Monday assorted links


Billy, have you ever seen a grown man naked?

I picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue.

The Financial Crisis 5 Years On - What Have We Learnt From It?

that too big to fail works

#3 - just curious as to how many birds are killed by drones? You'd think there'd be a few (unless the rotors are caged)

The more I read him, the more convinced I am that Krugman is suffering some sort of mental illness.

I think it is a pathogen. He married a crazy women and then he slowly went insane. Everyday he looks more like Ted Kaczynski.

Which link are you referring to?

Nevermind, it's number 7

It's sort of masochistic to keep reading someone you are convinced is cuckoo.

No fan of Krugman here, but he is just angry and making unfair attacks on his opponents. Kind of like what you are doing when you claim he is mentally ill (you don't really believe that, do you?).

No one above is using a regular column in one of the nation's largest newspapers to attack their opponents. That's a bit of a difference.

Well, yes, Krugman should be held to higher standards. But claims that he is mentally ill are dumb.

To paraphrase Krugman, "I disagree with dan1111 therefore dan1111 must be evil."

Mental illness is a reasonable hypothesis for what might have changed Krugman from someone who mercilessly bashed the respective messages of those he disagreed with during the 80's and 90's, and then in the new millennium he started bashing messengers of those whose respective messages he disagreed with.

Feel free to posit a different hypothesis for this anti-scholarly behavioral change.

Alternate hypothesis for change in writing styles - his wife took over his column but kept his byline.

@ 7
I understood Krugman’s comment to mean that a tax on CO2 emissions rolled into a tariff on the CO2 content of imports from countries that did not also have a similar tax on CO2 emissions could be a useful way to advance a global agreement on policies to deal with climate change.

So what? What part of the word "compel" don't you understand, or "sanctions" for that matter?

I though it was pretty clear from my remark that I agree that the US cannot "compel" another country to reduce its CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.

So Krugman is arguing that selective import tariff's are a good idea?

Too bad regulatory agencies do not have to disclose the cost benefit analysis that lies behind their rulings. The justification given in this case sounds implausible.

7: "OMG. Sanctions. Like the ones that stopped Assad and Putin? Like the ones we can’t get other countries to go along with in the face of Putin annexing pieces of countries we have treaties with? The Chinese are out there ramming Vietnamese boats, but we’ll just sanction them into drastic emission drops?"

See that? Even people who fundamentally agree with Krugman are still capable of noticing that he is a full-on raving Category Five Idiot.


Americans are such wusses when it comes to genetics.

Or a gold mine too tempting to pass up.

Egalitarians aren't going to like those social spiders.

#1: Way back in the olden thymes I was tasked with modeling marketing budgets and revenue forecasts. The first thing I did was sit in on a presentation by the director of marketing to the board. This was before anyone knew how to use power point so the guy was putting up slides. It was mostly nonsense that everyone seemed to believe.

Digging into the numbers and analyzing campaigns, I was amazed to see no evidence between the various marketing campaign and sales. There was not even an effort to justify these things. Tracking of something like coupons, which could be useful, was too haphazard to provide good data. The more I tried to flesh out some data, the more I realized it was impossible. Everyone just believed it worked and that was it.

Some time ago this video got my attention:

It appears that Facebook is relying on people's faith in advertising to bamboozle them out of money. I would imagine all Internet advertising relies on the same premise. "Million of people will see your ad!" Whether that results in new sales is difficult to substantiate.

You don't hire a marketing director to not buy ads.

Once it was obvious that I could not produce anything honest to justify the marketing budgets, my boss told me to just fake it. He suggested a few complicated graphs in the front and an executive summary extolling the benefits of marketing. "No one is going to read it anyway."

I did ask the marketing guys how they came with their budget requests. They said they always went over budget. That way, they could go into budget meetings promising to hold the line on their budget, spending only what they spent last year. Apparently, no one ever remembered last year so it worked.

It was a good lesson. Later I faked a few quality committee assignments the same way.

There's the classic saying:

"50% of my advertising budget is wasted. But I don't know which 50%."

If that is true, then both fifty percents are wasted.

can the U.S. compel other countries to cut their carbon emissions?


The question being, is it worth nuclear war to do so? (That being the only means by which that can actually be compelled.)


