took them all down, because (get this) there is "no election going on at this time"! Ouch.

The only thing that can change this is participation at the grassroots.

And the only kind of participation that matters is….small contributions, from lots of folks!

That's why we are running a small money bomb tomorrow. It's so small, it's really just a money grenade.

Won't you join the Munger "Grenade Brigade"? Here's what you do, ANYTIME ON JULY 3 or JULY 4. Yes, ANYTIME:

1. Go to

2. Click on "contribute"

3. Give $25, or less (the amount doesn't matter as much as the fact you show your support for democracy and free choice in politics!)

That's it. That's all I need. Well, that and GET THE WORD OUT TO OTHER PEOPLE!

Please help! Even if you have already given, PLEASE just give something. It isn't the money, as much as it is the message that lots of folks care.

Mike Munger

A suitcase with legs

First Guido Wilson got caught hauling it to Argentina (see previous KPC coverage here and here). Then in Miami, some Venezuelans got caught on tape alternatively bribing and threatening Mr. Wilson to take responsibility for its contents. Now in the trial of Franklin Duran (the only threatener who didn't take a plea), Hugo Chavez has, for the first time, been directly linked to the case:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was personally involved in covering up his nation's role in an Argentine election scandal, according to an FBI statement by a Venezuelan witness who may testify at a criminal trial in Miami.ranklin Duran faces trial on U.S. charges he acted as an unregistered agent of Chavez's government. Duran conspired to silence a Florida businessman who toted $800,000 in a suitcase from Caracas to Buenos Aires, according to U.S. prosecutors. The Justice Department alleged the cash, seized Aug. 4, was intended for the campaign of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who was elected Argentina's president Oct. 28.

Duran, 40, was arrested Dec. 11 with two other Venezuelans, Carlos Kauffmann and Moises Maionica. Kauffmann and Maionica pleaded guilty and said in court that their country's intelligence agency, known as DISIP, played a central role in the cover-up of the payment.

In papers filed June 27, Duran said Kauffmann's FBI statement implicated Chavez. Kauffmann told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that ``Maionica told him and others that President Chavez was involved in the matter and had put DISIP Director Rangel Silva in charge, and that Rangel told him that President Chavez personally was involved in the matter,'' according to the motion in federal court in Miami.

Previous court filings didn't directly implicate Chavez in the case, known as the ``suitcase scandal'' in Argentina. U.S. prosecutors have filed court papers saying that DISIP and the office of Venezuela's vice president oversaw the plot.

While this is fun, I don't expect it to actually hurt Chavez at home in Venezuela. What amazes me a bit is how the Kirchners have so successfully dodged this bullet back in Argentina!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Obama was right about bitter white guys!

From the Telegraph:

Bill Clinton is so bitter about Barack Obama's victory over his wife Hillary that he has told friends the Democratic nominee will have to beg for his wholehearted support...The Telegraph has learned that the former president's rage is still so great that even loyal allies are shocked by his patronising attitude to Mr Obama, and believe that he risks damaging his own reputation by his intransigence. A senior Democrat who worked for Mr Clinton has revealed that he recently told friends Mr Obama could "kiss my ass" in return for his support. The Democrat told the Telegraph: "He's been angry for a while. But everyone thought he would get over it. He hasn't. I've spoken to a couple of people who he's been in contact with and he is mad as hell."He's saying he's not going to reach out, that Obama has to come to him. One person told me that Bill said Obama would have to quote kiss my ass close quote, if he wants his support."You can't talk like that about Obama - he's the nominee of your party, not some house boy you can order around."Hillary's just getting on with it and so should Bill."

As a public service, KPC has decided to run a picture of Bill Clinton's ass, so BO can decide whether or not he wants to pucker up!