Monday, February 28, 2011
As best I can recall, this is the first single I ever owned. I think I do still own it now but it is buried somewhere in the basement.
I am not sure what this proves other than that I already had a bit of an off-kilter sense of humor at age seven.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
1. A reason interview with filmmaker Joe Gressis (the video directly above).
2. NYT on states cutting film subsidies.
Mr. Heicklen, a Cornell graduate, taught for more than 20 years at Penn State, where he was a faculty member known for his innovative methods, former colleagues said.
Mr. Heicklen would bring Penn State dancers, actors and cheerleaders into one course to illustrate molecular vibration and to celebrate scientific discovery. “People talked about this course for years,” Robert Bernheim, a retired professor, recalled.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
The Razzies - the comedic better half of the Oscars that honors the worst movies of the year - are tonight. The video above describes some of this years nominees. The Razzies also have a web page and a Youtube channel.
Sadly, I am told, there is no way to watch them live, not even on the web. I won't be watching tomorrow night, but I would have watched tonight. Comedy Central, what are you thinking not putting them on?
Friday, February 25, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Shanghai announced a one-dog policy, based along the lines of China’s one-child law. Owners of the city’s many unlicensed pooches insisted the local authorities were hounding them.Of course, their bark is worse than their bite.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
It was Ahlm who had the idea for this portion of the application. He jokingly says it came to him when he hit his head on the bathroom sink in his home. “This is an exercise that very much captures the essence of what Booth is about,” he says. “Having an ambiguous problem with many moving parts and being able to come up with a strong compelling solution. It was designed to allow someone to bring an application to life. The Powerpoint adds a lot of color, texture and depth to the application.I do wonder, as always, about whether all this effort would pass a cost-benefit test relative to a much less intensive, and extensive process, that used a few simple rules to mechanically rule most applicants in or out, and then had some human intervention only for marginal cases. I have never seen any evidence one way or the other, and I expect that the admissions experts, like most experts, think that they add more to the process than they do.
It also apparently turns some applicants off. “It leads some people to not hit send, which is a perfect outcome,” believes Kole. “Because if they are frustrated and feel they don’t know what to do with those four sheets of paper, they are not going to do well here. If that’s too much ambiguity for them, it’s good that they find that out before they apply. A lot of admits say they fell in love with the place through that process.”
Oh, and associate dean Stacey Kole overlapped with me in the economics doctoral program at Chicago. I wondered where she ended up - not too far away it seems.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Is going to a so-called "better" college worth it? Is the system fair? The first question is the subject of seemingly endless study, which almost always concludes: It depends.
Friday, February 18, 2011
"I think colleges are going to have to jack up tuition,” she said after hearing of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's budget proposal to cut higher education funding by 15 percent. “They’re going to have to. It’s going to suck. I might have to live at home because of the cost.”OH .... MY .... GOD!!!!!!!!! Tara might have to live at home with her PARENTS!!!! They're OLD and they SUCK ....
Sigh. Must stop now and do work.
Local officials respond unfavorably to [Michigan governor Rick] Snyder's call for cuts in state funding for municipalitiesWhy bother reporting something this obvious?
Local thieves applaud cuts to police budget
Local golfers respond favorably to continued city subsidies to their hobby
Finally, we should be pondering whether it’s really such a great thing to have a new generation of legislators that puts a premium on being in good physical shape. Lee, who described himself as a “fit fun and classy guy,” apparently couldn’t wait to ship his potential hookup a deeply incriminating shot of his well-toned body.
These people are already dangerously self-satisfied. Maybe we were better off with paunchy, aging guys who had to acknowledge, in their deepest heart, that if they were getting any sexual action at all it was only because they were on the Appropriations Committee.
1. Duly elected governor and state legislature propose to reduce (not eliminate) the ability of state workers to form labor cartels with the purpose of raising their compensation above the value of their marginal product by exploiting the government's soft budget constraint.
2. Brutal, unelected dictator runs a repressive regime with a vast secret police apparatus and loots his country's wealth for three decades.
Here's a relatively calm example from the American Prospect.
This is Glenn Beck level stuff, the lefty equivalent of calling Obama a socialist.
It is also really insulting to the Egyptians.
Sigh. Would that we had a better left (and a better right).
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Wow .... a marvel.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Intellectuals friendly to religion have fostered an equally misleading notion, one that is thoughtfully dispelled in Stephen Prothero's book, "God is Not One." Seeing the world's major belief systems through Enlightenment-tinted glasses, a succession of influential philosophers, artists, scholars and even many religious leaders have tended to minimize the differences of ritual and dogma among the various religions to emphasize a supposedly universal and benign truth shared by them all. Such well-meaning believers (and they do constitute a kind of religion of their own) have subscribed to variations of the Dalai Lama's affirmation that "the essential message of all religions is very much the same."
