Saturday, October 13, 2012

Torn from the headlines

People, you wonder why folks in Washington have trouble with getting the math right? Well the town's paper of record, the senescent WAPO, is not helping.

In the print edition this morning, Preston Williams' column on the Yankees - Os series reads in part, "Sabathia hurled a commanding four hit shutout for a 3-1 win at Yankee Stadium....."

This fabulous example of DC math is viewable in the online edition for now (2nd graf of story), but who knows, maybe someone will wake up and fix it.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Reaming Romney

I don't always find the New Yorker to be very good reporting.  I subscribed for years, but the bias and outright fabrications of the new regime were just too insulting to readers with an IQ over 80, so I bailed.  But, occasionally, they get something right.  Like this.  Excerpt:

  Romney now seems to fancy himself a small-government zealot, who promises the end of the culture of entitlement. Yet even as he assails people on Medicaid and Social Security, and those who receive the earned-income tax credit, for being “dependent upon government,” Romney has had strikingly little to say about another prominent group that’s “dependent upon government”: the many American companies whose profits rely, in one form or another, on government assistance.

Here's the hilarious thing:  when you lefty goofballs write stuff like this, the mask slips a little.  You jabber about George Bush being all "libertarian."  Really?  Then why is the above paragraph true?  There is nothing libertarian about crony capitalism.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  So if the above is true, and it is, then stop calling Romney, Bush, and the other corporo-statist extremists libertarians.  It's absurd.  Even a steaming pile of ideology-baiting ordure like the New Yorker can get it right, sometimes.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Someone thought that this was a good idea...

The surprising thing about French restaurant Ananas' lipsticked mouth-shaped urinals isn't that they have decided to remove them, it's that it took someone three weeks to get pissed off (no pun intended) about them. The "sumptuous" Sydney, Australia, eatery attracted criticism over their choice in pee décor from at least one feminist writer. "This is just an example of misogyny," Ann Summers said. "They're asking men to put their d***s in these mouths as urinals." The urinals, designed by female artist Meike van Schijndel, have been spotted (and complained about) in Europe, including at Germany's Rolling Stones Fan Museum. "We sincerely apologize if they have caused offense," an Ananas spokeswoman said.


Do click for a more wide-open image.


the tree museum*

Walking today in our Nation's capital, I saw the strangest tree. It was on the corner of 31st & R NW if you want to go look at it. It seemed like something from the spiny forest in southern Madagascar than a domestic specimen.

I'd really like to know what kind of tree it is. Here are some pics:

(clic the pics for even more exotic images)

There are little spikes on the actual tree trunk as well.

Any ideas?

*and they charged the people a dollar and a half just to see 'em!

Separated at birth, Nobel Prize Edition

Check it out people:

Newly minted Nobel Literature Laureate Mo Yan:


No wonder the Chinese government is actually happy about this Nobel winning citizen.

Stuck in the middle with you?

Duncan Black's median voter theorem is a classic result in voting theory. Anthony Downs extended the results to electoral competition.

In a nutshell, if there are two candidates competing for election in a one dimensional policy space, and voter preferences over the policy space are single peaked, the candidate that is positioned closest to the position of the median voter will win.

Heuristically, we might think that over the course of a campaign, candidates' positions might move toward that of the median voter.

But look at this amazing chart from Henry Farrell John Sides (clic the pic for an even more counterintuitive image):

What is up? Anthony Downs, you got some 'splainin' to do!


1. Candidates take non median positions to win primary, then are "trapped" at or near that position in the general election.  Perhaps, but these guys appear to be moving AWAY from the mean.

2. Voter preference distribution is not symmetric so average  does not equal median. Maybe, but it's hard to believe the median would be either more conservative than Romney or more liberal than Obama.

3. The policy space is multi-dimensional. This is my cherished view, on which I've written exactly one paper that only got published in a special issue of Public Choice that I edited (though it has been cited a few times at least. I always get bashed over the head with the Poole-Rosenthal work claiming that politics really is one dimensional.


4. Negative ads work. Black & Downs never conceived of the modern world of political attack ads.

Other thoughts? Tell me in the comments.

"What was that idiot thinking?" ~ future me about present me

Great article about problems with end of life directives. Turns out that our present selves are not very good about predicting what our future selves will want.

Money quote:

“Despite the prodigious effort devoted to designing, legislating, and studying of advance directives, the consensus of medical ethicists, researchers in health care services, and palliative care physicians is that the directives have been a resounding failure.”

The article reminded me of the excellent book, "Stumbling On Happiness".

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Are Workers in Finance "Over"Paid?

Wages and Human Capital in the U.S. Finance Industry: 1909–2006

Thomas Philippon & Ariell Reshef
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract: We study the allocation and compensation of human capital in the U.S. finance industry over the past century. Across time, space, and subsectors, we find that financial deregulation is associated with skill intensity, job complexity, and high wages for finance employees. All three measures are high before 1940 and after 1985, but not in the interim period. Workers in finance earn the same education-adjusted wages as other workers until 1990, but by 2006 the premium is 50% on average. Top executive compensation in finance follows the same pattern and timing, where the premium reaches 250%. Similar results hold for other top earners in finance. Changes in earnings risk can explain about one half of the increase in the average premium; changes in the size distribution of firms can explain about one fifth of the premium for executives.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

HIstory got sides?

"we want to go to our graves feeling we were on the right side of history" ~Tyler Cowen

(more here)

Now I hope Tyler lives a long and interesting life, but his language just reminded me of the incredible Mae Shi song "Run to Your Grave". I couldn't get it out of my head so I decided to share it with you people.

Money quote:

"Cause they're coming for your brain but
They will leave with your head
And they've got money and science
And they will leave you for dead"

Great quotes from the comments section of MR as well:

"Whichever way history runs, when you go to your grave you are on the wrong side of it". ~ Andrew'

I doubt that online education is really what you will be thinking about when you “go to [y]our graves” ~ Andreas Moser

Monday, October 08, 2012

What's your super-power?

Bill Clinton's is the ability to inhabit his wife's body at critical junctures:

Shows you what I know

Chavez wins 54% - 45%. Not really all that close. I really should just shut my yap at this point. I broke Munger's law and Gaddie's law and didn't heed Boz's wise voice.

I am a dope.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Culture that is Sweden: Lunch Lady Edition

A school chef in a town in Sweden has gotten a cease and desist order because her food is BETTER THAN WHAT IS SERVED IN OTHER SCHOOLS!

I am not making this up.

Apparently she produced a 15 item veggie buffet and fresh baked bread, while staying on budget.

No more.

The horror doesn't end here though,"Her traditional Easter and Christmas smörgåsbords may also be under threat."

Ecce Chavez

Today is election day in Venezuela. The opposition seems united, its candidate, Henrique Capriles, has run an energetic campaign and made a major comeback in the polls. Chavez has survived his health issues (so far), and the vote is expected to be very close.

While it is certainly fair to denounce the dramatic fall in economic freedom, personal freedom, and impersonal rule of law in Venezuela under Chavez, it is also important to remember that pre-Chavez Venezuela was not exactly a democratic paradise.

There is, after all a reason that Chavez was elected and re-elected and re-elected. People think Venezuela is a socialist dictatorship masquerading as a democracy (I don't think this is true), but pre-Chavez Venezuela was an oligarchy masquerading as a democracy.

While it may take 20 years to undo the damage Chavez has done to the economy and the rule of law, in the long run (40 or 50 years), I believe that Chavismo will prove to have been a net plus for Venezuela.

He broke the oligarchy. He gave voice and hope to millions of effectively disenfranchised people. I don't Venezuela can ever go back to the old ways again.

If I can get all Marxist up in here for a minute, to me something like Chavismo was almost an historical necessity for Venezuela given the abuses of the old regime.

For the big finish, I am going out on a limb and predicting a Capriles victory.