Thursday, June 30, 2011

Better than having a shoe thrown at you....

N. Sarkozy gets grabbed by some random idiot.

There is a silly myth, in the U.S. at least, that French troops / police are cowards. The fact is that the French upper level officer corps was corrupt and cowardly, for a few decades of the previous century. But if you try to mess with any enlisted level French troops, or elite police unit, this will be a cause of considerable regret to you. They are fearless and brutal. The grab-man may be in for a difficult hour or so.

Nod to Anonyman

Amorous in Amarillo

more info is here.

Hat tip to RKG!

The Broken Window Fallacy

The Whitest Man on Earth talks about the Broken Window Fallacy.

The Bastiat text being referred to is here....

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Born That Way

An old country preacher had a teenage son, and it was getting time the boy should give some thought to choosing a profession. Like many young Men his age, the boy didn't really know what he wanted to do, and he didn't seem too concerned about it. One day, while the boy was away at school, his father decided to try an experiment. He went into the boy's room and placed on his study table four objects.

1. A Bible.....
2. A silver dollar.....
3. A bottle of whiskey.....
4. And a Playboy magazine.....

"I'll just hide behind the door," the old preacher said to himself. "When he comes home from school today, I'll see which object he picks up. If it's the Bible, he's going to be a preacher like me, and what a blessing that would be!

If he picks up the dollar, he's going to be a business man, and that would be okay, too. But if he picks up the bottle, he's going to be a no-good drunken bum, and Lord, what a shame that would be.

And worst of all if he picks up that magazine he's going to be a skirt-chasing womanizer."

The old man waited anxiously, and soon heard his son's foot-steps as he entered the house whistling and headed for his room..

The boy tossed his books on the bed, and as he turned to leave the room he spotted the objects on the table...With curiosity in his eye, he walked over to inspect them. Finally, he picked up the Bible and placed it under his arm. He picked up the silver dollar and dropped into his pocket. He uncorked the bottle and took a big drink, while he admired this month's centerfold.

"Lord ha' mercy, that's terrible." the old preacher disgustedly whispered. "He's gonna run for Congress."

(Nod to the LMM)

Calculation Debate

Markets on a (Computer) Chip? New Perspectives on Economic Calculation

Mark Jablonowski, Science & Society, July 2011, Pages 400-418

Abstract: Is it possible to implement an efficient economic alternative to market capitalism using economic planning? The debate, which has blown both hot and cold over the last 80 years, has turned on the feasibility of calculating solutions to what amounts to a vast quantity of economic equations. More recently, issues of respecting the uncertainty and preserving the information content inherent in "real world" economic transactions have surfaced. The question may ultimately be decided not on how much computing power is needed to solve complex economic problems, but rather on how well new solutions are articulated. New developments in computer "chip level" computation, including the rebirth of electronic analogs and the incor-poration of the fuzzy set formalism for computing in complex systems, may impart a greater feasibility to the idea of deliberate public planning that integrates the benefits of the market process for the achievement of social objectives. These developments have implications for establishing workable alternatives to capitalism.

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Delta Dawn, What's That Airplane I Got On?

A remarkably bad experience with Delta.

As background, I am a Gold Medallion member. That means I get treated better than the average flyer, by a fair amount. Not saying I deserve it, just saying that if this happened to me, with GM status, then the little people get...yikes!

Get to Memphis, on a Salt Lake to Raleigh trip, for layover. Plane supposed to leave at 7:05. Go to gate. Told gate is changed, flight is now 8:05.

Go to new gate. Told gate is changed, different terminal. Flight is now 8:40.

All facilities, and I mean ALL facilities, except bathrooms, close at 7:30. No way to buy anything to drink or eat. Not even vending machines. I've never seen anything like it. The airport was full of people, but every service facility, drinks food, news stores, everything: locked up. People were still in line, and the "service" folks were pulling the metal cage doors shut.

New gate announcement: other end of terminal. Flight is now 9:05. We all walk over. Arrive at gate, told that was a mistake. Wait, maybe it was NOT a mistake. Yes, a mistake. Go back to gate next to gate where we just were all sitting.

Announcement at new/old gate: "The flight is now expected to depart at 10:21 pm. That is a rough estimate, though." Bitter laughter. The mood is growing ugly.

Plane arrives, passengers deplane. Immediately, gate person says, "Now boarding, all rows, all passengers!" Now, one reason I value Gold Medallion status is that I get to board first. I have an LCD projector that is large and very fragile, and I need a minute to get it settled into the overhead. It will be damaged if I have to put it underfoot, and they are supposed to give zone 1 passengers an extra minute or two. But, not this time. By the time I get to my seat, there is no overhead space. I have to push the projector under the seat. Hear cracking sounds. Worried about it, but no choice. Keep pushing.

Stewardess gets on intercom, explains delay. Turns out that this plane (Delta #4271, Lubbock, TX to Memphis, TN to Raleigh, NC) had been stuck in Lubbock for 3.5 hours was TOO HOT. Turns out that this plane cannot be operated in hot places like Lubbock, TX. Which led me to want to ask, "Why the $^%$#$ did you have this plane in Lubbock scheduled for a late afternoon take-off!? It is always hot in Lubbock in late June!" (To be fair, it hit 110 degrees F in Lubbock on Sunday. That's warm...)

Stewardess goes on to tell us the following happy news:

1. Our arrival into RDU would be 1:15 am (scheduled arrival: 10:05 pm)
2. Because they had had to pull the sweaty passengers off the plane three times in Lubbock (once after the cabin filled with smoke!), and the passengers had spent nearly six hours on the plane, the plane was trashed. But....there was no crew on hand to clean the plane. (Everyone who works for Delta in Memphis goes home at 7:30 pm, see above). So, though there was trash and stickyness everywhere....we should just go screw ourselves. Fly or don't.
3. There was also no crew to provision the plane. So, no drinks or snacks. She implied we were lucky to be flying at all, given the heroic efforts of the flight crew to fly a plane that was not really allowed to fly out of hot Lubbock in the first maggots should be GRATEFUL!

Got home, at 1:15 am. And you know what? She was RIGHT. I was very grateful... that I did not have to fly on Delta any more for a while.

Monday, June 27, 2011

An Economy Produces Goods for Consumers, Not "Jobs"

From my talk today at the Locke Foundation. (Big props to my man, Mitch Kokai)

UPDATE: And here is the entire talk, 40 minutes worth, if you are a streamer.


He Jumped the Surfer

So, "he jumped the shark" means to go way, WAY too far in the direction of doing something stupid, for a show or activity that has long outlived its "dispose by" date.