And not only friends of religion abuse the truth through such generalizing, says Prothero. Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and other so-called New Atheists attack religions as if they were an undifferentiated mass of barbaric superstitions, all having a disastrous effect on the development of humanity, rational discourse and civil society. Prothero does not deny the evils that have been done in the name of God; he insists that it is precisely a religion's mixture of dark and light, its potential for good and evil, that makes each and every religion so distinctive and so ineradicably human.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
12. Tell me about the moment you decided to enter the political arena.
GILLESPIE: One of the good things about being a libertarian is that you can refuse to enter the political arena, which is about as inviting to normal, decent human beings as a men's room stall in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Overall, three key reasons for living together emerged: wanting to spend more time with one's partner, wanting to share life's financial burdens, and wanting to test compatibility. But the way men and women talked about these three broad reasons was very different.
Women volunteered "love" as a reason to live together three times as often as men did, while men cited "sex" as a reason to live together four times as often as women did.
Both men and women saw cohabitation as a temporary state in which to gauge compatibility, but major gender differences emerged in the underlying goals of living together. Women saw it as a transitional arrangement preceding marriage, while men tended to see it as a convenient, low-risk way to see if a relationship had longer-term potential, using terms like "test drive" to describe the arrangement.
But the strongest gender differences emerged in the perceived disadvantages of cohabitation. Women believed that living together meant less commitment and legitimacy than marriage, while men saw the greatest disadvantage as a limitation on their freedom.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
The February 2011 issue of The American Economic Review celebrates 100 years of publication. Featured in this issue is the first article published in AER in 1911: “Some Unsettled Problems of Irrigation” by Katharine Coman.
Coman received her bachelor’s in philosophy from the University of Michigan in 1880 (economics would not become a department until after Coman’s graduation that same year). While at Michigan she studied political economy with U-M President James Burrill Angell (at that time political economy was taught by the current professor of moral and intellectual philosophy, who was nearly always the president of the University or the senior member of the faculty). It was Angell who recommended Coman to Wellesley where she would, during the course of her career, teach rhetoric, economics, history, and sociology. Coman convinced Wellesley administration that economics was a subject “both suitable and necessary to the education of women” and in 1883, she taught the first course in political economy offered at Wellesley. By 1885—and not yet 28 years old--she was named full professor of history and economics. She retired in 1913 as professor emerita and died in 1915. The Katharine Coman Professorship of Industrial History was established at Wellesley in 1921.
Coman was the only woman among the AEA founders in September 1885.
The process for social science research is a bit less bracing, as we are not usually doing things to sick people at random, but still much more bureaucratic than you might imagine from movies about crazed professors building time machines or working through some big stack of books about an obscure historical figure in the library. Money also plays a much larger role than I think most outsiders realize, both in terms of the time spent by researchers in obtaining and managing funds and in directing subject matter and methods choice.
This sort of historical movie always frustrates me because I want to know how much of the content has some basis in historical evidence, how much has been added or altered for dramatic purposes, and how much has been added or altered to score points in modern political or cultural debates. In the case of this film, I think not much was added for purely dramatic purposes. The movie is low on plot and slow at times - "episodic" to use the word in the otherwise very positive LA Times review. The NY Times review seems a bit phoned in, and overly concerned with reassuring the reader that the reviewer is in no way religious, despite having been to see this movie.
Another review I read, which I could not find again today, noted that the movie does a very good job of illustrating life 1000 years ago. Aside from everyone have clean faces and clean hair, and not ever seeming to do much actual work, I would agree with that. It is also lushly and beautifully photographed, with a fine soundtrack.
Worth seeing, but know what you are getting into.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
2. Signs homeless people write and the original post.
3. Mr. Mohammedssen, please come to the courtesy telephone.
4. The Economist on when to buy airline tickets.
5. Comparing the past and the future.
#3 and #5 via MR.
Now, the sad part is that Ashley, the member of the trio on whom I had a very large crush, has bowed out, replaced by someone else. But still, I'll be going.
Oh, they have a new "album" - showing my age there - too, the first in a decade. You can buy it on their web page.
His closing paragraph:
Unlike some of our previous presidents, President Obama barely mentioned God by name in his State of the Union speech (only once in the closing obligatory line, “God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America”). But his speech was Christian and specifically Protestant through and through. That is the way it is with religion in America in the twenty-first century. In our secular age, our thinking is no less religious, but the most important forms of religion are now implicit and at least partially disguised.Indeed.
Addendum: clever readers will note the pun in the title of the post.
Monday, February 7, 2011
It is an exciting time. I really enjoy watching my students see the payoff to their years of hard work. They enjoy having their income quintuple.
One suggestion to graduate student readers: when you take a job, send an email to your committee members .... they'd like to know.
I would put it very simply: when talking regulation, the key dimension is smart versus dumb rather than a lot versus a little. Design is everything and details matter.
