Thursday assorted links

1. English has 3,000 words for being drunk.

2. “Johnny Depp spent $3 million to blast Hunter Thompson’s ashes out of a cannon. He spent $18 million on an 150-foot yacht. He spent $4 million on a failed record label. He spent $30,000 a month on wine, $200,000 a month on private planes, $150,000 a month on round-the-clock security, and $300,000 a month to maintain a staff of 40 people.”  Does Johnny Depp love markets or hate markets?  Link here.

3. Inspired Media.

4. Manure pile builders understand the Coase theorem.  And a better place to urinate, French style.

5. University of Toronto willing to help business scholars and students affected by U.S. restrictions.

6. It seems NFL teams play “too Nash” a set of strategies.

7. And more John Cochrane on the new tax plan.  Just maybe these chimps are Girardians.


Depp clearly loves markets.

Look, he may be a spendthrift, but it is his money to do with as he wishes.

No, TMG claims part of it was a Loan from them.
In depp trouble.

Was there fraud involved? If not, still Depp's money.

Looks like some may be capital expenditures, maybe he could flip the cannon for $4 million, or use it to extort $1M by threatening to shoot it at Ft. Sumter,

I guess he loves markets. But should markets-- or people-- love him, is the question? Are tremendous mis-allocations of resources such a great and wonderful thing?

They aren't your resources. Why do you care?

I like 7a because it puts confusion, uncertainty, where it should be: center stage.

I think on a lot of things, like the usefulness of an independent Fed, the most insurgent and anti-establishment Republicans have been rather freed by a complete lack of responsibility. It is easy to dream of sky castles when you don't have to build them, when you don't even need to get agreement within your own party.

On "the Republican plan," we are not even to agreement within that party.

(I prefer incremental change over revolution, but I can only hope that is what we get. I fear an alternate facts based disaster, at maybe 30% probability.)

Those aren't sky castles that's a scoreboard.

Yes, but the score kept is about how much Trump's actions upset people who are considered part of the establishment (higher scores for more upset), not about whether or not Trump destroys our economy and gets us into Nuclear WWIII aka The War of the the Small Hands.

A friend of mine has a brother who bought a house on a large piece of land. There was a condo development adjacent to his property. Condo dwellers had been driving across his property as a shortcut out of their area. He closed the unofficial road. One of them complained to local government he had too many dogs (something like a dozen, he was allowed 3). He got rid of the extra dogs.

He did a little research. He discovered he was allowed to keep a certain number of pigs. There is now a pig sty in that corner of the property. Pigs are rather quiet creatures, but they can't help the smell.

1. And yet we have no specific words for the effects of that most wonderful elixir, that gift from Yemen?

Qat? I don't think enough English speakers have tried. In any event, it is supposed to be rather mild.

Qat? English-speaking Scrabble players can't get enough of it.


I have a few qat plants, and I've tried chewing the young leaves. Doesn't do a thing for me. I know you're supposed to chew a lot to get an effect, and I tried that, but maybe it was still not enough. They're very bitter.

That there are 3,000 English language words for being blotto is highly inefficient.

What is the most versatile word in the English language?

I'll bet it's not 3,000. I'll bet they've counted phrases. "Half seas over" is not a word (except presumably in German).

If Mr. Depp is into wine purchases on the order of $30K monthly, he might care to consult the BBC account in #1, which I scanned without finding my favorite terms "piffication" and "pifficated", terms I heard growing up without having yet encountered in any dictionary (though granted I haven't consulted the OED lately).

Why? That's one $5000 bottle a week

"It seems NFL teams play “too Nash” a set of strategies."

OK, there's a lot of econ-speak in that abstract. Is the translation to sport-speak: NFL coaches should stick with the run when it's going well (or, similarly, with the pass)?

Separate from whether it's going well: NFL coaches alternate more than random (are more likely than base frequencies to call a run when the last play was a pass, and vice versa) in a way that's predictable and exploitable.

As an example, Brian Burke found in 2009 that teams passed 72% of the time on 2nd and 11-13, 63% of the time on 2nd and 7-9, but only 48% of the time on 2nd and 10. Correspondingly, the efficiency gap between passing and running was highest on 2nd and 10, as defenses were able to adjust to the deviation in playcalling.

It is saying that NFL coaches too often follow up a pass with a run or a run with a pass.

