Saturday, April 27, 2013

Inside Baseball

Interesting.  Pittsburgh pitcher gives up leadoff homer, then second homer, then a single.  So, two runs in, man on first, to lead off the game.  No outs.

Pitcher then throws ball WAY up and in, could have hit Craig in the head if he ducked down.  An extremely dangerous pitch.

Generally, umps warn both benches in this situation.  But of course that allows the pitcher who threw the "purpose pitch" to get away with it, and prevents the other team from retaliating.  So, that's probably a bad idea.

Other two courses of action for the ump:
1.  Do nothing.  Let baseball work it out, with all the problems that implies.  The tradition is that somebody takes one hard for the other team, and it's even.  When this does not happen, people notice. 
2.  Toss the pitcher.  No warning, just toss him  And since this is unusual, you will almost certainly toss the manager also, who will be obliged to protest to protect his pitcher and avoid losing face in the eyes of his team. 

The point being that #2 is a pretty big deal.  I favor #1, for a first offense.  The ump, Timmons, chose #2.  Here is the video.  And here is a video of what happened later.  'Cause here's the thing:  Cards pitcher Lance Lynn hit Marte TWICE.  And then later a THIRD Pirates batter was hit, on an up and in pitch.  Three Pirates hit, no Cardinal ejected; one Cardinal hit, three Pirates ejected. (Here is the box score, if you want to follow the whole thing...)

My view?  Return to the Samurai code.  In hockey, they fight, they get it over with.  If you take a cheap shot, you had better watch your ass.  I understand that people get hurt if a baseball hits them.  If you think someone is intentionally throwing at a guy's head, you have to toss him.

The counterargument:  Batters increasingly are taking matters into their own hands.  Rather than accepting the Samurai code, they charge the mound.  And premium pitchers get hurt.

So, I have to say that umpire Timmons probably played this correctly, all the way down the line.  Except he should have ejected (Cardinal) Boggs when he hit (Pirate) Sanchez.  That ball was up and in.  Both times Lynn hit Marte, Marte swung into it.  The ball was inside, but it was on the hands and no way was it intentional.  When Boggs hit Sanchez, that was the third Card HBP, and it was up and in.  If you are going to regulate, you have to be fair, and allow the Pirates to save face.  Otherwise they to fight or throw at guys to defend themselves.

As it stands, the Pirates are pissed.  I think they are wrong about being mad about the Sanchez ejection, and the Hurdle ejection, and the Marte HBPs, and the Bell ejection.  But the Pirates are right, at the very least, about the failure to eject Boggs.  If you are going to use regulation to prevent fights, you have to punish the behavior, not the intent.  Up and in is an ejection, and Boggs threw it up and in.  Umps can't read minds.

Phishers use to take pride in their work....

Maybe I'm just getting old.  But Phishers used to take a little pride in their work, writing in actual English and having something plausible in the message.  No more.  I just got this:

Dear Duke webmail User, 
There are security check on our Duke webmail database system and have you online access disabled, pending the confirmation of you sign details. 

Click the link below to confirm and type in the confirmation number: 1265-6778-8250 along with various informations in the portal of entry. 

Click here http://****** 

Please ensure you username and password details are correctly, to avoid losing your email account access preturnally. However, your access would be restored after this confirmation.

 Duke Security Department. 

2013® services are provided by Duke.

Seriously? The email is "from" a young woman at Baylor Medical School (not her fault, obviously they are spoofing her email address).  But why would a young woman at Baylor Medical School be sending this out?  Wouldn't you at least take the time to spoof a Duke email address?

The sad part is that I'm sure that some of my...shall we say..."senior" colleagues clicked through on this.

Friday, April 26, 2013

How to build a passive house

This video is from our amazing architect, Vahid Mojarrab, and it shows the foundation and wall assembly of our passive house project in Santa Fe.


While this seems complicated, at the end of the day, we won't have a furnace or an air conditioner. All the heating and cooling needed can be provided by a single mini-split heat pump.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I'm so PROUD!

The YYM turned 21 a week ago.  A proud moment in a father's life, where there is an evolution of aging in baseball.  First, the kid is old enough to play t-ball, then baseball.  Then I got to coach various teams.  Then I got to watch him play on various teams, and excel in lots of ways.

And we got to watch games together.  First he was old enough not to spill the drinks when I brought them back to the seats.  Then he was old enough to win the "fast-pitch" competition (which he did at least a dozen times) down at the radar gun booth.  Then he was old enough to go get the drinks and hot dogs, while I relaxed in the seats.

Now, he's old enough to go buy the BEER while I relax in the seats.  A major step.  Really, all that's left is the day when he can PAY FOR the beers, because he has a JOB.  I do look forward to that final milestone.  That's spelled J*O*B, there, fella.

