Saturday, January 07, 2012

Americans Against Logic

Okay, so a tactical tip: If the Jon Stewart show wants to interview you, say no. Because not only will you be reamed, you will be complicit in your own reaming. I cannot understand how JS can find such self-important idiots. The Republican here... wow.
I think Republicans are hypocrites, yes I do.
I think Republicans are hypocrites, how 'bout YOU?

(Nod to Anonyman)

Faking It

The Economics of Faking Ecstasy, Hugo Mialon, Economic Inquiry, January 2012, Pages 277–285

Abstract: In this paper, we develop a signaling model of rational lovemaking. In the
act of lovemaking, a man and a woman send each other possibly deceptive signals about their true state of ecstasy. For example, if one of the partners is not in ecstasy, then he or she may decide to fake it. The model predicts that (1) a higher cost of faking lowers the probability of faking; (2) middle-aged and old men are more likely to fake than young men; (3) young and old women are more likely to fake than middle-aged women; and (4) love, formally defined as a mixture of altruism and demand for togetherness, increases the likelihood of faking. The predictions are tested with data from the 2000 Orgasm Survey. Besides supporting the model's predictions, the data also reveal an interesting positive relationship between education and the tendency to fake in both men and women.

So, I wondered a couple of things.
1. This would not apply just to het couples. Is it different for gay men or for lesbian women?
2. It took me a minute to realize that the "2000 Orgasm Survey" was referring to a year, not a benchmark.
3. I asked the LMM, "You never fake, do you!" She said, "Of course not! Then she went upstairs and closed the door, but I could still hear her laughing.

Lagniappe: Here is a video of the author presenting the above paper...

(Nod to Kevin Lewis, who never fakes)

Can Men and Women Be Just Friends

On the Utah State U campus, a team of crack investigators ask the question, "Can men and women 'just' be friends?"

Women say "yes." Men laugh at the very idea. Men are not good people.

Now, the Bishop and I know that married men can be just friends with women.

First, we fear our wives enough to know we had better not even think about anyone else.

Second, if we piss off our wives, we are going to be "just friends" even in our houses for several nights. "Honey?" "Don't touch me..."

(Nod to the Blonde, who is not surprised by any of this.)

Friday, January 06, 2012

Regulatory Capture Video

KPC friend Susan Dudley on regulatory capture. Nicely done, ma'am!

D-Bro Loses His Mind

David Brooks says this:

"If you believe in the centrality of family, you have to have a government that ... SUPPLIES WAGE SUBSIDIES TO MEN TO MAKE THEM MARRIAGEABLE." (ellipsis/emphasis added to make sure you don't miss it.)

You can look it up. He says that.

Thanks to Jim D for pointing this out. I had missed it. I thought it was just a run-of- the mill paean to Santorum. The collective values, the communitarianism, that's all fine.

But D-Bro raised it to a whole other level. We have to PAY men to get married. He actually comes close to saying, "If you are getting the milk for free, why buy the cow?"

Funny or Die

We need a new scare for funny.

This, for example, is veryveryvery funny, and outrageous.

But then this is even funnier.

And the commercial in that clip above, starting just after 3 minutes in, with Mike Tyson as Herman Cain...we need a new word. Mr. Tyson totally nails it.

Made me laugh, it did.

More good news

Wow! The December 2011 jobs report is out.  200,000 net new jobs. Pretty good. Unemployment rate falls to 8.5%. 

Good news for president O. 

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Surge Pricing

Tremendous example of the complexity of price as a moral principle and a rationing device. Courtesy of Reihan Salam.

Long, Huang Eat Pussy, Long Goes Down, Huang Hung

Wealthy Chinese man dies after eating poisoned stew made from slow-boiled cat.

A Chinese billionaire is dead after apparently ingesting some slow-boiled cat meat stew — though it wasn’t the cat meat that killed him.

Police in southern China have detained a local official on suspicion of poisoning the stew at the restaurant where the two were eating in Guangdong province on Dec. 23.

Agriculture official Huang Guang, billionaire Long Liyuan and a third diner were sharing a cat meat hot pot — a local delicacy — when Huang allegedly dropped some toxic herbs into the stew, the BBC reported.

Long, who ran a forestry company, was taken to the hospital after feeling dizzy and sick and later suffered a cardiac arrest. Huang and the third diner were hospitalized as well, though both survived.

According toFlickr user MowT the New York Times, Huang had apparently eaten some of the poisoned stew himself to avoid suspicion.

Police detained Huang on Dec. 30, after discovering evidence that Huang had embezzled money from Long.

Police initially took the restaurant’s owner into custody on suspicion of serving unsanitary food, according to the BBC. Long’s family, not believing he died simply of food poisoning, offered a $16,000 reward for information and insisted police keep the case open.

(Nod to the Blonde, who of course was mostly all excited about the title. I think she rented this movie last week.)

(UPDATE: Yes, I was thinking of Tom G. when I wrote this)

would you believe?

Would you believe me if i told you that, before roasting and eating that marshmallow, Kanzi the bonobo had (a) collected the wood, (b) built the fire (c) grilled up some burgers, and (d) ate them?

How about if I told you after he was done that he put the fire out with a bottle of water?

Well, it's all true!

Kanzi apparently lives in Iowa and to my mind is much more qualified for the GOP presidential nomination than any of the other "primitive creatures" who just left the State.

Okay, NOW You Can Kill Eagles (But Not Bats), To Show You Love Gaia

So, if all you are doing is building a factory that will create hundreds of jobs, and produce something people want to buy, you will be blocked by the Endangered Species Act. In fact, you may even have to close an existing golf course, because the nice froggies might not like it.

But if you want to build a "wind farm," which actually is a net loss of energy (counting the costs of construction and decommissioning), and produces almost zero jobs, then the feds will happily WAIVE the ESA. Kill all the eagles you want! (But not bats, apparently. Interesting.)

Now, in my view, the ESA is a death sentence, a stupid law that kills more creatures than it saves, by far. But still, if you believe the ESA works, why suspend it for such a marginal "industry" as wind?

Unless of course the whole thing is fake and all you really care about is the costly signal of worshipping Gaia, the Earth Mother? In that case, building an idiotic temple of wind and sacrificing eagles to Gaia actually count twice. We worship you, Gaia! And higher costs mean we love you more! Abraham was only willing to sacrifice his son. WE are willing to sacrifice eagles!

(Nod to the Blonde)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Great Essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates

It's in the Atlantic and it's called "Why do so few blacks study the civil war?"

It rejects the idea that the war was a tragedy; that is was a result of a failure to compromise, or of misunderstandings, the romanticizing of the gentlemanly southern generals.

Money quote:

For African Americans, war commenced not in 1861, but in 1661, when the Virginia Colony began passing America’s first black codes, the charter documents of a slave society that rendered blacks a permanent servile class and whites a mass aristocracy. They were also a declaration of war.

The final part of Charles Mann's excellent 1493 gives a good overview of the war between Europeans and slaves fought across the Americas.

Gun Control, Okie style

When faced with a home invasion, this Oklahoma woman, grabbed the family shotgun and pistol, called 911 for directions, and then shot and killed the person who kicked down the door to her home.

The intruders seemed to be targeting her house because her husband had just passed away.

Mrs. Angus and I go target shooting at a local firing range, and the gender mix there is easily 30% female.

By the way, Mrs. Angus is a pretty good shot!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

John D. Lewis

An energetic and compelling speech by my friend John Lewis, on July 4, 2009, in Boston. If you get to give a speech in Boston for the Tea Party on July 4, you are pretty cool.

And he was pretty cool. But John Lewis died this morning at 7 am. Esophageal cancer hammered him, as brave as he was. And he was very, very brave.

This is not a good day. I'd rather think of him like he was, on that day in Boston.

UPDATE: Two more good memories.

1. JDL's terrific lecture this fall in my "Econ for Non-Majors" class. Excellent talk on Greek and Roman views of exchange. He could barely speak. And yet there he was, bustin' it for the kids.

2. JDL's also terrific HuffPo piece on the deficit (Thanks to Dan Green for the reminder)

The Maurader

I'm going to guess that admiration for this car (and this clip) will largely be divided along gender lines.

(Nod to Herr Fuchs)

Not the Onion?

For our occasional "Not the Onion" feature...which of the following is a fake news story?

1. EEOC says that requiring people to have a high school diploma, or to be able to read, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. After all, idiots need jobs, too! And there are only 100 seats in the US Senate.

2. N. Koreans called on to provide "human shield" for Kim Jong (Big) Un. Presumably, the herd of shielders will also be available to be butchered for food, in case Big Un gets peckish. The story does also note that there is a "burning issue" of food shortage. What's a Big Un to do?

3. New Fox network reality show to choose candidate for President of Iraq. The winner will receive $1 million in campaign cash, and several truckloads of dates to use as bribes.

4. Solar plant in Idaho unable to generate enough power to supply even itself. Utility company is going to cut off electricity to so-called "power" plant, because they can't pay the bill for all the electricity they are using up in the process of not generating electricity.

(Nod to the Blonde)

Class dismissed

This sentence both confused and delighted me:

Many people, including me, have decided that the overclass poses the most serious threat today to the middle class in the United States because it markets the assertion that the underclass is the source of all our problems.

The author is Nancy Folbre, the source is the NY Times Economix blog.

I ran it through various translators and the best I could come up with was, I hate rich people and you should too. 

Anyone else?  Bueller?


Iowa: The Caucuses Mountains

I was on the Takeaway yesterday, with my pal Celeste Headley. She shamelessly promotes the (admittedly miraculous) fact that the D-Lions are in the playoffs.

And we also talk about Iowa. Click and play, if you want. It's about 7 mins.

Smiles: Fake? And can you tell?

Poker faces often have "tells;" so do smiles.

Spot The Fake Smile
(be sure to click the button to watch the smile.)

This experiment is designed to test whether you can spot the difference between a fake smile and a real one. It has 20 questions and should take you 10 minutes. It is based on research by Professor Paul Ekman, a psychologist at the University of California. Each video clip will take approximately 15 seconds to load on a 56k modem and you can only play each smile once.

In case you are wondering, they did it by taking real smiles that occurred spontaneously in interviews, or by telling the person to smile. Obviously you can't say, "Give us a genuine smile, now!"

Bizarrely, I got 18 out of 20 correct. Had a bit of luck, I expect. But that's better classification than I would have expected. Only missed two, one F that was a G, and one G that was an F.

How do YOU fare?

(Nod to the Blonde, who never fakes it)

Monday, January 02, 2012

Ballot Access Kerfuffles

A nice mess you have gotten us into this time, Stanley!

Gov. Perry, of Texas, is all upset because (gasp!) voters might not get to vote for the candidate of their choice! He failed to get the signatures required to get on the ballot in Virginia.

I have to agree with him. That's a dumb law, a ridiculous and arbitrary distinction on the ability to compete for office. Here is the complaint (from BAN, with thanks)

But then how come the Guv-meister has not said a peep about the fact that Texas, the state where I hear he has some pull, has made a complete hash of ballot access? Et tu, Ricky?

Some more background from Brian I, here...

it might take half the country

North Korea (i.e. Kim Jong Un) has called for its citizens to form a human shield around its leader (i.e. Kim Jong Un)!

Given that many North Koreans eat dirt and sticks, and that KJU looks like this:

I am wondering, how many North Koreans does it take to make a human shield for "The Great Consumer"?

I am waiting for KJU's catchphrase to come out. I loved his dad's: "Let's eat two meals a day"

Bien venido a la Selva

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Trying Blogsy on the iPad

This app claims that it's ez to do links, images, and embeds.  So lets give it a try. 

Here's a photo of a beautiful tree:

This post from LeBron caused Mrs. A to insist that I read the book called Beautiful Tree Forthwith

And here's a video Mrs. A took of me playing with Mr. 2T last year about this time. 

It's not exactly easy. The built in browser to find links is small and clunky. Images and embeds don't always go where you want them. But it's better than anything else I've seen for the iPad. If I could go on short trips with just the iPad instead of laptop and kindle, that would be great. 

