Saturday, March 23, 2013


Rituals Alleviate Grieving for Loved Ones, Lovers, and Lotteries 

Michael Norton & Francesca Gino

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract: Three experiments explored the impact of mourning rituals — after losses of loved ones, lovers, and lotteries — on mitigating grief. Participants who were directed to reflect on past rituals or who were assigned to complete novel rituals after experiencing losses reported lower levels of grief. Increased feelings of control after rituals mediated the link between use of rituals and reduced grief after losses, and the benefits of rituals accrued not only to individuals who professed a belief in rituals' effectiveness but also to those who did not. Although the specific rituals in which people engage after losses vary widely by culture and religion — and among our participants — our results suggest a common psychological mechanism underlying their effectiveness: regained feelings of control.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bastiat...the SOCIALIST?

So sayeth my good friend Sheldon Richman.

That … veil which is spread before the eyes of the ordinary man, which even the attentive observer does not always succeed in casting aside, prevents us from seeing the most marvelous of all social phenomena: real wealth constantly passing from the domain of private property into the communal domain. 

"Wealth marvelously passing from the private to the communal domain? It sounds like a socialist’s redistributionist fantasy! 

But wait — Frédéric Bastiat, the great laissez-faire radical, wrote those words in his book Economic Harmonies, chapter 8, provocatively titled “Private Property and Common Wealth.” 


I Learn My Place in the House Pack

I'm in my office at home, working on a paper, trying to finish it before I go to a conference.  The phone rings.  On the caller ID I see it is the LMM, calling from HER office...which is upstairs.  In the same house.  What the heck? "Hello, dear.  Is everything okay?"

She answers, in a low voice:  "Yes, it's fine.  Can you get me some more tea?"

"Um...all right, sure."  I go to the kitchen, which is downstairs, and get her a fresh cup of tea.  I take it up and put it on her desk..

She smiles, and says, "Thanks!  I would have gotten it, but I didn't want to wake the dog." Our new dog, Skip, was sleeping at her feet, and he follows her everywhere if she gets up.

I imagine that this was his reaction when he learned that he is above me in the dominance hierarchy of our house pack.  "Ha, ha, fat man!  I win!  Now make me some bacon!"

Click for an even more triumphant image.

Westboro Baptist Meet Rainbow House!

Battleship Cathy: SMBC Theater

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tunapanda Update From Jay Larson

This is really important.  Take a second, read the whole thing, and consider contributing.


Dear Friends & Family,  Since launching our Indiegogo campaign on Monday at 8pm Nairobi time (noon EST), Tunapanda has received an enormous amount of support and encouragement. We are very grateful, and are about to break $2000 in donations. If you haven't seen our video yet, check it out:

However, we will have to wait to manifest the impact of your donations until... tomorrow morning. Yes, we know, that's a long time to wait. We can hardly stand it. Time has slowed down, and it feels like the night before Christmas. Just kidding, we're pumped at the awesomeness and speed of technology and the internet. Tomorrow morning we're headed a few hundred kilometers from Nairobi to rural Elburgon, to spend all the donations we'll have received by then and deliver all sorts of stuff to our partner school, TIIT, including new computers, courses and open source software - we haven't actually been given the donations by Indiegogo yet, but our Kenyan self-taught-computer-entrepreneur friend in Nakuru, Solomon Gachugu, is a fan of Tunapanda's work and has offered us a 0%-interest loan until the funds arrive, as well as discounted prices, free setup and installation assistance - and an extra bonus if this 16-hour push is successful (link to more info below). Thanks Solomon!(more after the jump...)

A New Institution

Standing in line involves lots of deadweight losses, especially when the bureaucrat behind the window is doing something that takes a while.

So, human ingenuity comes up with a solution!

With thanks to WH

Paul Craig Roberts: The Failure of Laissez Faire

Paul Craig Roberts on his new book.  What do you think?  Was the financial crisis of 2008 caused by deregulation?  Or STUPID regulation?  I vote for B.  PCR votes for A.

The Fokken Twins Retire

In Amsterdam, the 70 year old Fokken twins, Louise and Martine, decide to hang up the garter after 50 years each as prostitutes.  Yes, those Fokken twins.  "People like twins."

A very cute interview with them also.  They enjoyed all the new people they got to meet, 350,000 people in fact.  "Hallooo!  It's far away!"  Sounds like Gumby Theater.

Nod to M.K.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Just in time for summer!

People, if KPC is linking to a piece called, "How to get the body you've always wanted", you KNOW it's gotta be self-recommending.

10 easy steps, no dieting, and very little exercise.

Rent seeking explained...

Do click for an even more dissipative image. The source for the cartoon is here, btw.

Oh, and the "movie" being referenced is "War Games," if you were not a nerd child of the 1980s.  The relevant scene is here.

MAD is not exactly the same as rent-seeking, of course.  If you want to learn more about rent-seeking you can go here.....or if you want something visual, that's not TOO abysmal, here.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Kyle Regan, a nice video from David Zetland on all-pay auctions and political lobbying.  Terrific.


