Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Abomination has spoken

The Sooners have pushed past Texas in the BCS standings with their 61-41 victory over OSU in Stillwater. This breaks the 3 way tie for first in the Big XII South and puts OU into the Big XII title game against Missouri.

If the Sooners win, they'll likely be in the national championship game against the winner of the SEC title game, which features #1 Alabama vs. #4 Floriday.

People, Texas beat OU and Texas Tech beat Texas. Here's how OU got the nod:

Big 12: Oklahoma (fifth tiebreaker)

1. The records of three teams will be compared against each other (all are 1-1)

2. The records of three teams will be compared within their division (all are 4-1)

3. The records of three teams will be compared to next highest placed teams in their division (all beat Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas A&M)

4. The records of three teams against common opponents (all beat Kansas, only common North opponent)

5. Team with top BCS ranking (No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Texas, No. 7 Texas Tech)

Is anyone up for a Borda count or something?

The Candy Man is back

I love the powder tossing Lebron commercial. The music is fantastic and seemed very familiar, so I looked it up and yes, it's Candy Man by Cornershop from their great late 90s album "When I was born for the 7th time". Cornershop is one of the all time favorites at Chez Angus.

Cool beans.

The spot also features the incredible Jaime Nared doin' her thing.

It's Lebron's world people and we are lucky to be living in it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Some Things Never Change

The "Political Science Job Rumors" blog seems awfully hateful, and petty. turns out this generation of grad student is not so bad, after all! I happened to look at the "Need to Vent" thread on the blog, and found the following 14 posts:

Need To Vent (14 posts)

* Started 5 days ago by Anonymous
* Latest reply from anonymous

1. Anonymous Unregistered
The sociology rumor mill has a "Need To Vent" thread for frustrated candidates to vent. In addition to giving candidates a venue to express their frustrations, and thereby reducing it in other threads, you also find some really funny posts like this one:

"Yesterday at school, I took the biggest dump ever. I must have expelled at least 7 lbs worth of food and other bodily debris and fluids. I kid you not. A coincidence in this economic climate? I think not. I also think it may be suggestive of my job prospects."
Posted 5 days ago #

2. Anonymous Unregistered
Every once in a while I take a dump and stand in awe at the fact that I was able to make something so large and powerful.

With my ass.
Posted 5 days ago #

3. Anonymous Unregistered
Yep, I guess you would indeed need to vent after that.
Posted 5 days ago #

4. Anonymous Unregistered
With us? The entire blog is the vent site...
Posted 5 days ago #

5. Anonymous Unregistered
Its good to see that political scientists are more mature than sociologists.
Posted 5 days ago #

6. Anonymous Unregistered
Grow up and get a life.
Posted 5 days ago #

7. Anonymous Unregistered
"Grow up and get a life."

OP here. Yes it is totally immature but it made me laugh. RIght now I think lots of people reading this blog need a good laugh. No need to be so uptight....It can give you an ulcer!
Posted 5 days ago #

8. Anonymous Unregistered
Seriously, there's no harm in a cheap, totally immature laugh. I and a lot of other people are on the ledge right now.
Posted 5 days ago #

9. Anonymous Unregistered
Well, take a dump or take a jump.
Posted 5 days ago #

10. Anonymous Unregistered

For some humor that is finanically related, but not poop-ish.
Posted 5 days ago #

11. Anonymous Unregistered
I try to vent in healthy ways. You know, things like smashing the palm of my hand against my forehead. The only drawback is that I'm finding myself doing it in public. You can imagine the looks I get.
Posted 5 days ago #

12. Anonymous Unregistered
My house smells like an egg!
Posted 5 days ago #

13. Anonymous Unregistered
My crotch smells like an egg.
Posted 5 days ago #

14. Anonymous Unregistered
No wonder you have no offers. You all are a disgrace.
Posted 5 days ago #

Now, I swear that this is a near verbatim transcript of conversations Angus and I had ...well....pretty much every day for four years in grad school. Along with John Jarosz and Tom Gilligan and Brian Roberts.

Clearly, all these folks on the blog are destined for greatness. GREATNESS, I tell you. And the guy who said "My crotch smells like an egg," (and, yes, I'm sure it was a guy)...that guy should be given tenure, and the job of Dean, right now. We need more like him.

Poster #14, almost certainly female, is of course entirely correct, in every unimportant respect.

Risk and Action

Foregoing the Labor for the Fruits: The Effect of Just World Threat on the Desire for Immediate Monetary Rewards

Mitchell Callan, Will Shead & James Olson
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Previous theorizing and research suggests that the need to believe in a just world develops when children begin to understand the benefits of foregoing their immediate gratifications for more desirable, long-term outcomes. Drawing on this previous work, we propose that an extant just world threat may induce a desire for smaller, immediate rewards at the expense of larger, delayed rewards. Participants were exposed to the suffering of an innocent or non-innocent victim and then, in a different context, completed a temporal discounting task that assessed, across 6 time delays, their preferences for smaller, immediate monetary rewards versus a constant, larger, delayed reward. Consistent with our reasoning, participants exposed to the suffering of an innocent versus non-innocent victim more steeply discounted the value of the delayed reward — that is, they were willing to accept smaller immediate rewards in place of the larger, delayed reward. The theoretical and practical implications of these results are discussed.


Risk Loving after the Storm: A Bayesian-Network Study of Hurricane Katrina Evacuees
Catherine Eckel, Mahmoud El-Gamal & Rick Wilson
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

We investigate risk preferences of a sample of hurricane Katrina evacuees shortly after they were evacuated and transported to Houston, and another sample from the same population taken a year later. We also consider a third sample of resident Houstonians with demographics similar to the Katrina evacuees. Conventional statistical methods fail to explain a strong risk-loving bias in the first Katrina-evacuees sample. We utilize Bayesian Networks to investigate all relevant conditional distributions for gamble choices, demographic variables, and responses to psychometric questionaires. We uncover surprising results: Contrary to prior experimental evidence, we find that women in our sample were signicantly more risk loving in the first Katrina sample and only mildly more risk averse in the other two samples. We find that gamble choices are best predicted by positive-emotion variables. We therefore explain the risk-loving choices of the first Katrina-evacuees sample by the detected primacy of negative emotion variables in that sample and explain the latter by traumatic and heightened-stress experiences
shortly after the hurricane.

(Nod to KL)

Sooners in short pants

OU hoops is off to a good start, winning the NIT tip-off tourney and running their record to 6-0.
Blake Griffen, who perhaps might be the number one pick in next years NBA draft, is averaging 27 points (on 75% shooting) and 18.8 rebounds.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Please step away from the tomato, ma'am.....

From SSFC....

This story from England.


"I wondered what on earth was going on. I opened the door and they more or less barged past, saying that I was growing cannabis on the windowsills.

"I started laughing because I knew they were tomato plants but it wasn't so funny when they frisked me and then started tearing the house apart."

Mr Matheson said he was held in the bedroom while officers searched the furniture and under the mattress..."They even 'arrested' Zac, our black labrador, and Moby, our Jack Russell, putting them in the back of one of the cop cars," Mr Matheson added.

"And I just couldn't believe it when they brought sniffer dogs all the way from Alness, which is about two hours away."

He went on: "Despite leaving with their tails between their legs, the police didn't even apologise."

Mr Matheson, a keen gardener, grows tomatoes in the south-facing bedroom window.

He said: "We always enjoy having a juicy home-grown tomato with our dinner and I've had fine crops this year."

