Saturday, December 04, 2010

Don't Forget to Say Happy Birthday to Jesus

According to the LMM, this is actually a documentary.

Nice Mug Shot, and Woman Trouble

1. Nice mug shot. It is interesting that taking drugs helps you escape the drug possession charge. I guess you can't have your cocaine and eat it, too.

2. Women...women who hate women...are luckiest people?

(Nod to Anonyman)

Friday, December 03, 2010

Sell Everything. Quickly.

From the "7:30 Report" in Oz.

(Nod to the Ward Boss)

Thank goodness for sub-titles

This is simultaneous the worst and the best video I've seen in quite a while.



Because it makes me happy, that's why.

(Nod to the Blonde, who has to do her own tree. Can you help?)

So near but yet so far

Dean Baker gets a lot of stuff right early, but then heads off the rails again Ozzie-style:

China's government is saying is that it has no better use for its money than subsidising the consumption of people in the United States and other wealthy countries, by propping up the value of the dollar. That may seem surprising since per capita income in China is less than $8,000 a year, while it is over $45,000 a year in the United States, but if this is what China's leaders insist, who are we to argue?

In effect, China is subsidising its exports to the United States. This is very generous of the Chinese government, since the United States can take advantage of China's generosity to enjoy a higher standard of living. Currently, our deficit with China is equal to 2% of GDP. This means that China is handing us goods and services that are worth roughly $280bn a year more than the value of goods and services we give them in exchange.

I wouldn't put it exactly this way, but kudos, Dean, you're nailing it!

Then there's this:

While this displaces a large amount of domestic production, we can ensure that the displacement does not result in unemployment by simply shortening working weeks. If everyone's working week was shortened by 2.0% (the equivalent of one week per year of vacation), we could keep the workforce fully employed even in the case of reduced demand.

People, the idea that every $ of the trade deficit with China represents a $ of lost domestic production is risible. Does Dean really think the next cheapest producer of Walmart products operates plants in the USA? What about Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, even Mexico? Bilateral trade is not a leak-proof iron pipe. Reductions in a trade deficit with a single country does not guarantee reductions in the overall trade deficit. That's just econ 101.

Dean is also a bit confused about where most low education workers in the USA work:

At present, China's trade policy primary hurts non-college-educated workers, since those with college and professional degrees are largely protected from the same sort of competition that manufacturing workers face. It is important to eliminate the barriers that protect doctors, lawyers and university professors from competition with their lower-paid counterparts in the developing world. This way, trade with China would put downward pressure on the wages of professionals, not just manufacturing workers.

First, most non college educated workers do NOT work in manufacturing. Manufacturing employment is a small fraction of overall employment. Many non-college educated workers work in the service sector and thus are largely "sheltered" from import competition.

Second, as Dean knows full well, American university professors in the USA face tremendous competition from foreign workers. In our small department in Oklahoma we have a Greek, an Argentine, a Turk, and three Chinese professors; about one third of the department lived abroad before starting grad school. Go look at the home page of the Harvard economics department and count the foreigners.

I fully support increased immigration for professionals (and indeed for almost everyone), but Dean just does not have his facts straight here.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

John Nye: Interesting Talk on North, and Economics

Great, great talk. John is a wonderful guy, funny and smart.

(Nod to Pete B)

Take the skinheads bowling

One of my alltime favorite bands is Camper Van Beethoven. Turns out their front-man, David Lowery also has a head for business, as he was involved in the founding of Groupon which just sold itself to Google.

Here is Lowery on the subject:

"In 2008 I was appointed to the board of advisors of a small web startup called www.the The site the brainchild of Andrew Mason was a " tipping point" mechanism, a social networking site that allowed people "commit" to take group action. In particular the hope was they would take group action for social change. The investors quietly noted there was not a clear way to monetize Andrew’s experiment. However they hoped that by watching the way users used the tipping point mechanism, a viable way to monetize this website would present itself.

I was asked to start a campaign on"To get a feel for it". Not being very socially conscious I decided that I wanted to use The Point for my own narrow self interests.

Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven have a festival, The Campout. It’s rather remote and since we produce the small festival ourselves we take considerable financial risk. While the previous years had been marginally successful we were worried about the rapidly deteriorating economy (I believe Bear Stearns had just gone bankrupt). So I started a campaign to get a "break even" amount of CVB and Cracker fans to commit to attend the festival. In this way our fan’s promises to attend would become a sort of promissory note. no pun intended. While you couldn’t exactly peg it’s value, these collective promises to attend at some point seemed to be worth enough to go ahead and book the flights, PA, lights, and port-o-potties.

Other successful "campaigns" on The Point also involved similar commitments for group purchasing. It wasn’t long before The Point became Groupon."

Wow, Elvis Presley died and David Lowery got paid?

Hat tip to DG!

Economics is fun: Follow the money

Follow the money.... why repeal the estate tax, really?

Raise the price of a substitute (savings), and you shift out the demand curve for life insurance.

See, it's easy, and FUN!

(Nod to Angry Alex)

He's just not that into you

Danny G is taking this whole LeBron breakup thing pretty hard:

"The Cleveland Cavaliers have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a high-powered Midwestern law firm to investigate their suspicions that the Miami Heat broke NBA tampering rules while pursuing LeBron James, and owner Dan Gilbert has privately vowed he won’t relent until he has a thick binder of findings to drop on the desk of the NBA commissioner, league sources told Yahoo! Sports."

Man, I know break-ups are tough, but this is nuts. Hiring a private dick to try and piece together whether your ex started cheating on you before the divorce? Does he think he'll get LeBron back?

I guess he just wants LeBron's new love to be hurting too. He should just sneak up on Pat Riley and sucker-punch him!

My Safety University

So, MSU played well, if getting CHILIPUNK'D by a freshman counts as playing well. Here is photographic evidence that the boys in green from My Safety University were actually there, in Cameron, doing whatever it is that they do.

Since I have been to games with Aaron, I know what they were doing. Aaron was saying some remarkably brazen things, during quiet moments, terrifying his "friends." In this case the friends stand out because they are wearing the "tools of ignorance" green shirts that come with being MSU fans.

Went to a Durham Bulls game with Aaron, in September. We were in the third row, directly behind the visitors dugout. You could throw a peanut and hit the on-deck batter in the backside, couldn't have been more than 15 feet.

During quiet moments, Aaron would go after the kid who was playing left field for the other team. The guy had missed a grounder, trying to hurry and make a throw to the plate. The ball had skipped under his glove, and gone to the fence. Two runs scored, man on third, instead of first and third, one run in.

So Aaron is going after this kid pretty hard, and it's often quiet in minor league ballparks. Not totally silent, but Aaron the Foghorn Voice could be heard in the far reaches. "In Little League...IN LITTLE LEAGUE! You learn you have to catch the ball before you can throw it! Hey, Todd! Why didn't you catch it before you threw it? That's Little League."

Aaron, between innings, finds out that the kid (Todd Frazier) DID play Little League. In fact, he played on the LL WORLD CHAMP TEAM! Played for Toms River, and went 4-4 in final game against Japan, one of the hits a homer.

Next at-bat for Todd: "Hey, Todd! You DID play Little League! You should have known. How did you miss that grounder?"

Todd keeps turning around, clearly has rabbit ears. Finally, Todd turns around and mouths, "You are fat! Lose weight!"

Now, Aaron is in heaven, of course. That is not a very good comeback. But more important Todd's head is up in the stands, not in the game. Aaron's work is done.

So he goes after another guy, with long shaggy hair. Looks up the guy's hometown, in the trusty game program. "Hey, Smith! Nice hair! By this time Saturday, you're going to be home in (guy's actual hometown), waking up late and getting your hair done! Does your wife have a favorite place for you to get your hair done! Hey, Smith!"

Then two more developments.