To Prevent Abuse, Create a Cartel?

Anonyman sends this remarkable article. Excerpt:

While the Food and Drug Administration monitors the safety and supply of the drugs, which are sold both as generics and under brand names like Ritalin and Adderall, the Drug Enforcement Administration sets manufacturing quotas that are designed to control supplies and thwart abuse. Every year, the D.E.A. accepts applications from manufacturers to make the drugs, analyzes how much was sold the previous year and then allots portions of the expected demand to various companies.

So, to "prevent abuse," what the gubmint is doing is protecting cartel profits, even in a GENERIC drug. And of course if there is a shortage, that means that rich people who want to abuse the drug will still get it, but poor people who want to use the drug legally can just go screw themselves.

I would like to propose that before you work for the US federal government you have to pass a high-school level econ class. Is that too much to ask?

Rob Kendall Gets Sworn In

Now that Rob Kendall has been sworn in, he may get sworn at.

But for today, he is the newest member of the Brownsburg, IN town council, representing ward #3.

I enjoyed the part where the commenter compared the speech to the Gettysburg Address. The commenter said, "That was NOT the Gettysburg Address."

And so, it begins. But seriously, good luck to Rob! We need more ambiguously Libertarian Republicans in this world.

Don't know why, I love you like I do.....

Not So Much Predictions

I was going to call this predictions.

But it's more like "fun resources so YOU can make predictions." Here we go:

1. There are lots of models that predict share of two party vote in Presidential elections, based on the economy. Here is one that's fun to fool around with...

With plausible assumptions, that would imply that the Dems will get 49.7 -- 50.5 of the two party vote in November. Given the way the Electoral College "counts" votes, that would likely mean a narrow win for the Repubs. Of course that depends on who the Repub nominee is. But if you want to go strictly by the "economy determines whether incumbent Prez wins" theory, right now it's a toss up.

On the other hand, if there is 4% growth in the first two quarters of 2012, you would get a 53.5% vote in the states, and that is close to a landslide. So, the point is, to the extent the models matter, 2% growth and Obama loses. 4% growth and Obama wins in November.

This map is VERY fun for doing simulations, state by state, in Electoral College. (of course, the fact that I think that is fun may explain why I never had dates in high school)

2. Conference Board is predicting 1.5% growth for 2012. If that is right, then Obama loses. Again depending on who the Repub nominee is, of course.

3. Any prediction, based on any reasonable assumptions about the economy, predict that Repubs keep the House, and maybe even add a little to their majority. Redistricting will help here, because many state legislatures were taken over in 2010 election, and the winner redraws the maps.

4. Ben Nelson's (D-Neb) retirement puts the range of outcomes for the Senate at 51 D - 49 R to 47 D -- 53 R. But these are not equally likely. Most likely is 50 D -- 50 R, with VP Biden breaking tie votes in favor of Democrats. So, if I had to guess, Dems retain control of Senate, though only by the thinnest of margins.

5. Consumer confidence: on the economy, seems on the upswing. Still very weak. As long as the Euro is all covered with Greece, very scary situation. Our banks bought up a LOT of PIGS sovereign debt, with MF securities being only the most greedy. Other institutions are lined up like dominoes. World economy could get hammered here. That would be bad.

6. Congressional job approval is at its lowest level EVER, 11%. The House and Senate are each profoundly dysfunctional. But "we hate Congress, though we love our Congressman" is the old saying. The disgust with Congress rarely translates into voting out incumbents. Each election is separate, and based on personality and local factors. So the so-called "triple flip" where people vote against incumbents in Prez, House, and Senate races is very unlikely. People say they are mad, and then they line up and vote for incumbents.

7. Presidential approval is very bad also, but still in the mid 40% range. The difference is that we do vote on the Presidency, directly, in a way we do not on Congress. The rule of thumb is that if your negatives, of "disapprove" numbers, are above 45% you are toast. Right now, President Obama is toast, by that measure.

Oh, and happy new year, all you KPC fans! I am on leave until September, so I shall be blogging from many places around the globe, and I'm looking forward to it.