Mr Matheson is now making a formal complaint to Northern Constabulary.

A police spokesman said: "We can confirm that, acting on information, we attended at an address in the Shieldaig area.

"No drugs were found as a result of the search."

Acting on "information"? What possible information could Deputy Fife have been acting on? Here is useful information, Barney:

Tomato Plant--

Cannabis Plant--

(A note, to the police: I did NOT take that picture of a tomato plant. I have no idea where it came from. So, please don't search my house for tomatoes. I don't have any. And when I use tomatoes, it's just social. I don't inhale, ever.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008


There is just no other term for what happened to the Thunder Tuesday night. Mrs Angus and I were in attendance, looking forward to seeing my favorite player of all time, the Big Cactus. However, he was in civvies sitting out the first game of a back to back to be fully rested for the Suns' big game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.


I guess that's what happens when you have one W for the season. You aren't anyone's priority.

The game itself was by turns exciting and infuriating. New coach Scottie Brooks is somehow sickly in love with Damian Wilkens. I created a fair stir in the stands reaching out to Scottie, telling him if he didn't really want the job he should just quit rather than torture all of us.

The rotation finally worked it's way around to Durant (who had a great game), Green, Westbrook, Watson, and either Wilcox or Collison (it really helped that Shaq wasn't dressed out) and the Thunder opened up consistent 10 - 15 point lead.

Then Steve Nash woke up and took over.

Oh, the Suns with a rested Shaq also did manage to post the W over the vaunted Timberwolves on Wednesday as well.

Oh, NOW I understand.....

You may have seen that Loyola (MD) held my man Stephen Curry to 0 points in a game where he started, and played almost the whole time.

But you may not have seen WHY it happened.

Turns out the Loyola coach, Jimmy Patsos, decided that "Curry is NOT going to beat us tonight!" and played a triangle and two, with the two playing solely on Curry.

It does seem there is a problem with this strategy, however. While Curry did not beat Loyola, Davidson 30.

Why not box and 1, with the zone sagging to defend Curry? Or, better still, try to play basketball?

Two quotes from Patsos:

“We had to play against an NBA player tonight,” Patsos explained. “Anybody else ever hold him scoreless? I’m a history major. They’re going to remember that we held him scoreless or we lost by 30?”

“I know the fans are mad at me, but I had to roll the dice as far as a coach goes. I’m not some rookie coach,” said Patsos, a former longtime assistant at Maryland. “I won a national title as a top assistant coach to Gary Williams. For 13 years I spent on Tobacco Road. I coached a couple of No. 1 picks in the draft. And we scored 48 points. That’s the problem that Loyola basketball had today.”

So, Patsos IS a history major, but NOT a rookie coach. Here's my thought: the "problem that Loyola basketball had today" was that the kids were embarrassed, and angry, at playing a humiliating gimmick defense for the entire game, even after they were down by more than 25. If you go in thinking, "we can't beat this guy, he's too good," then you just shut down.

(Nod to Anonyman)

How Do They Know These Were Iowa Fans?

Iowa fans cited for restroom sex during Gophs game

Posted: Nov. 26 3:17 p.m.

MINNEAPOLIS — While the Hawkeyes were stomping the Gophers on the Metrodome field last weekend, police said two Iowa fans were having a romp of a different kind in a restroom. Both events, police say, had their share of cheering fans.

A 38-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man turned to a handicapped stall for their tryst Saturday evening.

On the field, the Hawkeyes were on their way to 55-0 trouncing of the Gophers. In the restroom, a crowd of intoxicated fans gathered to cheer the off-the-field event.

Eventually, a security guard tipped off University of Minnesota police. Officers had to interrupt the couple to cite them for indecent conduct, a misdemeanor.

Police Chief Greg Hestness said the woman initially gave a false name to officers. She was released to her husband and the man was released to his girlfriend.

Both people in the stall were intoxicated.

Some Q's, because KPC readers want to KNOW....

1. How do they know these folks were Iowa fans? Was the guy wearing an "Old Gold and Black" prophylactic?
2. "She was released to her husband and the man was released to his girlfriend." Another story we'll never know the end of. But I'll bet the conversation on the way home, in both cars, was interesting.
3. The Iowa fight song does mention making the "walls and rafters ring." That's all these two were doing.

Finally, nod to Carolina Guy, who sent the link. He says, "If Libertarians are opposed to police (i.e. state) interference of this type, I'm signing up." It IS hard to say that these two were harming anyone. And given the events outside at the time, this was pretty tame.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Attention Apollo 13: How's it going up there?

Does it make sense to encourage credit card spending?

Hank n' Ben are at it again, rolling out another 800 billion salvo, this time with the goal of getting more mortgage and credit card debt into the hands of the public.

Am I the only one who thinks this is borderline lunacy?

People, our country is poorer. The bursting of the housing bubble lowered national wealth by trillions of dollars. We are going to have a recession because of that, financial crisis or no financial crisis.

I do agree that the Fed has an important job to serve as lender of last resort and protector of the viability of the overall financial system. Several of the previous 500 billion plus salvos were more or less aimed at accomplishing that goal.

This latest to me just seems like a badly misbegotten stimulus package. House prices need to find bottom, not be propped up by subsidized mortgage lending. Consumers need to be using less credit, not be enticed into further debt by government subsidies.

Isn't this eerily similar to what got us into this mess to begin with?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hate Speech, and Fighting Words

A new addition to the KPC blogroll: Social Services for Feral Children. A fine young blog.

And, some questions I want to raise about a post on SSFC, this one.

It is about the graffiti on the NC State "Free Speech Wall," graffiti that attacked BH Obama after the election, suggesiting “Hang Obama by a noose” and “Let’s shoot that n****r in the head”. (News Story, for background) (Yes, the idiot who wrote that stuff has apologized, publicly, but has not been identified by the University. An interesting twist, no? Protect the student from the hate that is the response to his own hate....)

Excerpt from Social Services for Feral Children post:
...William J. Barber, the President of the North Carolina NAACP and a member of the national NAACP perhaps best known for advocating the continued prosecution of certain students at nearby Duke University when even Mike Nifong had thrown in the towel...[He] wants these students prosecuted as well, and he wants them expelled from the state-run university. For what? Well he doesn’t know, but there ought to be a law. Why not “hate speech”?

In a news release today, Barber said: “It is not clear whether these [university] officials fully understand the problem. Their decision to permit four students, with race-hatred spilling out of their hearts, to continue taking classes and engaging in social affairs on campus, by definition creates a racially hostile learning environment for students of color.”

Barber said he and other NAACP leaders planned to: … Ask for a meeting with Wake District Attorney Colon Willoughby to get an explanation of why the graffiti was not in violation of the state’s hate crimes law. The NAACP will take the information to the General Assembly, Barber said.

To save the District Attorney some valuable time, I’ll answer Barber’s question. My answer isn’t as authoritative as the DA’s, but it’s correct: Hate speech, or any speech no matter how offensive unless obscene or an imminent incitement or threat of violence, is not and cannot be a crime under the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. A state university, such as North Carolina State University, cannot discriminate against students for constitutionally protected speech by expelling them.


1. It is called the "Free Speech Wall." Stuff that is offensive gets painted over. The remedy to paint you disagree with is more paint.

2. If the kid had said this stuff in class, then there would be cause for action by a professor. The "noose" and the "n" word are both strongly racist, and therefore attack a class of people, for an ethnic or racial feature (whether "race" is real or imagined, it is meaningful here). So, a prof would clearly be justified in calling a student out who used this language in class. But even THEN it would not be a crime, just an act of unacceptable behavior in a classroom.

