Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Philosopher Drinks the Porter?

An interesting theory.  Workaholics have something to do, alcoholics just drink.  But they are the same people.

This paper considers the role of alcohol in agency problems in order to provide an economic rationale for alcoholics and workaholics. In our model, alcohol reduces productivity, but also can make imbibers blurt private information. We show that in the optimal contract, low-productivity workers are compelled to over-indulge in alcohol, while high-productivity workers overproduce output. Thus, workers are made into “alcoholics” and “workaholics” depending on their productivity. We conclude that excessive drinking (working) may be the result, not the cause, of low (high) productivity of workers. 

Nod to Kevin Lewis 

Increasing the Liklihood of Connubial Noodling...

So, an article on what actually makes people, married people who have used up all the degrees of freedom in their years of marriage, more likely to interested in some vigorous cuddling.

1. Losing weight
2. Fresh bed sheets
 3. Winning a sum of money
 4. Night out with the girls
5. Hot bath
6. Work night out or work Christmas party
7. A new hair do
8. Having makeup applied
9. Workout at the gym
10. Closing a deal or completing a major task at work

1. Night out with the boys
2. Fresh bed sheets
3. Hot bath
4. Winning a sum of money
5. Sports team win
6. Losing weight
7. Work out at the gym
8. Driving a sports car
9. Closing a deal or completing a major task at work
10. Cleaning the house

As the NCM notes, interesting that "clean sheets" is high on both lists.  And, for what it is worth, I can say that if the guy needs to lose weight, and does, this can pay back with increased "interest" on the part of the lady.  As long as the sheets are clean.

The NCM suggest, in fact, that you guys should forget the etchings line.  Just tell the woman at the bar that your bathroom is clean, and you just changed your (very high thread count) sheets.  And then get lucky!

Monday, October 28, 2013

"I Quit" LIt

Professors quitting professing


Academe is a profession full of erudite free-thinkers who feel disillusioned by a toxic labor system in which criticism is not tolerated—so those who leave often relish the newfound ability to say anything they want (talking about “a friend” here). In its insularity and single-mindedness, academe is also very similar to a fundamentalist religion (or, dare I say, cult), and thus those who abdicate often feel compelled to confess. 

That may well describe English, and Literature generally.  The Humanities are much closer to a secular leftist religion than anything else.  No orthodoxies can be questioned.  So don't go into the Humanities.

But as you read the article, you'll note that a lot of those who "quit" didn't jump.  They were pushed. If it makes them feel better to say, "No!  I broke up with YOU!" then fine.

Nod to Anonyman.

Monday's Child

1.  Oh, man, I forgot to rent out the wedding hall.  She's gonna be MAD!  I know!  BOMB THREAT!  That'll save my bacon.  (If you are unmarried, this may seem implausible.  But imagine this:  "Did you remember to get the milk?"  [Husband hangs head, shuffles, mutters]  Wife:  "BOOM!"  So a bomb may not have been entirely out of line, given the answer to "Did you remember to rent out the wedding hall?"]

2.  Scott de Marchi's new favorite school.  Of course, Scott is actually "Wally," so he may not be around much anyway.

3.  The Joker costume was a nice touch. Pretty early for a Halloween party, though.  Are you sure that was a costume?  AAAIIIEEEEE!  The real Joker!  In Maine.

4.  Gravestone kerfuffle.  Sponge-Bob?  I guess the headstone has square pants, but....

5.  At least he was nice enough to shave it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Look, there are plenty of instances of real racism, without going this route:

The underlying question in the reaction to these incidents—and several similar other ones this year involving Latino players, including Puig—seemed to be why these players couldn't simply behave like they are supposed to? Why couldn't these guys play the game the "right way"? 

The framing of the incidents in this manner is ignorant and prejudicial. What exactly is the "right way" to play the game? Who decides what the "right way" is? And why can't bat flips and celebrations be considered the "right way"?

In the Dodgers-Cards series, Yasiel Puig got attention for being a jerk, and standing around home plate celebrating a ball that didn't even go out.  And he's a rookie.  Rookies don't act that way.  It's not about race, it's about status.  You don't act like you are all that until you are all that.  And THEN you don't act that way, because it's not baseball.

A case in point:  David Ortiz (that's Dav-EED Or-TEES, for you keeping score of Latinos).  On Wednesday night, he hit a single, and because his bat touched the Cards' catcher on the follow-through David looked back ON HIS WAY TO FIRST BASE and pointed, saying, "Sorry, man."  That's class.

