Are You Smarter Than a Wall Street Occupier? -- Daily Intel
Posted at 3:57pm, Monday Oct 31, 2011
Tom: Please read through some of the answers given. Had to check that this wasn't from The Onion.
What we’re talking about when we talk about inflation
Posted at 2:33pm, Monday Oct 31, 2011
Tom: These rules would elevate the debate, no question.
xkcd: Alternative Literature
Posted at 11:46am, Monday Oct 31, 2011
Tom: From the alt-text: "It’s like an example you’d make up if you had to illustrate for a child why lying is wrong."
prog21: Things That Turbo Pascal is Smaller Than
Posted at 5:19am, Monday Oct 31, 2011
Avi: Turbo Pascal and QB45 are the essence of the glory of 80's programming.
October 30, 2011
Posted at 2:27pm, Sunday Oct 30, 2011
Tom: Economics 101. Perfect.
Factor endowment theories of trade and investment
Posted at 11:12am, Sunday Oct 30, 2011
Adam: That's cool. LITERALLY.
The Man Who Sailed His House
Posted at 8:40am, Saturday Oct 29, 2011
Avi: Really well-written account of one man's experience in the recent tsunami.
Assorted links
Posted at 9:35pm, Friday Oct 28, 2011
nikhil: this guy is crazy:

One situation where I do not need help, let alone supervision, is in
crossing streets. I grew up in the middle of the world's biggest
city, full of cars, and I have crossed streets without assistance even
in the chaotic traffic of Bangalore and Delhi. Please just leave me
alone when I cross streets.
Assorted links
Posted at 9:31pm, Friday Oct 28, 2011
Tom: James, go through the email. Stallman is eclectic and a genius. Fascinating, in the proper sense of the word.
Cool energy-storage projects popping up; expect a lot more | Grist
Posted at 8:46pm, Friday Oct 28, 2011
Michael: I love Dave Roberts' optimism. It's grounded, curious, and informed... the best kind. Anyway, this post highlights two large battery storage facilities coming online, as well as some useful context.
Learn to code | Codecademy
Posted at 1:34pm, Friday Oct 28, 2011
Michael: I've only gone through the first 3 lessons, but I'm already hooked. Super-smart layout and progression.
Open Source Ecology
Posted at 1:07pm, Friday Oct 28, 2011
Michael: This is a really cool project. Make sure to check out the TED talk.
Sarajevo US embassy gunman arrested: police - Yahoo! News
Posted at 12:43pm, Friday Oct 28, 2011
Tom: Very unfortunate and perplexing, for so many reasons.

Bosnia is one place where the United States can arguably be said to have protected Muslims. It took a few years of the Bosnian War for NATO/U.S. to intervene, but they did. Without them, there would have been more massacres like in Srebrenica (

Not to be crass, but you would have expected resentment to be toward the Serbs, not the U.S.
STANFORD Magazine: July/August 2005 > Just Cool It
Posted at 12:27am, Friday Oct 28, 2011
Tom: Remember reading about this a few years ago. Incredible.
Dangers Lie Around Corner If Greek CDS Aren't Triggered -
Posted at 9:42pm, Thursday Oct 27, 2011
John: I asked a while ago what happens when people realize sovereign CDS doesn't work as a hedge.
Richard Epstein -- The Sharpest Libertarian Thinker Currently Alive Being Himself - Coordination Problem
Posted at 9:00pm, Thursday Oct 27, 2011
Tom: Every chance I get to listen to Epstein, I do. He's brilliant and he never misspeaks.

