Friday, December 31, 2010

Dr. Newmark

End of year Newmarkian link dump.

Some fine entertainment there.

Don' mess wit dem Eagles, Gov!

Selective snow removal for Eagles game... Is the Gov a wuss?

Stupid is as Stupid Does

"The Fair Trade Challenge to Embedded Liberalism"

Sean Ehrlich, International Studies Quarterly, December 2010, Pages 1013-1033

Abstract: The embedded liberalism thesis, a major component of the trade policy literature in political science, argues that governments can build support for free trade by compensating economically those hurt by trade, usually with welfare or education policies. This strategy depends, though, on opposition to trade being driven by employment factors, such as job or income loss because of increased competition. The current fair trade movement raises many non-employment criticisms of trade such as concerns about the environment and labor standards but the literature tends to treat these concerns as traditional protectionism in disguise. This article argues, instead, that for many, these concerns are sincere and that this presents a growing challenge to the compromise of embedded liberalism. The article demonstrates this by examining survey data in the United States and showing that those who support fair trade tend to have characteristics that are opposite those who support economic protection.

A clear problem with democracy. Idiots who are racist or homophobic get to decide employment and marriage policy. And idiots who have no idea how an economy works get to regulate the economy. Democracy is overrated.

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Old and retarded

I actually thought that Angus must be making up the thing about "old people should be ignored because they were retarded." After all, Arnold Kling is hardly a left-wing goober.

But the left-wing goobers are saying the same thing! Check this bon mot from the aggressively useless Ezra "History Begins With Me!" Klein:

He actually says that the reason no one should read the Constitution is that it is old, and no one can tell what it says.

To be fair, I'm sure he means that one has to read the "midrash" of Supreme Court decisions before you can know what the "torah" of the Constitution actually means. (At least, I hope he means that.)

But, consider the 2nd Amendment. Ten years ago I had lunch with a friend who teaches Con Law. I mentioned that the 2nd Amendment clearly creates a personal, individual right to have and bear arms. The only question is how much the state can regulate and limit the size and use of such weapons.

My "friend," with amazing condescension, suggested I should read some undergraduate books to learn what the Constitution really means. Clearly, given what the Court had said in Miller (for example) there is NO right to individual ownership. It doesn't really matter what I think the Constitution says, he told me in the patient tone of a parent lecturing a wayward and willfully ignorant child.

Well, my good friend Prof KM, given the recent decisions in Heller and in McDonald...HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW, SWEETIE! Maybe YOU should go read that old Constitution. It has some really cool parts.

Of course, some of it is very hard to understand, I admit. Take the first Amendment, where it says, "Congress shall make no law..." Opaque language, that, as Stephen Gutowski notes. Must mean that Congress can make pretty much any law it wants, right? As long as a majority approves, like in McCain-Feingold?

(Nod to Angry Alex)

Why I love the NBA

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C (pay close attention starting at the 0.40 second mark here):


100 years ago, Ronald Coase was born. 20 years ago, I was privileged to write a book review of Ronald's book, THE FIRM, THE MARKET, AND THE LAW. Here is part of that review:

"The reason the collection works as a book is that Coase frankly recognizes that though his work (particularly "The Nature of the Firm" and "The Problem of Social Cost," Chapter Five) is often cited it is apparently little read or accepted. In fact, Coase seems frustrated at the misuse of his work, particularly regarding the apocryphal "Coase Theorem":

The world of zero transaction costs has often been described as a Coasian world. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the world of modern economic theory, one which I was hoping to persuade economists to leave . . . Economists [have] been engaged in an attempt to explain why there are divergences between private and social costs and what should be done about it, using a theory in which private and social costs were necessarily always equal. It is therefore hardly surprising that the conclusions reached were often incorrect.., their theoretical system did not take into account a factor which is essential of one wishes to analyze the effect of a change in the law on the allocation of resources. This missing factor is the existence of transactions costs.
(pp. 174-175, red emphasis added.)

So Coase actually thought transactions costs could make social and private costs diverge. Does that mean Pigou was right? Well, yes, Pigou was certainly right, especially when he said:

It is not sufficient to contrast the imperfect adjustments of unfettered enterprise with the best adjustment that economists in their studies can imagine. For we cannot expect that any State authority will attain, or even wholeheartedly seek, that ideal. Such authorities are liable alike to ignorance, to sectional pressure, and to personal corruption by private interest. (1920; p. 296)

The point is that we should READ the classics, not just cite them. Especially when we cite them wrong. Both Coase and Pigou are much more subtle than the caricature they generally get in intermediate micro classes. Happy birthday, Dr. Coase.

(Lagniappe: I should note that a better review of Coase's contribution is Posner's. That is my favorite)

when people were shorter and lived by the water

I was browsing through Econlog this morning and found just the most amazing bit of analysis ever. I just had to share it with you all:

I focus a lot of my historical reading on the first World War and on the 1930s. I think that people were really stupid back then. I take the Flynn Effect seriously, which suggests that the average IQ several generations back was what today would be considered to be mentally retarded. In my view, this helps to explain how cheerfully the nations went to war in1914. Yes, the war turned out to be worse than what they expected. But how were their expectations not influenced by the Civil War or the Franco-Prussian war?

--Arnold Kling

OMFG, people. World War I happened because world leaders 100 years or so ago were "mentally retarded"? Really?


So going back another 50 years or so, Abraham Lincoln must have been the intellectual equivalent of a spider monkey?

Go another 100 years back from that. The founding fathers were the mental equivalents of dung beatles?

Adam Smith had an IQ of 13?

Blogger, please.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Frogger: No Darwin Award, But Close

A guy in Clemson was playing Frogger. For real.

Guy survived. So not Darwin eligible.

(Nod to Tommy the Country Gent Brit)

Roubini vs. Roubini

Or, saying things are bad has been very very good.

Item 1: Nouriel gives an interview on December 28th with CNBC saying housing prices can "only move down".

Item 2: Earlier this month, Nouriel bought a $5.5 million apartment in Manhattan! He got a $2.99 million dollar ARM (so I guess he made a $2.51 million down payment??)!

Best. Letter. Ever.

This is a "What Would Angus Do?" moment, from the past.

An exchange of letters.

A most Angus-esque response.

(Nod to Angry Alex)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The EYM Speaks

The EYM Speaks on Hipness

The article begins on p. 110. Interesting, actually.

Great Thread on PSJR

A great thread about "should you take a dog to your office?" for academics.

The Coase theorem, manners, and a variety of madcap exchanges like this:

A: I never liked having to maneuver around strange large dogs in tight offices in my suit

B: what was a dog doing in your suit?

I liked the whole thing. It's ALL good. Yes, I cheated to spend so much time on the computer. But I couldn't help it. I often took "Louis, King of Dogs" to the office in grad school. And Angus would get in some pretty good basketball-doghead-dribbling. Louie had a pretty solid upward head bounce, and was not smart enough to walk away.

