Tuesday, July 05, 2016

30th Anniversary....

On the morning of July 5 (our 30th wedding anniversary, with thanks to John Cappleman, Kevin Grier, Randy Hutter, Brian Roberts, and Andrew Rosen for attending way back when...), I got up early to go to the grocery store.  Not many people there at 7:00 am.

I got to the checkout aisle, and the young lady (25 years old, not at all unattractive) gave me a big smile.  I'm thinking, "Oh, yeah, I've still got it."

Then she started actively laughing.  I looked down at the cart, and saw these three things:


That's right:  Roses, a sparkly anniversary card, and men's hair coloring. 

She apologized for laughing, but kept bursting into giggles as she tried to get the stuff charged.  She was still laughing, and telling the other store workers, about my cart contents, as I slunk off to my car.  I do NOT "still got it."  Fortunately, I'm married, so I don't really need it.

Happy Anniversary, Donna Gingerella!  I love you!

"Blue Devils": Ever Wondered?

You may have wondered how Duke chose the "Blue Devils" as their mascot.  (You also may not have wondered, I realize...)

If you DID wonder...wonder no more.  A five minute documentary, pretty well done.


Monday, July 04, 2016

Independence Day Rodent Action

Have you ever wondered how an American would act, if he were a small rodent? I think I have the answer.

We noticed some mouse droppings, and our dog-sitter claimed to hear "scritching" sounds (her word, not mine). So I put out some traps, baited with chocolate peanut butter.  Figured that would be irresistible.

Next day...found this (click for an even more Independent image):


Two things are noteworthy.

  • First, the trigger is licked completely clean.  This was extremely dense, sticky chocolate peanut butter.  Any jiggling and WHAP.  But no.  Licked it clean. Trap is still set, unsprung.  Balls.
     
  • Second, and even more American:  note the two small objects in the left foreground.  Yes, those are what you think they are.  The mouse, after eating all the bait, took a dump on the trap.

And that, dear ones, is the sort of spirit that makes America great.  A happy Independence Day to you!

Economic Freeedom and Racism

Tolerance in the United States: Does economic freedom transform racial, religious, political and sexual attitudes?

Niclas Berggren & Therese Nilsson
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Tolerance is a distinguishing feature of Western culture. Still, it varies between and within countries, as well as over time, and irrespective of whether one values it for its own sake or for its beneficial consequences, it becomes important to identify its determinants. In this study, we investigate whether the character of economic policy plays a role, by looking at the effect of changes in economic freedom (i.e., lower government expenditures, lower and more general taxes and more modest regulation) on tolerance in one of the most market-oriented countries, the United States. In comparing U.S. states, we find that an increase in the willingness to let atheists, homosexuals and communists speak, keep books in libraries and teach college students is, overall, positively related to preceding increases in economic freedom, more specifically in the form of more general taxes. We suggest, as one explanation, that a discriminatory tax system, which is susceptible to the influence of special interests and which treats people differently, gives rise to feelings of tension and conflict. In contrast, the positive association for tolerance towards racists only applies to speech and books, not to teaching, which may indicate that when it comes to educating the young, (in)tolerant attitudes towards racists are more fixed.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Bee Wilson hits the BREXIT rock bottom

OK people. This has got to be the absolute worst of all apocalyptic BREXIT punditry.

Here is the line that set my toes on fire:


"For the first time since the Second World War, Britain’s ability to feed itself is in question."


WTFF???!!!?????

First of all, exiting the EU doesn't force the UK to put tariffs on EU imports to the UK. They can just leave them at zero.

Second, I'm pretty sure that obesity, not food insecurity is the bigger problem in the contemporary UK.

There are plenty of countries with no FTA with the EU and they can all "feed themselves". If not, the EU FTA would not be the magic bullet to full bellies.

Here's some more rank stupidity:


"As a country that produces only around fifty-four per cent of what it eats, Britain starts to look vulnerable to fluctuating markets."

An FTA with the EU does NOT "protect" any country from "fluctuating markets". If the global coffee crop fails, prices will rise dramatically everything, trade agreements not withstanding. If a government does not let the price rise, then a shortage will arise instead.

And let's just finish off this dumpster fire with this gem:

Food is one of the unequivocal successes of the European Union.

Sweet Fancy Moses.

Actually I might partly agree with this one. Compared to the mess the EU has made of monetary policy, fiscal policy, dealing with its southern members' issues and dealing with the refugee crisis, the hideous CAP of the EU is not as bad as it otherwise might seem. After all, its cost has fallen from over 70% of the EU budget in 1984 to only 39% in 2013!

Zapatero, a tus zapatos!












Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Brexit THIS!

People, I am really getting tired of all the hand-wringing, apocalyptic post-Brexit posts.  Please try to take a deep breath and chill.

It's not that big of a deal. Yes I know stock markets are down. They will come back up.

Yes the pound is down. Who give a $%#$%#$? So what?

If the UK actually exits (for me this is p = .75), economically it will be fine. The US doesn't have zero tariffs with the EU, but we still manage to survive.

This whole thing is much closer to a non-event than the earth-shaking mistake it's taken to be.

Some specific things that really bug me.

1. Claiming that the result was not democratic. Rogoff and Gowder, you both know better.  This is just ludicrous.  There is nothing more democratic than a referendum. Full stop. This was pure democracy in action. Many people who claim to love democracy but dislike this outcome are tying themselves in knots trying to avoid the implication that in this instance at least they are anti-democracy ( welcome to the club, let me show you the secret handshake).

People, the US is not a democracy! We are a Republic. We have tons of checks on democracy. Deciding everything by a simple majority referendum would be a disaster in the US. But it would be a decidedly democratic disaster.


2. Claiming that some voters have a greater right to decide than others and shouting that they were "robbed". It turns out that the youngest voters went for remain while older voters chose leave. And of course this means that the old are robbing the young and the vote is somehow illegitimate because..... old people suck? Because 18-24 year olds have so much more economic and political savvy than do 60 year olds?

I do like the idea that the shorter is your remaining life span, the less your vote should count. I wonder if the folks who are screaming about the pernicious old voters in Brexit would be willing to apply this principle to US elections?


3. Blaming Reagan. Oh Neoliberalism, is there nothing bad that you didn't do? This one is a howler of the highest order. Brexit has nothing to do with what the people who decided it said was important and was caused by Ronnie and Margie Thatcher!  Whatever you are mad about, just trot out the old shibboleths and invoke the ritual incantations. Why hasn't Naomi Klein pinned Brexit on Milton Friedman yet?

Did something happen you don't like? Look back in history,  find the first other thing that you really don't like. There's your cause.

Brexit apocalypse punditry has been some of the stupidest and laziest punditry I've had the misfortune to endure.

We will all survive Brexit with little lasting damage. This will be clear within 6 months.



Saturday, June 25, 2016

Magnetism....


Animal Magnetism: Metaphoric Cues Alter Perceptions of Romantic Partners and Relationships

Andrew Christy, Kelly Hirsch & Rebecca Schlegel
PLoS ONE, May 2016

Abstract: The psychological state of love is difficult to define, and we often rely on metaphors to communicate about this state and its constituent experiences. Commonly, these metaphors liken love to a physical force - it sweeps us off our feet, causes sparks to fly, and ignites flames of passion. Even the use of "attraction" to refer to romantic interest, commonplace in both popular and scholarly discourse, implies a force propelling two objects together. The present research examined the effects of exposing participants to a physical force (magnetism) on subsequent judgments of romantic outcomes. Across two studies, participants exposed to magnets reported greater levels of satisfaction, attraction, intimacy, and commitment.



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Recycling Industrial Complex

A common theme of opportunity cost:  if you use more resources to "save" something than it takes to throw it away, that's not saving.

In the North State Journal, my piece claiming that mandatory recycling is a violation of the separation of church and state....here.  It's gated, but you can register for free.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Unloading the Dishwasher is Foreplay


The Gendered Division of Housework and Couples' Sexual Relationships: A Reexamination 

Daniel Carlson et al.
Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Abstract: Although contemporary couples increasingly express preferences for egalitarian unions, previous research has suggested that sexual intimacy decreases when routine housework is shared. Yet this research was conducted on data that are decades old. To update this work, the authors compared data from the 2006 Marital and Relationship Survey (MARS) and Wave 2 of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH2), collected in 1992–1994. The results indicated change in the association between housework arrangements and sexual intimacy across surveys. Although egalitarian arrangements were associated with lower sexual frequency compared to conventional arrangements in the NSFH2, no such difference was found in the MARS. In fact, reported sexual frequency increased across surveys among egalitarian couples only. In addition, how housework was arranged mattered more for sexual satisfaction among MARS couples than NSFH2 couples. These changes appear to result from the increasing role of perceived equity as a mechanism linking the division of housework to sex.