Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tied to the whippin' post

This is a pretty amazing table:

Let's break it down:

1. I guess Mustafa Kemal really did have some influence.

2. Pakistan and Egypt are seriously messed up places.

3. Those numbers do not conform to the pleasant image of Jordan that I have in my head.

Hat tip to Roving Bandit.

Friday, March 16, 2012

David Stern is a TERRIBLE GM

"The way it looks now, the Hornets will have traded their franchise point guard (Chris Paul) for a player who’s leaving (Kaman), a guard who’s played only two games and also could leave in the summer (Eric Gordon), underachieving forward Al-Farouq Aminu and a 2012 first-round pick that might not end up in the lottery.

Imagine how different it would be if NBA commissioner David Stern hadn’t vetoed a trade that would have given the Hornets guard Kevin Martin, forward Luis Scola, forward Lamar Odom and guard Goran Dragic."

~Marc Spears

Excellent Point: US Becoming More Like Russia

So, an excellent point:

"Polls tell us that the teenagers who in the 1990s dreamed of becoming rich in business now aspire to be public servants. Many view public service as a source of fast and easy cash. As long as this incentive exists, purges will be useless — unmasked thieves will only be replaced by others."

Strangely, this claim was made, not in the WS Journal, but in the Washington Post.

Even more strangely, the claim was made by one V. Putin. Who ought to know how profitable public office is. (Note: I changed "oligarchs" to "rich in business," so as not to give it away...)

The layers of hypocrisy here almost cover the long sharp prickles of irony.
The disturbing thing is that in a crony capitalist system, it is the "businessmen" who make the most from "public service." Check this article on Warren Buffet, who has made a fortune by telling President Obama to invest in companies Buffet himself owns.

Excerpt: Consider Warren Buffett. Often seen as a grandfatherly figure above the rough-and-tumble of politics, Buffett appears to be immune to the folly and excess of finance as well. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska, in a house he purchased in 1958 for $31,000. He made a fortune for himself and his investors at the business conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway through the humble-sounding approach of value-based investing. He uses folksy expressions: “You don’t know who’s swimming naked,” he said during the height of the financial crisis, “until the tide goes out.” He frequently takes to the nation’s op-ed pages with populist-sounding arguments, such as his August 2010 plea in The New York Times for the government to stop “coddling” the “super-rich” and start raising their taxes.

But this image does not always reflect reality. Warren Buffett is very much a political entrepreneur; his best investments are often in political relationships. In recent years, Buffett has used taxpayer money as a vehicle to even greater profit and wealth. Indeed, the success of some of his biggest bets and the profitability of some of his largest investments rely on government largesse and “coddling” with taxpayer money.

The US is not in danger of becoming a socialist country like Russia WAS. The US is in danger of becoming a corrupt crony capitalist country like Russia IS. Warren Buffet, oligarch.


Since on Monday, I'll be arriving in Santiago de Chile, and won't be in any shape to post, we'll just have to let Friday's child be full of links.

You are more awesome than a monkey wearing a tuxedo made out [of] bacon riding a cyborg unicorn

Tag Challenge

The quiz Dan Kahneman wants you to fail...

Peyton Manning gets a waiter fired, though it was the waiter's fault.

Sauce for the goose? In retaliation, female legislators try to regulate the gander's sauce, too. (Sorry about the "gander's sauce" thing. Ick.)

All of a sudden, Geithner and co. are Austrians? Markets are hard to regulate, and prices fluctuate because of uncertainty? Are we in bizarro world?

And, in an attempt to get the president to concentrate on being president, instead of just always campaigning:
Click on the image for an even more distracted image...

(Nod to SdM, Anonyman, Kevin Lewis, and the Blonde)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

When Irish eyes are smiling

The Irish should love the Greeks. After all, it's got to be nice not being on the bottom of the heap of Euro-countries.

Yet they seem to enjoy screwing with them nonetheless.

Aer Lingus has been making folks with Greek passports take written language tests in Greek before letting them board flights to Ireland.

All good clean fun until they did it to this lady taking a flight from Barcelona to Ireland.

One of the many great parts of the story is that no one at the Aer Lingus desk in Barcelona could read Greek, nor did it appear they had an answer key on the premises.

I think I could have passed the test under those circumstances. Years of teaching econometrics has left me overly familiar with the Greek alphabet.

Hat tip to Mrs. Angus.

You Can Get the Computer to Write Political Science For You

I asked the computer for a randomly generated gibberish sentence in political science. I got this.

The emergence of praxis functions as the conceptual frame for the legitimation of the nation-state.

That's more than a little scary. I'm pretty sure that that was the main argument of Ari Kohen's PhD thesis. Now.... we know.

Heisenberg's links

I'm home today with a nasty bug, here's some links to keep the dream alive:

1. Sanctions on Iran are either working or not working.

2. Dwight Howard is either staying or going.

3. The lawyers are getting restless (the piece is great, the comments are even better)

4. Another economist gets taken to the woodshed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Don Boudreaux Goes All Boudreaux

A classic "goin' all Boudreaux," from the master of the genre.

The Primaries of Tuesday

My good friend Bill LuMaye is on at 6 am now, and I went down to the studio to provide moral support. And they put it on the radio. Always fun to talk to Bill about politics. Here's 40 minutes of it...

My favorite part is the bit just after 31:45. Gaia, the Earth Mother.

The World Belongs to the Boomer Sooners; The Rest of Us Just LIve here

So, walking in the Crystal City mall, in a deep sub-basement. And come across this extremely frightening doorway:

What fresh hell is this? U of OK has lobbyists in DC? Or, rather, lobbyists hidden deep below the Crystal City Metro? Is this a "Phantom of the Prairie" thing?


NC's Amendment One

In the May primary, NC will also vote on a Constitutional Amendment:

Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.

And my view on the Amendment.

Guilt by association

OK, so my idea of song title book reviews is gonna be slow to catch on.

Well, what about this: If NBA players were musicians?

Let's start with two of my favorite players

James Harden -- Isaac Hayes.  Always cool, never in a hurry. Hot buttered soul.

Russell Westbrook -- Lil Wayne.  Incredible highs, huge variance. always wondering what he'll do next.

Get the idea? Here's a few more:

Rajon Rondo -- Soulja Boy
Kevin Love -- Justin Timberlake
Derrick Rose -- Tupac
Kobe -- Miles Davis
Ricky Rubio -- Bieber (duh!)
Josh Smith -- Chamilionaire
Lebron, Wade & Bosh -- Wu Tang!!

and finally,

Kevin Garnett -- Kenny G.

Got any good ones?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Only in Academia

An MA student at UCSB, Christopher Todd Brown, wrote his thesis and got it approved. After the committee approved it, he added a "Dis-acknowledgements" section which started like this:

"I would like to offer special F**k You's to the following degenerates for of being an ever-present hindrance during my graduate career...."

Only there weren't any ** in there and it continued to rail at some length against various bureaucrats, politicians and institutions with which Chris had beef.

Unsurprisingly, the university refused to accept the thesis in that form, requiring him to drop the ex post additions he'd made.

Somewhat surprisingly, Chris chose to sue instead. And then to appeal when he lost.

And thanks to the internet and Paul Gowder, we get to read about it!

I actually think the student is right. They shouldn't stop you from getting your degree because you let off a little steam in the acknowledgements. My only issue with Chris T. Brown is that he didn't have the onions to let his committee see his handiwork ex-ante, and just tried to weasel it in ex-post.

Winning Bracket

As a special bonus for KPC readers, I am able to reveal the winning bracket for the NCAA tournament.

It's right here.

No, don't thank me, it's all part of the service.

Sentence of the day

People it comes from Joe Stiglitz and it's a doozy:

"If my Cassandra forecast turns out to be wrong, stimulus can be cut."

The source is the FT, but I've already hit my quota there so here's a link from Mark Thoma.

Is he saying there already is stimulus in place now that we have the option of cutting?

Is he implicitly proposing some vague new conditional stimulus?

Is he an expert at putting toothpaste back into the tube?

If you put a stimulus in place and things started going well, wouldn't you shy away from cutting back on the announced stimulus for fear of mucking up the recovery?

UPDATE: this post was edited to remedy my severe lack of reading comprehension this morning. Thanks to Mark Thoma for setting me straight.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Why In the World Hire an "Investment Broker"?

Craig Newmark discovers the answer to one of life's most difficult questions: why would anyone hire an "investment broker"?

Brokers, after all, make people.... broker. They sell products they don't understand to yokels they don't care about.

But, as Craig notes, now there is an answer.

Got a call from an investment broker the other day myself. I made two claims, rather loudly.

1. No one can make predictions about the stock market, or super normal returns in assets, unless they inside information. And if they had same, they would TRADE on that information, borrowing all the money they can scoop up. They wouldn't call an idiot like me and GIVE me the information over the phone.

2. Idiot or not, I went 100% cash and short bonds in August 2007. And went back about 50% into stocks in April 2009. How many of your clients did you advise to do THAT, Mr. Investment Broker?

We didn't talk long after that.

El Mercurio, and News - Observer

In which I go all Boudreaux on news people on two continents.

1. El Mercurio, in Santiago, Chile: Por otra parte, a ocho meses de las presidenciales, esta indecisión republicana podría tener consecuencias. "A medida que Romney avanza hacia la victoria en las primarias, está perdiendo piso en la elección general", advirtió The Washington Post, que resaltó que se le ve "en peor forma en este punto de la campaña" en relación con los últimos aspirantes presidenciales republicanos. Y es que, bajo el argumento de que no ha sido capaz de "noquear" a sus rivales, varios comentaristas han puesto en duda su competitividad ante Obama.

¿Por qué tanta prisa?

Sin embargo, también hay quienes llaman a la calma. "Yo no entiendo por qué los medios dicen que 'Romney no puede cerrar el trato'. Si se compara con 2008, la nominación demócrata no terminó hasta mayo. Romney tiene, en este punto, más delegados de los que tenía Obama en marzo de 2008, pero nadie preguntó entonces '¿por qué Obama no convence al electorado?", indicó Michael Munger, analista de la Duke University.

En términos de estilo, Munger compara el caso de Romney con el del Presidente Sebastián Piñera, "que hace que las cosas funcionen, pero no es muy ideológico". "Esto es una desventaja en las primarias republicanas, donde los extremistas quieren ideología extrema. Pero podría ser una ventaja en la elección general. Quizás tenga problemas para que la gente se entusiasme, pero el desempleo es alto y hay insatisfacción con la actual gestión. Así que podría ser como en Chile, donde Piñera ganó no porque entusiasmara, sino porque a la gente le preocupaba la dirección del país".

Los republicanos vamos a unirnos, porque realmente creemos que Obama debe ser reemplazado.

2. Same theme, letter to News-Observer. Steve Ford must have miss-typed, right? ("Drilling into Democrats' do-over," Jan. 29 column.) He actually said that if Republicans "were comfortable with the current pack of candidates, one would already [be] the nominee-apparent."

In 2008, the Democrats knew nothing about who would be their nominee by January's end. In fact, the primaries of February through April just muddied the waters. Barack Obama was not clearly selected until May. Today, Jan. 31, Mitt Romney is far ahead of Obama in 2008, in terms of elected delegates.

But the Democratic Party showed little "discomfort" in 2008, uniting behind their candidate. Nobody but media types and college professors think primaries should be decided fast and clean. Democracy is messy.