Thomas Friedman finds a friend in politics

I can only hope PA governor Ed Rendell was trying to be funny when he had the following reaction to the postponement of an Eagles game (but I fear that he was serious):

"We've become a nation of wusses. The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything. If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down."

Holy Moly!

I will say this though. If the Communist party wanted the game to go on, it would go on and the people would walk there if ordered to and would do calculus, or even the hokey pokey on the way if ordered to.

KPC is officially "short" on Ed Rendell AND China for 2011.

New Regs Hurt the Poor

The Inefficiency of Refinancing: Why Prepayment Penalties Are Good for Risky Borrowers

Christopher Mayer, Tomasz Piskorski & Alexei Tchistyi
NBER Working Paper, December 2010

Abstract: This paper explores the practice of mortgage refinancing in a dynamic
competitive lending model with risky borrowers and costly default. We show that prepayment penalties improve welfare by ensuring longer-term lending contracts, which prevents the mortgage pools from becoming disproportionately composed of the riskiest borrowers over time. Mortgages with prepayment penalties allow lenders to lower mortgage rates and extend credit to the least creditworthy, with the largest benefits going to the riskiest borrowers, who have the most incentive to refinance in response to positive credit shocks. Empirical evidence from more than 21,000 non-agency securitized fixed rate mortgages is consistent with the key predictions of
our model. Our results suggest that regulations banning refinancing penalties might have the unintended consequence of restricting access to credit and raising rates for the least creditworthy borrowers.

It has been the maintained hypothesis here at KPC for some time that the PRIMARY burden of the new nanny regs on financial markets will be poor or risky borrowers. It's actually pretty obvious, when you think of it.

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Monday, December 27, 2010

I Heart FA Hayek

Gotta be tough for the young lady. Hayek is long dead, and she can't use ...well, let's call them battery-powered products. 'Cause no true Hayek-lover would accept artificial stimulus.

(Nod to Angry Alex)

Grade Inflation? Not here! Well, maybe....

NYTime article on grade inflation in Chapel Hill, and a remedy (?)


(NOD to MAG)

Competitive Markets Are the Enemy of Profits, So Wall Street Opposes Market Competition

Reputation, the SEC, and the requirements of SARBOX are extremely effective entry barriers. SARBOX doesn't apply to privately held companies, but no small company could hope to compete with the big companies.

"If Hertz sees much of its rental fleet lying idle, it will cut its prices to better compete with Avis and Enterprise. Chances are that Avis and Enterprise will respond in kind, and the result will be lower profits all around. On Wall Street, the price of various services has been fixed for decades. If Morgan Stanley issues stock in a new company, it charges the company a commission of around seven per cent. If Evercore or JPMorgan advises a corporation on making an acquisition, the standard fee is about two per cent of the purchase price. I asked TED why there is so little price competition. He concluded it was something of a mystery. 'It’s a commodity
business,' he said. 'I can do what Goldman Sachs does. You can do what I can do. Nobody has a proprietary edge. And if you do have a proprietary edge you’ll only have it for a few weeks before somebody reverse engineers it.' After thinking it over, the best explanation TED could come up with was based on a theory of relativity: investment-banking fees are small compared with the size of the over-all transaction. 'You are a client, and you are going to do a five-billion-dollar deal,' he said. 'It’s the biggest deal you’ve ever done. It’s going to determine your future, and the future of your firm. Are you really going to fight about whether a certain fee is 2.5 per cent or 3.3 per cent? No. The old cliché we rely on is this: When you need surgery, do you go to the discount surgeon or to the one you trust and
know, who charges more?'" [John Cassidy, New Yorker]

Now, you could say it would be hard for new firms to enter this market anyway. But our government makes it impossible.

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Movin' on up

Congratulations to the Mexican drug cartels, who've had a very good 2010. They now allegedly control 75% of neighboring Guatemala (with the deployment of only 800 operatives), and have muscled out the Colombians for the European cocaine distribution routes.

KPC is officially "long" on Mexican drug lords for 2011.

Hat tip to Boz and Wikileaks.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

O Tannenbaum

Mrs. Angus and I wait til just before Christmas and buy a live tree which we plant afterwards. Today was the day and we got an awesome Blue Atlas Cedar. Here's the before and after:

It's beginning to look at lot like Christmas at Chez Angus.


Yestderday was day one of "Lie on your side and watch movies" week (10 days, according to Dr., no more than 15 mins of computer per day).

I watched the "Matrix" trilogy. Much better than I expected. Understood things that I had missed watching them piecemeal.

Today: The Sergo Leone "Spaghetti Western" trilogy--Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

Tomorrow: Lord of the Rings, all three extended versions.

Sunday: I will watch all six "Star Wars" movies back-to-back-to...etc., starting with 1 and ending with six. I may not survive.

Suggestions for next week? And do NOT suggest Croc Dundee, Grease, Shrek, or and so on. You know who you are.

Bizarro World: Pat Robertson Makes Good Sense

If Pat Robertson gets this right (PAT F*&^$ng ROBERTSON!), why doesn't the government get it right? Amazing.
(Nod to Angry Alex)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Angus's 2010 Music Guide

I decided to go with a different kind of top ten list this year:

1. Great music not found on many year-end lists.

Big Troubles: “Worry” If I had to pick one work as “album of the year” this would be it. Simply fantastic. “Bite yr Tongue”, “Georgia” & “Freudian Slips” are my current favorite songs from this album, but it is an absolute monster! You can stream the whole thing here, and buy it here.

Harlem: “Hippies”. Harlem blew me away with their debut album “Free Drugs” and “Hippies” is even better. Here's a video from the album:

No Joy: “Ghost Blonde” If it wasn't for Big Troubles, this would be my record of the year. Kevin Shields should be very proud. You can buy it here, and here's a video:

2. Great music that is on many year-end lists

The National: “High Violet” I still can’t decide if I like this better than “Boxer”. I think “Boxer” is more consistently great, but the high points of “High Violet” are incandescent.

LCD Soundsystem: “This is Happening”. James Murphy outdoes himself. I loved “Sound of Silver” but have now grown to believe that “This is Happening” is even better. Not sure where Murphy can go from here.

Joanna Newsom: “Have one on me”. It’s a bit un-nerving how she keeps changing her voice, but this triple CD is a nice step forward for her.

3. Good music from old favorites

Clinic, Spoon, No Age, Teenage Fanclub, Wolf Parade, Phosphorescent & The Fall all put out very good, listenable albums. Just not their best work ever.

4. Biggest disappointments

I can’t put Arcade Fire as a disappointment; I expected them to stink it up and they did. So my two biggest disappointments are M.I.A.’s “Mia” and Sufjan Stevens’ “Age of Adz”. These are artists who’ve made some of my alltime favorite music and this year’s works are crap. Sufjan is a particularly troubling case; I guess he’s now “too good” for the kind of music he’s made in the past and wants to be a freakin’ composer or something.

5. Best 2010 discoveries of existing artists

Kurt Vile (discovered from “Eastbound & Down”). This guy is awesome! Highly recommended to buy his whole catalog and soak.

Radar Brothers (discovered by arriving unfashionably early to the Vaselines / Teenage Fanclub show in DC). The above advice also applies here.

6. Best live shows I saw in 2010

Dan Mangan / Wooden Birds

Radar Brothers / Vaselines / Teenage Fanclub.

7. Winter 2011 release I’m most looking forward to

Deerhoof: “Deerhoof vs. Evil”

8. Best re-issues

Orange Juice: “Coals to Newcastle”, and the double CD versions of Galaxie 500’s three albums.

9. Best rap/hip-hop (NB I am not an extremely qualified person here)

Earl Sweatshirt: “Earl Sweatshirt” All I can say about this is “wow”. Pretty amazing stuff.

10. Favorite artist on Twitter

Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips from right up the road in OKC. You should definitely follow him.

Christmas at Chez Angus

As the big day approaches, I thought I'd share a video showing how we celebrate Christmas around here:

yeah, it's pretty much like that.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Grandma got run over... by my final exam?

I have often joked that grandparents should strive to keep low achieving grandkids out of college because it can be very very bad for the grandparents' health, especially around exam times. I guess the poor seniors just can't take the stress of worrying about their progeny's academic progress.

Well, it turns out that the full extent of this insidious problem has been scientifically investigated, in a classic research paper entitled "The Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome and the Potential Downfall Of American Society" (ungated version available here).

Here is one of the many "shout it from the rooftops" results:

"The FDR (family death rate) is climbing at an accelerating rate. Extrapolation of this curve suggests that 100 years from now the FDR will stand at 644/100 students/exam. At that rate only the largest families would survive even the first semester of a student's college career."

New Christmas tunes from Sufjan!!

People, the best Christmas music collection ever is Sufjan Stevens' 5 cd set, "Songs for Christmas".

There is supposedly another disc recorded but not released done with members of The National.

Here is a link to two new songs from that unreleased disc.


Here is a link to more Sufjany stuff.

NB. I will be ripping Mr. Stevens pretty good in the next day or so, but the Christmas stuff is terrific.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Larry King, guest blogger

"Here's my problem with nominal GDP targeting; 5% inflation with 0% growth and 1% inflation with 4% growth are not evaluated any differently."

"Now that a judge has ruled against Obamacare, what will happen to the quantitative easing?"

"The Ben Benank should either shave or resign."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Thank you sir, may I have another?

People, it just never ends. Now a group in California is suing Mickey D's over their happy meals. It turns out that kids like them and get mad if mom says no. So mom is suing!!

I am not making this up.

Of course mom is not "just" a mom; she's an employee of a state funded vegetable advocacy group.

I am not making that up either.

Remind me again why we need lawyers?

And a Very Merry Xmas from Haus Der Mungowitz

(We like the reindeer outfit for the BMW. And before you ask, Tanzi was off camera rolling in something disgusting, so nobody wanted to grab her and get her to sit down)

Here's another tip for you all....

...the walrus ain't Paul.

And I can prove it!

Click the pic for a more glorious image. Source is here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The USA went straight to hell in 1975

And I can prove it!!

(Click the pic for a more glorious image)

Last minute Christmas deals!

KPC has used its considerable influence to negotiate the following deals for its readers (just enter KPCROCKS as the promotional code when doing online check out):

Don Van Vliet, RIP

Captain Beefheart has died. I still listen to his first two classic albums (safe as milk and trout mask replica) and he was an accomplished artist. He was 69 years old.

Reattachment Update

I have been trying to lay low. In fact, flat. MAG brought me over a massage table, which is like a sturdy cot, but with a frame with a hole in the middle so I can lie face down and read through the hole.

The first procedure was 8 days ago; the second procedure was Monday, 5 days ago. There is an enormous bubble in my left eye (well, a small bubble, but it's all I can see). The retina appears to have reattached in a physical sense. The problem is that the nerves all need to mate up again, and of course only some of them will. So vision from left eye will always be dim, wrinkled, and unfocused. At BEST.

The primary variable that affects the improvement of vision over the next month is lying face down and motionless. The larger the proportion of time I can do that, the more likely I get back at least some vision in the left eye. (Have always slept on stomach, so that's a help). Anyway, all I can do is look down. And dr says to stay off computer. Eye movements are too rapid, and too large.

So, I read. May I recommend:

Manchester's THE ARMS OF KRUPP
Strasser and Becklund's SWOOSH: The Story of Nike

Three huge books. Only the Chernow one is remotely new. But all well done. Finished GEORGE and SWOOSH, just started KRUPP. Read it years ago, but thought I would give it another go.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The bane of my existence

It's not the Fed, or my tax bill, or the lack of a local Whole Foods, it's grading. And right now, it's the grading time of the year.

This person definitely gets it in their post, "The 5 stages of grading".

An excerpt:

"Bargaining. This stage usually begins as an earnest attempt to buckle down and grade. The instructor might say, “If I grade five papers, I can watch one episode of House,” or, “For every page I grade, I get to eat a piece of candy.” This process starts well, but as the instructor progresses the amount of work required to achieve the reward generally becomes smaller and smaller..."

You'll have to excuse me now, grades are due in on Monday so I'm off to buy a big bag of Reese's cups!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

This is the last straw

As you people know, I've been a big advocate of increased immigration and, yes, of amnesty and a path to citizenship for our "illegals".

But no more!

Not after reading the Fox News Latino report that Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are having an anchor baby.

In what can only be interpreted as a bearish move on the future of their homeland, the couple is planning to give birth in Los Angeles.

Let's just repeal ALL the amendments just to make sure this crap can't happen any more!

FNL in their infinite wisdom, took the story down, but it's cached, people, it's cached.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Heads I win, tails you lose

I am a little bit confused about Fed policy evaluation 101. I seem to be flunking that course.

Quantitative Easing II was supposed to lower long term interest rates. That was the stated goal of the policy.

Long term interest rates have been steadily rising (even before the latest borrowing binge announcement).

Yet many people say that the fact that rates are rising MEANS QE II is WORKING!

As my good friend Doug Nelson likes to say, "you have to be a very highly trained economist to come to that conclusion".

Now maybe the Fed is playing the long con and deliberately misinformed the public about the true purpose of their policy. Could you see the Ben Bernank announcing "We want to raise inflation expectations and long term interest rates"?

I think that they actually expected to lower long rates and the episode should be viewed as an example of the idea that the further out in the term structure the Fed aims, the less control they actually have over rates.

I guess there are two kinds of people in this world; those who think the Fed is always wrong and those who think the Fed is always right.

Hans Rosling's Chart is SERIOUSLY MISLEADING

I guess I am the last person with an internet connection to see this video.

Yes he's an entertaining and enthusiastic guy. Yes, the rise of China and India is amazing and fantastic. Yes there is a large "middle class" of countries.

But people, have you looked at the horizontal axis of his chart? The distance between $400 and $4000 is the same as the distance between $4000 and $40000.

That is incredibly misleading.

Properly plotted on a linear scale, it would be clear that there was way way way LESS income inequality in 1810 or that magic year of 1948 than there is in 2010.

We are NOT living in an "age of convergence" with respect to per-capita incomes.

It is NOT only Sub-Saharan African countries stuck at the bottom.

Latin America is NOT catching up to the USA.

The whole thing is pretty much horse hockey.

Then the press grabs ahold and starts to exaggerate the exaggerations. Here's David Brooks:

"Then, over the last few decades, the social structure of the world changes. The Asian and Latin American countries begin to catch up. With the exception of the African nations, living standards start to converge. Now most countries are clumped toward the top end of the chart..."

Just keep repeating this to yourself people: "The left half of the chart covers a range of $3,600, but the right half of the chart covers a range of $36,000.

Holy Crap!

Rahm Emanuel as Coriolanus" "The price is to ask it kindly"

A bizarre modern remake of Coriolanus was enacted in a basement hearing room in Chicago yesterday. (nod to Anonyman for the NTY link)

Listening to the questions, and the tone of the answers, reminded me of this speech by Coriolanus, after he agreed to submit to the questions of the idiot voters of Rome. Coriolanus has asked one voter what is the "price" of the office he seeks; the voter tartly responds that "the price is to ask it kindly."

Later, Coriolanus says this:

Better it is to die, better to starve,
Than crave the hire which first we do deserve.
Why in this woolvish toge should I stand here,
To beg of Hob and Dick, that do appear,
Their needless vouches?

Coriolanus thinks he deserves the office; how dare the voters make him beg for it? Sorry, Rahm, democracy sucks.

(An aside: I was surprised the article author called the Chicago train the "L", because I always thought it was the "El", short for "elevated train." But the city of Chicago itself has gone with "L" trains. Who knew?)

Nick "The Jacket" Gillespie Prepares Balanced Budget

This is cute, for several reasons.

First, the content is good, and the video works just based on the premise.

But for the cognescenti, all of whom know that Nick's "nickname" (sorry) is "The Jacket", the fact that he is wearing the leather jacket UNDER the apron is terrific. Nick is 90% in on the joke, but the fact is that he DOES always wear "the jacket."

Angry Alex asks whether Nick EVER takes off the jacket. My understanding is that, like the Bandit's hat, he takes it off for one thing, and one thing only.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rouge Birds

A paraphrase, from "Moulin Rouge," Lady Marmalade.

Perhaps we could call it "St Louis Rouge-Birds"

City come through with the money and the bases
We let 'em know we bout that cake straight up the case uh
We independent owners, some mistake us for whores
I'm sayin‘, why spend mine when I can spend yours
Disagree? Well that's you and I’m sorry
Imma keep playing these cats out like Atari

'Cause it turns out that the Cardinals are playing the city pretty hard.

And, indeed, why spend mine when I can spend yours? Both the owners and the politicians win, and only the taxpayers get it good and hard.

As in Mencken's delightful formulation: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

The point being that a lot of St. Louis citizens actually approve of being treated like this. If you want baseball, pay for it.

(Nod to the Bishop)

Ziggy Stardust & the Spider from Slazenger?

There is a parody of this going around the interwebs; I can't understand why.

Mr. Tootie Has A Brother!

Angus's wunderhund, Pluto (aka Mr. Tootie, etc.) has a brother.

The brother is a bear, which is strange.

But if you watch this video, you will see EXACTLY how Mr. Tootie would react to something interesting left in the kitchen.

Right down to the facial expression. And the guy's voice even sounds a bit like Angus.

Video is pretty long. Watch first 15 seconds, then skip ahead to 1:50. And see what Mr. Tootie would do if he were a bear!

(nod to the Blonde)

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Tao of Don

LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling is many things, slumlord, racist, sexual harasser, astute business man (he bought the Clips for 12.5 mil, now worth over 200 mil).

Now we can add performance artist to the mix. He's taken to heckling his premier free agent acquisition during games from his courtside seat:

It’s not uncommon to hear Los Angeles Clippers fans heckle Baron Davis. Of late, however, the jeers directed at the team’s struggling point guard are coming from a far more surprising source: The man paying Davis, Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

Sterling has expressed his displeasure about Davis’ play by taunting him from his courtside seat at Clippers’ home games, several sources told Yahoo! Sports. Among Sterling’s verbal barbs:

– “Why are you in the game?”

– “Why did you take that shot?”

– “You’re out of shape!”

While Sterling has also taunted other Clippers players since the middle of last season, none have received it worse than Davis, the sources said.


Sterling “started getting a lot more vocal during the second half of last season,” one team source said. “He never had done that before at games. Baron’s his pet project. He absolutely hates Baron. He wants to get his money back.”

Now it's true that B-Dizzle has been a big fizzle for the Clips, but heckling him during the game seems like a move designed to make sure he won't get any better.

Regulation Helps Established Firms....

New Flash: Regulation helps established firms, creates entry barriers, and protects profit.

Next: The sun rises in the east.

The only thing surprising about this is that you lefties think that THIS time, if we only elect the right people, things will be different.


(Nod to Angry Alex)

Appalling American Propadanda Video, With Donald Duck

I laughed at first, but it becomes increasingly racist and disturbing. Still, an interesting piece of history...Donald Duck? Really? Plus, the song is catchy. But then so is syphillis.

(Nod to Dutch Boy)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

They know what boys like

Harry Reid and the Senate democrats think they know what President O and the Republicans evidently don't: how to lure the House Dems into supporting the tax deal.

And their answer is........


A few billion here and there for ethanol subsidies and wind and solar subsidies is all they figure it'll take to get the bill past the opposition of the Democratic Caucus in the House.

I bet it works, but I'm surprised they didn't throw in a lil bit more high speed rail money just to clinch it.

The leaky lockbox

Of all the weird stuff surrounding the tax deal (Bill Clinton and President O, mortal enemies, now together??), I think the weirdest of all is the idea that cutting the payroll tax imperils Social Security.

Let's sort this one out right here, OK people?

First, at the meta-level, money is fungible. It's very difficult, if not impossible, to earmark funds even when you try. This is what makes humanitarian aid to oppressive dictatorships such a morally murky area.