Great answers to many questions. Love his response to "Do the rich control the system?"
The Opus Prize | 2011 Opus Prize Recipient
Posted at 7:43pm, Thursday Oct 27, 2011
John: Did pro bono for HEAL Africa this summer. Very exciting news.
Petition to Google: don't kill Google Reader
Posted at 3:35pm, Thursday Oct 27, 2011
Hip-Hop Happens
Posted at 2:38am, Thursday Oct 27, 2011
Avi: Great history on the origins of mainstream hiphop.
Assorted Links
Posted at 1:35pm, Wednesday Oct 26, 2011
Tom: #5 - Are you kidding me?
Siri Meets Eliza
Posted at 1:47am, Wednesday Oct 26, 2011
Avi: Mechner and Eliza? Awesome.
Romney refuses to back Kasich against govt unions | Campaign 2012
Posted at 4:23pm, Tuesday Oct 25, 2011
Tom: Sounds good to me.
Rider in the Storm
Posted at 1:11pm, Monday Oct 24, 2011
Avi: Must read profile on the sport of buzkashi.
The Guide to Woody Allen
Posted at 1:05pm, Monday Oct 24, 2011
Avi: I think this was collected for my pleasure.
Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing
Posted at 12:53pm, Monday Oct 24, 2011
Tom: Oh Joss.
Bell Labs
Posted at 12:30pm, Monday Oct 24, 2011
Tom: James, I think you might enjoy this little soliloquy. 3 minutes.
Expired patent of the day: Lego – Boing Boing
Posted at 1:35am, Monday Oct 24, 2011
Avi: The Lego patent application is easily the most beautiful I have ever seen.
New Software System for Realistically Adding Objects Into Photos
Posted at 11:44pm, Sunday Oct 23, 2011
Rob: Wow, impressive.
US Grows Most ’70-’10
Posted at 10:48pm, Sunday Oct 23, 2011
Tom: 'Merica.
Money is debt
Posted at 10:36pm, Sunday Oct 23, 2011
Tom: Introduced me to a new way to think about the Fed. Matt Rognlie is the man.
If You Favor a Policy, Please First Figure Out What it Is.
Posted at 10:29pm, Sunday Oct 23, 2011
Tom: One of her best posts ever. Worth the 3-4 minutes to read, for anyone who bitches about politics.
Posted at 12:05pm, Saturday Oct 22, 2011
nikhil: Physicists graph 1300 “super-connected” companies that dominate the world
Marginal Revolution, articulated
Posted at 12:03pm, Saturday Oct 22, 2011
nikhil: wow
AARP is Wrong About Inflation
Posted at 11:16am, Thursday Oct 20, 2011
Tom: Right on.
Speed Chess
Posted at 6:08am, Thursday Oct 20, 2011
Avi: Excellent profile on fringe football strategy. (~15min)
You Don't Need A Regressive "Flat Tax" To Eliminate Deductions | ThinkProgress
Posted at 4:30am, Thursday Oct 20, 2011
John: This is not really true. When people say they want to make the tax code "simpler," they mean a collection of things including at least: (1) making the law as written literally shorter and easier to understand, (2) lowering compliance costs, (3) minimizing the amount of tax planning engaged in by taxpayers, and (4) increasing certainty in the amount of tax due given a set of facts. People often emphasize (1) a lot for some reason, but that seems like one of the less important aspects.

It's true that eliminating tax expenditures (and I guess you could say deductions, credits and exclusions more generally-but I don't think Yglesias actually wants to impose a gross revenue tax, so I'll assume he really means eliminate tax expenditures) would accomplish all of these goals. It's also true that switching to a flat tax would do little in the way of promoting goal (1).

However, going to a flat tax would improve (2)
(4). This is for the simple reason that the highest marginal rate under a flat tax is lower than it is under a progressive tax. A lower top marginal rate means a lesser incentive by wealthy individuals and corporations to spend money on tax planning and hence lower compliance and planning costs. It also reduces the degree of difference between potential amounts of liability and hence the uncertainty in tax liability.

Now is this a reason to convert to a flat tax? Not really. At least not a very good one. But that's really more because things like equity--having those who can bear the burden of taxation more easily bear a greater burden--are more important than simplicity. People LOVE to talk about making the tax code simpler. But it should not be the primary priority of tax policy. It's much better to have tax laws that raise sufficient revenue in a fair manner that promotes economic efficiency than it is to have a tax code that you can fit in your pocket.

Revenue, equity and efficiency are the primary reasons to support reduced tax expenditures, not simplicity. And equity is the reason to reject a flat tax, not a lack of simplicity.
Being Elmo
Posted at 12:18am, Thursday Oct 20, 2011
Tom: Looks terrific. Don't know if it could sustain a feature length film, but still, very neat.
Mind Blown
Posted at 5:53pm, Wednesday Oct 19, 2011
John: I had to check a bunch of times to make sure it's real because it's so good.
Yes, Herman Cain's 9-9-9 Plan Is Regressive
Posted at 5:47pm, Wednesday Oct 19, 2011
John: More fun in graph form.
Lockheed U-2 Flight - 70,000ft (2 Seat TU-2 Trainer) - YouTube
Posted at 1:30am, Wednesday Oct 19, 2011
Tom: I was not expecting to watch all ten minutes, but I couldn't turn away. Avi, a must watch.

