Thursday, September 29, 2011

Michael Vick, Keyshaw Johnson, Cris Carter, and Tom Jackson are wrong

about roughing the passer calls and referee bias.  The QB's getting the most calls per 100 passes:

J. Campbell 1.46
J. Cutler 1.28
C. McCoy 1.20
J. Clausen 1.00
S. Bradford 1.00

And the least calls (minimum of one call, i.e. QB's with zero calls not included):

J. Freeman 0.17
E. Manning 0.16
T. Brady 0.16
M. Schaub 0.15
P. Manning 0.15

Michael Vick gets more calls than average, at 0.88.

Out of town

celebrating Dad's birthday. Blogging will be light.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quotes of the day

Apple couldn’t have killed Flash if HTML 5 hadn’t recently been adopted by major browsers. HTML 5 offers alternatives to most of the key features of Flash. And no one controls it the way Adobe controls Flash. Since no software company wants to build its products on a standard it doesn’t control, every company other than Adobe has a natural incentive to adopt HTML 5 over Flash.  This brings to mind Jonathan Zittrain’s book The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It. Zittrain warned that the success of the proprietary iPhone threatened to undermine the decentralized, bottom-up structure of the Internet. The Flash story is a useful counterexample to Zittrain’s thesis. On the one hand, iOS is a proprietary standard controlled by Apple, so its ascendancy looks like a threat to open standards. Yet the rise of the iPad was a major factor in the decline of another proprietary standard, Flash.  ... for at least two decades, it has looked like proprietary technologies were on the verge of taking over the software industry. Yet open standards have grown more and more dominant. This hasn’t been a lucky fluke, it’s a matter of basic economics. Proprietary software is central planning. And in the long run, central planning doesn’t work as well as bottom-up organization.--Timothy B. Lee

Trading is about being self-aware to obtain profits in excess of losses. Gambling is about the emotional payoff. ... When a trader lacks emotional intelligence and has no inner voice to listen to, he is more of a philanthropist than a trader. He’s giving money away, so it doesn’t matter who is on the other side of the trade ... [rogue traders] didn’t deliberately trade a Martingale system, but this is what their emotions led them to do, whether they knew it or not. That’s how vicious a cycle it is if you don’t learn to take small losses and flush your ego. Traders don’t think it can happen to them, and then all of a sudden they’re emotionally invested in the outcome of a trade. A trader must detach emotionally from the outcome of any particular trade.--Joshua Brown

You [men] don’t have to take the pill, wear a patch, insert messy rings or go through the hassle of making an appointment with your doctor to change and refill your prescription for said pills, patches, rings and paraphernalia. As for the potential short and long-term health consequences such as nausea, decreased libido, blood clotting, cancer, and infertility? On us. Cervix with a smile. If I didn’t know better, I would say that it’s like men invented birth control. But, of course, that’s just the woman in me talking crazy.--Clare Halpine

... if your blogger was good at forecasting market movements, he would be running a hedge fund, not enduring the daily sardine-like commute on the Piccadilly line. It is that the nature of financial journalism is in assembling evidence from published sources, analysts, fund managers that other people know as well. By the time the evidence of a trend is convincing enough for an article, the trend may well be over.--Buttonwood

[Jamie] Dimon, a lifelong Democrat who was rumored to be on Obama’s short list for treasury secretary before he settled on Tim Geithner, met privately with Romney on Tuesday morning before a fund-raiser at Brasserie 8¹/2 hosted by Highbridge Capital, a JPMorgan-owned hedge fund. Dimon, who was spotted “in a discreet one-on-one” discussion with Romney, cannot publicly endorse a candidate because he sits on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. But he donated to Democratic candidates in 2008 and privately supported Obama. ... Political insiders are buzzing that a defection would signal further Wall Street hostility toward Obama, who famously called them “fat cat” bankers in 2009. Dimon responded, “I don’t think the president of the United States should paint everyone with the same brush.” One insider said, “There is not a person on Wall Street, with the exception of the genetic Democrats, who would get anywhere near supporting Obama. The hostility to the administration is huge. Dimon will continue to look bipartisan, then work behind the scenes to get a Republican elected.” There were few big Wall Street names openly linked to Obama’s fund-raisers in New York. And we’re told ticket sales for Obama’s Friday event with Warren Buffett have been slower than expected, with staffers calling and e-mailing supporters to shift tickets at up to $35,800.--Page 6

High-frequency traders—often seen as the destabilizing villains of the currency markets—may in fact be helping it to run smoothly, a study by the Bank for International Settlements suggested Tuesday. Many traditional market players blame secretive high-speed traders for "predatory" or "unfair" practices, bemoaning the superfast computers they use to pick out trade signals and exploit banks' often slower machines. Some banks have even toyed with the idea of setting up closed trading systems, where they can trade with one another and avoid these accounts. But in a report based on research by officials at 14 central banks, the BIS said high-frequency traders help to make trading cheaper for everyone by squashing so-called spreads—the gap between where banks buy and sell currencies. High-frequency traders also support liquidity, and don't tend to flee the market in tough times any more often than banks.--EVA SZALAY And JACOB BUNGE

A good corporate board should be characterized by constant tension, with non-executive directors respectfully questioning the decisions of management. This can make board meetings very uncomfortable, especially for young people. Chelsea’s background makes her very well suited to dealing with this situation. So stop your hating, kids.--John Carney

Sometimes, frankly, it seems the Jets organization is afraid of Namath.--Mike Freeman
Photo links here and here.

Yes, Greg Mankiw

Yale, seriously, Yale!

I hope Ryan Lavarnway is the Dave Roberts of 2011.

Greg's baseball post questioning Yale over Harvard here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2012 Recession prediction

according to Intrade futures pricing.

Social security isn’t a Ponzi scheme!

It’s just a welfare payment that’s going to be more expensive because of demographic change.

The brilliant Tim Harford.

I was just thinking about England's economic ascent in the 18th & 19th centuries yesterday

And today, abracadabra, I find that Rick Brookstaber has a great piece on it.

Photo link here.

David Beckworth tans Felix Salmon's hide


Better humble economics than journalistic hubris.

Dutch auctions, sex, and the Bible

Most interesting comments section I've wandered into lately.

Image link here.

