Saturday, March 27, 2010

From the Onion: Suicide Prevention on Frozen Dinners

Stouffers To Include Suicide Prevention Tips On Single Serve Microwavable Meals

I do like the Kashi tip, at the end.

We Get Letters: The Divorce....

From a friend who has been married three times....

After being married for 44 years, I took a careful look at my wife one day and said, "Darling, 44 years ago we had a cheap apartment, a cheap car, slept on a sofa bed and watched a 10-inch black and white TV, but I got to sleep every night with a hot 25-year-old girl. Now I have a $500,000.00 home, a $45,000.00 car, nice big bed and plasma screen TV, but I'm sleeping with a 65-year-old woman. It seems to me that you're not holding up your side of things."

My wife is a very reasonable woman. She told me to go out and find a hot 25-year-old gal, and she would make sure that I would once again be living in a cheap apartment, driving a cheap car, sleeping on a sofa bed and watching a 10-inch black and white TV.

Aren't older women great? They really know how to solve your mid-life crisis

Why Did They have to shoot the POPULAR Teacher

This is messed up.

My questions:

1. It was a "science lesson"? What in the world was the lesson?
2. Why the obsession with school shootings? These are actually extremely rare, even in the U.S. School shootings in the UK are almost unheard of.
3. This did make me want to listen to "I don't like Mondays," by the Boomtown Rats, written by Bob Geldoff before he became a total goofball. So I did.
4. As Anonyman points out, the best part is the claim that the students were only upset because they "shot" one of the popular teachers.

(Nod to Anonyman)

UPDATE: Read Ross's comment. EXCELLENT links.

Commandeering the State Legislatures

A number of states are considering suing to enjoin, or otherwise block enforcement, of the health care reform bill. The basis of the legal claims are constitutional. Let me review the issues briefly.

SUITS AGAINST: All of the suits I have heard would have to be based on the 10th Amendment. Here it is (since you have probably never heard of it, unless you are a lawyer)...

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Is the power to force individuals to purchase insurance, and to have that power enforced by state police and state courts, expressly delegated to the federal government by the Constitution?

On its face, no, but not so fast. Most of the expansions of federal power have been justified by invoking the "commerce clause" and the "elastic clause" of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.

Congress shall have the power....

Commerce clause: To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

Elastic clause: To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

So, medical insurance is private commerce, many companies operate in multiple see where this is going. The fact that the Constitution does not specifically mention health insurance means nothing, bubkes. There is plenty of commerce clause and 10th amendment jurisprudence that would make the health care reform bill seem like a slam dunk for being clearly constitutional.

But...once again, not so fast.

There is one line of cases that would suggest that some aspects of the legislation are in fact unconstitutional. And they are recent. The Rehnquist Court did a LOT of work in 10th amendment stuff, and there might be a chance here.

Sandra Day O'Connor wrote a really important decision in the case of New York v. US. ( MORE BACKGROUND, AND THE DECISION). I used to study radioactive waste disposal, and so I know more than I should about this case, and this issue. (Yes, I know, SDO? But, yes. She was clear on 10th amendment issues, with a bias toward protecting the states. She wasn't clear on much else, but on this....clear).

From the decision SDO wrote:

As an initial matter, Congress may not simply "commandee[r] the legislative processes of the States by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program." Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining & Reclamation Assn., Inc., 452 U.S. 264, 288 (1981). In Hodel, the Court upheld the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 precisely because it did not "commandeer" the States into regulating mining. The Court found that "the States are not compelled to enforce the steep-slope standards, to expend any state funds, or to participate in the federal regulatory program in any manner whatsoever. If a State does not wish to submit a proposed permanent program that complies with the Act and implementing regulations, the full regulatory burden will be borne by the Federal Government.

So, does the health care reform bill "commandeer" the state legislatures? That is the direction petitioner / plaintiffs will have to go.

DEFENSE: On its face, since the court now seems more conservative than in 1996, given the recent Heller and Citizens United decisions, won't the suits win, and won't HCR be struck down.


Two things. First, Sandra Day O'Connor was against the 2nd Amendment interpretation in Heller, and against the 1st Amendment interpretation in Citizens United. Her departure made way for the new, more conservative, court. But she was VERY conservative on 10th Amendment grounds. Both Alito and Chief Roberts are NATIONALISTS, much weaker on 10th amendment issues than O'Connor. (Imagine that you had taken Patrick Henry off the court, and put on Alexander Hamilton. That's an exaggeration, but you get the idea.) The point is that this new court is actually MORE likely to side with the national government.

