Saturday, August 23, 2008

All Hail Jamaica!

Last night Mrs. Angus and I were out to dinner at a friend's house. Our lovely hostess (originally from Hong Kong) expressed concern about what country would "win the Olympics". Specifically she was looking for the best metric with which to argue that China had "won".

I immediately nominated Jamaica as the winner based on either total medals or gold medals per capita (hmmm, I may not get invited back there again eh?)!

Turns out that was exactly right as you can see here. Jamaica also "wins" based on gold medals or total medals per $ of GNP as well. I believe that all 11 of Jamaica's medals came in track and field (as bobsledding is a winter olympic sport).

That is truly an incredible achievement.

That's one small misstep for Obama, but one giant leap for gridlock.

He did it. Despite earlier KPC incredulity. BHO picked the airheaded creepy plagiarist. Wow. All I can say is Obama must REALLY REALLY HATE Hillary.

Can you feel the gridlock train a'rolling people?

Now millions of parents can tell their kids, "don't cheat in school honey or you might wind up being vice president!"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Get in line! (and don't forget to pack a lunch)

I got your pathway to citizenship right here!

hat tip to Greg Weeks

Making the Beast with Two Backs....John Edwards and A Duke Girl

Ya gotta love Wonkette:

DID JOHN EDWARDS HAVE MORE SEX WITH LADIES?: Intrepid blog reporter Choire Sicha hears that a New York Times Metro reporter is digging into “a story about John Edwards and a Duke graduate.” We are Ethical and don’t want to spread scurrilous rumors, but maybe John Edwards has been fucking a Duke graduate? Maybe John Edwards has been fucking seven Duke graduates and had like 20 babies with each of them, who knows, there must be more information out there.

On the "Radar":
"NYT Hot On Story Of John Edwards And The Mysterious Duke Graduate: New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski is on a story. Serge, you'll remember, is the reporter who brought us the tale of Ashley Alexandra Dupré, the young working lady who consorted with former New York governor Eliot Spitzer. What's Serge up to? It looks slightly out of his normal range of Metro and local politics stories (although he does at times go national). All we know is it's a story about John Edwards and a Duke graduate—and right now he's combing the New York Times newsroom for Duke graduates to speak with. (We guess Times employees aren't sortable on Facebook by college group!)
Personal to Serge: There's Stephen Labaton, class of '86—but we think you're looking for perhaps a more recent graduate? Oh gosh, we hope this is a nice story about how John Edwards was kindly to a college student with like tuition and helpful advice and stuff."

Why does the description have to be "a Duke graduate"? Why not, "A woman who would sleep with a lying, effeminate male skank who is cheating on his loyal dying-with-cancer wife"? As Tina Turner might ask, "What's Duke Got Ta Do With It?"

(Nod to KL)

Mayor Pat's Turn

Several readers sent emails saying they thought I shouldn't pick on the LG, after I told a joke.

Well...perhaps I shouldn't ONLY pick on the LG. For the Mayor of Charlotte, with its aggressive corporate subsidies, and astronomically expensive light's to you!

First, from Sir Ernest Benn, who I believe must have had Pat McCrory specifically in mind: 'Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy'. I was just in Charlotte, and this is EXACTLY how people described the mayor.

Then, Alexis de Tocqueville: "On my arrival in the United States I was struck by the degree of ability among the governed and the lack of it among the governing."

It's really true. Charlotte is such a vibrant, exciting place. So many interesting people. But....well, you know.

Markets in Everything: Canadian Style

This one is for Alex T!

"Canadians who may have become tired of being passed over as porn stars will have a new, home-grown outlet to showcase their erotic talents. Federal regulators have granted Alberta-based Real Productions approval to launch a new digital pornography channel, which promises to serve up at least 50 percent domestic content."

and here's the money quote:

"I think as Canadians there is a bit of a tiredness in seeing all American stuff," Shaun Donnelly, president of Real Productions, said during an interview on Friday.