Quotes of the day

What was driving unemployment was clearly deficient aggregate demand. [Larry Summers and I] wondered where [President Obama's misplaced belief that high unemployment was caused by productivity gains] could be coming from. We both tried to convince him otherwise. He wouldn’t budge.--Christina Romer

[McCain] didn't have a clue about the economy. I just assumed the guy [Obama] could do it. I thought he was going to be more Clinton-like in his economics and politics. I was caught by surprise by how far left the guy is and how much he's hung onto it and, I would say, at considerable cost to his own standing. ... The president keeps focusing on transitory things. He grudgingly says, 'OK, we'll keep the Bush tax cuts on for a couple years.' That's just the wrong thing to say. What I care about is what's the tax rate going to be when my project begins to bear fruit?--Robert Lucas

Scale matters--you can't take billion-dollar fliers on too many ideas. Appropriateness matters--retirees shouldn't put their living expenses in tech stocks. And the potential payoff matters--we should not invest billions to develop a slightly better form of white-out, or into experiments that have a 1-in-a-trillion chance of developing a low-cost way to turn lead into gold. I think Solyndra flunks on all three counts.--Megan McArdle

As of this moment, which do you think is more likely — that neutrinos can travel faster than light, or that the South won the Civil War?--Steve Landsburg

Our existence today requires that the North won the Civil War, therefore it’s unthinkable they actually lost. Likewise, our atomic existence today requires that neutrinos do not surpass the speed of light, therefore it’s unthinkable they somehow went faster. It’s just that most people comprehend the former and not the latter, and thus don’t see how absurd the latter is.--Sean

Many people, when the pressure is on as hard as it's been, decide that the first thing they have to do is try to hang on to their job. Anything interesting and risky can wait until after the mortgage payment has cleared and the tuition checks have been written. The behaviors most associated with "Don't get laid off" are not the ones that are best associated with "Keep the company going", much less "Discover something new". That last set of behaviors, in fact, might be one of the first to go, along with the people who exemplify them.--Derek Lowe

Here's what the 1936 government pamphlet on Social Security said: "After the first 3 years -- that is to say, beginning in 1940 -- you will pay, and your employer will pay, 1.5 cents for each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year. ... Beginning in 1943, you will pay 2 cents, and so will your employer, for every dollar you earn for the next 3 years. ... And finally, beginning in 1949, twelve years from now, you and your employer will each pay 3 cents on each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year." Here's Congress' lying promise: "That is the most you will ever pay."--Walter Williams

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner may be working at cross purposes as one buys Treasury bonds and the other sells them.  The Fed plans to purchase $400 billion of longer-dated Treasuries in a bid to reduce yields. At the same time, the Treasury Department is selling more long-term securities to decrease its reliance on short-term borrowing. That strategy puts upward pressure on interest rates by adding to market supply.--Rich Miller

... it is clear that the Palestinian Authority now governing the West Bank cannot “deliver” a united Palestine: it cannot sign a treaty that Hamas will pledge to honor. Hamas won the last Palestinian elections; does Israel have any guarantee whatever that, after the Israelis have dismantled settlements and turned over strategic territory to the Palestinians, the Palestinian government will continue to abide by a treaty that Hamas doesn’t accept? The answer is no. Until the answer is yes it is very unlikely that Israel will make large sacrifices for what is likely to be a bogus, temporary peace. The core problem with the land for peace concept at the basis of both the Oslo Accords and every effort since to revive the moribund peace process is, simply, this: the process doesn’t offer enough land to the Palestinians or enough peace to the Israelis to be satisfactory to either side. ... It’s doubtful at this point if the President can get much done before the 2012 election. Palestinians don’t much like negotiating during US election years as they believe that Israel’s political popularity in the US makes itself felt most strongly then. (One reason President Clinton’s peace blitz was ill-timed in 2000: his wife was running for the Senate in New York and Palestinians believed he would not force Israel to make difficult concessions while his wife was running in a state where the Jewish vote is so important and while his vice president Al Gore was in a tough race against George W. Bush. After the election, Clinton was a lame duck and the Palestinians had little confidence that he could deliver on any promises he made.)--Walter Russell Mead

I think that the best way to get rid of the worst teachers(short of full-on vouchers with no government-run schools) would be to de-consolidate school districts, which would shift the balance of power toward parents and away from school administrators and teachers' unions. In my opinion, the large school district is one of the most anti-libertarian institutions in the United States today.--Arnold Kling

In general, despite extensive government subsidies, hyperprocessed food remains more expensive than food cooked at home. You can serve a roasted chicken with vegetables along with a simple salad and milk for about $14, and feed four or even six people. If that’s too much money, substitute a meal of rice and canned beans with bacon, green peppers and onions; it’s easily enough for four people and costs about $9. (Omitting the bacon, using dried beans, which are also lower in sodium, or substituting carrots for the peppers reduces the price further, of course.) Another argument runs that junk food is cheaper when measured by the calorie, and that this makes fast food essential for the poor because they need cheap calories. But given that half of the people in this country (and a higher percentage of poor people) consume too many calories rather than too few, measuring food’s value by the calorie makes as much sense as measuring a drink’s value by its alcohol content. (Why not drink 95 percent neutral grain spirit, the cheapest way to get drunk?)--Mark Bittman

Forget the Crimson Tide. It's the Crimson who's rolling.--Chris Berman

Bill Belichick went to Wesleyan. Safety school.--Cav

Monday, September 26, 2011

Are the New England Patriots psyching themselves out?

One mystery to me is why the Patriots are not pressuring the opposing quarterback more than they have done over the past several years.

Belichick's New York Giants defense was known for pressuring the QB.  But not these Patriots.  I have a few theories:

1) The amount of salary cap spent on the offense is higher than what Belichick's Giants spent for defensive talent
2) Sacks, especially, are an overrated statistic (a la Moneyball) while QB hurries and interceptions are more win-producing
3) Having a higher scoring offense means less emphasis on defensive performance

But after yesterday's bitter loss to the surging Buffalo Bills, I have come up with a new theory:

4) The Pats subconsciously HATE when Tom Brady gets beat on (a la SuperBowl XLII).  So they can't emphasize beating the other QB.  Or they don't want to beat on that QB, and have the team tit-for-tat come after Brady.

If that is the case, I think Belichick needs to get over it.

I think the Patriots like to get after a particular defense by gameplanning matchups.  They will also go after the essential key skill player in an offense, such as a running back (e.g. Marshall Faulk in XXXVI) or tight end (e.g. Antonio Gates last week).

When was the last time they got after the QB directly, and not his receivers?

DISCLAIMER:  What the heck, do I know?  I haven't played organized football since middle school, which was not tackle but flag football.

Quotes of the day

... it’s likely [Sean Parker's] greatest contribution to Facebook was his creation of a corporate structure—based on his Plaxo experience—that gave Zuckerberg complete and permanent control of the company he founded.--Steven Bertoni

After eight years, I’ve performed more than two thousand operations. Three-quarters have involved my specialty, endocrine surgery—surgery for endocrine organs such as the thyroid, the parathyroid, and the adrenal glands. The rest have involved everything from simple biopsies to colon cancer. For my specialized cases, I’ve come to know most of the serious difficulties that could arise, and have worked out solutions. For the others, I’ve gained confidence in my ability to handle a wide range of situations, and to improvise when necessary. As I went along, I compared my results against national data, and I began beating the averages. My rates of complications moved steadily lower and lower. And then, a couple of years ago, they didn’t. It started to seem that the only direction things could go from here was the wrong one. Maybe this is what happens when you turn forty-five. Surgery is, at least, a relatively late-peaking career. It’s not like mathematics or baseball or pop music, where your best work is often behind you by the time you’re thirty. Jobs that involve the complexities of people or nature seem to take the longest to master: the average age at which S. & P. 500 chief executive officers are hired is fifty-two, and the age of maximum productivity for geologists, one study estimated, is around fifty-four. Surgeons apparently fall somewhere between the extremes, requiring both physical stamina and the judgment that comes with experience. Apparently, I’d arrived at that middle point. ... I watched Rafael Nadal play a tournament match on the Tennis Channel. The camera flashed to his coach, and the obvious struck me as interesting: even Rafael Nadal has a coach. Nearly every √©lite tennis player in the world does. Professional athletes use coaches to make sure they are as good as they can be. But doctors don’t. I’d paid to have a kid just out of college look at my serve. So why did I find it inconceivable to pay someone to come into my operating room and coach me on my surgical technique?--Atul Gawande