In the meantime, though, we sponsored a party for him, and 50 or so of his friends, at Metro 8 Steakhouse.  Rented the whole place, from 10 pm until much later (shared with two other friends with "close" birthdays, I should note).

And how did the YYM chose to dress to honor this rite of passage into alcohol-legal adulthood, at a swank steakhouse?  He did what any proper Munger child would do.  He dressed (apparently, according to this underground cell phone image) as a cow.

Good one, YYM. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Roundest Thing In the World

Grave!  A kilo.  And now the roundest thing in the world.

Some pretty interesting stuff.

You are not a REAL Libertarian

It is true enough that I rarely go to Libertarian Party meetings anymore.  There are lots of reasons.  And about half of them can be found in this video...

Neanderbill and I were talking about this just the other day, in fact.  We are just not welcome.  Here's why...A whole lot of people have this view, literally, of the Nolan Chart.

And, yes, by that standard, I'm a socialist. To see if YOU are a socialist, take the quiz!

UPDATE:  Let's be careful.  1.  I'm a libertarian (small l). 2.  I consider myself a Libertarian (big L).  I'm registered LP, and I contribute to the party and to candidates.  3.  The point is that I often get TOLD by LP folks that I don't belong. 

We spend more time checking for "yo papiss, pliss!" at ideological checkpoints then we do actually trying to grow the party.  So I just stay home and write stuff.

The Case Against Patents

The Case against Patents 
Michele Boldrin and David Levine 
Journal of Economic Perspectives, Winter 2013, Pages 3-22 

Abstract: The case against patents can be summarized briefly: there is no empirical evidence that they serve to increase innovation and productivity, unless productivity is identified with the number of patents awarded — which, as evidence shows, has no correlation with measured productivity. Both theory and evidence suggest that while patents can have a partial equilibrium effect of improving incentives to invent, the general equilibrium effect on innovation can be negative. A properly designed patent system might serve to increase innovation at a certain time and place. Unfortunately, the political economy of government-operated patent systems indicates that such systems are susceptible to pressures that cause the ill effects of patents to grow over time. Our preferred policy solution is to abolish patents entirely and to find other legislative instruments, less open to lobbying and rent seeking, to foster innovation when there is clear evidence that laissez-faire undersupplies it. However, if that policy change seems too large to swallow, we discuss in the conclusion a set of partial reforms that could be implemented. 

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Capex implosion

New durable goods orders were down 5.7% in March. Yikes!

But the sequester.....

Excluding defense, they were down 4.7%

Is it going to be another spring swoon and summer of discontent? Will Joe Biden have to go back out on the road?

Or has the new housing bubble stoked the economy sufficiently to continue its vaguely upward drift?

Tell me in the comments.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rebecca Martinsen's Sorority Letter

Some background, to make things clearer.

And then... a remarkable dramatic reading, by Michael Shannon, who you may remember from the movie Premium Rush.

A warning:  Before you watch the dramatic reading, do know that this is so NSFW that it makes NSFW look SFW.

There is a phrase in this letter that will change your life.  I have no idea what it means, or how it would work, but it sounds terrifying, to be punted that way.

With a nod to Kuhn's Progress.

Betsy Does A Nice Wrap-Up

Betsy Newmark does a nice links-based wrap-up on the Obama Administration, from a number of different perspectives.

Depressing.  He is really a terrible president.  Sure, Dirty Davey is going to say "George W. Bush!  George W. Bush!"  Okay, so you think Stalin is better than Hitler.  That's no reason to be happy.


I had not been keeping up with this.

Have to admit, I am ashamed of Duke at this point.  I have often defended Duke's record during the lacrosse scandal, blaming it mostly on the fact the prosecutor actually lied about facts, and made things up.

Sure, some (not a lot, but some) faculty said things that I regret, even if they don't.  But a number of Duke administrators (particularly Provost Peter Lange) actually behaved admirably, and they don't always get proper credit.

But this...gosh.  Full disclosure:  I consider KC Johnson at somewhere between acquaintance and friend, and I have known him for quite a while.  So perhaps I'm biased.  I'll let you decide.

As for me, I'd say Duke acted badly here.

The Bloody Video Game Company

I like Curt Schilling.  I like Rhode Island.  But what Curt Schilling did to Rhode Island...or rather what Rhode Island apparently begged Curt Schilling to do to Rhode Island...well, it's just what a whole bunch of other "limited government" people have done as soon as they get a chance to have unlimited government help.  Excerpt from the NYTimes story:

Even in a state that long served as New England’s Mafia headquarters — and a state whose best-known modern political figure, Buddy Cianci, the former Providence mayor, was sent to prison in a federal corruption case known as Operation Plunder Dome — the 38 Studios debacle has registered as a painful embarrassment. (When I called influential Rhode Islanders and told them I was writing about 38 Studios, virtually all of them, even if they had opposed the deal, answered with some version of, “Do you have to?”) 