Well...this shark jumped the surfer. Yes, he did, in this very video.

And since a lot of people have never heard of the Happy Days origin of the phrase "jumped the shark," I give you: Fonzie.

Libertarians Rising?

Article about libertarian identification rising.

Article about comments
on article about libertarian identification rising.

(Nod to Erik C and Anonyman)

Magic Fed dust

"There is still a sufficiently low real interest rate that would produce recovery, but it’s a rate that’s hard to achieve."

The accuracy of this quote depends on the definition of the word "hard" (sorry to go all Bill Clinton on you people).

Despite all the recent talk of unconventional monetary policy, the Fed really only has one bullet, manipulating bank reserves. They can shoot that bullet at the nominal interest rate, or at the inflation rate, but not at both.

Suppose the real interest rate required to "produce recovery" was -10%. There is no way the Fed can both hold the nominal rate near zero and create 10% inflation. They might be able to hit -10% fleetingly at a positive and rising nominal rate with a rapidly accelerating inflation rate, but we have seen in the 1970s that such conditions are not conducive to growth.

The Fed simply can't produce stable negative rates on financial instruments relevant for investment or financing consumer durables.

So if "hard" means "impossible to pull off in any sort of constructive way", then I agree with the quote.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

All your jets are belong to us

I am not an airplane snob. I've flown Rwanda Air Express, MadAir (the national airline of Madagascar), along with bush planes in Guatemala, Mexico, Tanzania, Costa Rica, and Peru (when our charter pilot in Peru went out of business between our outbound and inbound flight we got a ride from the Peruvian air force!).

But this is a bit too much (from the Economist):

"Running Air Zimbabwe is not easy. When President Robert Mugabe wants to go somewhere, he simply kicks the passengers off one of your jets and takes it. This is not good for customer relations, or profits."

Maybe Air Zim could join up with Delta & KLM!

NYT and Bubbles

I was pleased to see that the NYT actually had reverted, if briefly, to being a newspaper instead of a hack mouthpiece for the Obama regime.

They had this very plausible story about the "green energy bubble." And it's true: many of the companies that were recently photo ops for some grinning Obama regime rep (including Mr. Obama himself) have gone belly up. They only were created to suck down subsidies from idiots. A classic bubble. The Green she go boom. Pop go a bunch of weasels.

But then I looked more closely. Far from focusing on the actual bubble, the one in green energy, the one that has already burst, the Green Lady of News is actually forecasting a bubble in...natural gas. The discovery of enormous new reserves of cheap, clean-burning fuel is very annoying to the Green Energy Gods, the apparatchiks of the regime who want to use public money to pay off their pals. And for the "peak idiocy" bunch....fugeddaboudit. Natural gas is a disaster for the authoritarians who want us all to return to sad stone age lives perched in caves and contemplating the sins of "late" capitalism.

Amazing. Just when you think the NYTimes can't sink any lower, they submerge into the muck.

(Nod to the Blonde)

7 million new jobs in 7 paragraphs

Man Robert Frank is ON FIRE in his Economic View column. The whole thing is 16 paragraphs, but in grafs 6-12 Bob lays out how we can get "more than 7 million" new jobs by the end of 2012.

I can boil his 7 grafs into 3 words:

payroll tax holiday

Yessirree Bob; it's just that easy. Cut the employee rate to zero and cut the employer's rate to zero for all new hires from now to the end of 2012.

I am in favor of cutting the payroll tax permanently, not just for 18 months, or so regardless of how many jobs it creates, but I am amazed that (a) Bob Frank is advocating this policy, and (b) that he is so sure that the resulting employment gains would be so strong.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

In case you were wondering

You know that God damned road seemed like it went forever
Exhausted fumes made our eyes turn red and swell
With our clothes stuck to the seats and to our bodies
It was a stinking summer trip through southern hell

--David Bromberg

Friday, June 24, 2011

say what?

Here is a picture of Michelle Obama, who according to the AP is "participating in youth activities raising awareness for HIV prevention". Sadly, no further details were given.

Are she and Bishop Tutu promoting pushups as an alternative to unprotected sex? Is the idea that one should work out until they are too tired to engage in unprotected sex? What exactly is the link between pushups and HIV prevention awareness?

PS: I like Michelle's tribute to Michael Jordan!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Retail politics

Ignacio, a loyal KPC reader from Chile, passed me a great article about politics in Argentina, which I will loosely translate here:

On the same day she announced her bid for re-election, President Kirchner also announced a new government program "TVs for Everyone" (televisores para todos). Initially there will be 200,000, 32 inch hi def sets available. People can finance them over 60 payments at 15% interest. Kirchner announced the program will start by offering the TVs to retirees because "they have the most time available to watch TV".

Oh Crissy, could it also be because old people vote more frequently than any other group?

If you think that 15% interest is a bad deal, consider that the actual inflation rate in the country right now is thought to be between 25 and 30%!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cholera is a small price to pay for Liberty!

Anti-thug bias?

I am often skeptical of claims of racial bias when someone is obviously being a jerk.

But in this instance....well, what do you think?

This man was told he could not fly, because he had his pants drooping, exposing his boxer shorts. (A video; comments are interesting)

This man was told...yikes! Anyway, this man was told he could fly, even though "his" underwear was fully exposed.

(Nod to the Blonde, who has a white sweater just like that)

Thank you, homie

The revolution might not be televised, but the hostage-taking will be Facebooked!

The perpetrator posted pics of himself and his hostage, received info about the location of police officers, and added a dozen new friends all on Facebook during a 16 hour hostage standoff in Utah.

Why don't I just let him tell it: "I'm currently in a standoff ... kinda ugly, but ready for whatever," "I love u guyz and if I don't make it out of here alive that I'm in a better place and u were all great friends."

who couldn't "like" a status update like that?


An astute commenter has found the perp's Facebook page. Here's a link to his wall, the posts from him about the situation are a few pages back from the current front page.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The best paragraph I've read this month

"what if Poland had agreed in 1939 to join Germany in an invasion of the Soviet Union, as Hitler wanted? If Poland had allied with Germany rather than resisting, Britain and France would not have issued territorial guarantees to Poland, and would not have had their casus belli in September 1939. It is hard to imagine that Britain and France would have declared war on Germany and Poland in order to save the Soviet Union. If Poland’s armies had joined with Germany’s, the starting line for the invasion would have been farther east than it was in June 1941, and Japan might have joined in, which would have forced some of the Red Army divisions that defended Moscow to remain in the Far East. Moscow might have been attained. In this scenario, there is no Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and thus no alienation of Japan from Germany. In that case, no Pearl Harbor, and no American involvement. What World War II becomes is a German-Polish-Japanese victory over the Soviet Union. That, by the way, was precisely the scenario that Stalin feared."