Second and most relevant though, is the fact that payroll taxes are NOT dedicated only to paying social security benefits. That's right, not only are your personal contributions NOT saved to fund your social security benefits, aggregate annual payroll taxes are not used explicitly to fund social security. The money is spent, period. On what? it's really impossible to say (see the above paragraph).

Yes, I know, Al Gore told us there's a lockbox with our "contributions" safe inside.

People, it's a lockbox with a 100% skim rate (i.e. not a lockbox at all)! Get Al to let you look inside; that sumbich is empty!

In truth, there really isn't much "imperiling" social security; it's the stream of future health spending obligations that are unsustainable. A combination phasing in partial means testing for benefits, and phasing in a slight rise in eligibility age could easily solve any "problems" that might be conjured up.

But the cut in the payroll tax doesn't "imperil" social security any more than it "imperils" the defense budget or the Pell grant budget.

If benefits aren't altered, then the day that payroll tax revenues fall below benefit payouts, what will happen? Nothing! Benefits will be paid out of general revenues just like they've effectively always been paid.

While tax cuts may imperil future spending (that's the essence of "starve the beast", no?), there is no real link between the type of tax being cut and the type of spending being imperiled.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

And with this purchase, I have finished my Christmas shopping!!!

I saved the best for last too:

Why Borrowing Money is NOT the Same as 'Free"

Kindred, you ignorant slut. Of course, I mean that in a loving way, because Mr. Winecoff has given me a chance to explain an objection that many people may have had.

I wrote this piece. Then I tried to explain, using this "joke" that wasn't funny.

Then Kindred had this (updated) response.


Consider three offers to sell a car.

A. You can buy this car for $10,000
B. You can buy this car for a 60% discount, or $4,000
C. You can buy this car for $4,000 down, and finance $6,000

My claim was that the Republican tax cuts pretended to offer us deal B (big free discount), but in fact offered us deal C (borrow part of price). Deal B is WAY better than Deal C, but it was fake. If someone offered you B, but your contract said C, that would be fraud.

Kindred's objection was that many people prefer Deal C (borrow part of price) to Deal A (pay full price). Um...yes. That's why it is, as he rightly notes, very common. But his objection is a non sequitur. (He's a smart guy, and knew this, I'm pretty sure.)

I never said A was better than C. I said it is a lie to offer B, and then get C.

And Kindred, one other thing: when you cite Wimpy on time preference, you really should cite Chapter 10 of my ANALYZING POLICY book. That is the primary source on Wimpy, I'm pretty sure. Check p. 323...


On the surgery: I can see a whole bunch of bubbles, and the giant red/blue disk of detached retina is getting less opaque, though not smaller. I type this looking straight down over my laptop. Can't use regular computer, or do much of anything else. We'll know by Monday if the surgery is going to work....

Whither the Euro?

Dani Rodrik nails the issues and the answer:

"Ireland and the southern European countries must reduce their debt burden and sharply enhance their economies’ competitiveness. It is hard to see how they can achieve both aims while remaining in the eurozone.

The Greek and Irish bailouts are only temporary palliatives: they do nothing to curtail indebtedness, and they have not stopped contagion. Moreover, the fiscal austerity they prescribe delays economic recovery. The idea that structural and labor-market reforms can deliver quick growth is nothing but a mirage. So the need for debt restructuring is an unavoidable reality.

Even if the Germans and other creditors acquiesce in a restructuring – not from 2013 on, as German Chancellor Angel Merkel has asked for, but now – there is the further problem of restoring competitiveness. This problem is shared by all deficit countries, but is acute in Southern Europe. Membership in the same monetary zone as Germany will condemn these countries to years of deflation, high unemployment, and domestic political turmoil. An exit from the eurozone may be at this point the only realistic option for recovery."

The whole article is well worth reading.


Of course, Rodrik's point is that defending the Euro is no longer worth it for the PIIGS, not whether it's worth it for Germany or France.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Not Funny Joke as an Illustration

So, I came up with a joke to try to illustrate the problem with the "cut taxes, raise deficit" view of policy.

Guy walks onto a used car lot. Guy has a sweater on that says, "I <3 Republicans".*

Salesman sees guy looking at 2006 Ford, marked "$10,000"

Salesman says, "Since you are a Republican, I'll cut the price to $4,000. You'll save $6,000, a 60% cut!"

Republican boy says, "Wow! That's great. Let's do the paperwork."

Salesman writes it up: "$4,000 now, and you owe $6,000, plus accumulated interest, sometime in the future when we feel like charging you."

Buyer starts screaming, "That's not what we agreed on! You said you were cutting the price 60%!"

Salesman says, "Yeah, but somebody has to pay for the car. Besides, I thought you Republicans couldn't tell the difference."


I said it wasn't funny. But why, when we "cut" taxes by X%, adding that amount to the deficit, do we feel like we are getting a benefit from the government, when if a used car company did the same thing we'd have a fit?

Angus put it really well in his post today: We are just moving money around by "cutting" taxes, it is not a tax cut at all. Yet...we are all really happy. The used car salesmen in Washington are right: We DON'T know the difference.

*(For you old people, "<3" is "heart"; look at it)

Angus vs. Angus

I recently posted (and firmly believe) that, without any spending cuts, the proposed set of "tax cuts" are not real, but rather just represent a temporal re-arrangement of when I will be paying taxes.

Yet somehow, I find myself invested in the cuts passing. I am almost titillated by the prospect of a 2 percentage point cut in the payroll tax.

How can this be?

1. I am an idiot?

2. Maybe I will die before the day of reckoning arrives?

3. More realistically, maybe I can make it into a lower tax bracket (i.e. retire) before the day of reckoning arrives?

4. Maybe large spending cuts are right around the corner?

People, which is more likely; I get to retire before the tax hammer comes down enough or big spending cuts materialize to prevent the hammer from falling?

If this post makes no sense to you, please to refer to point #1 above.

Broken Window Fallacy

In the Stone Age, unemployment was 0%. For some reason, Paul Krugman wants to go back there. The objective is not full employment, P-Kroog. The objective is prosperity.

(Nod to Craig Depken on DoL)

If you hate taxes, cut spending!

Two articles... Op-ed about "end the DAFT!" in the south Florida Sun-Sentinel today.

Second, my friend Bill Lumaye bridled when I called him a "Keynesian" on air on WPTF Monday for supporting temporary extensions of the Bush tax cuts. Bill, if you won't believe me, maybe you'll believe that lefty Charles Krauthammer. Short-term, uncertain duration "tax cuts" are not tax cuts at all, but deficit-financed spending.

It's just a crackpot Keynesian stimulus policy! Don't be fooled that it's the "Republican Way." To have an effect on economic activity, tax cuts have to be credibly permanent.

As I say in the Sun-Sentinel article: If you hate taxes, cut spending.

Thursday, December 09, 2010


Ken from Popehat on Wikileaks. Sounds right to me.


As part of our continuing series of women attacking their husbands... He wouldn't give up the remote. So she stabbed him seven times. Yes, she did.

(Nod to @Jeanne23)


Governor Bev Perdue is actually doing something about reorganizing state government.

Never would have worked with the old legislature. But with new Repub majorities in NC House AND Senate...something might even happen.

Well done, Madame Gov!

Just the title itself is SO great!

Nigeria Charges Dick Cheney with Corruption.

I know it's Halliburton, and you can't do business in Nigeria without paying substantial bribes to pretty much every government wanker with his hand out. But still....Pot, meet Kettle!

Jonah by a storyteller

This is why the internet was created. Or it should be. Or it is a benefit of the spontaneous order called "the interwebs" that no one could have foreseen. Or something like that.

Quite a little story-teller. So cute.

(Nod to the Blonde, who also tells stories)


Capitalism is Anarchy, says my man Mike S. What do YOU say, folks? Too extreme, or about right?

I Stood Up Like A Pheonix

This whole democracy thing is over-rated.

Kindergarten class votes autistic boy out of class. It was 14-2, so it's all fair and square, right? Story / video.

The mom said she "stood up like a pheonix." Not sure about the fire metaphor there. And she was very blonde three years ago, black hair now.

Still, the point is that the very idea of majorities acting morally is laughable. I laugh.

The Culture that is Sweden

Great amateur video of KPC fave Jen Lekman singing about stalking Kirsten Dunst in his hometown of Gothenburg.

The link is here, couldn't get the embed to work properly, you have to click on "continue reading to get to the video. Its worth it!!!

At one point he sings that, "The VIP lines aren't at the clubs but at health care, apartments and jobs".


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

If you run for office....

If you run for office, then sometimes you will get pictures taken that look like this.
(Photo credit to David Loner, on FB)

Martin Comes Through

KPC friend and sometimes acerbic commenter Martin sends this terrifying video, made for Leavenworth, WA.

And, yes, Germany was just like this. Not.

Free Market Song

Perhaps not soon to be heard on your local radio station.

But for a class project, not half bad.

Except for the dancing at 0:25, and 2:01. That's pretty bad. People from Utah may be the whitest people in the world. Not that THAT's a bad thing, mind you.

(Nod to the Bishop)

Grand Game: Immigration Edition

In this case, the article itself (in WaPo) plays it straight. In fact, this is great, fair journalism.

The amazing stuff is the content of the article. I'm not sure the author, Andrew Becker, was going for this. But each successive revelation about how ICE "broke" the record is more preposterous and outrageous. Have we completely lost respect for the basic rule of law? And then to have these bureaucrats just LIE....Wow. I mean, the guy who outed the administration's fibs is the head of their own union. The admin lied about changing the rules, and artificially decreed that the year would be longer, on both ends. Good lord.

WaPo is hardly some right wing blogger. There actually appears to be something moving, where fair-minded people on the left are sick and tired of the Obama shenanigans.

Anyway... your favorite parts, highlighted in comments. Go!

(Nod to Anonyman)

From the bathroom of Procrustes

Here's an aphorism way better than any that came from his bedroom:

You complete me!

In one of the funniest Wikileaks so far, a US diplomat labeled Daniel Ortega as Hugo Chavez's "mini-me".

Chavez should get to call Ortega anything he wants, after all he's given Danny around a billion dollars.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Day Without Social Science....

A day without social science is like a day without sunshine. Which we call "night"

So David Brooks believes social science is night

(Nod to TS)

I wonder if alcohol was involved in some way....

What the heck? Christmas carols?

Woman bites off husbands tongue, and then other things happened.

(Nod to the Blonde)

Oh Dear!

Leader, that is. Thanks to @hallsmansm for pointing me to this most excellent blog.

Here are a couple of examples:

The Jacket Speaks

Nick "The Jacket" Gillespie and KPC friend Veronique de Rugy have a plan to balance the budget. It does not involve tax increases, but it does involve spending cuts. Here it is...

I do want to be clear on my opposition to "The Deal" out of Washington. It's fine with me to extend/preserve the tax cuts. But since we have a growing deficit, that just means we are failing to pay for our spending.

And as Angus said this morning, the total spending cuts in "The Deal" are....negative! The Deal increases spending.

Any deal that does not involve spending cuts is no deal at all. DAFT!

Dance band on the Titanic

So President O and the Congressional Republicans have displayed their latest arrangement of the deck chairs on the USS Titanic.

There's something for everyone. No rise in income tax rates, lower payroll taxes, re-extended unemployment benefits, a compromise on the inheritance tax (35% on estates over $5 million) and a bunch of other directed tax breaks.

The two year "cost" is around $900 Billion

Number of spending cuts included in the plan? Around $0.00.

As my co-blogger has so forcefully stated recently: Deficits are future taxes.

Without spending cuts, all we are doing is shuffling the deck on the timing.

As for "stimulus", well the economy will turn around on its own at some point, perhaps soon, so these cuts may be lucky enough to be enacted at an opportunistic point in time whereby they will get the "credit".

And so it continues.

People, the search for grown-ups in government is not going well.

Grand Game: Poinsettias

The Grand Game, Xmas plant edition.

Here is the article. The internal bookmarks aren't set up right, so go here, and then go forward to pages (page 14, mnscrpt page 12) to the article on poinsettias.

The economic argument in the paper made me want to know more about Dr. Godfrey Ejimakor. If you share that want, go here.

Now, perhaps there are disagreements in Ag Econ I don't know about. But is the history of grower marketing agreements in Africa and here in the U.S. really so attractive?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Mel Hinich: In Memoriam

The "In Memoriam" article for Mel Hinich was just published in PUBLIC CHOICE.


It starts bad. But then....the SONG.

End the DAFT!

Our policy is daft. DAFT! Because *D*eficits *A*re *F*uture "T*axes. The DAFT Republicans want to borrow money to pay for tax cuts. And the DAFT Democrats want to borrow money to pay for unemployment benefit extension. It's DAFT! Deficits Are Future Taxes!

I'm going to get t-shirts made: "End the DAFT!"

It's easy....

Instead of "Hell no, I won't go!" we can try, "Like Hell I say, I won't pay!"

Monday's Child is full of links

Anon is angry. (Nod to Alex, who KNOWS from Angry)

It's a temptation that, as we've seen from the class of '94, some of them can't withstand." EWWWW! Stop him before he schtoops again. (Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Joe Scarborough's Class of 2010 Survival Guide.

Class 2010 rapidly putting money in their g-strings
. (Nod to Lord Kent)

Breaking up: easier some times than other times. (Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Partisan filters. (Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Good? Or good enough... (Nod to Kevin Lewis)

You're So Unbelievable

Dear Fed:

You are so unbelievable.

Nothing the "greedy" banks are doing is irrational. It makes perfect to gamble with house money.

The question is why the "house" puts up with it. And the answer is that the "house" (meaning the Fed) is playing with taxpayer money. Nobody who is deciding anything has any skin in the game.

Lordy. Lordy pie.

(Nod to Anonyman)

In defense of Greg Oden?

Over at MR, Tyler asks if we should value economists who are like Ronald Coase or those who are more like Nolan Ryan. (I am not making this up!). This is an instant classic Tyler post containing the sentence "Nobody calls him (Greg Oden) the Ronald Coase of rebounding."

I think he's asking if we should value people with a high "home run" percentage in their output or those with a lot of output.

I think there is an easy way out of this and that is to look at citations, not raw output. After all a rebound is a rebound is a rebound, but not all articles are created equal!

It's possible to have a very long vita without making any discernible impact on the profession and (this should go without saying, but sometimes doesn't) a very short vita is not necessarily a sign of high quality.

So on the citation front, it's no contest. According to Google Scholar, Ronald Coase has over 31,000 cites to his two classic articles. Nolan Ryan only has 9!!

A more serious comparison might be to someone like Alberto Alesina. When I look at the first four pages (40 articles) of his cited articles in Google Scholar, I count roughly 27,000 cites, while his two most cited articles ring up a total of around 4900 cites.

I am somewhat already agreeing with Tyler in that I'm using total citations rather than citations per author here (i.e. not penalizing Alberto for having a lot of co-authored articles).

Who's better?

Hard to say really in this case, but I think total citations are the metric to compare scholars with different vita lengths.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Why Bruce Bartlett is hopeless

I'm not sure what to make of this post from Bruce Bartlett, called "Why fixing the budget is hopeless"

He cites a survey where 848 Americans think 25% of the Federal budget is spent on foreign aid and 10% is given as the ideal amount.

He then points out that official bilateral foreign aid in 2009 was less than 1% of the Federal budget.

First, taking everything at face value, I am not sure why this means fixing the budget is hopeless.

Second, there is a hell of a lot more to foreign aid that "bilateral foreign aid". There's US contributions to multilateral aid agencies, then there's NATO, there's our military presence in Japan, South Korea, etc., there's whatever the heck we're still doing in Iraq after a second president has said "mission accomplished". I'm not saying it's 25%, but it's way way way more than 0.6%.

Why take a question where the definition of aid is not given and could easily be construed broadly and match the answer to a very distinct, narrow definition of aid?

Unless of course, you're hopeless!

Bang a gong

One of the only changes I've made to Mrs. Angus in our 16 years together was to institute a "no bangs" policy for her.

I'm not a fan of bangs for women. Chad, however, is a big bangs fan and he schooled me on the origin of the look.

People, bangs were invented in the 8th century by an Iraqi socialite nicknamed Ziryab or Blackbird!

It must be true, it says so right here in the Wikipedia.

He got kicked out of Baghdad for singing too good, so he moved to Spain.

Once there, he did NOT rest on his laurels though.

He put more strings on the oud. He opened up a chain of beauty parlors. He invented toothpaste. And, just to top it all off, he invented the three course meal.

He was the Marc Bolan of 8th century Andalucia!

Why didn't I think of that?

In today's NY Times, Christy Romer solves our economic problems:

"The Federal Reserve, Congress and the president need to reaffirm that they will do whatever it takes to restore the economy to full health... They should follow up with powerful fiscal and monetary actions to create jobs — coupled with a concrete plan for tackling our long-run budget problems."

Look, I know the Times only pays $1,000 per column, but this has got to be a joke, right?

What exactly are these mysterious "powerful" policy actions and why didn't the government try them when Dr. Romer was head of the CEA?

Good grief!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Don't Forget to Say Happy Birthday to Jesus

According to the LMM, this is actually a documentary.

Nice Mug Shot, and Woman Trouble

1. Nice mug shot. It is interesting that taking drugs helps you escape the drug possession charge. I guess you can't have your cocaine and eat it, too.

2. Women...women who hate women...are luckiest people?

(Nod to Anonyman)

Friday, December 03, 2010

Sell Everything. Quickly.

From the "7:30 Report" in Oz.

(Nod to the Ward Boss)

Thank goodness for sub-titles

This is simultaneous the worst and the best video I've seen in quite a while.



Because it makes me happy, that's why.

(Nod to the Blonde, who has to do her own tree. Can you help?)

So near but yet so far

Dean Baker gets a lot of stuff right early, but then heads off the rails again Ozzie-style:

China's government is saying is that it has no better use for its money than subsidising the consumption of people in the United States and other wealthy countries, by propping up the value of the dollar. That may seem surprising since per capita income in China is less than $8,000 a year, while it is over $45,000 a year in the United States, but if this is what China's leaders insist, who are we to argue?

In effect, China is subsidising its exports to the United States. This is very generous of the Chinese government, since the United States can take advantage of China's generosity to enjoy a higher standard of living. Currently, our deficit with China is equal to 2% of GDP. This means that China is handing us goods and services that are worth roughly $280bn a year more than the value of goods and services we give them in exchange.

I wouldn't put it exactly this way, but kudos, Dean, you're nailing it!

Then there's this:

While this displaces a large amount of domestic production, we can ensure that the displacement does not result in unemployment by simply shortening working weeks. If everyone's working week was shortened by 2.0% (the equivalent of one week per year of vacation), we could keep the workforce fully employed even in the case of reduced demand.

People, the idea that every $ of the trade deficit with China represents a $ of lost domestic production is risible. Does Dean really think the next cheapest producer of Walmart products operates plants in the USA? What about Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, even Mexico? Bilateral trade is not a leak-proof iron pipe. Reductions in a trade deficit with a single country does not guarantee reductions in the overall trade deficit. That's just econ 101.

Dean is also a bit confused about where most low education workers in the USA work:

At present, China's trade policy primary hurts non-college-educated workers, since those with college and professional degrees are largely protected from the same sort of competition that manufacturing workers face. It is important to eliminate the barriers that protect doctors, lawyers and university professors from competition with their lower-paid counterparts in the developing world. This way, trade with China would put downward pressure on the wages of professionals, not just manufacturing workers.

First, most non college educated workers do NOT work in manufacturing. Manufacturing employment is a small fraction of overall employment. Many non-college educated workers work in the service sector and thus are largely "sheltered" from import competition.

Second, as Dean knows full well, American university professors in the USA face tremendous competition from foreign workers. In our small department in Oklahoma we have a Greek, an Argentine, a Turk, and three Chinese professors; about one third of the department lived abroad before starting grad school. Go look at the home page of the Harvard economics department and count the foreigners.