... when you see a fabricated, unverified quote attributed to you in a book that claims to be a historical description of an important policy meeting with the President, it sticks with you. Mr. [Ron] Suskind’s earlier book about the Bush Administration was an inaccurate and unfair depiction of the President and the advisors for whom I worked, and of the White House in which I worked. It was clearly fed by a disgruntled former Presidential advisor [Paul O'Neill] promoting himself and pushing his own agenda. I will assume the same about his latest. Amazon should move it to the Fiction category.--Keith Hennessey

The [Obama] administration was supposed to have the economic dream team. Couldn't they have spared a moment to sit down with the folks at [the Department of Energy] and explain the concept of sunk costs?--Megan McArdle

How does the surgeon with broken hands fix his own hands? If congress is able and willing to vote to circumvent itself, then it is not really in need of circumvention. If it can't circumvent itself, but circumvention really is necessary, then what? Perhaps Mr Orszag imagines CIA director David Petraeus setting up a number of independent panels and commissions after mounting a successful military coup? I would suggest a constitutional convention. Anyway, in the absence of a plan for implementation, Mr Orszag's article is a bit like telling a kid failing at basketball to get taller.--W.W.

Yale? Seriously? Yale?--Greg Mankiw

Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese ... Iceberg, Roseberg, Steinberg ... Harvard, Yale, Princeton, it's all the same to me.--a punchline + a Cav addendum

But surely if, say, President Jimmy Carter was as smart and as full of correct foresight as he would have had to be in order for sensible people to take seriously his late-1970s pronouncements on the future of America’s energy economy, he could have made a personal fortune, starting at 12:01pm on 20 January 1981, launching and running an energy company (or, more precisely, a synthetic-energy company). Yet he didn’t even try. He selfishly denied to Americans – indeed, to the world – the blessings of synfuels. Sure, he did other things. Built houses for poor people. Visited foreign leaders. But does the value that Mr. Carter supplied to the world through these deeds come close to the value that Mr. Carter would have supplied had he actually founded and successfully run a company producing ‘alternative’ energy? Doubtful. And what of Pres. Obama? Even if he wins a second term in the White House, he’ll be only 55 years old when he leaves office. Will he found and run a health-insurance company? How about a ‘green’ energy firm? Or will he, perhaps, found and run a firm specializing in offering middle- and low-income Americans better and more fully disclosed access to consumer credit? Will he create a successful automobile firm? I’ll bet (seriously) a good deal of money that he’ll do none of these things. He’ll not even try. And for good reason: not only does he know nothing about these matters, he knows nothing about finding investors willing to stake their own funds, or about finding skilled workers and managers willing to cooperate together in such upstart enterprises, so that such enterprises become realities with real prospects for success. He knows no more about the economic matters upon which he pronounces than does a soap-opera actor portraying a physician know about cardiology or obstetrics.--Don Boudreaux

Predicting toxic drug effects in humans - now, that's something we could use more of. Plenty of otherwise viable clinical candidates go down because of unexpected tox, sometimes in terribly expensive and time-wasting ways. But predictive toxicology has proven extremely hard to realize, and it's not hard to see why: there must be a million things that can go wrong, and how many of them have we even heard of? And of the ones we have some clue about, how many of them do we have tests for?--Derek Lowe

Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale.--Captain Robert Falcon Scott, journaling his failed expedition to the South Pole

Maybe that is what a recession is. Not a macroeconomic accident in which all of us suddenly decided to spend less and consequently have been unemployed more. But a period in which the up escalators are less crowded and the down escalators have more people than usual.--Arnold Kling

I suspect the biggest source of inflation fears has been Chinese investors. The regime there has been on a treadmill to Hell, needing to create millions of jobs each year to avoid having its populace revolt. To create those jobs it has to keep its exports cheap, which requires it keep its currency artificially low. It does this by printing money, quite literally. Anyone holding lots of Chinese currency would understandably want to hedge against inflation. But China has been putting the brakes on inflation. It is allowing its manufacturing sector to slow down — we've now had three consecutive months of contraction in Chinese manufacturing. The government is quite audibly fighting inflation. So perhaps the demand for gold from Chinese investors is retreating now that the economy appears to be slowing.--John Carney

Bloomberg published a nice piece earlier this week which supports my long-held belief that the term “investment banking management”—like “military intelligence” or “legal ethics”—is, in the trenchant phrase of Raymond Chandler,1 “an expression which contains an interior fallacy.” In other words, an oxymoron.--ED

Basel III involves complex risk weighting that is easily open to manipulation and regulatory arbitrage. Covered bonds, a structured finance arrangement popular in Europe, get a much lower risk weighting than other debt securities — which means banks that already own them (the Europeans) will have an advantage over those that don’t (the Americans).--John Carney

... overpaid and underperforming government employees are a drag on productivity, and especially on fiscal outlooks when economies are weaker. This helps explain why many state and local governments of the US, and governments in countries like Greece, are encountering serious obstacles to improving their fiscal houses as they respond to the Great Recession.--Gary Becker

[My plan to raise taxes on higher incomes] is not class warfare. It's math.--President Obama

Class warfare isn't leadership.--John Boehner

The President’s goal of raising taxes undermines his goal of increasing investment and growth.--Keith Hennessey

You know those Christian versions of mints, with bible verses on them? They're called Testamints. Well, someone's gone and created some popsicles with Christian messages on them. The name of the product? Test-icles.--James Williams

Friday, September 23, 2011

The hit felt 'round the world

ten years ago today.

That defensive lineman chasing Bledsoe out of the pocket is a new addition to the New England Patriots, Shaun Ellis.

Quotes of the day

There are many good economic arguments for subsidizing health care (there are also many good counter-arguments). That’s yet another important debate that’s largely off-topic here. I want to focus attention on the narrower question of what compassion demands. Here’s my answer: If your compassion is constrained, blind or posturing, you’ll say “Of course we should save lives at the emergency room”. If your compassion is broad, perceptive and genuine — if you grasp and care about the underlying trade-offs — and if you believe you’re being baited by a constrained, blind, posturing journalist — you might very well burst forth with a (com)passionate “Let him die”.--Steve Landsburg

It is an oddity of our times that Christian pastors can now use swear words that Christian comedians can’t. Theologically, this is known as the mysterium tremendum.--John Ortberg

I know there are many reasonable people collecting paychecks and raising children in this very America for whom "Everybody Hurts" or "Shiny Happy People" can exist only in the space where Wimpiness and Pussiness get together to do unspeakable things to each other on grandma's favorite quilted duvet. But trust a bitter, old, forever-youngish, middle-aged man for a second: To a certain kind of person (white, relatively privileged, vaguely annoying) living through a certain kind of '80s (white, relatively privileged, vaguely annoying), R.E.M. was the gateway band — the gateway to the cooler bands, to bigger ideas, better politics, to culture itself, the way to slip out of something and into something else.--Jon Dolan