Thanks to Tyler, Andrew Roberts and Timothy Snyder for coaching me up. More here.


Several people have guessed they might have been a lucky winner.

But not so far. One frequent reader was 1,000,002, and proclaimed himself the lamest man on earth.

Here are the winners. If you are one of them, fill in the ##s and send me your physical address!

Visit 1,000,001
Address 71.107.##.##
Country : United States
State : California
City : Long Beach

Visit 1,000,000
IP Address 69.245.###.#
Country : United States
State : Indiana
City : Fort Wayne

Visit 999,999
IP Address 66.69.##.#
Country : United States
State : Texas
City : San Antonio

Podcast on Euvoluntary Exchange

The 20th time (here's the whole list) Russ Roberts has been kind enough to let me jabber. I really enjoyed this one, a very interesting discussion about my idea of "Euvoluntary Exchange." (The paper has finally come out... Here is the gated version. Happy to share if you email me.)

I hope you like it!

Don't cry for me Greco-tina

People, we've seen this movie before. Greece is Argentina II.

The parallels are uncanny. Insolvency was mistaken for illiquidity. Devaluation was shunned. A big loan package was created with conditions. Conditions weren't met, but installments of the loan were still given (this has only been announced for Greece, it hasn't actually happened yet), and now a "second last chance" loan is being prepared.

All the while the economy and institutions of the country continue relentlessly downward.

The only ones getting bailed out here are the banks who have big exposure to Greek debt. Greece itself is not getting bailed out, it is getting deeper and deeper in debt!

I understand that a currency union is harder to get out of than a currency board, but the combination of fiscal irresponsibility and a fixed exchange rate is just lethal in our era of capital mobility.

Greece needs the ghost of Nestor Kirchner to swim over and give them the onions to simply default.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Millions and Millions Sold

Well, a million at least.

I have the IP addresses and physical addresses of numbers 999,999, 1,000,000, and 1,000,001.

Just send me an email identifying your location, and give me your physical address, and you'll get a "Public Choice, Fool: You Better Represent!" t-shirt with that creepy "Gordon and James in the woods with pocket protectors" photo!

Wow, things are worse than I thought

The "Keil Institute for the World Economy" gave its "Global Economy Prize" this year to......

I can only conclude that either (a) The Onion has hacked the WSJ or (b) the world economy is in very very very bad shape indeed.

JCT splains exactly what he's done to earn the prize:

"We have thereby been safeguarding the euro's purchasing power," Mr. Trichet said in Kiel. The ECB will continue to do what is necessary to deliver price stability, Mr. Trichet said. "There is no moment of complacency," he added. "We have to deliver price stability."

Previous winners of this prestigious prize include Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon, Gordon Gono, Andrew Mellon and Georg Friedrich Knapp.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Women Drivers

This story got me thinking: is the stereotype about women drivers correct, in terms of central tendency? Obviously many men are too aggressive, and are far more likely to cause accidents, than women. But, still... women drive differently, right?

Anyway, here is the story:

A young woman mistakenly followed her rental car's GPS directions down a boat ramp in Bellevue, Washington. The driver apparently thought she was on a road when she crashed her SUV into the water at Mercer Slough Nature Park, reports One woman immediately jumped to safety, and the other two stood on door frames before wading ashore.

The three women were in town for a conference and were searching for a hotel just after midnight when they drove down the darkened path. "They were trying to re-route their path and found this boat launch," says a local fireman. "[They] just kept driving into the water." The SUV was completely submerged when a tow truck arrived in the morning. Police don't suspect drugs or alcohol were a factor. "We've seen sitcom parodies of something like this," says the fireman. "To actually see it is surprising."

The truth is that women are not just better and safer drivers, but are substantially better. Maybe they are just not very good at programming the GPS.

Right, Shirley?

(Nod to Anonyman, who can program anything except women)


People, I am not a programming genius by any stretch of the imagination. That said, I've done work with a variety of co-authors (Mark Perry, Mrs. Angus, Rodolfo Cermeno, Olan Henry & Nilss Olekalns ) where we write our own code to estimate multivariate GARCH in mean models, which so far are not available as pre-programmed packages in STATA or EVIEWS or SAS.

As a result, I get a fair amount of requests to give code to others. Amazingly to me, many of these requests come from PhD students.

My feeling is that if you are getting a PhD in economics you should write your own code for your dissertation. I usually tell students that and decline to give them the code, but offering to answer any specific questions that they may have about their own coding efforts.

The most bizarre situation I've faced was with a researcher from a central bank in Latin America. He asked for some code and I provided it, but he couldn't get from the code specifically written for my problem and data to a solution to his problem and data. So he asked if he sent me his data would I code up and run the estimations his bosses wanted.

I'd be very interested in hearing in the comments from other researchers how they handle requests to provide code along with any good code-sharing stories.

Friday, June 17, 2011

No Sh*t, Sherlock

Hey. Do you know what is the favorite food of people that live in India?

Well it's INDIAN food!

How 'bout Mexico?

You guessed it, MEXICAN!

Now, do you know the moronic NGO that paid $$ to find this out?

Well, it's OXFAM (scroll down to the "top 3 foods by country" table).

Nice job guys, really good use of $$ and really fascinating findings. Don't know what we'd do without you.

It's so sexy... be living in America.

Two new bands I am really liking are Dom and Peaking Lights.

Dom has an EP called "Sun Bronzed Greek Gods" (really) that is awesome. Here's the video for the song that inspired the title of this post:

Peaking Lights has a new record called "936". This is the first dubby, chilly, kind of band that I am really liking. Neon Indian just doesn't do it for me.

Here's a video:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hey boy, get a sweater!

The Senate voted today 73 - 27 to eliminate the federal subsidy for domestic ethanol AND eliminate the $0.54 per gallon tariff on imported ethanol!


Before anyone gets too excited though, the Obama administration is not pleased:

"The White House issued a statement saying it was against a full repeal of ethanol subsidies, indicating it could use its veto power if the amendment continued to advance in Congress."

So I guess it's not expected to pass the House with a 2/3 majority?

Even so, kudos to the world's greatest deliberative body for actually getting one right for a change.

Is there ever a bad time to get busy?

Guess not!

Mom's secret receipe

Start with a group of elderly activist moms who helped end Argentina's dirty war, then toss in some political opportunism and payback. Add in a pinch of patricide.

