Assorted links

by on November 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Some of this is actually true.

2. Is Catalonia coming to its senses?

3. Joel Slemrod roast (the academic discourse of the future).

4. Things younger than Oscar Niemeyer [Coisas mais novas que Oscar Niemeyer].

5. Why are the Knicks doing better?

6. The Kolmogorov complexity of the dates of various holidays.

Steko November 20, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Stat of the day, Boston without KG or Chris Wilcox on the floor:

“139 points per 100 possessions”

Enrique November 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm

as usual, all of these assorted links are fascinating — I want to click on each one and read them all — but the coolness of the links also raises a larger question — why does TC provide us, his loyal followers, with what is essentially a public service — every single day of the year no less — is this a case of pure altruism? — this behavior seems to falsify the selfish view of man

Michael November 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Whose to say he hasn’t benefited? He’s a lot more well-known as a result of the blog. That opens up new opportunities as well as helps him on the sales of his books.

And for all we know, the Koch brothers could be sending a little money his way considering this an aspect of his job at the Mercatus Center. I strongly doubt that’s the case, but in the immortal words of Peggy Noonan “Is it irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to.”*

*Her original quote was in reference to crazy theories she had regarding Bill Clinton and the Elian Gonzalez saga. (Wall Street Journal, 4/24/00)

DocMerlin November 20, 2012 at 7:53 pm

He has stated elsewhere that he started this blog as advertisement for his textbook. Its been a very good advertisement and has helped him increase his status and hence income, enormously.

Mark Thorson November 20, 2012 at 7:59 pm

It works in both directions. By running a popular blog, people send him tips about stuff they think he’d be interested in. If Paul Krugman is run over by a driverless cardboard car, you’ll hear about it here first.

Thor November 20, 2012 at 9:35 pm

The Great Stagnation of vehicular ways to die?

Willitts November 22, 2012 at 1:18 am

Only if it’s made with a 3D printer.

Foobarista November 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm

On (1), the things that make sense to someone not normally sympathetic to “progressive” Democrats is the following:

1. The political class sucks generally. The problem is we may simply be too big for electoral democracy to function (and no, public campaign financing or other wheezes won’t solve this problem). For all the leftie dreams about tiny, lilly-white Nordic countries, other countries with comparably-sized populations and electoral democracy don’t have better political classes, and many of them are far worse.
2. Big Business long ago captured both sides. They’ll stay “captured” as long as big power and big money is in government.
3. By pointing out the struggles of the “demographic” groups that voted D, he implicitly makes the same point that Douthat made that single mothers and other groups aren’t doing well, and won’t do well, whatever the Dems or Obama do.

Andrew' November 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm

3. And PK seems to have glossed over it too, but at least he didn’t call Douthat a douche hat so we should all chip in to give him a medal or something.

j r November 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm

I don’t know that size is itself the issue. The Nordic countries work, perhaps because they are small, but mostly because they are made up of relatively conscientious people. There are lots of smaller countries made up of the opposite that do quite poorly. Sweden, at 9.3 million, isn’t all that much smaller than Greece at 11 million, but there is obviously something about the culture and political economy of Sweden that is missing in Greece.

If size matters, it is because as you increase population, you increase the amount of diversity in the level of conscientiousness in your population.

DocMerlin November 20, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Nordic countries didn’t used to work. Sweden wasn’t all that neat in the late 80′s.

derek November 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Indeed. They did the tough, very tough restructuring that the US has yet to even contemplate.

And size does matter. Sweden is the population of a large US city.

Anon. November 20, 2012 at 9:20 pm

…at least they did the restructuring though. Greece is still resisting and I’m pretty sure they will elect the communists and leave the Euro before they realize they should’ve changed things.

Foobarista November 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm

The problem is if you add high levels of various forms of diversity with a tendency to try to keep social peace with government swag of various forms (handouts, employment, contracts, etc), you’ll get big, dangerous-to-reduce government with all manner of what would otherwise be seen as waste and general badness, except by the group at the receiving end of the particular swag firehose. In this sense, the US is far more like Greece than the tiny, rather undiverse Nordic countries. I’m not sure if Sweden has what we’d see as political machines, but “group politics” with group handouts is the essence of machine politics everywhere on the planet.

Even nominally homogenous Japan does this, particularly with city versus country stuff, as well as rock-ribbed government unions.

It all works great until you run out of money to run it. Then, you have to pick and choose what is kept and what goes over the side, and since every group has a dog in the fight, winners and losers are inevitable. Between that and the fact that few politicians make their careers by pissing people off, you get Greece-style gridlock.