Often Offensive Coordinators seem to get into this run where they think "ok, I passed last time so to keep balance I need to run this time"

I noticed this while following my college team a pass on first down would almost always be followed by a run.

#1 In college a sociology professor told us that the more important a concept is to a society the more words they have for it. He used drunk and sex as examples.

The only other two words I've heard for drunk in Madison are ramsquaddled and shit-faced. It seems to depend on the bar.

#5 It is funny that Canada's immigration policy looks like it was written by the HBDers (Human BioDiversity I.E. Steve Sailer, Steve Bannon, some of the alt.right)

They don't have some watery tart with an old poem bolted to her commanding the immigration policy

Just a few years ago both Canada and Australia banned all visitors from several West African countries affected by Ebola, despite protests by WHO.

Many political parties, academic organizations and other activist groups worldwide oppose the US's three month ban while simultaneously supporting permanent blanket bans on visits by Israeli academics.

Of course, Obama himself banned Iraqi visitors in 2011, a particularly cruel act considering he was primarily responsible for letting a country that he called "stable" in 2009 be overrun by fanatics from Syria.

If the last couple weeks have proved anything it's that many people are both hyper emotional and deeply stupid.

I paid close attention to US embassies in Liberia, Guinea, etc, during Ebola.

Guinea "ran out of forms" for visas. or had some "technical" problem.

Its not hard to do this for 6 months.

Obama did not ban Iraqis from visiting or entering the U.S.


“It was very disturbing to see the way these chimps we all know and love were treating him,” Pruetz told The Washington Post in an interview this week. “I was shocked by how brutal they were. It took me a few days to get past those feelings.”

You work with primates. You have studied them. Presumably that didn't start yesterday. You surely must have some idea of just how much they can resemble angry, drunk toddlers, and capable of longstanding grudges. Also they are strong.

Shocked I tell you, shocked. What's next in primate-related shocks? People are shocked that Berkeley protesters are, at times, among the most intolerant human primates?

Status is so important. And among many creatures status is conferred through sexual selection and mating preferences. The most harmonious group can be thrown into complete disarray when member/s lose, can't maintain, or have to change status.

The loss of status explains the death Foudouko as well as the actions of the Berkeley protesters. Loss of status in primates justifies just about any barbarism. Prepare for more Berkeley's.

"Loss of status in primates justifies just about any barbarism" - like electing Trump, for example :-)

It would explain the recent chimpouts:-P

Stupid, sure, but barbaric?

Status and Trump Derangement Syndrome. Very apt.

Apparently, despite Jim's valiant efforts, a majority suffer the affliction:

Holy Moly, a poll which claims that 4 in 10 Americans are ready to impeach Trump.

Only 4 in 10? That's amazing.

I'm guessing little movement on that one over the past few months.

You know what else monkeys like? Bright shiny objects. (Like a few ultimately powerless protestors, a slice of a slice, far from the wings of power.)

Biology seems to be eaten up with rampant anthropomorphism.

7a. I really like this passage: "I wish I knew better what we are all talking about. A historian's son, I gravitate to primary sources. The only one linked to in any of the above is Paul Ryan's Better Way tax plan. That plan has a great statement of principles and lots of great ideas for the tax code. But it is dated last June. It's a document of principles made for the campaign, back when everyone thought Mrs. Clinton would be president"

I argued the same way in the comments of a preceding post of Tyler on the tax plan. I understand that pundits, bloggers, commenters have a urgent need to talk, but why not wait a little bit that a real tax plan is circulated by the Republicans of the house, or the senate, or the Trump administration, and then we'll have a basis for discussion. I predict that 99% of the talk about the tax plan now (and its supposed weird provision) will be obsolete when a real tax plan is proposed.

You have a valid point but with the current Presidency by 141 characters ( 140+Trump) , chances are high that a tax plan will land up in congress without any circulation.

6. This actually seems like knowledge that is more likely to result in changed behavior, because it is much less likely to provide a clear negative result that can be harped on by commentators/fans/ownership as showing it was a bad choice.

That is in contrast to going for it on 4th down, which has a big, immediate negative if it doesn't work, the potential for a lot of "I told you so," and is relatively rare within any given game compared to play calls.

In other words, it is much riskier for a coach's livelihood to optimize his 4th down decisions than to optimize his play selection.

