Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Freedom Indeed

I know I have not been blogging much and my traffic irrelevant, but another striking, money quote quote:
"There were 30,000 people in jail for drugs in 1980, while today there are half a million."
Indeed. When are we going to learn?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gas Money Quote

Money quote on Gas:
"The government takes over 40 cents a gallon in taxes for gasoline, far more than the profit per gallon made by oil refiners like Exxon. And the government doesn’t make any gas for you.

~Temple University Economics Professor Bill Dunkleberg

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Only Factor That Matters

Government interference causes food crisis. Am I surprised? Nope:
"One factor being blamed for the price hikes is the use of government subsidies to promote the use of corn for ethanol production. An estimated 30% of America’s corn crop now goes to fuel, not food."

Of Course They Cloned Labs

I would have too. Those guys are a little bit to fat for my taste

This one is just right!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Truer Words Were Never Spoken

Via Samizdata.net:
"The one place where starvation of the poor is a likely occurrence, of course, is under collectivism. Just look at the great socialist disasters of the 20th Century."
You know I am going to use that in the future.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cut to the Heart of the Matter

On this tax day, read the whole thing, but this is the money quote:
"You could completely eliminate income taxes for the bottom half of the population, and the Treasury would hardly notice."
When 50% of the people are not "invested" - that is, have "skin in the game" - what kind of political system is possible? A second money quote:
The majority who pay nothing resent those with higher incomes; the minority who pay heavily resent those who don't pay.
Exactly. The "Tipping Point" is staring directly in front of us.

Monday, April 14, 2008

More Like, No Tasking

If Multitasking is a myth, the next is worse:
"omnitasking is a higher state of multitasking enabled by today's many technology tools. Talking on a bluetooth-enabled smart phone while sending out an email from your laptop and sipping a latte at the corner coffee shop - that's omnitasking."
Sorry, we aren't built like that. Call it what you like, but the human brain is just not productive in multi or "omni" tasking environments.

Do you want to be productive? Focus grasshopper.

There's More of Them

Turning another economic fallacy on its head.:
"So it’s not just that the same old rich folks are getting richer. The more-important shift is that the rich are getting more numerous."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

No Boston Beer Party, Please

Via Instapundit:

There was a revolution 230 years ago over stuff like this:
"Joe Six-pack w8ill have to pay a lot more to get his buzz on if Assemblyman Jim Beall has his way.

The San Jose Democrat on Thursday proposed raising the beer tax by $1.80 per six-pack, or 30 cents per can or bottle. The current tax is 2 cents per can. That's an increase of about 1,500 percent."

That being said, it is no time for a Boston Beer Party. How about drinking it first and then throwing the empties at the Legislators?

I Feel Your Pain

There is real pain out there:
"Deranged by the entitlement mentality fostered by a metastasizing welfare state, Americans now have such low pain thresholds that suffering is defined as a slight delay in beginning a subsidized retirement often lasting one-third of the retiree's adult lifetime."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

'Big black dog syndrome'

It is a real phenomenon:
"According to animal shelter officials, big, black dogs like Gozer have more trouble finding a happy home than do other dogs. Some shelters even have a name for it: 'Big black dog syndrome.'"
I have a big, black Lab foster dog right now. He is a great dog, but he is a big, black dog and hence, people are reluctant to adopt him. They are missing out.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

School Incentives

It is all about incentives:
"A study released Feb. 25 by Michigan State University researchers found a 31.9% graduation rate for Detroit Public Schools students--just 25% for boys, and 39% for girls.

The Michigan Department of Education reported a 66.8% graduation rate for Detroit Public Schools for the Class of 2006."
Of course the administrators' pay depends upon the (fictitious) graduation rate data. The same thing happens here in Houston.

Tail Wag Dog Crap

Sorry, Scientific American gets the wag doggone wrong:
"The next time you come face to face with a dog wagging its tail, you can make a quick determination on whether to reach out and pet it or step back in deference: check the tail-wag bias. If the wagging tail leans to the dog’s right, you’re safe; if the tail leans to the dog’s left, don’t move."
This is crap science and meaningless when evaluating the aggressive nature of a dog. There are about 10 other characteristics that I would evaluate on a dog before the left- or right-leaning tail wags. In fact, I find such a thing meaningless.

Forecasters Peak Curiosity

A bold admission by Bill Gray:
"We issue these forecasts to satisfy the curiosity of the general public and to bring attention to the hurricane problem," Gray said.
So, the forecasting process is just a ploy to heighten awareness all the while knowing that the forecast is no better than throwing dice and hoping for the best?