"There is always that thrill for something that is local and you get the sense that these are people you can meet at the supermarket."

Yikes!! I don't know about where y'all live, but there's no one in my supermarket I want to see nekkid!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Olympics Roundup

1. The IOC finally wakes up to the (pygmy) elephant in the room.

2. Is it the yams? Why are Jamaicans so fast?

3. It's Thursday night and I'm all doped up like a Norwegian show horse.

4. And finally KPC wants to know: Who ya got people, Bolt or Phelps?

Gabriel, it's not too late to re-consider that PhD in Economics!!

Turns out, we are pure evil:

"Here we are, in full planetary emergency, a time when we need new young graduates with a realistic understanding of what is wrong with the world, with skills that will help humanity chart a new course. And what do economics departments aspire to churn out? Individuals trained to not recognize symptoms of impending collapse, trained to ignore appalling inequality, trained to celebrate profligate waste, trained to be closed-minded and unwilling to engage with different disciplines."

hat tip to Lebron James

Happiness is a wet puppy

with apologies to the Beatles (or was it Chairman Mao), here are some of the highlights of Pluto's Santa Fe vacation. These shots are from the Cochiti recreation area right by Tent Rocks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Joke That Didn't Make Air....

So, I was driving over to do the radio show this morning, the "Shadow Debate," where I got to answer Bev and Pat after the fact, on a radio show that people actually listen to (mp3 of hour long radio show here).

And I came up with a joke. My good friend RT Beckwith claims I am "best known" for my comical send-ups of my hapless opponents. ("Yes, it's true....This man has no no hap."*)

But I chickened out, and didn't use the joke. Seemed a bit abrasive, for a candidate on a radio show. A blog....that's different. It's not serious. Here's the joke:

George Bush claims that he looked into the eyes of Vladdy Putin, and saw his soul.

Now there's a rumor that George Bush looked into Bev Perdue's EAR. You know what he saw?


Major props to Brad and Britt. I hope it was good radio. Neanderbill liked can that be bad?

(*If you said, "Ghostbusters," you win)

Would Obama really pick Biden??

According to Intrade, he's the favorite. Admittedly, no one knows their way around warm spit like Joe, but I just don't see how Obama can pick him. Obama is politics 2.0, Joe is plagiarism 101. Obama is cool, Joe is a creep.

Is Obama so succeptible to flattery (Biden famous called him "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy")?

Wasn't Biden in favor of partitioning Iraq?

I really hope Obama goes this way (gridlock, gridlock, rah, rah, rah), but I don't think so. He's not that dumb.

Immigrants Should be Able to Go to Community Colleges

The article (gated, free registration)


Residents should be citizens

By Michael C. Munger : Guest columnist
The Herald-Sun
Aug 20, 2008

I think immigrants should be able to attend community colleges. But then maybe that's because I myself am an immigrant.

Well, not really. I should say I come from a family of immigrants. My ancestors had the surname "Mancgere," or "merchant" in Anglo-Saxon. They moved from County Surrey, England, and settled in the Guilford Colony, near New Haven, Connecticut. Nicholas Munger apparently owned land there beginning in 1651.

I wonder if Nick had trouble sending his kids to community college. You see, old granddad (times 11) Nick never filled out the paperwork required to become a citizen. It seems that he landed at New Haven, left the ship, and went to visit some friends. He met a girl, they got married, and settled down on a portion of her dad's land. Nicholas was a citizen simply because he was a resident of the state of Connecticut. There was no difference.

Nicholas Munger's children, John and Samuel (I'm from the Samuel side) were both U.S. citizens by virtue of birth. But they didn't fill out any paperwork, either. If they went to school, there's no record of it. I imagine they had some rudimentary schooling, though. Nobody asked to see their green card.

"Citizen" is an arbitrary legal status. It gives me the willies to think of "citizen" as a construct that stands in for real identity. Was Nicholas an American? Once he moved here and started paying taxes, yes he was. And if he had brought a child with him, that child would have been a citizen, too. You didn't have to be born here. You just had to want to live here.