And then Ortiz hit a home run on Thursday night.  In a scoreless game.  With his team behind.  In the WORLD SERIES. And he dropped his bat, and ran to first.  No celebration, no "I'm a badass" stuff.  Just did his job.  Watch the video.  Now, you can see that Ortiz wasn't sure it would go out, but it did go out.  Puig was sure it would go out, and IT DIDN'T.

If one of the greatest hitters, regular and post-season, in baseball history can act that way, surely the youngsters can, too.  This is not a racial matter.  It's a question of keeping your mouth shut and earning respect.  David Ortiz is a paragon of how the game should be played.  So is Carlos Beltran. The problem is youth.  The problem is Bryce Harper and Yasiel Puig.  Not Carlos and David.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Where will the growth be?

What nations will grow more free?  Bet on Borat!  An article to read....

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Cards Trivia!

 What to the 2006, 2011 and 2013 title runs all have in common?

The Cardinals switched closers in September!  
  • Jason Isringhausen went down with a hip injury in September of 2006 and the closer role went to Adam Wainwright
  • Jason Motte took over the closer role from Fernando Salas in September of 2011 as Salas lost effectiveness
  • Trevor Rosenthal took over the closer role for Mujica in 2013 as Mujica lost effectiveness (at least partly because he was hurt)
Switching closers is not usually a good thing. So presumably this is just luck. But it looked good last night!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween: Too Scary

Wow.  Universities are some loco parents, huh?

University outlaws controversial (?) Halloween costumes.

I guess this means I have to take back my "Sexy Illegal Immigrant Kardashian Gardener" costume. 


Some of you may be wondering if the Cards will collapse, now that they got a butt-whuppin' in game 1 last night.  You might want to watch this (if you can):  Cards skipper Mike Matheny takes a fastball to the face, and pretty much just says, "That's all you've got?"

Sure, he left the game, but he was spitting out teeth.  Matheny played ten innings the NEXT DAY.

Let's see what the next day brings for the Cards.  Nod to the Dutch Boy, who knows from tough (he's from Ocoee, ya know.)

An Interview with B. Nyhan

An interview with my Duke homeslice Brendan Nyhan.

Reflecting as always Brendan's painfully earnest view that better facts will give us better politics.  But to be fair there is also some interesting social science here:

They found that being told the scandal was false had some effect on participants’ belief in the story, but not nearly as much as being given an alternative explanation. “The innuendo significantly increased the perceived likelihood that Swensen was corrupt,” the authors wrote. “Disturbingly, this effect persisted in the denial condition; respondents who were told of Swensen’ s denial were still significantly more likely than controls to believe in the corruption story. However, the causal correction undid this effect.” 

Nyhan and Reifler recommended that alternative explanations be presented with corrections whenever possible. The experiment shows what fact-checkers are up against. When false information is let loose, it is very difficult to refute, especially when it corresponds to a preexisting narrative about a public figure.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Indie Truth Bombs

“Hear ye, Hear ye! We suck.”

Annals of internet greatness: guitar edition

First off, here's the most passionate guitar player in the world (if you only watch one video today, it should be this one):

Next up is the best semi-nude, stoned on thorazine, upside down guitar playing ever:

And finally, best guitar ensemble where the boys wear pantyhose:

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Father, the George Clooney, and the Dead George Clooney

Saw my first ever IMAX 3D movie yesterday.


Visually very cool and the effects were incredible.

I was surprised to discover though that the plot was straight out of the gospels.

Bullock is the burned out sinner, carrying pain and guilt.

First Clooney is Jesus, giving his life for her.

Then, on her deathbed, Bullock plays Pascal's Wager and Dead Clooney comes back as the Holy Spirit to enter her heart and teach her how to fly the busted thingie over to the other busted thingie.

Heck she even gets baptized at the end!

I can't believe Alfonso Cuarón gave himself a writing credit. Maybe "the apostles" will win an Oscar for original screenplay next year.

Tyler saw the book of Job, and indeed Bullock faces various tribulations, but I think this story is straight -up New Testament all the way.

Monday's Child

1.  The French assembly:  clucks.  It clucks. 
I'm always a bit surprised when American lefties try to admire France.  It is a bizarrely sexist culture.

2.  We have a quota for the number of people we keep locked up in expensive federal prisons.  Yes, we do.  Because Robert Byrd, ex-clansman, never really got over hatin' on brown folks.

3.  A new "type":  Slacker Millenial Guy.

4.  US gov shutdown delays "Space Night" relaunch.  I guess those poor Germans will just have to stick with THIS cult classic.

