Saturday, December 27, 2008

One Nights Stands in the TV World

Shows cancelled after one EPISODE. How bad would a show have to be to do that? And, if it was so bad, why did they show ONE EPISODE?

Not Work Safe. In fact, Not Home In a Locked Vault Safe

Fightman sent me this link some time ago, but it's so offensive I didn't post it.

Until now.

It's the most offensive video game "moments" of all time. And you think, "How bad can they be? They are VIDEO games!"

Answer: Really, really bad. The "game" at #1 is so bizarrely offensive that it is not worth looking at, and to be fair it is ONLY offensive; it's not even a real game, just somebody being an ass.

But the others? They are all more or less games that someone thought someone ELSE would enjoy.

And, apparently, I think that about YOU. So, enjoy. (Make sure you play the videos. Doesn't mean a thing without the videos. And once you get past the pure awfulness, it's hard to find the video in #6 anything but charming. Or maybe I'm just a connoiseur of good mincing....)

Faculty Evaluations

My least favorite time of the year: faculty evaluation time. Bunch of squirrels....I have to explain to each why ALL of us aren't getting raises.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Reason TV Appearance

Thanks to Nick Gillespie, and Reason TV, for the shot at the BIG time.

(UPDATE: At the REASON.TV site, the first commenter says this: "Note: watching this video fulfills your yearly lump of coal quota." Nicely done: Brief, funny, insulting, accurate, and hits the xmas theme.)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Gambling, Investment, and Bankruptcy

Gambling, Investment, and Bankruptcy: Add Adultry, and It Sounds Like a New Show on HBO....

D.J. Johnstone
Journal of Gambling Business and Economics, June 2007, Pages 121-127

There are many anecdotes likening the stockmarket to betting, often voiced from the perspective of an inexperienced investor or gambler to whom the risks seem much the same in either marketplace. A fundamental aspect of the stockmarket that separates it from all forms of gambling is that a naive investor who carries a well diversified portfolio, and holds it long enough, is bound to win (based on historical evidence at least). In gambling markets, an unsophisticated player is bound to lose, the more so the longer he plays. For well informed or otherwise sophisticated traders, the racetrack and stockmarket are effectively analogous, in that both present opportunities to take money off less well informed players, albeit not so much that they lose interest. The stockmarket does not offer the recreational attractions of the racetrack, and must therefore return profits to most or all investors, at least in the long run, if they are to stay in the game.


The Size of the Economy and the Distribution of Income in the Roman Empire

Walter Scheidel
Stanford Working Paper, November 2008

Different ways of estimating the Gross Domestic Product of the Roman Empire in the second century CE produce convergent results that point to total output and consumption equivalent to 50 million tons of wheat or close to 20 billion sesterces per year. It is estimated that elites (around 1.5 per cent of the imperial population) controlled approximately one-fifth of total income while middling households (perhaps 10 percent of the population) consumed another fifth. These findings shed new light on the scale of economic inequality and the distribution of demand in the Roman world.

Great Fortunes of the Gilded Age

Hugh Rockoff
NBER Working Paper, December 2008

This paper explores the origins of the great fortunes of the Gilded Age. It relies mainly on two lists of millionaires published in 1892 and 1902, similar to the Forbes magazine list of the 400 richest Americans. Manufacturing, as might be expected, was the most important source of Gilded Age fortunes. Many of the millionaires, moreover, won their fortunes by exploiting the latest technology: Alfred D. Chandler's "continuous-flow production." A more surprising finding is that wholesale and retail trade, real estate, and finance together produced more millionaires than
manufacturing. Real estate and finance, moreover, were by far the most important secondary and tertiary sources of Gilded Age fortunes: entrepreneurs started in many sectors, but then expanded their fortunes mainly through investments in real estate and financial assets. Inheritance was also important, especially in older regions.


Bankruptcy Law and Entrepreneurship

John Armour & Douglas Cumming
American Law and Economics Review, Fall 2008, Pages 303-350

Recent initiatives in a number of countries have sought to promote entrepreneurship through relaxing the legal consequences of personal bankruptcy. Whilst there is an intuitive link, relatively little attention has been paid to the question empirically, particularly in the international context. We investigate the relationship between bankruptcy laws and entrepreneurship using data on self-employment over 16 years (1990-2005) and fifteen countries in Europe and North America. We compile new indices reflecting how "forgiving" personal bankruptcy laws are. These measures vary over time and across the countries studied. We show that bankruptcy law has a statistically and economically significant effect on self-employment rates when controlling for GDP growth, MSCI stock returns, and a variety of other legal and economic factors.

