Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Angus' 2014 Music Picks

I have to kind of / sort of agree with Tyler that 2014 didn't smack me like 2013 did. Getting an incredible record from MBV after all those years and discovering Waxahatchee and Unknown Mortal Orchestra is not the kind of year one can have every year.

But there was a lot of great stuff this year as well.

I have to start with a confession though. I started out high on The War on Drugs' record, but Mark Kozelek made me face facts and realize that, dammit, it really was beer commercial guitar solos! I really have to ding it for that. I almost can't stand to listen to the thing now.

Parquet Courts (or Parkay Quarts) really solidified their claim on "next great American band" for me with two great releases: Sunbathing Animal and Content Nausea. Sure they're from New York. Sure they sound a bit like the Velvets, but people, Lou Reed ain't walking' through that door, so jump on this!!

Spoon arose from the somewhat ho-hum nature of Transference to produce a stunningly good album, "They Want My Soul". To me it just keeps getting better and better the more I listen. Me and Mrs. A saw them play up in Tulsa this year and the show was incredible. Mrs. A stayed through two encores and never gave me the "ok it's late so let's get out of here" look.  Kudos to Brit Daniels.

Tijuana Panthers are a new discovery for me this year. Their 2014 release "Wayne Interest" is quite good but I also really like their older album "Semi-Sweet".  By the way, they are not from Tijuana. If you like Harlem or King Tuff or Tav Falco's Pantherburns.....

Another top new discovery and top new band is Happyness. Their debut is called "Weird little birthday" and I really like it. Here's a link to one of the songs. OK, maybe it sounds a little like Sparklehorse, but then again Mark Linkous ain't walking' through the door either so............

Khun Narin's Electric Phin Band. This is not old, this is brand new music from Thailand. Pretty awesome.

White Fence, For the Recently found Innocent. Guided by Voice + Rain Parade + Soft Boys. I am a sucker for exactly this kind of music.

White Fence and Parquet Courts were on my list last year. This year's entries by them are even stronger than 2013's. I'd say they were both still on the rise.  Spoon just stubbornly refuses to start sucking. It's really quite amazing. I am really looking forward to more stuff from the others on my list.

When I look at say, Pitchfork's list, I just can't relate. A Sunny Day in Glasgow was aiight, and they got Spoon and Parquet Courts on there (along with the beer commercial guys), but most of it is weak sauce. Though to be fair, Mrs. A won't let me listen to Run the Jewels enough to come to an informed opinion.

Depressing Jobs

Providing aggressively bad service and being rude to everyone results in low job satisfaction.  The only thing that's surprising about that is that anyone is surprised.  You have to sympathize, I admit:  knowing that every day you are going to waste a huge amount of money and provide terrible service would make it hard to have much job satisfaction...

Jobs and depression

The Atlantic story

The actual study

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pirates! Or is it just a matter of moral intuition?

The short- and long-term effectiveness of anti-piracy laws and enforcement actions 

 Tylor Orme 
Journal of Cultural Economics, November 2014, Pages 351-368 

Abstract: Film studios have spent the past two decades lobbying extensively to establish new legislation restricting access to copyrighted materials online. While there is growing evidence of the effect film piracy has on studio profits, the evidence on the impact of anti-piracy legislation is limited. If anti-piracy legislation is having the film industry’s desired impact, we would expect film revenues to be consistently higher following the passage of major laws that restrict access to pirated content, or major enforcement actions, such as the shutdown of Web sites that provide illegal content for download. This paper applies an intervention analysis approach to weekly data on movie box-office revenues in the USA to determine whether the passage of new anti-piracy policy has generated significant changes in box-office revenues during the period from 1997 to the present. These effects are evaluated in both the short and long term, which allows an assessment of the duration of effectiveness of government actions. The results show that four of the six included policies are ineffective in the long term and those policies that do impact revenues in the short term often harm film studios, rather than help them. 

“Piracy is not theft!” Is it just students who think so? 

