09 Jul 2013


Potpourri 21 Comments

==> If you’re in the DC area, next Wednesday August July 17 the Institute for Energy Research (IER) is having a panel on “Carbon Taxes: The Rest of the Story.” We will be walking through the peer-reviewed economic literature to give some surprising facts about the economics of climate change. Here’s the event info.

==> This Balko article on militarized police has some amazing anecdotes. For example:

As if the shock of having his house invaded by a SWAT team wasn’t enough, Nuckols was in for another surprise. In a letter to the editor of the Chatham Star Review, he described the raid: “Men ran at me, dropped into shooting position, double-handed semi-automatic pistols pointed at me, and made me put my hands against my truck. I was held at gunpoint, searched, taunted, and led into the house. I had no idea what this was about. I was scared beyond description.”

He then looked up, and saw . . . former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal.

O’Neal, an aspiring lawman, had been made an “honorary deputy” with the department. Though he had no training as a SWAT officer, Shaq apparently had gone on several such raids with other police departments around the country. The thrill of bringing an untrained celebrity along apparently trumped the requirement that SWAT teams be staffed only with the most elite, most highly qualified and best-trained cops. According to Nuckols, O’Neal reached into Nuckols’s pickup, snatched up his (perfectly legal) rifle, and exclaimed, “We’ve got a gun!” O’Neal told Time that Nuckols’s description of the raid on his home was exaggerated. “It ain’t no story,” he said. “We did everything right, went to the judge, got a warrant. You know, they make it seem like we beat him up, and that never happened. We went in, talked to him, took some stuff, returned it—bada bam, bada bing.”

And how about this?

Perhaps the best insight into the mentality the police brought to the DNC protests could be found on the T-shirts the Denver police union had printed up for the event. The shirts showed a menacing cop holding a baton. The caption: DNC 2008: WE GET UP EARLY, TO BEAT THE CROWDS. Police were spotted wearing similar shirts at the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago. At the 1996 DNC convention in Chicago, cops were seen wearing shirts that read: WE KICKED YOUR FATHER’S ASS IN 1968 . . . WAIT ’TIL YOU SEE WHAT WE DO TO YOU!

==> I tried reasoning with Noah Smith in the comments of this post, to no avail. I wonder if he even believes what he blogs?

==> Speaking of which, again I praise Tyler Cowen for at least admitting that his view of the Fed and asset prices is in trouble, given recent events. I don’t expect Sumner et al. to fall on the sword, but it would be nice if they would pause in their victory laps to acknowledge that the economy is much more complicated than a blackboard model.

==> Dustin Hoffman gets into his roles.

==> This article tries to debunk the recent report on the female sex drive. This part was hilarious:

So men, without the constraint of a woman saying no, appear to be far more promiscuous than women. “Females,” Baumeister writes, “constitute the restraining force on sex. That is, they refuse many offers or chances for sexual activity. When sex happens, it is because the woman has changed her vote from no to yes.” In a classic 1989 study, for instance, attractive research assistants approached men and women of the opposite sex on a college campus and asked: “I’ve been noticing you around campus and I think you’re attractive. Would you like to go to bed with me tonight?” Three quarters of men said yes. Exactly zero women did.

I just feel bad for the 75% of the guys who had to hear, “Oh, this is just a psych experiment, never mind.”

21 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. Matt Tanous says:

    How does a study on how promiscuous women might be compared to men relate to their sex drive? Are not the physical response and the consent to the act separate? Why does the Atlantic assume that everyone who gets turned on immediately heads to the bedroom for the night?

  2. Jason Bonner says:

    The only thing worse than studies that confirm what everyone already knows are studies that try to debunk what everyone already knows.

  3. Major_Freedom says:

    Murphy, you wrote to Noah:

    “Your posts always irritate me in the beginning, but then I remember that when I was your age I was probably even more arrogant than you, so I smile.”

    That about sums up my view of Smith…except the second part doesn’t apply.

    “I tried reasoning with Noah Smith in the comments of this post, to no avail. I wonder if he even believes what he blogs?”

    My guess is that he’s not intellectually sophisticated enough to think outside the box. He writes in a way that would seem to suggest he wants to have pats on the back not by people who are right, but people who are socially/politically popular.

    Doing this requires a sacrificing of logic and reason. I mean, just look what he wrote, in response to you:

    Murphy: “If someone in 2005 told you he thought there was a housing bubble, would it have been a good response for you to have said, “If everybody thinks there’s a housing bubble, why doesn’t it pop?”

    Smith: “Sure it would be. Yes, there are some models in which everyone knows the bubble is a bubble but it still doesn’t pop. That’s a possibility. But most explanations for bubbles rely on some subset of the populace not knowing it’s a bubble. So while it might be possible for everyone to recognize a bubble, it seems less likely than the case where only some people do. In 2005 you had a lot of people who didn’t recognize the bubble, and some who did.”

    This is a kooky position. He is saying that yes, there are explanations of bubbles, but they rely on a subset of the population thinking there is no bubble. OK, so far so good. But then he says, in the same paragraph, that it is less likely for some people to think there is a bubble, than for everyone to think there is a bubble.

    Huh? If bubble models he’s referring to depend, according to him, on the existence of some portion of the population thinking there is a bubble while the other portion thinking there is not a bubble (in other words, there is DISAGREEMENT about the present, and future), then how can this be LESS likely than 100% agreement in the population?

    • Jonathan Finegold says:

      He’s saying it’s more likely for some people to know: “So while it might be possible for everyone to recognize a bubble, it seems less likely than the case where only some people do.”

      • Major_Freedom says:

        I get the opposite.

        Imagine someone said:

        “So while it might be possible for everyone to like pizza, it seems less likely than the case where only some people do.”

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Nevermind, you’re right Jonathan.

          What you said is actually what confounds me.

          If it’s more likely that some people know, what’s the issue?

    • Ken P says:

      You could theoretically have everyone think there is a bubble, as long as it is not expected to pop until some alarm goes off. There is a game based on it called “hot potato”.

      If you asked 100 people at random whether interest rates are going to go up or down, what would most of them say? Not all of them, would say up, but I doubt many would say down.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        The only reason trades and exchanges exist at all, like I mean why it even takes place, is because there exists disagreements about that which is traded and exchanged.

        If you and I trade my $5 for your hamburger, it’s because we disagree over where in our respective scales of subjectively ranked goods each good resides relative to the other.

        I have the hamburger as ranked higher than the $5, whereas you have the $5 as ranked higher than the hamburger.

        The reason this isn’t addressed all that much outside of Austrianism, is because of a penchant in the mainstream to put too much emphasis on observable facts, such as the single set of prices that exist, and not enough on understanding/reflection.

        It’s easy to conclude on the basis of the single set of observable prices that everyone in the economy somehow “agrees” with those prices as being “the” measurable values for everything that is exchanged. It’s much more time consuming to understand the understanding that the reason prices exist at all is because people disagree over where those prices (money sums) reside relative to the real goods, in each of their ranked scale of goods.

        If everyone actually agreed with each other in terms of the ranking every possible money sum and every possible real good available for ownership, then zero trading would take place. For consider. If I ranked $5 above a given hamburger, and you also ranked $5 above that same given hamburger, and I owned the $5 and you owned the hamburger, then we would not trade, since doing so would have me end up with a lower ranked good.

        In other words, if everyone agreed, there would be no possible route for anyone to change their ownership of anything they owned. Any trade by any person would necessarily make that person worse off.

        Kind of throws the entire “rational expectations” theory under the bus, huh?

  4. Bob Roddis says:

    1. It looks to me like Mr. Smith does not understand and/or apply the Austrian concept of economic calculation. I’m shocked.

    2. In terms of predicting things, who would have predicted in 2008 that the American people would sit quietly like sheep while the Fed propped up the price of financial assets while completely stopping any lending to “Main Street” for years on end?

    3. We have “inflation” in the stock market and in the price of fast food.


  5. Bob Roddis says:

    The other future event un-predicted in 2008 was that the government would employ the super low rates to finance its grotesque spending spree as opposed to a policy to increase private spending through additional lending. Or that the American people would sit still for such a policy for years on end.

    I will admit that I actually believed that once the bust began, the masses would quickly understand how the Keynesian funny money system had caused it and that Keynesianism would be completely and finally routed just like the Commies were after Pol Pot.

  6. Blackadder says:

    I assume you mean next Wednesday JULY 17th.

  7. Ken B says:

    ‘ I just feel bad for the 75% of the guys who had to hear, “Oh, this is just a psych experiment, never mind.” ‘
    That’s what Breach of Promise is for.

  8. Seth says:

    Two comments about the 1989 sex study. 1. I’d love to see that tried again and on more than just one college campus. 2. I’d love to see if the results could be replicated in known hangouts for cougars.

    • Ken P says:

      Good points.

      They need to use guys with some game, too.

  9. Tel says:

    Hey, speaking of random potpourri… someone pointed me to http://academia.edu/ which might be a slightly more educated gestalt of Facebook and Twitter for academic people (that’s us right?) so has anyone checked it out?

    Their terms and conditions mean they want perpetual license to do whatever with your work, but on the other hand the do not claim OWNERSHIP of your work, making them significantly better than traditional publishers… and the site is pretty easy to use.

    I know there’s a lot of other free publishing sites, I mean running your own website costs next to nothing these days, but all things considered the convenience of it might suck more people in. Anyway, interested to hear what people think.

  10. Gold Price says:

    In the 1970s, the Daily Mail campaigned for women in sex cases to be granted automatic anonymity, to protect genuine victims of genuine crimes.

  11. joe says:

    It’s safe to say that everyone who predicted runaway inflation in 2008 was wrong. It’s been 5 years, half a decade. Sack up and admit it. Can’t wait till gold hits $500/oz next year.

  12. silver price says:

    The play is built around four dramatic monologues by women who have been impacted by the femicide in Ciudad Juarez. The monologues are framed by “choral readings” that challenge the civic leaders to act on them and highlight both the economic and sexist roots underlying the situation. It has been performed in 20 countries and in 15 languages.

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