Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Let's get real about ISIS

Some refreshing straight talk about the "axis of death" from the war nerd:

"They’re misogynistic swine, but they’re also really the most overrated, over-hyped bunch of hams this side of WWE. And when more people realize that, IS will lose their best weapon, their terror-propaganda. Without that, they show up as what they are: a mid-size Sunni militia with a knack for child-rape and no skills against anyone who doesn’t fall for their death-metal hype."

The whole article is well worth reading.

Relatedly, Gary Kasparov opines that Putin is more of a threat to the US than is ISIS. I agree, with the addendum that Putin isn't any real kind of threat either.

Hat tip to @noahpinion

Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday's Child

1.  Take this job and....

2.  Send him to Dettor's prison!

3.  I'm going to guess that Diana is happy, too, Mike.

4.  These two crazy kids, on the other hand, are cute.  I bet he talks about feelings.  Okay, he can't hear, but you see what I mean.

5.  Okay, as long as it's not fracking...."Streamers" are what they call the flaming birds as they sail toward the ground.


Friday, September 26, 2014

So Proud of....CLEMSON!

When sex is outlawed, only outlaws will have sex.

And Clemson wants to outlaw sex. 

Why do states allow their universities to be taken over by these sorts of administrators?  Because most people don't want to go into administration.  Do you?

Then you had better get ready to fill out your survey.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Biocultural Origins of Human Capital Formation 

 Oded Galor & Marc Klemp
NBER Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract: This research explores the biocultural origins of human capital formation. It presents the first evidence that moderate fecundity and thus predisposition towards investment in child quality was conducive for long-run reproductive success within the human species. Using an extensive genealogical record for nearly half a million individuals in Quebec from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, the study explores the effect of fecundity on the number of descendants of early inhabitants in the subsequent four generations. The research exploits variation in the random component of the time interval between the date of first marriage and the first birth to establish that while higher fecundity is associated with a larger number of children, an intermediate level maximizes long-run reproductive success. Moreover, the observed hump-shaped effect of fecundity on long-run reproductive success reflects the negative effect of higher fecundity on the quality of each child. The finding further indicates that the optimal level of fecundity was below the population median, lending credence to the hypothesis that during the Malthusian epoch, the forces of natural selection favored individuals with lower fecundity and thus larger predisposition towards child quality, contributing to human capital formation, the onset of the demographic transition and the evolution of societies from an epoch of stagnation to sustained economic growth.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My True Calling?

This is what I ought to be doing:  saving people by firing little blue balls of blazing energy, and knocking them down like ten-pins with my jacket.

Or so says my good friend Prof. Anomaly.  Fight!

Monday, September 22, 2014

An Abusive Relationship. But So Hard to Leave....

Monday's Child

1.  In the long run, all forecasts are dead.

2.  "I protest you!"  "No, I protest YOU!"  Or something like that.

3.  When ultimate frisbee is outlawed, only outlaws will play ultimate frisbee.

4.  But the pension funds were just SITTING there....

5.  The AVERAGE waist size for men is 40 inches?  I'm not sure that Angus, Ms. Angus, and the LMM together add up to 40 inches.  And I'm a fat man and my waist is 38 inches.  How can the average be 40 inches?  Good lord, people, go for a walk!


Friday, September 19, 2014

Got mashed potatoes: Florida or Ohio edition

OK people, here's the story of a "glass half empty" kind of guy. Your mission, as always, is to discern whether he's from Florida or Ohio.

A 60-year-old .... man is charged with calling 911 eight times in two hours to complain that he had food but no refrigerator.

Would a picture help?

Here's the source code.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

This week's sign of the Apocalypse

I wear a colander on my head because........


Shawna Hammond says she did it to make a statement. Under Oklahoma laws, your driver's license picture cannot have shadows and your face cannot be obscured. The colander met the requirements.
Hammond is an atheist, but she told the department of motor vehicles that she is a "pastafarian." She says she believes no one should be forced into religious beliefs.

"For me the colander represents freedom, our freedom of religion and to whatever religion we prefer or even lack of religion," she said.

More here.

People, if crap like this can happen, why do we even have an official State Religion at all??

Hat tip to E.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Florida or Ohio?

Here's the event:

Police called over Hot Pockets dispute

Your task is to decide in which of the two great states mentioned in the title, this epic adventure occurred (no googling)!

Answer is here.

The article is so unsatisfying to me. What was the nature of the dispute? Was one individual trying to force another to eat a hot pocket? Was it a two girls, one hot pocket situation? Was someone trying to shoplift a hot pocket?

I need more info, please.

