Friday, November 28, 2014

Skippy Love

Skippy Squirrelbane is a very affectionate pup.  He's also a muscular 70 pound pup.  So when he wants a hug, it's pretty much going to happen.  Here he surprises the EYM, after warming up at the fire.  Hello!  HELLO!

Managerial Empathy

Managerial Empathy Facilitates Egocentric Predictions of Consumer Preferences 

Johannes Hattula et al. Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming 

Abstract: Common wisdom suggests that managerial empathy (i.e., the mental process of taking a consumer perspective) helps executives to separate their personal consumption preferences from those of consumers, thereby preventing egocentric preference predictions. The results of the present investigation, however, show exactly the opposite. First, the authors find that managerial empathy ironically accelerates self-reference in predictions of consumer preferences. Second, managers' self-referential tendencies increase with empathy because taking a consumer perspective activates managers' private consumer identity and thus their personal consumption preferences. Third, empathic managers are less likely to use market research results as a consequence of their self-referential preference predictions. Finally, the findings imply that when explicitly instructed to do so, managers are capable of suppressing their private consumer identity in the process of perspective taking which helps them to reduce self-referential preference predictions. To support their conclusions, the authors present four empirical studies with 480 experienced marketing managers and show that incautiously taking the perspective of consumers causes self-referential decisions in four contexts: product development, communication management, pricing, and celebrity endorsement. 

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Driving Lessons

So the LMM has been learning to drive the BMW.  It's a 330i, with a six speed manual transmission.  Pretty muscular car, and fun to drive.

But she has had some trouble with the whole "starting on a hill" thing.  So she was practicing, down on the hill at the Wood Valley Racquet Club in our neighborhood.

She got flustered, and couldn't get the thing to go.  Panicked a little bit, and for reasons I'm not really clear about decided she would coast backward to flat ground, and then try again.  The thing that I'm not understanding is that she pretty much just put in the clutch, let go of the brake, and coasted backward off a small embankment and into a culvert.  Why not, if I may ask, look behind you using the mirror thingies thoughtfully provided by the manufacturer.  As you can see, she didn't miss the actual paved part of the road by a little.  She missed it completely.

You can't really tell, but the right rear wheel is a good foot off the ground.  And the left front wheel was six inches off the ground.  So the car was teetering back and forth quite a bit, about to fall into the culvert.  There's a pretty deep hole hidden in the shadow under the car.

I asked her to set the parking brake and GET OUT OF THE CAR.  NOW.

We called AAA to come give us a tow.  LMM went home, and I stayed with the car.  Tow truck guy was some fine old redneck, who actually had no visible neck at all, and a classic combo bald-crewcut look.  He pulled up, took a walk-around, and looked at me.  "What?"

I said, "Wife."  He nodded gravely, and pulled the car out.  We didn't really say much more.


This is how I imagine thanksgiving at Chez Mungo!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

AirBnB in INC Mag

Had a great time talking to Burt Helm of INC about AirBnB.  He did a very informative article, for which I provided a small and largely uninformative set of thoughts.  But the article is worth reading in full.

The best background I know of on AirBnB is--unsurprisingly--from Russ Roberts.  At this point, Russ no longer has corporeal form, and has evolved into pure energy.

Lagniappe:  Zach Weiner sends this link.  Hmmmm...... Raising the question:  is it just opportunism?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Interesting initiative from CATO: is a comprehensive database that aims at spreading rational optimism to people around the world. We cautiously collect data from many reliable sources, and show our findings in a new viewer-friendly webpage. Since it includes very comprehensive data on various research topics, it might be able to provide scholars with very useful and reliable evidence for their arguments.

SNL: Just a Bill

Pretty well done.  

I don't really have an opinion on the "executive order" thing.  The number of them is not that important, but rather their scope.

President Bush asserted nearly unlimited authority.  And now when Obama does the same thing, the Republicans squeal, and the Democrats who squealed about Bush come up with transparently self-serving and absurdly false justifications.

A pox on both their House, and the Senate.

Had a Bad Day

This guy had a bad day.

Making me think of the song.

In turn, making me think of this set piece from the past.  Or this guy.

Still, I think the "falling naked out of the ceiling of the ladies' loo and then running naked and bleeding down the concourse, then being charged with attempted murder in an airport" may be worse.

Friday, November 21, 2014

State of the Union Address

An apt summary, and nicely brief, of all of Pres. Obama's SOTUs to date.

He notes that it has been fun, and that the women (at least) in the audience should be very happy.  When it turns out that even this limited claim is not true, and the audience screams, the President makes gestures with his hand that are out of time with his words (teleprompter problem, perhaps?).

