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!)