Thank God I'm going to live another half of a century. Commercial space travel, here we come.
There’s nothing so powerful as . . .
Posted at 12:28am, Wednesday Oct 19, 2011
Tom: About time he had his moment.
Malaria scientist celebrates success after 24 years | Reuters
Posted at 12:05am, Wednesday Oct 19, 2011
Tom: Not quite Norman Borlaug, but an incredible win.
Mie scattering - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 10:05pm, Tuesday Oct 18, 2011
Michael: Fun fact: The main reason a sunrise and sunset appear different is because of the amount of moisture and particulate in the air after a long exposure to sun vs. a long period without the heat of the sun. See the Mie Effect
Posted at 9:35pm, Tuesday Oct 18, 2011
nikhil: "Robots have learned how to play ping pong"
US Army to fly 'kamikaze' drones
Posted at 7:01pm, Tuesday Oct 18, 2011
Tom: That's a step up.
Music Typewriter
Posted at 5:36am, Tuesday Oct 18, 2011
Avi: Looks beautiful.
Posted at 1:56am, Tuesday Oct 18, 2011
Michael: It is all starting to come together...
Quantum Levitation - YouTube
Posted at 1:23am, Tuesday Oct 18, 2011
Avi: Quantum levitation. Easily one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.
Jan Hatzius And Sven Jari Stehn Of Goldman Sachs Call For NGDP Level Targeting And Monetary Stimulus
Posted at 7:41pm, Monday Oct 17, 2011
Tom: "“NGDP level targeting” can sound very technical. But in ordinary language terms, what it means under the present circumstances is that the Fed should say “we would welcome a spurt of unemployment-reducing catch-up growth even if it means needing to tolerate a bit of inflation.”"

Nice one-liner.
Insane Downhill Bike Race in Chile | Cool Material
Posted at 12:09pm, Monday Oct 17, 2011
Michael: This is absurd. I didn't even know where the course went half the time.
Cheese or font?
Posted at 10:56am, Monday Oct 17, 2011
Avi: This had me in stitches.
Hollywood Dishonors the Bard -
Posted at 10:40am, Monday Oct 17, 2011
Justin: From the director of Independence Day...
Nobel Laureates in Economics, Uneasy With Labels -
Posted at 1:21pm, Sunday Oct 16, 2011
Tom: Someone let Krugman know.
Teachers and Income: What Did the Kindergarten Study Really Find?, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty
Posted at 12:35pm, Sunday Oct 16, 2011
John: I had read the misleading news articles about this when the study came out.
Our Frum Family Sukkah
Posted at 4:31pm, Saturday Oct 15, 2011
Tom: Did anyone see The League this week? 0_o
Strange Bloomberg Headlines
Posted at 11:43am, Saturday Oct 15, 2011
Adam: I'm really happy that there's a website dedicated to this. As you may know, this issue has been bothering me for years. I think the headlines have gotten a little less weird recently but maybe I've just become habituated.
Dejobbed, bewifed, and much childrenised
Posted at 7:09pm, Friday Oct 14, 2011
nikhil: rejobulate and get out of the country!
The Negative Externality of Voting
Posted at 6:19pm, Friday Oct 14, 2011
Adam: I agree. My proposal is that the value of people's votes should be weighted by IQ or some other measure of intelligence.
Preview: Michigan State 2011
Posted at 2:02pm, Friday Oct 14, 2011
Tom: "Loss will cause me to... scream "I HAVE TWO COMPUTER ENGINEERING DEGREES" to thousands of people in green Affliction t-shirts."

Laughed out loud.
Wonky Protest Sign Highlights Growing Inequality
Posted at 5:47pm, Thursday Oct 13, 2011
Adam: Point taken, but it should really be on a log scale.
Penny Arcade - The Line
Posted at 1:01am, Thursday Oct 13, 2011
Michael: I feel like this will appeal to some of you.
Google's Eric Schmidt: "Public Choice Scholar"
Posted at 7:10pm, Wednesday Oct 12, 2011
Tom: "So we get hauled in front of the Congress for developing a product that’s free, that serves a billion people. Okay? I mean, I don’t know how to say it any clearer. I mean, it’s fine. It’s their job. But it’s not like we raised prices. We could lower prices from free to…lower than free? You see what I’m saying?"

That's funny/sad.
Herman Cain's 9-9-9 Tax Plan by Edward Kleinbard :: SSRN
Posted at 5:00pm, Wednesday Oct 12, 2011
John: The abstract provides a good summary of the economic impact of 9-9-9. Super quick summary: it's a flat 27% consumption tax with some tweaks.

You can see a sketch of why this is true form two basic observations. First, the business flat tax and the sales tax are almost economically equivalent. If you look at the description of the "business flat tax" provided by Cain it is "Gross income less all investments, all purchases from other businesses and all dividends paid to shareholders," which is essentially a value-added tax (VAT--like most European countries have) with a deduction for dividends added in. The retail sales tax (RST) and the VAT are two different ways of implementing a consumption tax, where most people think the VAT is easier to administer and prevent evasion.

The second part of the puzzle is the well known concept that a consumption tax is economically equivalent (in an ideal world) to the combination of a one time tax on wealth with a tax on wages.