Snooki’s preparation for the arrival of her boyfriend Jionni was one of the happiest things we've ever seen. A woman so excited to see her love that she could not control herself. Spray-tan was applied, hundreds of outfits were auditioned, and the smush room was Febreezed. Jionni rang the bell and immediately Snooki embraced him, nuzzled his familiar (allegedly) PED-enhanced chest, and wept tears of joy. It was pure beauty. One of those moments that makes you believe that the meaning of life can be explained in one word — love. They ran upstairs, he kissed the cheeks of the ladies, awkwardly bro-hugged the fellas, and the couple retired to the smush room. All was well. When they two emerged, it was time to return to the environment in which they first met: one filled with Italians, thumping house music, and enough alcohol to rid the world of all bacteria. Snooki wore her finest attire, a hot-pink leopard-print number that looked like a bandana being held together with jumper cables. Being a sexually conservative gent, Jionni remarked that he might prefer something a little more demure, but love was in the air and booze needed to be in the bellies, so they left for the club. All was well. The presence of her lover transformed Snooki. She danced with a lust she had never felt before. She announced the she needed to dance where her soul was, above the crowd, on stage, to show the world her passion. Possessed by her love, she raised her dress and truly showed the world her passion. Jionni was not impressed. All was not well. Ashamed, Jionni fled. Shocked, no longer possessed by desire, Snooki gave chase. Unable to find her Guido, she melted onto the streets of Florence into a weeping heap of rage and sorrow. Inconsolable, she retreated to her bed and continued to wail. Hours later, Jionni returned, announced that her behavior at the nightclub was unacceptable, grabbed his suitcase, and left. Under her hot-pink satin comforter, Snooki found no comfort. Hours earlier she held her true love, but now she held only her stuffed alligator. Reliving it makes me want to cry myself — I must be on my period.--David Jacoby

Federal judges are entrusted with interpreting and applying rules fairly and consistently. Except, it seems, when it comes to hiring their own staff.--Catherine Rampell

Statistics are like a bikini. What they present is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.--Aaron Levenstein

Even as Civil War history has gone through several cycles of revision, one thing has remained fixed: the number of dead. Since about 1900, historians and the general public have assumed that 618,222 men died on both sides. That number is probably a significant undercount, however. New estimates, based on Census data, indicate that the death toll was approximately 750,000, and may have been as high as 850,000. ... So what? Above a certain count, do the numbers even matter? Well, yes. The difference between the two estimates is large enough to change the way we look at the war. The new estimate suggests that more men died as a result of the Civil War than from all other American wars combined. Approximately 1 in 10 white men of military age in 1860 died from the conflict, a substantial increase from the 1 in 13 implied by the traditional estimate. The death toll is also one of our most important measures of the war’s social and economic costs. A higher death toll, for example, implies that more women were widowed and more children were orphaned as a result of the war than has long been suspected. In other words, the war touched more lives and communities more deeply than we thought, and thus shaped the course of the ensuing decades of American history in ways we have not yet fully grasped. True, the war was terrible in either case. But just how terrible, and just how extensive its consequences, can only be known when we have a better count of the Civil War dead.--J. David Hacker

... with limited practice time and, to be honest, limited skills, kids need to focus on a few things and to get better at them — the jack of all trades is incredibly overrated.--Chris Brown

The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is any where directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour.--Adam Smith

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Decals of the day: Family style (yes, I'm feeling it)

Source here.

Bryan Caplan has thought about this a lot.  Here's one.

Quotes of the day

[Rogue traders] need to come to terms, personally, with what happened, with their own dishonesty. If you can't accept that you can't move on. If I had put my hand up at the end of the first year, I'd have received a slap on the wrist. By the end of the second, I'd have lost my job. By the end of the third, it had become criminal. I am a criminal, by the letter of the law, but there was no criminal intent there. You don't go into these things intending to become a criminal. You want to make money for the bank, be a good trader and get a big bonus. The criminality is always with the individual trader, but the bank, with its incompetence and negligence in controlling what is going on, is complicit. In all those cases there are strange similarities: the length of time that passes before they reveal themselves, the amount of money involved, the age of the trader.--Nick Leeson

... the “tournament” problem ... comes up in any market that’s potentially dominated by “superstars”. Athletic competitions, for example, are prone to drain more resources than they’re worth. (See previous blog posts here and here.) Major league baseball is a good thing — it entertains the fans. But if we could randomly eliminate half the players, we’d lower the quality of competition just a little, while freeing up a lot of ex-ballplayers to start businesses, drive cabs, or write sports blogs. The market fails to find that outcome. The fact that it’s so easy for markets to fail is part of why we should be so astonished, and so thankful, that they typically succeed.--Steve Landsburg

This is no market for young men.--Jeremy Grantham

Attention all you hedge fund readers: if [the Swiss] can arbitrage and convexify their guinea pig market, you’d better not bet against their currency peg.--Tyler Cowen

... unless you get rid of the tax-free status of muni bonds, Theresa Heinz-Kerry will continue to have the effective tax rate of a probationary janitor.--Megan McArdle

It appears Team Obama wants you to conclude that there is no difference between the President and Congressional Republicans on the amount of proposed deficit reduction, and that the President wants a prospective deficit reduction approach balanced between spending cuts and tax increases. Both conclusions are false. The policy changes the President is proposing are significantly less deficit reduction than that proposed by (House) Republicans, and almost all of the President’s new proposed deficit reduction comes from tax increases. To put the second point in schoolyard terms, President Obama is in effect saying to Republicans, “We did it all your way (spending cuts) the last two times, so this time we should do it almost all my way (tax increases). That’s balanced.” It’s a legitimate liberal policy position to propose new net deficit reduction of about $1.4 T over the next ten years, almost all of which comes from tax increases on the rich. That is the President’s policy. I think it’s terrible policy, but that’s a judgment for the Congress and ultimately for American voters to make. Team Obama knows they will lose the public debate if they actually say that, so they are helping you to draw mistaken conclusions about what they are actually proposing. They are instead pretending to propose $4T of deficit reduction over the next ten years, balanced between “real, serious spending cuts” and tax increases. That is a fundamentally dishonest presentation of the policies the President is actually proposing.--Keith Hennessey

You can get a sweet deal if you are the customer who gets marginal cost pricing. Medicare does this--reimburses hospitals at above their marginal cost, but below their average cost, so that private insurers have to pick up most of the hospital overhead. European countries do this with prescription drugs: reimburse above the marginal cost of producing the pills, but below the total cost of developing the pills, so that the US has to pick up most of the tab for drug development. The problem is that as voters and as customers, we often get the notion that this can be extrapolated to everyone. So liberal policy wonks want to save money by putting everyone on Medicare, or some equivalent program that uses the government's monopsony pricing power to get lower prices for everyone; thrifty customers think that everyone should drop cable and just pay $14.95 for streaming plus DVDs.--Megan McArdle

... the President’s definition of “shared sacrifice” exempts the largest entitlement spending program (Social Security), his biggest legislative achievement (the new health entitlement created two years ago), and tax increases for more than 99% of the population. That is an odd definition of “shared.”--Keith Hennessey

I never put on a pair of gloves again [after the Leonard fight]. Never had one gym workout. If you get that taste in your mouth, it never goes away.--Marvin Hagler