3. Blaming the internet for irrational, or stupid, behavior lets irrational, or stupid, people off the hook for their irrational and stupid behavior. Sure, less educated white people have grievances, but what makes them believe Donald Trump (Donald Trump!) would help them? Because they are irrational and stupid. Lest anyone think I'm partisan in my observation, Bernie Sanders. I mean, really, Bernie Sanders. We have a crisis on our hands: stupid. This post in The Upshot by Kevin Carey, the promoter of online education, is an eye opener when it comes to stupid: Liberty University is raking in $350 million a year in federal grant and loan programs while turning out graduates who can't get jobs good enough to repay their student loans. It's an enormous scam, a tax-free scam no less, that's only possible because stupid. We need to declare war, a war on stupid. I'm not confident we can win the war. As everyone knows the first step toward recovery is to admit you have problem, in this case that you are stupid. Who will admit they are stupid? Certainly not stupid people. Consider Germany, which has a recurring crisis of malevolence. How many Germans will admit they are malevolent? None. "The Nazis did it!" And then there are Gentiles. "The Jews did it!" And now: "The internet did it!"

We had this moment at a Prayer Breakfast this morning:

"Freedom of religion is a sacred right, but it is also a right under threat all around us, and the world is under serious, serious threat in so many different ways. And I've never seen it so much and so openly as since I took the position of president.

The world is in trouble, but we're going to straighten it out. OK? That's what I do. I fix things. We're going to straighten it out."

Did you get that? At a Prayer Breakfast our President appealed to a higher power.


Well if the prayer breakfast is not sacred, truly the Republic is doomed.

Fair enough. But stupidity is ephemeral. To allude to a famous (but fictional) stupid person, you might as well tilt at windmills. Moreover stupidity is tied to a whole host of other human flaws and traits, such as arrogance, delusion and self deception.

I suppose in the war against stupidity the best starting point is to teach logic in elementary schools...

Notably absent from that diatribe is the notion that experts should demonstrate their expertise in some tangible way. We trust that pilots are experts at flying planes because they do so all the time without error. We are skeptical of 'experts' of social science and public policy because they do not demonstrate that their expertise actually does anything.

Seems we have covered this ground before, now that i think about it.

RCTs are good for (as Tyler says) things for which there is not strong (predictive) theory.

But I think the rejection of expertise is much broader than that, it is throwing up of hands when data are available.

Anti-vax is an easy example.

I dont think its nearly as broad a phenomenon as you do. I do think, however, that we are minting more and more marginal or outright phony experts every day and those credentialed non-experts are increasingly relying on their status as experts to make their cases. A rejection of that regime seems natural and healthy to me. The anti-vax movement is a mostly unfortunate side effect of this.

Do you have an example of that kind of pure status "expertise" with no data beneath?

I have an example. Trump. He- -and many others- consider him to be an expert at everything because he is a macho billionaire celebrity reality TV star host-- none of which actually give a person any expertise about the workings of government. His simple status in those areas grants him high enough status with a certain type of person that they consider him to be an expert in all things.

And many people thought Hillary Clinton was an expert at many things just because she lay under Bill every now and then.

Your point?

It might be easier later on. Teach "Narrative is not the same as facts". Teach how it is that humans rely on narrative. Teach how that goes wrong.

Logic isn't sufficient. You must ultimately teach rhetoric. And that's well outside the envelope of elementary school.

After reading Inspired Media, I wonder if Peter Thiel helped Trump with a facebook strategy.


Isn't the authors finding internally inconsistent?

' Our results are consistent with defenses expecting the negative serial correlation exhibited by the offenses. This seems to be the case as clustered plays are more effective. Why would offenses employ a seemingly exploitable strategy that exhibits negative serial correlation? It is possible that they excessively switch in order to appear ”unpredictable”

If excessive negative serial correlation is recognized and exploited by the teams when playing defense, it's really peculiar that they don't recognize and correct this when they play offence.

I don't know much about the NFL and haven't read this paper, but initially it seems the more plausible explanation is offence tends towards negative serial correlation in an attempt to seem unpredictable (definitely makes sense), but that the difference in efficacy is probably explaining by something else. Could it be that in certain game scenarios, the 'unpredictability' motive gets thrown out of the window because the 'exploitative' strategy has too high a pay off to ignore?

Haven't read the paper but it would be interesting to see what metric they are using for efficacy as that might impact how they are viewing things. If they are using a metric like yds/play that could be off because football has non linear payoffs due to first downs.

