Saturday, April 09, 2011

The great compromiser explained

"Goofy possible Republican Presidential candidates makes it unnecessary for Obama to satisfy his liberal supporters."

--Rafael Yglesias

Rafael writes one of my absolute favorite Twitter feeds.

Whattya know.

It's easy (and fun) to mock John Boehner (he smokes, he cries, he tans), but I am beginning to believe that he is a very skilled politician.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Come On!!!!

Nice work if you can get it

Over the last four years, since Daniel Ortega got back in the saddle in Nicaragua, Hugo Chavez has dropped $1.6 billion on his mini-me. If you think that sounds like chump change, remember that the entire budget of the Nicaraguan government is only around $1.5 billion per year, so it's like 25% comes from Hugo.

But it's even better than that for Daniel, because it amounts to his own private slush fund.

(check out the look on the guard's face in the background. What is going on?)

Immigration Studies

What Drives U.S. Immigration Policy? Evidence from Congressional Roll Call

Giovanni Facchini & Max Friedrich Steinhardt
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract: Immigration is one of the most hotly debated policy issues in the United States today. Despite marked divergence of opinions within political parties, several important immigration reforms were introduced in the post 1965 era. The purpose of this paper is to systematically analyze the drivers of congressional voting behavior on immigration policy during the period 1970-2006, and in particular, to assess the role of economic factors at the district level. Our findings provide robust evidence that representatives of more skilled labor abundant constituencies are more likely to support an open immigration policy concerning unskilled labor. Thus, a simple factor-proportions-analysis model provides useful insights regarding the policy making process on one of the most controversial facets of globalization.


Migration from Mexico to the United States: Wage Benefits of Crossing the
Border and Going to the U.S. Interior

Ernesto Aguayo-Tellez & Christian Rivera-Mendoza
Politics & Policy, February 2011, Pages 119-140

Abstract: Emigrating from Mexico to the United States requires three steps: going to the border, crossing it, and going to the final U.S. destination. This article attempts to measure the earnings benefits of each migration step, focusing particularly on the second step: crossing the border. Using U.S and Mexican microdata of workers living in Mexico and in the United States, this article compares wages of identical individuals on both sides of the border after controlling for unobserved differences between migrants and nonmigrants. On average, Mexican workers increase their wages 1.22 times by moving to the Mexican side of the border, 4.15 times by crossing it, and 1.12 times by moving to an interior location in the United States. Gains are larger for unskilled workers. Also, gains for crossing the border are larger for illegal workers, while gains for going to the U.S. interior are larger for legal workers.


The typification of Hispanics as criminals and support for punitive crime
control policies

Kelly Welch et al.
Social Science Research, May 2011, Pages 822-840

Abstract: The Hispanic population is now the largest and fastest growing minority in the United States, so it is not surprising that ethnic threat linked to Hispanics has been associated with harsher crime control. While minority threat research has found that individuals who associate blacks with crime are more likely to support harsh criminal policies, the possibility that this relationship exists for those who typify Hispanics as criminal has yet to be examined. Using a national random sample, this study is the first to use HLM to find that perceptions of Hispanics as criminals do increase support for punitive crime control measures, controlling for various individual and state influences. Moderated and contextual analyses indicate this relationship is most applicable for individuals who are less apt to typify criminals as black, less prejudiced, less fearful of victimization, politically liberal or moderate, not parents, and living in states with relatively fewer Latin American immigrants.

(nod to Kevin Lewis)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Kids Prefer Cheese: The Name

Look, kids prefer cheese over fried green spinach.

In other words: Kingdom...Phylum...Class...Order... Family...Genus...Species

It's a nonsense mnemonic. Lebron suggested we try an obscure mnemonic, because it makes someone who sees it think, "That familiar. Where have I heard that?"

Our second choice was "Yams! King of Crops." An homage to the Mt. Goats, and also to Lou/Armand, RIP. We leave it to you to decide if we chose wisely.

So, instead of asking, "What does it mean?" now you can ask "Why are you both so mean?"

Pelsmin: Bad That It's True, But Worse That Obama Likes It

From KPC uber-friend Pelsmin:

In Obama's statements about the dangers of a shutdown, he ranted about how the economy would be crushed if the Federal Government stopped its work. He then gave a list:
- People couldn't sell their homes to other people.
- Small businesses couldn't secure loans to expand
- Companies couldn't proceed with new plants or expansion plans.