Michał Krawczyk et al.
 Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, February 2015, Pages 32–39 

Abstract: A fair share of studies analyzing “online piracy” are based on easily accessible student samples. However, it has been argued that the youth tend to have more lax social and ethical norms concerning both property rights and online behavior. In this study we present the results of a vignette experiment, i.e. a scenario survey where responders are asked to provide an ethical judgment on different forms of unauthorized acquisition of a full season of a popular TV series described in a number of hypothetical stories. The survey is conducted both on a student sample and on a sample of individuals who openly endorse protection of intellectual property rights for cultural goods. In this way we can investigate the possibly limited external validity of studies relying solely on the student samples. The vignette experiment concerned ethical evaluation of unauthorized acquisition of cultural content in both virtual and real context and was focused on six dimensions previously identified as relevant to the ethical judgment. Surprisingly, we found that the rules for the ethical judgment do not differ between our samples, suggesting that the social norms on “online piracy” follow similar patterns in student and in other populations. Findings from studies relying on ethical or moral judgments of students may thus be valid in a much broader population. 

With a nod to Kevin Lewis for finding these...

She Shot Him....

...but they still live together.

I think he should move out.  Still, she has a point:  It would have been much easier than a divorce.  Sort of a one-shot solution.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Minimum Wage Hurts Poor People?

How Effective Is the Minimum Wage at Supporting the Poor? 

 Thomas MaCurdy
Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract: The efficacy of minimum wage policies as an antipoverty initiative depends on which families benefit from the increased earnings attributable to minimum wages and which families pay for these higher earnings. Proponents of these policies contend that employment impacts experienced by low-wage workers are negligible and, therefore, these workers do not pay. Instead proponents typically suggest that consumers pay for the higher labor costs through imperceptible increases in the prices of goods and services produced by low-wage labor. Adopting this "best-case" scenario from minimum-wage advocates, this study projects the consequences of the increase in the national minimum wage instituted in 1996 on the redistribution of resources among rich and poor families. Under this scenario, the minimum wage increase acts like a value-added or sales tax in its effect on consumer prices, a tax that is even more regressive than a typical state sales tax. With the proceeds of this national value-added tax collected to fund benefits, the 1996 increase in the minimum wage distributed the bulk of these benefits to one in four families nearly evenly across the income distribution. Far more poor families suffered reductions in resources than those who gained. As many rich families gained as poor families. These income transfer properties of the minimum wage document its considerable inefficiency as an antipoverty policy.

Make Room

So, men were once supposed to give their seat to a woman.

But that was condescending and infantilizing.  So now men are jerks for not making room for women.

Of course, men are perfectly happy to say "Excuse me" and just sit down.  The guy will scoot over.  But women think they shouldn't have to ask, and should be treated special without asking.

Maybe we should have a norm that men should be more considerate of women.  But of course THAT would be creepy, if a guy makes room for a woman but doesn't make room for a guy.

This was interesting, I thought.  A woman who had spread her stuff out on the seat got mad when a guy sat down.  Because he should ask first.  Though he did ask first, and her headphones were too loud to hear.  She injected race into it.  Or was race really the deciding factor? (She does make a good point:  if a black man touched a white woman's purse, cops would be called.  I had not considered that, and that's why you have to read stuff...) 

The narrower point is that guys generally ask people to make room, and it is more like a command.  Make. Room.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Controlling For Cause, Variance of Lifespan Still Higher for American Blacks

Why Lifespans Are More Variable Among Blacks Than Among Whites in the United States 

 Glenn Firebaugh et al.
Demography, December 2014, Pages 2025-2045

Abstract: Lifespans are both shorter and more variable for blacks than for whites in the United States. Because their lifespans are more variable, there is greater inequality in length of life — and thus greater uncertainty about the future — among blacks. This study is the first to decompose the black-white difference in lifespan variability in America. Are lifespans more variable for blacks because they are more likely to die of causes that disproportionately strike the young and middle-aged, or because age at death varies more for blacks than for whites among those who succumb to the same cause? We find that it is primarily the latter. For almost all causes of death, age at death is more variable for blacks than it is for whites, especially among women. Although some youthful causes of death, such as homicide and HIV/AIDS, contribute to the black-white disparity in variance, those contributions are largely offset by the higher rates of suicide and drug poisoning deaths for whites. As a result, differences in the causes of death for blacks and whites account, on net, for only about one-eighth of the difference in lifespan variance.

Wow. A Decisive Refutation

Spiderwoman is sexualized on a comic book cover?  I had missed the controversy.  But you don't have to!