What do you get?

The renowned "Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo" somehow have become providers of "an ambitious government funded housing program, known as "Sueños Compartidos," or Shared Dreams."


After all, nothing signals the ability to run large scale public works projects like wearing white scarves and carrying banners.

And the Main Mother's top advisor is none other than Sergio Schoklender, who did a bit in the Argentine slammer for beating his parents to death with a steel bar!


Somehow, the money that the Kirchner government is funneling to the Mothers in exchange for their political support was getting funneled by Sergio into his own pocket!

Man, I never would have seen that coming.

I hope my Argentine friends enjoy La Kirchner's second term; it should be a doozy.

What do Miles Davis and Kevin Love have in common?

No, it's not that each one has an uncle in the Beach Boys!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ATMs destroy jobs?

So, President Obama went on the TODAY SHOW.

And, according to a couple of people I talked to, and some writers, he said that ATMs are destroying jobs. The quote is this:

There are "structural issues with the economy. ... You see it when you go to a bank you use the ATM, you don't go to a bank teller."

Here is the show excerpt. It's long; the relevant part starts at 3:00 or so.

And...that's not what he said. "Media Matters" has this right, I think. The President just did not say ATMs are costing America jobs. He didn't.

Still, I might not have said "structural problem," which is wrong. The fact is that economies are constantly doing things like replacing people with machines in some sectors and then hiring people somewhere else. That is not a problem at all, but a challenge.

I admit that for a command and control, "let's pass a law" guy like the President, it has to be a little scary to rely on the "creative" part of creative destruction. It's not clear where the new jobs will come from. It never is.

But he came close to telling the truth. The reason that business is not investing now is that investors are uncertain, and can't be sure if the economy is turning up. So they are sitting on cash. In the meantime, productivity (he called it "efficiency," which is accurate enough) is through the roof, so companies are making decent profits. And the Treasury is selling huge amounts of government debt, and companies can park their cash there and make a decent return in the short run.

Here's the thing. KPC BFF Mark Perry has the straight dope: fewer jobs but much larger manufacturing output.

But look at productivity:

ATMs are a good thing. (And the President basically said so). But losing jobs to productivity means that jobs must be created somewhere else, if the economy is to grow. The U.S. is still (by far) the largest manufacturing economy in the world. And U.S. manufacturing is (still) trending up, not down. That's not controlling for population, and not using any tricks. We are number one, by a lot.

Here's what the President should do.
1. Stop the class war rhetoric. Stop blaming business for the depression. He can blame his Wall Street butt boys at Goldman and Lehman, if he wants, but he would never do that and turn off the campaign contribution money pump.
2. Take real steps toward settling the budget and debt crisis. Force the bed-wetters who "lead" the Senate to pass a freakin' budget.
3. Reduce the uncertainty business faces in forecasting health care costs, taxes, and new regulations. The whole health care fiasco is a major cause of the extended recession. Republicans are just as much to blame, in that area. They obstructed without offering a better alternative, and now health care is still a big job-killing tax on new hires. But the President is the one who has to try to do something.

In 1936 and 1937, as Amity Shlaes chronicles in her book THE FORGOTTEN MAN, the Roosevelt administration went after business hard. They tried to pass new taxes, and they blamed business for (wait for it) sitting on piles of cash. The result was a second dip, where employment jumped back above 16%. It could happen again. ATMs are good; uncertainty is bad. And deficits are stupid.

Race to 1,000,000!

It looks like KPC will beat "Fight of the Century" to 1,000,000 hits!

Of course, KPC started counting in August, 2004. FotC just came out at the end of April, not even two months ago. But, who's counting?

I am! KPC: 997,250 FotC: 893,200. KPC! KPC! KPC!

Remember, that 1,000,000 (+/- 1) viewer gets a pack of FAAAABULOUS prizes. If you are number 999,999, number 1,000,000, or number 1,000,001, just email me at I'll check the records for the IP, and if it matches up locations, you WIN!

I did try to address the controversy from last time, at 500,000 views. And at least one person got their (belated) prize.

Bug Ice Cream

Ice cream store in Columbia, MO makes ice cream using boiled, sugared cicadas.

Not so fast, says the state health Gestapo. Seems that if it's not approved, it's not permitted.

Now, if they were using bugs secretly, as a filler, that would be illegal, sure. But this is called "Bug Ice Cream," and the cicadas are visible.

There should be a list of prohibited items, not a list of permitted items. This is upsetting.

Massively Multiplayer On-Line Twit

"Heavy users of Twitter, as Weiner used to be (he hasn’t posted since June 1), play a complicated strategy game. Like World of Warcraft and Halo, Twitter is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, but with higher real-world stakes. It is grounded in the first principles of game theory, including variations on the Prisoner’s Dilemma. You have to give to get; you have to get to give. Managing these ratios — deciding how much of your attention to expend to win attention to yourself, say — is the lion’s share of the Twitter action...Twitter handsomely rewards those with a capacity for risk and an aptitude for the social sciences, especially economics, game theory, psychology and sociology...In the days immediately after the Weiner revelations, according to the statisticians at TweetCongress, posts by Republicans went down 27 percent, while posts from Democrats dropped 29 percent." [Virginia Heffernan, NYT op-ed]

(nod to Kevin Lewis)

Affirmative Action for Athletics?

Okay, ha ha. But:

1. If anything, coaches already try to find white players.
2. Some black people have racial prejudices; everyone does. But "racism" is directed at the societal minority, which is NOT white people. Affirmative action tries to overcome racism (which is an aggregate effect), not racial prejudice (which is individual).
3. Performance in sport (as in music, and the military) is objective. The idea of using race in those categories is silly. And of course that's why sports, music, and the military have long been the most integrated parts of U.S. society (although even there white racists said blacks didn't have the "character" to be a quarterback, boxer, etc.). But academics and hiring are more subjective. A bad time in the 40 yard dash means you are slow. A bad SAT score could mean all sorts of things. When I ran admissions at UNC MPA, I was surprised how many low GRE score students did VERY well once they were admitted.
4. Basketball is the key sport among urban populations, many of whom are black. Hockey, swimming, lacrosse much less so. This is sorting, not racism.

Nonetheless, I was amused to see the kids struggle with making ANY of the above arguments. The video does a good job of showing how our "support" for aff-action is a religion, not a considered conclusion.

(Nod to the Blonde)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

You did NOT do that....

Angus in a hot dog? No way you did that.

