Saturday, September 03, 2011

scenes from a marriage

Time to re-think college football

College football is a mess, with Ohio State and The U providing the latest "scandals" and with the pattern of conference jumping we've seen lately.

I think it's time to split big time football from academics. Dissolve the NCAA. Pay the players. Don't even force them to be students if they don't want to be students. Treat college football like an age 21 and under pro league. The schools rent out their facilities, names, supporters, etc. and the football program is separate from the school itself, just like the food service program.

There's 120 schools in the FBS. Split them into 4 geographical regions, everyone plays a 16 game season and then have a 16 team playoff.

I love David Boren. He's done amazing things for OU and my own family, but university presidents shouldn't have to be involved like this in something as inconsequential to the mission of a university as football:

“I don’t think OU is going to be a wallflower when all is said and done. I don’t know how long it will be before clarity comes to us. My experience is that on these kinds of things, it might be a matter of 72 hours, it might be a matter of two weeks. I don’t really think this is something that is going to linger on beyond two or three weeks at the outside. It’s been consuming my life the last few days, but it’s a fascinating challenge and we’re just in the search for what’s best for the university.”

--David Boren,

And then there's this:

Boren confirmed that he flew to Missouri, whose chancellor is the chairman of the Big 12 board of directors, and then to College Station last week to try to prevent the Aggies from leaving.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Obama Wins in 2012?

I have said several times Obama will win in 2012. (After I said in March 2008 that he was "unelectable," so ignore whatever I say).

But now a man with an actual MODEL (sort of) has called it for BHO.

Meet Prof. Lichtman...

(Nod to Anonyman)

A Strategy for the Left?

Is this going to be the strategy for Team Obama for 2012?

I am no fan of the talking points of either side. And there is some merit to the charge that some Republicans depend on the religious right for support.

But, "the economy sucks so let's talk about scary religious zealots!" is pretty darned cynical.

(Nod to the Blonde)

Markets in everything: earthmover edition

In the shadow of the Vegas strip, you can pay $400, get 10 minutes of instruction, and then get turned loose to operate earth-moving equipment in a vacant lot.


The company is called Dig This. Their website is here. The AP story is here. Sharon Zukin could not be reached for comment.

Redneck Trifecta

NASCAR, a racoon, and runnin' round nekkid. The article (there's a video). Another story.
The mug shot:
See, the problem is that among the folks I grew up with, that mugshot and this story would be extremely effective for on-line dating sites. Ocoee women would LOVE this guy. The tat? The quizzical look? The (by Ocoee standards) well-groomed hair? Two words: Chick. Magnet. Plus, he has a racoon.

(Seriously, is that a great mug shot or what? Calling him "unrepentant" doesn't really capture it fully) (Nod to the Blonde)

Not the Onion? (Labor Day/ Sex with Stuff Edition)

Which of the following (if any) are from the Onion?

1. Man has sex with inflatable pool raft.

2. Beach bonking in Blackpool: Your government keeps statistics!

3. Guinness BOWR "world's largest penis" man: It's no picnic.

4. Labor Day party: American caught having sex with picnic table.

5. Man arrested for having sex with street signs; now has to "STOP"

6. I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike.

7. Man humps steel park bench (the kind with holes in it). And there's a video (so this is NOT the Onion!). You may not want to listen; the guy is not having much fun. "OOOOOOOH! OOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!"

Some details
. And a source post.

(And a nod to Dutch Boy)

China Monopolizes the Sun!

Suppose you had a pretty big yard, 2 acres. And your neighbor comes over one day and says, "I have a big lawn mower, a huge expensive one. I just like having a big mower, too big for my own purposes. It really costs a lot, but my dad left me an inheritance and I like the prestige of having the biggest mower in the state. How about if I mow your lawn for my marginal cost, plus a little bit? Say, $35?"

You figure that you would have to buy a mower, plus spend time mowing, plus upkeep. It would cost you at least $100 a week to do the same thing. So, you say, "Sure!"

