Assorted links

1. The new real estate bubble; it’s for the birds.

2. Good news for beta males?

3. How do (should) we evaluate new and wacky claims?  And here is a new wacky claim, this time about economic growth and one of its apparent correlates (can you guess?)

4. Do parrots have individual names in the wild?

5. Blackburn reviews Parfit.

6. How much does it cost to go to Hogwarts?


#6 is rather stupid. In summary: "Assuming that Hogwarts costs as much as a real-life boarding school, then Hogwarts costs as much as a real-life boarding school".

Yes, it certainly reflects poorly on the author that he didn't undertake a more rigourous study of the issue.

#3 This is hardly suprising. Those less endowed have been supporting the auto industry for decades.

war is good for an economy

government spending has a multiplier of 2 or higher, whilst private business struggles to get a return of investment anywhere near 10%

the government can print money willy-nilly, after all this just fiddling with some balance sheets and we're modern

liberals (in the classic sense) support the idea that banks should have trillions in 'side' bets with nobody having a clue about who stands to lose/gain what

rating agencies caused the financial crisis

From the paper in #3:
"Taken at face value the fi ndings suggest that the `male organ hypothesis'
put forward here is quite penetrating an argument. Yet for the best of author's
knowledge, male organ has not been touched in the growth literature before"

#3. Culture of rules (generally derived from a religion) -> practice of monogamy/polygyny -> smaller endowments; culture of rules -> property rights & less regime uncertainty -> economic growth. How's that?

My business partner does claim that mass circumcision -> insecurity -> economic growth, though his analysis is not very rigorous.

Blackburn may be right in the end, but he seems to see moral philosophy as having more or less stopped at Hume, with only Economics, Wittgensteinian anti-philosophy, and hard science as worthwhile enterprises to explore these issues.

(3) ''...estimates an *augmented* Solow model...'' seriously??

As with most private institutions, the tuition reported for Hogwarts is inflated for signalling reasons. The truth is there is substantial endowment such that even Weasleys an the outright mentally ill can attend for substantially less than the stated amount. The value to prospective students of applying for scholarships can't be overstated.

"Inside the charmed walls [of All Souls College] I fear that the tragedy is more like that of Ajax slaying sheep, or perhaps it is the comedy of Don Quixote tilting at windmills."

Ouch. It seems to me that English book reviews tend to be more caustic than those carried out stateside. Is this true? I found this review quite worthwhile and entertaining FWIW.

#1 - There may be a US asset bubble developing in farm land. Today's WSJ (page D7E) has an ad offering Ogle County, Illinois "prime farm land" at $8,900 an acre. Holy Cow!!! Well, maybe that land has other "higher and better" uses than growing corn at inflated prices for ethanol.

FDIC Qrtly Review 3rd Quarter 2008: "Do record farmland prices portend another steep downturn for Ag and farm banks? Per acre (in 2008 dollars) $947/1914; $1,940/1981; $2,350/2008. From 1971 to 1981, 80% inflation adjusted rise in farmland prices, early 1980's Ag Crisis caused steep decline to pre-1970 levels."

"Regulator Warns of US Farm Asset Bubble" by James Politi,
Financial Times, 10/19/2010 -- "The next asset bubbles with potential to endanger the US financial system are in farm property and Treasury bonds, a leading regulator has warned.

"Sheila Bair, who chairs the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – responsible for seizing failing banks – said the health of more than 1,500 farm banks would be threatened if the “positive fundamentals” in the booming agricultural sector suddenly reversed.

“While the credit structure underlying US farmland does not appear to involve excessive leverage or inappropriate loan products, this is a situation that will continue to require close monitoring,” Ms Bair said in Baltimore on Monday. “A sharp decline in farmland prices similar to the early 1980s could have a severe adverse impact on the nation’s ... farm banks.”

#3 - Helstinki, Finland! That explains it. In America, we believe self-evident truths such like "all men are created equal." Apparently, gym class and public bathrooms had yet to be invented in 1776.

Here's how I deal with whacky claims: chant, "Correlation is not causation." Then I run it through the shredder and cancel the subscription.

“We’re not sort of a strict dominance hierarchy species,” said Dr Sapolsky, "but it was still the grad students and not the professors who ran about 'collecting fecal samples' from the vicious baboons."

On the costs of Hogwarts - as a member of the SCA for some time, I knew the prices given for the winter cloak and the silver brooch were ridiculously low. The "cloak" shown is not a winter cloak; it;s a light spring wrap. And remember, Hogwarts is in Scotland!

And for the cost of the brooch given, I knew it was white metal, not silver (having bought more than a few in my day) , and so it proved. Bad, bad researcher! Magically, white metal is NOT any kind of equivalent of silver. When a magician says "silver" they need the real things.

Sorry -- that equipment will serve him well at the New Mexico State University Renfaire -- if that.

Unfortunately there haven't been enough rigorous studies done on male organ size to provide any real evaluation of #3's claim. Its hard to get funding for most sex studies and we haven't really advanced in our knowledge or data since Kinsey.

Comments for this post are closed