He is basically arguing that individuals can't engage in private transactions with each other unless the Federal Government is there to let it happen.

The scary thing is, he may be right.
- FHA handles 40% of all home purchase mortgages
- SBA and other programs make up a large proportion of small business loans
- EPA has a choke hold on any plant expansion and "environmental impact" hurdle that must be cleared before a factory can be built.

I guess the scary thing isn't that he believes this to be the case, but that he's comfortable with the fact that it IS the case.

It is interesting: for our President, the government actually IS the economy.

Persuasion and Spatial Theory

How Large and Long-lasting Are the Persuasive Effects of Televised Campaign
Ads? Results from a Randomized Field Experiment

Alan Gerber et al.
American Political Science Review, February 2011, Pages 135-150

Abstract: We report the results of the first large-scale experiment involving paid
political advertising. During the opening months of a 2006 gubernatorial campaign, approximately $2 million of television and radio advertising on behalf of the incumbent candidate was deployed experimentally. In each experimental media market, the launch date and volume of television advertising were randomly assigned. In order to gauge movement in public opinion, a tracking poll conducted brief telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 registered voters each day and a brief follow-up one month after the conclusion of the television campaign. Results indicate that televised ads have strong but short-lived effects on voting preferences. The ephemeral nature of these effects is more consistent with psychological models of priming than with models of on-line processing.

A Spatial Theory of Media Slant and Voter Choice

J. Duggan & C. Martinelli
Review of Economic Studies, April 2011, Pages 640-666

Abstract: We develop a theory of media slant as a systematic filtering of political
news that reduces multidimensional politics to the one-dimensional space perceived by voters. Economic and political choices are interdependent in our theory: expected electoral results influence economic choices, and economic choices in turn influence voting behaviour. In a two-candidate election, we show that media favouring the front-runner will focus on issues unlikely to deliver a surprise, while media favoring the underdog will gamble for resurrection. We characterize the socially optimal slant and show that it coincides with the one favoured by the underdog under a variety of circumstances. Balanced media, giving each issue equal coverage, may be worse for voters than partisan media.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time

Police were called to a Colorado school where a student "had just thrown a TV and chairs and was now trying to use a cart to bust through a door to an office where teachers had taken some young students for safety...

The officers found him with a foot-long piece of wood trim with a knife-like point in one hand and a cardboard box in the other.

"Come get me, f-----," he said.

When they couldn't calm him down, one squirted Aidan with pepper spray. He blocked it with the cardboard box.

A second squirt hit the youngster in the side of the head, and down he went.

The kicker is that the miscreant was 8 YEARS OLD!


He turns out to be kind of a stand up kid though:

When asked about the pepper spray and what he did, Aidan said: "I kind of deserved it."

And then some, little man, and then some.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Rosiland Clancy: Idiotic Scam Artist

Interesting. Apparently some heifer named "Rosiland Clancy" makes random phone calls to people, demanding that they pay the "US Treasury Department," which her "collection agency" represents. It's not real. It's just not. These criminals do this a LOT, it appears. Check this...

Why always use the same name? She asked for a "Mr. Munger," so it did sound like a person, calling me specifically, instead of a robo-call.

Anyway, here's the point: if you get a call from "Rosiland Clancy," and she gives you the number

1-888-310-2006, ext 3626

to call back...just don't do it. It's a scam.

The Dumbest Woman on Earth

I give you... Maruja. (In Spanish. You can figure out what's going on. "Seis" means "six." You can see why that might be a problem. "No hay un seis! Maruja!"

I find it amazing that versions of the "Eurojuego" work, all over Europe. After midnight, the female "hosts" are topless, and well built, in Germany at least. They have dumb number problems (for example, 7 + 4 - 9 = ?), but charge .40 Euro or more per minute. So you hang on the line, and they choose randomly. Lotteries are illegal, but since this is a game of skill (the answer is TWO!) this is legal. Some channels, like NuenLive, show little else.

La Eurjuego appears to be an actual game of "skill," however. But Maruja has not the skill to win. Not even the skill really to play, apparently. Maruja!

Militar Suertudo

(Very lucky soldier)

I think it's cool that he didn't turn around and bayonet the idiot behind him. Impressive discipline.

(Nod to the LMM)

(Lagniappe: This woman was not as lucky...)

How Germans make lemonade

When Regina Mayer's parents dashed her hopes of getting a horse, the resourceful 15-year-old didn't sit in her room and sulk. Instead, she turned to a cow called Luna to make her riding dreams come true.

