Friday, August 22, 2014

This week's sign of the apocalypse

People, it comes to us from Hinds Community College:

People if blatant discrimination like this can occur against innocent cute goats, why do we even have a government at all?

Hat tip to MK

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Funny, But a Bit Edgy

One of the great things about Chris Rock is that you can't quite be sure if he's laughing at you, or with you.

Especially smug white people (and that's me, I recognize).  What's really going on here?

NSFW.  Funny, but NSFW.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How not to flip your classroom

Over at inside higher ed, Rob Weir reports,

Last spring, my best friend decided to flip his introduction to computer science class. He posted reading assignments and an online quiz on Friday, closed the quiz at 10:59 on Monday, and walked into his 11 a.m. class that day and introduced higher-level material based upon what students were supposed to have mastered. Some students did really well, some had tried taking the quiz without careful reading, and some simply didn't get what the text was telling them. One could take a hardball approach and say that those who tried to skip the reading got what they deserved and the clueless were in the wrong class. Insofar as my friend was concerned, though, flipping flopped.

People, this is a big fail. The guy is throwing away valuable information and is not really trying to help his students learn. In fact, he's kind of being a dick.

How about this? Post some short videos, instead of long reading assignments, have the online quiz due well before the next class, check the quiz to see what students are having problems with, start the next class by with a mini presentation on the problematic stuff, try some peer instruction on that material, give a mini presentation on some higher level stuff and follow that with peer instruction too!

 In Rob's, example, flipping didn't flop, the lazy-ass professor flopped.

Flipping is not "you go read the basics and then I'll lecture all class period on advanced material".

Flipping is "you get prepared before class, and then we will do problem solving during the class period."

Flipping does not excuse the professor from the responsibility of making sure the students understand and master the basic material. Flipping does not put a wall between the online and in-person components of the class.

It is actually much harder to run a flipped class well than to go the old "sage on the stage" route that Rob enjoys so much.

But I will say this, if you aren't going to put the work in, please don't "flip" your class.

Note: this is cross-posted at Cherokee Gothic as well.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dolla Dolla Bill

Dollar stores got beef!

Dollar Tree had an agreement to buy Family Dollar, but nowDollar General is offering $9 billion cash for Dollar Tree.

So I guess we know how many items Dollar Tree has in its inventory, no?

No word yet about what the new conglomerate plans to do about 50 Cent.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The State is Not a Unicorn...and the Munger Test

Monday's Child

1.  News crew goes out to "investigate" app that identifies sketchy neighborhoods.  And their van gets robbed.  Surely this was a setup, right?  Nobody would leave that much electronic gear out in the open in a van.

2.  Duke basketball is "most hated."  Yes, it really is.  In other news, water is still wet.  On the other hand, the most-hated team in North Carolina is UNC, and the most-hated team in Washington state is U-Dub.  Interesting.

3.  Jealous dogs.  Skippy Squirrelbane is VERY jealous.  His bowling ball head is extremely useful for knocking down other dogs that get between him and petting.  He's not aggressive about it, just inexorable.

4.  "Clean energy" is not clean.  In fact, it's not even energy.  Some technologies, especially ethanol from corn, are a net waste of energy rather than a savings.

5.  Family friend and recent Duke grad Jacob Tobia on being "genderqueer at Duke."  Jacob is a terrific person, and was willing twice to give an excellent talk to my intro Econ class on the "Occupy" movement.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The tools of ignorance

I'm pretty sure Mungo was trolling me this morning with his retweets, but it worked anyway.

So let's take a look at the wonder that is market monetarism and its incredible abuse of graphs and accounting identities.

Our data come from Italy and here are the graphs in question:

OK, so the first graph is the path of Nominal income (PY) relative to trend. The second is the path of real income (Y) and the third is the path of prices (P). Nothing objectionable about the graphs in themselves.

You can see NGDP has fallen a lot (relative to trend), mostly due to lower real GDP. Since we are dealing with accounting here, we really only need two of these graphs. the third one is implied by the other two.

But people, what just sets my teeth on edge and puts a bee in my bonnet is the idea that, and I quote:

The message from the graphs above is clear – the Italian economy is suffering from a massive demand short-fall due to overly tight monetary conditions (a collapse in nominal GDP).

Nominal GDP IS nothing more than the product of prices and output. To say that a fall in nominal GDP relative to trend "caused" the fall in the path of prices and output relative to trend is just gibberish.

Try it in the abstract without the sacred labels. "The fall in XY caused the fall in X and the fall in Y".

Ummm, maybe the fall in Y caused the fall in X and as a result XY also fell??  Or the fall in X? Or some third factor caused both X and Y to fall and as an unavoidable consequence of arithmetic, XY also fell?

Labeling PY as "Monetary conditions" and then saying Y fell because PY fell and blaming that on monetary conditions is not an economic theory. It's not even an un-economic theory.

Here's another example of the twisted logic of market monetarism:

One can obviously imagine that the Italian output gap can be closed without monetary easing from the ECB. That would, however, necessitate a sharp drop in the Italian price level (basically 14% relative to the pre-crisis trend – the difference between the NGDP gap and the price gap).

Thats a doozy.

Output is 14% too low so prices need to fall by 14%, doing this will leave NGDP unchanged and the output gap will be eliminated.

The basic problem comes from here:

It is no secret that I believe that we can understand most of what is going on in any economy by looking at the equation of exchange:

(1) M*V=P*Y

People, you can't explain anything about causation WITH AN ACCOUNTING IDENTITY!