5.  Oreos are "as addictive as cocaine"?  I think not.  I'm sure some people really like Oreos, but "quitting" sugar isn't as catastrophic for the body as ending a cocaine addiction.

6.  Wolfy is not sure what "single digits" means.   (Or he thinks his listeners are that dumb).

7.  Those who can't do, teach:  Ethicists don't pay their registration fees at conferences, either.

8.  An excellent setting for a sci fi/horror film.  But a tough place to live, I would think.

9.  From an email sent to federal employees:

 OPM has prepared sample letters to creditors, mortgage companies and landlords for use by employees that need to make payment arrangements due to the lapse of appropriations. Please see attached. This afternoon, we provided these sample letters to agency chief human capital officers and HR directors to make available to employees. These letters are also available on OPM’s webpage

P-Kroog is likely right about this.  The stimulus may have been dumb, but this anti-stimulus is dumber.

10.  This is quite interesting.  As Buchanan-bashing goes, it is at least clever.  And I have long claimed that Marx, Stigler, and Tullock share quite a few premises, though not many conclusions.

11.  A very cool paper by Jonathan Anomaly.  In PPE.

12.  A provocative speech.  This whole "deserve" thing is pretty tough.  Lots of people believe that no one deserves anything, because we live in a giant hive.  And the hive gives us life, and deserves our loyalty.

13.  Kids prefer....free trade in cheese!

14.  I think was a mistake.  The show does not have to go on.

15.  I have never seen "Game of Thrones."  But it turns out that Boromir is in it!  Oh, and it's a theme park, on Bad Lip Reading.

16.  Brits don't eat frogs; only those nasty French do that.  Brits did eat toads, it appears.  Perhaps it was just a bunch of French tourists, however.

17.  Yale Professor surprised to find that Tea Party identifiers are above average in scientific acumen and intelligence.  Response:  Tea Party identifiers astonished that Yale Professor can find own bum with both hands.

18.  A restaurant in NYC where everything is locally sourced, and everyone is silent. Their web site....

19.  Teaching can work?

20.  This story is a little far-fetched.  I mean, we're supposed to believe someone went into a Barnes and Noble...to buy BOOKS?

21.  We need more elections like this.  The guy is running unopposed, but decided he wants to quit.  But he forgot to to have his name removed from the ballot. So this guy, the candidate, is trying to persuade to voters to write in someone else.

22.  Cat caught smuggling pot into prison.  (Jokes in comments, please!)

23.  This was about three minutes from happening to the LMM.  The arrival of the YYM was precipitate (but then the LMM spent an extra half hour blow drying her hair before we left for the hospital).

24.  Putin taught a crane to fly (?) last year.  But now it always gets lost.  A perfect metaphor for something.

25.  Famous brands/commercials updated with more honest taglines.

26.  Welcoming the dual-purpose chicken.  To Germany? It's actually a "super chicken," to be fair.  And who could forget that?

27.  Americans in need will find a way to sign up for Obamacare, the Atlantic says.  Then how come these same folks can't get an ID to go vote?  I don't understand... It's way, way harder to sign up for Obamacare than it is to get an ID.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Royals are Not Gluten Free

Raising awareness for those afflicted by Celiacs.  And a sense of sarcasm.

QOTD: Paradise Lost?

Tyler drops a truthbomb in the NYT:

Republicans will need to recognize that repeal of Obamacare should not be their obsession, because they would then be leaving the nation with a dysfunctional yet still highly government-oriented health care system, not some lost conservative paradise.

Amen. The pre-ACA status quo was a mess, there is no coherent Republican plan out there, and simultaneous control of the House, Senate and Presidency does not appear to be in the near-term cards for the GOP (nor even a veto-proof majority in both houses of congress).

The whole piece is well worth reading.

I am not sure of the procedure for Federalizing Medicaid, but the idea is a good one. Let the rich liberals pay for the poor in the red states!

And I'm already on record as supporting a less comprehensive but still mandatory insurance package.

While we are at it, let's throw in breaking the AMA stranglehold on the practice of medicine. More immigration, less strict rules about who can do what, even more entry into medical schools are all good ideas.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Markets in everything: Indie skins edition

People, Kevin Fennell is selling his drumset.

But he's no run of the mill Kevin, and these are no run of the mill skins.

He's the drummer for Guided By Voices and he used this set when they recorded "Bee Thousand" (among other awesome classic albums)!

Of course, he's not asking a run of the mill price, either.

The minimum starting bid is $55,000.



Auction ends October 24th so bid early and bid often.

Hat tip to Pitchfork.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wow! They Just Made It Up!