The rant.

The video....NSFW, for language, mostly.

LAGNIAPPE:9 other "Feminist fails."  I'm not sure it is fair to single out "Feminist fails" this way, when there are so many other cases of indignation overload over the past year.  Still, these are some good ones. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Woodhouse Holiday Show: "Oh, God. It's Mom."

So, there's a documentary, one that has gotten some attention, about the Woodhouse brothers.  It's "A Woodhouse Divided."

Now, we have known the Woodhouses (Woodhi?) for some time.  Dallas, especially, is a regular at events I have attended for years.  Dallas was NC Director for AFP, as noted in this NYTimes article from 2009 on the brothers.

Anyway, last night we were heading to the annual Christmas party (it's a private party, not paid for with public funds, and it is rather emphatically a CHRISTMAS party, rather than a "Holiday Party" or "Winter Solstice Celebration," if that matters) of our friends Art and Kathy Pope.  (If you don't know who Art Pope is, then here

They arrange for off-site parking, because it's a big shindig.  Very nice, terrific food, lots of interesting people.  Including, as it turns out, on the bus on the way over, the clan Woodhouse.  We got to meet Joyce, matriarch of the clan.  And heard about an incident this week we had missed.

Here is the story.  Here is the video.  Millions of views.  Better than anything you could have contrived.

Dallas put it well:  "Oh, God.  It's mom."

It was a pleasure to get to talk to Joyce.  She is a pistol.  And she's fed up with all this bickering.  You go, Mom!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Is Porn Ruining Marriage?

So, is porn ruining marriage, and "economic society" to boot?

E.L. Brown thinks "no," and gives some reasons.  Her reasons are pretty convincing.

1  Reverse causation.  Unmarried men have more time,"need" for porn.
2. Selection.  The sort of people who hole up* in their mom's basement and watch porn all the time are not really likely to get married anyway.
3. Biased response.  Even anonymous surveys might be traced, so married men are more likely to lie.

There is, however, a more sinister explanation.  Women are insisting on being on their own.  Men are saying, "Okee dokie!"

UPDATE: On confirmation bias,  Patrick from Popehat sends this gem of a tweet-stream.  Nicely done.  As Simon and Garfunkel said, "We all hear what we want to hear, and disregard the rest."

All of which reminds me of (unsurprisingly) my article on "Truthiness."  If it's too good to be true, it's probably the lead story on CBS.  Or in the case of Prof. Van Susteren, FOX.

*Sorry.  I've probably destroyed marriage.

Year In Review

A "Year in Review" column, from my friend David Collum.

Piling up Risk Like Tetris

Odious debt.  He said "odious."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The script for True Detectives season two seems *Amazing*

Documentary: Angus and Mungowitz in Grad School

Okay, it's metaphorical.  I was not actually on my back.  But I did keep deleting the data for our paper, even though we had a deadline.  So, pretty much the same thing.

There's even Michael Bolton on the stereo, which was pretty much my musical taste before I met Angus.

Lagniappe:  Apropos of nothing, a compilation of dogs getting baths.  Skippy Squirrelbane is the bane of squirrels, but baths are the bane of Skippy Squirrelbane.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lasts Longer...

This is the sort of gem you come to KPC to see folks.  Data in the service of social science.  And that's why Mr. Overwater invented the internet.  (Data, I mean, not what follows here.  Mr. Overwater has standards, and I do not mean to besmirch him in any way...)

Overall, and as a general matter...the internet is for porn (NSFW, and juvenile, but still).

And since it is, that raises a question you didn't even know you didn't know the answer to (at least, I didn't know):  What is the average time spent a porn site?  An "interval of viewing," if you will?

Well, now you know.

Go, China! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Decorate My Beard

Loren Lomasky decorates his beard this way.  If you've ever seen him after lunch, I mean.

But this is particularly appalling:


Some Awesome/Creepy/Unintentionally Funny Pol Ads

I have a student (I'll call her "Brigitte," because that's her name) who is working on the relative influence of TV vs Youtube as an effective medium for political campaigns.  An interesting topic, though a hard thing to measure accurately.

But the great thing (for the present) is all the truly strange and/or wonderful ads she has come across.
Here's a sampling:

Chuck Grassley's twitter

Beware the Insider-asuarus



Big Bad John

Economics for Five Year Olds

But then I can't resist adding my own effort, from 2008.

