Thursday, September 30, 2010

Several Amazing Things, But I Won't Get My Hopes Up

Several amazing things about this post by John H.

--The contents. We spent a ton of money, for no value, except a whole bunch of goofballs with worthless M.A.s in "Education Policy" sucking down groceries in bureaucratic jobs.

--The reference. A gen-you-eine conservative like Hindraker citing the CATO Institute.

Wow. Maybe there is hope for some of you half-wit Republicans actually finding a way to cut specific programs. Because by and large, you have failed. If you are starting to feel hopeful, read this. 'Cause I still think the Republicans only care about winning, and will never actually try to cut anything, except taxes, which is moronic.

The Way Bureaucrats SHOULD Think of Government

This video reveals two things: Why Angus and I cannot hold appointed office....

and why nonetheless we should. This poor guy is trying to read new imported cured meat handling regulations. He can't get through it, not even in German, the ideal language for faceless automatons.

(Nod to the Blond, who knows when to laugh)

Words of wisdom from Matt Taibbi

"In the Tea Party narrative, victory at the polls means a new American revolution, one that will "take our country back" from everyone they disapprove of. But what they don't realize is, there's a catch: This is America, and we have an entrenched oligarchical system in place that insulates us all from any meaningful political change. The Tea Party today is being pitched in the media as this great threat to the GOP; in reality, the Tea Party is the GOP. What few elements of the movement aren't yet under the control of the Republican Party soon will be, and even if a few genuine Tea Party candidates sneak through, it's only a matter of time before the uprising as a whole gets castrated, just like every grass-roots movement does in this country. Its leaders will be bought off and sucked into the two-party bureaucracy, where its platform will be whittled down until the only things left are those that the GOP's campaign contributors want anyway: top-bracket tax breaks, free trade and financial deregulation."

Full and excellent article is here.

Freedom update

Will W. nicely defends himself here and expands on the issue of inequality and freedom.

Plus, I have some further thoughts on freedom. There certainly are groups of people in the US who are less free than others. Gays and illegal immigrants come to mind. In the past, African-Americans and women had less freedom. I don't see any of those freedom issues as being related to income/wealth.

Paint By Number Science "Article"

Cute. Very cute. Article on articles about scientific articles.

(Nod to Angry Alex)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Find the cost of freedom

As part of a fascinating debate about measuring inequality, the generally excellent Interfluidity made the following remark that simply threw me for a loop:

In my view, freedom, not consumption, is the central distinction between rich and poor. It is odd that I should argue this point with libertarian Wilkinson.

I guess that I am somehow missing his point or else fundamentally misunderstanding what the word freedom means.

In the United States at least, we are all free to vote, speak, practice (or not practice) our religion, etc. etc. We are not all free to send our kids to expensive schools, but that's consumption. We are not all free to travel to other countries, but that's consumption.

Interfluidity only gives one concrete example, which throws me for another loop:

Indebtedness also entails a cost in freedom that we miss if we focus on consumption.

I think that, if anything, this is backwards. Having little to no collateral, the poor are not "free" to borrow money. The ability to take on debt is liberating. However, I would still argue that this shows up mainly in consumption.

I guess I could agree with a statement like "the poor are not free to smooth their consumption stream", but I'd still be quite conflicted about how exactly that is freedom.

I was bothering Mrs. Angus about this (she thinks I'm at least partly wrong, which means I probably am, but I honestly can't see it), and she brought up differences in life expectancy across identifiable groups, but again to me, that is an exceedingly tenuous use of the concept of freedom. Men are not free to live as long as women? (NB: that was NOT the example that Mrs. Angus used).

In Hansonian terms, I must recognize that Interfluidity, Mrs. Angus and Sen are all smart people, so I'm probably somehow wrong, but to me, freedom is nowhere near the central difference between the rich and the poor, at least not in the USA.

I have to go with Hemingway here people: The main difference between the rich and poor is that the rich have more money!

Does anyone want to go Kristofferson here: "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose".

Cards Suck

10 Games that dropped the STL into the land of the suckatatious.

The Cards had three key problems: 3rd base, shortstop, and bullpen. Bullpen takes a little bit of luck, I admit, but the other two problems?

Let's examine the years had by some Cards "alumni":

Scott Rolen (3b): All star, anchored hot corner for division winner Cincinnati, ave .290, ops .870

David Eckstein (SS): Switched to 2nd base, but batted .270 and plays for division winner San Diego Padres.

Cards got rid of these guys....why? Rolen they traded for Troy Glaus, and Eckstein was not signed as a free agent. Now, Glaus was , and played in MLB since 1998. His lifetime is .255. Rolen's lifetime is .285.

Glaus was 32 at the time of the trade, and not surprisingly he came up lame. Sure, Rolen was 33 at the time of the trade, but Glaus was not much younger. And .030 on a lifetime average is a lot of hits over the course of a season. And Rolen is a much better defender than Glaus.

Rolen was traded because Tony decided he didn't like him. And Eck was let go because of money.

And now the Cards suck. Can you even name the current third baseman? I can name a parade of five clowns, but their aggregate batting average is (seriously) .224. And that's actually better than shortstop Brendan Ryan's truly remarkable .221. These schmoes are automatic outs.

It's not that hard. The Cards suck because their 3b and SS players suck.

(not so) Pro-Bono

The Guardian absolutely eviscerates The Edge's sidekick:

Bono's ONE campaign had blitzed the New York media with fancy gift boxes. These contained several items, from designer water bottles to $15 bags of Starbucks coffee, as well as information explaining that poverty-stricken African children live on less than $1.25 a day – "about the cost of the cookie in this box".

To which the only reasonable rejoinder would seem to be: "Then stop spending your money on biscuits for journalists."

But let's not be facetious. Naturally, naturally, the business of activism is more complicated than that, and indeed, ONE has since been forced to remind confused civilians that it is an advocacy organisation and not a grant-making organisation. This became necessary after the New York Post revealed that in 2008, the most recent year for which tax records are available, ONE took $14,993,873 in donations from philanthropists, of which a thrifty $184,732 was distributed to charity. More than $8m was spent on executive and employee salaries.

But wait, there's more:

Bono is adept at holding two contradictory positions in his own mind. Do consider his endless lobbying of the Irish government to earmark more cash for said MDGs, despite having shifted part of U2's tax affairs to the Netherlands to avoid paying even the ludicrously reduced rates Ireland affords to artists. Has he not heard that the money in the Irish exchequer's coffers comes from taxes, paid by the sublebrity likes of nurses and teachers and bricklayers and so on?

And I thought the English and the Irish were getting along now.

Fear of Commitment

Pacifying monogamy

Nils-Petter Lagerlöf
Journal of Economic Growth, September 2010, Pages 235-262

Abstract: This paper proposes a theory of institutionally imposed monogamy. In a society where many women are allocated to the elite, there are high returns for the non-elite men to rebel. Monogamy, or “constrained” polygyny, can pacify non-elite men, and thus serve the elite’s reproductive interests. The more unequal is the society, the stricter constraints the elite want to impose on themselves. This suggests how monogamy might have arisen in response to rising class cleavages, e.g., in the wake of the introduction of agriculture. Another result is that, if the elite can write a law that commits not only themselves but also any group that would come to replace them in a rebellion, then polygyny will be more constrained than if they cannot. We speculate that the Church in Europe may have facilitated the imposition of such binding constraints.