Where I often see the negative serial correlation is after a first down pass. In that situation a second down run is often likely to follow if no first down was gained. If the pass was incomplete the play caller is usually thinking that they do not want to face a 3rd and long so they run to get a 3rd and 5-7 and then they almost always pass on that down and distance.

Justin Fox has written something on "the new economic plan" at a level deeper than just tax.

#7...Corporations generally pay wages, dividends, save for investment, invest. That what I want them to do. So, I don't like taxing them. I like a progressive income tax because you only pay more in taxes from year to year if you are demonstrably better off financially than you were the year before. You shouldn't become poorer because of taxation, plus, it's fairer that those becoming better off pay more taxes. A consumption tax could easily make people worse off depending on what they find themselves spending money on. Also, I want to people to spend money. I hope they are prudent and save a bit, but I don't want the government prodding me to save more money. Yes, saving can lead to lending. But that also means it leads to borrowing, and I would prefer people and businesses borrow less ( not all), as opposed to financing their own investment through sales.

The amount of taxation necessary should depend upon how much money we need to fund the actions the government decides we need. Any fiddling around with taxes to try and lower government spending is a good way to spend more money than we need to. Simply tax people's incomes, including profit from investments, at a few rates with zero deductions ( meaning special treatment ). If people don't like taxing profits from investments they should remember that they can sell those investments when they find it most propitious to do so as regards taxes.

I'm also for redesigning corporations, but that's another matter.

4. Manure pile builders understand the Coase theorem.

Could someone explain (without using jargon) what this sentence means exactly?

The Coase theorem is the idea that a dispute over an externality can be resolved efficiently as long as there are secure property rights, no matter who they are assigned to. An externality is a cost or benefit that accrues to somebody besides the owner, pollution is the classic example.

In link #4, the smell of the manure wafting from the Murrays' property to the Gallants' property is the externality. The manure is owned by the Murrays but is imposing a cost (bad odor) on the Gallants.

Its pretty clear in this case that the harm to the Gallants is greater than the benefit to the Murrays. As best I can tell, there is no benefit to the Murrays. So, the efficient solution is for the Murrays to stop, which makes the Gallants better off (no smell), without hurting the Murrays. This is what the court has ordered, based on the finding that Murrays are violating the Gallants' property rights.

However, the Coase theorem says that even if the court ruled that the Murrays has a right to pile manure there, it would still be possible to get to the efficient solution. The two parties would have to bargain over how much the Gallants would pay the Murrays to stop piling manure on the edge of their property. The Gallants should be willing to pay any amount less than monetary equivalent of harm the manure is causing them.

This might be a bad example of the theorem since the Murrays seem to be driven by spite, and thus might not be willing to bargain in good faith.

So my best guess is he means that the "efficient solution" here was for the one neighbor to spite the other neighbor with a big manure pile, and it was achieved in the form of a damages payout.

In that case, the initial allocation of property rights didn't matter (the manure builder lacked the right to spite their neighbor in this way) but they were able to buy the right by doing it anyway and paying damages. The manure smeller lost their right to be free of spite/manure smell but gained $15,000 in exchange.

The injunction that came with the damages complicates things, and here there were certainly transaction costs (where the pure expression of the coase theorem is that the initial allocation of property rights doesn't matter, in the absence of transaction costs). But this is the best explanation I can come up with.

Borjigid and Turkey Vulture, thanks for the explanations!

Gare de Lyon? So central Algiers-on-the-Seine.

If immigrant men do not care to use a public toilet, what makes them think that normalizing their cultural norms is going to make them stop?

7a Why, an economist asks, not bring in a VAT? Because governments in North America that bring in a VAT fall or face tax revolts.

So if this plan brings in the equivalent of a VAT with a labor deduction, as Mr Cowen says Trump may have found a way to accomplish all his objectives, including re-election of himself and the members of Congress.

I paid a 20% VAT tax today on a new iMac.

I want to punch a Brussels bureaucrat in the face.

If you want to crush consumer spending, this is the way to do it.

Re: 1, Ben Franklin also had a good list:

# 1 - this is why I don't worry too much about reports of binge drinking, public drunkness etc in Anglophone countries, it really is a deeply ingrained part of our culture going back centuries. Read about the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic wars and the huge alcohol rations, the gin craze of the 18thC, or go back as far as Beowulf where the highest past time was getting sloshed in your lord's hall.