Our immigration policy today could not be more different. We make it nearly impossible for people to become Americans legally. We punish people who try to become residents. And then we deny long-time residents the benefits that we give to citizens for free.

Citizenship is a status given, or withheld, by federal law and regulation. But all of the benefits of state residence, including in-state status for schools from kindergarten through graduate school, are based on being able to establish you live here. I just dropped my son Kevin, a 12 generation American Mancgere, at UNC-Chapel Hill. ... We had to show our residence address, demonstrate that we paid taxes in North Carolina, and show our utility bills. Those things proved our residence in the state. Those things qualified my son, and they should qualify anyone's son or daughter, for the benefits the state provides.

And yet, we are now rushing to deny the benefits of residence to thousands of young people who live in our state. Some have lived here for a decade or more, attending our school system and amassing an academic record that meant they earned a high school diploma. They will be working in jobs all over the state.

The children of immigrants will add, or detract, from the economic life of our state depending on whether they can acquire the skills needed to compete in the 21st century workplace. And new businesses will decide whether to locate in North Carolina, or someplace else, depending on whether we have a workforce with those same skills.

What should the standard be? What status should be required to attend community college, or college, as an in-state student? The same as for everyone else: demonstration of residence. The same as for Nicholas Munger, in 1651: live on the land, work, pay taxes, contribute to the community.

But North Carolina has decided that it will place exclusion first, and focus on arbitrary legal distinctions, rather than the welfare of its residents and the future of our economy. By barring the undocumented from getting an education, we are creating an apartheid system with fertile pickings for gang recruitment and exploitation by unscrupulous employers who thrive on ignorance. And we are telling prospective business recruits: go elsewhere. We prefer illiteracy.

Once I established that I am a resident of North Carolina, no one at Chapel Hill asked for my passport when I dropped my son off at Hinton James dormitory. And that's how it should be. Anyone who lives in North Carolina, who pays taxes here, and who accepts a stake in our economic and civic future deserves a shot at education, at the same rates as anyone else. Discriminating among state taxpayers based on where they used to live is un-American.

Where on God's green earth??


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

We'll be your huckleberries!

FYI, people!

Santa Fe discoveries

One of me and Mrs. Angus's favorite things to do in Santa Fe is stroll through the zillions of art galleries around town. While many are stereotypical and touristy, there are some genuinely interesting artists showing their work and some excellent galleries. One local (by way of Mallorca) artist that we both liked very much is Richard Campiglio. Here is one example:

He puts plaster on panels and then paints on that. Most pieces are small and ornately framed. Kind of Michelangelo meets R. Crumb. Here's another:

What's the number for 911?

In yesterday's WSJ, Ethan Penner ("a pioneer in real estate finance" according to the Journal (wouldn't that make him well over 100 years old??)) says the following:

To understand exactly what is happening, one needs to properly understand what occurred in the late stages of the prior cycle. Interest rates had been driven to historical lows in the U.S. and throughout the world. The cause of this can be debated. However, it is clear that economic globalization, with the migration of jobs to low-wage nations, had a profound impact on inflation, and thus on interest rates.

Uh, earth to Penner! Phone call for Mr. Penner. Irving Fisher on line 3!

Ignoring the issue of how globalization affects inflation, Penner is (here and throughout the article) making the basic error of confusing real and nominal returns:

The flip side of a low-interest rate environment is that it reduces the absolute level of returns that are available to investors. This has significant implications for the massive wave of baby boomers, which holds many billions of dollars in retirement savings, either through direct investment or through managed pension-fund systems.

People, repeat after me: A 10% rate with 15% inflation is not high and a 5% rate with 0% inflation is not low.