3. But, is there really NOTHING that could be written that would violate (a) state law, or (b) university policy?

You know my answer; being in a free society means you have to have a thick skin. Being offended doesn't mean the offender has committed a crime.

I do feel obliged, however, to point out the "fighting words" exception to 1st Amendment speech protections. Isn't the indignant Mr. Barber right about THAT? Aren't these "fighting words," and therefore not subject to 1st Amendment Protections?

Well, no, not really. As this interesting article from FIRE argues, "the Supreme Court has effectively limited the [Fighting Words] exception to only include abusive language, exchanged face to face, which would likely provoke a violent reaction."

So, if the kid had held out a noose, or used the n-word, in a crowd, or a classroom, he has no 1st Amendment protection. But if he writes it up on a "Free Speech Wall," you paint it over, tell the kid he is an idiot, and then talk about the incident as a chance to raise the issue of racism and racist attitudes. No crime was committed. In fact, there is no such THING as hate crime. End of story.

I will admit one thing: I think less of the kid for hiding his identity. If you want to take a stand, even an asinine, racist stand like this, then go for it. Sign your handiwork, and own up to it. Saunder's Law: "The 1st Amendment means you can say what you want. But then you have to take the ass-whuppin'."

Barry didn't mean a physical ass-whuppin', though that might happen. If you want to say something hateful, to make a political point, make sure you don't apologize as soon as you get caught, son. Stand up for your bigotry, and take the ass-whuppin'. Or don't say stupid shit in the first place.

Pretty Darned Funny

From the Grey Lady of Newsprint:

And on the seventh day, there was no rest for married couples. A week after the Rev. Ed Young challenged husbands and wives among his flock of 20,000 to strengthen their unions through Seven Days of Sex, his advice was — keep it going.....

Others found that, like smiling when you are not particularly happy, having sex when they did not feel like it improved their mood. Just eight months into their marriage, Amy and Cody Waddell had not been very amorous since Cody admitted he had had an affair.

“Intimacy has been a struggle for us, working through all that,” Ms. Waddell said. “This week really brought us back together, physically and emotionally.”

It is not always easy to devote time for your spouse, Pastor Young admitted. Just three days into the sex challenge he said he was so tired after getting up before dawn to talk about the importance of having more sex in marriage that he crashed on the bed around 8 p.m. on Tuesday night.

Mrs. Young tried to shake him awake, telling her husband, “Come on, it’s the sex challenge.” But Mr. Young murmured, “Let’s just double up tomorrow,” and went back to sleep.

Supply and Demand for Lobbyists

For lobbyists, turnover.


After eight years of the so-called K Street Project — the effort by Republican lawmakers and operatives to pressure companies, trade associations and lobbying firms to hire their fellow Republicans — the tasseled loafer is on the other foot. Companies and interest groups are competing to snap up Democrats. And scarcity has added to their value because so many well-connected Democrats are angling for jobs in the Obama administration, which has promised ethics rules that may block lobbyists from certain jobs. Meanwhile, recently passed Congressional ethics rules restrict the ability of departing Congressional staff members to lobby as well.

“The Democratic market is kind of frozen, while the Republican market is about to be engorged” with former Bush staff members, said Tony Podesta, founder of the Podesta Group, a major lobbying firm.

The starting salaries for former officials tell the story. An assistant department secretary leaving the Bush administration three years ago, with Republicans in control of the House, Senate and White House, might fetch as much $600,000 to $1 million a year in the influence business, recruiters and lobbyists said. But the same person might now expect less than half as much.

“Don’t be the last guy off the train,” said Peter Metzger, vice chairman of the recruiting firm CT Partners, recalling his advice to government officials considering other work in Washington.

What is the implication of all that lobbyist turnover?

For taxpayers? Congress says, "BEND over; I'll drive."

Nod to Anonyman

Minsky Rising?

KPC BFF Der-zoo sends this link, a paean to absent friends.

One friend in particular, Hyman "Hy" Minsky. Check the abstract:

Recently, national newspapers all over the world have suggested that we should reread John Maynard Keynes, and that Hyman P. Minsky provides a valuable framework for understanding the world in which we live. While rereading Keynes and discovering Minsky are noble goals, one should also remember the mistakes that were made in the past. The mainstream interpretation and implementation of Keynes's ideas have been very different from what Keynes proposed, and they have been reduced to simple "fiscal activism." This led to the 1950s and 1960s "Keynesian" era, during which fine-tuning was supposed to be a straightforward way to fix economic problems. We know today that this is not the case: just playing around with taxes and government expenditures will not do. On the contrary, problems may worsen. If one wants to get serious about Keynes and Minsky, one should understand that the theoretical and policy implications are far-reaching. This paper compares and contrasts Minsky's views of the capitalist system to the tenets of the New Consensus, and argues that there never has been any true Keynesian revolution. This is illustrated by studying the Roosevelt and Kennedy/Johnson eras, as well as Keynes's reaction to the former and Minsky's critique of the latter. Overall, it is argued that the theoretical framework and policy prescriptions of Irving Fisher, not Keynes, have been much more consistent with past and current government policies.

Some thoughts:

1. Minsky's "model" predicted 11 of the last 3 recessions.
2. Angus and I used to mimic what we called the "Minsky Curve." Let's just say it hangs down rather limply, and is only policy-exploitable in the EXTREMELY short run. Ten seconds, max.
3. From the abstract: "If one wants to get serious about Keynes and Minsky...."? I don't, actually.
4. There's a Cal State Fresno? Really? Are Cal States like Circle K's; you can just buy a franchise, and put it up on a vacant corner lot? Ah, I see it is also called Fresno State. Okay, THAT I have heard of.
5. From the abstract: "Just playing around with taxes and government expenditures will not do." Amen.
6. There is such a thing as a "Minsky moment,"* apparently. I had a class from Hy, in grad school. For me, "Minsky moments" were times when I thought he was actually going to lecture, and say something about economics. Minsky moments of that sort were EXTREMELY rare. But this is an interesting article; have to give ol' Hy some credit, I think.

*A Minsky moment is the point in a credit cycle or business cycle when investors have cash flow problems due to spiraling debt they have incurred in order to finance speculative investments. At this point, a major selloff begins due to the fact that no counterparty can be found to bid at the high asking prices previously quoted, leading to a sudden and precipitous collapse in market clearing asset prices and a sharp drop in market liquidity.

(Nod to Art)

Some Links, and Thoughts, on the Bailout

Interesting post from old friend Chris Lawrence, on the bailout.

Leeson and Sobel--Corrupt Weather?

"Weathering Corruption"

Peter Leeson & Russell Sobel
Journal of Law and Economics, November 2008, Pages 667-681

Could bad weather be responsible for U.S. corruption? Natural disasters create resource windfalls in the states they strike by triggering federally provided natural-disaster relief. By increasing the benefit of fraudulent appropriation and creating new opportunities for such theft, disaster-relief windfalls may also increase corruption. We investigate this hypothesis by exploring the effect of disaster relief provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on public corruption. The results support our hypothesis. Each additional $100 per capita in FEMA relief increases the average state's corruption by nearly 102 percent. Our findings suggest notoriously corrupt regions of the United States, such as the Gulf Coast, are in part notoriously corrupt because natural disasters frequently strike them. They attract more disaster relief, which makes them more corrupt.