It may come down to whether the Alito - Roberts bloc votes its real principles or not.

Sure, OTHER People Can Get Fired, but Not ME!

Academic entitlement, from our friends at LvMI.

(A friendly nod to LS, who finds good stuff)

President Obama is Correct on DADT

Here at KPC, we have been a bit hard on Prez BHO. Not as hard as we were on GWB, who we pretty much agreed was the worst. president. ever.

But, anyway, let's give a shout out: Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a dumb policy. President Obama is quite right to work toward ending it.

Next, we need to government out of the cupid business, deciding who gets to marry whom. But that is on down the road, I suppose.

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's fun to do bad things

Can I get a Amen?

Strong Arm Tactics

Apparently the "strong arm tactics" of the conservative whackos have unhinged some of our friend in the media.

Consider this story in the Seattle Times:

Protesters have been demonstrating at Driehaus' Ohio home, said Tim Mulvey, a spokesman for the anti-abortion Democrat who joined Stupak in voting for the health bill. A rock was thrown through the window of Driehaus' Cincinnati office Sunday, and a death threat was phoned in to his Washington office a day later, Mulvey said.

"It's getting out of hand," Mulvey said.

Then, read this comment from Prof. Reynolds.... The problem is that the "office window" of Rep. Driehaus is on the 30th floor of the Carew Tower.

That's at least 290 feet. Some people can throw 290 feet in the air.... but horizontally. Nobody can throw 290 feet UP, and have the rock still have sufficient kinetic energy at the top of that trajectory to break a window.

My suspicions:

1. Glenn Reynolds has his facts wrong. But he seems right sure.

2. Seattle Times has THEIR facts wrong. And they seem LEFT sure.

(Nod to the NCM)

UPDATE: Turns out a rock was thrown through the county Dem Party office. An understandable mistake, if you think that "truthiness" is the job of the media, and not paying attention to the actual facts....

UPDATE II: Here is the first paragraph of an editorial.

I know how the "tea party" people feel, the anger, venom and bile that many of them showed during the recent House vote on health-care reform. I know because I want to spit on them, take one of their "Obama Plan White Slavery" signs and knock every racist and homophobic tooth out of their Cro-Magnon heads.

That's not from some crazed lefty nut job. That is actually printed as an editorial in the Washington Post. In that piece, Courtland Milloy praises the courage and forbearance of Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver. But Mr. Milloy really doesn't help, by making physical threats of his own.

"Are You Done"

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wow, we really have our work cut out for us

The big news in Norman is that Tommy Mason-Griffin Esq. a 5' 9" freshman basketball player who was named 3rd team all big 12 is quitting school to go pro.


He announced it on his facebook page as follows:

"on a mission...its a official dat i am leavin skool and enterin draft so if yue see me and ask me y i aint doin anotha yr yue mite get ignored."

People, can I get an LOL?

Here is a further analysis, and here is another.

After a promising start, Jeff Capel's program appears to be in total free-fall, and we educators appear to be badly failing at our jobs (don't blame me, I only teach grad classes).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jessica, the Happy Hippo

I got nothing to add. This just made me happy. When the hippo stepped on the poor dog's foot... it just seemed like something that would happen to a family... of dogs and hippos.

RPG Heroes are Jerks

(A nod to Popehat)

I just have one question about HCR

And the question is: When in the world did Gary Coleman get elected to Congress?

Sometimes you have to do what you are told....

Thomas Hobbes: " have no pleasure (but on the contrary a great deal of grief) in keeping company where there is no power able to overawe them all. For every man looketh that his companion should value him at the same rate he sets upon himself, and upon all signs of contempt or undervaluing naturally endeavours, as far as he dares (which amongst them that have no common power to keep them in quiet is far enough to make them destroy each other), to extort a greater value from his contemners, by damage; and from others, by the example.

So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory."

When the cops come, and you say, "I'm not going anywhere..." well, you are in fact going somewhere. And for the people who think that it was unecessary to send three policemen...the whole POINT of the state is to overawe the citizens, to make resistance futile, impossible.

The video above is not an abuse of state power, but rather its essence. This is what the state does, and it is ALL that the state is capable of: raw violence, overwhelming force, and putting a knee in your back while you are being handcuffed.

For my own view:

1. The instructor is partly, maybe mostly, at fault. You have to control the classroom by directing the subject away personal attacks. The student actually has a good point: the only reason this escalated was that the instructor insisted on having a whiny public argument, in class. Sure, the student was out of control. But this didn't have to happen. I have to admit some sympathy for the student here.

2. On the other hand, the student obviously thinks that rules don't apply to her. Look, folks, you should be afraid of the state, terrified in fact. The power of the state is limitless, and the first concern of the state is preserving the power of the state. No one is particularly concerned about you, except you.

The HuffingPuffintonPost has a thought....

Viva, Killer Amendment.

An attempted killer amendment? By that master of tactics from the great state of OK?

Jeff Jenkins wrote a great paper (and put my name on it, too) about killer amendments, in the JOP in 2003. We laid out some conditions under which an amendment might be "killer," and those conditions are pretty restrictive.

On the other hand, my friend Gerry Mackie is skeptical.

(Nod to Mr. Overwater)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mystery book revealed!

Thanks for your suggestions via email and the comments about what my mystery book about Native Americans might be. While looking up the suggestions on Amazon, I ran across what I believe to be the book in question (give me a break, I read it in 1978 or so!).

It's called "Custer Died for your Sins" and the author is Vine Deloria Jr.

I feel so much better now.

India strikes again

People, you know I love India. It is, in my opinion, the funniest country in the world. (Here are some more gems)

Now they are claiming to be "militarizing" chili peppers!

The Indian military has a new weapon against terrorism: the world's hottest chili. After conducting tests, the military has decided to use the thumb-sized "bhut jolokia," or "ghost chili," to make tear gas-like hand grenades to immobilize suspects, defense officials said Tuesday.

The bhut jolokia was accepted by Guinness World Records in 2007 as the world's spiciest chili. It is grown and eaten in India's northeast for its taste, as a cure for stomach troubles and a way to fight the crippling summer heat. It has more than 1,000,000 Scoville units, the scientific measurement of a chili's spiciness. Classic Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units, while jalapeno peppers measure anywhere from 2,500 to 8,000.

"The chili grenade has been found fit for use after trials in Indian defense laboratories, a fact confirmed by scientists at the Defense Research and Development Organization," Col. R. Kalia, a defense spokesman in the northeastern state of Assam, told The Associated Press.

"This is definitely going to be an effective nontoxic weapon because its pungent smell can choke terrorists and force them out of their hide-outs," R. B. Srivastava, the director of the Life Sciences Department at the New Delhi headquarters of the DRDO said.

Srivastava, who led a defense research laboratory in Assam, said trials are also on to produce bhut jolokia-based aerosol sprays to be used by women against attackers and for the police to control and disperse mobs.

There is so much good stuff here that I hardly know where to start. Let's toss a few out randomly.

1. How 'bout the name of that pepper?

2. Umm, guys, you do know that pepper spray has been around for decades already, right?

3. How can something both be a food and so smelly that it will force hardened terrorists out of hiding due to its smell?

4. Will Indonesia now make a Durian Bomb?

5. Will India ban exports of this pepper due to national security?


Monday, March 22, 2010

OOOOOO! You're not good enough for me!

Okay, so this is a little hokey. A LOT hokey. Still.... heh.

(Nod to the good Dr. Karlson)

Books which have influenced me most

1. Answer to Job, Carl Jung
2. The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins

These two books somehow liberated me and let me feel much more comfortable in my own skin.

3. The Incredible Bread Machine

Just as with Tyler, this was the first book about economics I read and it got me very interested. Then I took principles of micro and didn't come back to economics again for 3 years.

4. An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, Charles Beard.

This got me thinking about how economics could be applied broadly to other fields.

5. Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt

People, here is where I learned about the broken window fallacy. This was the second economics book I read.

6. A book whose title and author I cannot remember about the history of the relations between the US Government and Native Americans. This mystery book really shook my faith in government ***UPDATE*** The book in question has been determined to be Custer Died for your Sins, Vine Deloria Jr.

7. The Logic of Collective Action, Mancur Olson
8. The Calculus of Consent, Buchanan & Tullock
9. An Economic Theory of Democracy, Anthony Downs

Something in these books made me change my mind in grad school and decide to become an academic (my original plan was to be a macro forecaster!) and to focus on political economy.

10. Hard Boiled Wonderland & The End of the World, Haruki Murakami

This novel changed the type of fiction that I read and opened up a lot of pleasure for me going down a new (to me) literary path.

This post updated to correct the spelling of Hazlitt!


I don't favor the bill that was passed and endorse Mungowitz's and Holtz-Eakin's concerns voiced in the previous post about the cost of the bill, but wow, I have to give it up for Nancy P.! She was relentless and got the job done. She is much better at her job than I gave her credit for being.

So, kudos to you Madame Speaker. That was an impressive political accomplishment.


Health Care Costs

I have a number of colleagues who think that anyone who worries about the increased cost of health care under the new bill is either an idiot, or an ideologue.

Many of them believe, however, that anything the CBO says, or that is printed in the NYTimes, has credibility.

So, here is a past head of the CBO, writing in the NYTimes.


ON Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office reported that, if enacted, the latest health care reform legislation would, over the next 10 years, cost about $950 billion, but because it would raise some revenues and lower some costs, it would also lower federal deficits by $138 billion. In other words, a bill that would set up two new entitlement spending programs — health insurance subsidies and long-term health care benefits — would actually improve the nation’s bottom line.

Could this really be true? How can the budget office give a green light to a bill that commits the federal government to spending nearly $1 trillion more over the next 10 years?

The answer, unfortunately, is that the budget office is required to take written legislation at face value and not second-guess the plausibility of what it is handed. So fantasy in, fantasy out.

In reality, if you strip out all the gimmicks and budgetary games and rework the calculus, a wholly different picture emerges: The health care reform legislation would raise, not lower, federal deficits, by $562 billion.

You can argue, if you want, about quality, and the advantages of more complete coverage. I may not agree, but at least those points are arguable. But you can't seriously believe that this health care bill is anything but a giant cost boondoggle, creating deficits that will affect us for the rest of our lives. This is not the sort of legacy I wanted to leave my children. "We couldn't solve the problem, and so we just charged it all on credit cards!"

UPDATE: Some interesting numbers (thanks to Angry Alex)

The 100 days

100 days of chairmanship left.

2400 hours.

Just under 8.7 million seconds.

Not that I'm counting....

Sunday, March 21, 2010

that's the facts, jacks!

Don't Worry, Be Happy, Smile Longer

Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity

Ernest Abel & Michael Kruger
Psychological Science, forthcoming

"Photographs were taken from the Baseball Register for 1952 (Spink, Rickart, & Abramovich, 1952). We restricted our analysis to players who debuted prior to 1950, and we included only photographs in which the player appeared to be looking at the viewer...Players with Duchenne smiles were half as likely to die in any year compared with nonsmilers, HR = 0.50, p = .006...In this model, smile intensity accounted for 35% of the explained variability in survival"

(Nod to Kevin L)

Spring break is great for meeting new friends


Above is a shot of a gray whale breaching in Laguna San Ignacio. The whale is 40+ feet long, and Mrs. Angus and I are close by in a 20 foot long open fishing boat the locals call a panga! We were about 30 feet away when she busted this move. San Ignacio is reputed to have so called "friendly" whales who will swim right up to a boat and interact with the human occupants. These stories are true as I will show later on with further pictures.

Profits = Bombs, According to German Government

"Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told the Bundestag on March
16 that the country may have to consider ordering 'intelligence agencies to
set up surveillance of who is getting together with whom for which kinds of
speculative processes, and where' to protect the euro...Intelligence
agencies could use techniques honed in the fight against money laundering
and terrorist funding if they wanted, said Vanessa Rossi, a senior research
fellow in the international economics program at London’s Chatham House.
'Within continental Europe there are those that do think that financial
speculators are sort of terrorists,' said Rossi. 'In their lexicon it is
economic terrorism, so they may view this as more serious than the U.S. or
“I find it sinister and silly, it is a complete overreaction,” said Philip Whyte of the Centre for European Reform, a pro-European Union research institute in London. “There is a certain school of thought in continental Europe that everything is always the fault of hedge funds.” Schaeuble’s comments reflected “a longstanding paranoia about the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism.”
" [Bloomberg]

I guess the mistake was having the East come over to the West. Apparently, the German gov is now going to restore the glory days of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik. Now THOSE folks knew how to prevent terrorist acts like free speech, travel, and profits. "Erich Honecker, table for 1! Herr Honecker, your table is ready!"

Of course, this view of profits is hardly new. There was that Schicklgruber guy*, who said, "Gold is not neccesary. I have no interest in gold. We will build a solid state, without an ounce of gold behind it. Anyone who sells above the set prices, let him be marched off to a concentration camp. That's the bastion of money."

*Okay, his name was Hitler, never Schicklgruber. That's an urban legend, it appears.