I fully support increased immigration for professionals (and indeed for almost everyone), but Dean just does not have his facts straight here.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

John Nye: Interesting Talk on North, and Economics

Great, great talk. John is a wonderful guy, funny and smart.

(Nod to Pete B)

Take the skinheads bowling

One of my alltime favorite bands is Camper Van Beethoven. Turns out their front-man, David Lowery also has a head for business, as he was involved in the founding of Groupon which just sold itself to Google.

Here is Lowery on the subject:

"In 2008 I was appointed to the board of advisors of a small web startup called www.the The site the brainchild of Andrew Mason was a " tipping point" mechanism, a social networking site that allowed people "commit" to take group action. In particular the hope was they would take group action for social change. The investors quietly noted there was not a clear way to monetize Andrew’s experiment. However they hoped that by watching the way users used the tipping point mechanism, a viable way to monetize this website would present itself.

I was asked to start a campaign on"To get a feel for it". Not being very socially conscious I decided that I wanted to use The Point for my own narrow self interests.

Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven have a festival, The Campout. It’s rather remote and since we produce the small festival ourselves we take considerable financial risk. While the previous years had been marginally successful we were worried about the rapidly deteriorating economy (I believe Bear Stearns had just gone bankrupt). So I started a campaign to get a "break even" amount of CVB and Cracker fans to commit to attend the festival. In this way our fan’s promises to attend would become a sort of promissory note. no pun intended. While you couldn’t exactly peg it’s value, these collective promises to attend at some point seemed to be worth enough to go ahead and book the flights, PA, lights, and port-o-potties.

Other successful "campaigns" on The Point also involved similar commitments for group purchasing. It wasn’t long before The Point became Groupon."

Wow, Elvis Presley died and David Lowery got paid?

Hat tip to DG!

Economics is fun: Follow the money

Follow the money.... why repeal the estate tax, really?

Raise the price of a substitute (savings), and you shift out the demand curve for life insurance.

See, it's easy, and FUN!

(Nod to Angry Alex)

He's just not that into you

Danny G is taking this whole LeBron breakup thing pretty hard:

"The Cleveland Cavaliers have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a high-powered Midwestern law firm to investigate their suspicions that the Miami Heat broke NBA tampering rules while pursuing LeBron James, and owner Dan Gilbert has privately vowed he won’t relent until he has a thick binder of findings to drop on the desk of the NBA commissioner, league sources told Yahoo! Sports."

Man, I know break-ups are tough, but this is nuts. Hiring a private dick to try and piece together whether your ex started cheating on you before the divorce? Does he think he'll get LeBron back?

I guess he just wants LeBron's new love to be hurting too. He should just sneak up on Pat Riley and sucker-punch him!

My Safety University

So, MSU played well, if getting CHILIPUNK'D by a freshman counts as playing well. Here is photographic evidence that the boys in green from My Safety University were actually there, in Cameron, doing whatever it is that they do.

Since I have been to games with Aaron, I know what they were doing. Aaron was saying some remarkably brazen things, during quiet moments, terrifying his "friends." In this case the friends stand out because they are wearing the "tools of ignorance" green shirts that come with being MSU fans.

Went to a Durham Bulls game with Aaron, in September. We were in the third row, directly behind the visitors dugout. You could throw a peanut and hit the on-deck batter in the backside, couldn't have been more than 15 feet.

During quiet moments, Aaron would go after the kid who was playing left field for the other team. The guy had missed a grounder, trying to hurry and make a throw to the plate. The ball had skipped under his glove, and gone to the fence. Two runs scored, man on third, instead of first and third, one run in.

So Aaron is going after this kid pretty hard, and it's often quiet in minor league ballparks. Not totally silent, but Aaron the Foghorn Voice could be heard in the far reaches. "In Little League...IN LITTLE LEAGUE! You learn you have to catch the ball before you can throw it! Hey, Todd! Why didn't you catch it before you threw it? That's Little League."

Aaron, between innings, finds out that the kid (Todd Frazier) DID play Little League. In fact, he played on the LL WORLD CHAMP TEAM! Played for Toms River, and went 4-4 in final game against Japan, one of the hits a homer.

Next at-bat for Todd: "Hey, Todd! You DID play Little League! You should have known. How did you miss that grounder?"

Todd keeps turning around, clearly has rabbit ears. Finally, Todd turns around and mouths, "You are fat! Lose weight!"

Now, Aaron is in heaven, of course. That is not a very good comeback. But more important Todd's head is up in the stands, not in the game. Aaron's work is done.

So he goes after another guy, with long shaggy hair. Looks up the guy's hometown, in the trusty game program. "Hey, Smith! Nice hair! By this time Saturday, you're going to be home in (guy's actual hometown), waking up late and getting your hair done! Does your wife have a favorite place for you to get your hair done! Hey, Smith!"

Then two more developments.

First, the mousey little guy ahead of us turns around and berates Aaron for being a loud-mouth goofball. Except he does it in the most whiny, "Why can't you be nice? We're just here to see the game. Don't be mean to people!" junior tree-hugging granola way. I mean, this weasel made @kohenari look macho. Photographic evidence of Mr. Mouse: To Aaron's credit, he backed off a bit. We were afriad Mouse Man might quiver himself to death or something.

Then, a guy up to our right, five rows over and five rows back, starts giving it HARD to the Bats in the N'awlins Old School fashion. This old guy looks like a Confederate cavalry officer, with white goatee and flowing white hair. Thick Loosiana accent. "Hey, battah! That bat too heavy, now. That bat doan got dat heavy, heavy gris-gris all ovah it. You cain't even pick dat bat, dat's a gris-gris bat! Who dat gawnna hit wit dat gris-gris bat? Not you, sawn, not you!"

We were rolling around in the aisles at this point. First, this guy had some great stuff. I can't remember most of it, but it was tremendous. Aaron was trying to take notes. (Since he went to MSU, he can't actually write, but he was trying). Second, the guy ahead of us, Mr. "Let's all get along and watch the game!" was staring straight ahead. No way he was going to mess with Colonel Jeb Stuart over there. Ol' Jeb would have brought dat hoodoo right down on that little leftie bed-wetter head of his.

But...oh, glory! The Bat's pitching coach, the COACH, comes up to the top step and starts bickering with ol' Jeb the Heckler. Coach yelled, "Hey, old man: You're an idiot!" Jeb nods happily: SCORE! Aaron, knowing he was in the presence of true heckling greatness, nodded and remembered. A rabbit-eared 22 year old....easy. A 55 year old veteran coach, who should know better...Practice, Aaron, practice.

So, anyway, though I was not at the Duke-MSU game last night, I am confident that there was invective and heckling taking place, right up to and perhaps slightly past the point where Aaron got physically threatened.

(UPDATE: My bad, photo credit to Chris DeSante, who clearly has ESPNHD and a TV nicer than most grad students can be expected to have)