Can someone explain to me why we are poopin' in our panties about China doing essentially the same thing with solar power technology? And why U.S. government officials are claiming that the answer is that WE, the US, HAVE TO BUY A REALLY BIG MOWER, TOO? For some reason, gigantic world-wide over-capacity, subsidized by tax dollars, is the answer for Obamanoids like this guy:

“There is no question that renewable energy companies in the United States feel pressure from China,” said David B. Sandalow, the assistant secretary for policy and international affairs at the United States Energy Department. “Many of them say it is cheap capital, not cheap labor, that gives Chinese companies the main competitive advantage.”

Is China behaving badly? Yep. And if I were a Chinese taxpayer, I'd be pissed. But why is the US upset? There is no way that the resulting price of solar technology and equipment is going to be more expensive for us. UNLESS, of course, we try to enter the race and buy a really big lawn mower, too.

The "worry" is that China will achieve world dominance and then raise prices. Idiots used to make the same argument about Wal-Mart: once they drive out the competition, they will raise prices. Two problems with that argument. 1. It's not true, empirically. It just never happens. 2. The only possible truth to the argument is with respect to the "correct" price, which in the mind of the subsidizers is the price in the US if we spent billions in subsidies. Friends, subsidies are a COST, not a benefit.

Let the Chinese mow our solar lawn, if they want to. (Angus has tried to make this point before, as have I. Angus may have said it best here. And we'll probably get chances to say it again.)

(Nod to Anonyman, who drives a stinkin' hybrid)

(UPDATE: Meant to say... title of post comes from our guy Alex)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Solar Fail

A little story, in pictures. First, triumphalism of our gov't: thousands of jobs.

The "deal" came under scrutiny, because it appeared that our gubmint had given truly huge amounts of public money without going through the usual procedures.

Most recently, the company went bankruptski. Total collapse.

The delicious part is this: Solyndra is whining that the Chinese subsidize THEIR solar industry. Solyndra was a pure scam, only a front for taking tax dollars. All of their revenues and investment money were public subsidy. And then they have the gall to say that the reason this oinker of a company could not compete is that they needed to be subsidized even more. Some background.

Their "idea"? I promised pictures. Here it was. It didn't work, even with huge public subsidies.

(Nod to J-Don, who knows things)

Ho Tax

Tax meter for street walkers, or street standers, in Germany.

As Anonyman said, "the Germans are so organized."

Plus: consummation areas. Nice.

Madeline the prostitute explains how it all works.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NSFW: Prison Camp Economics

I am teaching Radford's famous "Economics of a POW Camp" article tomorrow. Wondered if there were any good videos about cigarette currencies.

Found this: very very very NSFW. Or class. But PERFECT for KPC!

Also: did find this video about candy as currency, because cigs are contraband.

Which reminds me: that most excellent Skarbek, with whom I am well pleased, just placed this paper in the APSR. yes, forthcoming, beeyotches! Way to go, Skarbek!

Bad-ass Bunnies

Story is here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday's Child is Full of Links

Nick T. on why indie music is a conservative genre

Tennessee I: Rest in Peace

Tennessee II: Holy Smoking Bull Semen, Batman!

Wow. Will gives an incredibly useful assessment of Texas educational policy and results.

Lemonade Stand Freedom Day!

(Nod to Anonyman; I hope he doesn't get confused between the lemonade and what got spilled on that Tennessee highway...)

"I Do Not LIKE It, Sam I Am, I Do Not Like Las Vegas"-Ma'am

I thought I was going to agree with this. After all, I don't like Las Vegas. I really, really, really don't like Las Vegas.

But this lefto-fascist doesn't think it should be allowed to exist. Because she knows, given her privileged status as a sociologist, what fun really is.

Many people like Las Vegas. This prof and I do NOT like Las Vegas. Why am I unthreatened by this, when she wants to call in tanks? Also, one does have to like the final comparison, where our teacher compares LV to the worst thing in the world: Suburbia!

(Nod to Tommy the Brit)

Sentiments entirely appropriate for these troubled times

"My thing is, I'm never going to cheat, "I'm never going to be unsportsmanlike. I'm gonna beat you — straight, fair, in your face. I don't have to go around the block. I don't have to, like, go underhand. I'm gonna beat you, I'm gonna beat you. That's it, and there's no way around it."

--Serena Williams

Congress CAN Do One Thing

It can suck, scare people, prevent investment, and reduce the value of existing investments. Of course, IF that were true, you could trade on that information.