(Nod to Chateau)

BFFs: du Process

Interesting talk at dinner the other night about friendship. What does it mean, how do you tell, and how do Germans and Americans differ in their understanding of the meaning, obligations, and limits of friendship.

Germans see Americans as superficial or even manipulative. We smile too much, we presume too much intimacy too fast. In German, there is a distinction between different forms of "you." I found this article, and also this one, if you are interested.

The money quote from the article:

The real problem isn't just grammar; it is also a matter of culture. An English-speaker is not used to making the distinction between the familiar and formal you (except in the similar "Mr. Brown" vs. "Bob" situation). German-speakers are very much aware of it and can become very uncomfortable when the du/Sie rules are broken. German-speakers tend to keep their distance longer with acquaintances than English-speakers do. German business colleagues who have worked together for years continue to address each other as Sie. It does not mean they are unfriendly, but they are maintaining the important German division between truly close friends and mere acquaintances.

This can manifest itself in ways that seem odd to the boundaries. As I wrote before, to an American, Franconia can seem like the land of state-sponsored autism.

But it is just as odd, or maybe more so, for Germans, and especially Franconians. If I said "Good Morning," in perfect German with a German accent, to someone on the street, they would stare in amazement. That is absolutely not done. "We have not been introduced!" would be the reaction. The circle of friends, real friends, for a German is generally smaller than the circle an American with precisely the same set of relationships might identify. But at the center of that circle the friendships seem deeper and with more reciprocal obligations for a German, especially German man.

Americans, on the other hand, can count their friends on Facebook. Where Americans might want many friends, Germans might want good friends.

There was a lot more, but that's the gist of it. I personally am more comfortable with being friendly, and the "superficial" criticism is not very persuasive. Why not be nice? It's more fun. Germans, at first, when they visit the American south assume that people are trying to get something, maybe even rob them, if a conversation is struck up. Americans don't need to be introduced. Germans also find it tough to tell where a friendship starts with an American, and I think they have a point here. Americans are a bit too intimate too fast, but then pull back. How can tell who is a friend, without "du" process?

Schadenfreude? Or Just Another Excessive Law Exploited in a Way That Amuses Us?

Borrower uses asinine law to foreclose on lender.

Somebody noticed...

But did anyone notice that it's a stupid, cumbersome, expensive law in the first place?

(nod to Anonyman)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Uganda trip report #3: The big Kahunas

We went on two mountain gorilla treks in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in southwestern Uganda. Compared to Rwanda, there are fewer habituated families to see, the hiking is, if anything, tougher, and the rangers are less professional. It's also less crowded and you can pick the group you want to visit rather than being randomly assigned when you reach the park. In both countries, the maximum group size is 8 and the time allowed to be with the gorillas is one hour.

I enjoyed my gorilla experience more in Uganda than in Rwanda, even though (or maybe because?) is was my second time. I was less frantically taking pictures and more soaking the whole thing in. That said, we did get some good photos (clic the pics for more glorious images):

You can see more gorilla photos from the trip here.

A Not Bad At All Mexican Restaurant

T.G. is the man. He felt moved to defend the honor of Erlangen, after reading about the "Worst Mexican Restaurant in the World" incident.

So, we went to La Pasion. Here is the menu (PDF, a download).

It was just fine. First, the chips/dip. You may recall that in the WMRITW this was crackers with ketchup-with-tomatoes. At La Pasion, a perfectly eatable bottled salsa, nothing special, but actual salsa. The guacamole was fine, and they HAD guacamole, which was an improvement.

The food came with beans, canned jalapenos, and fiery little fresh chiles with stems. The quesadillas...well, check the menu. They had...pollo! At the WMRITW the very idea of pollo had been mocked by the waitress, who had insisted only puten (turkey) could be used in Mexican food. But La Pasion lists chicken, pollo, and hanchen, which makes sense for a multi-lingual menu.

And the beer was first rate. A very excellent hefeweisse. (To be fair, even the WMRITW had managed to get that right).

So, overall, a perfectly acceptable Mexican restaurant. Wouldn't survive in Los Angeles, perhaps, but they used ingredients and flavorings that strongly reminded one of Mexican food. One of our party said the food was what you might get if your mom cooked Mexican, but I think that's not right. This was what you might get at Applebees or some chain. In any case, thanks to T.G.! Erlangen's honor is restored. I liked the restaurant very much.

Tales from the Berg II: Ran into a chum, with a bottle of rum....

And wound up drinking all night. I blame Martin. Will post about Mexican restaurant soon, though.

Went out for lunch at Carpaccio. An Italian restaurant with actual Italians. Great little courtyard, with lattice and umbrellas (it was sunny here, by the way; a miracle!) The boys and I went, along with Martin, the lovely Ulla (who should have known better) and the indomitable Dominik.

Martin insists on ordering a whole liter of chianti, even though he was the only one who wanted any. Well, actually, I did that. Martin was kind enough to go along. But I need to work something like a chum with a bottle of rum in here, to make the Buffet allusion work. Really great lunch, first rate, kind of Martin to suggest it.

Our waiter was hilarious. Funny, insulting, did a little dance. Long hair pulled back, oiled down, about five foot ten and 150 pounds, looked like an Italian waiter should look. Kept checking back, brought the food quickly. I briefly forgot I was in Germany, with such service. The pizzas and pasta all very good.

Then we climbed the Huguenot Church in the main square. Yes, we did. It's tall.
. Amazing view.

Then the boys and I went back to the Hotelchen, where I immediately napped for 20 minutes. Fortunately, Hajo called and woke me up. He was at Berg, waiting for us. We didn't get up there until nearly 17:00, and it was really hard to find a table. Martin was going to join us later (after HIS nappie). Finally found a table, near "The Kessel" at Entla's Keller. This description is funny, both the "boiling" and the list of cheesy sing-along songs. Here is the Kessel (yes, that's really what is going on; our table was above a bit, though, not in the boiling):

After we found a table, shared with some other folks (Ha-Jo did this, crucial to be quick and speak German), we sat for quite a while (Ha-Jo had some entla, which was cool). Our table companions left, leaving half a table open. This is like a pretty girl in a tight tube top sitting alone at a dance for sailors just back from the sea. LOTS of people were hitting on us, though of course they only wanted us for our table. We were trying to hold seats for Martin, Ulla, and Dominik, but we were under constant attack. Apparently (Martin insists) I left a phone message for him (he was still napping) that was like a call for an air strike in a bad war movie: "Martin! You have to get here. We can't (loud noise)...Wow! That was close. We can't hold on much longer. Please...(loud crashing and banging)... You have got to get here!"

