Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Best Food I Had in Italy

I had two particularly memorable meals in Italy.  Thanks to the LMM for taking the pix.

The first was in Milan.  Just some simple rustic trofie pasta, and pesto.  Outstanding.

The second was in Venice.  Cuttlefish in a sauce made from...its own ink. With polenta. It took an act of will to take the first bite (the "ink sauce" is really thick and...well...inky), but it was delicious.

Monday, May 25, 2015

HItler Finds Out Grad Student Coauthor Faked Data

With thanks to Mr. Overwater....this may be the best of the "Hitler Finds Out..." genre.  Full of inside references.  Nicely done.

Friday, May 22, 2015

This is exactly the problem with our government

“Think about it. I’ve spent the last six and half years yanking this economy out of the worst recession since the great depression."

~Barack Obama

Wow. I can't believe he actually said that. It's amazing and quite revealing.

Some thoughts:

I bet his back and hammies are KILLING him!

The economy actually came out of recession in June of 2009, so I'm not sure exactly what BHO has been yanking on the last 5 years.

Seriously, how to read this? One way is to say that fiscal policy and regulation control the economy and BHO has done a terrible job of yanking (or blame it on some other incompetent yankers like the damn Republicans). Another is to say that fiscal policy and regulation has very little to do with cyclic swings in the economy and BHO has been yanking in vain for 6.5 years!

I lean toward the latter view.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

College is Biased

Angus did a pretty good job of explaining how colleges seem to have chosen a side in politics.

But there is a concern that goes beyond this.  I'm talking about the bias (and thanks to concerned reader WEH for sending this clip!) against students who are lazy and uninterested.  Here's the (scary) report:

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Questions with easy answers: Higher Ed Edition

Salon asks the following: Why does the GOP hate college? and blathers on and on without ever once touching on the very simple answer:

Because "College" hates the GOP!

People, this is just basic, basic politics. An overwhelming majority of college professors are liberals. They vote for and contribute to the Democratic Party almost exclusively. It is widely perceived that professors spend much of their time inculcating liberal ideas into their students' unformed brains.

The reason the GOP hates college is the same reason why they hate Unions. Both are bastions of support for the Democratic Party.

It's amazing to me that liberals can't or won't see this. College professors and administrators backed the wrong side (at least for now). They didn't play it down the middle. They put all their eggs in one political basket and now, hey, payback's a bitch.

Of course, this is a shame because a college degree has perhaps never been more valuable. It is truly amazing that, even as the share of young people attending college rose steadily, so did the college wage premium.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Non-Mungerian Podcastrianism

Yes. I'm pretty sure she'll get sued, but Mrs. Angus has done a podcast that does not involve Mike Munger (except for the fact that it was his generous invitation for us to sabbaticate at Duke for a year that lead to her book project)!

From the New Books Network comes a lovely 62 minute podcast of Marshall Poe interviewing Robin about her new Cambridge book (now out in paperback, people)!

Here's the link. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


I tend to like "humor" where after a while you are thinking, "Wait.  Is this even funny?  Or is it offensive?  And am I the one being made fun of?"  Like, this, for example.

Because frankly I deserve to be made fun of.

Anyway, courtesy of Jackie Blue, Key and Peele in "Negrotown."


Monday, May 11, 2015

Things are getting better, not worse: Higher Ed Edition

Yesterday I read what could be the worst op-ed ever.

People, you know it was in the NYT!

Allow me to summarize the creepy, illogical, smug, moralizing of one, Mark Baeurlein

In the old days students idolized and hung out with professors, and the wise professors counseled them to live well.

Now students have little contact with professors, so they have reverted to their baser instincts and only care about money, while the professoriat simply pats them on their greedy heads and gives them undeserved good grades.

But there are just a few holes in the argument (hard to believe, given that the author is a english prof at Emory).

First off while he gives statistics about "low" (25% of seniors never talk to a prof outside of class) professor contact in the current era, he only uses anecdotes from himself and his buddy Todd to argue that, in the good old days, things were very different. Not exactly a convincing argument.

Then he goes back to the data, showing that in the late 60's many more students said they cared about “developing a meaningful philosophy of life,” than they did about  “being very well off financially.”

Today the numbers are reversed.

So far so good, but then Baeurlein implies that the sea change has come from the "fact" that students no longer hang out with profs after class!


Never mind that he hasn't proven that case, what about the simple fact that many more people and different types of people go to college now than in 1968?