Floccina November 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm

5. Why are the Knicks doing better?

Don’t tell the Lakers but teams are doing better going smaller. Pao can score pretty good on Melo but Melo can score very easily guarded by Pao.

JWatts November 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm

“Is Catalonia coming to its senses?”

Or are they just ahead of their time? Currently, the threat of being outside the EU is being used as a cudgel to keep them as part of Spain. But why should that be so? If we assume that the world becomes more peaceful and more trade friendly, then it really makes little sense for small ethnic groups to band together with their neighbors for protection. Why should Catalonia be part of Spain, or Quebec part of Canada or Texas part of the US? What inherent advantage is there assuming no need for a large government to wield clout for a smaller population?

DocMerlin November 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm

And you hit the nail on the head. Peace means you don’t need as large a polity.

Jamiejal November 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Anyone interested in the complexity of algorithmic date math can find a fairly easy to read (really!), mature codebase in CPAN’s Date::Manip Perl module. As someone who (in a very minor way) contributed to it, I feel confident in saying, Time Is Hard.

Little known fact: it isn’t even deterministic; ask the IERS.

Claudia November 20, 2012 at 5:13 pm

3. Ah that was fun clip. I wouldn’t worry about the research parts spreading out of roasts and skit nights to all of future academic discourse…unless this 3-minute lecture format gets really popular. Joel is a great economist and a great person (not a trivial pairing), so I am happy to see him so appropriately honored.

Saturos November 21, 2012 at 2:12 am

Were any of those characterizations actually true? (Those books are too long and boring for me to have read, as well, but you seem to know about them.)

I hope she does more videos, that was hilarious.

Claudia November 21, 2012 at 9:02 am

I can only speak to the tax rebate studies. (I have been fortunate to recently collaborate with Joel and Matthew Shapiro on this research.) The statements in the video are a gross oversimplification of the findings, but not incorrect. I will be sad if academic research is reduced to such discourse by blogs, tweets, and short online lectures…but I am not worried. There are enough people (including Joel) who are too concerned about the details and subtleties to let it all go broad brush. Still it was a very funny clip.

Brian Donohue November 20, 2012 at 5:16 pm

re#1. The left-wing in this country is far more dangerously delusional than the right wing, inasmuch as right wing delusions stand little to no chance of being enacted, while left-wing delusions are playing out in front of our eyes in southern Europe.

What a frickin’ idiot. Why do you link to this?

j r November 20, 2012 at 5:30 pm

I would submit the invasion of Iraq as a data point running counter to your argument.

Jon Rodney November 20, 2012 at 5:37 pm

You must have conveniently forgotten a lot of recent history if you think right-wing delusional policies have not a) already been enacted, and b) caused serious damage to the country.

j r November 20, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Why was that a response to me?

Dan in Euroland November 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm

US interventionism not Left wing? Roosevelt, Wilson, Kennedy, Johnson etc. Dude read some history. Sure later conservatives have also become enamored with bellicosity, but war is the bread and butter of the left.

The Original D November 21, 2012 at 9:37 pm

war is the bread and butter of the left

Dude, read some history. Since 1968 the far left has been identified with anti-war policies in the same way that the far right has been identified with evangelic fundamentalism. Not coincidentally, the South has gone from solidly Democratic to overwhelmingly Republican since then. Times change.

Brian Donohue November 20, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Fair point- my mind wasn’t on foreign policy. But dumb jingoism is mostly just dumb, not merely the province of the right-wing. Hillary Clinton took part in the Iraq delusion, for example, and our current tough guy in chief may land us in Iran yet.

Allow me to round out my comment with some examples:

Opening statement: “Terrorized by the prospect of a complete takeover of the U.S. government by right-wing reactionaries…” Terrorized? Oh boy, the guy wets his pants on word one. Go find a right-winger and ask him what he thinks of Mitt Romney. Better still, just go relive the Republican primaries.

“The core organizations of the Democratic base have vowed that after the election they will hold Obama’s “feet to the fire” with a Tea Party-style mobilization from the left—forcing votes on progressive proposals, organizing mass rallies and grooming their own candidates for the next congressional elections.” Okay, implementing this delusion would actually be great for America. Best of luck. Seriously.

“This leaves government as the only possible source of substantial new spending to create jobs.” This fairy tale is much more dangerous than the idea that Earth is 6,000 years old.

“Incomes are declining” Wrong.

“With no new substantial source of stimulus, our trajectory is toward a further erosion of living standards for the majority of Americans.” Excellent, a solution with no hope of working for a problem that doesn’t exist.