And then they did get there, and it was all good, and we sang and danced on the tables at the Kessel.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


So, Erlangen is never like this, EXCEPT during Berg. Then your Bavarian getaway is exactly like this.

(No, I have no idea what this is about. Blame Martin)

Last night Berg was so crowded I literally could not move. And some really drunk guys were doing the "throw the shoulder and elbow" thing to try to start fights.

On the other hand, I also walked by "The Worst Mexican Restaurant in the World," with fond memories.

The admirable T.G. took us last night to a different Mexican restaurant. I have two posts later today about the experience. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Canucks! Podcastration...

I did this podcast (or, some of what I said made up a small part of the podcast) with CBC.

Canucks in the Cup Final, and may not be again ever. What should tickets cost?

Link here....

The question is not what people are CHARGING, but rather what people are PAYING.

Oh, and the games....

There is no Great Stagnation!

Phone call for Tyler Cowen!

Tales From Berg I: Martin

So, frequent commenter and KPC BFF Martin and I had spent nearly 4 hours at a table at Berg, eating the chocolates that Der Geist (Scrounger forever) demanded I open and drinking mass biers (Maßkrüge). (By "mass biers" I don't mean many, or Spanish for more, I mean 1 liter bier glasses, which are different from bier goggles).

Anyway, Martin and I were walking back toward town from Berg, along the Haupstrasse, with 10,000 or so other merry folks. The atmosphere is a little charged, a lot inebriated.

Some moron decided he was going to drive. A car. On the Hauptsrasse. Now, it was so crowded, curb to curb, that you really couldn't walk. Drive a car? Really? Goofball in the car, and his passenger, are yelling, revving engine, squealing brakes, and going exactly the same speed as the people walking.

I got out of the way, but Martin (you have to know Martin; he is basically a psychological twin of Angus, if Angus were a German Socialist) not only didn't get out of the way but walked a little slower. Goofball in the car keeps revving/braking, finally actually touches Martin's leg with the car.

More happened then. I was watching Martin, who turned,gave an excellent wind up and released a nice high arching spit onto the car's windshield. I followed the trajectory, like a camera cut, to...pandemonium. The crowd was enraged that one of its own had been touched intentionally by a car. There were 2 or 3 guys with their legs sticking out of both front windows. They had dived (diven?) into the car, turned it off, put it in neutral, and were now beating the crap out of the occupants.

Martin and I walked on. Half a km later, we looked back, and the car was in exactly the same place, though by now the flashers were on. (Nice touch). Martin felt bad about the spitting (which I thought was fully called for). The beating... hard to say.

And der Geist ate all my damned chocolates. Scrounger.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Democracy is Overrated

(Update: This did come from a public speech. The laughter/applause is real, though of course undeserved. It is on YouTube; just click on bottom right of the embedded image, or use this link...

I had no role in making the video, which is nearly 3 years old. It was created by Libertyfizz from a speech I gave permission to use. Libertyfizz may or may not choose to identify him/herself; that's not for me to decide. But whatever claim or credit you want to give, it is Libertyfizz's, not mine. If you are interested in the text of the speech...this is pretty close.)

Some little stories... I was hoping to be funny, but I still want to be serious.

Tocqueville rocks, by the way.

The mysterious recession, take II

Yesterday I claimed that the behavior of the US economy in our current recovery is, contra Matt Ygelesias, "mysterious", in that we have not seen the common "v-shape" or recovery to the original trend.

Ace commenter John Thacker pointed out that Greg Mankiw (and others) have argued that macro aggregates have a unit root and thus reversion to a fixed trend is not to be expected.

I don't want to get into a big discussion about the power of unit root tests here, so let me show a picture (from the blog Calculated Risk) that illustrates what I was trying to say (clic the pic for a more glorious image):

The graph shows job losses in the recessions since WWII. All but the last three could be reasonably described as "sort of V shaped" and except for them, time to recovery seems almost independent of the severity of the recession. Our current situation is notable both for the severity of the job losses and the extreme slowness of the job market to recover.

Gotta Do This

Sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Was trying to avoid it.

1. The John Edwards prosecution: witch hunt. There is no way that what he did was illegal. And if it is, he could not have known it was illegal. There was no campaign contribution. This is just prosecutorial harrassment of someone where our political judgment is that he's a bad guy. And, okay, he is a bad guy. But that's not a crime. All Edwards has to say is that he kept it secret to hide his affair and the bimbette's pregnancy from his wife. That is reasonable doubt. End of story. If prosecutors are free to bring trumped up charges like this, we are all less safe.

2. The Anthony Weiner saga: really? What the hell? There is not even an allegation of a crime. And I can't blame the media, 'cause they are just serving up what you bunch of Rocks are cookin'-smellin'. Not saying media can't write about it, that's fine. But I pledge that I will change channels, URLs, or tweets any time I see anything more about the Congressman's weiner. This is a softer, but still ugly, kind of public harrassment. Why would anyone want to run for office? (If they had a chance to win, I mean, something I don't know anything about). This is just puritannical garbage.

So, there.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Apparently, there's three kinds of people in this world.

The mystery of Yglesias

Matty Y has put up a mysterious blog post called "The non-mystery of the recession".

He shows this graph:

And then says "As for the current recession, this just goes to emphasize how non-mysterious everything is"

And that to me is mysterious!

Is he saying the fall in consumption explains the fall in GDP (rather than vice versa or both being caused by a third factor)?

Or is he saying that the current recession is typical of US recessions?

People, the recession we have endured and its aftereffects are anything but non-mysterious.

GDP and consumption usually snap back to trend relatively quickly after a recession in the USA. The current case, where GDP and consumption are moving along a path parallel to but below the original trend is rare and, dare I say it, mysterious.

Either Matty is too deep for me, or Matty doesn't know what the word "mystery" means (or both I guess could be true).

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

If these be sweatshops, give me MORE of them!

Just after midnight in Munich. Tremendous doner durum for dinner, then a variety of locally brewed malt beverages. Nonetheless, I am over here watching my boy Ben Powell. And you should watch, too.

Still, here at KPC we strive for fairness. Since Ben Powell is a smart guy, and he's right, the opposing view should be a nonsensical article written by an idiot. Here you go; enjoy!

All hail Frank Esser!

for managing to publish an article with the amazing title of "Nazis, Pollution, & No Sex" in the American Behavioral Scientist.

Kudos to you sir.