Ownership and Physical Currency

Money is essential: Ownership intuitions are linked to physical currency 

 Eric Luis Uhlmann & Luke (Lei) Zhu Cognition, May 2013, Pages 220–229

Abstract: Due to basic processes of psychological essentialism and contagion, one particular token of monetary currency is not always interchangeable with another piece of currency of equal economic value. When money loses its physical form it is perceived as “not quite the same” money (i.e., to have partly lost the original essence that distinguished it from other monetary tokens), diminishing its intuitive link with its original owner. Participants were less likely to recommend stolen or lost money be returned when it had been subsequently deposited in an electronic bank account, as opposed to retaining its original physical form (Studies 1a and 1b). Conversely, an intuitive sense of ownership is enhanced through physical contact with a piece of hard currency. Participants felt the piece of currency a person had originally lost should be returned to him rather than another piece of currency of equivalent value, even when they did not believe he would be able to tell the difference and considered distinguishing it from other money illogical. This effect was reduced when the currency had been sterilized, wiping it clean of all physical traces of its previous owner (Studies 2a, 2b, and 3).

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Turn Off the Power? You Can't HANDLE Turning Off the Power

I'm embarrassed to admit I had not heard of "Earth Hour."  It would be funny, if it weren't so sad. is sad.  As Bjorn Lonborg puts it:

On the evening of March 23, 1.3 billion people will go without light at 8:30—and at 9:30, and at 10:30, and for the rest of the night—just like every other night of the year. With no access to electricity, darkness after sunset is a constant reality for these people.

At the same time, another 1 billion people will participate in “Earth Hour” by turning off their lights from 8:30-9:30.

The organizers say that they are providing a way to demonstrate one’s desire to “do something” about global warming. But the reality is that Earth Hour teaches all the wrong lessens, and it actually increases CO2 emissions. Its vain symbolism reveals exactly what is wrong with today’s feel-good environmentalism. 
Earth Hour teaches us that tackling global warming is easy. Yet, by switching off the lights, all we are doing is making it harder to see.

Notice that you have not been asked to switch off anything really inconvenient, like your heating or air-conditioning, television, computer, mobile phone, or any of the myriad technologies that depend on affordable, plentiful energy electricity and make modern life possible. 

If you want to turn 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


My friend Jay Larson has a new project, with his brother, to try to reduce the "digital divide."  Pretty interesting.  Give it a watch!

To get more people on the web, we need to go off the web and onto DVD. 

Dutch-booked by the Fuzz

The Mexico City police department is no longer satisfied with their normal routine of stopping motorists on the street hoping to hook un pez gordo for a hefty mordida. Now they are inviting you to be an active participant in your own shakedown by asking you to send them your GPS coordinates from your smartphone!

I am not making this up.

Please don't think, yeah yeah, ha ha, it is actually a good idea. As an ex-Chilango, I can assure you that letting the cops know (a) that you have a smartphone, and (b) where you got your shoes, is a very bad idea indeed.

Guaranteed Income Scheme By Morgan Warstler

Each of us can do our part to provide guaranteed income to the less fortunate.

Auction the unemployed.

Truthers: Death Star Was an "Inside Job"

Just implausible that a few single-man fighters could destroy an armored moon-sized battle star.  On the other hand, since this guy mispronounces "Alderaan," he may be part of the conspiracy.

With a nod to Dan Drezner.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Transcript of Pope's first audience with the Cardinals

Monday's Child is Full of Links

1.  ACA will tax medical devices....for dogs.  Yes, really.  Some medical devices COULD be used for either humans or dogs.  But even if it is provably being used for a dog, it will be taxed.

2.  Too ridiculous to be believed.  Unless the French are somehow involved.  And of course they are.

 3.  A lot of Senators aren't too bright.  And to be fair even the bright ones may simply ignore facts and go for ideology.  But NC's Kay Hagan establishes a new level of "She's either dumb or she just doesn't care." 

4.  "When you are done, just get up and leave."  Nope, not talking (just) about one night stands.  This new app for restaurants cuts down on waiting around to pay.

5.  My guy Salsman, in Forbes, on the Sequester.  Taking the KPC line, not surprisingly.

6.  It's like they WANT to be the paunch line of some joke.  Of all the things that Mississippi restricts, including morality, marriage, and Sunday alcohol, now they want credit for being libertarian?  Please...

7.  Stop using paper, Emma!

8.  The world hates the US like the US hates Duke in late March.

9.  Anthony Wiener spends more than $50,000 on getting his poll out.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Everything that's wrong with College Sports in one simple Slidehow

It's right here and it's from the NY Times.

Old dudes in suits making bank screaming at kids in shorts who get no paycheck.

Makes my skin crawl.

The real "madness" in March Madness is how excited everyone gets about this insidious arrangement.


The new mighty wonderdog in our house is Skip.  He's a rescue pup, five years old, ridiculously sweet.  But he's also a 70 pound lab/bull terrier mix, so it's a good thing he's sweet.  I think he could bite a basketball; his head is enormous, and it's full of teeth.

He's already hanging out with Tanzi, who looks skinny and frail beside him.  Fortunately, Skip recognizes that the girl is the boss, which is the general custom in our house.  One problem is that if you sit on the floor he imagines that this means you are a toy, or at least someone whose lap might now be occupied.  He's pretty serious about getting into your lap.

Is this Naomi Klein's Kickstarter?

Wow. Tyler von Strauss points us to a super-creepy kickstarter project:

(clic the pic for an even more inappropriate image).

I thought maybe it was just me and my weird ways, so I showed it to Mrs. Angus, who was horrified.

So, so, so wrong.