This results in the "chicken little" syndrome. No one believes the forecaster because it is hyped far beyond reality. Thus, when failing to live up to expectations due to natural variability, people (rightfully) lose faith in the process and the predictors. As I have written many times, just give me the facts. Let me decide. That is what I want.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Stress is like a glass of water

Slow Leadership: Stress is like a glass of water . . .:
“That’s the way it is with stress too,” she went on. “If you try to carry your workplace burdens all the time, even if they’re quite light, sooner or later they're going to feel heavier and heavier. Soon, you won’t be able to carry on without doing yourself damage. Like this glass of water, you must put them down for a while and rest before going back to holding them up again. When you’re refreshed, you can carry on, if you must.”
Wow. I could not agree more. I wish I had thought of this metaphor sooner. I wish I would not hold up this glass up so much for so long.

Negative or Positive Feedback

Read the whole thing, but this is a key sentence:
"Yet it is reliably inferred from palaeoclimatological data that no “runaway greenhouse effect” has occurred in the half billion years since the Cambrian era, when atmospheric CO2 concentration peaked at almost 20 times today’s value"
If the entire IPCC report is based upon a positive feedback loop, why didn't that feedback result in runaway global warming in the distant past but will do so now?

That is the bottom line and another reason why I will be watching to see what happens in the next 20 years. Already, the temperature increase seems to have halted as the graphs clearly show. Is this the beginning of the end of the global warming hypothesis?

Gold Standard

Frankly, I cannot tell if Donald Luskin is arguing in favor of the gold standard or using the price of gold as an indicator of inflation or deflation:
"What failed him was his own abandonment of the gold standard, precisely when it was giving him just the guidance he needed"
If it is the latter, then I would need to see evidence of a correlation beyond anecdotes. Preferably, it would be a leading indicator, not lagging.

That aside, I would argue that the Fed needs to be interest rate neutral most of the time and let bubbles deflate on their own. I think we have seen one bubble created after another while the Fed chases a soft landing. This housing bubble needs to deflate and quickly. Let it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Need and Greed

Yes, Orwell and Rand are spinning in their graves.:
"Need' now means wanting someone else's money. 'Greed' means wanting to keep your own. And 'Compassion' is when a politician arranges the transfer.

~Joseph Sobran via Mises.org, Adam Smith.org, Greg Mankiw, and Taxing Tennessee"

Is It Cold In Here?

Or is it just me:
"Global temperatures for 2008 will be slightly cooler than last year as a result of the cold La Nina current in the Pacific, UN meteorologists have said.

It has contributed to torrential rains in Australia and to some of the coldest temperatures in memory in snow-bound parts of China.

Mr Jarraud told the BBC that the effect was likely to continue into the summer, depressing temperatures globally by a fraction of a degree.

This would mean that temperatures have not risen globally since 1998 when El Nino warmed the world."

Sometimes graphs say it all.

EU Allows Torture

If this isn't torture, I don't know what is:
"You can use your cell phone in the skies over Europe as early as this summer under new European Union rules — allowing travelers to stay in touch but also raising the cringe-inducing prospect of being stuck next to a chatterbox at 30,000 feet."
Please waterboard me instead.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Blog the Dog

My friend Cynthia notes I should be blogging about my dogs more and economics less.

So here goes. All the pictures here are of Cole, the dog I foster for Lab Rescue. He is the most handsome and sweetest black lab ever. 75 lbs of pure job and energy. He fetches like a champ on land and water. Look at that face! How could you not love him!!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I Blame the Fed

Perry links it to free trade and globalization, I blame the Fed for all this horrible stability and economic progress:
"The softening of the business cycle has become so striking that economists now refer to it as 'The Great Moderation.'"

One Would Hope So

A universal right, I would say::
"'In Maryland, there can be a legitimate defense of third parties in the event of a violent attack,' State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said. 'That is a possibility in this case.'"
Thanks Glenn.

Three Minutes, Tops

People are messing with surveyors on sex questions:
"A survey of sex therapists concluded the optimal amount of time for sexual intercourse was 3 to 13 minutes."
Yeah. And 3 to 13 minute later would be the last time you touched her.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Duh: Alt-Tab

Mark Perry demonstrates his alt-age by demonstrating a tip in existence for, well, five years or more.

As I told my 65 year old dad, as soon as the baby boomers and near boomers die off, we will have a technological revolution in this country. People will be able to use the tools to become the most productive in the world with being, well, alt-dense.