A lot of it depends on why China doesn't seem interested in fighting global warming.

Here are some wild-ass guesses as to China's thinking, and each one requires a different policy response:

1. China thinks AGW is a load of hooey.

2. China thinks that it will benefit from higher temperatures.

3. China thinks it will be hurt somewhat by higher temperatures, but its rivals will be hurt more, thus relatively helping it.

4. China thinks that it can wait a decade or two for it to not need so much concrete, and then it will get on board.

5. China thinks it's a real problem but believes it can successfully bluff other countries into giving it generous financial incentives to get on board.

6. China isn't doing it because the US hasn't decisively ruled out the XL Pipeline. (NB: If you believe this one you should not handle sharp objects.)

There are lots more. Someone has probably already collated them elsewhere on the Internet.

China is the #1 producer and user of evacuated tube solar collectors, which is de facto evidence that when green saves some green people will do it.

These are good. I'll offer one higher-level observation: China is a bunch of people and doesn't have unitary or even coherent thought. It obviously wouldn't be sensible to ask what America thinks about AGW, but people often think that because China is kind of a tyranny it's okay to do it there. But even in China, there are many competing viewpoints.

So your policy responses probably shouldn't be based off of choosing an item from the above list.

7. China (in the sense of the Chinese government) thinks that AGW is a problem, but that a billion Chinese people who aren't yet middle class and are increasingly impatient about the fact that three hundred million other Chinese people have reached the middle class while they stil havent, is a much bigger problem. Potentially a Chinese-leaders-with-heads-on-pikes-outside-the-Forbidden-Palace-level problem. So if the fastest, cheapest way to get electricity to another village of peasants is to build another coal-fired powerplant, that's what's going to happen.

1. Most Chinese people don't have heat in their homes.

2. Those charcoal briquette things that they use for cooking are a pain in the tush.

3. Oddly, Chinese people want to get to work.

I find these discussions about global warming and CO2 detached from the reality of our lives. Everything we depend upon that has improved our lives over the last century has been fueled by energy from some source. Why wouldn't the Chinese, as they rise beyond subsistence farming and hiding from maniacal communist apparatchiks want some basic things like a reasonably warm house.

Exactly. A war on carbon emissions in 2014 is practically the definition of 'first world problems'.

>is it worth nuclear war to do so?

I love it. "You need to stop emitting carbon so we can save the atmosphere and protect life on Earth! Or else we will drop seventy-five nuclear bombs on you!!"

I can see Krugman getting quite a few columns out of that. Change your lightbulbs to prevent a nuclear winter, and so on.

#5 The article references and quotes a number of different people about the specifics of this situation but it doesn't quote the most important decision-makers, the FDA bureaucrats, in this case, per the warning letter that would be:

Alberto Gutierrez
Office of In vitro Diagnostics
and Radiological Health
Center for Devices and Radiological Health

James L. Woods, WO66-5688
Deputy Director
Patient Safety and Product Quality
Office of In vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993

These unelected bureaucrats are responsible for policies and outcomes but are simply referred to as the "FDA", an abstraction to which no responsibility can be attached. It's important to know who these people are so that if by some chance you are seated next to one of them on a flight from DC to San Francisco you can either request another seat or, failing that, spill your coffee on their lap.

#4: "The Road to Wigan Pier", Orwell, P. 48.

it has been done before.

#5. Great work, "science" boosters. Thanks a lot.

"What happens with 23andMe will force agencies to set up rules and precedents that will likely affect the regulation of bioinformatics for decades to come."

I think people don't quite let it sink in when I say all these people are hacks.

At least now, thanks to John Roberts epic fail in obliterating The Constitution, we know they can make making it illegal legal by putting a million dollar tax on it.

5) Kind of ironic that as a European, paying 23andme (back when it actually did something useful rather than the current ancestry BS) twice the normal US price because of the the ridiculous shipping charges by far the best option to get the data I wanted...

Who wants to invest in the world's first genetic testing and marital compatibility cruise ship?

What happens on HMS Hedonism 3 stays on HMS Hedonism 3.

#5 i have seen a presentation about 23andMe and similar companies and trust me: their product ( i mean their AUC) is basically crap. Even if it wasnt crap you will likely just get a new wave of ridiculous amount of overtreatment. So it does not surprise me that the regulators are not convinced.