Marvin [Hagler] was more a traditionalist and a purist. The money was great, but he didn't fight for the money. For Marvin, the belts came first, the history came first, the legacy came first. He was a boxer-businessman. [Sugar] Ray [Leonard] was a businessman-boxer.--Seth Abraham

On This Day. 1862: President Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, setting a date for the freedom of 3 million slaves.--WestWingReport

I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing.--Warren Buffett

"I thought they did a great job with the movie.  Let's be honest: Did I think they could make a movie out of 'Moneyball?' No. Never. I even told the studio that. And when they did make it, I thought it would suck.--Michael Lewis

The movie did not suck, not at all, that's the wrong word and that's a story for tomorrow. The story for today is how we even got here. It is about a man who is not really in the movie. No actor plays him. He's mentioned in the movie here and there, but only for a a few seconds. Still, without him, there is no Moneyball. There is no Sabermetrics, at least not under that name. Certainly people would still be looking for objective knowledge in baseball -- people were looking long before Bill James and they will look long after.  But without the life's work of Bill James, they sure as heck would not have made a movie out of it.--Joe Posnanski

Before a decade’s worth of steroid revelations made their glowing press coverage seem like an exercise in self-deception, people liked to say that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa “saved baseball” in 1998 — that their extraordinary home run surge revived fan enthusiasm and restored America’s interest in the sport after the ugliness of the World Series-canceling 1994 strike. Maybe that was true for others. For me, the player who saved baseball was Tim Wakefield.--Ross Douthat
Photo links here and here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Benjamin Franklin would be proud

Source here.

Rick Perry == Howard Dean?

Ross Douthat thinks so.

Reminds me of this Obama == Bush thing.

Quotes of the day

If you don’t hate your trainer or workout partner sometimes, then they’re not helping you really get in shape--Jon Acuff

For a man wearing the standard uniform of the office suit, it’s hard to go wrong. For a woman, the office style is always trickier. Never be flamboyant; be modest. Always cover your shoulders.  Short skirts and open cleavage are strictly forbidden. High heels and colours are a go.--XENIA TCHOUMITCHEVA

Unfortunately for Yahoo’s shareholders, the board is simply weak, unable to assert itself in important areas. This feebleness is about to leave Yahoo to the wolves. The Yahoo directors appear to have no vision or patience. This self-created vacuum has left the board and Yahoo directionless, allowing outside players to push these directors in inopportune directions. The problems of the Yahoo board are endemic in corporate America. Shareholders put their faith in and entrust their money to directors to manage the company and counter a chief executive if need be. But when things get tough, boards become captive of executives or bankers or they simply leave. The recent case of Dynegy illustrates this. Rather than stay to fix the mess the directors created, the entire Dynegy board resigned when shareholders rejected its efforts to sell the company. The reasons are interrelated. Too often directors don’t have enough skin in the game to push the company in a strong direction. Directors’ pay averages less than a $100,000 a year, typically far less than what they earn in their full-time jobs. They do not own substantial stock in their companies and face no risk if things go wrong. Even if directors are given incentives to take strong action, the corporate board is not set up for this type of decision-making. Directors work part time to manage the company. It’s tough getting any group to agree on anything, let alone to challenge chief executives. Boards thus naturally tend to rely on the top executives and advisers. Board collegiality and friendships among directors and with the chief executive often also mean that no director takes a disruptive stance. All these factors work to prevent directors from taking charge of a company or forging their own vision, a sobering thought for those who advocate greater board power.--Steven Davidoff

... for all his brave rhetoric about shared sacrifice and grand bargains and hard choices, when it comes to make actual, specific, detailed policy proposals, President Obama has always shied away from putting his name on anything that 1) acknowledges the actual scale of our deficit problem and 2) takes on his party’s interest groups in any meaningful way. So why should we expect his election-year proposals to be any different? In either case, it looks like we have our campaign theme for Obama 2012: “Tax the rich, and Medicare forever.” Which means that if Rick Perry wins the Republican nomination, we’ll be set up for the starkest ideological collision in a presidential election since 1964. No doubt cable news executives are salivating at the prospect.--Ross Douthat

The focus on jobs irrespective of whether they pass a cost-benefit test, highlights the worldview of Keynesians, where spending on anything when unemployment is high, is a good thing via the magic of the multiplier. Further, spending $100k per job is good because it's a million jobs. One wonders if there's a price at which it would not be attractive.--Eric Falkenstein

The [Fed's] dual mandate language [for maximizing employment AND price stability] is based on an outmoded concept of a tradeoff between inflation and unemployment. Moreover, too many goals blur responsibility and accountability. The dual goal enables politicians to lean on the Fed, and people often cite it as an excuse for unconventional policies. Indeed, one of the reasons for the growing interest in removing the dual mandate is the extraordinary discretionary actions the Fed has taken in the past few years -- including large-scale purchases of mortgage-backed securities and longer-term Treasuries, a strategy commonly called "quantitative easing." The Fed has explicitly used the dual mandate to justify these unusual interventions.--John Taylor

... what the Harvard Crimson dubs the “freshman kindness pledge” remains in place. The vast majority of freshmen, and the college itself, have formally declared that “the exercise of kindness” is “on par with intellectual attainment.” Both parts of that equation are odd, and they are odd in ways that suggest something has gone awry at Harvard.--Virginia Postrel

The pursuit of niceness and the worship of success can complement one another as easily as they can contradict. But the kind of culture that’s created when they combine — friendly and deferential on the surface, boiling with resume-driven competitiveness underneath — isn’t one that a great university should aspire to cultivate.--Ross Douthat

Things Apple Inc is worth more than

here.  My favorite:  10 years worth of silver production.

Via Catherine Rampell.  Photo link here.

This is the longest I have listened to an Obama speech since his inaugural

He was doing a pretty good job in front of the United Nations General Assembly.  Started off with his strengths:  the sweep of history, and the oratorical flourishes, the stuff that David Brooks really misses.

Now (10:30am-ish, EST) he is tacking toward saving the domestic Jewish vote he desperately needs for reelection without offending his pro-Palestinian base, while putting the problem back on Israel and Hamas et al, so he's really bogging down.  I haven't turned my CNBC squawk off yet, but I am really tempted to.

Photo link here.