Imagine you have no wealth at the time the tax is implemented. You either spend or save your wages as they come in. If you spend them today, then you get hit with the consumption tax today. If you save them today, then you (or your heirs) will eventually spend them plus the investment income earned on them later. The larger consumption tax due to investment growth offsets exactly the benefit of deferring the payment on the tax. If you did have some savings when the tax was implemented, then the story is the same except the buying power of your savings just went down on a one-time basis.
Nick '90s Are All That | Kenan & Kel, Clarissa, Doug | Old Nickelodeon Shows Coming Back
Posted at 8:53pm, Tuesday Oct 11, 2011
Chip: Yeeeesssssssssss.
Per Se — NYC — Restaurant Review -
Posted at 5:35pm, Tuesday Oct 11, 2011
Chip: Wow! What an amazing (and amazingly entertaining) review. I feel like I need to go back. As I know I've already told some of you, I was not super blown away by Per Se, but that was 6 or so years ago, but I was blown away by the French Laundry, which was, without a doubt, the single best meal I have ever eaten in my life.
David Wessel's Economic Questions, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty
Posted at 4:00pm, Tuesday Oct 11, 2011
Tom: Arnold Kling with some good answers.

The quoted portion is tongue-in-cheek...but with some truth to it.
Assorted links
Posted at 9:19pm, Monday Oct 10, 2011
nikhil: oh boy. worst graduation speech ever. (#3)
The words David Foster Wallace circled in his dictionary. - Slate Magazine
Posted at 7:43pm, Monday Oct 10, 2011
Chip: Don't know if anyone has shared this before.
Digital Life - Big-time 'hangout': Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu on Google+
Posted at 7:15pm, Monday Oct 10, 2011
Tom: Neat quotation. Macintosh Stories: Round Rects Are Everywhere!
Posted at 4:52pm, Monday Oct 10, 2011
Tom: Rest of the story is equally cool. ~1 minute.
Is blogging a waste of time?
Posted at 4:30pm, Monday Oct 10, 2011
Tom: "Wikipedia has no page for the American trucking entrepreneur Malcolm McClean, who invented the standard shipping container in 1956, lowered shipping costs by a factor of thirty, and changed the world."

Unsung heroes...
Why I am a Republican
Posted at 2:30pm, Monday Oct 10, 2011
Tom: Worth a read.

While I'm more sympathetic to defense spending than most, I disagree with Frum's test of: 1) How much does it cost to provide the defense we want, then 2) Here's what we have left over for everything else. Need some more competition between resources.
Parsing the Data and Ideology of the We Are 99% Tumblr
Posted at 4:36am, Monday Oct 10, 2011
John: Although OWS != WAt99P.
The Corliss Resolution
Posted at 1:49am, Monday Oct 10, 2011
Slumber's Unexplored Landscape, Science News Online (9/25/99)
Posted at 12:04am, Monday Oct 10, 2011
Avi: Interesting article on sleep from an anthropological perspective. (<5min)
Bachmann dodges Romney religion question - POLITICO Live -
Posted at 3:05pm, Sunday Oct 09, 2011
John: I'm getting a little annoyed at reporters describing answers like this one and Cain's as "dodging" the questions when they are actually giving the correct answer.
Frontal Cortex | Wired Science |
Posted at 10:15am, Sunday Oct 09, 2011
Chip: The first article on why some people learn faster than others.
Posted at 2:43pm, Saturday Oct 08, 2011
Avi: Immigration form filled by Apollo 11 team in '69. Pure awesome. (via
CBC Books - How one man had sex on the moon
Posted at 12:26pm, Saturday Oct 08, 2011
Tom: 0_0
Unemployment’s here to stay
Posted at 12:03pm, Saturday Oct 08, 2011
nikhil: can everyone everywhere once and for all agree to say "data X increased from A to B" instead of "data X increased to B from A".
Stephen Colbert Drops The Sarcasm In His Steve Jobs Homage | TechCrunch
Posted at 8:58am, Saturday Oct 08, 2011
Avi: I promise I'll never link to TC again, but Colbert does my favorite Jobs tribute.
The Man Who Inspired Jobs -
Posted at 4:00am, Saturday Oct 08, 2011
Avi: Awesome to hear that Land, one of my favorite inventors of all time, was Jobs' idol.
How to Hatch a Dinosaur | Magazine
Posted at 6:49pm, Friday Oct 07, 2011
Avi: How to make a dinosaur. ~5min
How Walt Disney Cartoons are made - YouTube
Posted at 3:47pm, Friday Oct 07, 2011
Avi: A 1938 film showing the amazing effort put forth to make Disney's Snow White. (<9min)
Felony to Steal an Aluminum Can — or a Penny — in Texas
Posted at 3:01pm, Friday Oct 07, 2011
John: Finally a state is getting tough on crime.
Pearl River Tower
Posted at 2:27pm, Friday Oct 07, 2011
Adam: Very cool.
Assorted links
Posted at 10:16pm, Thursday Oct 06, 2011
Adam: #1 is nuts.
Dilbert on MBAs
Posted at 9:38pm, