Saturday, May 17, 2008

Epic Fail

It's failure and sadness all the way around in this story from Inside Higher Ed about Prof. Steve Aird and Norfolk State University.

No one seems to dispute that Aird was denied tenure for failing too many students. How many is too many? Well many professors at Norfolk State say that there is a clear expectation from administrators — in particular from Dean Sandra J. DeLoatch, the dean whose recommendation turned the tide against Aird’s tenure bid — that 70 percent of students should pass.

Now that seems more than a little nuts, to have a quota. However, Aird wasn't just marginally below quota:

The review listed various courses, with remarks such as: “At the end of Spring 2004, 22 students remained in Dr. Aird’s CHM 100 class. One student earned a grade of ‘B’ and all others, approximately 95 percent, earned grades between ‘D’ and ‘F.’” Or: “At the end of Fall 2005, 38 students remained in Dr. Aird’s BIO 100 class. Four students earned a grade of ‘C-’ or better and 34, approximately 89 percent, received D’s and F’s.”

These class records resulted in the reason cited for tenure denial: “the core problem of the overwhelming failure of the vast majority of the students he teaches, especially since the students who enroll in the classes of Dr. Aird’s supporters achieve a greater level of success than Dr. Aird’s students.”

So I gotta say that this is more than a little nuts too. If you are consistently failing a majority of your students, you are in the wrong place. One can argue that the institution should be reformed or disbanded, but as an employee you cannot take it upon yourself to create an entirely separate mini-world.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Why no one will hire Avery Johnson

Alternative title: Why Josh Howard smokes the weed!!

Cost Estimates of the Petition Drive Experience

Estimates of the costs of the petition method for qualifying parties:

1. Cost to the party
a. $134,000 in cash
b. 2,200 hours of additional volunteer time, above and beyond time spent by paid petitioners
c. 250 hours of additional administrative time, planning drives and raising funds
d. 10,000 individual pieces of paper. That’s more than 20 reams of paper, or 400 pounds!

2. Cost to the taxpayers of North Carolina
a. Processing costs for county clerks, who must check the validity of every signature: 4,000 hours! That’s more than 160 person-days of time that county clerks have to spend on this task. And that is assuming only 2 minutes per signature. Some take 5, or even 10, minutes to verify each signature.
b. Since the process keeps most parties out completely, the real cost to taxpayers is democracy. No choices, no new ideas, and no competition in a system that could surely use it. Nearly half of the seats in the General Assembly will be unopposed again this year because we have had to spend all our resources on this bizarre exercise instead of recruiting candidates and campaigning.

We turned in the SIGNATURES! We did it!

We turned in the signatures!!

Loading up....I forget sometimes that I am rather larger than most people.

The media awaits! WRAL did a nice job, and so did WPTF. More than fair coverage.

(photo credits: Tom Howe)

Is Argentina going to implode again?

Even without the help of the IMF? Jack Chang, in his blog "Inside South America" says maybe so:

Local media report that people are buying up dollars for fear that the peso could slide again and that the government will respond by freezing bank accounts, like it did in the bad old days. Government officials have denied any such measures are in the works, but people don't seem to be listening. The country's central bank recently had to inject $1 billion in dollars into the banking system to counter the bank rush.

Other evidence: In the capital of Buenos Aires, a poll by the Public Opinion Center of the University of Belgrano found that 69 percent of respondents believed another crash was "very probable," with 41 percent believing it could be triggered by inflation.

Which leads to the factors. First there's the protracted battle between President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and the country's farming sector, the main economic engine here, over higher export taxes imposed on soybeans and sunflowers in March. Farmers have blocked roads and withheld production to protest the higher taxes, and as the conflict drags on, the risk to the economy grows.

Then, there's inflation, which the government says hovers around 8 percent annually but which economists estimate is as much as three times that number. And a more recent factor, the Argentine peso is weakening against the dollar, a decline that bucks the worldwide trend. This morning, the peso was trading at 3.18 to the dollar.

Bloomberg has further coverage of the Argentine farmers' protests and notes that President Fernandez's popularity is falling to de la Rua levels (i.e. getting run out of office levels).

Wow, it seems that the only things worse than the results of orthodox policies in Latin America are the results of heterodox policies in Latin America.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

McCain gets one thing right and HRC goes mental!

John McCain had the guts to say he would veto the current farm bill thus making an almost infinite increase in the number of sensible things he's said lately, but Hill's having none of it:

"I believe saying no to the farm bill is saying no to rural America."

"When Bear Stearns needed assistance, we stepped in with a $30 billion package. But when our farmers need help, all they get from Senator McCain and President Bush is a veto threat," Clinton said.

Holy Crap! Do high food prices hurt farmers? I thought low food prices hurt them? Is there anything on this planet that could possibly happen that wouldn't hurt the American farmer?

With moves like this, how could John Edwards not have endorsed her?

Okay, this is true

Okay, so this guy has a point.

UPDATE: As Jerry Cruncher notes rightly, in comments, this is really a hoax, along these lines.

An interesting perspective on our inability to forecast exchange rate movements

25 years ago Meese and Rogoff showed that exchange rate changes were largely unforecastable. This result continues to hold. Now Flood and Rose say, Don't worry, be happy because we can't forecast aggregative stock index changes either (I am not making this up).

Their paper is called "Why so glum? The Meese-Rogoff methodology meets the stock market"

Here is a link. Here is the abstract:

This paper applies the Meese-Rogoff (1983a) methodology to the stock market. We compare the out-of-sample forecasting accuracy of various time-series and fundamentals-based models of aggregate stock prices. We stick as close as possible to the original Meese-Rogoff sample and methodology. Just as Meese and Rogoff found for the case of exchange rates, we find that a random walk model of stock prices performs as well as any estimated model at one to twelve
month horizons, even though we base forecasts on actual future fundamentals of dividends and earnings. Using this metric and for this sample period, aggregate stock prices seem to be as difficult to model empirically as exchange rates.

Note that saying a random walk model works best means that the best predictor of tomorrow's price is today's price which means price changes are not forecastable.

I think more disciplines should adopt this trend. Math guys could write papers saying hey, don't worry that we can't prove conjecture X, we can't prove conjecture Y either!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

hat tip to LOL President

Edwards Endorses Obama

Ex-Senator, and ex-VP candidate John Edwards endorses Barak Obama.

Explosion at Duke

Steam explosion at Duke.

One dead.

Oz: where men are men and children are projectiles!

People, the Associated Press is putting me out of business:

DARWIN, Australia - An Australian man has been fined after buckling in a case of beer with a seat belt but leaving a 5-year-old child to sit on the car's floor, police said Tuesday.

Constable Wayne Burnett said he was "shocked and appalled" when he pulled over the unregistered car Friday in the central Australian town of Alice Springs.

The 30-can beer case was strapped in between two adults sitting in the back seat of the car. The child was also in back, but on the car's floor.

"The child was sitting in the lump in the center, unrestrained," Burnett told reporters Tuesday.

"I haven't ever seen something like this before," he said. "This is the first time that the beer has taken priority over a child.

Judging from that last statement, I guess Constable Burnett doesn't get out and about much.

Vote for McCain, or else.......

pro-cyclical fiscal policy....

(it's not just for Latin America anymore people)

In discussions of fiscal policy, a number of lags are important. The recognition lag is the time between when a problem starts and when we know it has started. The implementation lag is the time between when we realize there is problem and when we get an action through the political system. The impact lag is the time between when the action is taken and when the effect of the action is felt.

If these lags are too long, then the policy action risks being pro-cyclical rather than counter cyclical, which is to say it will hit the economy after the downswing is over.

That certainly seems to be the case for the US now, at least based on the following:

1. recession probabilities have faded:

According to Intrade, the probability peaked at 75% in mid April and had declined to below 30% in early May....

2. just when the stimulus checks are arriving:

For Social Security numbers ending in 00 through 09, the paper checks will be mailed starting May 9 and will continue through May 16. A similar process will be repeated in the following weeks.

Even in this super-fast, super-charged, election year political atmosphere(which produced a negative recognition lag???), the policy will probably be procyclical and thus put more upward pressure on prices.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

And this helped you exactly how???

In 2004, well known coach choker Latrell Sprewell spurned a 3 year 20 million $ plus contract from the Minnesota T-Wolves as woefully insufficient saying that "I have my family to feed" (you can buy the t-shirt here).

He has been out of the league since the end of that season.

Today, karma came calling again with the news that Spree's house is being repossessed. His 70 foot yacht was sold off at auction back in January.

This is pretty close to Darwin award behavior, innit?

Hat tip to TC

Grading is over, the Semester is done, &

Clinton's Farewell Speech?

I did NOT make this comparison. To Hitler.

I laughed at it. But I did not make it.

What I do in my spare time

Collect art.

Here are the artists we are currently collecting at Chez Angus:

Souther Salazar
Billy Woolway
Joe Garcia
Manuel Castro Leñero
Floyd Kuptana
Maudie Ohiktook
Antoine Oleyant
Lynda Barry

Here is the latest piece we got; it's by Joe Garcia:

Here is how I collect art:

"hey honey, have you seen this piece? It's only $XXX. What do you think? What if I could get them down to .8*$XXX? Well what about this one? Who do you like better? Shouldn't we get them both? What do you think?"

Monday, May 12, 2008

The 4% Solution

Rasmussen puts the NC Gov race as follows:
McCrory 45%
Perdue 39%
Munger 4%

The "favorables", according to the report:

McCrory is viewed favorably by 56% and unfavorably by 29%. Perdue’s ratings are 50% favorable, 41% unfavorable. Munger is less known, earning favorable ratings from 24%, unfavorable ratings from 35% and 41% who are not sure.

As Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakum put it, "They don't know me, but they don't like me..." I'll have to work to change that.

Which puts in mind the Sam Cooke song, covered by many: If I can meet I can get, but yet I haven't met 'em. That's why I'm in the state I'm in.

(Nod to the Madman)

Ron Paul rides to Mungowitz' Rescue!

Yes Mungowitz' McCainophobia is being treated by Dr. Ron Paul, according to the LA Times:

quietly, largely under the radar of most people, the forces of Rep. Ron Paul have been organizing across the country to stage an embarrassing public revolt against Sen. John McCain when Republicans gather for their national convention in Minnesota at the beginning of September. In the last three months, Paul's forces, who donated $34.5 million to his White House effort and upward of a million total votes, have, as The Ticket has noted, been fighting a series of guerrilla battles with party establishment officials at county and state conventions from Washington and Missouri to Maine and Mississippi. Their goal: to take control of local committees, boost their delegate totals and influence platform debates. They hope to demonstrate their disagreements with McCain vocally at the convention through platform fights and an attempt to get Paul a prominent speaking slot. Paul, who's running unopposed in his home Texas district for an 11th House term, still has some $5 million in war funds and has instructed his followers that their struggle is not about a single election, but a long-term revolution for control of the Republican Party.

Now personally, I'm guessing this will be about as successful as his presidential campaign, but it least it gives my boy Mungowitz some hope in these dark hours.

Hat tip to Steven Taylor!

Memo To John Hood

Memo to John Hood:

Keep ON MESSAGE, please.

(Background: RT Beckwith, who apparently has a direct connection with the sinister forces of darkness, reveals a speculative truth.

In particular, and I quote: "If Mike Gravel wins anywhere: Hysteria. Reporters wander around in a daze. Pollsters jump out second-story windows. Bloggers say they saw it coming all along. Plagues of locusts swarm the earth. A third of Democratic voters turn red. Mike Munger reveals he is the anti-Christ."

Now, Beckwith may have good sources, and he may have heard this rumor. But it was just a RUMOR, ferBev'ssake. But.....But.....But: John Hood goes ahead in comments and CONFIRMS the rumor:

Uh, Ryan, didn't you already know that about Munger? It's not like he tries to hide it or anything.

Now, see, that's just wrong. I remember that meeting of the Dark League, and John Hood was sitting right in the front row, between Hitler and Coach K, an "all hands" gathering of the forces of the Dark League. And we were TOLD not to confirm my nomination for Anti-Christ.

Oh, well. Just as long as no one reveals that Bev Perdue was chairing the meeting, I suppose we're okay. So, Hood, you blabbermouth, ixnay on the Erduepay is Atansay, okay?

Everybody will be kung-fu fighting

In getting ready to go to Madagascar, one of the most surprising things Mrs. Angus and I have learned in our reading is that the country is kung-fu crazy!

According to the BBC:

Kung fu primarily appeals to Madagascar's middle class youth of both sexes, with some students beginning as young as four. But it also has a following in the older sections of society.

"Ministers, doctors, lawyers, and especially priests all practise kung fu," explains Charles Andriamihaja, the president of the AAKUFUMA Kung Fu Society of Madagascar.

The discipline hit the island in the 1970s and was a factor in protests against the authoritarian rule of President Ratsiraka, who banned its practice.

Current President Ravalomanana is a whole other story though. He has his own voluntary kung-fu security detail (at least he did in 2002). Here's how one local practitioner describes his prez:

"Ravalomanana reflects the ideology of the kung fu and that is why we must protect him,"

Ellie Rajaonarison (a Malagasy poet) breaks it down for us:

"The kung fu movement was about protecting people,"

"Kung fu fighters today occupy something of a mystical space in the Madagascan psyche because of their strength and power and for what they stood up for during the 1980s."

Thank goodness me and Mrs. Angus practiced Tae Kwon Do for a couple years. We'll be aiight.

Kyoto, Shmyoto: China Dwarfs It!

Forecasting the path of China's CO2 emissions using province-level

Maximilian Auffhammer & Richard Carson
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, May 2008, Pages 229-247

Our results suggest that the anticipated path of China's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions has dramatically increased over the last five years. The magnitude of the projected increase in Chinese emissions out to 2010 is several times larger than reductions embodied in the Kyoto Protocol. Our estimates are based on a unique provincial-level panel data set from the Chinese Environmental Protection Agency. This data set contains considerably more information relevant to the path of likely Chinese greenhouse gas emissions than national level time series currently in use. Model selection criteria clearly reject the popular static environmental Kuznets curve specification in favor of a class of dynamic models with spatial dependence.

(nod to KL)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Models: If they predict, they are useful

Regarding the earlier post on soccer and national personalities.....

An acquaintance of an acquaintance who used to work for it the "Foreign Service" sends this followup:

"Did I ever tell you that we used to measure the mood of Croatians toward their government through their behavior at soccer matches? That is one of the few places they had the en masse courage to chant anti-government slogans. We also counted the number of cops beat up after the game."

A perfect new variable, though hard to collect, in predicting revolutions: The number of cops with bloody noses after soccer matches.

A Long Distance Fan

As I blogged on the campaign blog, a long distance fan.