Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shoplifting in Edmond, OK

Hey, I bet *I* could shoplift this way, too!

The video...

(Nod to the Blonde, who couldn't POSSIBLY shoplift this way, skinny little thing that she is)

New York Bus System

I have been working on the stupidity of urban transit systems, and their occasional successes, for some time.

New York's new "Select" system? It goes down on the "stupid" side of the ledger.

A general description.

And the actions of a new bus Gestapo.

"I'm from the government, and I'm here to .... arrest you! For being confused."

Oldie but goodie....Capital Strike

You have likely seen this.

But I want to make sure you have ALL seen this...(Thanks to CG for the update)

Bar Stool Economics
Suppose every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100 and If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.)
So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20." so drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected...They would still drink for free...But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'...They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33..

But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner
Suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).
Each of the six was better off than before...And the first four continued to drink for free...

But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.
"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man," but he got $10!" "Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!" "That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison.
"We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

For some reason, this little internet meme is usually attributed to Prof. David Kamerschen, at UGA. But he did NOT write it, and disavows either knowledge or opinion of the piece. So....there.

Good news for people who love bad news

Here's a cheery note to start your morning: Economists are doomed!

Yes, we are in the same category (high paying jobs with no future) as travel agents and newspaper reporters according to Yahoo! Finance:

The Federal government is the largest employer of economists in the country. More than half — 53 percent — of all economists in the U.S. work for declining government sectors, so Uncle Sam's not hiring a lot of economists just now. "Econ" is a hot college major, but most of those newly-minted grads won't find work as traditional economists. Instead, they'll end up in niche sectors in business, finance, insurance, and education. Those set on working as conventional economists better have a Plan B, or a Plan Ph.D, because they'll need one. The economists at BLS do tell us that by 2018, an additional 900 economists will be employed — so the outlook is not as dismal for dismal scientists as it is for, say, travel agents. But if current trends continue, the future isn't promising. "You look at the last 10 to15 years and it has been flat," says Henry Kasper of the BLS. "There's little reason to think it's going to get better."

So it's not technology that's killing economists, it's smaller government? I guess that helps to explain a few things, no?

I personally think economists are like meteorologists; the more we screw up, the more we are in demand!

We are also like chameleons; we can change our stripes and insinuate ourselves pretty much anywhere in the workplace. That is part of what makes "econ" such a great major.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Can your robot do THIS?

Inverted Pendulum from Tensor on Vimeo.

I think... NOT!

(nod to @jrhorn424 )

My Boy Schaller, With Whom I am Well Pleased

My boy Tom Schaller finally says something smart in his Balt Sun column. I guess if you write THAT much, at some point you find wisdom.

Tom used to be (18 years ago) a moderate Republican. Then, like any sensible person, he kicked those idiots to the curb. Unfortunately, he was so beat up he became an (ick!) Democrat wobbly apologist.

So this whole new "kill the old people!" kick is most welcome, MOST welcome.

Watch out where the Okies go....

don't you eat that yellow...ice??

Oh my, people, Oklahoma city resident Eugene Junebug Eddins (I am NOT making this name up) has a problem:

"A drunken man decided a bathroom break couldn’t wait and relieved himself near an ice skating rink on Friday afternoon.

The man was spotted by an off-duty sergeant with the Oklahoma City Police Department who was with her children, according to the police report released on Monday.

Witnesses told police a man was urinating in the open with his genitals exposed.

Eugene Junebug Eddins, 39, was arrested and charged with public indecency.

After checking the Eddins’ background, the officer said Eddins was wanted on four Oklahoma City Arrest Warrants.

Two of the warrants were for public drunkenness and the others were for failure to appear in court."

the irresistible force and the immovable object

This is so great. China is trying to censor Wikileaks!

"According to WikiLeaks’ calculations, China appears in more than 8,300 of the cables—good enough for fifth place, behind Israel and just ahead of Afghanistan. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing accounts for 3,300 of the roughly 250,000 cables WikiLeaks claims to have in its possession. Six of the Beijing embassy cables have been released on the site so far."

Hmmm, wonder why they've got their Mao-shorts in a knot over this stuff.

"Contained in the cables are assertions that could make things awkward between China and the U.S., including suggestions that China ignored a U.S. request to stop transfers of ballistic missile technology Tehran and offered Kyrgyzstan $3 billion to close a U.S. airbase there.

Another cable, not yet released on the website but seen by the Guardian, quotes an unnamed source saying China’s Politburo—the powerful governing group within the Communist Party-–directed hacking attacks against Google after one of its members searched his own name on the U.S. company’s site and didn’t like what he saw


Hot Links!

1. Mary Anastasia O'crazy is starting to make sense to me.

2. Why Albert Pujols should own a piece of the Cards.

3. Hayek uber alles.

4. Tyler revises his views on the progress of Obamacare.

Social Security: a third way?

The debate (and by debate I mean scream-fest) on social security has largely been between people who want to cut benefits and people who want to raise tax rates or do away with the cap on how much income is subject to the tax, with each side disparaging the other.

But, there is another alternative. Social security takes $$ from current workers and gives it to the current elderly. We are in trouble partly because the ratio of elderly to workers is rising (and also because benefits have been increasing).

No, people, I am NOT suggesting euthanasia. Shame on you!

I am suggesting getting more workers via immigration!

It's win-win-win. Grandma gets her check, tax rates don't rise, and more people get to come to America and better provide for themselves and their families.

Let's take some baby steps. How about tripling the quotas on H1-B visas and easing the path to permanent residence from them? How about making an easy path to permanent residence for anyone who graduates from a US university. If that's too "liberal" for you how about anyone who gets an advanced degree from a US university?

There are a lot of things we can do to let wealth generating people "in".

And so I say unto you: tear down that wall! Grandma needs the money!

Monday's Child is full of links

A mini-Grand Game entry. I like the "Boone's Farm" angle, but there are others. (Nod to Anonyman)

Moments of moment: Gov. Christie. AS is amused. (Nod to Kevin Lewis)

"Not everyone who thinks they need an exorcism actually needs one..." Truer words were never spoken. (Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Darned autocorrect! (nod to Angry Alex)


In grad school, we played football, under the name "Trout's Raiders," named after the famous Wash U micro theorist, J. Trout Rader, III. (Yes, there three J. Trout Raders, the sins of the grandfather being visited on a little boy)

Late in a game, we were down 5, and threatening to score. About five yards from goal line.

Fourth down.

Anyone was eligible to receive a pass. So we made up a play (Mike Smirlock was QB this day, though he was later known for other things...). The play was: I would center, then block, then run forward five yards, just over the goal line, and the pass would be there.

I did, I did, I did, and it was (there), right in the tummy. But I dropped it. Michael S's pass was perfect, and it was NOT too hard, or low, or anything. We lost. And I obviously still remember it.

Turns out I should have blamed God for "making" me drop it. That particular excuse did not occur to me, I have to admit.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Spammer Test

"But what about all the actual non-bot humans who won't be able to join the community, because they're incapable of making remotely accurate judgments about what is constructive ... Oh!"

(Nod to frequent, sometimes constructive, commenter Tom, who suggested the whole thing)

Stocks....Winning, and Sleeping

On October 8, I wrote this. Bailed out completely. DJIA was at 11006.

Friday, DJIA closed at 11096. If I had stayed in stocks, I would have had a 90 point bump, or 0.86%.

Instead, I made about 1.1% in that same period in inflation-linked bonds. And I slept better. Hard to say I was actually right to bail. But even with hindsight you can't say I was wrong, either.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

You Had Better Go Back to Your Bars, Your Temples...

Beauty Queens and Battling Knights: Risk Taking and Attractiveness in Chess

Anna Dreber, Christer Gerdes & Patrik Gränsmark
Stockholm University Working Paper, November 2010

Abstract: We explore the relationship between attractiveness and risk taking in chess. We use a large international panel dataset on chess competitions which includes a control for the players’ skill in chess. This data is combined with results from a survey on an online labor market where participants were asked to rate the photos of 626 expert chess players according to attractiveness. Our results suggest that male chess players choose significantly riskier strategies when playing against an attractive female opponent, even though this does not improve their performance. Women’s strategies are not affected by the attractiveness of the opponent.

Which of course made me think of this. Darn women. Darned risky moves.

Toucha Toucha Toucha TOUCH Me! I wanna be a better player!

Tactile communication, cooperation, and performance: An ethological study of the NBA

Michael Kraus, Cassey Huang & Dacher Keltner, Emotion, October 2010, Pages 745-749

Abstract: Tactile communication, or physical touch, promotes cooperation between people, communicates distinct emotions, soothes in times of stress, and is used to make inferences of warmth and trust. Based on this conceptual analysis, we predicted that in group competition, physical touch would predict increases in both individual and group performance. In an ethological study, we coded the touch behavior of players from the National Basketball Association (NBA) during the 2008–2009 regular season. Consistent with hypotheses, early season touch predicted greater performance for individuals as well as teams later in the season. Additional analyses confirmed that touch predicted improved performance even after accounting for player status, preseason expectations, and early season performance. Moreover, coded cooperative behaviors between teammates explained the association between touch and team performance. Discussion focused on the contributions touch makes to cooperative groups and the potential implications for other group settings

I have always said, you just can't beat those early season touches. Those are the best.

(Nod to Kevin L)

Ou est la plume de ma tante?

Mrs. A and I are on Staten Island visiting my aunt for Thanksgiving. She, for some reason, has taken exception to my choice of headwear, saying it makes me "look like a cuckoo-bird".

Here we are, after dinner last night in a pizza joint that serves a pretty good GF pie (among other things). People, you be the judges:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bike theft: "You are so big and strong!"

Stanley Milgrom used guys with white coats. But it turns out all he needed was a cute blonde.

As one of the commenters says: "Good lord, are men ever stupid."

The earlier video is perhaps more disturbing. Actually, it just IS more disturbing.

What's disturbing is that I wonder if I would have treated the white kid and the black kid the same. I'm not sure. Just not sure. Disturbing.

UPDATE: A commenter asks, "Isn't this just statistical discrimination?"

"Just statistical discrimination"? Um...yes. But the point is that I knew what was going on, and I *still* found myself watching the black kid and getting madder, thinking, "It looks like he's stealing that bike."

Racism is persisting in a biased race-based belief even when evidence to the contrary is clear and convincing. I knew the trick, but I still was watching the black kid and getting mad.

When I was at Wash U, with Angus in grad school, sharing our office with Steve from "Day-ton," I went out on night late to ride my bike home. I saw a black kid sitting beside my bike, and immediately thought, "Is he stealing my bike?" In my defense, it was 3 a.m., and an odd time to be just sitting beside a bike in a parking area.

But I thought, don't be an asshat racist. Just go over there. As I walked up, he tried to hide the bolt cutters under his leg, and struck up a conversation. I asked if he had seen any really big rats around, since something had chewed the cable on my bike lock nearly through.

He jumped up, took his bolt-cutters, and sauntered off, whistling.

I reported the attempted theft. The Wash U po-po was all excited, "We know that guy." (My description had been, "Black guy, medium height, orange shirt.")

Next day, they called me in to do a photo line-up. Nine photos. Now, I am not making this up, people. Of the nine, four of the photos were of white guys. Of the remaining five, four were black and white photos. The remaining one was in color. The color was...orange. It was a black guy with an orange shirt.

I am ashamed to admit I went through with it, pointing out ("j'accuse!") the one color photo guy. The local Dick Tracies were VERY excited; "That's the one, all right, that's him, yepper!"

They told me he would be charged, and I would be called as a witness. But apparently when they called St Louis police to do the arrest, the kid ran. He ran out into a street, and was hit by a taxi. He died the next day.

The point is that I have some baggage here, on the whole black kid stealing a bike with bolt cutters thing. "Just statistical discrimination?" It is unjust statistical discrimination, I'm afraid.

life in an alternative universe

Brad Delong says this:

Thus, I would confidently lecture only three short years ago that the days when governments could stand back and let the business cycle wreak havoc were over in the rich world. No such government today, I said, could or would tolerate any prolonged period in which the unemployment rate was kissing 10% and inflation was quiescent without doing something major about it.

I was wrong. That is precisely what is happening.

People, what has the government done?

Let's see, there's the TARP, the Stimulus bill, the GM bailout, the Fed buying mortgage backed securities, cash for clunkers, the Fed pushing short rates to effectively zero, the credit for homebuyers, the extension and re-extension of unemployment benefits, a big deficit financed increase in discretionary spending (aka last year's budget), and now the Fed has commenced QEII.

Nothing "major"? Really?

It's kind of an interesting syllogism at work here. (1) The government can always control the state of the economy, (2) the economy is still bad, therefore (3) the government has not actually attempted to control the state of the economy.

If only there was a term for this kind of thinking!

Just in case you're tired of turkey

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Grand Game: Freakishly Self-Important Edition

This screed by Mark Ames could be a remarkably witty and carefully executed satire.

But I fear it's not....and so let's play the Grand Game! What's your favorite passage? I like #3, near the end, of course:

3. Anytime anyone says anything libertarian, spit on them. Libertarians are by definition enemies of the state: they are against promoting American citizens’ general welfare and against policies that create a perfect union. Like Communists before them, they are actively subverting the Constitution and the American Dream, and replacing it with a Kleptocratic Nightmare.

Some good stuff there. I, for one, never knew that the Communists were bent on replacing the American Dream with a "Kleptocratic Nightmare." In fact, equating Libertarians and Communists seems almost Hayekian, in a deeply confused (or satirical, I can't rule that out) way.

Note to Mr. Overwater: There's some Left Wing Authoritarianism for ya, bud.

Happy Thanksgiving from Nassim Taleb

He sees 25 years into the future, people! And it's not good:

"The great top-down nation-state will be only cosmetically alive, weakened by deficits, politicians’ misalignment of interests and the magnification of errors by centralised systems. The pre-modernist robust model of city-states and statelings will prevail, with obsessive fiscal prudence. Currencies might still exist, but, after the disastrous experience of America’s Federal Reserve, they will peg to some currency without a government, such as gold."

Yep, it's the middle ages with coffee-makers for us.

Is anybody besides me getting real tired of this guy? Yes, asset returns have too fat of tails to be correctly modeled by a normal distribution. Thanks, pal. We already know that. It doesn't make you a prophet.

Carrboro Culture

A performance by "The Pretense" or Vampire Weekend, or Nickelback, or something.

With multiple camera angles. Nice.

The EYM is the one with the white American flag sweatshirt, and the one boxing glove, MJ style.

I like how they incorporate the fire alarm into the aural montage. It could be accidental, but it is not clear how you could know that. Pretense just happens, after all. It isn't planned.

In Soviet Russia (and Miami), sneakers wear YOU!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Not Sure About This...

So, a guy gets arrested for possession of a firearm in a Planned Parenthood parking lot.

Except, he was wearing the sidearm in a holster, clearly visible. He has a permit for the gun. In fact, he has a concealed carry permit. And he wasn't near the building, he was in the parking lot.

I'm good on the whole "It's private property, you can't have a gun here without permission." He should have been asked to leave. TOLD to leave, in fact, and arrested if he resisted or made any threats.

But he was just straight up arrested.

And then there's this bizarre story that he was looking for a woman, a woman for whom he has neither phone number nor address. And he "forgot" the name of the web site they communicate on. AND he has met the woman for coffee. He just has no idea how to get in touch with her.

The evidence that he was up to no good? He had MAPS in his car, ammunition, and binoculars. The foul fiend! Wait...I have those things in MY car. That must mean I am up to no good, right? (What it means is that it's hunting season, here in NC)

The coolest part? He is a Minnesota state legislator. Really. He was going to chair a key committee, but not now.

Man, those armed rednecks up north freak me out. Thank goodness I live here in good ol' civlized Dixie.

(nod to @LauraLeslie)

Hello From Mr. Tootie Thrills Tanzi!

On my recent return from Sweet Home Oklahoma, I was honored to pass on the greetings that Mr. Tootie had given me for Hobo and Tanzie.

To say the least, Tanzie was excited!

Easley: It Just Doesn't Make Any Sense

The two best reporters on state politics in NC are Laura Leslie and Rob Christensen. And since Gov. Easley yesterday pled guilty (sort of; Alford plea) to a felony, it was time to check in.

I got to talk to Laura, which was fun. She's really great. Great voice, knows everyone, very fair. And I got to say, "It just doesn't make any sense!" How profound.

And this morning I got to read this piece by Rob C. Exactly right, again very fair, to the point.

Makes me proud to be North Carolinian. Two really first rate reporters. Plus, Rob wrote the BEST book on North Carolina political history. I use parts of it in class. A very fun read, with a nice balance between personalities and good research. On the LL side of the ledger, Laura is a blogger, and she tweets, from @LauraLeslie. Finally, though, and I mean this in a purely paternal way of course: Laura is somewhat cuter than Rob.

Viva Gridlock!

Can we has more gridlock, pleeees? All us turkeys here at KPC sure HOPE so! Credit: Signe, PDI
Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Holidays, from the grinning gridlock brothers!

Should the IMF enable Argentina?

Argentina is seeking "technical assistance" from the IMF to help design a new inflation index.


Well, the past (in more ways than one) and current President have made the inflation numbers a political football, firing statisticians and deliberately underreporting inflation by a large magnitude.


Well, among other reasons, Argentina had issued a lot of inflation indexed bonds and allowing the real inflation rate to be officially reported would have cost the government a lot of money.

Which is exactly why the IMF should NOT be getting involved here.

Making this into a technical issue of coverage or method and not an issue of systematic fraud and abuse will cover the government's tracks and protect it against potential lawsuits by holders of indexed debt.

The Kirchners have been crapping on the IMF for years. It's hard to imagine that the organization has such low self esteem that they are willing to enable their tormenters just to get their foot back into the door.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Grand Game! Edition--The Nation

The Nation is...well, they are even more batshit crazy than usual.

What is your favorite absurdity?

(Nod to RB)



Anatomy of unemployment over the last four years, by county.

Kobe Bean Bryant: I owe it all to Michael...JACKSON??

What a fantastic column by Adrian Wojnorowski.

Here's the highlight:

Out of nowhere one afternoon, Michael Jackson made a call to the irrepressible and isolated Kobe Bryant, and so much changed for him. From a distance, the King of Pop could sense so much of his own obsessive genius within the prodigy. Bryant was the 18-year-old wonder for the Los Angeles Lakers, and no one knew what to make of a restlessness borne of a desperate desire for greatness.

“He noticed I was getting a lot of [expletive] for being different,” Bryant said.

They would talk for hours and hours, visiting at Neverland Ranch, and Bryant has long been fortified by the lessons Jackson instilled about the burden of honoring true talent, about the ways to open your mind to be smarter, sharper and insatiable in the chase.

“It sounds weird, I guess, but it’s true: I was really mentored by the preparation of Michael Jackson,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports.

Bryant isn’t much for nostalgia and sentimentality, but it hung in the air as he cut into his steak over dinner recently in the fourth-floor restaurant at the Graves Hotel. Jackson is gone, but Bryant is going on 15 years with the Lakers.

“We would always talk about how he prepared to make his music, how he prepared for concerts,” Bryant said. “He would teach me what he did: How to make a ‘Thriller’ album, a ‘Bad’ album, all the details that went into it. It was all the validation that I needed – to know that I had to focus on my craft and never waver. Because what he did – and how he did it – was psychotic. He helped me get to a level where I was able to win three titles playing with Shaq because of my preparation, my study. And it’s only all grown.

“That’s the mentality that I have – it’s not an athletic one. It’s not from [Michael] Jordan. It’s not from other athletes.

“It’s from Michael Jackson.”

I don't think I'll be able to get the smile this gave me off my face all day.

Advice to Grad students: get Hitched!

Interesting paper from Cornell. Here's the abstract:

Using data on 11,000 graduate students from 100 departments over a 20
year period, I test whether graduate student outcomes (graduation rates, time to degree, publication success, and initial job placement) differ based on a student’s gender and marital status. I find that married men have better outcomes across every measure than single men. Married women do no worse than single women on any measure and actually have more publishing success and complete their degree in less time. The outcomes of cohabiting students generally fall between those of single and married students


Markets in everything: Holiday gift card edition

Mrs. Angus suggested I title this post, "for the woman who has everything"! But I figured, why be sexist?

TSA will kill three planeloads of Americans in next few years

TSA is killing us. Yes, I recognize that the post-9/11 driving craze was because planes were not safe ENOUGH.

But let me put it this way: Instead of looking for bombs, we should be looking for terrorists.

The underwear bomber had a bomb in his underwear. And we had information, from the guy's own DAD, that the kid was a terrorist.

So our conclusion is that we should do a little profiling, and focus on people who have spent time in Yemen, and who are FAR more likely to be terrorists?

No. Our conclusion is that we will assume, as a matter of policy, that all people are equally likely to be terrorists, and put all our effort into looking for bombs.

At a minimum, it seems to me that you want to equate the marginal safety productivity of the two types of investment. This podcast gives good evidence we are failing the basic "equate at the margin" condition for Pareto optimality.

The point being: I don't object to security at airports. But we are overinvesting in airport security, and underinvesting in intelligence. Ditch the scanners, and spend that $20 billion on intelligence. And, yes, profiling.

The problem is that air safety is a constraint, not the objective function. We want to minimize cost of air travel, and maximize convenience, choice, and comfort, subject to the constraint that there are no bombs or terrorists on board. So we should be arguing about the trade-offs between cost and comfort/convenience. Instead these Niskanen-esque bureau-bozos are frantically trying to MAXIMIZE air safety, so they can increase their budgets. It's public choice 101.

UPDATE: George Will makes the right points.... "What the TSA is doing is mostly security theater, a pageant to reassure passengers that flying is safe. Reassurance is necessary if commerce is going to flourish and if we are going to get to grandma's house on Thursday to give thanks for the Pilgrims and for freedom. If grandma is coming to our house, she may be wanded while barefoot at the airport because democracy - or the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment; anyway, something - requires the amiable nonsense of pretending that no one has the foggiest idea what an actual potential terrorist might look like...The average American has regular contact with the federal government at three points - the IRS, the post office and the TSA. Start with that fact if you are formulating a unified field theory to explain the public's current political mood."

Big ups to Mungo

Over at MR, Tyler has a lengthy homage to Timur Kuran.

Timur is joint in polisci and econ at Duke.

You know who was instrumental in getting him there?


Well done, lad.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Two wrongs don't make a right

I agree with Tyler that the TSA's obsession with American genitals is not the worst thing our government is doing in the war on terror.

Warrant-less wiretaps, renditions, torture, assassinations, civilian deaths are all clearly worse, and I am strongly opposed to all those things.

But that doesn't make the TSA policies right, and it doesn't mean I cannot or should not rail against them.

That's the part of his argument I don't agree with.

HP Printer: It doesn't work, he doesn't pay

So, his HP "All in one" printer didn't.

Print, that is. So he asked HP for some assistance. But HP insisted he should have to pay for tech service, even though should still have been under warranty.

So, he went all Mungowitz on its ass!

(Two people sent me this video. Can't imagine why...)

Article on "Security"

Nice article on TSA "security" checks.

It's the costly signal thing, as I have argued elsewhere. There is no actual content to the searches.

I was trying to explain it to a kid at Duke. I think it's like Nyquil. Nyquil tastes bad on PURPOSE. Given two identical (save for taste) cough medicines, people choose the one that is tastes bad, assuming it must be stronger. Nyquil has secured a niche by tasting like battery acid, ON PURPOSE.

And now TSA is trying to win us over the same gentle way. You gotta be cruel to be kind. Some fun ideas for messing with the man. MARCO!

(Nod to @lauraleslie for the 2008 article)


Very cool map of US political history, by my boy D. Sparks.
His description of what's going on, on his web page.

Grand Game: NYT Ed Page

This is a remarkable piece of innuendo.

Let's play the Grand Game! What is the most nonsensical, unsupported assertion here in the op-ed?

For me, it's the claim that "Wall Street" and "Republicans" are on the same side. If you look at the contributions to Obama, and the contributions for the past decade to Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, that is a LOL miscue. And that is just what was disclosed: Goldman basically bought its own bailout, by paying off Obama and his boys.

Even Michael Moore got THAT part right (I was screaming and laughing during the movie, because the smackdown on Dodd and Frank was so brutal!)

Sufjan Stevens has lost his marbles!

Check out this performance where he appears to be wearing a ton of cut up post-it notes on his body (and to have badly failed a modern dance class):

The performance is part David Byrne, part Parliment/Funkadelic, part IDM, but I have to admit the song is actually pretty good.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

People: Do NOT eat Wheaties!!

Because from what I learned today, they make you very, very, very dumb.

Let me break it down for you. First, Tyler sends me to a Brad Delong post about medicare. Then I see a link to another Delong post called "Joe Klein has really eaten his Wheaties today". Intrigued, I checked it out, only to come to the horrifying discovery that Wheaties must be really bad for your brain.

Here's Klein:

Perhaps it isn't a coincidence that so many of the people whinnying the loudest are prominent members of the financial community, the sector that has had the most to do with hollowing out our manufacturing base....

People, you just know that this bizarre claim is submitted without any evidence or proof! It's a real head-scratcher. The Goldman-Sachs destroyed our manufacturing sector? Really? How? This is nuts.

Here's more Klein:

There is, for example, Glenn Hubbard, who was featured on the New York Times op-ed page recently in defense of the deficit commission, describing the problem this way: "We have designed entitlements for a welfare state we cannot afford." This is the same Glenn Hubbard who served as George W. Bush's chief economic adviser when Dick Cheney was saying that "Reagan proved deficits don't matter." One imagines that if Hubbard was so concerned about deficits, he might have resigned in protest from an Administration dedicated to creating them.

Wow. First, one can easily and logically consistently believe both of the following: (A) Our entitlement programs are unaffordable and (B) deficits don't matter.

Saying entitlements are unaffordable means you want entitlement spending cut. It's the SPENDING THAT MATTERS. Deficits, to a first approximation are future taxes so, yes one could hold the view that, while deficits don't matter, spending does, and the future path of our entitlement programs put us on a path to too high spending.

I am an example of someone who believes both (A) and (B) above, so is Milton Friedman.

Look, I am not a Glenn Hubbard fan by any stretch of the imagination, but there is really nothing necessarily hypocritical in simultaneously espousing the two views being attributed to him by the wheat-and-milk-addled Klein.

The last bit, that anyone who didn't resign from the Bush administration has no legitimate standing to discuss future entitlement spending, is just plain asinine.

People, Brad is a smart guy, so I figure he knows Klein is full of it. Thus I view his post as an elliptical, but important PSA on the ill effects that Wheaties have on brain function.

Thanks Brad!

I just picked out Mungowitz's Xmas present!

More info here.

Merry Chistmas Mr. Mungo!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Answering your questions about thesis defenses

Yes, people, they really do involve snakes. Please read the whole thing, but here is one crucial part:

Q: Would someone who wrote a bad thesis and defeated a large snake get the same grade as someone who wrote a good thesis and defeated a small snake?

A: Yes.

Is Tyler Cowen an Exhibitionist?

Judge for yourselves people:

Check out this tweet, and this one, and this one (the last was a re-tweet by TC), and this blog post, and this one too.

When I contacted him for comments before running this story, Tyler said:

"In my view in the long run better scans mean fewer pat-downs!

I would encourage people to start by calculating the "p" that, twenty years from now, the major airlines get nationalized. Work backwards from there and compute the liberty-maximizing policy."

I, on the other hand, would encourage people to calculate the "p" that, twenty years from now we all have microchips implanted in our body that allow the Feds to track all our movements and conversations. Working backwards from there and computing the liberty-maximizing policy might lead to a differing conclusion than does Tyler's thought experiment!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Don't Blame the Police

This is really dumb.

But don't blame the police: it is the LAW. Cops don't get to pick which laws to enforce. I have argued this before...

So the lady in the article who says cops are wrong, is wrong.

And the lady who says, "Get rid of the chess tables" is an even bigger doofus. How is society made better off by destroying existing chess tables that are heavily used?

The problem is the stupid law. You can't even run on the grass, in the park, unless accompanied by a minor.

The thing is that the freqeuncy of child molestation or abduction by strangers has plummeted. It is NOT, simply not, an actual problem. This paper, in 2004, debunks a number of myths. And stranger abductions have gone DOWN since then.

The problem is nanny-fascist city council members, all over the country, who give in to pressure to make up ridiculous new laws.

(Nod to Anonyman)


Carville defiant on Obama comment By: CNN Political Unit

Washington (CNN) – Democratic strategist James Carville compared President Barack Obama to his Democratic primary rival and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Thursday, implying in rather lewd terms that Obama needs to toughen-up.
And he's not sorry for it.

"If Hillary gave up one of her balls and gave it to Obama, he'd have two," Carville said at a "Christian Science Monitor" breakfast discussion. His comment was a response to whether Obama is taking strong enough stands on taxes and repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy. Carville made a similar comment to "Newsweek" during the 2008 campaign season when he compared Clinton and Obama's toughness.

"If she gave him one of her cojones, they'd both have two," he said.
He reacted to the comment on CNN's "John King, USA" Thursday.
"If I offended anybody, I am not sorry and I do not apologize," Carville told CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King.

But he also said he intended the comment to be a joke. "Of all the things people say about the president, I think this is fairly mild," Carville said. "I repeated a joke I made in the campaign."

(Nod to the Blonde)

Piling On: Leave the Beast Alone

This is unfair. I am happy to enjoy making fun of President Obama for doing stupid s**t, but how can we blame him for taking security seriously? The tone of this story is just out of line. The "symbol" of riding around in little roller skate cars is not the point of the summit. The press is wrong, here. (And I say this as an experienced limo driver myself...)

However, it does reflect that President Obama has become our new Jimmy Carter. Just a joke, a clown. Not entirely his fault, by any means. Even Charles Krauthammer is saying that the press is "silly and vindictive," for heaven's sake.

Can you believe that just a year ago the slobbering Euro-weenies were giving this guy the Nobel Peace Prize? Now they hate him because he doesn't ride in SmartCar. Oh, you fickle Euro-weenies!

Assault rifle: Good ; Nail clippers: Not so fast

It's a meme now: TSA is crazy. May or not be true, but the meme is fully viral.

Like this... Nail clippers? One guy with nail clippers is going to take over a plane also occupied by 200 veteran infantry troops? An M-16, even without bullets, is plenty of club to face down a vicious nail clipper wielder.

(nod to the Blonde, who said she laughed so hard she snorted)

Even Canada Thinks We are Hilarious

When Canadians are laughing at you, and they are RIGHT, then you are in sad shape.

Markets in everything: Canned goods edition

I can't decide which is funnier; "quality guaranteed" or "in tomato sauce"!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Today in Moscow, Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev appeared at a joint news conference:

"Has the Ben Bernank ever run in an election?"

No but he has a nice beard!

People the first three minutes of this video are pure gold:

Fail Contest:: Biggest Fail?

Who is the biggest fail? The keeper or the forward?
To me, this is an allegory. The keeper is the Republicans, failing to make even a cursory effort to protect budget stability.

And the idiot striker who strikes out is the Pelosi-Reid congress, missing the open goal and just doing stupid stuff.

Waddya think?

Appropriations Committees: Nein, danke

Wow! People are turning down Appropriations Committee assignments? That's pretty amazing....

(Nod to @tofias)

KPC solves your problems

Mungo and I have been deluged by emails from KPC readers aghast at the Feds banning their favorite beverage, Four Loko.

Fear not, people. Behold: DIY Four Loko!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You sunk my battleship!

Wow! KPC friend Will Wilkinson scores a bulls eye. Please read the whole thing but here's a teaser to get you going:

"When it comes to macro policy, talk of bounded rationality, animal spirits, and the like is mostly just handwaving used to justify a retreat to "old-fashioned hydraulic Keynesianism" against the dominant stream of professional opinion when doing so suits one's ideological predilections."

How to evaluate the Fed

My friends Larry White, George Selgin and Bill Lastrapes have a new paper claiming the Fed has been a failure. They look mainly at US macroeconomic performance to make this claim.

However, I think any realistic evaluation of the success or failure of the Fed would have to look at reelection rates of incumbent politicians!

A novel idea

Wow! The NY Times had an epiphany and announced that economic growth might actually serve some useful purpose; it could reduce the deficit!

Very open-minded of them. I can just picture the editorial meeting where the writer fought for his story: "See, growth isn't all bad, it can at least raise government revenues."

Sadly, their ideas for "cultivating growth" all involve the government doing more things like "reforming" the tax code and "investing" our money.

One of the problems with this approach is that our government insists on investing money in things that don't have a positive economic return like "green jobs", "alternative fuels", high speed trains, and bribing Brazilian cotton farmers so they can keep paying off US cotton farmers.

The article does argue that the government should "prioritize" education and science, and I am in favor of subsidizing the production of public goods. But what has increased government spending in education actually accomplished so far? Has more money brought better performance, or a stronger, more politically active bunch of public sector union members?

Still and all, the Times saying something good about growth has to be counted as progress of a sort.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Motes vs. Beams

People, Dean Baker is quite a piece of work. He goes after people hard with what I will charitably describe as less than a fully correct analysis.

Here's another example, a post purporting to explain "Robert Samuelson's confusion on real interest rates:

In an economy operating below capacity, it would be desirably to have very low real interest rates to boost investment. This means that the cost of borrowing is low relative to the return on investment. Because interest rates can't go negative, it is impossible for real interest rates to fall as much as would be desired given the weakness of Japan's economy. It would be ideal if it could keep its nominal rates at their current near zero level, while inflation rose to 3.0 or 4.0 percent.

The other reason why inflation would be desirable is that it would allow homeowners to get out from under their debt burdens. If wages rose 3.0-4.0 percent annually in step with inflation, the burden of a fixed mortgage debt would be eroded through time. Also, if house prices rose in step with inflation, consumers would gain equity in their homes.

Excuse me for a moment.....


Thanks, now I feel a bit better. I think I may even be able to make a couple comments.

First, if the real rate is negative, then investment projects with a negative return may actually be "profitable". If the real rate is -4%, then a project with a -2% return "works". Strange way to rebuild an economy, no?

Second and more importantly, the most widely used model of the real interest rate is the Fisher equation which states that the nominal rate is equal to the required real rate plus a premium for expected inflation. It is beyond bizarre (but sadly not uncommon) to assert that inflation can rise significantly without nominal rates also rising.

Third, if inflation rose in a predictable manner, mortgage interest rates would rise as well (see point two) and there'd be no "savings" on new mortgages.

Fourth, to the extent that inflation was unanticipated, yes, borrowers would gain. But this is a zero sum game. Lenders, who after all are people, consumers, and voters too would lose an equivalent amount.

Fifthly and finally, as for how inflation builds home equity, all I can say there is WTF??? Housing is in the CPI. If all prices go up 3% how is the real value of your home increasing?

People, I am fine with trying a little bit of inflation here in the US of A. There are tons of idle cash sitting around, inflation is a tax on holding money, so maybe peoples will spend more. I don't think QE2 is the first sign of the apocalypse. But, even if it works to the specifications of its most ardent supporters, it's not going to come close to solving our problems.

Interesting Video

I don't think there should be laws against anti-gay hate speech, or bullying. A teacher is obliged to protect ALL students from abuse and threats. A classroom has to be safe, and to feel safe. Singling out gay students for special protections will make the problem worse.

This video is impressive. The kid is quite a speaker.

But the article raises some questions, to me. First, no Confederate flags? Really? In my high school, that would have meant sending about half the kids home. Even the women. Yes, it would have. There were lots more Confederate flags than U.S. flags on jackets, pockets, and so on.

Second, "the" home of the KKK? Nice that we have those dangerous maniacs segregated off into one small town in Michigan, but my impression was that the problem was somewhat more widespread, frankly. It's hard to prove a negative, but it appears that the headquarters of the Michigan KKK was near Howell, emphasizing the "WAS." If you are really worried about hate speech, perhaps you shouldn't go making up blatantly false stuff about Howell, MI.

Finally, what is the procedure for expelling a kid? I don't see why the teacher would be a hero for just telling the bully / problem kid to "get out of my classroom." Sure, it's a hassle to follow the rules. But the 14 year old kid who was told to "get out" is in school because the law forces him to be there. You can't just let him wander the halls. If the teacher was suspended for ignoring the rules on suspensions, then I have to say the suspension is consistent with standard practice.

So, two cheers for the teacher. And three cheers for the kid in the vid; good advocacy, and well done standing up to bullies that way.

(Nod to Anonyman)

Handwritten Thank You Notes

Your note, with nicer handwriting. M-Per dishes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Exchange Rates

My man T-Oat kicks Danny D right in the monads...

Sovereign Citizens

This is quite disturbing, in several ways. Read the comments, on YouTube.

I can't imagine what good these people think can come from murdering police officers. Their job is to enforce the law. Some of the laws are good, some of the laws are bad. Cops don't get to decide which are which.

Going to Go Blind....

I have to have cataract surgery, in December. Not a big deal, and with the new lens my eyesight should be dramatically improved. No more glasses. Yippee!

Anyway, while we were driving, the LMM asked what the recovery would be like. I jokingly said that the doctor had said it would really help my eyesight if I had a lot of sex.

She stared out the window, and then said, "Well I guess you are going to go blind then, one way or another!"

Yikes... I must be a bad influence.

Airport Security: Excessive or Just a Hard Problem?

A disturbing little video about a very upset little girl.

I had been wondering about the comparison to Israeli security on El Al. They have never had a hijacking. And there are some folks who wish the Israelis harm, so ... aren't those procedures better? No shoe taking off, no groping, no x-ray porn?

Maybe not. A sensible response from the V-Consp. Three hours? I guess it's not so simple.

(Nod to Angry Alex)

what goes around comes around

Alan Blinder is up in arms at the audacity of foreign leaders calling QE2 "currency manipulation". So is President Obama, Paul Krugman, and a host of other luminaries.

Here's Blinder in today's WSJ: "But calling QE2 "currency manipulation" is a grotesque abuse of language".

His (correct) argument is that QE2 is basic everyday expansionary monetary policy just applied to a different portion of the yield curve. Sure it may have the side effect of lowering the dollar, but.....

People, the foreign reaction is a predictable consequence of our insistence in labeling China's fixed exchange rate as "currency manipulation".

A fixed exchange rate is a basic everyday policy regime. Bretton Woods was a system of fixed exchange rates, so the US has had a fixed exchange rate in the not so distant past. The countries of Western Europe continued to struggle to achieve a system of fixed exchange rates post Bretton Woods, culminating in the creation of the Euro which is a system of fixed exchange rates between all the participating countries.

Here's another gem from Blinder: "the US is sovereign nation with a right to its own monetary policy".

And China isn't???

Our administration and elite pundits have been blaming other countries for our problems for a while now, so it's not surprising that many other countries are enjoying their chance to throw it back into our faces.

Duke Haters

I have been teaching at Duke since 1997.

But I hate, just detest, Duke basketball. I respect, even very much admire, our coach, think the players are all great kids, it's all good. But I cannot abide the team, the cause, the self-love.

Watch this, and tell me I'm wrong.

Let Me Help You Pack!

KPC friend Veronique de Rugy tells a fine Gov. Christie Story.

The Blonde suggests that this be the bumper sticker for 2012: "Let's all help them pack!"

Ban on Dying

French town of Sarpourenx bans dying.

Two problems occur to me. First, how to enforce the ban? Second, I'm pretty sure this means they will have to raise the retirement age, right?

(Nod to the LMM)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's so EZ to save the country

The NY Times set out a challenge: YOU fix the Budget! So I tried and it was easy. You can see my plan from this link.

I (more than) balanced the budget in 2015 and 2030 with 90% coming from spending cuts and 10% from new revenues.

I left the Bush tax rates in place. I didn't get rid our our current tax breaks for mortgages and health insurance. I didn't put on a national sales tax.

I did put on a carbon tax and some type of estate tax. I raised the social security retirement age one year to 68, and I capped medicare growth at GDP growth +1% point starting in 2013.

The rest was just straight up, old fashioned spending cuts.

I would put the chances of anything within two standard deviations of my proposal getting through our political system at right around 2 or 3 percent tops.

But the bottom line is that we are not in budget trouble because of any fundamental structural economic or demographic problems. We are in trouble because our politics are disfunctional.

My idea of Hell

"ACADEMICS at one Australian university have to fill in 14 forms for a PhD student to get from pre-admission to graduation. Those 14 compulsory forms demand 270 separate pieces of information. Each of those items of information has to be supplied, on average, 2.7 times. For each PhD student, academics lose 580 minutes of precious time on form-filling, according to a conservative estimate."

At my university, I get by with having my grad students fill out their own forms and me signing them! That's a foolproof system, right?

What's in a name?

In the recent Brazilian elections, 6 candidates registered themselves as "Barack Obama" (they all lost). One candidate ran as "Chico Bin Laden" (and lost). Over 200 candidates registered their names as some riff on outgoing president Lula's name. There is much more here and here.

My favorite name of all and one person that I'd consider breaking my lifelong "no voting" policy to vote for?

Kung Fu Fatty! (not making this up)

Free-trade Theatre

People, we have met the enemy, and he is us. Only in the wonderland world of Democratic party politics can a President visit a country with which we ALREADY HAVE A SIGNED FTA and come out saying that he failed to reach a trade deal!

At first I thought I'd started down the road to dementia or insanity: "no deal? Wow, I thought we signed one back in 2007, I must be losing my mind".

Well, some people have, and I don't think I'm one of them (at least not in this case!).

Obama travels the earth proclaiming we are going to double our exports, but refuses to push for Congressional action on already signed FTAs that on balance open foreign markets more to us than ours to the other country.

I guess that vaguely positive double-talk about the benefits of trade is better than the "renegotiate NAFTA" rhetoric that came from candidate Obama, but it is still pathetic.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Here he is people: the stupidest man alive

yes Mick Cornett, you KNOW I'm talking 'bout you!

Well hello Thunder...

it's so nice to have you back where you belong.

People I've been sweating out a lackluster start of the season here in the OKC, but last night Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both reported for duty big time. It was really the first game of the season where Durant was really the Durant everyone is expecting.

Just a great game. When the Thunder went on a 10-0 run late to take a 5 point lead, Durant totally took over the game and the arena went nuts. It is really cool to see how hard OKC has fallen for this team and this game (i.e. the NBA).

Thunder still really need a reliable 3rd scoring option though. Krstic & Harden have started to contribute, but they need a strong spot up shooter badly.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My old Macro professor goes off on QE backlash

An altogether excellent (and self-admitted) rant by Larry Meyer.

Here's my favorite bit:

What about the Asian economies, including China, which complain that the Fed is contributing to asset bubbles around the world?

The real question we have to ask is why FOMC policy is affecting asset prices abroad: The answer is that the Asian economies competitively intervene in their exchange markets to manipulate the value of their currencies! As a result, they cannot have independent central banks. They are, therefore, importing U.S. monetary policy. Is that policy right for them? Hell no!

How should the FOMC respond to these countries? The Committee should say: You have no one to blame but yourselves. Hasn’t the U.S. government already advised you to float your currencies and not intervene? With respect to China, by the way, wouldn’t an appreciation of the renminbi be just what the doctor ordered? Isn’t just what’s needed to restrain inflation and aggregate demand?

What should Asia be saying to the Fed? Thank you! Please keep the U.S. economy out of a recession that could greatly threaten the global recovery.

So much win! Oh and by the way Asia, you're welcome!

Pay no attention to that Okie behind the curtain!

Over at New Geography, Joel Kotkin writes about 10 cities best poised to do well post great recession. Interestingly Mungo-land (Raleigh-Durham) and Angus-topia (OKC) are on the list.

Here's what Joel says about the OKC:

During the Great Depression, it was Oklahomans who moved to California to escape the Dust Bowl. Now there are considerably more people moving from California to Oklahoma than the other way around....And Oklahoma City—which enjoys low unemployment as a result of its steadily growing energy and aerospace sectors—has been ranked among the best job markets for young people, ahead of Dallas, Seattle, and even New York (having Kevin Durant lead the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder for the foreseeable future can only improve the buzz).

Of course, none of the cities in our list competes right now with New York, Chicago, or L.A. in terms of art, culture, and urban amenities, which tend to get noticed by journalists and casual travelers. But once upon a time, all those great cities were also seen as cultural backwaters. And in the coming decades, as more people move in and open restaurants, museums, and sports arenas, who’s to say Oklahoma City can’t be Oz?

Who indeed, people, who indeed?

No Mungo, just don't have kids

In a similar vein to Mungo's post below, a new paper from the Center for Global Development (downloadable here) reckons that the most cost effective way to reduce carbon emissions in developing countries is to have there be less people in developing countries!

They don't quite put it like that; they say the policies of "family planning and female education" are the biggest bang per buck, but both common sense and a reading of the paper show that what these policies do to reduce emissions is reduce the number of people.

People, don't get me wrong; I'm fully in favor of female education for reasons completely unrelated to carbon emissions!

As far as family planning goes, most countries undergo an endogenous demographic transition as they get richer. I am not sure that posters and free condoms can significantly speed up that transition.

While I in no way wish to impugn the motives of the study, a policy of poor country population control as a method of reducing carbon emissions makes me very uncomfortable.

Homesick TSA Blues

KPC BFF Will Wilkinson writes a useful article on the idiot docility of the American public: the government says it needs to rub its hands on our tingly bits, so it must be necessary, line up, don't make trouble!

Some time ago, I tried to come up with the best explanation I could think of on the positive side: costly signals.

But that doesn't really explain our long term acceptance of this pointless abuse. Especially since a guy can get on a plane after his dad calls to warn authorities, and then all they want to do is "interview" him after the plane lands.

Here's one I don't get: I was waiting to pick up Tyler C., at the RDU airport. I was told I could not leave the car for even 30 seconds. I could wait in the parked car for three minutes, and then I had to circle the airport and come back. I did that three times. May I ask you: Why? There has never, ever been an attack on an airport, from the outside. Is the reasoning that there were some attacks during flights, flights imply airplanes, airplanes land at airports, and my car was parked at an airport? The drop-off lane where I was meeting Tyler was empty, no people around except me and the cop; no terrorist would pick that place for bomb attack. As we know, it is easy to drive a truck full of explosives to Times Square, or some other densely populated area, yet there is no security there at all. (Nor should there be, given the odds of an attack are still pretty much zero).

So why do the airport cops outside, and the TSA inside, make us jump and dance and obey? Because they can, folks. Because they can. And we all just say, "Please! Sir! May I have another!"

(Nod to @MsCourt)

Just Kill Yourself

Newsweek has advice about how to save the Earth.

Boiled down: Kill yourself, or at least live in a way that makes you wish you COULD kill yourself. Problem is those greenhouse gases when you fire that bullet into the roof of your mouth: bad for the environment.

(Nod to the Blonde)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Any Idiot Can Make Linear Projections...

And this particular idiot is making linear projections about chocolate prices.

(Nod to the LMM, who frightened me with the image of female choc-zombies stalking the earth in search of the their next meal of 70%+)

Don Boudreaux Comes Up Big....

I just love this article. I love it so.

Don B speaks da trut

The Only "Conservative" In the last 30 years was....

And I have to second Angus' "Shrub=FAIL" post. Check this graph, of Debt as % of GDP:
(click for more bodacious image!)
We have had exactly ONE fiscally conservative prez in the last 30 years, and his name was...CLINTON. Sorry, Repubs: you all suck!

(Debt=publicly held debt + intergovernmental debt; no way do you get to ignore T-bonds that happen to be held by the Soc Sec Trust Fund. If SSTF gets to count the bond as an asset, then that is a big honking debt on the government balance sheet. And I got the pic by taking a Nat Post graph and making it a ppt slide, so I could add the notations)

Big 'Uns Eat FREE!

warning: "mild death may occur..."

Quite a restaurant.

(Nod to the Blonde, who would have to pay a LOT to eat at this restaurant, skinny little thing that she is!)

The Shrub is STILL full of it

It's good to know that some things never change.

Shrub has written a book and is out on a media tour promoting it. Among the strange notions the book contains is the argument that GW Bush was a fiscal conservative! His evidence is a chart showing that Federal spending as a % of GDP was lower during his Presidency that it was during Clinton's, Daddy B's, or even Reagan's.


Presidents do not inherit a blank slate on spending. They start where the previous administration left off. Here's a graph of Federal spending since 1980:

(click on pic for a more glorious image)

As can be seen, under Reagan spending fell by a couple percentage points, under Clinton it fell considerably more, but the Bush train only goes one direction: UP! To the tune of around 2.5 percentage points of GDP!

Paging President Shrub! Phone call for the Shrub!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

28th Amendment?

Got this in an email. Interesting...


Governors of 35 states have filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them. It only takes 38 (of the 50) States to convene a Constitutional Convention. This will take less than thirty seconds to read. If you agree, please pass it on. This is an idea that we should address.

For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform that passed... in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law. I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop.

If each person that receives this will forward it on to 20 people, in three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one proposal that really should be passed around.

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:
"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States ."


Actors need to learn how to stay grounded, apparently.

Poor guy. Does this happen a lot, to giraffes? I never thought of that.

(Nod to Anonyman)

The Edmund Fitzgerald

It was today, in 1975.


I feel weird when I link to blogs far more popular than KPC. Most of our readers probably already follow Tyler and Interfluidity. But they both have excellent posts up about our current economic situation and the policy options we face. You people should read these posts so I am linking to them here.

Here's Tyler's post and a teaser:

Still, QEII may do some good. Money matters, even if we don't always understand how or why, and excessively tight money has never done market-oriented economics any favors. Think of QEII as a make-up for some earlier monetary policy mistakes. Some of the relevant alternatives include a trade war with China or direct government employment of the unemployed and with what endgame? QEII is not some terrifying burst of potential hyperinflation.

Here's Interfluidity's and a teaser:

But the thing is, human affairs are a morality play, and economics, if it is to be useful at all, must be an account of human affairs. I have my share of disagreements with both Krugman and DeLong, but on balance I view them as smart, well-meaning people who would do more good than harm if they had greater influence over policy. But they won’t, and they can’t, and they shouldn’t, if they exempt themselves from the moral fray. One of the stereotyped insults economists throw at one another is that a piece of analysis is “partial equilibrium”. The phrase is shorthand for coming to a conclusion based on assumptions that could not survive the circumstances under which the conclusion would obtain. I don’t want to single out Krugman and DeLong, but technocratic economists in general engage in partial equilibrium social science when they ignore moral concerns and the constraints “legitimacy” places on feasible policy.

I would add to the last sentence above that it's also problematic to ignore political constraints as well.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

One tough Okie

Oklahoma State University student Kasey Cook was shot in the leg last night in Stillwater. Here is a news report. And here is the awesome, amazing, report from the OSU student newspaper.

And here is my favorite part from the second report:

"He (Cook) had blood running down his leg and he asked me if I just saw a guy running and I said 'Ya' and he was like 'He just shot me,'" Schram said. "I asked him if he needed to sit down and he said 'No, it didn't burn as bad as I thought it would' and I was like, 'Dude you just got shot and he sat down and made a joke and said 'At least it didn't hit my balls.'"

I know this guy is an OSU Cowboy but all I can think to say right now is Boomer Sooner!

Hat tip to Louisiana Keith