Jump in the Ocean  (notice the campaign sign.  That kind of production value is what really makes a video.  Okay, not.  Thanks to Barbara H for all that driving, and filming.)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Costly Signals...

This young lady just figured a taxi would get her there.

And this guy figured...I'm not sure what he figured, but it worked.

Love:  It's all about costly signals. 


The Sound of Power: Conveying and Detecting Hierarchical Rank Through Voice 

Sei Jin Ko, Melody Sadler & Adam Galinsky
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract: The current research examined the relationship between hierarchy and vocal acoustic cues. Using Brunswik’s lens model as a framework, we explored how hierarchical rank influences the acoustic properties of a speaker’s voice and how these hierarchy-based acoustic cues affect perceivers’ inferences of a speaker’s rank. By using objective measurements of speakers’ acoustic cues and controlling for baseline cue levels, we were able to precisely capture the relationship between acoustic cues and hierarchical rank, as well as the covariation among the cues. In Experiment 1, analyses controlling for speakers’ baseline cue levels found that the voices of individuals in the high-rank condition were higher in pitch and loudness variability but lower in pitch variability, compared with the voices of individuals in the low-rank condition. In Experiment 2, perceivers used higher pitch, greater loudness, and greater loudness variability to make accurate inferences of speakers’ hierarchical rank. These experiments demonstrate that acoustic cues are systematically used to reflect and detect hierarchy.

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Trust, But Terrify

Published this over at Freeman.

Have been getting a lot of pushback, questions like, "Can you be specific about what aspects of being poor and black are against the law?"  (And then, presumably, person mentally drops the mic and walks off stage....)

My question is, "Did you even read the article?"

I never claimed that the LAWS oppress the poor.  The POLICE do.  But it's not really the fault of the police, at least not primarily.

We all have a lot of normal, nonviolent daily activity. And a LOT of it is illegal, because we have criminalized everything.

The police, in their defense (and I mean that, sincerely), can't possibly arrest everyone who commits a crime. So they focus, quite sensibly, on people who (1) for reasons of simple prejudice we "all know" commit more crimes and (2) are less likely to be able to defend themselves or make trouble for the police.

Now, it's also likely that there is more actual criminal behavior in poor neighborhoods.

But even if there weren't, overcriminalization forces the police to ration their attention. The difference in "arrest and hassle" rates across race is greater than the difference in criminal proclivity due to poverty.

Race matters because of overcriminalization. It's not just a proxy for poverty.

(A somewhat different, but related, view from Sheldon Richman...)

Monday, December 08, 2014

Implausible setup

So, a drunk guy in a zebra costume walks into the wrong duplex...

No, really.

Nod to Angry Alex....

UPDATE:  Could have been worse.  Could have been a real deer, I suppose.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Interesting Split

There has been developing an interesting split in the reactions to Ferguson and the Staten Island chokehold.

The left is outraged that the state is not doing exactly what the left expects from an idealized, unicorn state.  In fact, the state is actually made up of actual human-style people, and people are flawed.  The left wants to rely on abstract systems, and then be perpetually astonished when things go really wrong.  It's not bad people that are the problem.  The THING, the thing itself is the abuse, folks.

The right is just denying that there is a problem, the system is working, the jury has spoken, etc.  The only problem is the protests, who are law-breakers.  No surprise there.

The libertarian splinter accepts parts of the both arguments.  The system is in fact working exactly as designed, so the right is correct.  But this is a really bad outcome, and so the left is correct.

The answer is that we need much less of the system.  Of course police officers are going to use excessive force, of course police officers are going to have and act on racial and class-based preferences.  And then the system, in the courts, the prosecutor's office, and the grand jury, is going to protect itself.  That's the system, unless you believe in unicorns.

The solution?  Fewer laws.  We have criminalized so many behaviors (in the Staten Island case, selling packs of cigaretttes!) that we have given the police enormous pressure to perform, and gigantic latitude to act on prejudice, bigotry, and simple anger.

As long as the left (with the active complicity of the non-libertarian right) continues to criminalize being black, it's not surprising that the police will continue to treat black people as criminals.