UPDATE:  Ooh, even quoted the Bible.  I don't remember him doing that since he took the White House.  Hoping to keep some Christian votes in 2012, too!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quotes of the day

OLD AGE. IT IS NOT SOMETHING our generation likes to talk about very much, at least not in realistic categories. We talk about preparing for retirement, but only with the greatest reluctance do we prepare for infirmity and death. Very few talk about these matters openly and frankly—without, on the one hand, dwelling on them (which shows they are frightened by them), or, on the other hand, suppressing them (which again shows they are frightened by them).--Don Carson

[Cam] Newton's gone from Urban Meyer's spread system at Florida in 2008 to a version of the Pistol offense at Blinn (Junior) College in Texas in 2009; in the Pistol, the quarterback stands about halfway back to where a passer would take a snap in the shotgun -- maybe four yards instead of the deeper seven -- giving him the ball faster and allowing him to make decisions quicker while still being able to analyze the defense before the snap. Then in 2010 it was on to the Auburn option offense, and now the pro style, versatile scheme of Rob Chudzinski (a big fan of throwing to the tight end and downfield). Four different worlds in four years. He's had to adjust to new offenses, new people, new cities. He's almost like a military brat, or a coach's kid, always moving. This helps him not only culturally but in learning a new system. He's had a major new system change every year for the last four.--Peter King

All I ever wanted was a chance. I thank God for Michael Irvin giving it to me. I thank God for Mr. Jerry Jones giving it to me. ... There's no way I'd ever be here right now without that show [4th and Long]--Jesse Holley

Unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner, and so miss opportunities to make good friends. They look through the newspaper determined to find certain job advertisements and, as a result, miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there, rather than just what they are looking for.--Erik Calonius

Scientists think they can prove that free will is an illusion. Philosophers are urging them to think again.--Kerri Smith

... the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.--G.K. Chesterton

Some smart people believe that insider trading should be legal and find it puzzling that our legal system considers it worse than murder. But if you are going to make insider trading a crime, you probably do so on some sort of theory of fairness: the little guy reading 10Ks and watching Jim Cramer should have just as good a chance of making money as the big mustachioed guy who gets calls from corporate directors as soon as they get out of board meetings. This is kind of a nutty theory but we seem to like it. It may be related to our theory that all Americans should have the same opportunity to invest their own retirement funds or make their own decisions about future healthcare needs.--Matt Levine

... the lack of change in fourth down decision-making is also a depressing reminder that human biases are exceedingly hard to fix. When the game is on the line we default to our lazy hunches and instincts, even when the rational choice couldn’t be more clear.--Jonah Lehrer

As a general rule I believe the presumption should be in favor of government actions only when market failures are quite large and persistent. So clearly governments should have the dominant role in the military and police areas, in the judiciary, in protecting against massive pollution, and in providing a safety net for its least fortunate members (private charities are important but do not do enough). On the other hand, when market failures are relatively small and likely to be temporary, as in monopoly situations or in exploiting consumer ignorance, government involvement should be minimal, as in minimalist anti-trust policies, and in allowing consumers generally to make their own decisions. The intermediate cases are the most difficult: when market failures may be significant, and yet government alternatives are not attractive. This may be decided on a case-by-case basis, but I believe the usual rule should then be to let the market operate. This belief is based on the conclusion that, on the whole, government failure is far more pervasive, damaging, and less self-correcting, than is market failure. Others may reach different conclusions, but these are the problems that a relevant welfare analysis should focus on. Simply concluding that in particular instances markets are not working perfectly is a misleading and incorrect basis for supporting active and sizable government involvement.--Gary Becker

That’s right — I completely ditched my loyalties to my favorite team since childhood for a couple of years because the Vikings weren’t all that great and the Colts suddenly were. I defy you to come up with a more textbook case of jumping on a bandwagon than that without using the words "Miami" or "Heat." ... Perhaps the most telling sign of how bad things have gotten is that one of my friends was actually given free tickets to the Colts’ home opener against the Browns on Sunday. --Mark Titus

I’m a sap, a specific kind of sap. I’m an Obama Sap. When the president said the unemployed couldn’t wait 14 more months for help and we had to do something right away, I believed him. When administration officials called around saying that the possibility of a double-dip recession was horrifyingly real and that it would be irresponsible not to come up with a package that could pass right away, I believed them. I liked Obama’s payroll tax cut ideas and urged Republicans to play along. But of course I’m a sap. When the president unveiled the second half of his stimulus it became clear that this package has nothing to do with helping people right away or averting a double dip. This is a campaign marker, not a jobs bill. ... I believed Obama when he said he wanted to move beyond the stale ideological debates that have paralyzed this country. I always believe that Obama is on the verge of breaking out of the conventional categories and embracing one of the many bipartisan reform packages that are floating around. But remember, I’m a sap. The White House has clearly decided that in a town of intransigent Republicans and mean ideologues, it has to be mean and intransigent too. The president was stung by the liberal charge that he was outmaneuvered during the debt-ceiling fight. So the White House has moved away from the Reasonable Man approach or the centrist Clinton approach. ... The president believes the press corps imposes a false equivalency on American politics. We assign equal blame to both parties for the dysfunctional politics when in reality the Republicans are more rigid and extreme. There’s a lot of truth to that, but at least Republicans respect Americans enough to tell us what they really think. The White House gives moderates little morsels of hope, and then rips them from our mouths. To be an Obama admirer is to toggle from being uplifted to feeling used. The White House has decided to wage the campaign as fighting liberals. I guess I understand the choice, but I still believe in the governing style Obama talked about in 2008. I may be the last one. I’m a sap.--David Brooks

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) premised their Obamacare score on the assumption that only 7 percent of employers would drop their employee health plans. If the percentage is closer to the 30 percent, as the McKinsey survey results predict, Obamacare's price tag would rise by almost $1 trillion.--Conn Carroll

The secret of poetry is cruelty.--Jon Anderson
Photo links here and here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Intrade's prediction of President Obama's relection

over the last 6 months:

He must be grateful for a weak field of GOP candidates. I don't think there's a Reagan lurking out there this time, to gobble up a Carteresque presidency.

Some college students are thoughtful, even in this day and age

Via Mark Perry.

Quotes of the day

Republicans could fairly use the Solyndra flap to highlight Obama's corporatism -- if only they weren't guilty of the same sort of thing.--Timothy Carney

The "Buffett Rule" Is Based On Flawed, Anecdotal Evidence; National Data Show That "Super-Rich" Pay Avg. Tax Rates 2-3X Higher Than a Secretary.--Mark Perry

It speaks volumes that a so-called populist bid to increase marginal tax rates for millionaires has to be named for a billionaire.--Chris Lehmann

Statistics are like a bikini. What they present is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.--Aaron Levenstein

Obama’s debt-reduction plan: $3 trillion in savings, half from new tax revenue.--Zachary Goldfarb

Note to the editors: If you take money from one person, or a group of people, and give it to another person or group of people – first having passed it through the sticky hands of the bureaucracy – that is no sense any kind of “savings”. Deficit reduction it may be (and only will be if not used in the traditional way, i.e. to bankroll ever new unfunded entitlements) but it’s certainly not savings. Saving is virtuous, and occurs when an entity economizes by not spending. In ordinary usage, taking someone’s property from them and coloring that as “savings” would land you in jail for theft. (It’s not theft when governments do it because they have a monopoly on organized violence. This makes all the difference.)--Neptunus Lex