Uganda trip report #2: Kazinga channel cruise

For a long time, I've wanted to canoe down the Zambezi river among the hippos and other riverine creatures, but Mrs. Angus wants no part of it. The closest I've gotten so far is the pontoon boat ride down the the Kazinga channel, a 30 km "river"which connects lakes George and Albert in the northern part of Queen Elizabeth park as seen in this aerial photo:

You can see loads of hippos and buffalo, along with Nile crocodiles, monkeys, lizards, a profusion of birds, and sometimes even elephant and lion. We saw pretty much everything but lions on our trip (we did see 11 lions at other times in the park though).

Here are a couple pictures (as always, clic the pic for a more glorious image):

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Wal-mart of Weed

A 21,000 square foot one stop shop for growing the chronic, complete with an on-site doctor to get you signed up for using medical marijuana has just opened up in Phoenix.

Scores of thousands of terrorized Mexican families breathe a sigh of relief and hope these stores are soon ubiquitous here in Gringolandia.

Uganda trip report #1: Non-primate wildlife

The main focus of our trip was seeing primates (mountain gorillas, chimps, & monkeys), for which Uganda is unparalleled. But you can see a lot of other classic African wildlife too. We saw 11 lionesses, scores of elephants, hosts of hippos and buffalo (and, thankfully, zero snakes).

Perhaps the most unusual non-primate encounter we experienced was seeing a lion climb up into a fig tree, relax, hang out, jump down, and then climb back up again. This was in the southwestern corner of Queen Elizabeth Park, in a place called Ishasha (clic the pics for a more glorious image):

Ishasha is a very beautiful place.

I climbed up onto the roof of our Land Cruiser and was almost eye to eye with her!

Price Controls Lecture

Anthony Davies. Not sure about some of those graphs, as "proof" about min wage increasing unemployment. But a good video for a general audience.

When You Read This, I'll Be in Munich

Get to Munich at 7:30 am on Tuesday, staying at the Conrad Hotel de Ville on Schillerstrasse, right by the Hauptbahnhoff.

Heading up to Erlangen on Thursday, giving several talks, and staying at the Hotelchen am Theater on Theaterstrasse.

Of course, it just HAPPENS to be time for ... Bergkirchweih!

Also "on tap" (forgive me): A return to the very worst Mexican restaurant in the world! The single most viewed page in KPC history, and the YYM and I are going to see if it has gotten even worse.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Woman Aroused? How Can You Tell?

So, German police are flummoxed. (I write this in the air, using GoGo wifi, heading for Munich). A law written for male flashers requires that the flasher be visibly sexually aroused before the crime can be prosecuted.

But this woman has been flashing...and who can tell? I've been married 25 years, and I have no idea. Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe later, maybe not? Part of a lady's charm, that fickle mystery.

Men not very mysterious. I think more research needs to be done.

(Nod to the Blonde)

Air France Does a DSK Move

What is it with the French and taking responsibility? Jeez, DSK goes after the chambermaid, and all the French hoity toits fall over themselves blaming the woman.

The Air France plane falls 30k feet because it stalled.... stalled! When the stall warnings went off, Bozet the Clown in the pilot's seat pulled back on the stick to bring the nose up. Did he never play "Flight Simulator"? Amazing. Yet the Air France hoity's the quote from the WSJ article:

Air France praised the three pilots, who "demonstrated a totally professional attitude and were committed to carrying out their task to the very end," the airline said in a statement.

The carrier, a unit of Air France-KLM SA, noted that "the initial problem was the failure of the speed probes which led to the disconnection of the autopilot and the loss of the associated piloting protection systems."

The largest trade union representing Air France pilots, SNPL, said Friday the report "describes only part of the sequence of events experienced by the crew" and it awaits the full report.

Now, I understand that the disconnection of the autopilot would be a problem, if (for example) I or even the intrepid world traveller Angus were sitting up front. We are not...PILOTS. Losing the piloting protection systems would indeed be a big problem for anyone who is not a trained pilot.

But I would have expected that the term "pilot" would connote some ability to fly a plane, and in particular it should mean you have training in flying the particular plane you are "piloting" across the big old ocean.

I also understand that the guys are dead, and that Air France is trying to avoid massive liability for what appears to be simple negligence in training.

Still wonder, though, how a stall alarm would say to any trained pilot, "Get your nose up!" (Two analyses, one here and then a really interesting one here. The actual pilot, the last link, seems to think it was a tough situation. And he mentions what it must have been like to have a 40 degree up angle, and then the long stall, falling into the ocean. Must have been terrifying.)

A video of the problem of stalling.

The partners from Hell

Mrs. A and I have returned from two weeks in Uganda. It was a fantastic trip. We saw and did so much, I'm still kind of trying to process it all (and get over the jet lag).

However, one negative element of the trip was the incredibly disfunctional partnership between Delta and KLM. We flew OKC-ATL-AMS-EBB out and EBB-AMS-DET-OKC back. The full round trip was code-shared by both airlines, with KLM equipment on the flights in and out of Amsterdam and the rest with Delta equipment.

The first issue was that it turned out to be impossible to use frequent flyer miles to cover the flights. Not because there weren't seats, but because Delta said they couldn't get seats on the KLM provided flights and KLM said they couldn't get seats on the Delta provided flights. So it wasn't exactly true that we couldn't use frequent flyer miles, we just would have had to use twice as many as it should have been.

The next issue was that if you booked the flights with KLM you could only get amenities on the KLM provided flights (upgrades, special meals, priority boarding). If you booked with Delta, you could only get them on the Delta provided flights. This turned out to even be the case with seat assignments!

People, it is so bad that you are not even informed of SCHEDULE CHANGES on the flights provided by whichever company that you didn't book with!

At least KLM flew a modern plane with personal entertainment systems and such. The Delta equipment from AMS to DET was an ancient 747 with a couple of TV screens bolted to the ceiling.

More on the fun parts of the trip later.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Standing In the School House Door

Refreshing honesty from one of the commissars in the dark hierarchy of the education-industrial complex. Article in the N&O today, by UNC Ed School Dean Bill McDiarmid. Please do read it.

His essential points go as follows:

1. Students who have uninterested or unsupportive parents fail to do well in school.
2. Students whose parents are interested, involved advocates have the potential to do well.
3. It is not fair to open opportunities for the type 2 kids, since the type 1 kids won't have those opportunities.
4. Therefore, it is more fair to have a system where all students fall well short of their potential than to have a system where some students escape the trap of poverty and the cycle of educational failure.

Dean McDiarmid actually goes so far as to say that the desperate parents in the movie "Waiting for Superman" should be forced, literally forced, to keep their kids in the horrible public school system of Washington D.C. The ideology of our education commissars is that unless everybody escapes, nobody escapes.