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You know what's fun?

Blowing stuff up!

You know who's good at it?


Check here for more great photos and an interesting take on the phenomenon.

More Guns, Less Crime?

Chateau writes in an email about this incident, about which I had not heard.

Apparently Austin SWAT did a "body search" of Chateau himself. Lucky guy; in Vegas you have to pay extra for that sort of thing.

And then there's this, on the SAME DAY: John Lott was to be in the HOUSE.

Uh, will any of this be on like, the final?

Did I Miss Anything?

Tom Wayman
From: The Astonishing Weight of the Dead. Vancouver: Polestar, 1994.

Question frequently asked by
students after missing a class

Nothing. When we realized you weren't here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 per cent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I'm about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 per cent

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose

Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
a shaft of light descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and
the hereafter
This is the last time the class will meet
before we disperse to bring this good news to all people
on earth

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human existence
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been

but it was one place

And you weren't here

"We Won! Now, I need Porn!"

Changes in Pornography-Seeking Behaviors following Political Elections: An Examination of the Challenge Hypothesis

Patrick Markey & Charlotte Markey
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract: The current study examined whether or not individuals who vicariously win a competition seek out pornography relatively more often than individuals who vicariously lose a competition. By examining a portion of Google keyword searches during the 2004, 2006 and 2008 US election cycles, the relative popularity of online pornography keywords searches was computed for each state and the District of Columbia the week before and the week after each election. Consistent with the Challenge Hypothesis, following all three election cycles, individuals located in states voting for the winning political party tended to search for pornography keywords relatively more often than individuals residing in states voting for the losing political party.


“I believe it is wrong but I still do it”: A comparison of religious young men who do versus do not use pornography

Larry Nelson, Laura Padilla-Walker & Jason Carroll
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, August 2010, Pages 136-147

Abstract: While researchers have found a negative association between religiosity and pornography use, little, if any, research has examined the specific aspects of religiosity that might be related to the use of pornography. Therefore, the purpose of this study of religious young men was to compare those who view pornography with those who do not on indices of (a) family relationships, (b) religiosity (i.e., beliefs, past/present personal religious practices, and past family religious practices), and (c) personal characteristics (identity development, depression, self-esteem, and drug use). Participants were 192 emerging-adult men ages 18–27 (M age = 21.00, SD = 3.00) attending a religious university in the Western United States. While they all believed pornography to be unacceptable, those who did not use pornography (compared to those who did) reported (a) higher levels of past and recent individual religious practices, (b) past family religious practices, (c) higher levels of self-worth and identity development regarding dating and family, and (d) lower levels of depression.

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Phone call for King Pyrrhus!

When is a win not a win? Well how about when you win between 48-52% of the popular vote in a legislative election, but only get around 39% of the seats!

Which is exactly what appears to be happening in the wonderland that is Venezuelan politics.

I know that seats and votes are not one to one anywhere in the world, and other parties have pulled this off in the past, but this is a pretty big gap.

Boz offers some analysis here.

Actually, I am not sure what is more amazing: that Chavez's party lost the popular vote or that the loss was straightforwardly announced.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Final Frontier, and the Border

UN caters to illegal aliens...

(Nod to Angry Alex)


The unbelievably delayed NRC rankings will be released tomorrow, Tuesday, 1 pm EDT.

If you care about stuff like this, you MAY be a wienie. I mean, these are 2005 data....

And I have to admit that I care....

Truthiness now!

Robin Hanson lists some "Signs that your opinions function more to signal loyalty and ability than to estimate truth", so I thought I'd check myself out:

You find it hard to be enthusiastic for something until you know that others oppose it.

Guilty. Way way way guilty.

You have little interest in getting clear on what exactly is the position being argued.

No. In fact the opposite is true

Realizing that a topic is important and neglected doesn’t make you much interested.

No. In fact the opposite is true

You have little interest in digging to bigger topics behind commonly argued topics.

No. In fact the opposite is true

You are less interested in a topic when you don’t foresee being able to talk about it.

No. In fact the opposite is true

You are uncomfortable taking a position near the middle of the opinion distribution.

Guilty. Extremely guilty.

You are uncomfortable taking a position of high uncertainty about who is right.

No. In fact the opposite is true

You care far more about current nearby events than similar distant or past/future events.

I don't even understand this fully, but I don't think it's true of me

You find it easy to conclude that those who disagree with you are insincere or stupid.


You are reluctant to change your publicly stated positions in response to new info.

No. In fact the opposite is true

You are reluctant to agree a rival’s claim, even if you had no prior opinion on the topic.


You are reluctant to take a position that raises the status of rivals.


You care more about consistency between your beliefs than about belief accuracy.

No. In fact the opposite is true

You go easy on sloppy arguments by folks on “your side.”

No. In fact the opposite is true

You have little interest in practical concrete implications of commonly argued topics.

No. In fact the opposite is true

Your opinion doesn’t much change after talking with smart folks who know more.

No. In fact the opposite is true

You are especially eager to drop names when explaining positions and arguments.

No. In fact the opposite is true

You find it hard to list weak points and counter-arguments on your positions.

No. In fact the opposite is true

You feel passionately about a topic, but haven’t sought out much evidence.

No. In fact the opposite is true

You are reluctant to not have an opinion on commonly discussed topics.

No. In fact the opposite is true

So that makes me what, 75% truth seeker and 25% signaler? That's pretty good for me, I would have said in advance of seeing the questions that I'd come out 50/50.

Somehow though, I would bet that Robin H. thinks this entire post is some kind of anti-truth signal!

Hat tip to LeBron


Great graph from NY Times on the correlation between payroll and wins in MLB over the last decade. NFL and NBA are capped, but baseball is not (click on the pic for a more glorious image).

Biggest overachievers are Oakland and Minnesota, biggest underachiever (in terms of vertical distance from the regression line is Baltimore.

My two teams are the Tigers and the Cardinals. Pretty big difference in bang for buck between them. Cards are spending just north of $100 million for just north of 90 wins while Tigers are just south of $100 million for just south of 75 wins.
Mets and Cubs are the worst performing big spenders.

people who need people to the back of the bus!

People, this has got to be the scariest Haiku ever:

"Men's disposable panties
We're just a heart beat away
One touch could make it happen"

Either that or it's the motto of the American Society of Prostate Surgeons (ASPS).

Monday's Child is full of links

Some links:

KPC friend Mark "I'll stay in for a QUADDIE!" Crain brings the smart stuff in a WSJ article about regulation

CATO has a nice article about the costs of "regulating" illegal drugs

Jacob "Coffee Boy" Grier (not an Angusian relative, as far as I know) sends this link, illustrating that fun and profit are very different things. If people argued that recycling were simply a (wasteful) consumption activity they happen to enjoy, I'd be okay with that. But making it mandatory for all of us, and ignoring even the rudiments of opportunity costs...I'm NOT okay with that.

Angry Alex sends a link to Gov. Christie's greatest hits. Heh. Heh heh.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


In an article ostensibly about Connecticut politics and Linda McMahon, Matt Bai writes the following:

But as David Stockman, who was Reagan’s first budget director, argued in a Times Op-Ed essay in July, supply-siders during the Reagan and second Bush eras proved far more adept at cutting taxes than they did at scaling back federal spending, which is the main reason we have trillion-dollar budgets deficits.

First and trivially, the last clause of the sentence is from Matt and not Stockman, though it's written very unclearly.

Second and more importantly, Ronald Reagan caused the Obama Deficits?? WTF??

There are two main reasons we have trillion dollar budget deficits right now. First is the aftermath of the recession which has pushed down tax revenues. Second is the explosion of spending from the Pelosi-Reid-Obama government over the last two years.

You can argue that the Republicans had a lot to do with the overall size of the public debt (which was Stockman's point; I wonder if Matt bothered to actually read the essay he cites), but not the current, "trillion dollar deficits".

Look, we didn't have "trillion dollar deficits" or deficits of an equal size relative to GDP in those "supply side" eras. How exactly are they causing today's deficits?

I understand people don't like Bush. I understand that people like Obama. I understand that the NY Times is liberal. And now, I understand that Matt Bai is a hack.

People, I am not a Republican, nor do I believe that tax cuts "pay for themselves". Mrs. Angus and I actually subscribe to the NY Times.

But sometimes I get really tired of this crap.

*FMB = Fire Matt Bai

Costly Signals

An article from Weekly Standard on our silly airline "regulation."

The BEST explanation, as I claim on the second page of the story, is that this might be explained by the idea of "costly signals": If we are doing all this idiotic sh*t, just think of all the smart stuff that we did first. That is, we have pushed the margin way out into diminishing returns.

That's not true, of course. In fact, any guy who wants to set his shoes or underwear on fire can just walk on the plane, even if his dad calls the authorities and says don't let him on. Our solution has been to "interview after the flight."

I'm afraid the reason that TSA makes us so miserable is simply because it can

Markets in Everything: Democratic Prices Edition

There's a big election today in Venezuela, one that has prompted Hugo Chávez to get into the restaurant business!


Tucked into a corner on Plaza Bolívar is Café Venezuela, part of a chain of open-air restaurants established by the government this year. The cafe serves Venezuela-grown coffee and Venezuelan snacks like cassava bread at so-called solidarity prices, half or less than what customers would pay elsewhere.

Ideology is also on the menu. The cafes were created by Comerso, a state holding company for socialist enterprises, which also manages stores that sell everything from subsidized arepas, the crispy corn cakes that are the staple of the Venezuelan diet, to inexpensive Chinese cars. The branch in Plaza Bolívar replaced a clothing store that once occupied the same spot and was expropriated live on television by Mr. Chávez.

The planners behind the cafes have multiple objectives: to provide food and conviviality at democratic prices, to serve as commercial linchpins to renew some of the city’s most run-down districts and, not incidentally, to remind satisfied patrons of the government’s populist program in an election year.

Note that it is the Times reporter, and not a Chavista (at least not a Venezuelan Chavista) who coins the phrase "democratic prices"!

The absolute best part of the story was this though:

Doris, 20, said she still planned to vote for Mr. Chávez and his list of congressional candidates. “Supporting Chávez is the best way to get a job,” she said. She is studying petroleum production and hopes the correct political views can help her land a job at the national oil company.

Good luck Doris, you're going to need it.

Boom! Roasted

Jerry Seinfeld batters and fries Larry King:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Be careful what you ask for

The Colombian military took out FARC #2 Mono Jojoy by giving him a pair of boots with a GPS chip hidden inside them!

This is real, people, not an episode of "Chuck".

El Mono was diabetic and had sore feet. The government intercepted a radio message from the jungle ordering special footwear and filled that order for him, and the rest is history.

Pretty tricky.

The CIA sure has come a long way from when they tried to off Castro with exploding cigars!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Getting Ready for Hunting Season.....

This is a nice setup

(Deer season starts November 14)

Dems punt on tax vote

Maybe it's just me, but these guys (and gals) are really bad at their jobs. "Middle-class tax relief" (which in bizarre Dem-speak means continuation of the status quo for all but the top earners) was supposed to be a campaign plus for them, right? The president is still a Dem, right? Both houses are Dem right? Inaction raises taxes on everyone and they get to write the bill, so they have the Repubs by the proverbial S&Cs, right?

The only explanation I can think of is that the Dem leadership absolutely refuses to not raise taxes on the rich and they don't think they can get their rank and file to go for that before the election.

I guess they think that a bunch of lame ducks will be more likely to do the leaders that cost them their jobs one more favor in December before heading back home for good?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mono Jojoy, (D)RIP

The Colombian army killed FARC #2 Victor Julio Suarez Rojas (aka Mono Jojoy)today.

I guess new president Santos wanted to send a "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" message to the FARC.

Latin American blogger extraordinaire Boz points out that the raid was a combined operation of several branches of the Colombian military and credits years of US training for their enhanced efficiency.

In the title, the "D" is for "don't" and I thank Mrs. Angus for suggesting it.

Buffet to NBER: STFU!

President Obama's favorite rich man, Warren Buffet has a message for the National Bureau of Economic Research's business cycle dating committee and that message is "FAIL":

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said the U.S. economy remains in recession, disputing this week's assessment by a leading arbiter of economic activity that the downturn ended more than a year ago.

"We're still in a recession," Buffett told CNBC television in an interview broadcast on Thursday. "We're not gonna be out of it for a while, but we will get out."

A full reading of the article reveals that Sir Warren does not understand the difference between the end of a recession (the business cycle trough) and the end of the recovery.

By the way, does anyone besides me think Buffett would have been the perfect choice for the role of the dad in "Sh*t My Dad Says?"

Pelsmin: Guest Correspondent

My man Pelsmin writes:

I saw your reference to that economist I call "The Grey Lady." It sent me looking for my favorite bitch-slap of a Krugman column, which appeared five years ago. I was nearly crying at some of the lines.

Here's the original column, imploring America to become more like France. It is vintage Krugman, glossing over internal contradictions, etc.

Here's the response that ran in the NRO, written by Donald Luskin. This is one of the most devastating critiques of a Krugman piece that I've seen.

Interesting, and I am no fan of P-Kroog. But....U.S. unemployment is pretty darned high right now.

I am always surprised by what a test case France is for Americans. Most of us either like very much, or dislike very much, those crazy froggies.

Leaning and Falling

Why Leaning to the Left Makes You Lean to the Left: Effect of Spatial Orientation on Political Attitudes

Daniel Oppenheimer & Thomas Trail
Social Cognition, October 2010, Pages 651-661

Abstract: A prominent metaphor in American politics associates left with liberals and right with conservatives. Three studies investigate the extent to which this metaphor not only shapes how people talk about politics, but how people think about politics. Participants who are oriented to their right report more conservative political attitudes, while those who are oriented toward their left report more liberal attitudes. This supports the notion that spatial metaphor is a key ingredient underlying abstract thinking even for important belief systems.

Oriented? (Nod to Kevin Lewis, btw)

Then, this:

Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV) “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.”


Libertarian Goverment: You'd Be Happier, Thinner, and Taller

An amusing little interview, on NPR.

Happy Birthday Dr. Mungo

Yes, my nacho obsessed partner in crime is turning 52 today!

Here's Mungo on Google Scholar.

Here's some birthday advice for the old boy:

Old age, for instance, begins with the self-imposed restriction on forming new body patterns. First, one selects attitudes and postures to fit an assumed dignity and so rejects certain actions, such as sitting on the floor or jumping, which then soon become impossible to perform. The resumption and reintegration of even these simple actions has a marked rejuvenating effect not only on the mechanics of the body but also on the personality as a whole.

I don't know who said this, but my yoga guy e-mailed it to me this morning.

Serendipity now!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Expensive But Mandatory Health Care = Unemployment

Is one cause of stubbornly high unemployment... the new health care law?

I say yes, in this interview.

Clogging the basepaths.

People, Fire Joe Morgan is re-reuniting today (one day only) at deadspin. Ah, how I've missed them. The article about naked Joe Morgan made me laugh hard enough to produce tears.

"Counties have needs...."

I call bullish.

Counties do NOT have needs, in spite of what is said here, and in which I try to rebut the claim in an interview.

The fact is that CITIZENS have needs, and counties exist to serve those needs. That is the only reason counties exist.... to serve citizens. If counties have needs let 'em take up a voluntary collection, not take the money at gunpoint.

The worst thing is the idea that it is okay to use taxpayer resources to run an ad campaign in favor of taxes. (Same column, on CJO)

Interstellar Trade

I like this a lot.

"The Theory of Interstellar Trade"
Economic Inquiry, Vol. 48, Issue 4, pp. 1119-1123, October 2010

PAUL R. KRUGMAN, Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

This article extends interplanetary trade theory to an interstellar setting. It is chiefly concerned with the following question: how should interest charges on goods in transit be computed when the goods travel at close to the speed of light? This is a problem because the time taken in transit will appear less to an observer traveling with the goods than to a stationary observer. A solution is derived from economic theory, and two useless but true theorems are proved.

And I'd like to think that most of p-kroog's columns for the NYTimes were likewise satirical. That would explain a great deal.

(Nod to David Z)

Libertarian jokes

1. Two libertarians are talking in a bar. The first one takes a long pull on his beer, and then yells, "Question Authority!" The other spits beer out of his nose, and angrily splutters, "Why the hell should I?"

2. Senator Richard Burr was driving out in the country, and saw a sign that said, “Republican Puppies for sale!” On a whim, he stopped. A little boy showed the Senator the puppies, and they were so cute with their squenched up eyes and floppy ears that the Senator promised to come back after they had been weaned to buy one.

Three weeks later, he checks back. But the sign has been changed. It says, “Libertarian Puppies for sale!” Senator Burr goes up to the house, and says, “Last time I was here, sign said “Repub Puppies,” now “Libertarian Puppies.” What’s up?

Boy said, “well, it’s true. They were Republican puppies, but now they’re Libertarian puppies. As puppies get older, they open their eyes!"

The BEST Jon Stewart Ever

Seriously. I watched this three times. It just gets better.

Pure. Genius.

(Nod to Anonyman)

Not a fan?

words of wisdom from Tyler:

If the GSEs had such a small role in the crash, why do they need the biggest bailout?

The Grand Game--Michael Clifford edition

I should be fair: Just helped host David Schmidtz for a two day visit, and he's a friend. So I have some preconceived notions here.

But I really, really enjoyed Will W's beat down of one Michael Clifford.

The fact is that Clifford's article, even after the beat down, still has lots of fecund ground for grand game playing.

I'll go first: Dr. Clifford is clearly a Foucault enthusiast. I think that means he reads Foucault while locked in his office*, and does alone that thing that Christine O'Donnell thinks that men should only do with women.

(*Clifford's office, not Foucault's)

Tax Links

Here's a couple of long but interesting posts on tax incidence and tax "equity". One by Steve Landsberg and one by Scott Sumner. They are self-recommending.

Products entirely relevant for 21st century investing

Judging from the look on the guy's face, it is somewhat painful to have this product installed!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

hot links

1. Pot, meet kettle. Mexico is building a fence to keep Guatemalans out! Greg Weeks knocks this one out of the park.

2. Where was she when she needed her? Megan McArdle counsels the NY times lady who lost her job.

3. I think I forgot to mention this earlier, but Kevin Durant had a pretty good summer.

Most Schools are About Average

Stephen K makes some good points, as always.

(Nod to Lord Sutch, who knows)

Better than Ezra?

This is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel and for that I apologize. I try not to look at Ezra's blog, but when Mark Thoma links to something, sometimes I can't help myself.

You know, his blog wasn't always this bad. Maybe since his listserve got shutdown, he's been on his own a bit more?

People, Ezra thinks you don't know how tax brackets work and that you don't know the difference between a tax cut and a tax increase.

Let me beak it down for him:

If your tax rates go down from where they are, that is a tax cut. If your tax rates go up from where they were, that is a tax increase. If they stay the same, then there is no cut or increase.

So it makes no sense (except I guess in Ezra-world) to even use the phrase "Obama tax cuts" which appears in some variation more than 5 times in his post.

In fact, his post ends with the following bit of awesomeness:

"Under Obama's tax plan, everyone gets a tax cut"

How could the Post fire Dave Weigel and leave this guy on the payroll?

All too true: "I am the LAW"

"Less strictly constitutional, more totally awesome."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Juevos Grandes

I accept that the Consumer Financial Protection Agency will make it harder and more expensive to make loans, thus slowing growth and reducing employment. I further accept that the new nanny agency will make it impossible for poor people to get loans, after which we will all blame banks for being greedy, instead of bureaucrats for being stupid.

But it is hard to accept that our con law prof prez is going to subvert the entire "advise and consent" part of the constitution. He has a Democratic senate, for heaven's sake.

If the Cambridge Caterwauler can't be confirmed by a Democratic senate, maybe she is too extreme for the job. Proof I'm right: WaPo likes it.

(Nod to Angry Alex)

Mooning Incident Mars GMU Conference

At a recent conference at George Mason, two innocent economics professors, Chris Coyne and Pete Leeson, were well and truly mooned by this correspondent.

It was about 3 pm, good lighting, and the moon was performed from a sixth floor, floor-to-ceiling window, while the Moonees were at ground level So the angle was... unsavory.

The Moonees had different responses. Chris Coyne: "ooh. ungh. no." Pete Leeson: "Wow, that was great! A moon from Munger is like a card from Hallmark....when you care enough to send the very best!"

Coyne has sought refuge in mountain solitude, to recover. He is a serious young man. But Leeson, characteristically, is ready for the next enormous challenge: "Hey... BOETTKE! Bring it on!"

(UPDATE: I got a couple of emails. Some of y'all need decaf, friends. This incident, and quite a few things described on this blog, including the Supreme Court deciding that being "totally awesome" was their new goal, DID NOT ACTUALLY HAPPEN. This is satire. You may find it offensive, and that's fine. But if it seems like it is too outrageous to have happened, then it is too outrageous to have happened. It. did. not. happen. Jeez).

What can save the EU?

Henry Farrell has a long and interesting article about the future of the EU in the current issue of Democracy.

There are some very good bits like this one:

"EMU’s current rules are the worst of both worlds. They are sufficiently constraining to make it difficult to respond properly to crisis situations, while not constraining enough to prevent crises from happening in the first place."

To that point, I can only say Amen!

But, there are also some weird bits, like this one:

If European economies are compelled to impose austerity, they cannot grow through increased domestic spending. Instead, they will have to look to increased exports, copying Germany’s path to prosperity. Unfortunately, the world economy cannot accommodate 26 little Germanys. The current imbalance between the United States–as a net importer and borrower–and exporters such as China already poses a grave risk to international economic stability. If Europe dampens domestic demand and simultaneously looks to increase exports substantially, it will make this imbalance much worse.

People, has it come to the point where it is believed that ONLY government spending stimulates the economy? If governments retrench, is increased overall domestic spending really rendered impossible? Have Alesina & Ardagna labored completely, 100% in vain?

There is also a dubious bait and switch quality to the argument where we go from more "little Germanys" increasing their exports to another China. Does Germany require double digit growth rates for domestic stability? Is Germany a serial currency manipulator? Is Germany's trade surplus anywhere near as large as China's? Wouldn't a large amount of any increased exports by EU countries go to other EU countries?

I also have grave misgivings about the way exports are viewed here and by many others. They are analyzed as if exports can rise and nothing else will change. To my reading, Henry is implying that the consequence of increased EU exports will be an equivalent set of increases in trade deficits for the rest of the world. But the world economy is a dynamic, general equilibrium process, not a static, partial equilibrium one. Won't increased exports in Germany raise earnings and demand there? After all, German savings rates are well below 100%. Won't increased German demand increase Germany's imports from the rest of the world?

To put it in a nutshell, exporting is NOT A ZERO SUM GAME!

The (political) culture that is Haiti

"Haiti held its second presidential debate ever Saturday, a sparsely attended event that was short on detailed responses from the candidates and disrupted by multiple power blackouts.

During the two-hour televised debate held at a restaurant, only four of 19 candidates seeking to become president in the Nov. 28 election faced off in front of about 40 audience members."

The full story is here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nick G: He's Not Just a Pretty Face

He is cute.
But Nick G also says a lot of needful things. If you read this, and the links he includes to fetid knee-jerk taxers like Jonny Chait, you learn some cool stuff.

Of course, if Mr. Chait were actually interested in collecting more revenue, he could just advocate having the Obama admin staff pay what they already owe. Of course, like most lefties, the good Chait thinks taxes are things OTHER people should pay.

(Nod to Angry Alex. And yes, you're cute, too)

My 5 favorite places in Latin America

Today's NY Times travel section is all about Latin America. Mrs. Angus and I have spent a fair amount of time there, so I thought I'd offer up my favorite spots.

1. The Pantanal. A huge swamp. Jaguars, giant river otters, caiman, capybaras, and an amazing variety of birds and lizards. Probably the least well known great place for wildlife viewing anywhere.

2.Rural Guatemala. Really! OK, being more specific, Lago Atitlan, Tikal, Antigua, or pretty much anywhere in the countryside. Amazing sites, incredible cheap food, big fun.

3. Patagonia. We have only been to Chilean Patagonia, and it is an incredible pain the the butt to get there but wow, it is so worth it. In Torres del Paine park, you can hike to see glacial lakes and incredible peaks, and still stay indoors in refugios with indoor plumbing, hot water, and hot food.

4. Mexico City. Really it's impossible for me to pick one only place in Mexico and uninformative to simply list the whole country so let me apologize to Oaxaca, the Yucatan, and the states of Guerrero, Chiapas, and Baja Sur. Mexico City has the best food, museums, suburbs, and outlying attractions of anywhere in Latin America, if not the world. A great place to spend at least a couple of weeks.

5. Urubamba valley, Peru. This is where I want to retire! I think it may be the most beautiful spot on earth. It's also close to Cusco and Machu Picchu. Here's a pic:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Angus and Ezra live on different planets

Let me just quote three of Ezra's sentences from the WAPO to illustrate my point:

A $787 billion stimulus? Yes, it was too small. But everything Washington does is always too small.


Friday, September 17, 2010

He was there once, but he's never going back

Prehomosexual? Interesting article. A little irreverent, but that's never stopped us here at KPC. And, after all, it's Scientific American.

(Nod to Angry Alex)

She's Beating Them Off With a Stick

Ms. O'Donnell is having to face up to her past. This may have been tongue in cheek (I'm trying to be careful, here), but ... nice video.

I watched, I watched it again, I still don't believe it. The ending... wow.

Yakov forever!

Don't hate the playa!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

hot links

1. Does Comic Sans have to choke a font?

2 Sometimes a bagel is just a bagel.

3. Precise Modern Lovers Order.

Recycling is Fake

Recycling is simply a fake, and recycling zealots are shameless mountebanks.

In Raleigh, if you follow the "recycling" trucks, you will see that they mostly take the stuff to the landfill. Recycling is too expensive. Rather than saving money, it costs MORE to recycle. And, friends, "costs" means that it uses more resources.

In Toronto, the mayor promised that "Toronto will never burn what you put in the bins." Toronto was so proud of its recycling bins. And composting produces black gold.

1. The "black gold" that was supposed to be compost is actually toxic. That would be fine in a modern landfill, because landfills have to have an impermeable layer, and a thick layer of material to capture and confine the leachate. But since these con artists don't care about the environment, focusing only as symbolic religious ceremonies, they conceal the fact that the "compost" has to be disposed of as if it were hazmat!
2. Toronto, remarkably, tells people to put plastic diapers into the RECYCLING/ORGANIC WASTE stream. There is absolutely no current technology, zero, for composting diapers. They know for a fact it is a lie. This is not a grey area, people.
3. Glass recycling? A sham. An amazingly expensive sham. Listen to what the guy at the facility in charge of "recycling" glass in Colorado has to say.

Oh, and a tasty lagniappe: Toronto kept its word about never burning the material. They send it to... MICHIGAN, and Michigan burns it. They say they will stop doing that at the end of this year. They lie.

(Nod to Pelsmin)

My New Favorite Headline

One-legged man escapes Florida deputies on foot.


(Nod to the blonde, who sent this out after someone explained to her why it was funny)

Tea party article

Did an interview with McClatchy Papers yesterday.

About Tea Party, and November elections. Write-up is here, and likely also in a paper near you. There are LOTS of McClatchy newspapers.

Back Now

Back now. Took a break, as some noticed.

My posts are usually quite frivolous, and it just didn't seem right. I still can't believe my friend Mel Hinich is dead. I owe him a whole lot.

Kevin Grier clearly got me tenure, by writing a bunch of articles with my name on them.

And Mel Hinich got me promoted to full, and got me the job at Duke, by letting me write or edit three books with his name on them. People always laughed when, after they asked me which parts Mel wrote, I said, "Tell me which parts of our books he has even read!"

The answer was not much. Mel was a talker, and a thinker. And I profited enormously from writing down what he said. Well, I only wrote down about 1/3 of it, and some of that turned out to be wrong. But the 1/6 or so that was good was SO good that it made all the difference in the second half of my career.

I owe Mel more than I can say. I was a better scholar just being his stenographer than I could ever be writing down whatever vapid crap I came up with on my own. Thanks, Mel.

Beer and a Bump

“There Is No Such Thing as an Accident,” Especially When People Are Drunk

Laurent Bègue, Brad Bushman, Peter Giancola, Baptiste Subra & Evelyn Rosset
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract: The intentionality bias is the tendency for people to view the behavior of others as intentional. This study tests the hypothesis that alcohol magnifies the intentionality bias by disrupting effortful cognitive abilities. Using a 2 × 2 balanced placebo design in a natural field experiment disguised as a food-tasting session, participants received either a high dose of alcohol (target BAC = .10%) or no alcohol, with half of each group believing they had or had not consumed alcohol. Participants then read a series of sentences describing simple actions (e.g., “She cut him off in traffic”) and indicated whether the actions were done intentionally or accidentally. As expected, intoxicated people interpreted more acts as intentional than did sober people. This finding helps explain why alcohol increases aggression. For example, intoxicated people may interpret a harmless bump in a crowded bar as a provocation.

(Nod to Kevin L)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Cradle of Democracy?

Fantastic article in Vanity Fair by Michael Lewis on the mess that is Greece. It is very long but very well worth reading. Funny, informative and downright scary.

Here are a couple quick quotes, but do read it all if you can:

In Greece the banks didn’t sink the country. The country sank the banks.

As he finishes his story the finance minister stresses that this isn’t a simple matter of the government lying about its expenditures. “This wasn’t all due to misreporting,” he says. “In 2009, tax collection disintegrated, because it was an election year.”


He smiles.

“The first thing a government does in an election year is to pull the tax collectors off the streets.”

“You’re kidding.”

Now he’s laughing at me. I’m clearly naïve.


Astonishingly, it’s widely believed that all 300 members of the Greek Parliament declare the real value of their houses to be the computer-generated objective value. Or, as both the tax collector and a local real-estate agent put it to me, “every single member of the Greek Parliament is lying to evade taxes.”

Dude: you have no Quran!

Selft explanatory and self recommending:

Hat tip to Norman from Norman.

Missing the point

The sometimes reasonable Matt Yglesias tweets that "we can incentivize savings without huge giveaways to rich people". Over at Slate, the rarely reliable Dan Gross opines that people making over $250K can afford a tax hike. Over at Econospeak the title is "Tax increases on the rich will not greatly reduce aggregate demand".

All of this is so strange. How is not raising someone's taxes a "huge giveaway"? Who is "we" exactly? Since when is whether someone can afford it the rule for choosing how much to tax (well, I'm given to believe that's how taxes were collected back in the middle ages)? How is the fact that a person may not do exactly what 1960s Keynesian economics wants them to do with their money grounds for taking their money?

Look, I am not disputing that they can "afford" to pay the tax or that those stingy bastards probably will just save the money if "we" let them keep it.

But I am pretty sure that the top 1% of earners are already paying over 40% of the total Federal income taxes, even at the "giveaway" Bush rates. Over 40% of households pay no Federal income taxes at all. "We" are also popping the rich in other areas of taxation besides their top income tax brackets.

On top of all this, the fact remains that taxing "the rich" will not come close to balancing the Federal budget.

On this issue, the progressive blogosphere seems more like a herd of villagers with pitchforks and torches than a group of sophisticated intellectuals.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

(not) Taking the piss

I didn't know that Irish were such wimps:

Motorists using Ireland's new motorway network can expect to find themselves thirsty or bursting for the lavatory because the government hasn't any money left to build roadside service stations.
The government body in charge of roads has begun erecting signs warning drivers not to expect any rest stops along a network that stretches from the Irish Sea to the Atlantic.

Struggling to plug Europe's biggest budget deficit and to kickstart the ailing economy simultaneously, Ireland set aside scarce funds to revamp a road network still reminiscent of its past as one of Europe's poorest countries.

As money ran out the National Roads Authority (NRA) had to scrap plans to build service stations in most places. It is now putting up signs warning of no "online" services ahead and pointing motorists toward petrol stations in nearby towns.

"It's as important to let people know what's there as what is not there," a spokesman for the NRA told the Irish Independent newspaper.

The AA motoring group said it was unacceptable for drivers not to have anywhere stop for the toilet or a coffee for the entire 250 km (155 mile) journey between Ireland's two biggest cities Dublin and Cork for example, even from a purely safety perspective

People, 155 miles is NOTHING. You can drive from OKC to Santa Fe and easily go that far without a gas station or rest stop. That's what, 2 hours of driving if you have a real car?

I guess maybe the typical Irish bladder on the highway is a tad fuller than the typical American bladder?

It's not just me

People, I know I've been boring you with the FIBA tourney and the roles played by OKC Thunder players Durant and Westbrook and the non-roles played by Billups and Rose.

Turns out that Bill Simmons agrees with me:

First Chauncey:

(The most frustrating thing about Team USA in 2010: Every moment involving Billups. His "Mr. Big Shot" name might be the most misleading nickname of the new millennium. It's like calling M. Night Shyamalan "Mr. Box Office.")

Next Rose and Westbrook:

We went into this tournament thinking Rose and Rondo were the two best under-24 point guards in some order. Rondo got sent home, then Westbrook outplayed Rose so convincingly in the tournament that, at some point, everyone who loves basketball glanced around in confusion and said, "Hold on, does Oklahoma City now have the best young guard AND the best young player in the league?"

And finally, KD:

Kevin Durant, last three USA games: 100 points, 35-for-59 shooting (59 percent), 15 3-pointers.

Everyone else on Team USA, last three games: 159 points, 57-for-146 shooting (39 percent), 14 3-pointers.

And he doesn't turn 22 until later this month.

And I never thought we'd get here this soon.

And I will never wager against him again.

Salir de Guatamala y Llegar en Guatapeor

Life is so strange. From today's WSJ comes the story that Cuba is desperate to create jobs in the private sector.

Now one might think that the way to create jobs in the private sector would be to create a favorable institutional environment for a functioning private sector, and then let people with entrepreneurial talent enter, flourish, grow their businesses and hire employees.

But that's not the Castro brothers' way.

They are simply going to fire over 500,000 state employees to create those private sector jobs! It's a strange way to go about trying to double the amount of people working in the private sector.

And here's the kicker:

"Cubans who decide to go into business for themselves will find a series of obstacles, including very high taxes, lack of access to credit and foreign exchange, bans on advertising, limits on the number of people they can hire, and a litany of small-print government regulations".


I guess that one way or another those poor people will become private sector workers or else!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Re-balancing trade with China

First Stephon, now AI?

The AP reports that "The Answer" may be following Starbury into Chinese basketball exile.

I wonder if we could work out a scenario where the Chinese would take Andy Stern?

Hat tip to Leeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

FIBA links

#1. Wojo

#2. My neighbor and the king of OKC sportswriters, Berry Tramel

#3. KD his ownself, here and here.

#4. Pete Thamel from the NY Times

Sunday, September 12, 2010

USA Bas-ket-ball: 2010 FIBA World Champs

USA beat Turkey 81-64 behind 28 points by KD along with 15 points and 11 boards for Lamar Odom!

Man I can't wait for the NBA season to start.

Incentives matter

I had posted earlier about the immortal Japanese (who collect their pensions at age 100+ despite being invisible to the untrained eye), and now LeBron posts this morning about the same phenomenon and another interesting manifestation thereof.

We can also toss in this paper by Raj Chetty et. al. showing how the Danish tax code creates sizable labor supply responses around the kinks in the tax brackets, thus creating a large macro elasticity.

What does it all mean?

How about that official estimates of the revenue consequences of tax changes will generally be incorrect in a systematic direction (overestimating the revenue gain of tax increases and underestimating the revenue loss of tax cuts).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

USA Bas-ket-ball

Well, thanks to the OKC Thunder duo of Durant & Westbrook, the USA are in the title game of the FIBA World Championships against homestanding Turkey.

I said earlier it would be hard for Team USA to win this with only 4 players contributing, but I guess I might have been wrong. Coach K gave an early hook to the sublimely knuckle-headed Derrick Rose (12 minutes of pt only) giving Westbrook 24 minutes and Andre Iguadala stepped up with great defense to help Durant and Odom who are the mainstays of the team.

Did any of y'all see them Lithuanian point guards zipping around? Neither did Chauncey Billups. Mr. Big shot was 1/8 and unable to stay in front of his man in any way, shape or form.

I just hope Kevin and Russell don't get too full of themselves and get out of what they need to do to help the Thunder improve on last year's performance.

FIBA update

after one quarter, USA-23, Lithuania-12. MVP-Durant with 17 points. LVP, Rudy Gay. The sublime and the ridiculous.

The Culture that is Australia: a story in two parts

Part One:

MELBOURNE, Australia – Two men were arrested after bewildered diners at a McDonald's spotted them wrestling a 5-foot (1.5 meter) python named Boris in the restaurant parking lot, police said Thursday. Victoria state police said the men stole the 8-year-old black-headed python and a lizard from a pet shop on Wednesday. They then brought the snake to the McDonald's parking lot, where they began wrestling with it in front of puzzled customers, police said.

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The cause of a mystery eye ailment that struck about 50 visitors to a dairy pavilion at an agricultural show in Australia has been traced -- to cow urine.
The Royal Adelaide Show had to close its dairy cattle pavilion after an rising number of people reported sore eyes when visiting the judging marquee.
Officials from the South Australia (SA) Health Department were called in to investigate and found the cause of the outbreak was stagnant cow urine.

The Queen must be so proud!

Friday, September 10, 2010

you gotta be cruel to be kind

I am with Dani Rodrik more often than I'm against him, but this time I gotta disagree:

Spain, where unemployment has risen to 20% and domestic demand has yet to recover, has just approved a labor reform law that makes it easier for employers to dismiss workers.

I hope someone from the IMF or OECD -- the two institutions responsible for convincing the Spaniards that such a reform is an urgent priority -- will explain to me how reducing the cost of firing workers can lower unemployment in the midst of a decline in labor demand.

Now I'm not from the IMF or the OECD, but I'm pretty sure the theory is that by making it easier to fire people later, firms will be encouraged to hire more workers in the first place.

I wouldn't really call it an strong anti-unemployment policy (not gonna turn 20% unemployment into 10% say), but I do think it's an overall efficiency enhancing policy that could lower unemployment on the margin.

Nor do I think that the IMF / OECD run Spanish politics to the degree that Dani is implying here.

People: Accounting identities do not imply causation!

Remember our friend, the trade deficit? You know, the "drag on growth"!

Well exports surged and the deficit fell 14% in July. But our press corps still writes crap like this:

Economists said that the smaller trade deficit in July meant there would be less of an impact on the third-quarter gross domestic product than the deficit had in the second quarter. The estimate for second-quarter growth was revised downward to 1.6 percent, from 2.4 percent, partly because of the expanded June trade deficit, which dragged growth down by 3.4 percentage points that quarter.

As a matter of accounting, the arithmetic is correct. But the suggestion that the trade deficit CAUSED growth to be lower by some measurable amount is completely unproven and just plain wrong.

The argument implies that there somehow would have been perfect substitutes for all imported goods being produced domestically and available for sale at the same price. Thus, if we could just keep out those damn imports, growth and jobs would soar.

Yet, this is far from true on the face of it, let alone considering if we banned all imports, we'd have a pretty hard time making any exports and that might create a "drag" on growth too, no?

This article cites anonymous "economists". No economist worth their salt would make such a claim.

Again, the accounting is impeccable, but the causal implications being drawn are garbage.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Hey Coach K: go EZ on Kevin Durant!

Dude, we need him next month. I know you are somehow stuck with losers like Derrick Rose, Andre Iguadala, and Rudy (so) Gay, but 37 out of 40 minutes for KD ain't cool with us Thunderheads.

Nice to see him drop 33 on the Russkies though (on only 19 shots).

The USA is thin thin thin. Mike K ain't playin' Granger, Curry, Love, Gay or Chandler (23 total minutes for those 5) and Rose is out there but not doing anything (6 points, 2 assists and 3 boards in 35 minutes).

Gonna be tough to win it all with just Billups, Durant, Odom and Westbrook contributing.

Go for it?

Most tennis players have a huge speed differential between their first and second serves. They take more risk with the first serve, knowing that if they miss they have another, while on the second serve they ease off because there's no "third serve" (thank God).

But does it make sense? Perhaps not:

Nine of the top 20 men as of the Aug. 2 rankings would be better off statistically or virtually unaffected by using their first-serve technique on the second serve. The list includes Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko, Fernando Verdasco and many of those with dominating first serves: Soderling, Roddick, John Isner and Sam Querrey.

Yet only on occasion — perhaps with a big lead in a game, like 40-love — do any dare to strike a full-strength second serve.

“You need to at least give yourself a chance to win the point,” Querrey said.

The women who could be better served by hitting two first serves include Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova.

Andy Roddick for one, begs to differ:

“Two double faults in a row and you’re love-30,” Roddick said. “If sports were played on a stat sheet, you know, the look of it would probably be a lot different. One thing you’re not putting into consideration with the numbers is nervous tension.“

"You know, it’s a lot easier on a black-and-white piece of paper with a number. Most people don’t serve a ton better under pressure. So if you’re digging yourself a hole — love-15, love-30 — it’s a totally different ballgame. That can’t be explained by numbers, I don’t think.”

Personally I'd like to see, one serve, no-let, no ad tennis! That would be a hoot.

And, let me add in closing that my first serve and second serve are very similar in speed and power, but that's probably because my first serve is pathetic!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

ZOMG: Steve Sailer just found out there are "white people" in Mexico

The post is here and well worth reading.

The school in question is Monterrey Tech in Mexico. Robin and I have both taught classes there at the original campus in Monterrey.

It always amazed me when, while we lived in Mexico, people there would frequently criticize the US for racism and then go ballistic when I suggested that a similar phenomenon existed in Mexico.

But people, exist it does. By and large, those photos are what rich Mexicans look like.

The tall & light vs. short & brown divide is immense. I wonder when modern Mexico will get its Alejandro Toledo or Evo Morales (of course they had theirs back in the day, the inimitable Benito Juarez).

I thank an anonymous faithful reader of Sailer's blog for the pointer.

Isn't child labor illegal in this country?

Magic to test new arena's drainage with big flush

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A massive toilet flush is set to take place at the new arena of the NBA's Orlando Magic.

The event Wednesday will test the Amway Center's sewer flows, water consumption and pressure. About 443 toilets will be flushed simultaneously.

Those expected to participate include Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Magic President Alex Martins and dozens of elementary students. They will simulate the crowd rush to bathrooms during halftime and between quarters.