“living standards of most people in the United States will continue to drop” Third mention of this canard earns you a Joseph Goebbels propaganda gold star.

“…the White House whispers to Democrats that Obamacare will pave the way for single-payer.” Overheard at a trendy coffee house near the Slate offices?

The dude obviously lives in a liberal coccoon where every blithe assertion in the article triggers solemn nodding around the room. This shit is approaching mantra-quality.

Right-wingers are similarly afflicted, but their lunacy is generally recognized and, therefore, much less dangerous.

NAME REDACTED November 20, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Since when were left wing politicians against war?
Left wing non-politicians sure, but since when did their opinions matter to left-wing politicians?
The left wing will follow their war-mongering politicians as long as the money holds out.

Thor November 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm

The elected left — Clinton, Gore etc — were very anti-Saddam … until G W Bush was elected and it became easy to score points in opposing the chimp-resembling war-monger in chief. (I still think that had Gore won, the Dems would also have toppled the Baathists in Iraq.)

Andrew' November 21, 2012 at 4:59 am

The democrats did nothing to prevent the war, and I don’t know of any proof that sanctions (in this case enforced by Democrats) don’t increase the likelihood of escalation.

So, there is no points here other than GW Bush and the neo-cons were idiosyncratic problems of the right who would fit in just fine (e.g. David Frum) in the Democratic party at the end of the day.

IVV November 21, 2012 at 7:24 am

The greatest difference that I can tell between the Democrats and the Republicans is that one party proudly steps toward disaster while the other mewls and shuffles their feet–but still toward the identical disaster.

Willitts November 22, 2012 at 1:21 am

I seem to recall both parties voting for the Authorization for the Use of Force.

And dont say they were tricked.

Ted Craig November 20, 2012 at 6:37 pm

5. I realize they would have lost to these teams last year, but those 7 wins include the Magic, the Pacers, a struggling Mavs team, and two against the 76ers, who lost to the Pistons. The Knicks did beat Miami and San Antonio, which is impressive. Of course, beating the weaker teams is what a good team is supposed to do, but I would like to see a larger sampling before getting on the Knicks bandwagon.

So Much for Subtlety November 20, 2012 at 6:59 pm

1. The stakes for Democrats are also high. Obama’s victory has reinforced the widespread notion among pundits that the projected future increase in the non-white voting population and the party’s advantage with women already makes it the favorite for 2016 and beyond. But it is precisely these constituencies that economic stagnation has hit the hardest. Whatever the demographic changes, if the Democratic Party produces another four years like the last four, it can kiss goodbye to the next election and probably several after that.

Some of that is true? Probably. The question is what part. I expect this part is not true. I hope it isn’t, but I don’t think the author has understood the issues. Let’s call the two possibilities the Horatio Alger Bootstrap Myth and the Argentinian Death Spiral. In the former, voters look at a failing government that is making it hard for them to find a job and generally look after themselves, and they vote for a change. In the latter, voters look at a failing government that is making it hard for them to find a job and generally look after themselves, so they vote for the guy who gives them free iPhones.

The question is which is dominating the American electorate?

I would think the evidence is that a large part of the electorate specifically voted for the Argentinian Death Spiral. Those groups that are inclined to vote Democrat did well under past Republicans – Reagan and George W. Bush were good for African-Americans. They have done badly under Obama. But they continue to vote for the guy who gives them free iPhones. Why not? If they never bought into the Alger Myth in the first place. That is a product of White Anglo-American culture. The solution is not to seek financial independence but to get the government to take things from White guys and give it to them.

So this is what he doesn’t get – failure is some times its own reward. As WASP America declines, the likelihood is more and more people will vote for free iPhones paid for by said WASPs who will decline further, dragging the whole economy down, which will cause more people to vote for free iPhones. And so on. Until it reaches rock bottom. This will, at some future point, be called bad luck.

Andrew' November 21, 2012 at 6:22 am

I have recently figured out the problem when they talk about the “Republican” idea of the health insurance mandate that even Nobel Prize-Winning economists stoop to engage in this rhetoric (I know my comments never sound directly applicable at first glance).

The first problem that I’ve pointed out is that the Heritage Foundation, and a couple of guys there, aren’t “The Republicans.” Second, Republicans, as we are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO painfully aware will drop Republican principles at the first sign of expediency. Third, it’s just a think tank. It’s their job to throw out a lot of terrible ideas.