Why would someone who at least pretends to care about children take such an abusive position? After all, if we are to ensure social mobility and a chance for some people to realize their dreams of a better life for their children, shouldn't we want to save at least some of those poor kids? Because, remember, the research the commissar cites shows that kids without adult advocates are GOING TO FAIL EITHER WAY. The only actual question is whether we let kids who DO have adult advocates succeed. Dean McDiarmid does not want that to happen. Again, why?

A remarkable story from New York tells us why. The NAACP is mounting an aggressive defense of failing schools in Harlem. Some of these schools have success rates (proportion performing at grade level) of 3%. (That's 97% NOT at grade level, for those of you who got degrees in education...)

Who is on the other side? Who is the NAACP valiantly fighting against? Poor black people. Nice. Check this article; it brings tears to your eyes. Shame on you, NAACP, and shame on Dean McDiarmid. At the end of the day, you are happy to sacrifice the future of our poorest children for a few pieces of silver for your public unions and their ideological fellow travellers.

Several polls near the end of the 2008 race showed my support among African-Americans was 50% higher than among whites. Some of this was because I was opposed to capital punishment. But people I talked to told me their support was based on educational reform, giving choice to poor people. Rich people have always had choices, and they are leaving the system to go to private schools. Poor people are the ones who need choices, and only changing government policy can do that.

(UPDATE: Link is fixed. Thanks!)

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Links and Links

Spontaneous order in Alabama: talk radio and aid announcements in Spanish

Tanning beds, no question. And other stuff with Bob Lee.

Darned microphone. Republicans broadcast "secret" meeting into press room...

Peak Volts? Limited supply of ridiculous car allows dealers to get their own charge from tax credit...

Docs and Glocks in FLA: I like the part about over-ruling the state bird.

Surely this is a hoax? And don't call me Shirley.

Are you experienced? Facebook: arbiter of what can be said, and how.

Make your own jokes: solar iKini made from many "waffer thin" panels

Finally, no gag, just gift: Free hugs (video, work safe)

(Nod to Angry Alex and the Blonde)

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Grand Game: Medical School Edition

A truly remarkable proposal: make med school free, but make specialties really, really expensive. Read it here, comment you know where. My own view: If you think doctors are maximizing the following function:

Income = f(x) + $155,0000 (Where x is choice of specialty)

Then the same x will maximize the following function:

Income = f(x) + $0

In other words, it cannot be true that the choice of specialty will be affected by the fixed cost of attending med school in the first place.

The other part of the argument is that we need to charge for studying specialties. For some reason, our brave authors assume this is a fixed choice: "There are nearly as many doctors enrolled in specialty training in the United States (about 66,000) as there are students in United States medical schools (about 67,000), the forgone stipends would cover all the tuition costs."

I have news: if this cockeyed plan is implemented, those numbers will change, quite a bit. And only the people with specialties will have those big debts. Which will mean elective MRIs for everyone; papa's got debts to pay!

Fear Your Cell Phone, Eat Your French Fries...

An excellent point. We make up stuff to worry about, things that there is little evidence that we should fear. But we eat french fries and smoke when we KNOW those are dangerous.

"Radiation — from power lines, microwave ovens, cell phones, and (went there) nuclear power — has always occupied outsized concern in the public mind relative to its true health impact. Meanwhile, our collective choices and private behaviors on so many matters display rather astonishing neglect of basic public health concerns." [Harold Pollack, TNR}

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Thursday, June 02, 2011

NC Budget Hardball

My friend Bob Geary at Indie Week notes that Gov. Bev has come out swinging hard and effectively.

On the other hand, my friend Jim Morrill from the N&O says that Repubs smell victory. They are hoping to override Gov. Bev's veto on the budget.

My own view is closer to Mr. Geary's. (To be fair, Mr. Morrill makes no predictions himself, merely citing the Repub conventional wisdom). Bev is doing some fine work, politically. And the Repubs only seem to talk to people who agree with them. That kind of "my whole family and staff agree with me" polling may just reach up and bite 'em on the butt.

Gov. Bev is generally not a very inspiring stumper. But she actually cares about this issue, particularly education (whether she understands it is a different question). And the Repubs would make a big mistake to ignore her genuine speaking ability on issues she cares about. Yes, she will oversimplify and distort. Yes, she only has one effective emotional tone, and that's mad grandma-style indignation. But she will also make a lot of people mad at the Republicans. This is not over.

Regulation is Not Kosher

RL sends an interesting article, about Israeli and Palestinian meats.

Excerpt: In a recent report, the state comptroller wrote that the cost to Palestinian importers of importing refrigerated fresh meat is about 10% of the cost to their Israeli counterparts. What is the reason for that gigantic difference? Two reasons, says the comptroller: the high cost of kosher slaughter abroad, and a 190% tax Israel imposes on imported fresh meat. No such tax is applied to meat imported into the Palestinian Authority.

For instance, a Palestinian importer pays $1.55 per kilo of fresh fillet, while the Israeli importer pays $11.80 for the same cut of meat: 7.6 times more.

The answer to the problem: get rid of the stupid law. (Yes, this is usually my answer to problems, but it would work!) If Israel is a secular state (and in some sense it has to be), why not allow import of all (safe) meat, and then let kosher butcher shops do the work they have done for thousands of years? Under the current system, consumers pay too much, and eat meat that is not only not kosher, but of unknown and possibly unsafe origin.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

You are Canadien, Not You Are?

The Ward Boss shares this column on American hockey rubes.

I have been asked by The Seattle Times if, as a Canadian, I might offer pointers on hockey "to American rubes," which, I would point out, is a direct quote from The Times reporter, not me. I can't speak to the reporter's characterization of his own countrymen in this case. I use the term "American rubes" only after my regular cavity-search at the border.

I would also say that I find it quaint that Americans, rube-ish or otherwise, believe the stereotype that they have of Canadians. Just because we live in igloos does not mean we all know something about hockey. This would be akin to me randomly phoning up someone in Seattle and asking them, "Hey, you're an American. Give me pointers on military intervention and the overthrow of oil-rich autocracies." I would never presume to typecast people in a country as great and diverse as the U.S., and I'm sure most of you are engrossed in many other pursuits, such as monster truck rallies.

I don't even mind being mocked by Canadians anymore. For years, their bizarre fear of free speech and aggressive local content codes surprised me. But they mostly avoided huge bailouts of criminals, by mostly avoiding a huge economic collapse, by mostly having a sensible economic policy (no FNMA, no FHLMC) in the first place.

Oooh, look. The monster truck rally is on TV. Gotta go.