There are more than 100 million households in the United States; ranking them by income (using proper database tools) enables us to select any portion of them to define income groups. To cover a wide range of plausible definitions of “middle class,” I chose four possible definitions: the middle 20 percent, 40 percent, 60 percent, and 80 percent of households. In a similar manner, three possible definitions of “the rich” were selected: the top 5 percent, 10 percent, and 20 percent of households. (Interestingly, when survey respondents have been asked which income class they’d place themselves in, close to 80 percent have tended to place themselves somewhere in the middle class. In contrast, the various definitions used by social scientists indicate that the middle 40 to 60 percent is a more-defensible range. Hardly anyone thinks they are part of “the rich.”).  ... three of the four chosen definitions of “middle class” outperformed the overall economy. In other words, the middle class got at least its fair share of overall growth, and arguably more. Moreover, all four versions of “middle class” outperformed every definition of “rich”; in short, the gap between the rich and the middle class got smaller, not larger.  The middle class finally caught a break. Figuring it out took us longer than it should have, but at least we now know that the middle class has in fact been getting its fair share of whatever income growth has resulted from the work we put into the economy.  And that’s not just good news for the middle class, that’s good news for everybody. Why? Because we now know that, if past is prologue, the middle class should automatically get its fair share of future growth under current tax policy, as it did during the Bush years of the recent past—which means it shouldn’t be necessary to spend any of our limited time for national discourse on whether or how to redistribute the benefits of whatever growth our economy can muster. The time we’ll save by sidelining the redistribution argument and the class-warfare rhetoric can be much better spent on the overwhelmingly important problem of how to kick the economy into higher gear, back to robust growth rates approaching 4 percent or more. The debate about our economy can now focus freely on which policies are best in the long run for creating jobs, jobs, jobs.--Steve Conover

Kraft said maybe Bledsoe's most important game was the final one of his 1993 rookie season in which the Patriots topped the Dolphins, 33-27, in overtime -- a 36-yard pass from Bledsoe to Michael Timpson lifting New England to only its fifth win of the season. Kraft said it was that moment, in a raucous Foxboro Stadium, that convinced him to "overpay" by purchasing the team for a then-NFL record $175 million.  Without that moment, it's fair to wonder if Gillette Stadium and the Hall that Bledsoe and Morris were ushered into on Saturday would have ever existed.--Chris Forsberg

The impact [Drew] Bledsoe had on [the New England Patriots] can't be overstated. I believe his stamp on this franchise is still being felt today. When you walk into that facility, there is a sign on the door. One of the things it says is "put the team first." When it comes to the Patriots under Belichick, Bledsoe showed everyone what it meant to put the team first. His final year in New England, when Brady took over, the way that Bledsoe was unselfish and helped Brady start to become the quarterback he is now was the greatest example of a player putting the team first that I had ever seen. Drew moved on to Buffalo and Dallas, but I always remember the lesson he taught us on his way out of New England. Every time I walked in that door and saw that sign, I thought of Bledsoe and the example he set.--Tedy Bruschi

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chart of the half-century: Stock returns by debt rating

Source here.

Quotes of the day

When you wallpaper over termites, at first it looks good for awhile.--Rick Santelli, on CNBC a few moments ago, on the European economy and the markets

... she continues screaming, "Oh God, we're going to die." So the people on the plane are looking around. "Nobody's saying we're not going to die; maybe we are going to die." And so finally we land and they come off, and she gets off and she's very shaken. And she was sitting next to this kid who was just staring out the window the whole time, like, oh God, please don't. And so I say to that kid, I said wow that was some flight, huh? And the kid said, "This was my first time on an airplane. Is it always like this?" And I realized after three years in DC, I was that kid.--Austan Goolsbee, on his time as President Obama's chief economist

SAGAL: One last question, before we go to the game. How does it feel to be one of the men that salon dot com named one of the 15 sexiest men of 2010?
Mr. GOOLSBEE: I said at the time I didn't even know Salon was printed in Braille.
SAGAL: Very good.
SAGAL: That may be the funniest thing a government economist has ever said on this show.

Spending money on such boondoggles to create jobs relies on a faith in the fiscal multiplier, and the magic of spending to reduce debt. Bush II spent like a drunken sailor (wars, medicare) and this ended with a disaster even though it should have been no worse than the alien invasion expenditures suggested by Keynesian economists. It should be remembered that after independence India focused on jobs and the poor, as opposed to free trade and property rights, and they stagnated for decades. If governments could boost the economy spending on big top-down projects, countries like India would have done much better than countries that were less hands-on in their management.--Eric Falkenstein

... as Larry Summers famously described it, Keynesian countercyclical policy is "temporary, targeted, and timely." The Reagan tax cut was certainly not temporary. And it wasn't targeted either; it was across the board. And it wasn't timely because it lasted well beyond the recession and the recovery. In fact, it is just the kind of "permanent, pervasive, and predictable" policy that we need now.--John Taylor

One obvious step would be a cut in the taxation of income from corporate capital. According to a 2008 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, “Corporate taxes are found to be most harmful for growth.” Tax reform that reduced the burden on capital income and shifted it toward consumption would improve prospects for long-run growth and, in so doing, encourage greater investment today. Yet it would be overly optimistic to think that any single public policy, by itself, could lead to the kind of robust investment spending seen in previous recoveries. Myriad government actions influence the expected future profitability of capital. These include not only policies concerning taxation but also those concerning trade and regulation. For example, passing the free trade agreement with South Korea, which has languished in Congress more than four years after first being negotiated, would be a step in the right direction. So would reining in the National Labor Relations Board; its decision to block Boeing from opening a nonunion plant in South Carolina may have been hailed by organized labor, but it surely did not hearten investors. Economists often rely on the convenient shortcut of separating long-run and short-run issues. Recessions are then viewed as short-run problems that require short-run solutions. That approach, however, may be simplistic. Lack of investment spending is a large part of the economy’s current difficulties, but capital investments are always made with an eye toward the future. The best fix for our short-run problems may be to focus on policies that will foster long-run growth as well.--Greg Mankiw

As I sat in my first Harvard economics lecture, listening to Greg Mankiw introduce himself to his new graduate class, my head was in a spin.  Could he really be a Republican Keynesian? And a Keynesian disciple of Milton Friedman? For a young Brit, just graduated from Oxford, this was revolutionary; what I thought was the conventional economic wisdom was being turned upside down.  ... Keynes himself must be turning in his grave. For – as that Greg Mankiw class highlighted to me, and has now been fully documented in Lord Skidelsky's biography – the real Keynes was no profligate tax-and-spender. His seminal 1930 Treatise on Money was as hawkish on inflation as Friedman decades later. His attitude to irresponsible wage bargaining in the 1920s was as unforgiving as Thatcher in the 1980s.--Ed Balls, Great Britain's shadow chancellor

If you have a luxury sports car, you don't put 87 in it. You put in 93. So why would I put 87 into my body? I want my body to run as efficiently as possible, so let me put good stuff in it and go out here and exercise. That's the key, and it's been working.--Damien Woody

I'm so proud of [Tom Brady] and what he’s done -- and the way that he’s done it. He's not only been one of the very best players in the league now for a long time, but he’s continued to handle himself with class, on and off the field. I’m really just proud of what he’s done and the way he’s led this team.--Drew Bledsoe

It's possible to overthink things. But thinking is what makes life interesting. It's why pure talent isn't necessarily as entertaining as doing more with less. ... We live in a celebrity culture, and that collective ideology drives sport as much as anything else. When we turn on the TV, we want to see famous people. Yet every athletic superstar is just another stand-in (both for the player who came before him and the player who'll come after). Life is a game, and we are the pawns. The only thing that matters is how the pieces move.--Chuck Klosterman