(Nod to KL)

NBER Proves Astrology is Correct!

And you people LAUGHED at poor Nancy Reagan....

Season of Birth and Later Outcomes: Old Questions, New Answers

Kasey Buckles & Daniel Hungerman
NBER Working Paper, December 2008

Research has found that season of birth is associated with later health and professional outcomes; what drives this association remains unclear. In this paper we consider a new explanation: that children born at different times in the year are conceived by women with different socioeconomic characteristics. We document large seasonal changes in the characteristics of women giving birth throughout the year in the United States. Children born in the winter are disproportionally born to women who are more likely to be teenagers and less likely to be married or have a high school degree. We show that controls for family background characteristics can explain up to half of the relationship between season of birth and adult outcomes. We then discuss the implications of this result for using season of birth as an instrumental variable; our findings suggest that, though popular, season-of-birth instruments may produce inconsistent estimates. Finally, we find that some of the seasonality in maternal characteristics is due to summer weather differentially affecting fertility patterns across socioeconomic groups.

Faculty Prom

The Duke Faculty Prom this year was very nice.

Happy Holidays from Angus & Mungowitz

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All the news that fits our ideology

I am a bit mystified over the growing literature on "media bias", but KPC friend Jim Synder and his co-author Riccardo Puglisi have a new NBER working paper (ungated version here) which uses data on newspaper coverage of recent political scandals to show that it's the partisanship of the newspaper rather than the partisanship of the readers that drives which scandals are covered more intensively.

Here, let them tell you:

We analyze the coverage of U.S. political scandals by U.S. newspapers during the past decade. Using automatic keyword-based searches we collected data on 35 scandals and approximately 200 newspapers. We find that Democratic-leaning newspapers (i.e., those with a higher propensity to endorse Democratic candidates in elections) give relatively more coverage to scandals involving Republican politicians than scandals involving Democratic politicians, while Republican-leaning newspapers tend to do the opposite. This is true even when controlling for the average partisan leanings of readers.

So they are basically saying media bias is a supply side story, not a demand side story, which is lovely and believable, but to me the big question left hanging here is so what? Why should we care that media outlets have a political agenda?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Angus' music picks for 2008

The best two releases of the year hands down and by a country mile are:

"Street Horrsing" by F**k Buttons and "Nouns" by No Age. They are both just brilliant.

A Step below but still at least 7 kinds of awesome are:

"Rip it Off" by Times New Viking
"Motion to Rejoin" by Brightblack Morning Light
"Free Drugs" by Harlem

Also worthwhile are these releases by established groups that, while not up to their very best, are still excellent:

"The Devil, You & Me" by the Notwist
"Heretic Pride" by the Mountain Goats
"At Mount Zoomer" by Wolf Parade

Under the category of guilty pleasure comes:

"Youth Novels" by Lykki Li. This is just sensational pop music

Under the category of acquired taste:

"For Emma Forever Ago" by Bon Iver
"Love is Overtaking Me" by the late, great Arthur Russell

Ooops, I guess there are 11 items in my top 10!!

Finally under the heading "not if you were the last mp3 on earth" (i.e overrated trash):

TV on the Radio, Vampire Weekend, Fleet Foxes.

Yes, I said it and I meant it.

If it walks like a duck....

....and you are in an NBA arena, it must be LeBron James. Last night was the first time I'd seen him play in person (8th row, behind Thunder bench) and people, he really truly walks like a duck. Like a 6'8" version of Andre Agassi. It was fun watching him in pregame casual swishing 4 straight bombs from almost half court with basically just a flick of the wrist.

Mrs. Angus pointed out his duckwalk to me right away. Now I am trying to walk like that too!!

LBJ also treated us to some monster dunks, a couple of 3balls, and amazingly tough on ball defense against either Jeff Green or Kevin Durant.

Scottie Brooks, who has purchased some clothes that fit him (only appropriate for the winningest coach in Thunder history), needs to further work on his rotation (more Collison who was 5-5 with 6 boards and +5 in his 27 minutes), but has gotten the team to embrace the concept that Durant, Green and Westbrook need to be taking the bulk of the shots (they collectively were 23-48). However, the Thunder badly need another playa. Joe Smith 3-12 and -22. Earl Watson 2-5 and -17, Desmond Mason and Damien Wilkens both worked hard guarding LBJ, but they are both comically inept on the offensive end.