Then Joe Biden (wearing a fake beard, I think; it's hard to tell) howls in glee.

And then some Republican shouts "You lie!" or something like that.

And the President goes into attack mode, saying "You won't be here much longer..."

Finishing with the immortal words, "No one enjoys seeing a man dance."  How very insightful.

With thanks to Ed Wood for the score, and to M.K. for a terrific assist in finding this gem.

Ping Pong Balls

On "Ellen," it's raining ping pong balls.

Why, oh why, do we even have an FCC if stuff like this can happen?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We Get Letters: The Seen and the Unseen

From a avid aviation reader:

Article in Vanity Fair on airlines and safety...

On page 2 there a superb section expanding on "Cockpit Resource Management." Studying economics has given me a deeper appreciation of this revolution in aviation. 

Preventing arrogance from disrupting complex systems appears to be a central challenge of economics/political science. The fact that the aviation community did this in an institution famous for attracting arrogant [people, especially pilots] seems like a remarkable achievement. I think it is fair to say this feat was a key contributor to plummeting accident rates the past three decades.  The author does a superb job walking the reader through a very complex/technical mishap. 

Flops at the end, though. "It seems that we are locked into a spiral in which poor human performance begets automation, which worsens human performance, which begets increasing automation. The pattern is common to our time but is acute in aviation." 

So much pessimism. In 2013, there were 224 worldwide commercial aviation fatalities out of 3.1 billion passengers served. We're "locked into a spiral" of safety advancements so spectacular that we've reduced the odds of death down to one in 45 million. 

Hard to imagine a human activity that is more safe. It would make more sense for Vanity Fair to lament the progress of eliminating bathtub hazards. Aviation has something in common with the free society and market economies. Three pure miracles of human achievement, and people obsess on the negatives and totally ignore the miracle. 

An interesting perspective:  Are we done with this safety thing?  Mission accomplished and all that?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Everyone should enjoy your work

This is an actual email that I received this week:

Dear Author,

I’m Simona Vinerean (editor at Expert Journals) and it's a great pleasure to invite you to contribute your best knowledge to Expert Journals! I thought you might be interested in a new publishing opportunity, with extra benefits for you!

As authors, we are all too familiar with the traditional (and expensive) way of publishing our articles. But, what if you could get more benefits out of this process?

Luckily, at Expert Journals, you can benefit of a fast peer-review process of your theoretical or empirical article and you will get published in an open-access system (because everyone should enjoy your work), at a low fee of only 150 Euro.


Thank you so much for reading this email!

We look forward to receiving and publishing your paper!

Have a fantastic week!

Warm regards,

Simona Vinerean

I am pretty confused about exactly what the "extra benefits" are for me here. I am also confused about how the "traditional" way of publishing (i.e. peer review) is expensive.

Maybe someone can straighten me out in the comments? In the meantime, I just add the "Expert Journal of Economics" to my list of crap that doesn't count when you see it on someone's vita. Sadly that list gets longer almost every month.


The Donkey Diaspora is beginning.  Apparently this truck pulled up to the Russell Senate Office Building, and then just hauled ass.

Click for an even more departing image.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Atila Takes His Shot

A guest post from my friend Atila A (Duke Econ prof.).  He has been saying for years that he was going to get his hunting license and go out to get some deer meat.  But, this year, he actually did.  And got a deer on his first day out.  The story... (I should note that Atila was VERY excited about this, and in reading it's hard not to share his excitement.  Unless you are a vegetarian, and even then deer hunting is way better than industrial meat farming.  Or unless you are just squeamish, in which case it's time you OWNED your carnivorism.  Meat doesn't come in paper packages with shrink-wrap; it's an animal.)

Story of My Shot… 
It was the first of many things in a human life. The first day of the deer season in NC, a breezy morning, probably the first winter we had ever felt in our guts this year in NC, my first hunt with a gun, my first shot and a clean kill… Not everything was perfect though, which made the whole experience more worth to hear about. The tree stand I was on was looking over a bushy area to my right. Not an easy position to shoot for a right hander, and definitely not for a first-time shooter. In addition, some young pine trees were obstructing my view. Here comes the deer from my very right, I have to tilt heavily to the right, I sight-in, pull the trigger, and Joel, the well-seasoned hunter that I was fortunate to hunt with, and I were harvesting our game next. 

A very clean kill. That was my first shot and the only shot we made that day. Joel was very impressed. He said, “you were in the military in Turkey, right?” Yes, I was indeed… He also asked if I felt the adrenalin rush. “Not really” I said. Pretty cool and mature response for a first time hunter who shoots a deer at his first shot. Yes, I am a cool guy… That is a true story, hundred percent… yet it is the rosy, brave side of it. There is another hundred percent true, yet more real and fun side to it. Here it is: I was looking for an orange hunter vest and cap at Walmart when I got the call from Joel around 9am. I heard it is easier to find hunter stuff at Walmart, otherwise I would never stop by a Walmart. Anyway, he picked me up from home at 9:40am. I stuffed my pockets with two slices of some sourdough bread and cheese for lunch, a bottle of tap water, oh and two small milky way bars, leftovers from Halloween. We had not got too many kids at our door, so I thought I should offer one to Joel. And yes, my orange vest and cap. 


Sunday, November 16, 2014

PSR: A Gem

Sometimes, there is a thread on PSR that amuses me.  Here's one:

Theory Presenter: [Snipping 75 minutes of reading without eye contact.] " as you can see, I have reconceptualized and reconsidered and -icized and -atized until this problem I talk about is clearly both like and unlike what Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Plato, and Arendt implied by choosing one word instead of a universe of other words in these few sentences no one else has really talked much about." 

Theory Search Committee Member: "Well, certainly, but since we have clear answers about this philosophical problem deriving from Augustine's flirtation with manichaeism [snipping 15 minutes of bibliographic citations] ... what could we turn to in order to understand why what you have presented improves our understanding of the problem at hand?" 

Audience Member In the Back: "Data."* 

*This totally happened.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Glass Test Dummy...

This is pretty rough.

I wonder if

1.  Those are full 7.62 x 39 mm, 123 gr AK shells.  That's a pretty high energy round to "test" with a live human
2.  The fact that the windshield is at quite an angle helps.  I know it helps, but I wonder if those same shells would still bounce off if their direction of travel were 90 degrees compared to the windshield surface.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Then When They Came for the Metro, There WERE No Buses...

So, Santiago de Chile once had a mass transit system with substantial redundancies, parallel routes on private buses.  If the Metro went down there was some other way of getting around.

Redundancy is a good thing, for engineers (in other words, smart people), but to planners (i.e., morons) seems ...well, redundant.

So they outlawed the redundancy and built a hub-and-spoke system.  You had to take a bus, take the Metro, and then take a bus.  Using public buses.  I told the story here.

Things had been getting a bit better.  (Although....)

But now (segun La Tercera) there is a pretty big Metro breakdown.  And that means folks are pretty much foo-ked.

Of course, the city will say that such breakdowns are bound to happen.  And that's right.  But the consequences of the breakdown are magnified dramatically by the hubris of shutting down redundant private lines to "maximize the efficiency" of the public transit system.  Public monopolies leave citizens with no alternatives when the public monopolies--inevitably--fail.  It's happening pretty often now.... People think, "Oh, there's nothing you can do."  But there IS something you can do:  don't create public monopolies on services that are actually private goods, like urban surface transport.

We see the problem, but the solution--private provision of redundant services, which before 2007 were legal--is unseen.  And the state's best answer is "It's hard" instead of "We're stupid."

It's like Atlas Shrugged, but right on your TV in your little apartment on Avenida Apoquindo.

With thanks to Fundman.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

This week's backdated sign of the apocalypse

Awesome archival photo from TexasinAfrica:

Yes, that is the last King of Scotland at Brandenburg Gate!

I hope I can be permitted a few observations.

If they'd only put Idi in charge, that wall never would have fallen.

Love the fur bathrobe on the Idi-ette

U2 is a shitty band

and finally.....

People, if crap like this can happen why did JFK even bother to fly to Berlin and claim to be a "Berliner"

Monday, November 10, 2014

A chicken in every pot and a flat-screen in every precinct house

Assest Forfeiture must have really arrived. There are now "how to" seminars springing up. It's like house flipping for coppers.

Police are advised to focus on flat-screen TVs and cars. Jewelry and computers just aren't worth it.


Since the cops haven't figured out how to directly use jewelry and computers (really, I am not making this up) like they have cars and TVs, the former are sold at auction and are thus not very remunerative!

Other advice is for police to tell the city attorney what items they really want so the city can make sure the owners don't get those particular pieces back.

Monday's Child tired.

No more links on Monday until...well, I doubt there will be any more links on Monday.  I just don't have time.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

I assume this means that the Scottish are RIGHT out...

Woman applies for job in South Korea, which is a notorious nation of drunks and boozers.

Turned down because she is Irish.  And therefore (?) drinks

I wonder if they checked to see if she had any uncles who were poets.  THAT is a dead giveaway.  Or so I understand.

Or, As Charlie Sheen Would Call It: "Thursday"

A heartwarming story.

Young man decides to commit suicide, goes to Mexico.  Spends his money on drugs and hookers.

Wakes up and thinks, "Wow, that was fun!  Now  I have a reason for living!  I want to make enough money so I can do this again soon!"

Or something like that.

Nod to Angry Alex.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Can you advocate for both a universal basic income AND increased immigration?

SG, a loyal KPC reader writes to me, "How is it possible to provide a basic income and universal healthcare and at the same time increase immigration? To me it appears unsustainable. Too many people would want to immigrate to the US under those conditions. Furthermore single-payer universal healthcare would appear to me to increase government interference in our lives, not lessen it. I'd appreciate your thoughts on this"

I actually think single-payer would result in less overall interference as it would just be one layer instead of the system we have now where the Government is regulating/paying off insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, medical device manufacturers and us.

I would prefer to bust up the AMA cartel, somewhat deregulate the practice of health care, increase the supply of doctors (through immigration), and have a free market in health care, but I still prefer single payer over the ACA.

Turning to immigration, we can always place some limits on entry if mooching is thought to be / turns out to be a big problem. There is a very large area in between where we are now and an open border "free for all".

For example, if we gave green cards to all foreigners who earned graduate degrees here in the US, they would probably not increase use of the welfare state. Or we could limit UBI to citizens if there were strains on the system.

We are just shooting ourselves in the foot by turning away hundreds of thousands of talented people each year.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Middleman Economy

Article by Kristen Brown in SF Chronicle.  She was kind to let me think out loud a bit, but the story is generally well done.  She came up with some pretty cool insights...

Kozmo, the dot-com era darling that promised one-hour delivery of everything from DVDs to Starbucks coffee, famously went bust after raising $250 million in funding, expanding to 11 cities and filing for an IPO. 

But technology introduced since then, such as smartphones with GPS, has made the prospect of on-demand delivery much more simple — and therefore with more opportunity for profit. “As transactions costs shrink, more and more transactions become 'profitable,’” said Munger. “And there are more and more ways to 'sell’ reduced transactions costs.” 

Companies like Instacart and Curbside, then, are not so much “disruptive” as they are part of a natural evolution of a market economy. Munger imagines that this kind of logic will continue “way down the chain,” with profitable companies emerging that perform even more niche tasks than picking up an order from Target and delivering it to the store’s curbside. 

"A power drill only gets used 10 minutes in its life, for most people,” he said. He can see a day when Uber will carry more than just people. “I don’t need to buy a power drill, I can get one on Uber. Value of the transaction: maybe only $3. But if we can reduce transactions costs enough, that transaction comes in as a money-maker.” The idea that we might not physically visit the grocery store or own the drill is what Munger says could create such a huge shakeup in the economy.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Today I am not voting.

Of course I am a devotee of Gordon Tullock and have fully taken on the insight that in any conceivable election my vote is extremely unlikely to make a difference, but let's grab this elephant by the other end here this morning.

People, I am in favor of legalizing drugs, same sex marriage, LBGT rights, and a vastly smaller military. I am also in favor of increased immigration, increased trade, and drastically less regulation on economic activity. I favor increased funding for research into alternative energy, but I do not favor specific investments in specific companies. I favor abolishing the TSA, the BATF, and the Department of Agriculture. I am against the militarization of local police forces. I am ashamed of the size and racial makeup of our prison system. I despise constant government led erosion of our privacy. I would like to replace our weird, patchy safety net with a guaranteed basic income. I favor a single payer approach to providing universal health care. I would love to see substantial, revenue neutral, carbon tax.

Oh, and did I mention I live in Oklahoma?

Exactly who am I supposed to vote for?

Monday, November 03, 2014

Monday's Child

1.  Plants know when they are being eaten, and they do NOT like it.

2.  Markets do not create jobs, governments do.  Poor Hil, having to deal with E. Warren.  But she is just making campaign ads for the Republican candidate in '16.  Of course, the Repubs will likely choose such a horrible that she'll still win, in spite of this.

3.  Heroic American officials manage to stave off cheap sugar from Mexico.  Or, more accurately, the U.S. is now the OPEC of sugar.

4.  On GamerGate.  It's a long story.... one entry point. A different, rather breathless, view. Here's an origin.  Not "the" origin, but an origin.

5.  Halloween candy causes global warming.  Something else scary about Oct 31.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

The FInal Countdown

In what is becoming a KPC tradtition, we post a link to one of the most self-important, grandiose music videos from a self-important, gandiose decade, the 1980s.

Because this is the "Final Countdown" to what remains the biggest monument to self-importance:  the American election.

There is not much more pompous than the phrase "Swedish Supergroup, Europe!"  But "American election coverage" beats it, hands down.

(I do like the Dragonforce precursor guitar solo about 3:25)