Hat tip: well, Ken Troske, of course!
Growing up in Seattle I do not recall ever having more than two snow days in a row. After that, it would always rain and the snow would go away. In Ann Arbor, one of the few really butch aspects of the University of Michgian is its refusal to close no matter how much snow comes down, on the theory that most all of the students, and many of the faculty, live within walking distance of campus. I think we've had one "snow day" in the six years I've been here, and as I recall that was more about bitter cold than it was about snow. Hat tip: Dann Millimet
I did like this bit from the article:
I think one can translate as: politicians do not provide services that people will pay for voluntarily. Indeed.
Legal experts said it is relatively unusual for politicians to formally trademark their names because they are generally not associated with commercially valuable products or services.
And good job, I suppose, to Bristol Palin for making popular culture lemonade out of the lemon that is her peronsal life.
Hat tip: Charlie Brown
Sunday, February 6, 2011
2. Chris Blattman with good answers to big questions.
3. Random exhibition title generator - excellent!
4. The Onion on the scourge of dinner party schools.
5. United States of Good Beer map.
#3 via Sue Dynarski on FB, as are #4 and #5. She must be avoiding working on something!
The thing that struck me about this was the mismatch between the theory and the test statistic. If it really is true that we all experience life in three second bursts, then all hugs should last some multiple of three hugs. The research as reported instead looks at the average. But the average could be three if half of all hugs lasted one second and half of all hugs last five seconds, in which case the theory would hold for no one.
Hat tip: Charlie Brown
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Usually, we end up seeing PN plays towards the end of their runs, having rescheduled two or three times (something PN is remarkably patient with). This time, we saw the play early on, during previews. There were a few bumpy spots during the preview, such as a suitcase that kept tipping over, but I expect they have all been worked out by now.
The play itself is quite funny and pokes equally at feminists and non-feminists. I particularly enjoyed Leah Smith's performance as Milty, one of the two daughters of (imaginary) feminist icon Roxie Firestone, but all three actors were strong.
Reviews from the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit Examiner and Encore Michigan.
I do like the bit about Hawaii proposing to charge $100 for copies of Obama's birth certificate. Why not balance the budget on the backs of the silly?
Addendum: I was stunned at the number of pop-ups at Mother Jones. I would have expected them to avoid such crass capitalist tools.
Hat tip: Charlie Brown
2. New pants for the Mounties.
3. Linguistics at the Drug Enforcement Agency.
4. Woman attacked by toilet paper dispenser sues restaurant. Somewhat less biased version here.
5. The internet and the sex trade. The main surprise to me was how much of the business has moved to Facebook.
Some of these are older; I'm doing some inbox catch-up.
Hat tip on #2 to Christine Gribowski, on #3 to Daniel Marcin and on #4 to Charlie Brown.
Friday, February 4, 2011
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Here is the abstract:
This paper develops an economic analysis of the toilet seat etiquette, that is, whether the toilet seat should be left up or down. I investigate whether there is any efficiency justification for the presumption that men should leave the toilet seat down after use. I find that the “down rule” is inefficient unless there is a large degree of asymmetry in the inconvenience costs of shifting the position of the toilet seat across genders. I show that the selfish” or the “status quo” rule that leaves the toilet seat in the position used dominates the down rule in a wide range of parameter spaces including the case where the inconvenience costs are the same. The analysis can be applied to other shared facilities that can be customized to each user’s preference.For those with access to such things, the paper was published in Economic Inquiry in 2010.
The first customer comment is excellent:
I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger's shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger's scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said "that's the worst security ever!". But it turned out to be okay, because when the passenger got on the Playmobil B757 and tried to hijack it, she was mobbed by a couple of other heroic passengers, who only sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, which were treated at the Playmobil Hospital.Hat tip: Lars Skipper
The best thing about this product is that it teaches kids about the realities of living in a high-surveillence society. My son said he wants the Playmobil Neighborhood Surveillence System set for Christmas. I've heard that the CC TV cameras on that thing are pretty worthless in terms of quality and motion detection, so I think I'll get him the Playmobil Abu-Gharib Interogation Set instead (it comes with a cute little memo from George Bush).
2. Ann Arbor (or, more precisely, a little town not far from Ann Arbor) gone wild!
3. The strange parallels between drinking and yoga - I laughed a lot.
4. Strategic scoring on the NY Regents exams, as uncovered by three of my friends.
5. Math without a license in North Carolina.
#3 via Eric Kiersky on FB, #5 via the Agitator.
Megan titles her post"The Economics of Kitchens" but the value-added is not the economics, it is the history. Using an old cookbook and memories of her mother and grandmother, she puts the reader in a 1950s kitchen in a way that neither Tyler nor Paul manage to do.
History is really powerful and that includes the social history that conservatives often mock and of which Megan's post is a small example.