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October 23, 2014

The president's press secretary gets creative. *Very* creative.

"The White House Says This Scientific Theory Explains Why It Isn't More Open To The Press".

The White House has a scientific explanation for why reporters aren't allowed to view President Barack Obama's interactions with campaign donors: The very act of observing an event can change the event's outcome. . . . 

"The goal of those q-and-a sessions is to foster a more candid and open dialogue where you have donors who are expressing their views," Earnest said. "I think it's the Heidenberg principle?"

Once again, I'm not making this up.

"Stevie Nicks Admits Past Pregnancy With Don Henley and More About Her Wild History"

Interview. 66 and still rockin'.

Link courtesy of Michael Greenspan.

"The cable networks that draw the most partisan ads aren’t the ones you expect"

What surprised me: conservatives don't advertise much on ABC Family and Comedy Central and Liberals don't advertise much on the Golf Channel.

"Why Are Publishers Giving Away Bestselling Books for Free?"

I'm giving BookBub a try. So far, it seems worth some clicks.

October 22, 2014

"Behind a NYT call to bust up Amazon"

Ira Stoll, in the New York Post, speculates on the reason for Krugman's call for antitrust action against Amazon:

It’s enough to make a cynic suspect that the Times’ panic over Amazon isn’t about online retailer’s market power or disparate treatment at all, but the fact that Amazon’s CEO owns The Washington Post, a newspaper that competes with The New York Times.

Or about the fact that the Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, reportedly has libertarian-oriented politics rather than Krugman’s statist views.

UPDATE: not to be missed is Marc Andreessen's annotation of Krugman's column.

"Obama Donor Blocks Access to Hagan Stimulus Records"

"Cronyism all the way down."

"The next time someone says, “You didn’t build that,” remind them of Fatu Kekula"

22-year-old West African woman combats Ebola by "invent[ing] her own equipment".

"Why Are We Grossed Out by Women With Armpit Hair?"

I'm not sure the answer is right, but your mileage may vary.

The answer, it seems, is embedded deep in the evolutionary nature of disgust. And in the central role sex plays in the evolutionary story. 

 

October 21, 2014

"How the feds block Ebola cures"

Tell me again about how great the FDA is.

Two years after 9/11, Congress created Project Bioshield to speed up the commercialization of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics. A key part of the plan: Get the FDA to evaluate innovations quickly by using the same scientific advances that were used to discover them.

The agency balked.

Pandemic vaccines and drugs don’t move through the FDA approval process faster. Instead, drug- and device-development times actually increased more than 70 percent over the past decade because the FDA keeps demanding more studies and more data using outdated techniques.

And, no, the FDA is not using the best science to ensure safety. Time and again, it has waived regulations when politically expedient.

Or as Glenn Reynolds cracks, "Government is just another word for the things we do together."

"This Is What It Looks Like When 'No Brainer' Trades Go Spectacularly Wrong"

A useful illustration of why there is never a "no brainer" trade.

Another modern problem rears its ugly head

Forget ISIS and Ebola, this is really, really bad: modern technology has made it much more difficult to be a music snob.

My record collection is no longer a lifestyle, a biography, a status. The identities that I and a generation of fellow aesthetes spent our lives fashioning are suddenly obsolete. They turned out to be mere patterns of consumption, no more resilient than the patterns of production that provoked them. Not content to ruin music for the first three decades of my life, the major labels have collapsed and ruined dating too. I will probably never forgive them, if I ever get around to forgiving myself.

"Putting the ‘O’ in EbOla"

Jonah Goldberg, right smack on the money:

Of course, Obama’s ideology is larger than him — which is one reason I dislike so many rightwing explanations of Obama’s motives as stemming from his post-colonial, Alinskyite, African-Indonesian-Muslim life story. All of that stuff might be true. Indeed, some of it surely is (Note: I do not think Obama is Muslim, sorry). But even if it perfectly explained why he does what he does, it doesn’t explain why millions of Americans voted for him and agree with him. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are not nearly so exotic as Barack Obama, and yet they are in ideological lockstep with him. Why? Because they are liberals. Full stop.

"FiveThirtyEight’s Pollster Ratings"

We've needed something like this for a long time. I hope they keep it updated.

Highest ranked: Selzer & Company, Field Poll, Ciruli Associates.

Lowest ranked: Research 2000, TCJ Research, Strategic Vision, Zogby, Pharos Research.

October 20, 2014

"Rachel Carson's Deadly Fantasies"

Thanks to the rank bias of teachers of "environmental science" today's high schools students are unlikely to know the enormous damage Silent Spring did. Show them this.

"The One App You Need To Mention On Your Resume If You Want A Job At Google"

Econ Ph.D. students, send your resumes to Google!

Spoiler: the app is Matlab.

"Culture Wars All the Way Down"

Jonah Goldberg at the top of his form. Half funny, half original, insightful analysis. Even though this column depreciates economics a bit, it's a good argument. And I really like his discussion of "wedge issues".