There are about 1,200 plumbing fixtures in the arena. That includes approximately 560 toilets, 430 sinks and 210 fixtures such as drinking fountains, showers and disposals.

(My other possible title was "Magic simulate what it would have been like to sign Shaq")

Eminent domain on the sub-continent

JIKARPUR, INDIA—Thousands of farmers protesting the acquisition of their land for a highway to the Taj Mahal lynched a police officer and burned $12 million in construction equipment last month, bringing the massive road project to a standstill.

Rahul Gandhi, widely believed to be in line to become the next prime minister, showed up soon after in this muddy village an hour outside of Delhi. He expressed solidarity—not with the police, but with the farmers.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A starving Leviathan?

P. Krugman posted today that:

"there’s a pretty good argument to be made that we are, in fact, starved for public goods in this country, so that it would actually be a good idea to shift some resources to public goods production even if we were at full employment."

Now, Federal Government spending in 2010 is what, $3.7 Trillion? Toss in State and Local spending and we get a total government spending figure of around $6.4 Trillion.

That's Trillion with a "T" and, that's every freakin' year. And we somehow can't produce nearly enough public goods?

If that is true, every single elected offical should be tossed into stocks and given a few turns on the rack.

Total government spending is predicted to level out at over 40% of GDP and we are "starved for public goods"?

Krugman, please!!!!

looks like the Flaming Lips are gonna be doing a Guided by Voices tribute?

Check it here!

Mel Hinich, R.I.P

KPC friend Chateau emailed me this morning with the sad news that social scientist extraordinaire and frequent Mungowitz co-author Mel Hinich passed away last night. Mel was 71, and our thoughts go out to his family in this tough time.

uhm, I think I saw her last night getting her a** kicked up in Queens!

Hey "Petkorazzi"! Less blogging, more practicing!


My piece on writing, in the Chronicle of Higher Ed. I really would say that writing often is the key difference between success and failure in Poli Sci.

Unfortunately in Econ you also have to be smart. So I can't help there.

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Grand Game, Duke Edition

I'm sorry to have to do this. But I have to call out the Grand Game about an article written about Duke's bacchanal "Tailgate" party on saturdays before football games.

My son Brian attended the Tailgate. I will not quote his response, but it was quite an event.

And now, the article: what's your favorite part? (I'm not mocking the article, which is well written and factual. But the fact....well, have at it, folks!)

I'll go first: Duke administrators decided to take a FIRM stand, and cut off the number of beers students can bring to the event. They drew a line in the sand: no more than 30 cases of beer per car! (Later said that was a mistake, but... yes it was a mistake).

Some commentary from last year....

Anyway, like I said, not proud. But this had to be done. Emjoy.

Robots need love too

I posted about being impressed with Dan Mangan at a recent live show. Here's the video for the song they closed their set with:

(Dan is the leader of the yellow gang)

Here's another DM video for a song I like:

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Deepak AIIMed high

Whatever you may think of Deepak Chopra today, he was once a very confused young man:

I was trained as a medical doctor. I went to medical school because I wanted to ask the big questions. Do we have a soul? Does God exist? What happens after death?

People, he's an endrocrinologist! Maybe he, like Hunter S. Thompson, thinks/thought that God was in the pineal gland?

Or perhaps I misunderstand the nature of the curriculum at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences?

As far as I can see, going to med school to learn about theology and philosophy is like going to the Gracie Jujitsu Academy to learn how to be a plumber.


A far right version of the Onion. NOTE: They are kidding. But it's not clear who they are making fun of. But since HuffPo actually believed some of their satires were real, HuffPo is making an idiot of itself. That's good enough for me.

For example consider this (NSFW, deeply offensive) column. Nice, I laughed. And then I laughed again at the comments. You actually can't tell who is making fun of whom. Excellent.

(Nod to Anonyman, who makes fun of everyone)


After his second round match against the previously invincible Peter Polansky, James Blake thumped his chest and proclaimed that the US Open was "his house".

I guess he forgot the facts that (a) he has never actually won the US Open (or even gotten past the quarters in this, or any other Slam), (b) he only got into his house in the first place by virtue of the USTA giving him a wild card, and (c) his next opponent would be Novak Djokovic.

After the slinky Serb routinely dispatched Blake in straight sets last night, I told Mrs. Angus that poor James was now homeless and probably would be sleeping in the bus station.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Berlin Fashion Week: Mohr is Less

Germany has decided that it weakness and death are cool. Check out this show by Mr. Mohr at Berlin Fashion week.

Now, I see the point. Nationalism and patriotic pride in Germany tend to make Belgians - Dutch - Danes - French...hell, everybody... a little nervous.

But, wtf? Here is a picture from the show.
Thanks for coming, now everyone please go home and kill yourselves.

Well, not for me. At chez Mungowitz, we'll be snacking high on the food chain and doing our best to provide enough consumer spending to pull this world out of recession.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The OC

The concert idea seems to mess with peoples' heads on Opportunity Cost.

(I managed to get Angus's question right, btw, and am amazed that an economist could get it wrong).

Here is my example of concerts and opportunity cost, from EconLib

(UPDATE: Commenters on post d'Angus below....Good lord, people. If the answer is not ten, then the concept of OC itself has no meaning.)

Are you smarter than an economist?

Supposedly almost 80% of 200 economists surveyed at their annual meetings got this multiple choice question wrong:

"You won a free ticket to see an Eric Clapton concert (which has no resale value). Bob Dylan is performing on the same night and is your next-best alternative activity. Tickets to see Dylan cost $40. On any given day, you would be willing to pay up to $50 to see Dylan. Assume there are no other costs of seeing either performer. Based on this information, what is the opportunity cost of seeing Eric?"

Is the answer $0, $10, $40, or $50?

No googling this, people. Give me your thoughts in the comments.

Tactical Fallacy

A nice piece by Mr. Sensible, Brendan Nyhan, who is ....sensible.

I had a nice lunch at Tip y Tap in Santiago with John Londregan, in early July, where John made much the same argument.

But there is more to the argument. This is not just a mistake, but a bias. Dem activists are convinced (quite wrongly) that if someone would just come out and SPEAK THE TRUTH, that voters would flock to them. So the failure to speak the truth (capitalism is evil, government should control everything) is only a sign of weakness. Since they only talk to each other, these activists suffer from the "Polled my friends, and we all agree" fallacy.

So it is not just the attribution of good tactics to successful campaigns that is going on, but the belief by activists that the reason Obama is doing poorly is that he is trying to court the center.

Now, the same (mutatis mutandis) is at least as true, and maybe moreso, for Republican activists, I admit. And for Libertarians? It isn't a problem, because we don't have any friends, and don't believe in polls.

Oil Rig Explodes off Louisiana Coast

Damn. Another oil rig explodes.


A Lose / Lose Situation

At the US Open, Novak Djokovic compared having shade on the tennis court to sleeping with his girlfriend!

Really. See your yourself:

People, I live in Oklahoma where it's been at or around 100 for a month and a half now. Believe me, us Okies appreciate shade as much as anybody. But I've never heard anyone make a comparison remotely like that.

Of course, this leads to several intriguing possibilities. Perhaps Novak's lady friend is just not very sexy? Or maybe Novak is DOING IT WRONG?

Either way, I bet he had some 'splaining to do when he got home.