If you read the full article, Penner also seems to believe that the shape of the yield curve is time invariant!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Humor and Dreaming

Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Humor Styles: A Replication Study

Philip Vernon, Rod Martin, Julie Aitken Schermer, Lynn Cherkas & Tim Spector
Twin Research and Human Genetics, February 2008, Pages 44-47

One thousand and seventy three pairs of adult monozygotic (MZ) twins and 895 pairs of same sex adult dizygotic (DZ) twins from the United Kingdom (UK) completed the Humor Styles Questionnaire: a 32-item measure which assesses two positive and two negative styles of humor. MZ correlations were approximately twice as large as DZ correlations for all four humor styles, and univariate behavioral genetic model fitting indicated that individual differences in all of them can be accounted for entirely by genetic and nonshared environmental factors, with heritabilities ranging from .34 to .49. These results, while perhaps not surprising, are somewhat at odds with a previous study that we conducted in North America (Vernon et al., in press) in which genetic factors contributed significantly to individual differences in the two positive humor styles, but contributed far less to the two negative styles, variance in which was instead largely due to shared and nonshared environmental factors. We suggest that differences between North American and UK citizens in their appreciation of different kinds of humor may be responsible for the different results obtained in these two


Dreams are more negative than real life: Implications for the function of

Katja Valli, Thea Strandholm, Lauri Sillanmki & Antti Revonsuo
Cognition & Emotion, August 2008, Pages 833-861

Dream content studies have revealed that dream experiences are negatively biased; negative dream contents are more frequent than corresponding positive dream contents. It is unclear, however, whether the bias is real or due to biased sampling, i.e., selective memory for intense negative emotions. The threat simulation theory (TST) claims that the negativity bias is real and reflects the evolved biological function of dreaming. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis of the TST that threatening events are overrepresented in dreams, i.e., more frequent and more severe in dreams than in real life. To control for biased sampling, we used as a baseline the corresponding negative events in real life rather than the corresponding
positive events in dreams. We collected dream reports (N=419) and daily event logs (N=490) from 39 university students during a two-week period, and interviewed them about real threat experiences retrievable from autobiographical memory (N=714). Threat experiences proved to be much more frequent and severe in dreams than in real life, and Current Dream Threats more closely resembled Past than Current Real Threats. We conclude that the TST's predictions hold, and that the negativity bias is real.

(Nod to KL)

0 to 175 in 6 seconds

Tom was in trouble. He forgot his wedding anniversary.

His wife was really angry. She told him "Tomorrow morning, I expect to find a gift in the driveway that goes from 0 to 175 in less then 6 Seconds AND IT BETTER BE THERE!!"

The next morning Tom got up early and left for work. When his wife woke up, she looked out the window and sure enough there was a box gift wrapped in the middle of the driveway.

Confused, the wife put on her robe and ran out to the driveway, brought the box back in the house.

She opened it and found a brand new bathroom scale.

Tom has been missing since Friday.

(Forwarded to me by lovely, slender wife)

Say What?

This morning Tyler links to an RBC article by Martin Uribe and Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe. Let me just say in advance that I know and like Martin and Stephanie and they do awesome work. However, I found the following sentence in their paper quite bewildering:

We find that anticipated shocks are the most important source of uncertainty.

To which I can only reply: ???????? Folks, only a highly trained macroeconomist could hope to parse that humdinger of a sentence.

The paper is indeed a move back toward pure RBC in that there are no nominal ridigities in the model. However, it does simply assume a host of real rigidities, including the dreaded "investment adjustment costs" on the grounds that there is "a large existing literature
showing that these frictions improve the model’s empirical fit."


For those of you who prefer a nominal rigidity approach but like the idea of exploring the distinction between expected and unexpected shocks, there is a related paper by Northwestern grad student Joshua Davis (paper can be downloaded here) that gets different results about what shocks are important than do Uribe & Schmitt.

Solar Power for Africa?

David Wheeler, from the Center for Global Development has been excoriating his old employer, the World Bank, for living in the past and continuing to help fund coal fired energy projects. Here is a graph of the most favorable spots on Earth for solar power generation: