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.