White people are largely unaffected, because the system is designed to protect white people.  #crimingwhilewhite shows the truth:  rich white people can break the law, but they won't get charged.

This kind of race-based law enforcement is given the stink-eye by our friends on the left, but they can't seem to draw the obvious inference:  the answer is not better police.  The answer is fewer laws.  Decriminalize normal nonviolent daily activity, and the police will have a lot fewer excuses to harass people they don't like and who can't fight back.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Sharing Economy: Luggage?

The example I have been using is a drill.  Like here.  We all have drills, and never use them.  Why?  We'd rent them if it were cheap in terms of money and bother.  Instead, we own them and they take up space and we never use them.

But that's not the best example. The best example, I now realize, is ....luggage!  Think how much space luggage takes up.  And it gets all dusty and torn up, and you buy cheap luggage because you don't use it much.  Some people may only use luggage two or three weekends a year.


Because it's a hassle to get it delivered, it's expensive and...wait, what if it weren't those things? 

Some folks are giving it a shot.  Here, at RentLuggage.Com .  You get a nice piece of luggage delivered to you, and you send it back when you are done.  You don't have to store it, and the luggage is nicer.  Instead of sitting unused 350 days a year, your $1,000 (we have at least $2,000 worth of luggage, in the attic, but I'm assuming you people are less insane than we are) can be doing something else.

If I wanted to rent a Lipault bag like this,  It would cost $150 or so to buy.  You can rent it for a  a week for $22.  Of course, then you have to return it.  What if you want to travel again?  You can optimize, because this time you are going to Europe and you want to rent a backpack, like this.  That's $38 for two weeks.  To own both bags would cost more than $400, whereas you rented both for $60, at different times of your choosing, and now you don't have to store them.  It would take at least five years for the "own it" gig to work out, and lots of stuff doesn't last much longer than that, getting bumped around in the back of your closet which you don't have room for anyway. new example is luggage.  Don't you have some bags that you never use?  Why do you own them?

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

By Two of My Main Men...

The Effect of Fact-Checking on Elites: A Field Experiment on U.S. State Legislators 

Brendan Nyhan & Jason Reifler
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract: Does external monitoring improve democratic performance? Fact-checking has come to play an increasingly important role in political coverage in the United States, but some research suggests it may be ineffective at reducing public misperceptions about controversial issues. However, fact-checking might instead help improve political discourse by increasing the reputational costs or risks of spreading misinformation for political elites. To evaluate this deterrent hypothesis, we conducted a field experiment on a diverse group of state legislators from nine U.S. states in the months before the November 2012 election. In the experiment, a randomly assigned subset of state legislators was sent a series of letters about the risks to their reputation and electoral security if they were caught making questionable statements. The legislators who were sent these letters were substantially less likely to receive a negative fact-checking rating or to have their accuracy questioned publicly, suggesting that fact-checking can reduce inaccuracy when it poses a salient threat.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

These folks need to read Adam Smith...

The topography of generosity: Asymmetric evaluations of prosocial actions 

Nadav Klein & Nicholas Epley 
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General
December 2014, Pages 2366-2379 

Abstract: Prosociality is considered a virtue. Those who care for others are admired, whereas those who care only for themselves are despised. For one’s reputation, it pays to be nice. Does it pay to be even nicer? Four experiments assess reputational inferences across the entire range of prosocial outcomes in zero-sum interactions, from completely selfish to completely selfless actions. We observed consistent nonlinear evaluations: Participants evaluated selfish actions more negatively than equitable actions, but they did not evaluate selfless actions markedly more favorably than equitable actions. This asymptotic pattern reflected monotonic evaluations for increasingly selfish actions and insensitivity to increasingly selfless actions. It pays to be nice but not to be really nice. Additional experiments suggest that this pattern stems partly from failing to make spontaneous comparisons between varying degrees of selflessness. We suggest that these reputational incentives could guide social norms, encouraging equitable actions but discouraging extremely selfless actions. 

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Monday, December 01, 2014

Well Hung Christmas Lights

People, if folks can have Christmas lights like this, why do we have a government at all?

(Nod to WH)

UPDATE:  As a commenter notes, it is a municipal government that deserves the CREDIT. "In this particular case, the local municipality of Plovdiv, Bulgaria."