The U.S. government found it could not mistreat Mexicans enough under the actual U.S. law.  So they used a provision of the "Mexican Constitution" to make it easier to abuse people under Mexican law.

But they. just. made. it. up.

I understand that our government has done this to Native Americans residents, Chinese immigrants, the waves of southern and eastern European immigrants, and of course (most egregiously) Africans who "immigrated" in chains.  But I thought we had made some progress, at least toward rule of law.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Sustainable" is the New "Smurfy"

You likely noticed how the Smurfs used the word "Smurf" as an all purpose fill-in, a shibboleth, and a way connecting and showing how cool they were.  Of course, it can also be used in other ways, as in when Grouchy yells, "Oh, good Lord.  Who SMURFED?  That smells terrible."  Or when Neil Patrick Harris actually sang, "So, I smurfed her just a little kiss, like this!" while pretending to play "Walk this Way" on guitar.

Managers in all sorts of firms have found the words, "transitioning our core competency" to have the same effect.

Now, "sustainable" is the coolest, most meanlingless word in English.  It's the new Smurfy!

What is the most ridiculous use of the "sustainable" that you have seen, readers?

The trend is ominous.  And, like must UNsustainable trends, some people have seen it coming.

Queen my Spam! (You know, to make it funny)

Just got the strangest email.

Dear Webmaster, 
 I am Bryce Mills and I’m contacting you on behalf of MedExpressRx.com. 

While reviewing my site’s links I noticed that you’ve linked to my website on your following pages, http://mungowitzend.blogspot.com/*****

 Link Type: Blog Comment 

I would be very grateful if you could remove the aforementioned links from your website. These links may have been either submitted by our previously hired professionals or by third party SEOs. However these are against our company’s current SEO policies and thereby needs to be removed from your WebPages. 

It would be great if you could inform me about the link removal via email. 

Kind Regards, 
Bryce Mills, Web Marketing Team, 
Website: - www. MedExpressRx.com 
Email:- brycemills.med@gmail.com

I checked those links, and what happened is that this spamming fake medical company put up spamming fake "comments" on those two posts, to increase their Google ranking.

And now they want ME to go to those pages, and delete their spam.  Oh, and I should confirm back to them when I have finished that chore.  It's like some graffiti punk sprayed paint on my car, but now demands that I get the car repainted because his graffiti no longer pleases him.

I sent back an email saying that I would not be doing that.  And that I hoped they would send some additional communication, some kind of threat or attempt at intimidation.  Because then we would all be famous.

Some Students, You Just Can't Teach...

Perhaps the most famous scene from Cool Hand Luke...the "failure to communicate"

Sometimes teaching is like that.  The other day, I handed out an optional problem set.  I have 120 students in my "Econ for Non-majors" class.  Met the class 40 minutes early, before class really starts.  I would guess that 80 of the students were there, because there is a midterm coming up. My main theme has been, "You cannot memorize this.  You have to learn to work the problems, and shift the curves, by your intuition about how prices work!"  I spent 30 minutes on the problem set, and tried to get them really to understand how taxes and subsidies shift supply curves.  I thought it went pretty well.

I have a friend, a junior, in the class (almost everyone else is a freshman).  He came up after class  laughing.  Apparently one of the 40 or so students who did not come early came in, sat down, and asked her neighbor what was the subject of the problem set. The person who had been there--and had listened to me say, "Don't memorize!  Learn!"--told the latecomer, "Oh, not much.  He said remember that subsidies shift supply curves up and to the left."

AAAAAARGH!  She told her two things:  1.  Here is a fact to memorize (which I told them not to do).  2.  That "fact" happens also to be WRONG (which is WHY I tell them not to memorize).

Some students...you just can't teach.  But if this is how she wants it, that is how she is going to get it, come midterm time.  Sigh.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Senor Alcantara no se rie

Grand Game: LARB version

An article by James Harkin.  A delightful GG setting.  Extravagantly, profoundly, confused.  Confused in a way that makes you wonder how the poor author types, or is allowed to be near big shiny electrical things like toasters.

A discussion by Henry Farrell (himself not really a fanboy of Public Choice), at Crooked Timber, to get things started. I have to admit, Henry had me giggling and saying, "Oh, my goodness," or something like that.

With a nod to Kindred.

UPDATE:  Danny D catches the wave--Karl Marx is the new Dumbo Gets Mad, for hipsters.

Dickens Meets O. Henry Meets Stephen King?

