Saturday, August 03, 2013

Modelled Behavior

Our architect Vahid Mojarrab made an awesome scale model of our Santa Fe house:

Here's the top view. The slanty panels are solar for hot water and to provide all the electricity needed for the house (clic the pics for more detailed images).

We like how plantings can rise right up through the architecture.

Here's the front:

and the back:

The big window is 9 ft x 14 ft.

Bruce Yandle BRINGS It on the B&B Meme

Just tremendous.  Bruce is a national treasure.  And cute, too.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Carlin on Arrogance

Dutch Boy sends this clip of George Carlin on human arrogance.  I had forgotten how Hayekian this clip (which I have seen before, but not for a long time) is.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

A Great Political Economy Video on Ganja

The economics and politics of marijuana laws, through the oddly animated eyes of our friends in Taiwan.

Baptists and bootleggers, every time.

Nod to MK.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bungee Bachelor!

The poor guy.  His "friends" convince him that marriage is like a blind bungee jump.  So, to prepare him for that metaphor, it just makes sense to do that really:  A blinded bungee jump into a ravine.

And that's what he thinks he's doing.  It takes him awhile to be willing to give it a shot.

I guess this is a tradition in Norway.  A little odd....
But then, we have dealt with the oddity of Norway before in this space, in the butter crisis.

Jurassic Nest

A video about a truly gigantic (and very dangerous) yellowjacket nest....hive....metropolis.  Ugh.

More of the

Nod to Prof. Newmark.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

This week's sign of the apocalypse

People, if crap like this can happen IN AMERICA, why do we even have a government at all?

Actually, Not That Hard to Figure Out

This person is confused about why the sign below would have been put up.

I can help out by explaining, ma'am.  There is essentially no economic justification for wind power in most of the places it is being "used."  It is expensive, noisy, and inefficient.  It uses, if you account for the costs of placing, repairing, and decommissioning the wind "farms," and putting out fires, FAR more energy than it produces.  There were questions from the outset, as here.   If you actually wanted relatively safe, clean energy, you'd favor nuclear power, as here.  Wind power is actually dangerous, in addition to being a waste of money.

Thus, the only reason that states and counties get all tarted up in red lipstick and short skirts to attract those wind-sailors is the federal and state subsidies, which are enormous distortions of actual investment incentives.  That is, you can "make money," but only by pimping out your land to create noise, fire, and environmental damage.  There is no energy payoff, so you are just doing it for the quick subsidy cash.  I hope that clears it up, ma'am, and perhaps you should read something other than Daily Kos-titute.

(Nod to RWA)

Sydney Waterfront

Okay, yes, pretty touristy.  But the Opera House and the skyline/bridge are quite pretty at night.  So here you go.

The opera I saw was Don Pasquale.  They guy who played Ernesto was Korean, which seemed strange at first.  But, gosh, what a voice. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday's Child

1.  Black boxes for cars?  It's likely to protect better drivers.  And privacy is long gone, in transport.

2.  Nice move by Dad here.  "Honey, this completely realistic, virtual-functional 737 cockpit I'm building is for the kid!  I just have to check it out first, to see if it's safe.  Vroom!  Vroom!"

3.  Batman and Superman, together again for the first time.  That sounds pretty awful.

4. Norm Macdonald's monologue from the 1998 ESPYs.   A hard-to-find classic bit from the ancient past of ESPN.  And they will never, ever, ever, get back together. Very NSFW.

5.  Clearly, my own megalomania would enjoy this.  I have to find a way to make it happen, though not soon.
MUCH...MUCH MORE after the jump...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Heavenly Convergence

Two of my favorite web sites are:

SMBC by certified nut (and I mean that in a loving way) Zach Weiner

Popehat by the legal equivalent of the "Island of Misfit Toys"

Those two sites, each in its own way, are pretty much the coolest things on the interwebs, for linking extreme bitterness and cynicism with a strong sense of indignant outrage.

And, mirabile dictu, there is an awesomely awesome post by Clark of Popehat, riffing on SMBC.  Of course, both posts themselves are deeply depressing.  But the convergence is most excellent.