Hat tip to DC

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Let my people go!

All over the interwebs, people are up in arms about Scottish independence, including a particularly hot take from LeBron this morning:

I wonder what all these people think of American independence?

Irish independence?

Indian independence?

Here is a good rule of thumb. England is a sphincter country. If you get a chance, run, don't walk, away.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday's Child

1.  And his dog is named "Dog," I bet.

2.  Either the Millenials are weird, or I am.  Don't think we should rule out "B."

3.  Dread Pirate sunk by CAPTCHA.  Garrrrrrr......

4.  When does body hair become body art?  My answer would have been "Ewww!  Never!"  And as usual, I would have been wrong.

5.  Standardized tests can fix this?  Meaning, this?

6.  "What were you THINKING?....This is EXASPERATING!"

 7.  A guide:  "How to be Bill Murray."

8.  A brush with selfies....

9.  It takes a mentor.  As in, "Hey Mikie, He's so fine, talks to B**** All the Time!"

10.  Painfully cute.  And "you have to be demented to get married, anyway!"

11.  Why would you want a car?  You could have a full-time limo on demand, for $1m.

12.  I'm going to guess:  alcohol was involved.

13.  "Police saw a dreadlock sticking out of the dryer door."

14.  A small class is one that most students are not in.

15.  Sounds like a really, really bad reality show:  Grover Norquist goes to Burning Man.

16.  I am a bad person.  My evidence is that I find this amusing.   Or, at a minimum, interesting.  Is he serious, or trying to build (as he says) an on-line persona?  Case in point:  Is he trying to be clever?  Original?  Or can he really not spell "Cereberus"?  If Cereburus is his unique on-line persona...then here that is.

17.  The single oddest thing I have learned about animals since....since...well, since this. The very last fact is...wow.

18.  So, it is a 100-foot-long brat, or 200?  There is some confusion. Article title says 100.  But the bread is 200.  I want to know, now.

19.  Apparently, being an idiot is exhausting.

20.  Repel borders!

21.  Another year, another remarkably botched hurricane prediction.  No named storms.  The prediction was 8 to 13 named storms.  Unless there are more.  Or fewer.  Makes economists look like good forecasters.

22.  Asian Black Burger.  It may be good.  It does not look good.  Just looks too burnt. Although I have to suggest that if this panda would eat "Black Burgers" instead of bamboo, it might be easier on her teeth.

23.  A lesbian woman and a woman with a freakishly outsized behind conduct a battle to see who knows more words for "bottom" following a video in which a man compares his manly parts to an anaconda.  Not for the faint of heart.  Neither is this.  Ellen does her best to respond.

24.  We kick 'em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger.  So I guess this dinosaur-hippo would have made it past the velvet ropes.

25.  The pup would prefer NOT to leave, thank you.

26.  All about that bass.  When I saw this in print, I actually that it was about fishing.   Why is it okay for women to be so obsessed about bottoms, but if *I* look at one it's all bad?

27.  If this can happen, why do we even have a state in the first place?  Indignities piled on top of offenses against nature.

Headline:  Mysterious Men Dropping From Helicopters...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

So you think you can Mungowitz

People, this is EXACTLY how Mungowitz tends the pin when you golf with him.


Every time.

Sure it seems cute, but believe me, it gets pretty old by the 5th hole.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The simple economics of adjunct abuse

Let me start out by saying I can't imagine how much it would suck to work your butt off, go through grad school, get an advanced degree, and then end up teaching as an adjunct for $2000 / class with no benefits, no job security, and if the situation persists for more than a couple of years, little hope of getting a tenure track position.

But basic economics gives us a reason why the pay is so low and the benefits so miserly:


The real culprits here are indeed universities. Not the ones that hire adjuncts at low pay, rather the ones who continue to recruit students and turn out MAs and PhDs into a market with little demand for them.

Even though universities are seemingly hiring more adjuncts than ever, adjunct wages are not rising because the supply is expanding just as much.

If schools couldn't fill their teaching schedules at these low prices, then they would have to raise the offered wage.

The problem of adjunct abuse will only be resolved by reducing the excess supply of advanced degree holders.

People, if you expect to get an academic job out of grad school, investigate the job placement records of the programs you are considering. When you pick an advisor, investigate the job placement record of that faculty member.

Don't settle for anecdotes. Get the real, full, data. And be realistic. If they "always place their top students" realize that it might not be you (and that the definition of "top student" may simply be the one who got a job).

When you think about how to spend your time during your graduate program, think about what activities will make you more attractive to academic employers (hint, it's probably not your transcript).

In my field of economics, that means get some teaching experience and try to get at least one publication before you hit the job market. The less prestigious your school, the more important this self-certification of quality becomes.

Monday, September 08, 2014

I'm sure that you don't have to be an aggressive authoritarian leftist to be Prez at Berkeley.  But apparently it does help.

Ken gives details, and counterarguments.

Ken had me at:

Pardon my incivility, Chancellor Dirks, but I don't give a shit whether you wish to honor an ideal; I care whether you will comply with the law. If you don't, you should be compelled to do so at the point of a lawsuit. You will find litigation rather uncivil.


Nod to Angry Alex...

Monday's Child

1.  Pole-ing firm.

2.  Predictions from people who don't know much about a phenomenon that no one understands.  My guess is that this is no better than The Farmers' Almanac.  Except for the sea-level rise predictions.  Those are at least objective (except the amount of the rise).

3.  Investors take long position in nuclear.

4.  For the health-conscious tail-gater.  Wait, Jell-O?  Never mind.  For the UNconscious tail-gater.   Jell-O shots!  Whooooooooooooo!

5.  All about speed humps and shaving.  But it's about traffic, not dating.

Saturday, September 06, 2014


So, there's this.  Arctic ice cap recovering rapidly.

But then there's this.  Depends on where you benchmark the "trend."

The author of the second piece, Phil Plait, notes that it really comes down to data, one view of which he provides here.

Unless I'm missing something, it would appear that Mr. Plait's response is pretty devestating.  One would have to ASSUME that 2012 was the low point, and that the fact we are above 2012 means "recovery."  But 2014 is still below the 1980-2010 trend.  And a marginal observation below the average still brings the average DOWN.  You can look it up.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Fix the Debt

Fix the Debt Petition!

Sign here.

Herb Stein said "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop."  The debt can go on forever.  Can the debt increase forever?  Yes, as long as the Euro is dripping with Greece.  But people's willingness to hold dollar-denominated U.S. sovereign debt has some limit.  Things could change quickly.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Post-structuralism explained in one easy chart!

Hat tips to Jacques Derrida and Erika Robb-Larkins

When Vanity Yawns

Just got this email (really):

Dear Colleague/ Researcher, 

    Canadian research publication is inviting you to submit your research article and our publication has 450 categories of journals. Our publication is covering research article, review article, short communication, case report, editorial note, thesis paper, e-book, and etc. 
    Our publication manuscript processing charge is 125 Canadian Dollars 
Thank You 
Alam, Assistant Editor 
Canadian Research Publication 

Really?  When you care so little that you only send the very lamest.  450 categories of journals?  That's not really a "journal," then, is it?

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


People, as requested by absolutely no one,  here's my list of my favorite contemporary novels, limit one book per author.

I.  All-time greats:

Infinite Jest, Dave Wallace. I have actually read this book twice, loved it even more the second time.

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell. I was loving this book even before I figured out what was going on with the structure.

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami.

Three Farmers on Their way to a Dance, Richard Powers

White Noise, Don DeLillo

In each case, it's really hard to only pick one book per author, you should read their whole oeuvre (with perhaps a couple of exceptions).

II. More Recent Works:

The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break, Steven Sherrill. Immortality is overrated.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz. Excited to see what Diaz will do next.

The Intuitionist, Colson Whitehead. Awesome debut. I worry that poker has ruined Colson though.

The Ectstatic, Victor LaValle. His short story collection, Slap-boxing with Jesus is also not to be missed.

Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem. Probably the guy in part II who should be in part I. Everything is great. Try "as she climbed across the table" for a thoroughly post-modern love story.

White Tiger, Aravind Argia. Savage and Brilliant

The God of Small Things, Ahrudhati Roy. She's gone off the rails, but this is a brilliant novel.

David Zetland and the 20/80 Rule

An amusing video from David Zetland here.

But more importantly he describes the 20/80 rule:

I use the term "20/80 rule" to separate the 20 percent who want to do the right thing from the 80 percent who don't care, but who WILL pay attention to higher prices

Monday, September 01, 2014

Monday's Child

1.  Studying whale...parts.

2.  "What did you do today, liebchen?"  Oh, I spent six hours trying to shoo a moose into a container.  "Oh, that's nice."

3.  Several oddities here.  One:  Jewelry stores sell gold nuggets?  Do people melt them down for DIY?

4.  So, what we need is a way to prevent citizens from communicating, and to have that switch in the control of the state?  What could possibly go wrong with that plan?

5.  Cyclists are better people than you are.  And our laws need to reflect that.