Physical courage is admirable, but in modern society it simply isn't as important as it was when philosophy developed 2500 years ago. Intellectual courage, the readiness to risk humiliation, is much harder, precisely because it is more ambiguous. Only with the virtue of hindsight of generations do we see intellectually courageous stands for what they were, what distinguishes the Churchills from the Maos, the Galileos from the Lysenkos. It is courage combined with prudence, not mere zealotry. Having something terrible happen to you generates instant sympathy. Our culture has moved from from celebrating accomplishment (Eisenhower) to suffering (McCain), where suffering has been expanded to include the indignity of growing up a non-asian minority. Thus, Obama's rather cushy Hawaiian life was transformed in his autobiography into something subtly oppressive because his biological father was African.--Eric Falkenstein

Readers of history may call to mind the Roman Empire, the Russian years under Communism, certain local churches, Christian universities, confessional seminaries, and on and on. They know that human institutions can never be so safely constructed that outcomes are guaranteed. For the heart of the human dilemma is so deeply rooted in personal sin that no structure can finally reform it. The lament for Israel’s princes becomes a lament for the human race, which desperately needs a solution far deeper and more effective than princes, presidents, and structures can ever provide.--Don Carson

Chart of the day: Dumbest class ever?

Source here, via Josh Brown.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quotes of the day

Barack Obama's jobs plan may be one of the worst policy proposals I've ever seen.--John Carney

Let me get this straight: American companies can go overseas to China and create jobs, but they can't go to South Carolina and create jobs? Is this the kind of government we have?--John Boehner, on CNBC a few moments ago

In the American Physics Society it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible? The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this 'warming' period.--Ivar Giaever, Nobel Laureate 1973

Wow, a Nobel winner AND a true scientist? Pretty rare these days.--Cav

There are a lot of lessons to be learned [from the Magellan Fund], the first is that stepping into someone like Peter Lynch's shoes is basically a no-win situation, even after a decade or two have transpired. Lynch is Hercules and Michael Jordan and the Beatles all rolled in one when it comes to stock-picking and the mutual fund format, no one even touches him.--Josh Brown

It is essential to have the right connections when you have a good idea, more so the bigger the idea.--Eric Falkenstein

Next time Hollywood decries inequality

Turn the volume down. Or even boycott the players.

Via Carl Quintinilla.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quotes of the day

I noticed one person missing in all the media mentions of NFL ceremonies running up to and during 9/11. Maybe it's because his death, and the ensuing coverup, were so shameful and messy. But he gave up his career -- and his life -- because of 9/11 and because of his sense of honor and duty and idealism. And while everyone was waving flags yesterday and all that, I was hearing him screaming his last words on that ridge in Afghanistan: 'I'm Pat ----ing Tillman!--Fred Fried

Why do the microwave and frozen dinner inexorably lead to obesity? According to the economists, the cheapness of calories (both in terms of price and time) has led us to dramatically boost consumption. Food stops being something we make and create — it doesn’t require very many lever presses, so to speak — and becomes something we simply ingest. Eating just gets easier. And then we get fatter. But maybe we’re not just consuming more calories because they’re available at such a low cost. Maybe we’re also consuming more calories because each calorie gives us less pleasure. The lesson ... after all, is that when we don’t work for our food — when it only requires a single press, or a few whirls of the microwave — it tastes much less delicious.--Jonah Lehrer

As for you punctuation nuts - relax. It's a blog not a dissertation.--buddy_girl

On September 12 President Obama sent his American Jobs Act to Congress. He called on Congress to pass a bill with additional spending of $447 billion, with an extension of payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits, more infrastructure spending, and additional aid for state and local governments. Temporary tax reductions have limited effect in stimulating investment and economic growth. Since consumers and businesses know that the tax cuts are temporary, they do not make permanent changes in their behavior. This finding won Professor Milton Friedman the Nobel Prize in economics. In order to inspire confidence and change behavior, tax cuts have to be permanent. Similar solutions to unemployment were tried in 2009, as part of the $825 billion “stimulus.” The “stimulus” failed to spur GDP growth significantly and create jobs, despite record low interest rates and monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve. If an $825 billion stimulus—plus cash for clunkers, auto bailouts, and mortgage forgiveness programs—resulted in an annualized GDP growth rate of only one percent two years after the end of the recovery, and succeeded only in raising the January 2009 unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, why would a package that is half the size reduce an unemployment rate that is now 9.1 percent?--Diana Furchtgott-Roth

The Obama White House tried to rush federal reviewers for a decision on a nearly half-billion-dollar loan to the solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra so Vice President Biden could announce the approval at a September 2009 groundbreaking for the company’s factory, newly obtained e-mails show.  The Silicon Valley company, a centerpiece in President Obama’s initiative to develop clean energy technologies, had been tentatively approved for the loan by the Energy Department but was awaiting a final financial review by the Office of Management and Budget. The August 2009 e-mails, released exclusively to The Washington Post, show White House officials repeatedly asking OMB reviewers when they would be able to decide on the federal loan and noting a looming press event at which they planned to announce the deal. In response, OMB officials expressed concern that they were being rushed to approve the company’s project without adequate time to assess the risk to taxpayers, according to information provided by Republican congressional investigators.  Solyndra collapsed two weeks ago, leaving taxpayers liable for the $535 million loan.--Joe Stephens and Carol D. Leonnig

The White House also noted to ABC News that the Bush administration was the first to consider Solyndra's application and that some executives at the company have a history of donating to Republicans. The results of the Congressional probe shared Tuesday with ABC News show that less than two weeks before President Bush left office, on January 9, 2009, the Energy Department's credit committee made a unanimous decision not to offer a loan commitment to Solyndra. Even after Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009, analysts in the Energy Department and in the Office of Management and Budget were repeatedly questioning the wisdom of the loan. In one exchange, an Energy official wrote of "a major outstanding issue" -- namely, that Solyndra's numbers showed it would run out of cash in September 2011.--MATTHEW MOSK, BRIAN ROSS, and RONNIE GREENE

Legislators get more power when they define crimes more broadly because they reduce the role of judges in deciding who is guilty; and prosecutors have more power because they have more discretion about what and how to prosecute. As a result, legislators and prosecutors tacitly cooperate with each other, leading to both more law and less: more on the books, and less on the street, in the sense that the laws are so broad the police and prosecutors get to decide whom to go after and find guilty. Those decisions are about power. In the “rule of too much law,” [William] Stuntz advises, “too much law amounts to no law at all.” His solution to this set of problems is to replace the vicious cycle that creates them with a virtuous cycle based on cultivating a relationship between those who break the law (or are tempted to) and those who enforce it. For most of the twentieth century in the Northeast and Midwest, the ratio of police officers to prison inmates was two to one. Today, it is less than one to two. “More than any other statistic,” Stuntz writes, “that one captures what is most wrong with American criminal justice.” More cops mean more deterrence. More deterrence means fewer arrests and fewer convictions. In the 1990s, New York City had the biggest drop in urban crime during the decade. It also had the biggest increase in its police force. ... His hunger for more justice and mercy and, as a result, less crime and punishment made his work great. In this brave book, as contrarian as it is utopian, he constructs a powerful explanation about the vast and costly failure of the American criminal justice system and why the quest to reform it must be a high priority. He left an inspiring model of how.--Lincoln Caplan
Photo link here.