(Nod to KL)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hedging: yer doin' it right!

Way to go, Mexican government. You have shown that you know how derivatives are supposed to be used and have used them very wisely to protect oil revenues in 2009:

"The world's sixth biggest oil producer hedged almost all of next's year oil exports at prices ranging from $70 to $100 at a cost of about $1.5bn (£961m) through derivatives contracts, according to bankers familiar with the deal."

Oil is trading right now in the low $50s so it seems like a wise move indeed. Even if prices rise above the contracted selling price in the puts, the loss is limited to the price of the options and $1.5 billion is not a bad price for a comprehensive insurance policy on such an important asset.

Maybe the Mexican Treasury department can give lessons to these guys.

Don't Peep on Me

The Bishop sends this email:

In an afternoon of solidarity with the Munger campaign, my son, son-in-law, grandson and I went up the canyon Saturday afternoon and each shot about 50 rounds through our shotguns and 100 through handguns. We killed lots of clay pigeons although some got away. We hunted those down with the handguns. A 9mm handgun is really nice, although I am not too good with it. Alas, we had no automatic rifles. Noah, my 4-year old grandson, had his 15-shot elastic band shooting rifle. A very libertarian/liberating afternoon. Enjoy yours.

The Bishop goes on to note that this video concerns a relative of his. I should not that the Bishop's relative is the gun owner, and peep-ee, not the peeper.

Video Courtesy of

Irony....Coincidence....Or Some Useful Info?

Two items:

1. "President-elect Obama plans to name Christina Romer, an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, to chair his Council of Economic Advisers, aides said." [Politico]

2. "PERHAPS CONSERVATIVES SHOULD give John McCain more credit on economic policy. McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts, something that haunted him on his path to the Republican nomination. He defends himself by saying that tax cuts must be matched by spending restraint, but many conservatives believe that cutting taxes preemptively is the best way to restrain spending -- the "starve the beast" hypothesis. Now two economists find no support in the historical record to indicate that tax cuts have a negative effect on federal government spending. In fact, they found a positive effect -- the tax cuts were followed by spending increases. Unless politicians explicitly connect spending and tax policy, there is a tendency to disassociate the two. Meanwhile, contrary to the notion that tax cuts pay for themselves via extra growth, most of the subsequent recovery in lost revenue came as a result of tax increases enacted specifically to counter the initial tax cuts. Romer, Christina, and Romer, D., "Do Tax Cuts Starve the Beast: The Effect of Tax Changes on Government Spending," National Bureau of Economic Research (October 2007). [Kevin Lewis, Boston Globe, 3/23/08, ATSRTWT]

(Nod to KL)

maybe I was too narrow minded

I posted an early season MVP watch based on Kobe, LBJ and Paul Pierce and was upbraided in the comments for forgetting CP3, Chris Paul.

Chris had a pretty decent game Saturday night against "my" Thunder:

He shot 11/17 from the field, 6/7 from the line for 29 points, grabbed 10 boards, had 16 assists to only 2 turnovers, and also grabbed 3 steals. Wow.

For the season, he is shooting 52.8% with 5.5 rebounds, 11.8 assists and 3.1 steals. Wow again.

So let me give the man his due:

True Happiness

True happiness is.....

Hobo and Tanzie, lying together in a sunbeam on a cold day.

I should note: Hobo is the King of All Dogs (2T being the Prince of Wales), and Tanzie is the Boss of Hobo. In fact it is rather amazing how much Tanzie is the boss. Or, maybe not.

Costswolds Rain Dance

Stephen posts a nice video on the Costswold Rain Dance. (I'm not going to repost it; go to CSS if you want to see it.)

Now, my fraternity used to a dance like this in the 1970s, at Davidson. Of course, we had on no clothes, and there was was butter involved, but pretty similar dance otherwise.

(Props to SC, for pointing out the misspelling...)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Marquis de Condorcet pays a visit to Big XII country

Thanks to OU's dismantling of Texas Tech last night, the Big XII is staring into the face of the dreaded Condorcet triple.

Texas beat OU, OU beat Texas Tech, Texas Tech beat Texas. Who wins the Big XII south?

It's complicated, people.

My anti sooner friends say "you can't rank OU ahead of Texas 'cause Texas beat them". OK, fair enough, then you can't rank Texas ahead of Texas Tech for the same reason and you can't rank Texas Tech ahead of OU. That's why they call it a paradox.

As things stand, whichever team is ranked higher by the BCS after next weekends games will be declared the Big XII south champion (assuming all three win to preserve the 3 way tie).

So in effect, an abomination is going to settle a paradox. Welcome to America, Marquis!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wow! The weekend is off to a great start

Bye-bye PJ. Don't let the door hit you and all that!

"After losing 12 of 13 games to start the season, P.J. Carlesimo has been fired as Oklahoma City Thunder coach, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Assistant Scott Brooks will take over as the interim coach beginning with Saturday night’s game against the Hornets in New Orleans.

The final indignity for Carlesimo was a mortifying 105-80 loss to the Hornets on Friday night in Oklahoma City. General manager Sam Presti informed Carlesimo of the decision before the team boarded the flight to Louisiana.

Before the feeble start to this season, Carlesimo was 20-62 a season ago in Seattle. As the assistant GM in San Antonio, Presti had worked with Carlesimo, an aide on Gregg Popovich’s coaching staff. Presti and owner Clay Bennett considered firing him over the summer, but allowed Carlesimo a chance to salvage a second chance. With a roster gutted of veterans, this was a difficult job from the start."

PJ just couldn't settle on a lineup, be consistent with a rotation or with minutes, or even seem to understand what parts of games were critical.

People, he seemed to have fallen in love with Damian Wilkens! He either had an insane offense or had no ability to get people to do what he wanted, or didn't realize that Kevin Durant should be the showcase player. As for frying pan - fire considerations, when you are down this low, any variance has to be appreciated I think.

It's Saturday and I'm..

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Grand Game: Most appalling comment

It's been a while since we played the "grand game," where KPC readers are cordially invited to find the most asinine component of a post on another blog, and quote it for fun and for cash. Well, for fun.

Here's the post, by old friend Nick Gillespie, ex-editor of Reason mag, and now head of Reason-TV.

Two initial things:

1. You canNOT list Nick's suggestion that I run for Prez as the most asinine part of the post. Self-consciously absurd passages are called "irony," and are not eligible for GG entries. Only absurdities that are intended seriously make it past our strict panel of judges. Nick is clearly having a little fun. But the commenters are not big on fun. They are your data; find the maximum.

2. In this same vein, Tannim's comment (November 21, 2008, 12:28pm) does NOT qualify for the GG. It is funny, but intentionally so:

Talk to your proctologist about your lobotomy; it's overdue.

Now, THAT is intellectual discourse.

Go to it....

Neanderbill's Performance Art: Lucas was wrong....

So, you should understand about Neanderbill.

He is 6'8" tall (really, he is), and 180 pounds if he had a big breakfast. Ichabod Crane, except taller.

One windy day, I pull into the parking garage (we carpool, Neanderbill and I), and when I open the door about 6 or 8 one dollar bills on the floor (change from a carwash) blow out Neanderbill's door, and go flying toward the wall.

Neanderbill, wearing a trench coat that flies out behind him like a cape, goes running after the bills, flapping his enormous long arms.

And bellowing, in his basso profundo voice, "Lucas was WRONG! Lucas was WRONG!"

He stomped on the bills, one by one, and returned them. But I basically didn't recover the whole day.

The long slide

There's a very nice piece in the WSJ today titled, "The Automakers are Already Bankrupt".

It mentions that a "Detroit radio talk-show host asked whether Michigan, as well as the car companies, should get assistance. The state is being hit by an economic hurricane, he said, just as New Orleans was hit by a natural hurricane."

People, the big three have been in decline for a loooong time. Check these graphs from Mark Perry:

The "big" three have been hit by bad management, short sighted unions and bizarre federal regulations since the 1970s (at the least).

Because you asked.....

A number of people have asked where the "Where's the Cheddar?" baby came from.

There WAS a website called "Crazy Mean Baby (dot net)", but it has been taken down.

There IS, however, a video, with the original picture at the beginning.

Crazy Mean Baby is obviously a busy little fellow.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In the Future, Everyone Will Be Bankrupt for 15 Minutes

Interesting article, from 1999, from the Philadelphia Fed.


Historically, financial markets have displayed a tendency to overreact to a deterioration in business conditions. During a downturn, it’s normal practice for financial intermediaries to raise their credit standards and for risk-averse investors to shift out of stocks and bonds into cash and government securities. These actions reduce the amount of credit extended to the private nonfinancial sector and raise interest rates charged on loans. Usually, the cutback in credit does not lead to widespread financial distress, although some firms (and households) go bankrupt. But if the cutback is severe, many firms may fail. Widespread business failures, in turn, may cause the failure of financial intermediaries and lead to further cutbacks in credit and more bankruptcies.

This self-propelled cycle of credit cutbacks and bankruptcies leads to a financial crisis that results in low output, high unemployment, and very low investment.
Why a business downturn becomes a fullblown financial crisis is not fully understood,
but investor pessimism plays an important role. If enough people think that a usiness contraction is about to degenerate into a financial crisis and act accordingly, the crisis will, in fact, materialize: investors, fearing a financial crisis, may withdraw so much cash from banks and other depository institutions that they may force even sound financial institutions to run out of cash and fail.

Furthermore, an economy that suffers one financial crisis becomes prone to suffering
more crises because investors begin to view every downturn with alarm, and their pessimism and fear cause downturns to degenerate into crises more often.

And, the article gives a pretty good review of TFP, which Angus invoked, and Tyler lauded, earlier.

A better kind of ad

I like it. A better kind of ad.

Nod to Anti-Climacus.

"It's not your money!"

Holy cow, Congressman Knollenberg, whose money is it? And, you are a REPUBLICAN, right? I guess it's YOUR money, Mr. Knollenberg? (You only have to watch 30 seconds of this, to get the idea)

Thanks to my man Steve Newton.

Al-Qaeda: Obama is just the HNIC

As reported on BBC: No. 2 Al Qaeda guy calls BHO a "abeed al-beit," or house slave, though that was apparently translated as "house negro" in the English subtitles that AQ so helpfully provides for its non-Arabic fans. I think he meant "HNIC," however, since BHO is now more or less "IC."

Now, that would be some hatin'. Idiomatic, culturally fluent hatin'. Look, Ayman, spend the money, and get a real translator.

But...seriously...what possible benefit do they expect from this? Is Al-Qaeda trying to court the American religious right, as Dinesh D'Souza seems to have proposed they do?

Georgia Senate Run-off: Dec 2

Three Senate races yet to be decided, though it looks like Alaska will be Democrat, Minnesota will be SNAFU-ed, and Georgia is having a special election.

On Georgia, which will elect again on December 2: My colleague David Rohde and I had an interview with the Christian Science Monitor.

Quadruplet Sons of Mothers of Different Ages.....Generations! (Revised)

This is really something. (ADDED LATER: The fact is that there are four generations of the same gene pool, I think)

First, the KPC Baby:

Second, my colleague Alex Downes, an International Relations specialist at Duke.

Third, Christoph Gutentag, Director of Admissions, Duke University.

Finally, Grandpa himself:

I'm just sayin'.

No Punch Line Required

from WAPO:

the chief executives of the Big Three automakers opted to fly their company jets to the capital for their hearings this week before the Senate and House -- an ill-timed display of corporate excess for a trio of executives begging for an additional $25 billion from the public trough this week.

"There's a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hands," Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.) advised the pampered executives at a hearing yesterday. "It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high-hat and tuxedo. . . . I mean, couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here?"

Make a Little Difference My Big Ol' Butt

Oh, please.

Quite amusing, if it weren't so idiotic.

"A basket of fruit flown in from oversees emits more CO2 than an average family uses for cooking in six months."

Um...what? We have an electric stove. And we don't cook fruit, anyway. And it takes more fertilizer and energy to grow local than to ship apples in from Chile. How do I know this, know this for SURE? It's because apples from Chile are cheaper.

Next problem.

(Nod to EconTalk Fan)

UNC's New "Summer Abroad" Program

Gosh, when I was an undergrad, I always wanted to study abroad. But I could never find a broad who would let me. (baDOOMching)

Anyway, the University of North Carolina sends its undergrads to the far corners of the globe, in search of the exotic and the strange.

But they have just started a new summer study abroad program, one that might make the heart of even the boldest adventurer quail in fear.

UNC is sending its "study abroad" students to.....Oklahoma.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Harvard: Yer Doin' It WRONG!

Wow. Having a big endowment means never having to say you're sorry. Right? Just kidding, fellas!

From Slate, courtesy of Old Prez Guy.

...Every quarter, Harvard Management Company files a 13-F form with the Securities and Exchange Commission, indicating a portion of its holdings in publicly traded securities—stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds. The 13-F is a snapshot and is not fully representative of Harvard's overall holdings. But the chunk of the portfolio revealed in the most recent 13-F looks like it was chosen by someone who watched a few episodes of CNBC's Squawk Box and heard that the hot new investments were emerging markets, commodities, and private equity.

The 13-F shows Harvard with some 231 positions worth nearly $2.9 billion! , highly concentrated in popped macroeconomic bubble plays.

Heh...heh-heh...heh. He said "Squawk Box."

What kind of bloggers are we?

According to Typealyzer, we are Mechanics (for a point of contrast, N.G. Mankiw is rated a Scientist). Here's the details:

ISTP - The Mechanics

"The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts."
"The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters."

I am not sure who between Mungowitz or I "often avoid inter-personal conflicts", and we most certainly are not cop or fireman material, but all in all, pretty accurate. The closest I come to risk is playing poker and traveling to semi-exotic places (Madagascar, Cambodia, Borneo, Rwanda, Tunisia, Oklahoma...).

Guess what? Paul Samuelson hates me

From the German magazine Spiegel:

Libertarians are not just bad emotional cripples. They are also bad advice givers. I refer of course to the views of both Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek. The “serfdom” they warn against is not that of Genghis Khan or Lenin-Stalin-Mao or Hitler-Mussolini. Rather, they warn against the centrist states of the modern world. Think only of Switzerland, Britain, the US, the Scandinavian countries, and the Pacific Rim. Why do citizenries there report high indexes of “happiness” and enjoy broad freedoms of speech and belief?

Don't hold back Paul. Let it out, bro.

using markets is not the same thing as unregulated capitalism so beloved by libertarians. Such systems cannot regulate themselves, either micro-economically or macro-economically. Wherever tried they systematically breed intolerable inequalities. And instead of such inequality being the necessary price to encourage dynamic progress via technological and managerial innovations, it instead breeds dysfunctional shortfalls in what economists call "total factor productivity."

Huh? Did anybody get that? Bueller?


If what we've seen in the US the last 15 years is "unregulated capitalism", libertarians DON'T love it.

And how in the world does inequality "breed disfunctional shortfalls" in TFP?

May I take this opportunity to remind everyone that measured TFP is a residual that is correlated with a lot of stuff that technological progress shouldn't be correlated with?

Guess I won't be getting invited to his 100th birthday party.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

If only GM made cars like this

Pretty sweet eh? Here is a background piece.

Talk JLF Yesterday.....

I gave a talk at JLF yesterday.

They were kind enough to post the video.

The first video is short, and actually rather amusing.

Stickin' it to the man: Ecuadorian edition

This is a double dip stickin', the mark of a consummate pro. Stick #1: Rafa Correa is signalling another Ecuadorian default on its public debt, delaying an interest payment and hinting that they may declare the debt to be illegal (so awesome!!) and default.

But the true genius is stick #2: Rafa is also going to take a bite out of his sugar daddy Hugo:

Ecuador President Rafael Correa's looming default on $510 million of bonds may hurt his biggest ally, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, more than anyone else.

Ecuador, hamstrung by a tumble in oil, its biggest export, said last week it will use a 30-day grace period to decide whether to make a $30 million interest payment that came due Nov. 15. Chavez's government owns structured notes tied to Ecuador's bonds that would force Venezuela to pay $400 million if Correa doesn't make the payment, according to estimates by Barclays Capital Inc.

Venezuela's potential losses may strain relations between two presidents who meet every three months and espouse the same socialist themes.

Wow! So Venezuela has been somehow insuring Ecuador's debt?

Here is the scoop on Correa:

Correa, an economist who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been threatening since the 2006 campaign to halt payments on debt he calls ``illegitimate.''.

``If there's a sufficient basis to say we can't pay this illegitimate debt, that's what we'll do,'' Correa said in his radio address, according to a statement posted on the government's Web site. ``That the bonds fall and the country risk rises doesn't hold the least interest for us. Here we'll act for the country and the common good.''

I have a good friend and colleague who also got his PhD from Illinois. He is going to be really sick of me ribbing him about the program there.

Oh and by the way, Ecuador really is broke:

Ecuador's finances have come under strain as oil, which accounts for 60 percent of the country's exports, has plunged 62 percent from a record high in July to $55.59 a barrel.

Ecuador needs an oil price of $95 to cover all the spending in its budget and a price of $76 to avoid depleting its $6.3 billion of foreign reserves, according to Barclays. The South American country last defaulted less than a decade ago, halting payments on $6.5 billion of bonds in 1999.

Hat tip to Boz

Monday, November 17, 2008

All hail A-Poo!

Albert Pujols wins his second NL MVP award. A-poo, you are 7 kinds of awesome. Congrats from all your fans at KPC!

Clueless People: Alliterative edition

Tyler (who is definitely NOT clueless) quotes our clueless subject of the day, Bruce Bartlett, as follows:

"I think it would be a terrible mistake to simply write a check to the auto industry without demanding major, major restructuring of its labor contracts. Without that the money will simply go down a rat hole and the automakers will just be back again in a year or two asking for more money. Obama has a strong hand to play here and I hope he uses his leverage. With bankruptcy as the only alternative to federal aid, he can drive a very hard bargain with the auto workers. If he caves and just writes a blank check, everyone will know he can be rolled and he will pay a heavy political price for it. If Obama shows toughness on this issue, I think it will pay enormous dividends for him down the road. "

Um, Obama bash the unions in his first major act as president? Really Bruce? You think that's a winner for him? Really?

Yes he has "leverage" and yes he will use it, but sadly, he will use it to mandate vague and useless "green jobs" and alternative technology initiatives (I say useless because he'd be mandating this for companies that can't create conventional jobs or master existing technologies).

If we are going to do anything here, I'd say just give a lump sum payment to the workers and let nature take its course with respect to the corporate structures.

I don't think it's the union that put Detroit in their current predicament. It did not help, that's for sure but the union does not design and market the product nor undertake investments or make acquisitions.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rain....Rain....Fall Down, Don't Go Boom

Saturday morning, 5 am: I get up, drag myself downstairs. Drive to the Hardees in Pittsboro, get coffee.

Drive the rest of the way out to the Munger ranch. As has been mentioned before, this is where Mungers go to get away.

Met GameBill and Justin, already there, sitting in their car in the rain. GameBill is the lead hunter. Draws up a plan where we will walk slowly, and then spread out on the big stump pile and....wait for four hours.

In the rain. And strong winds.

But the rain clears up after about an hour. I move up the stump pile, and lose my balance. I have chambered a round on the Mauser K-98 8mm I am using today, because it takes too long to crank the bolt if I see a deer, and I can do it much more quietly if I do it slowly. Catch my balance by stepping on a big stump....which suddenly rolls over and moves at least three feet.

I fall head first down the stump pile, and the Mauser slips off my shoulder, where I had been carrying it by the strap. The gun was made in 1944, has Wehrmacht markings, and all matching numbers, so it is a cool old rifle. But it does NOT have a safety. In 1944, the Germans were worried about Russians, not safeties.

So, I'm lying in the mud and brambles, face down in the hole vacated by the big stump, and the Mauser is skittering downhill fast, across a bunch of sticks and branches, any one of which could catch the trigger. The headline flashes across my mind: "Another idiot dies in completely avoidable hunting accident; Darwin award almost certain."

Nothing happens, though, other than me tearing up my hands on the brambles. I am coughing, though, and it is so still out here that even a small cough carries a long way. And deer ears are sharp.

So, I walk the edge of the road back toward the north, about 1/2 mile up and back (the property is pretty big, 35 acres, so still Munger land.)

Then, I put together the deer stand, a ladder/tree arrangement, getting only small amounts of blood on the wrenches. Around 11, I go back down and sit on the stump pile, knowing that GameBill is back in the woods, trying to spook the deerfolk.

I see something bright orange walking out of the woods, and I manage not to shoot at it. (I'm not that good a shot, so it's probably safe, anyway.) GameBill notes, "I didn't see [anything]," or something like that.

GameBill and Justin spread 40 pounds of corn on the field, and I finish the tree stand. Then we carry the thing down to the chosen tree, and set it up. 15 feet is actually quite high when your butt is 15 feet in the air, and the wind is really blowing. But GameBill checks it out.

Then we go to the S&T Soda shop, back in town, about 10 miles away. Very fine sandwich/burger place, but the reason to go is the ice cream and shakes, and to talk to Amanda, the nicest girl in the world.

Then, I went home, and Bill and Justin headed back to property.

And waited another four hours of fruitlessness. Took turns sitting in the deer stand, and...well, I'll let GameBill tell it. From his email, at 5:05am Sunday, after a sleepless night.

Well, I was sure your decision to leave early today was the right one. I sat in the new tree stand for two hours after lunch and didn't see a single thing. Then Justin sat in the tree stand with no luck, and I went over to the same spot you stood in this morning.

At sundown I still hadn't seen a thing. Then, with about 10 minutes of light left I heard a noise, looked up, and saw two deer charging right for me. I could tell one had a rack. The other ran ahead of him and came within about 8 feet of where I was standing (the very same spot you were in this morning). After hesitating a moment trying to figure out which to shoot, I picked out the far one in my scope and took two shots at him while he was running. He went down. Big deer! Picture attached.

It was almost a perfect ending to the day, except that I drove the car across the field to make it easier to pick up the deer, and when I tried to go back the car wouldn't move. The ground was so soft that the wheels sank a few inches down and just started spinning. After about 3 hours of trying everything we finally made it out. I left four divots that I'll tidy up next time I'm out there.

Also, when I walked back to check if I had left anything at the site, I put out two deer in the flat right below the field. Then I saw the eyes of a third over by your tree stand. So there are definitely deer around there. And the corn should increase traffic.

We were too late to take the deer to a butcher/processor, so I spent about 4 hours butchering him myself tonight. Let me know what kind of venison you'd like.

I asked for one of the backstraps. And, yes, I'm going to serve it to company.

Well done, GameBill! I think I count 9 or 10 points in that picture. Way to perservere. And, getting stuck and THEN butchering your own deer at 3 in the morning is the sort of thing that made America great. Great, I tell you.

MVP watch: early edition

Kobe: 44.9% FG, 82.5% FT, 5.1 boards, 3.8 assists, 1.8 steals, 24.8 ppg

Lebron: 50.0% FG, 77.0% FT, 8.0 boards, 7.3 assists, 2.0 steals, 29.8 ppg

Pierce: 41.0% FG, 82.2% FT, 7.4 boards, 3.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 21.0 ppg

Team records, Boston: 9-2, Cleveland: 8-2, Lakers: 7-1. All three are in first place in their division.

It's an LBJ cakewalk, people.

Now THAT'S Pimpin'!

Lil Wesley K Clark has hit a new and vile low in the big 3 bailout debate. That's right people, it's a matter of national security!

"AMERICA’S automobile industry is in desperate trouble. Financial instability, the credit squeeze and closed capital markets are hurting domestic automakers, while decades of competition from foreign producers have eroded market share and consumer loyalty. Some economists question the wisdom of Washington’s intervening to help the Big Three, arguing that the automakers should pay the price for their own mistakes or that the market will correct itself. But we must act: aiding the American automobile industry is not only an economic imperative, but also a national security imperative."

Ah yes, the lovely national security argument for economic distortion and protectionism. The last refuge, as they say.

As always, it's hard to know where to begin. First off, Ford and GM do not comprise "America's automobile industry". Second, if there was no GM, would it be impossible to use Toyota or Honda in the US to provide military vehicles? Plenty of countries IMPORT military equipment, don't they? Third, not bailing out the big 3 does not necessarily mean they will cease to exist (though that outcome is possible).

I'll say this for Wes, he is a grimly determined and wildly entertaining fleshmonger. After a bunch of paragraphs that pretty much say nothing he concludes with:

"This should be no giveaway. Instead, it is a historic opportunity to get it right in Detroit for the good of the country. But Americans must bear in mind that any federal assistance plan would not be just an economic measure. This is, fundamentally, about national security."

How can the NY Times print this moronic drivel?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ouch! Google Me THIS, Joker!

We got thrown out.

You just can't help some people.

Impeccable Government Logic on Display

Hey Judy Shelton: Enough already with the Gold Standard

Judy "one note" Shelton again graces the opinion page of the WSJ with an ode to the long defunct Bretton Woods system. Here is one freaky passage out of many:

"At the bottom of the world financial crisis is international monetary disorder. Ever since the post-World War II Bretton Woods system -- anchored by a gold-convertible dollar -- ended in August 1971, the cause of free trade has been compromised by sovereign monetary-policy indulgence."

Wow, people. Where to begin to parse this mess? Sentence #1 is completely false. At the bottom of the world financial crisis is a housing bubble and inadequate allowance for risk. Sentence #2 is misleading at best. Trade has exploded since 1971. Of course she could be arguing that it would have grown even faster, but that case is not being made. Further, internal politics in poor countries and rich country lobbies have compromised "the cause of free trade" by several orders of magnitude more than have any monetary shenanigans.

People, the Bretton Woods system never really worked. In the late 40s and early 50s there were massive devaluations undertaken without IMF permission. Throughout the 50s the US allowed Europe to discriminate against US goods. Full currency convertibility for trade didn't occur until the mid 60s, so the system as designed really started then, lasted well less than a decade, and was pretty much perpetually in crisis.

A world wide system of fixed exchange rates just won't work in a world of free capital flows, unless domestic government forsake all internal considerations and dedicate their monetary policies 100% to the peg. We have seen that no modern societies, whether democratic or autocratic are will to do this.

So Judy, repeat after me: (1) floating exchange rates have almost nothing to do with the current financial crisis. (2) The Bretton Woods system never worked as designed for any reasonable period of time. (3) Advocating a return to a pseudo gold standard is equivalent to howling at the moon given the political realities of our modern world.

People, a great book on all this stuff is Barry Eichengreen's "Globalizing Capital". Easily readable by non-economists and incredible informative and well written.

This week's sign of the apocalypse

From the AP wire comes the heartwarming holiday story of "Nebraska parents rush to leave kids before law changes":

LINCOLN, Neb. – The mother was running out of more than patience when she abandoned her 18-year-old daughter at a hospital over the weekend under Nebraska's safe-haven law. She was also running out of time: She knew that state lawmakers would soon meet in a special session to amend the ill-fated law so that it would apply to newborns only.

"Where am I going to get help if they change the law?" said the mother...

To the state's surprise and embarrassment, more than half of the 31 children legally abandoned under the safe-haven law since it took effect in mid-July have been teenagers.

But state officials may have inadvertently made things worse with their hesitant response to the problem: The number of drop-offs has almost tripled to about three a week since Gov. Dave Heineman announced on Oct. 29 that lawmakers would rewrite the law.

With legislators set to convene on Friday, weary parents like the Lincoln mother have been racing to drop off their children while they still can.

On Thursday, authorities searched for two teens — a boy and girl, ages 14 and 17 — who fled an Omaha hospital as their mother tried to abandon them. The mother was trying to take them from the car to the emergency room when they took off.

Holy crap!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

P. J. Rourke is sad

KPS friend Craig Newmark links an interesting piece by PJ O'Rourke.

Philly Fans Flip Cars, Not Real Estate

A heart-warming, if brain-damaged, little story.

Nod to RL, who hurled invective, but never batteries...

The definitive countercyclical asset

People, it's beer!! Here's Anheuser-Busch compared to the Dow:

Thanks to Tyler for the meme and Mark Perry for the asset.

(almost) Everybody loves Mike

Mike D'Antoni, that is. People the Knicks are a living, breathing real NBA team. They are 5-3 ("if the playoffs started tomorrow" lol) compared to last years 2-6 and they are fun to watch. They play hard. Quite a change from last year (see this or this)

Amazingly a lot of it has to do with how D'Antoni handled Stephon Marbury; in contrast to Zeke's enabling, Mike buried Steph alive, and the team responded.

Yesterday D'Antoni activated an injured sumo wrestler instead of Starbury. Steph's response? He speculated that if the Knicks would cut him, he'd love to play for the San Antonio Spurs! LOL. Good luck with that one Stephon. If anyone would treat him harsher than Mikey D, it'd have to be Coach Pop wouldn't it?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sure, but does he play defense??

Two is plenty!

People I write in praise of the two piece combo (no not the one from KFC). Two of my very favorite new groups are duos; No Age and F***k Buttons and appreciating them made me reflect on other great duos.

I really like the Black Keys and the White Stripes for midwestern whiteboy blues, and going back just a bit further in time Quasi and the Spinanes are big two piece favorites as well.