In other words, perhaps we should consider that the change in the volume and composition of college students caused both phenomena that Bauerlein decries (to the extent that they even exist at all).

In 1972, 25% of people between the ages of 18-24 were enrolled in degree granting institutions. In 2012 the percentage was 41%. Colleges moved from a preserve of the elite to embrace a much wider economic and social demographic. Hispanic enrollment rates went from 13% to 37%, while rates for African-Americans went from 18% to 36%.

Bauerlein's good old days were elitist and kinda racist. But hey, at least the profs had disciples and were revered and the students didn't care about money. Because that's what really matters.

Friday, May 08, 2015

The Club

Ladies:  You know how you're chatting with some guy at the club, and he's down, and it all seems aight? 

But then his favorite song comes on?

Like this?

Yeah.  Like that.  Stop that.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Orwell Gives Nutritional Assessment?

Nutritional advice from George Orwell. Exploring the social mechanisms behind the overconsumption of unhealthy foods by people with low socio-economic status 

Morten Larsen
Appetite, August 2015, Pages 150–156

Abstract: Despite a general consensus and recognition of the importance of the “social gradient” on nutritional standards and ultimately people's health, the body of literature identifying and describing the actual underlying social mechanisms which could explain this association is small, fragmented and not contained within one single discipline of thought – the effects of this conundrum seem easier to describe than to explain. The aim of this article is therefore to explore and identify social mechanisms, which could help explain why people with low socio-economic status consume a disproportionate amount of unhealthy foods and therefore also observe poorer diets. It is therefore in many ways an exploration into the nature of (relative) poverty. The point of departure for this exploration and identification is historical descriptions (in the form of excerpts) from George Orwell's (1937) book “The Road to Wigan Pier” on the living conditions of the British working classes. These descriptions will be aligned with results from contemporary research into nutritional behaviour. Strong similarities are identified between George Orwell's historical descriptions of the working-class's unhealthy diet and the findings from contemporary research into nutritional behaviour of people with a low socio-economic status. The article, on this basis, argues that certain social mechanisms influencing nutritional choices are readily identifiable across disciplines, and even partly reproduced in different historical, social and spatial contexts, with stronger negative (ill health) consequences for people with low socio-economic status especially. Finally the article discusses how social mechanisms affecting our nutritional choices could challenge the underlying rationalities and assumptions of the rational yet “knowledge deficient” individual consumer implicitly present in much nutritional advice – both past and present. The disregard of social mechanisms, and therefore implicitly issues of class, could indicate a general “de-socialization” of nutritional advice also in its dispersal through various health-promotion initiatives and campaigns, which raises serious questions about the usefulness of much nutritional advice, already tentatively questioned by some nutritionists (Burr et al., 2007) as well as “food” sociologists (Smith & Holm, 2010).

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Lagniappe:  Of course, it's better to think creatively....

Monday, May 04, 2015


This morning, the following email was in my box:

U.S. DoS - Public Communication
Secretaria del Poderjudicial []
Sent:Monday, May 04, 2015 3:14 AM

The Kentucky Consular Center in Williamsburg, has registered and notified you as one of the 2015 DV Green Card Lottery Selectee.

USCIS Immigration Service
Tell: +12705944738

Rafaela Urroz
Immigrant Non-Immigrant Visa Unit

I am not making this up. Note that there is no link to click on to transmit my personal information and that I already have permission to work in the US.

It also purports to be from the US State dept., but is from a Nicaraguan government address.

But there are websites out there claiming that the "Kentucky Consular Center" does indeed process green card lottery winners.

So, what is the scam here people? Where is the money making opportunity? Is it a coincidence that Nicaragua sounds a lot like Nigeria?

Friday, May 01, 2015

Money For Nothing....

Would you Pay for Transparently Useless Advice? A Test of Boundaries of Beliefs in The Folly of Predictions 

Nattavudh Powdthavee & Yohanes Riyanto
Review of Economics and Statistics,
May 2015, Pages 257-272

 Abstract: Standard economic models assume that the demand for expert predictions arises only under the conditions in which individuals are uncertain about the underlying process generating the data and there is a strong belief that past performances predict future performances. We set up the strongest possible test of these assumptions. In contrast to the theoretical suggestions made in the literature, people are willing to pay for predictions of truly random outcomes after witnessing only a short streak of accurate predictions live in the lab. We discuss potential explanations and implications of such irrational learning in the contexts of economics and finance.