Sunday, March 29, 2015

Argentines Don't Forget.

They don't fight effectively, and they have a woefully broken political and civil society.  But they don't forget.  From a friend traveling down south...

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Culture that is Oklahoma: #Weatherdong edition

Tornado season has kicked off right on queue, with Moore taking a glancing blow, but for savvy Okies everywhere, the fun is watching the local news folks go absolutely crazy and in looking for #weatherdongs on the TV radar.

Here's some examples (apologies in advance to the LMM):

Hat tip to #thelostogle, who is the #4 must follow Okie behind me, Robin and Wayne Coyne. Rounding out the top 5 would be @GaddieWindage

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Clouds taste metallic

Here is an actual un-"shopped" photo of actual clouds this evening in Norman before the Gustnado activity kicked of the 2015 tornado season:

Pretty freaky, but no real damage done in Normatopia.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Why Was the Internet Invented?

A perennial question:  Why did Mr. Overwater invent the internet?

It may have been this "Poo-Pourri" video.

Or it may have been this video of a cat playing Jenga.

Either way...THANKS, Mr. Overwater!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Florida or Ohio Redux

Oh man. These are definitely the two greatest states in the Union. Here's the headline (click through to the story only AFTER you guess its location):


Now you put your thinking caps on and tell me where this went down.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Great Moments in Science: Cold Cash

Money makes people feel cold.  No, really, it's "science."

The Cold Heart: Reminders of Money Cause Feelings of Physical Coldness 

Leonie Reutner, Jochim Hansen & Rainer Greifeneder
 Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

 Abstract: Mere reminders of money have been shown to cause socially “cold” behavior. Recent research suggests that the metaphor of “social coldness” is bodily grounded and thus linked to actual sensations of physical coldness. We therefore hypothesized that reminding individuals of money causes them to feel physically colder. This hypothesis was put to test in two studies, drawing on predictions from psychophysiological thermal perception. In Study 1, individuals who had been reminded of money perceived the air in the room as colder compared to a control group (an assimilation effect). Contrarily, in Study 2, they perceived water (a medium that was only momentarily experienced) as warmer compared to individuals not reminded of money (a contrast effect). Together these findings demonstrate that reminders of money cause sensations of actual physical coldness and add to the literature of both the psychological effects of money and human thermal perception.

Remarkably, this is apparently a thing.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Florida or Ohio?

People, here's the headline:

Police on the Hunt for Serial Pooper

So I gotta ask, where do you think the Hunt is happening, Florida or Ohio?

Hat tip to @willafriedman

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Shades of Diner?

Remember the movie "Diner," where Eddie gives Elyse a 140-question test about football (the Baltimore Orioles, actually) as a condition of going through with the marriage?  (If you don't... )

Well, it appears that a bride in India gave her man a pop quiz.  He failed, and she bailed

(The quiz was, "What is 15 plus 6?"  His answer, "17," is indeed a disqualification for someone who claimed to have gone to college.  UNLESS, I should note, the person went to college at an "elite" U.S. school and majored in any of the "Indignation Studies" curricula.)

Just as a lagniappe, the story also mentions a different wedding, where the groom had a seizure and the bride asked for volunteers.  I wonder how that went:  "Look, I got the dress, and the henna, and Dad paid for the feast.  It would be a shame to waste it.  Anybody wanna step up here?  You?  Can you do simple addition problems?  Okay, let's do this."

To be fair, it may well be that the Indian conception of marriage makes sense, in the context.  And their divorce rate is lower.  But that may be because you have to wait 15 years, and risk being killed by your husband or his relatives.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Deep Smithian Insight

This person is not "lovely."  Adam Smith would recognize what's going on here.  This is NOT a functioning system of self-interest.  An XKCD insight:

For more, see Russ Robert's new book on Smith...

Monday, March 16, 2015

Maxi-Minimum Wage: Jobless in Seattle

Angus and I agree on many things.

One thing we agree on is the minimum wage. Angus has made the case.  We just don't know much about the effects of minimum wages, in the neighborhood of the existing wage.  I was a bit more intemperate, but that's not surprising.

And we agree that the usual retort, "Well, if raising the minimum wage a little is good, why don't you want to raise it a LOT?"  That's idiotic.  It just doesn't follow.  If I have a headache and take two Tylenol, it doesn't mean that I think that taking the whole bottle would be better.  No one is advocating that.

Unless they are.  Then we also agree that it is clearly possible to raise the minimum wage too high.  And Seattle may have done that. "Mysterious."  Good one, JS.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?

Man I was so excited to see this headline:

Tourists to Scotland ‘let down by quality of food’

The piece just writes itself:

If you don't like Scottish food, do as us Scots do and just drink all day.

Going to Scotland for the food is like going to France for military training.

Haggis: it's nae sa bad!

But sadly, the actual piece is just quoting a bloviating blowhard Scotsman complaining that not enough people eat in his restaurant at Gleneagles, which is actually about the most Non-Scottish place in all of Scotland. There's no data given that tourists complain about food quality.

The closest thing in the whole story is this:

Recent research found half of people visiting Scotland want to try local food while two-thirds think quality food is an important factor when dec­iding where to go on holiday.

So to Andrew Fairlie I say, "away wi ye now, ya daft wee cuntie". And to all prospective visitors to Scotland I say go for the hiking, scenery, golf and whisky. By all means, eat if you must. But try to avoid the "local delicacies"

People try to bind themelves to the mast, as Russ and I discussed recently.