This is a pretty strange story.  Forget "Tiger Mom," this is "Scrooge Mom." (and of course it may all be fictional...) The story.  The excerpt:

A Chinese woman lied to her daughter for over a decade and told her that she was not her real mother - in an effort to cultivate the girl’s independent spirit.  A woman surnamed Shen, a resident of China’s Shenyang city, married a wealthy man and had a young daughter named Cheng Cheng, Shenyang Evening News reported. Their family was well-off, and about 13 years ago, Shen began to fear her daughter was becoming spoiled and arrogant. 

To stop this behaviour and force her child to be independent, Shen adopted a particularly unorthodox parenting tactic. “Your real mother died a long time ago,” Shen told Cheng Cheng, who was about to enter fourth grade at the time. “I’m not your real mother. I’m just providing for your education up until you finish university. After that, don’t count on my help anymore." 

Cheng Cheng did not believe her mother’s words at first, but after Shen remained adamant in her claims, the young girl became shocked and confused. This confusion was only temporary. Soon after learning her “real mother” had died and Shen would not be around to provide for her forever, Cheng Cheng began studying harder, and her academic performance improved. Her arrogant traits also began to disappear, and the girl became “sensible and obedient,” the Shenyang Evening News reported. 

Eventually, Cheng Cheng chose to attend a boarding school for her secondary education, telling her mother she “wanted to live independently on campus.” This independent nature continued throughout high school, and after passing her university entrance examinations with high marks, Cheng Cheng was accepted into Dalian Jiaotong University with multiple scholarships. 

After graduating, her high grades earned her a spot at a software company in Shanghai. Only then did Shen reveal the truth to her daughter. After hearing that her “real mother” had not died and Shen was her biological mother all along, Cheng Cheng was once again baffled. She demanded to know why her mother had lied to her for so long.

 Imagine if Darth Vader had tried this!  Luke would have turned out WAY better.  "Luke....(whoooooooosh!)....I am NOT your father.....you are spoiled, arrogant and a terrible actor...(whoooooooosh!)...though not as bad as that guy who played me in the second and third movies....Anyway, I am not your real father...(whoooooooosh!).....Stop waving that arm stump at me, and grow a pair, you little pussweiler." 

Nod to Kevin Lewis.


I reproduce here, verbatim and without comment, an email I received through the Duke System of Public Adamance and Diversionary Environmental Symbolism.

Dear Faculty and Staff in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, I recently engaged in a friendly debate with my fellow deans at Nicholas School of the Environment and Pratt School of Engineering about which of our schools is the most engaged on the issue of sustainability. 

As you might suspect, I was adamant that we have the most committed and motivated faculty and staff when it comes to sustainability. My colleagues thought otherwise, so we agreed to settle it the old fashioned way -- through a competitive match up called Certified Sustainable: Battle of the Schools. I'm writing to ask for your help. The school that completes the most new sustainable certifications this semester will emerge the winner. From October 9 to December 4, we'll earn points for several sustainability certifications. Please select and complete the certification that applies to you from this list below.
  • Staff - Green Workplace Certification ­ Collaborate with coworkers to certify your workplace The first step is to register now for a staff sustainability workshop on either Oct. 14 or Nov. 11 
  • Staff & Faculty - Green Lab Certification ­ Collaborate with coworkers to certify your lab 
  • Faculty - Green Classroom Certification ­ Certify your Spring 2014 courses 

The school with that has completed the highest percentage of new certifications for which they are eligible will win $500 towards a celebratory event. Other prizes include Men's Basketball tickets, produce from the Duke Campus Farm, and more. These certifications are within reach for all of us, but they do take a bit of time and effort to complete. Let's get a head start now so we can earn our bragging rights once and for all. 

 Let's go Trinity College of Arts & Sciences! Many thanks! 
Laurie Patton 

Laurie L. Patton Dean of Arts & Sciences 
Robert F. Durden Professor of Religion 
Professor of Cultural Anthropology 

UPDATE:   A sharp-eyed reader noted that what Dean Patton may have intended was to assert that she was "Adam Ant."  To the extent that the contest is desperate, but not serious, I think this is likely true.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Less Government! (NOT)

Man, I really do dislike our Republican congress.

Democrats say they will take money from some people who earn it, and use it to bribe some other people to vote Democrat.  And then they do exactly that.  Honesty.  Sure, it's theft, but it's good honest theft, Chicago-style.

Republicans constantly whine about big government, and letting "the market" work.  But when they say "the market," they mean, "large corporations that pay us to protect them from competition."

This is one of the most egregious examples I have seen...since noon or so.  Wow.  Excerpt:

“By allowing more foreign sugar into the United States, we create unnecessary and hurtful competition.” What left-wing hater of business and free markets could have said such a thing on the House floor Friday? 