On the other hand, the lack of credibility of Romney undermined his ability to attack Obama, on this principle and his total pragmatism (remember when that was a good thing?) hamstrung his ability to explain it even if he understood it.

But I think that the biggest problem is that the same mandate under Obamacare is a different animal in the Republican mind. The think-tank mandate is a band-aid for the government mandated free treatment. It’s a ham-fisted user fee. It covers emergency rooms. Under Obamacare it entitles the unable or unwilling to otherwise pay access to the total of, now completely un-restricted and un-qualified of pre-existing conditions medical system.

So, basically all the people using that rhetorical device were either ignorant or evil…or BOTH!!!

Dick King November 20, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Re: link #1, section 2 of th evinced-to document.

I assume that’s a reference to the Orwellianly named “Employee Free Choice Act”.

Could someone explain to me in words of one syllable what problem is solved by getting rid of the secret ballot when deciding whether a bargaining unit will organize? That is, unless you believe that any non-union worker is a problem that must be solved? Blather about companies threatening individual workers if they vote union is not relevant, since the company doesn’t get to see the ballots either.


NAME REDACTED November 20, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Since when was politics about policy?
Silly, DK, politics is about power. If giving more power to their allies helps them, then why would they care about their opponents?

Andrew' November 21, 2012 at 6:14 am

The question is why is this legislated?

Jim Glass November 20, 2012 at 8:01 pm

“Why are the Knicks doing better?” “Melo is thriving … #1 Melo … #2 Melo … #3 Melo…”

Melo is the most over-rated and over-priced mediocrity in the NBA, if not currently in all of sport.

Basketball is the simplest of games, to see what’s changed this year from last to increase the winning this year, just look at the numbers…

The answer starts with the two new guards — Kidd and Brewer — who have slashed the team’s turnover numbers from big negative to strong positive, while also passing the ball, playing D and shooting far more efficiently than last year’s.

Anyone seeking market failure in the real world can just look at how “big scorers” who get their points by ball hogging, shooting inefficiently and doing little else, are so grossly over-paid so consistently across the league compared to what they contribute to winning, and losing. The Knicks of the Dolan era have specialized in collecting these guys (Marbury, Melo, Amare…)

I suppose one could argue that the owners want profits, not wins, and it is the fans who over-rate the big inefficient scorers, so the owners efficiently cater to what the fans want to get their money. Not unlike the history of pro wrestling. But as to the fans so greatly over-valuing the “winning” ability of such guys … it raises the question of whether people who can’t even recognize a good basketball player should be allowed to vote. :-(

Miley Cyrax November 21, 2012 at 1:01 am

Yes. (More) Kidd, no Amare does wonders in and of itself. Melo’s a decent player in the grand scheme of things, but I agree: one of the most overrated and overpriced athletes out there. Gives chubby kids around America a hope, though.

William November 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm

2. “Is Catalonia coming to its senses?”

I would like to see another massive fight break out in the comment section on the issue of Catalonia, if only in the vain hope that it will keep Tyler from ever opining on it again.

jack November 20, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Those selfish Catalans should subsidize the less-well-off sections of Spain. It would be a tragedy if they left Spain and formed their own country. Why?, you ask. Well, because they have been part of Spain since the 15th century. So they should go on being part of Spain for the foreseeable future.

William November 20, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Thanks jack, but you seem to be forgetting that the movie “L’auberge espagnole” was set in Barcelona, and that all the people depicted in that movie were young, beautiful, and carefree. So there must be no legitimate reason for Catalonian secession. Also, what would they do about the title if Barcelona were no longer in Spain? They’d have to change it. For these and many other reasons, Catalonian independence would wreck both Spain and Europe.

Andrew Condon November 21, 2012 at 10:42 am

I don’t know about massive fight here – the comments section of that lamentably ill-informed FT blog posting will do for me. I mean – when paragraph two starts with something as breath-takingly wrong as:

> Not that long ago, it was thought that the separatist Convergència i Unió party led by Artur Mas could even win an absolute majority.

why would one even bother arguing with people who clearly have no idea what they are talking about? (all political disagreement aside)

Peter November 20, 2012 at 11:37 pm

As far as I can tell, the recent death of the one-week-older Jacques Barzun means that Oscar Niemeyer is the Oldest Person Who Is Famous for More than Just Being Old.

J1 November 21, 2012 at 10:32 am

Well, that and the weinermobile.

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ThomasH November 21, 2012 at 10:28 am

Leaving the Euro and being able to come back in at a more realistic exchange rate or not at all would look like and advantge, not a disadvantge.

Tim Johnson November 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm

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