"you will likely just get a new wave of ridiculous amount of overtreatment"
1. How?
2. Do you believe the FDA's purview is any and all information relating to your proposed mechanism in 1.?
3. What is the FDA's proposal to allowing themselves to be convinced so that they can stop blocking potentially useful information (because they have some theory of 1. and thus are taking the position that the information is very important)?

And for bonus points: what is the FDA's approved source of genetic information?

Agreed, but the lamentable situation is that even though 23andMe is crap, the bases that the FDA has used justify their rulings and enforcements against 23andMe are also crap. And if someone ever comes up with a generally useful personal genomics product, it will be subject to all the FDA crap.

Bad cases make bad law, and I guess bad companies make for bad regulation.

Crap compared to what?

that is not the actual basis of the FDA's claims even if it were a legitimate basis for it, which it isn't.

All they want is control over your personal information.

Even at the fda's self determined definition of its authority creep puts 23andme outside their purview. It is not a device, is not used in diagnosis, nor prevention of disease in a medical context. Not only that buy the fda will lose in the supreme court and and the history books and we will get the information soon anyway. Although it will be needlessly delayed to no benefit by an adulterated out of control fda grasping at straws of dwindling legitimacy of power.

Btw, The fda has effectively put 15 out of 17 genetic testing companies out of business ensuring that only 23andme remains along with a much lesser quality product.

Their goal is obviously not to get better product to consumers. YMMV but I don't think you can make their case.

1. Evidence that evidence-based thinking is overrated?

Here is where the theory and speculation begins. The "evidence" the GDA wants they know doesn't exist. It doesn't exist because they won't let them Populate the database. They are asking for it because they know that it is impossible to provide, in part thanks to them.

GDA...sometimes autocorrect nails it.

7. Funny thing is, while the current Australian government is set to remove our carbon price, over 200 million people in China currently live in areas with carbon trading which will eventually be expanded to the entire country. So there is concern here that in the future China could "compel" Australia to cut emissions. And yes, China does have the ability to compel Australia on such matters. Does the US have the ability to compel Australia? Well, we didn't really want to send troops to Iraq, you know.

PS: Enjoy your now tariff free Australian diary products brought to you by the Coalition of the Willing.

This study looks at display ad campaigns, which is the smallest component of online advertising.

Search (and other direct response Ads) are pay for performance. Advertisers on Google can decide to bid on a 'Pay per Conversion' basis, which guarantees a certain ROI.

Display ad buyers aren't buying those ads for direct sales. They are typically buying to raise awareness. 'early in the funnel' is the lingo they use.

I worked a few years in marketing at my old place of employment, generally focusing on the analytical side of things. My impressions:
a) it is difficult to distinguish lift vs. normal business results unless longstanding baselines are in place, and even then it's difficult because so many things change at the same time in a competitive environment. Competitor actions often seemed to have more impact than our own marketing actions imho. It's very difficult to isolate a change in competitive position.
b) Marketing has incentives to claim any sale as due to advertising, even if no lift is generated. ex: We sent out 100,000 pieces of mail, 1,000 of those people purchased, therefore 1% success rate. What is not said is that we probably would've sold 900 of those people without sending any mail.
c) effect of Radio/TV advertising is more difficult to ascertain because often coincides with product launch or significant change in marketplace.
c2) Often intense organizational focus and resources coincides with marketing spend. Is any change due to intense focus, or due to marketing?
d) Often the budget we would get would come down in a hurry - as in - Here's some extra money we need to have spent by the end of the month. So we'd rush out and throw budget at the traditional avenues that could absorb it quickly.
e) there's an odd fixation on "impressions" in my opinion. They'd say so many people saw this ad during a sporting event and that is worth so much $. Regardless of whether we could see any meaningful impact on business results, the campaign could still be lauded as a success.
f) as technology became better it was easier to attempt to measure some impacts, but even 10 years ago it seemed like we were mostly "winging it" with marketing efforts. People assumed it worked, and if sales were not meeting targets the answer was often to spend more on marketing.

The developed world is great! unemployment leads to obesity rather than to starvation. Not perfect unemployment is bad but still a reason to celebrate!

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