"This is a seemingly exploitable strategy" suggests that they are not playing Nash enough, certainly not that they are playing "Too Nash", unless I'm misunderstanding something?

3. I think this is missing the real meat of the issue. It isn't that Facebook and Google are feeding news, it is that these platforms, and many others such as Twitter, blogs and email are the source pushing the news.

From the campaign and party standpoint, first we saw Obama who masterfully used the new medium and connections to rouse interest and connect. It was still a push model, and was very effective, but even shortly into his presidency a bottom up model expressed in the tea party gathered enough electoral strength to limit the rest of his presidency. The Republican's were caught flatfooted as well; much of the political blood shed from 2010-2015 was Republican infighting where the insurgent candidates organized against the Party, with some high profile scalps along the way.

The media had taken on an awesome level of power, expressed by media air dominance. Republican's usually were the target, with Katrina a prime example. We have seen multi day air wars and in most situations they resulted in surrender. 2012 had Obama using the media to paint Romney as he wished. But this wasn't new, except in scope. Rove used the undercurrent and rumour to influence elections and built a powerhouse, Obama used the same tactics with a new communication medium that was far more effective.

But both those powerhouses have ended with their respective parties shrunken and in disarray, and their legacies likely by 2020 will be simply detritus yet to be cleaned up.

2016 really was different. Two irascible old cranks came out of nowhere, one winning the election. Sanders was a product of the new environment and I don't think he realized until too late that it could carry him to victory. He too found some very sharp points of agreement that built a movement, spread almost on it's own from below. Trump was similar, except he saw that he could win and applied his deep skillset to nurturing a movement, again from below, and riding it to victory.

Someone will write about what happened in August 2015. A three week period where there was an across the board air war, Trump was continuously under attack on the 24 hour channels. Lots to attack, no question. What was remarkable was that he came out of that barrage with the same numbers as he had going in. That is when I saw that he had a very serious chance at winning the thing.

If we look back at the events since 2012 we could see the crumbling of the media as a powerhouse driving the agenda. The government shutdown was a total disaster which would lead to Republicans loosing the house in 2014, except they didn't and in fact they improved their position. We saw Ferguson, the gay marriage mobs. What was remarkable about these was the noise and seeming shock and awe power, but in fact there wasn't very much there.

The weeks since the election have been fascinating. The media has pushed narratives very very hard, putting all their resources into the Russian connection, the recounts, etc. Since the inauguration the noise has been deafening. We have seen an organization against the immigration rules from below, and it is interesting watching the few Democrats figure out how to ride this beast. In counter is the remarkable events of yesterday with the riots in Berkeley which ended up being so successful at shutting down an unpleasant speaker that he had a long interview on Tucker Carlson's show reaching far more people than a few hundred students at a college.

I think Trump is going to ride this bottom up wave for a long time, and he will be a very consequential president as a result. I think the media will get over the idea that they have some primacy, because they will be forced to. One day a group of serious journalists will stomp up the stairs to the executive offices and demand that the jackasses who made a fuss, twice in two weeks over Trump doing something without telling the press, be fired. There is a handy list that could be made simply by the twitter comments on the subject.

The Democrats will have the most trouble. The party of centralized power doesn't trust the hoi polloi, especially the activists. There are too many indications that much of the current fuss is manufactured, and much of it is covering deep divisions within the party. A bottom up movement from that side has a good likelihood of being utterly ridiculous, so far outside of the interests of large numbers of people that it could be safely ignored, or even worse, used to paint the party. That is what is happening right now. But the desire for power will force a level of rationality on people. The Liberals in Canada won the election when the stopped promising to shut down the Alberta oilpatch.

"In counter is the remarkable events of yesterday with the riots in Berkeley "

The Fascists are taking to the streets.

"Several bystanders intervened and attempted to stop the fight. The victim — later identified in reports as 21-year-old UC Berkeley student Jack Palkovic — was able to break free from the scrum and can be seen yelling at the assailants as they get back in their car.

Palkovic told an AP reporter that he is a member of the college Republicans and helped organize Wednesday’s event with Milo Yiannopoulos, a polarizing editor of Breitbart News.

@derek February 2, 2017 at 10:45 pm

Fine post, you oughta be getting paid for that, you're a Journalist, and i say that with admiration.

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