Nod to Angry Alex, who--if there were an Island of Misfit Toys--would be Mayor.

A member of the Freude family: Meet my friend Schaden

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is big on pushing this pet project: “the Alternative Energy Future."  It's certainly true that it's easier to imagine different energy sources when you aren't bound by physics or chemistry.

Amusingly, it turns out that the longtime director has been big on pushing her own pet project, "the Alternative Resume Past."   It's certainly true that it's easier to make up degrees and accomplishments instead of actually graduating or accomplishing.

A nod to WH.

Fed Fatigue

The Econ blogosphere has erupted over the apparently heinously inconceivable idea that Larry Summers might be the next Fed chair.

Here's Ezra on the situation:

As far as I can tell, there’s almost no one in the economics blogosphere who wants to see Larry Summers named as Ben Bernanke’s replacement. The bulk of opinion ranges from relative indifference between the two candidates (“as we know there’s no real daylight between Yellen and Summers“) to extremely strong anti-Summers opinions (“Larry Summers will destroy the economy“) — with much of the latter being driven by Summers’s record on financial regulation. Tyler Cowen is almost alone in holding up the pro-Summers end of the argument.

Personally, I'm a Bernanke guy. I think he did an amazing job in the height of the crisis and would love to see him take another term. But I'd be fine with Larry Summers (I'm sure Larry is breathing a sigh of relief now that he knows) as Chair. I'd be fine with Yellen too, though I worry that she thinks the Fed can do more than it actually can (at least such a belief is not likely to be very harmful in the near term at least).

But, all the commotion about who's going to be the next Chair is way overblown. It's just not that important, for two reasons. First, the Fed is not independent of politics and without big political change there is not going to be big monetary policy change. Second, the ability of monetary policy to reliably guide the real economy is much more limited than most people want to believe.

On the Fed and politics, you can start here, or here.

As a quick example, consider the "Volcker disinflation" in the early 1980s. Big Paul took office in 1979 and announced in October that the Fed would focus on monetary aggregates and lower their growth rates. However, the actual policy of lower money growth didn't happen until after the election in 1980, which installed a conservative Republican president and a Republican majority in the Senate. In the year between the announcement and the election, monetary growth was unchanged from the previous two years. In the year after the election, monetary growth was only half as fast.

On the limited power of monetary policy to control the real economy, you can start with Adam Posen's recent review essay. Here's a good bit:

Indeed, central bankers should be far humbler today than they were in recent decades, when some claimed credit for the so-called great moderation, the period of reduced economic volatility that lasted from the late 1980s to the early years of this century. It is now clear that the prosperity and stability much of the world enjoyed during those years were largely the result of good luck.

In my view, Posen, if anything is overstating the power of monetary policy over the real economy.

Consider post 2007 US monetary history. The Fed promptly took the policy rate to zero. We still had big problems. So the Fed started QE. We still had big problems. So the Fed did further rounds. We still had big problems. So the Fed tried forward guidance. We still had big problems. So the Fed tried outcome-based as opposed to calendar-based forward guidance. Guess what? We still have big problems (I know, counterfactuals are a b**ch, but the Fed clearly didn't fix things).

You may say, "but recoveries after financial crises are always slow". But people, that's just another way of saying that Central Banking is not that powerful when it's most needed!

You may say, "but they should have done more and that would have fixed things".

That's borderline epistemic closure. "The right monetary policy can do anything. The economy is not fixed, so the right monetary policy was not employed", is going to be pretty hard to ever disprove.

I think some of the Summers backlash is because Larry understands that the power of monetary policy for the real economy is rather limited.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, "On Liberty."  I had never seen that before. Kudos to my good friend David Hart, for this and all the great work he does at OLL

 7. The rights of man in the present state of society,
are only to be secured by some degree of coercion to
be exercised on their violator. The sufferer has a right
that the degree of coercion employed be as slight as
8. It may be considered as a plain proof of the
hollowness of any proposition, if power be used to
enforce instead of reason to persuade its admission.
Government is never supported by fraud until it cannot
be supported by reason.

But it's all good.  ATSRTWT.