First, the mousey little guy ahead of us turns around and berates Aaron for being a loud-mouth goofball. Except he does it in the most whiny, "Why can't you be nice? We're just here to see the game. Don't be mean to people!" junior tree-hugging granola way. I mean, this weasel made @kohenari look macho. Photographic evidence of Mr. Mouse: To Aaron's credit, he backed off a bit. We were afriad Mouse Man might quiver himself to death or something.

Then, a guy up to our right, five rows over and five rows back, starts giving it HARD to the Bats in the N'awlins Old School fashion. This old guy looks like a Confederate cavalry officer, with white goatee and flowing white hair. Thick Loosiana accent. "Hey, battah! That bat too heavy, now. That bat doan got dat heavy, heavy gris-gris all ovah it. You cain't even pick dat bat, dat's a gris-gris bat! Who dat gawnna hit wit dat gris-gris bat? Not you, sawn, not you!"

We were rolling around in the aisles at this point. First, this guy had some great stuff. I can't remember most of it, but it was tremendous. Aaron was trying to take notes. (Since he went to MSU, he can't actually write, but he was trying). Second, the guy ahead of us, Mr. "Let's all get along and watch the game!" was staring straight ahead. No way he was going to mess with Colonel Jeb Stuart over there. Ol' Jeb would have brought dat hoodoo right down on that little leftie bed-wetter head of his.

But...oh, glory! The Bat's pitching coach, the COACH, comes up to the top step and starts bickering with ol' Jeb the Heckler. Coach yelled, "Hey, old man: You're an idiot!" Jeb nods happily: SCORE! Aaron, knowing he was in the presence of true heckling greatness, nodded and remembered. A rabbit-eared 22 year old....easy. A 55 year old veteran coach, who should know better...Practice, Aaron, practice.

So, anyway, though I was not at the Duke-MSU game last night, I am confident that there was invective and heckling taking place, right up to and perhaps slightly past the point where Aaron got physically threatened.

(UPDATE: My bad, photo credit to Chris DeSante, who clearly has ESPNHD and a TV nicer than most grad students can be expected to have)

Holiday Postcard

A holiday postcard from the Bishop. That's out the window of his office. His office at the B-school. The view outside that office is better. The INSIDE that office is better, too.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Grand Game: Climate Edition

You know what to do. Here is the meat...

(Nod to Pelsmin)

It Happened Like THIS, you see...

(Nod to the LMM)

The Scarlet Band...Period!

This can't be true, can it?
Let's hear again how free and open those Scands are.

Got That New-Time Religion....

What, me worry?

"Rep. John Shimkus is standing by a controversial comment that global
warming isn't something to worry about because God said he wouldn't destroy
the Earth after Noah's flood. The Illinois Republican running for the
powerful perch atop the House Energy and Commerce Committee told POLITICO on
Wednesday that his understanding of the Bible reaffirms his belief that
government shouldn't be in the business of trying to address rising
greenhouse gas emissions." [Politico]

What, me think rationally?

"My father, David Brower, the first executive director of the Sierra Club
and the founder of Friends of the Earth, could confer no higher praise than
'He has the religion.' By this, my father meant that the person in question
understood, felt the cause and the imperative of environmentalism in his or
her bones." [Kenneth Brower, Atlantic Monthly]

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Do ya do ya want my cash?

People, Robert Reich slipped up this week and put in writing what a lot of progressives really think about our current fiscal situation:

"Tuesday, the President meets with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to begin working out a compromise for extending the Bush tax cuts. Both parties say they want to preserve the tax cuts for lower- and middle-income families. But this would cost $3 trillion over the next decade. Republicans also want to extend them permanently for the top 2 percent of earners, for an added $700 billion. The top don’t need the cuts, don’t deserve them, and won’t spend the windfall (and thereby stimulate the economy)."

Ah yes, rich people just plain old don't deserve to keep their money. They might do something with it that the progressives wouldn't approve.

It's a strange argument to make; the $3 trillion "tax cut" is OK, while it's the $700 billion "cut" that blows out the budget.

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

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.