It was Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, who over his nine-year career in Congress has accumulated a 93 percent rating from the American Conservative Union. On Friday, he was thundering absurdly about the danger “of becoming dependent on foreign countries for what we eat.” 

 In mid-September, Poe became one of the early co-sponsors of a bill that would have funded regular government operations on the condition that all funding for Obamacare was cut off. He proudly posted on Facebook his vote to defund Obamacare. In that fight, where Republicans lacked the votes to win or even move the ball, Poe talked the conservative talk and helped mire Congress in a lengthy shutdown that at least one poll suggests is already hurting the conservative movement's Image and helping Obamacare's popularity rebound. 

But in the fight over America's agri-socialist sugar program – a fight conservatives could have actually won with considerable bipartisan support if they'd stuck together – Poe was helping lead the charge on the wrong side. 

The Repubs call ACA socialism...when it isn't.  Then they vote FOR socialism, as soon as they get a chance, supporting our state-owned agriculture system.  

Nobel Shout Out

So, the "Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2013" prize has been awarded.  The Bloomberg version.

I have met Hansen, don't know Shiller personally, and know Gene Fama pretty well.   And I am (as they say here in the South) tickled at this result.  In the early 1980s, I discovered Fama's work, and spent about five years reading it all.  I have kept up a little bit since, and I think the combination of insight, elegance, and empirical connection is just unparalleled.

Here, for example, Gene has a series of papers that completely changed the way I thought (and think) about non-profits.  Non-profits are NOT "non-profit," they just happen not to be equity-financed.  That has implications for the way they behave, what their goals are, etc.  But it does not make them immune from incentives.  Check it out:
  • Eugene Fama, "Agency Problems and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy (April 1980). 
  • Eugene Fama and Michael Jensen. "Separation of Ownership and Control", Journal of Law and Economics (June 1983). 
  • Eugene Fama and Michael Jensen. "Agency Problems and Residual Claims", Journal of Law and Economics (June 1983).  
(you may want to tack on Michael C. Jensen and William H. Meckling (1976). “Theory of the Firm: Managerial Behavior, Agency Costs, and Ownership Structure.” Journal of Financial Economics , to be fair).
Now, this is not a representative sample, by any means.  It is just where I came in, a self-contained little set of insights.  If you read those four papers, you will be a lot smarter.

I should add, I suppose, that Gene has been quite helpful in pointing out errors when he encounters them.  Pretty often, after I do an "EconTalk" episode, Gene will send an email that lists errors, factual or logical, that I have committed.  And he is, so far at least, always correct.

Congrats to Gene!

Monday's Child

1.  Domo arigato, grocery roboto.

2.  Antonin S is "glad I'm not raising kids today."  I agree.  I'm glad Tony is not raising kids.  It's a blessing for us all.

3.  Even by Nazi standards, this is pretty strange.

4.  Can racism be amusing?  In this case, yes.

5.  Dictators looking pretty good right now.  I wish the US had a better one, though.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

That Woman Who Walked by Must Have Been Quite Attractive

The LMM takes two photos in quick succession on a warm day on the Battery, southern tip of Manhattan.  Busted...

Unicorns, Rainbows, and the ACA

People, the rubber biscuits are out on the table. The Chicago Tribune is incensed that ACA plans with the lowest monthly premiums have the highest deductibles.

Really, they seem amazed that the world isn't made out of unicorns and rainbows, and they go looking for a scalp to put on the wall,

Plans with the least expensive monthly premiums — highlighted by state and federal officials as proof the new law will keep costs low for consumers — have deductibles as high as $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families, the highest levels allowed under the law. 

 Insurers say the price and cost hikes result from new benefit mandates, additional taxes levied as part of the law and a requirement that they can no longer deny coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions. 

 The vast majority of insurance plans for 2014 must include a list of 10 essential health benefits, some of which, like maternity care, weren't necessarily included in all health plans a year ago. The law also includes mandatory coverage of mental health and substance-abuse treatment, prescription drugs and rehabilitative care. All preventive care, including annual physicals and routine immunizations like flu shots, must be covered at no cost. 

 Further, insurers are required to take all applicants, regardless of whether they have pre-existing medical issues that may have locked them out of coverage in the past. And they're prohibited from charging their oldest, sickest members any more than three times as much as their youngest, healthiest members, causing premium prices to rise for many younger people. Costs associated with those mandates are passed along to all members of a health plan. 

Considering those factors, "the rates are actually quite reasonable," said Kelly Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the Illinois health insurance marketplace.

People, not even President Obama can defeat common sense and basic economics. If you increase demand (the mandate and subsidies) and expand the scope of the product (more required benefits), and disallow discrimination, then prices will rise. And if you squeeze the monthly payment down to make it look good, the deductible must rise.

I'm not saying any of the above actions are bad, I'm just saying it's nuts to think they'd be accompanied by lower prices.

I favor mandatory, high-deductible, insurance for everyone. Say a $10,000 deductible plan that covers major injury, illness, etc., just like we have for car insurance. I am less sure, but I think I'd even favor letting each state set the standard of what this bare bones coverage looks like inside its borders, just like we do for car insurance. You'd have to show proof of insurance to get a license, receive benefits, etc.

But instead of subsidizing the policies, I'd prefer to use the EITC or a basic income grant to deal with affordability issues.

Chevy: Losers wanted

Well Average is Over and Chevy has reacted appropriately.

If you are ugly, broke, unemployed, and hen-pecked, then the new Chevy Malibu may be just for you.

I am not making this up. They are flat out telling you:

Friday, October 11, 2013

This week's sign of the apocalypse

So one broke-ass para-statal firm made this product, and an incredibly useless, failing, fatuous government advisory board, doesn't like it.

No padding on the skateboarder, no helmet on the batter, cannonballs are dangerous, yada yada yada.

I've heard of the theory that video games cause violence, but stamps causing reckless behavior? Really?
Does anyone seriously think a postage stamp will get a kid to change their behavior?

I thought the damn government was shutdown, but apparently not the president's council on fitness sports and nutrition.

Shouldn't the nannies review products BEFORE they are produced?

And finally, if crap like this can happen, why do we even have (17%) of a government at all?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

How to stuff a screwed electorate

Yes people, I know things are tough around here. 17% of the government is shut down. The apocalypse awaits in a week.

But consider Azerbaijan, where they release election results before the voting takes place!

Alfred E. Neuman,  err, Inspector Clouseau,  err, this guy pictured here, has been "president" of Azerbaijan for 10 years, since his daddy appointed him to take his place.

Luckily for him, he pre-won reelection to another term. I bet he and his family were on pins and needles waiting to see how the pre-announcement would go.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The Drug "War": SO Proud of America

How bored does a cop have to be to spend hours entrapping an autistic, developmentally challenged, kid into buying weed?  Twice?

That cop could have been out doing warrantless searches in poor neighborhoods, or pulling guys over for "driving while [insert non-white skin color here]." 

You know, REAL police work.

P-Kroog, the Pot, and the Kettle

John Cochrane on prediction, and the slugfest.

A slug in the slugfest.

It would be nice if P-Kroog would write about economics.  He certainly knows very little about whatever it is that he is writing about now.

Nod to Gerardo

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Get It Together!

An open letter.  From all you folks who believe that some elaborate, efficient secretive conspiracy "runs" the government...

Nod to MAG

Monday, October 07, 2013

Monday's Child

1.  Not very subtle:  Russian tampon commercial.

2.  Investing out in the weeds?  Why not pot-focused equity management?

3.  Dude, I can't find my text.  Quarter-pounder with side of cops.

4.  I don't always agree with Andrew Sullivan.  But I often do.  He's got this right.

5.  The Heart Attack Grill:  serving death means never having to say you're sorry.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

I said, "more cowbell" NOT "more tambourine"

Don't Tase me, Rev!

In Edmund OK last summer, a parishioner was tased for playing the tambourine like Will Ferrell played the cowbell on SNL.

As usual, I am not making this up.

We take our religion very seriously here, so fair warning: conform or be tased.

According to the Oklahoma County Sheriff's department, the tase-ee "was not filled with the Holy Spirit".

Again I must stress that I'm not making this up.

Apparently in Edmund, being low on the Holy Spirit is a pepper-spray and tasing offense!

hat tip to RKG.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Seeking investors for my new business venture

If Ikea thinks they can sell solar panels in England, I can damn well sell ski equipment in Oklahoma! Check out the cool logo that RKG dug up for me:

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Annals of perplexing decisions: Ikea Edition

People, Swedish mega-retailer Ikea is going to start selling solar panel in their stores.......

but only in the UK.


Thats kind of like opening a ski shop in Oklahoma, innit?

All the government subsidies in the world won't help you if the sun never lights up the damn panels.

Maybe from the viewpoint of Sweden, England is a sunny tropical paradise?

A Very Special KPC Event: The Future of Angus

The roadkill gourmet.... Excerpt.

Cats, foxes, badgers, mice or dogs, killed and mangled by tires and left to rot by the side of the road. Most people simply drive past and feel disgust with perhaps a tinge of sorrow. But Arthur Boyt scrapes them up and has them for dinner. 