There are people who try to "sell" will power, or at least a contracting arrangement that helps people commit. A pitch:

We all have goals... Yet, most of us struggle to achieve our goals. 
That’s because there’s a big difference between having a goal and achieving a goal—stickK works by helping people eliminate this gap by using, what we call, a Commitment Contract. A Commitment Contract is a binding agreement you sign with yourself to ensure that you follow through with your intentions—and it does this by utilizing the psychological power of loss aversion and accountability to drive behavior change. 
By asking our users to sign Commitment Contracts, stickK helps users define their goal (whatever it may be), acknowledge what it’ll take to accomplish it, and leverage the power of putting money on the line to turn that goal into a reality.

Aherk calls itself a "self-blackmailing service."  Interesting.

(Nod to Mark S for the find)

Monday, March 09, 2015

Is France Obselete?

An amazing law, even by French standards.  My good friend Petr Barton at IREF gives the details...

A summary paragraph:

The French government is hoping to help consumers – and increase growth – by making it illegal to manufacture products with artificially shortened lifetime. We argue that proving such case will be nearly impossible in modern technology and the ban will act as a tax, with consequences even worse than the status quo. If governments want to artificially boost production, they should in fact subsidise products with shortened lifetime, instead of banning them. 

 Of course, better still to leave things alone.  The key to the above paragraph is the word "artificially," the point being that this law doesn't even succeed on its own cockeyed terms.  Amazing.

I should note that Petr's blog is generally quite insightful.  You might follow him on Twitter at @iref_eu .  Some nice detail on economic problems in Europe.  The piece on Greek debt payments was surprising to me....I guess I bought the propaganda.  But it turns out that Greece is not "crippled" after all.

What Would Angus Do?

Have you ever wondered what Angus might sound like if he were a Brit?

Well, I hadn't.  But Angry Alex answers questions no one is asking.  And for t (ehat, we thank him.  Here you go.... (Especially for Tommy the Intemperate Brit)

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Going all Munger on your asses!

Thinking about the NSA, and HRC and the Ferguson police department, I was drawn to this quote from John Locke as posted by Ta-Nehisi Coates:

"The injury and the crime is equal, whether committed by the wearer of a crown, or some petty villain. The title of the offender, and the number of his followers, make no difference in the offence, unless it be to aggravate it. The only difference is, great robbers punish little ones, to keep them in their obedience; but the great ones are rewarded with laurels and triumphs, because they are too big for the weak hands of justice in this world, and have the power in their own possession, which should punish offenders. What is my remedy against a robber, that so broke into my house?"

and then to the old Mungerian chestnut from Edmond Burke:

In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!

Damn Gubmint got me all crabby on a beautiful Saturday morning!

Friday, March 06, 2015

This week's sign of the Apocalypse

People, the deathtrap that is Applebee's somehow continues to evade the law.

Here the poor victim Hiram Jimenez (not making that up), was unsuccessful in his quest for justice after Applebee's vicious fajita platter burned him WHILE HE WAS PRAYING!

(While he totally has a great legal case, I can't help but wonder if perhaps he was beseeching the wrong deity to end up scorched during prayer)

People, the waitress put the fajitas in front of Hiram without advising him that it was hot! So naturally Hiram assumed it was safe and "bowed his head "close to the table,"" perhaps to complain to the Almighty that his fajitas were not hot.

(I think that maybe the Lord answered his prayer and caused the fajitas to ignite?)

I can't decide if the punch line here should be (A) what a horrible miscarriage of justice that this dude can't make bank on Applebee's, or (B) what kind of a schmuck prays for a miracle, gets it, and then sues?

So here are both:

A: People, if crap like this can happen, why do we even have a legal system at all?

B: People, if crap like this can happen, why do we even have miracles at all?

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Wankband (somewhat NSFW)

Pornhub gives back.

The video commercial:  Well done.

Thanks to Tommy the Tenured Brit for sending the link.  I have NO IDEA how he found it.

Blog it out, bros

So Eduardo Porter wrote this, where he lets John Bogle apparently say that passive investing could fix "the greater part" of America's retirement savings "shortage".

Then two of my internet buds, Noah Smith and Ryan Decker threw down.

Here's Ryan.

Here's Noah.

Now if people are approaching retirement with $104,000 and we decide that they need $500,000 or more, then clearly active investing fees are not "the greater part" of the problem. I gotta give that one to Ryan.

But, just because people do things that we think are a problem, doesn't mean it's actually a problem or crisis. Maybe people want to enjoy stuff while they are young and are willing to deal with a lower standard of living when old. I gotta give that one to Noah.

All that said, in general and on average over the long run, people are going to be notably richer from going with the low fee, buy and hold, passive investing approach. Even though his quotes in the Porter piece were messed up, I gotta give that one to Bogle.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Can't anybody here play this game? Federal Reserve Edition

So Gentle Ben Bernanke opposes Congress mandating that the Fed follow a policy rule because "

“The Fed already has a rule,” Mr. Bernanke said during a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution’s Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy. “It’s committed to hitting a 2% inflation target and aiming for the natural rate of unemployment. These are rules.”

Phone call for Ben Bernanke!! BB phone home!!

People, the Bernank has more Fedsplainin' to do. Look at this picture:

The article the graph came from was headlined "US Inflation undershoots Fed's 2% Target for 33rd straight month".

Maybe we should audit the Fed!!