Thursday, November 29, 2012

Quotes of the day

Showtime does not exist to make shows you want to buy on iTunes; it makes shows you want to watch in order to get you to buy a subcription to Showtime.--Megan McArdle

 A ... key to understanding [Nassim] Taleb is that he has a French post-modern tendency to write to impress rather than explain. He provides hundreds of loosely related anecdotes, reminding me of the Talmud quote that 'when a debater’s point is not impressive, he brings forth many arguments.'--Eric Falkenstein

Most of the D.C. boom is from lobbyists and PR people, and others who are retained to influence what the government does. It's a cold calculation: You're likely to get a much better return from an investment of $1 million on lobbying than on a similar investment in, say, a new factory or better worker training. So Washington gets fat, and it does so on money taken from the rest of the country: Either directly, in the form of taxes, or indirectly in the form of money that otherwise would have gone to that factory or training program.--Glenn Reynolds

... prior to 1993 Asian enrollment had often changed quite substantially from year to year. It is interesting to note that this exactly replicates the historical pattern observed by Karabel, in which Jewish enrollment rose very rapidly, leading to imposition of an informal quota system, after which the number of Jews fell substantially, and thereafter remained roughly constant for decades. On the face of it, ethnic enrollment levels which widely diverge from academic performance data or application rates and which remain remarkably static over time provide obvious circumstantial evidence for at least a de facto ethnic quota system.--Ron Unz

You have the life that has unfolded for you, and I the life that has unfolded for me, and all of us have a very simple and terrifying responsibility, which is simply to answer the question, as Victor Frankl would say, that our lives are asking us.--Tony Woodlief

Life isn't always bad

It's actually, incredibly good.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

California is saved from bankruptcy!

According to the EIA, the Monterrey Formation, which covers an enormous chunk of Southern California and terminates near Santa Barbara, has 15.4 billion barrels of recoverable crude — four times as much as the Bakken formation in North Dakota.
Read the whole thing at Business Insider.

Poem of the season

And my vision
That I’m living
Is to see two more daughters
Getting married
Dance at their wedding
And then
hoist that Lombardi
Several times
By Chuck Pagano

Friday, November 09, 2012

Quotes of the day

I can’t believe I’ve turned into a typical old man. I can’t believe it. I was young just minutes ago.--Maurice Sendak

Much cyclical unemployment involves a waste of time and productivity, but the social cost is especially severe for the long-term unemployed. Unfortunately, the past several years has seen a dramatic rise in this group, not only in absolute numbers, but also as a fraction of all unemployed workers. This social cost of long-term unemployment has received insufficient attention from the media and during this presidential campaign.--Gary Becker

Yes, Obama had a big handicap in the lackluster economy.  Luckily for him, Mitt Romney had made a stupendous pile of money in the very industry that people blame for that lackluster economy.  On that stupendous pile, he paid a tax rate which struck people as absurdly low.  He pushed every button for folks who feel broke and terrified while the very rich sail along just fine. Obama could hardly have had a better opponent if he had ordered him from central casting.  My mother, aka The Swing Voter, delivered an extensive rant on the subject of Mitt Romney's taxes this morning.  I suspect that a more modestly wealthy Republican governor would have taken her vote.--Megan McArdle

In a political system such as China’s, those below imitate those above, and political struggles at the higher levels are replicated at the lower levels in an expanded and even more ruthless form.--Yang Jisheng

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Intrade vs. the polls

Four-and-a-half years ago, I did some work on the predictiveness of polls versus prediction futures; specifically, Zogby versus Intrade during the presidential primaries.  I found the pollster to not only be less predictive, but that its data coverage and timeliness to be lacking, against the continual trading and pricing features of Intrade.

While my new job has kept me from choosing a different pollster to measure against Intrade (back then, I thought about Rasmussen, but I think now it might have been FiveThirtyEight)*, I've been checking out the action on Intrade's Obama Ohio futures trading throughout the day.

While Romney has a mathematical shot at winning the election while losing Ohio, I think that scenario is highly unlikely.  As you can see, it looks like Ohio is slipping away from him.

May the odds be ever in your candidates' favor.

*As of 740pm EST, Rasmussen is calling "Obama: 237 - Romney: 206 - Toss-up: 95" while Nate Silver forecasts "Obama: 313 - Romney: 225".  As far as Ohio goes, FiveThirtyEight is saying its 91% for Obama, while Rasmussen says 49% vs 49%.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Quote of the day

On the campaign trail, President Obama talks about Mitt Romney’s tax proposals, Mitt Romney’s investments, Mitt Romney’s binders, Mitt Romney’s dog. But when it comes to his own thinking, he is curiously laconic, and confines himself to slogans and platitudes. Occasionally, however, the mask slips, and the president tells us what he actually believes. 
Imprisoned in medieval notions of profit and competition, President Obama is unable to share [Adam] Smith’s optimism about the future. Instead he channels the pessimism of the English clergyman-turned-economist Thomas Malthus.
Modern liberalism is not the first political philosophy to rest its case on doom and gloom, and it is unlikely to be the last. But until liberals offer more compelling evidence that the era of heroic growth is indeed at an end (and has not been merely artificially depressed by excessive government interference), the reasonable observer will hold with Francis Bacon: we know too little about future possibility to be justified in the adoption of a dogmatic glumness. Bacon, when pressed for “forecasts of the works that are to be,” replied “that the knowledge which we now possess will not teach a man even what to wish.”

Francis Bacon was an American-style optimist ahead of his time. Barack Obama is a Malthusian pessimist trying to be president of the wrong country. After four years of his melancholy leadership, Americans are ready for some sunshine. 
That's Michael Knox Beran.