So if you are a guitarist or keyboardist and are thinking about starting a band, just get ye a drummer and you're good to go!

Here are links to videos by:
No Age
F***k Buttons
White Stripes
Black Keys
Quasi and the

Any other duos that y'all really like?

In praise of the superstar

Over at MR, Tyler writes an ode to the superstar. He argues that team players do less to "benefit society" than does the selfish superstar.

I largely agree, except that Tyler appears to believe that being a selfish superstar or a team player is a matter of choice, and that winning does not help raise the fame of a superstar.

I think both these beliefs are false.

Winning adds to the luster and fame of stars. how often do we hear that a superstar doesn't "have a ring" or that one has more rings than the other.

Superstars are not team players no matter what team they are on (nor should they be for the reasons Tyler gives).

The team players are marginal talents who can earn a good paycheck and some amount of "inside baseball" fame by doing what is needed for overall success. Shane Battier, call your office.

Ironically, too many superstars can be counterproductive to team performance.

Looking at the NBA, it seems that in the long run, one per team is about the max. Shaq and Kobe couldn't stay together. Pippen was nowhere near a superstar. In Boston's big 3, Ray Allen is a one dimensional player and very far from a superstar.

The closest thing to a counter example of my general point is Kevin Garnett; a superstar who really seems unselfish. Note that Starbury couldn't accept being on Garnett's team. From the past, maybe Magic would qualify.

So winning is part of the superstar's fame building and winning requires team players who help on defense while the superstar rests, set picks for the superstar, pass instead of shoot, and rebound.

Any team player would rather be a superstar but they don't have the skilz.

The worst situation is when a player whose skill set says team player tries to take it upon himself to be the superstar (phone call for Ricky Davis).

How bad did McCain get beat?

I ask because this Yahoo news story refers to how he doesn't blame Sarah Palin for "their crushing defeat".

Crushing? Really? In my lifetime, there have been 13 presidential elections and this was the 6th closest.

Here are some crushing defeats from my lifetime: Barry Goldwater got 52 electoral votes in 64, George McGovern got 17 in 1972, Jimmy Carter got 49 (as an incumbent!!!) in 1980, Walter Mondale got lucky 13 in 84 and Dukakis got 111 in 1988.

I just don't see McCain's (162) defeat as anything close to crushing. But maybe that's just my man crush talking.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Everybody loves Obama: Chili-dog edition

Ben's Chili Bowl welcomes the Obamas to DC:

"For eight years, the sign next to the cash register at Ben’s Chili Bowl has let patrons know that only one customer was allowed to eat for free, and that was Bill Cosby. As of last week, that is no longer so. After the presidential election, management added another asterisk to the white paper sign near the cashier, listing others with free-eats rights at Ben’s: the Obama family — President-elect Barack Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their daughters, Malia and Sasha."

I can haz a free half-smoke?

The "ruler" meme gets legs

Recently Obama's transition chief pronounced him ready to "take power and rule". Now, in an article about the Obamas and the Clintons, we are treated to the following:

"It’s the latest phase in the ruling-class soap opera that is the Obama-Clinton alliance, where the two first families negotiate new personal relationships as Hillary Clinton wrestles with her own ambivalence about Michelle Obama’s husband, a man she once ridiculed as too callow to govern, and then worked tirelessly to elect."

Ruling class? Really? WTF!!

Everybody loves Obama, Peru edition

Some Peruvians, hearing the Obama family plight (the Chosen One promised the kids a dog but it has to be "hypo-allergenic" because one kid has allergies) has offered a Peruvian Hairless Dog puppy to the new first family.

Feast your eyes people:

"They do not cause any type of allergy and are very friendly and sweet," said Claudia Galvez, 38, director of the Friends of the Peruvian Hairless Dog Association.

"We want to give a male puppy to Obama's daughters, so they get to experience all the joys of having a dog but without any allergies."

Galvez delivered a letter detailing her offer to the U.S. embassy in Lima on Monday and hopes Obama will accept it.

Would Obama really take jobs away from American Puppies??

Monday, November 10, 2008

He's ready to "take power and rule"

Lucky us.

For All You Bev Perdue Voters Out There: You Must be SO PROUD!

Did you hear this?

I MEAN, DID YOU HEAR THIS? (Click on "Immigration Ad 2" down toward the bottom)




An unbelievably vile radio ad. "Chee-lay cone cahr-nay" indeed. Wow.

You Bev Perdue supporters must be so proud. Congratulations.

Lets hear it for easy Al

My old friend George Selgin goes after Alan Greenspan and also makes sense about how to judge the stance of monetary policy:

"one cannot accurately gauge the easiness of monetary policy by looking at money-stock measures alone. Instead, one must look at measures that indicate the relationship between the stock of money on one hand and the real demand for it or, if one prefers, its velocity. What matters isn't how rapidly the money stock grows, regardless of how one chooses to measure it, but whether its grows faster than the public's demand for real (that is, price-level-adjusted) money holdings. Even a low, a zero, or a negative absolute growth rate for some money-stock measure can prove excessive if demand for the monetary assets in question is declining. Regarded in light of this consideration, Greenspan's monetary policy was in fact "easy," as I will endeavor to show."

Nice job George and congrats on your move.

Separated at Birth?

I thought we weren't doing human cloning??

And so it continues

According to the FT, Obama is planning to go big:

"US President-elect Barack Obama intends to push a comprehensive programme of social and economic reform beyond an immediate emergency stimulus package, Rahm Emanuel, the next White House chief of staff, indicated on Sunday."

"Mr Emanuel brushed aside concerns that an Obama administration would risk taking on too much when it takes office in January. He said Mr Obama saw the financial meltdown as an historic opportunity to deliver the large-scale investments that Democrats had promised for years."

"Tackling the meltdown would not entail delays in plans for far-reaching energy, healthcare and education reforms when all three were also in crisis, he said. “These are crises you can no longer afford to postpone [addressing].”

"Mr Emanuel, Mr Obama’s first appointment after his emphatic victory over John McCain last week, added that Mr Obama would push hard during the 11-week transition before he is inaugurated for early assistance to the collapsing US car industry, which he described as “an essential part of our economy”."

"Sunday’s comments also reinforce the impression that Mr Obama’s transition economic advisory board – which includes leading lights of the Clinton era, such as Lawrence Summers and Robert Rubin – is tilting heavily towards a “big bang” approach that would combine a short-term stimulus with large public investments to raise the longer-term US growth rate."

"In a radio address to the nation on Saturday, Mr Obama emphasised the urgency both of passing a fiscal stimulus package, which could include a middle-class tax cut, and of moving swiftly ahead on long-term public investments."

“We can’t afford to wait on moving forward on the key priorities that I identified during the campaign, including clean energy, healthcare, education and tax relief for middle-class families,” said Mr Obama. “We also need a rescue plan for the middle class that invests in immediate efforts to create jobs and provides relief to families watching their paychecks shrink and their life savings disappear.”"

Man oh man oh man oh man. Again with the canard that the big 3 automakers are "an essential part of our economy" along with the view that they will somehow disappear forever absent a few billion from the goodie bag.

And we are also treated to "large public investments to raise the the longer term US growth rates". People, one thing that Robert Solow got right is that investment is NOT the key to long term growth. The key to long term growth is technological progress. Somehow I do not think these public investments will be in the form of R&D grants, or massive increased funding for basic research, or even prizes for specific discoveries or innovations. Absent that, they are not going to raise the nation's long term growth rate.

We are in for an interesting two years at least.