So the other day I was on Fox talking about the minimum wage, or rather I was on Fox to talk about the politics of the minimum wage. I made the point I’m about to make right now. The reason Democrats are always trying to raise the minimum wage is so they can get Republicans to vote against the minimum wage, a point others have made in the past (including, I recently learned, Kevin Williamson in this excellent primer on the issue). More broadly, the minimum wage is a wedge issue for Democrats. The fact that it is at best an insignificant and silly idea and at worst really terrible economics is entirely beside the point.

When I first started following politics in a serious way, “wedge issues” were terrible, no good, very bad things. David Broder, Tom Edsall, Eleanor Clift, and others would decry the use of wedge issues — race, abortion, patriotism, etc. — because they “divided” Americans. What this really meant was they divided the enduring Democratic coalition, separating out working-class whites and other constituencies moving rightward with Reagan. Looking through the hundreds of stories on Nexis from the late 1980s and early 1990s on the sinister exploitation of such issues is really a lot of fun. Here’s a headline from a 1989 Edsall piece in the Washington Post: “GOP Honing Wedges for Next Campaign; Party Aims for Partisan Advantage by Making Corruption, Drugs and Crime Divisive Issues.”

Good lord! Will those Republicans stop at nothing to win elections? 

"Ebola Comes to America: Krugman & Stiglitz Must Be Delighted"

This is mean, nasty, over the top, and I liked every word of it.

"Fed up with the GOP Establishment? That's no reason to stay home on Election Day"

I concur.

And don’t just vote, but make sure others cast the right vote as well. Here’s why:

First and foremost, the right to vote should never be taken for granted. It is a gift and one we should cherish. It should not be tossed aside. No matter how disappointed we feel about our choices, we must make the best possible choice among the options.

Apathy is a luxury we can’t afford. If we want to grumble about RINO’s, the RNC, and establishment Republicans, that shouldn’t stop us from voting. Grumbling and voting aren’t mutually exclusive. Should anyone decide to express some choice words in the voting booth, save the best for Harry Reid. (More on Harry later.)

Frustration and anger + withhold my vote = lesson learned by the GOP is not a realistic equation, satisfying as it may feel, emotionally.

"Amazon Must Be Stopped"

The editor of New Republic thinks Amazon is a monopoly.

Many people reply effectively. Here are three.

Annie Lowrey, New York: "Amazon is Not a Monopoly".

Joe Nocera, New York Times[!]: "Amazon Plays Rough. So What?"

Reihan Salam, Slate: "In Praise of Amazon".

 

"Shale Boom Has America Sitting Pretty"

As the kids used to say, "No duh!"

Cheap energy is key for economic growth, and a glut of natural gas is leading to a kind of small renaissance in American manufacturing, especially in energy-intensive industries. More fracking means more gas, lower prices, and growth potential for firms that use that gas.

"Emma Watson And The Chamber Of Feminist Conundrums"

I particularly like the suggestion that Ms. Watson "needed a giant “FIRST-WORLD PROBLEMS” sign behind her at this UN speech".

October 19, 2014

A new low for the mainstream mass media

The Washington Post, 10/16: "Want to feel better about Ebola? This (massive) chart should do the trick."

We wanted to come up with a way to represent the true scale of Ebola in the United States. So we made the graphic below, which depicts over 310 million tiny icons of people, three of whom are colored red to represent Duncan and the two people he infected. Our challenge to you: find the three people.

I'm not making this up. Click on the link if you don't believe me.

At least one writer and at least one editor at The Washington Post felt that to make the point that 2 is a really, really small percentage of 310,000,000, they needed to present a graphic

Do they think their readers are all five-year-olds?

"Unable to Meet the Deductible or the Doctor"

In the New York Times, no less.

Three cheers for Obamacare!

"The 33 Best Pizza Shops in America, 2014"

With very appetizing pictures of the pizzas.

October 18, 2014

"$39,643,352 Worth of NIH Funding That Could Have Gone to the Ebola Vaccine"

Yes, I think that there are more important uses for the NIH's money than finding out "why fat girls have a tough time getting dates" and putting on "fruit and vegetable puppet shows for preschoolers".

"‘Dogs And Cats Living Together': The Best Of Bill Murray’s ‘Ghostbusters’ Ad-Libs"

Mr. Murray can be pretty good.

"18 Different Novels Set In Africa That All Have The Same Darn Tree On The Cover"

Apparently, at least to Westerners, acacia trees say "Africa".

October 17, 2014

"Listen to a Lost Bob Dylan Song from the Basement Tapes Sessions"

Rockabilly. Pretty darn good: "Dress It Up, Better Have It All".

UPDATE: link fixed now. Thanks, Michael.

"Watch This Drag Racer Flip Four Times Then Walk Away From The Crash"

A seatbelt apparently helped.

"How They Make Lingerie Models Look So Good"

Apparently, you start with really attractive women and then it's downhill from there.

October 16, 2014

"5 Key Implications if Baghdad Falls to ISIS"

Interesting and important. But warning: heavy-duty pessimism.

The possible fall of Baghdad could be the most significant development in the War on Terror since 9/11. And yet many among the D.C. foreign policy “smart set” were not long ago mocking such a scenario.

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