And perhaps you can. Why do stocks do better when Congress is OUT of session? It could be that the risk is lower, so lower variance (though in that case options should do better when Congress is in session). A more likely explanation is that Congress sees its job as ordering people around and claiming credit for steering the economy. Iceberg! Dead ahead!

A nod to Prof. Newmark, for pointing this out. I like his "exercise for the reader."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fear Without Function

Sex Offender Registries: Fear without Function?

Amanda Agan, Journal of Law and Economics, February 2011, Pages 207-239

Abstract: I use three separate data sets and designs to determine whether sex offender registries are effective. First, I use state-level panel data to determine whether sex offender registries and public access to them decrease the rate of rape and other sexual abuse. Second, I use a data set that contains information on the subsequent arrests of sex offenders released from prison in 1994 in 15 states to determine whether registries reduce the recidivism rate of offenders required to register compared with the recidivism of those who are not. Finally, I combine data on locations of crimes in Washington, D.C., with data on locations of registered sex offenders to determine whether knowing the locations of sex offenders in a region helps predict the locations of sexual abuse. The results from all three data sets do not support the hypothesis that sex offender registries are effective tools for increasing public safety.

(A-Tab has some details over at MR)

(nod to Kevin Lewis)

You Play, We Pay

An article about how hard the folks out on the ... barrier islands of NC have it.

Best quote: "this is the price you pay for living in paradise." Well, no. This is the price *WE* pay so you can live on a freakin' sandbar.

Look, you loonies are welcome to live out there. But the state subsidized insurance for decades, and pays for new roads, and rebuilds broken roads. That money comes from people who have to pay to visit paradise.

So you can live there at public expense.

I have no problem with people living out there. If they like it, good for them. And emergency services, in cases where the emergency is unpredictable? Okay by me.

But living on a sandbar that never gets higher than 8 feet, in an area where storm surge from a hurricane hits 12 feet or more at least once a decade? Why do I have to pay for that?

(Nod to the Blonde)

The Weather: These Folks DID Something About It

Civil conflicts are associated with the global climate, Solomon Hsiang, Kyle Meng & Mark Cane, Nature, 25 August 2011, Pages 438–441

Abstract: It has been proposed that changes in global climate have been responsible for episodes of widespread violence and even the collapse of civilizations. Yet previous studies have not shown that violence can be attributed to the global climate, only that random weather events might be correlated with conflict in some cases. Here we directly associate planetary- scale climate changes with global patterns of civil conflict by examining the dominant interannual mode of the modern climate, the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Historians have argued that ENSO may have driven global patterns of civil conflict in the distant past, a hypothesis that we extend to the modern era and test quantitatively. Using data from 1950 to 2004, we show that the probability of new civil conflicts arising throughout the tropics doubles during El Niño years relative to La Niña years. This result, which indicates that ENSO may have had a role in 21% of all civil conflicts since 1950, is the first demonstration that the stability of modern societies relates strongly to the global climate.

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

All Hail Norm McDonald

I have only watched one episode of the current season of High Stakes Poker, but new host Norm McDonald was brilliant.

Here was my favorite bit, as verbatim as I can make it:

Let me translate that into poker talk. Barry is saying that Doyle sucked out on cancer. I wasn't there at the time but I believe it went runner-runner.

Just thinking about cancer having a bad beat story to tell made me laugh pretty hard!

Tying one's self to the mast with silly string

Richard Thaler, in today's NY Times has words of wisdom on governments' pervasive inability to commit to painful future courses of action with balanced budget amendments or fiscal rules.

Sadly, he fails to stick the landing:

The bottom line is that in matters of governmental self-control there is no real substitute for willpower. If we want to balance the budget over time we are going to have to elect adults to Congress who are prepared to invest now in our country’s future and then, when the economy picks up, take the necessary steps to get spending in line with revenue. The question is whether politicians who act like adults can win elections.

Yes, that is surely the solution to the inability to bind future politicians and the serious problem that optimal policies are often time inconsistent: just find the right people!

Could we not at least try to think of institutional changes that might help the situation instead of calling for politicians from another planet to come and save us?

How about longer terms of office but no re-election? say 6 years in the House, 8 years for President, 10 years for Senate?

Other ideas?