Hours of training, and tons of treats, cajoling and caresses later, the results are impressive: not only do the two regularly go on long rides through the southern German countryside, they do jumps over a makeshift hurdle of beer crates and painted logs.

"She thinks she's a horse," the golden-haired Mayer joked on a recent sunny afternoon as she sat atop the impassive brown-and-white, grass-munching cow.

The whole story is here and is self-recommending. Regina still wants a horse though!

Hat tip to Mrs. Angus.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Funky Cold Makena

Update on KV Pharm and Makena.

Earlier post.

Now, I don't mind the drug company charging whatever they want. What I mind is that the March of Dimes, and the FDA, actually maneuvered to help KV OBTAIN the monopoly. And then cut them off. Pick a side here, guys!

(Nod to R. Pointer, who notes: "Looks like those rent-seeking monkeys spent 200 million only to have the FDA refuse to enforce rights infringement on compounding pharmacies. I guess the demos do win sometimes.")

Amar Bhide

KPC BFF Amar Bhide, in defense of human judgment.

(And a bonus podcast with AB)

So Sweet

Daddy eagle, being an idiot, manages to give little junior a ride, and then leaves him over by the edge of the nest. (If you look past the nest, you'll see this is WAY up in the air).

But mommy eagle scoops the little guy back into the egg cup. Sweet.

(Nod to D. Paletz)

College hoops sucks

Good Lord. In the national title game, UCON shot 34% from the field, WHICH WAS ALMOST DOUBLE Butler's 18%. I am so glad I didn't watch that abomination. In fact, I made the whole year without watching a single college game, and I am pretty sure I'll never watch another one (unless Pluto somehow gets a scholarship).


Is there anything cuter than a baby orangutan?

Does anyone know where this was filmed? The house in the beginning looks very American.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Church and State

"This coming November, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History
will exhibit a cut-and-paste Bible of a mere 86 pages. Were it the work of
David Wojnarowicz (the artist behind the crucifix video) or Andres Serrano
(of 'Piss Christ' fame), this Bible would doubtless stir up a hornet's nest.
But in fact, it was created by Thomas Jefferson. During the election of
1800, Jefferson was denounced as a 'howling atheist' and 'a confirmed
infidel' known for 'vilifying the divine word, and preaching insurrection
against God.'...He unequivocally rejected the Nicene Creed, which has
defined orthodoxy for most Christians since 381. And he was contemptuous of
the doctrine of the Trinity, calling it 'mere Abracadabra' and 'hocus-pocus
phantasm.'" [Stephen Prothero, WSJ op-ed]


"Organized religion will all but vanish eventually from nine Western-style
democracies, a team of mathematicians predict in a new paper based on census
data stretching back 100 years...The paper, by Abrams, Wiener and Haley A.
Yaple, is called 'A mathematical model of social group competition with
application to the growth of religious non-affiliation.' They presented it
this week at the Dallas meeting of the American Physical Society." [article]

"Religion has not only continued through the course of human history but
thrived in a variety of cultural contexts. Clearly, the social group
competition idea could not explain early Christian history and other
episodes over the centuries where religious minorities - even persecuted
minorities - have continued to attract adherents and grow dramatically. And
in modern societies, Islam is rapidly growing across the globe, and
worldwide Pentecostal membership is surging." [Heritage Foundation]


"Young, religiously active people are more likely than their non-religious
counterparts to become obese in middle age, according to new research. In
fact, frequent religious involvement appears to almost double the risk of
obesity compared with little or no involvement...The new research, presented
at an American Heart Association conference dedicated to physical activity,
metabolism and cardiovascular disease, involved 2,433 people enrolled in the
Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study." [CNN]

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Monday's Child is Full of Links: Information

Fed dumps data on bailout. (Nod to Anonyman)

Very tough love. In fact, idiotic. (Nod to Angry Alex)

One third of women admit they would give up a year of life for perfect body; other two thirds of all women are lying. (Nod to L. Smith)

This idiot thinks people can do time series regressions in their heads. (Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

We have a singer!

The video portion of this recording is poor (it was cloudy and the water was fairly rough), but the audio track captures a humpback whale singing! The high notes caused my camera housing and armbones to vibrate and the low notes resonated in my chest (like when the bass is too forward at a music club). It was a remarkable experience.

No one knows why these whales sing.