Roadkill eaters devour whatever they find. Boyt, 74, a retired researcher, collects the furry accident victims and takes them to his remote house in the beautiful county of Cornwall in southwestern England, the AFP reports. Then he gets to work skinning, gutting and, of course, cooking them. Proper preparation is especially important because some of the animals he finds have been dead for a few weeks. You can just pick off the maggots and worms, he says, and still enjoy the meat. 

"I've eaten stuff which is dark green and stinks -- it does appear that if you cook it well, its rottenness does not hinder one's enjoyment of the animal," Boyt told the AFP. "It's not in the taste of the food; it's in the head. It's a threshold you have to step over if you're going to eat this kind of stuff. You say 'OK, this is just meat.'" 

I predict that this will be Angus, after five years in the new house in Santa Fe.  Living off the land (well, the road) and taking advantage of all that gluten-free protein.  Well, not the Labradors.  One has to have SOME scruples. (Nod to WH)

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Compensating College Athletes?

A guest post from a reader, LAG. Please do respond in comments...

A Simple Solution for Compensating College Athletes 
By Leonard A. Giuliano

The question of paying college athletes has long been a favorite area of debate, but recent events have brought the issue into sharper focus. College football and basketball generate enormous sums of revenue and it seems only natural for the athletes to receive some of this windfall as compensation. But closer and informed analysis reveals the issue is not so simple. How much to pay the athletes? Should the fifth string left guard who rarely sees game action be paid the same as the star quarterback? Should swimmers, wrestlers and other athletes competing in non-revenue generating sports also be paid? Does Title IX require all female athletes to be paid if any male players are compensated? 

With the overwhelming number of schools losing money on athletics (only 23 out of 340 Division I athletic departments posted a profit in 2012), from where would the money come to pay the athletes? If only some schools could pay athletes, or could pay more than other schools, how would that affect competitive balance? Finally, with the cost of college education skyrocketing to upwards of $60k per year, is a free ride plus all the perks that come with college athletics not sufficient compensation? A simple solution could address all of these concerns and protect the value individual college athletes have accrued and risk each time they enter the playing field or arena: draft insurance. 


Not Even The Shaker-Down in Chief Can Raise Money?

I wonder if this is really true.  Given all the many corporations--in automobiles, banking, alternative energy, manufacturing, entertainment....-- that are essentially wholly-owned subsidiaries of the DNC, how could the POTUS not be able to use his "Nice factory ya gots dere.  It would be a SHAME if sumpin' was to...yaknowwadImean...HAPPEN to it?  Capisce?" rap?

But the DNC is spending so much money trying to keep its money-hungry satraps in power that it's nearly bankrupt. 

The Can Kicks Back!

Swindled.  The "millenials" should be pissed.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

A 7-Tuba Pile-up

Nod to the NCM

Warm Is as Warm Does

For the LMM who is almost always cold, and insists on putting her icy hands up under my shirt (not that that's so bad, mind you!)

Shared Neural Mechanisms Underlying Social Warmth and Physical Warmth  

Tristen Inagaki & Naomi Eisenberger 
Psychological Science, forthcoming 

Abstract: Many of people’s closest bonds grow out of socially warm exchanges and the warm feelings associated with being socially connected. Indeed, the neurobiological mechanisms underlying thermoregulation may be shared by those that regulate social warmth, the experience of feeling connected to other people. To test this possibility, we placed participants in a functional MRI scanner and asked them to (a) read socially warm and neutral messages from friends and family and (b) hold warm and neutral-temperature objects (a warm pack and a ball, respectively). Findings showed an overlap between physical and social warmth: Participants felt warmer after reading the positive (compared with neutral) messages and more connected after holding the warm pack (compared with the ball). In addition, neural activity during social warmth overlapped with neural activity during physical warmth in the ventral striatum and middle insula, but neural activity did not overlap during another pleasan t task (soft touch). Together, these results suggest that a common neural mechanism underlies physical and social warmth. 


Nod to Kevin Lewis

News vs. Risk Analysis

To sell stuff and get attention, you have to make people afraid.  Like this:  Parents-share-bed-with-babies-despite-risks-survey-says we will all die soon!  News at 11!

The actual data.  Click for an even less frightening image.  The "risk" has fallen, dramatically.

There is actually an AMA "Child Care Providers' Guide to 'Safe Sleep'".  I'm pretty sure I would sleep better if the medical profession would stop trying to make extra money by frightening people with half-truths and made up dangers.

Nod to SdM.