 Rhode Islanders are used to being played by their politicians. What makes them cringe is the suspicion that virtually all their elected leaders might have been played by someone else. 

More people on the right need to recognize the truth of this statement:

“There is some justification at least in the taunt that many of the pretending defenders of “free enterprise” are in fact defenders of privileges and advocates of government activity in their favor rather than opponents of all privileges. In principle the industrial protectionism and government-supported cartels and agricultural policies of the conservative groups are not different from the proposals for a more far-reaching direction of economic life sponsored by the socialists.” - F.A. Hayek, page 107 , Individualism and Economic Order

In some ways, I prefer the folks on the left.  They say they are going to use the state to run the economy, and they do that.  The phonies on the right say they favor free enterprise, but that quickly turns into a different kind of "favor."

Nod to Webster and Main

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Paco has landed

Sorry for so few posts lately. Life is a little chaotic with the end of the semester combined with the arrival of an 8 pound wrecking ball named Paco!

(Clic the pic for a more squirmy image)

He is doing quite well for having no mom and just being separated from his siblings (and of course infinitely better than he'd be doing if he was still stuck in that kill shelter in Texas).

Moral Licensing

People compensate.  If they save water, they use more electricity, because their "budget" of moral behavior is increased.  It should be possible to decompose this into "price" and "moral income" effects.  In this case, the weekly feedback raises the "price" of using water, but substituting away from water results in using more electricity.  Since they are not substitutes (or are they?), it sounds like an income effect, right?

For better or for worse? Empirical evidence of moral licensing in a behavioral energy conservation campaign 

 Verena Tiefenbeck et al. Energy Policy, June 2013, Pages 160–171 

Abstract: Isolated environmental campaigns focusing on defined target behaviors are rolled out to millions of households every year. Yet it is still unclear whether these programs trigger cross-domain adoption of additional environment-friendly behaviors (positive spillover) or reduced engagement elsewhere. A thorough evaluation of the real net performance of these programs is lacking. This paper investigates whether positive or perverse side effects dominate by exemplifying the impact of a water conservation campaign on electricity consumption. The study draws on daily water (10,780 data points) and weekly electricity (1386 data points) consumption data of 154 apartments in a controlled field experiment at a multifamily residence. The results show that residents who received weekly feedback on their water consumption lowered their water use (6.0% on average), but at the same time increased their electricity consumption by 5.6% compared with control subjects. Income effects can be excluded. While follow-up research is needed on the precise mechanism of the psychological process at work, the findings are consistent with the concept of moral licensing, which can more than offset the benefits of focused energy efficiency campaigns, at least in the short-term. We advocate the adoption of a more comprehensive view in environmental program design/evaluation in order to quantify and mitigate these unintended effects. 

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Monday's Child is Full of Links

1.  Why Angus will never be able to visit Saudi Arabia:  No handsome men allowed.  Pelsmin discovered that having a "Ben-Gurion airport" entry visa apparently makes you extremely handsome.  He was not allowed into the country.  El Guapo!

2.  Headline meme:  Chlamydia is Killing Koalas...

3.  Marc Bellamare is a great American.  Well, he's Canadian, but he's great.

4.  Great scientists are creative, but graduate schools select for people who are good at math.  The two can be related, but they are not identical.

5.  "Rule of Law" may be necessary, but it's not sufficient, for growth. In fact, it may not be necessary.

6.  "Three Strikes" laws are barbaric...and wasteful.

7.  The Ivory Fortress...what is the relation between scholarship and journal publications and science?

8. The top 10 "Private Equity Loopholes" for you.  Okay, I'm kidding.  They are NOT for you.  You lose.

9.  My state's new faculty attack squad.  Why don't they think this is a problem, using state funds for partisan purposes?

10.  The Onion discovers the Denzau-Munger model...

11.  How rocking a baby is like grabbing a baby mammal by the neck...

12.  Pragmatic advising on PhD/grad school:  to be, or ABD?

13.  Cupcakes fall, investors get frosted.

14.  I hope this is a parody.  I realize he writes for Reuters, and if he were smarter he'd have a better job.  But...still, I hope it is an intentionally ironic bit.   Couldn't even play "Grand Game."  More like "Pathetic Troll."

15.  Flying money, in Raleigh.  Woman leaves purse on top of car, apparently $300 in purse goes flying.  I know some women who might do this.  Not naming names, but you know who you are.