Friday, August 21, 2009

I Think This is a Problem

Chateau sends this link, to a story headlined:

Time for Term Limits? Let the Voters Decide!

I'm pretty sure there is a problem with that. Voters actually get to decide at the time of elections.

(Full disclosure: we have written about term limits before....And, we have noted the sort of person who opposes term limits, including Hugo Chavez)

New Wife Writes to Tech Support

Dear Tech Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.3 to Husband 1.0 and I noticed a distinct slowdown in the overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewelry applications, which operated flawlessly before. The difference is especially noticeable after I had such good performance after Boyfriend 5.2 crashed and I upgraded to Boyfriend 5.3. (Boyfriend 5.2 and Boyfriend 5.2a were buggy and annoying, but after I ran the U&UrHand2Nite 6.1 add-on then Boyfriend 5.3 was apologetic, attentive, and obedient).

Even worse, installing Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs that had been working well. These included Romance 9.5, Conversation 31.6, and Personal Attention 6.5. Further, and worst of all, Husband 1.0 came bundled with a bunch of undesirable shareware, including WEATHER 5.0, MONEY 3.0, COMPUTER PORN 2.0, and SPORTSCENTER 24.7.

The truth is that WeNeedToTalk 8.0 no longer runs at all, PickUpYourWetTowel 31.6 just hangs, and Housecleaning 2.6 totally crashes the system to a bluescreen.

Please note that I have tried running NAGON 5.3, and DenySex 6.9 (which comes as freeware with WIFE 1.0) to fix these problems, but to no avail.

What can I do? Now that Husband 1.0 has been opened, the Best Buy says I can't return it. And I can't the operating manual anywhere.

Signed, New Wife

Sweet Nothings? Obama Sells Us Out, Again

On sugar corruption, two interesting articles....

article the first

article the second

Some people will actually try to make a "national defense" argument on sugar. GMAFB.

R U Vivid? Social Science on the Court

Sub-Perfect Game: Profitable Biases of NBA Referees

Joseph Price, Marc Remer & Daniel Stone, BYU Working Paper, June 2009

Abstract: This paper empirically investigates three hypotheses of inconsistent rule enforcement by National Basketball Association (NBA) referees. Using a sample of 28,388 quarter-level observations from six seasons, we find that NBA referees make calls that favor home teams, teams losing during games, and teams losing in playoff series. All of these biases are likely profitable to the league. We identify these effects as caused by referee bias, as opposed to player behavior, by using play-by-play data that allow us to analyze turnovers referees have relatively high and low discretion over separately. We also find that the biases do not increase in situations where their direct financial benefit to the league would be greater, and conclude that the biases are likely of an implicit nature.


Money and fame: Vividness effects in the National Basketball Association

Long Wang, Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, January 2009, Pages 20-44

In his widely reprinted paper On the Folly of Rewarding A, While Hoping for B, Kerr argued that vividness was one of the major reasons for distortedrewards. Using both archival and survey data, the present paper directly tests Kerr's proposal by investigating whether, how, and why highly visible behaviors are over-rewarded and less visible, but similarly (or more) important behaviors are under-rewarded. The National Basketball Association (NBA) was chosen as the domain of this study because scoring is particularly vivid, even though both non-scoring and scoring performances are critical for winning games. Findings from four studies demonstrated that the scoring performance of NBA players was weighed more heavily than their non-scoring performance. Scorers were rewarded with higher salaries and received more support in the NBA All-Star balloting than defenders, even though they might not necessarily make more contribution than their teammates. This pattern of findings suggests that the vividness effect may lead to pronounced differences in people's judgments, especially when they face abundant real-world information with similar validity.


A test of the widespread-point-shaving theory

Richard Borghesi & William Dare, Finance Research Letters, forthcoming

Abstract: We test whether corruption is widespread in NCAA basketball by examining scoring patterns in games involving suspected point shavers. If conspiracy occurs frequently, then we should find that strong favorites score fewer points and/or allow more points than expected. However, findings reveal that strong favorites, previously believed to be the most likely candidates to engage in point shaving, may instead be the least likely. We propose that a shift in coaching strategy late in blowout games explains the anomalous bet outcome distribution patterns previously identified in the NCAA basketball betting market.

(Nod to Kevin L, who is definitely vivid)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Waterslide Video: BETTER than real

(It's not real, but it is real cool). How it was done....

(Nod to SdM)

Best Debt Clock

This is the best debt clock I've seen. Lots of details.

On the other hand, the details are pretty grisly.

New Jersey RULES!

Before Mrs. Angus and I lived in Mexico, we lived in New Orleans. When Mexican people would say how different things were in Mexico vs. the US (trying to warn or scare us I guess) we would laugh and tell them how we had a bumper sticker that said "Louisiana: 3rd World and Proud of it", and how living in NOLA was excellent practice for living in Mexico (bribes work, the cops are not necessarily your friends, right away means never).

Now, though, I think I would recommend a year in New Jersey as a good primer for living in Mexico (though that is probably an insult to Mexico). Where else can you get politicians habitually on the take, Rabbis brokering body partz and now, the anti-corruption cops are getting busted for corruption there!!

Hey, isn't Tyler from New Jersey?


Common Law Environmental Regulation

Two Theories of Environmental Regulation

John Hasnas, Social Philosophy and Policy, July 2009, Pages 95-129

Abstract: The over-exploitation of commonly-held resources is typically analyzed as an instance of market failure that calls for legislation to internalize the social costs that private activities impose on the environment. In this article, I argue that to the extent that this analysis ignores the regulatory effect of the common law, it is unsound. In The Tragedy of the Commons, Garret Hardin points out that there are two solutions to the tragedy: privatize the resource or restrict access to it. Environmental legislation is a means restricting access to the commons. The evolutionary development of common law is a means of privatizing the commons. These
represent alternative methods of environmental regulation. Proper public policy analysis requires a comparative assessment of the efficacy of these methods for resolving any particular environmental problem. In many, if not most cases, such an assessment will show common law regulation to be superior to environmental legislation.

(nod to Kevin L)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Res Ipsa Loquitur, part deux

Res Ipsa Loquitur

Hard Times for the Kirchners

We have posted in the past about how Argentina has been fudging their macro data (see here and here) by systematically under-reporting inflation, which is a very convenient thing to do when you have issued inflation-indexed bonds!

However, it seemed like the Kirchner governments were more or less getting away with it. Now, after a humbling electoral defeat, anti-corruption prosecutors are actually going after them for the funny numbers!

"BUENOS AIRES -- Workers at the government's National Institute of Statistics call it crass manipulation: Their agency, under pressure from above, altered socioeconomic data to reflect numbers palatable to the presidency. Inflation and poverty miraculously dropped, they said in interviews, and the economy boomed.

At least officially.

"They just erased the real numbers," said Luciano Belforte, an 18-year veteran at the institute. "Reality did not matter."

The alleged manipulation, which is under investigation by anti-corruption prosecutors, has angered Argentines. But in a globalized world, where a pensioner in Italy might be as likely to invest in Argentina as in Fiat, the suspected modifications are being felt far beyond this city.

In fact, an association of community college professors in New Jersey, a cattleman in Colorado and a Latino business group in California say they too are being shortchanged because they hold Argentine bonds. By underreporting inflation figures, economists say, Argentina is cheating investors of proper compensation on nearly $50 billion in debt benchmarked to inflation.

Economists say the official inflation rate of 8.5 percent in 2007 was really about 25 percent. In the 12 months ended this June, the INDEC put the rate at 5.3 percent, but economists say it might be three times higher. Argentina's vaunted economic growth this decade might have been exaggerated, too. Credit Suisse said the 7 percent expansion the government reported last year is likely 2 to 3 percent lower. "

The fact that this is being investigated shows just how far the Kirchners' star has fallen. Maybe Uncle Hugo can send an army of Guido Wilsons with suitcases over to help them out!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gordon Tullock Uber Alles

Gelman, Silver and Edlin pay homage to the man:

"One of the motivations for voting is that one vote can make a difference. In a presidential election, the probability that your vote is decisive is equal to the probability that your state is necessary for an electoral college win, times the probability the vote in your state is tied in that event. We computed these probabilities a week before the 2008 presidential election, using state-by-state election forecasts based on the latest polls. The states where a single vote was most likely to matter are New Mexico, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Colorado, where your vote had an approximate 1 in 10 million chance of determining the national election outcome. On average, a voter in America had a 1 in 60 million chance of being decisive in the presidential election. "

Gee, I hope there are some other motivations for y'all.

Mad Men Yourself

I made an avatar at "Mad Men Yourself." It looks disturbingly like me, actually.

Dancing With the Felons

Tom Delay is going to be on "Dancing with the Stars." No, really.

Excerpt from the "Post" story, describing Delay's previous relation to the show:

Back in the fall of 2006, shortly before "Dancing" debuted its new season, DeLay had sent out a blast e-mail asking people to vote for country crooner Sara Evans, who was going to be competing against [Jerry] Springer, among others.

Evans had been a strong supporter of the Republican party and, more importantly, her husband was a GOP fundraiser who had run unsuccessfully for political office in Oregon four years earlier and whose resume included chairman of Craig PAC, a national political action committee dedicated to electing Republicans at the federal and state level; her husband, Craig Schelske, also had been executive director of the conservative organization American Destiny Inc.

In his e-mail to "Dancing" fans, DeLay said that Evans "represents good American values in the media" while "ultra liberal talk show host Jerry Springer" did not.

"We need to send a message to Hollywood and the media that smut has no place on television," DeLay said. By "smut" he meant "Springer."

Embarrassingly for DeLay, Evans made "Dancing" history when she became the franchise's very first competitor to abruptly quit the show, because, she said, she needed to be at home with her little children while she filed for divorce, having just discovered Schelske, had cheated on her, had at least 100 nude photos of himself with his little colonel fully erect on the family computer at home, had watched porn on the family computer and had made requests online for sex with multiple partners on Craigslist.

It was a high point in the "Dancing" franchise.


"His little colonel"? Wow.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Industrial Organization

Question. Is this an illustration of economies of scale or of scope?

Maybe the "Know Nothings" Were Better Citizens?

Two friends of mine here at Duke published an interesting paper....

Public information and electoral bias

Curtis Taylor & Huseyin Yildirim
Games and Economic Behavior, forthcoming

We present a theory of voting that predicts that elections are more likely to be close, and voter turnout is more likely to be high when citizens possess better public information about the composition of the electorate. These findings suggest that providing more information to potential voters about aggregate political preferences (e.g., through pre-election polls or expert forecasts) may undermine the democratic process. Our analysis reveals that if the distribution of political preferences is common knowledge, then the unique type-symmetric equilibrium leads to a stark neutrality result in which each alternative is equally likely to win the election. By contrast, when citizens are ignorant about the preference distribution, the majority is more likely to win the election and expected voter turnout is lower. Welfare is, therefore, unambiguously higher when citizens possess less information about the preference distribution.

(Nod to Kevin L)


From the Norman Transcript:

Lake turns green

Taste, odor issues being addressed

By Tom Blakey

Although it's not yet time for Lake Thunderbird to "turn over," the warm, sunny days are causing the lake to turn green from a proliferation of alga, affecting the water's taste and odor, officials said.

"We're getting a bunch of algae in the raw water lines, before it's treated. so we're adding carbon before we filter it and adding additional chemicals," said Norman Utilities Director Ken Komiske. "A lot of tastes and odors are sneaking through, though.

"For the time being we're having to put up with that," he said. "We're constantly testing it and it's perfectly safe."

Komiske said water treatment plant workers are "treating the water more at this time for taste and odor issues."

I cannot even begin to describe how bad the tap water in Norman usually tastes, let alone how it tastes right now. Mrs. Angus and I have a home distiller and we use that to make our drinking water, but this weekend we went to a local eatery and were served a glassful of liquid ass.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Shut Up!!

In his awesome yam-colored shoes, Usain Bolt ran the 100 meters in 9.58 seconds. He is the world's greatest athlete (or as we say in the Big 12, ath-a-lete)

monkey see monkey do

This is my "mad men" avatar. Mrs. A and I are only about 1/2 way through season II on DVD.

Betting on Policy

Using Markets to Inform Policy: The Case of the Iraq War

Justin Wolfers & Eric Zitzewitz
Economica, April 2009, Pages 225-250

Financial market-based analysis of the expected effects of policy changes has traditionally been exclusively retrospective. In this paper, we demonstrate by example how prediction markets make it possible to use markets to prospectively estimate policy effects. We exploit data from a market trading in contracts tied to the ouster of Saddam Hussein as leader of Iraq to learn about financial market participants' expectations of the consequences of the 2003 Iraq war. We conducted an ex-ante analysis, which we disseminated before the war, finding that a 10% increase in the probability of war was accompanied by a $1 increase in spot oil prices that futures markets suggested was expected to dissipate quickly. Equity price movements implied that the same shock led to a 1.5% decline in the S&P 500. Further, the existence of widely-traded equity index options allows us to back out the entire distribution of market expectations of the war's near-term effects, finding that these large effects reflected a negatively skewed distribution, with a substantial probability of an extremely adverse outcome. The flow of war-related news through our sample explains a large proportion of daily oil and equity price movements. Subsequent analysis suggests that these relationships continued to hold out of sample. Our analysis also allows us to characterize which industries and countries were most sensitive to war news and when the immediate consequences of the war were better than ex-ante expectations, these sectors recovered, confirming these cross- sectional implications. We highlight the features of this case study that make it particularly amenable to this style of policy analysis and discuss some of the issues in applying this method to other policy contexts.

(Nod to Kevin L)

BDM: The New Nostradamus

Print....(NYT Mag)

(Nod to Kevin L, who knew in advance that this was going to happen)

If you have to ask, you are probably doing it wrongs

This is the actual largest headline on Sunday's OKC newspaper of record (we don't get this paper, but I saw like 40 copies walking Pluto this morning):

Oklahoma financial advisers ask: What would Jesus do?

People, I am not making this up!!

FaithShares Trust... will offer shares of exchange traded funds based on indexes that track recommendations of organizations representing Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and nondenominational Christian groups. The funds will include large-cap stocks, excluding those that conflict with core beliefs of the various denominations...the index designed for Baptists will invest no money in companies that produce alcohol of any kind, Phillips said. For Catholics, companies that make beer and wine are allowed, but not those that produce distilled alcohol, he said. The Methodist fund will not invest in any company that produces more than 10 percent of its revenue through alcohol production....

Stevens said it makes sense that the FaithShares concept would originate from the Bible Belt.

"We think that being from Oklahoma City gives us added credibility with the faith-based community,” Stevens said. "We’re not a giant firm trying to make money off people. We believe this stuff with our hearts.”

 "We want people to know our hearts are in the right place. This isn’t some scheme. We really are trying to do the right thing.

 Rarely have I heard a more convincing profession of religiousity than "we believe this stuff with all our hearts"!!!

And, if they really wanted to know WWJD, maybe they could try looking at the second chapter of the Gospel of John, esp verses 13-16 or so.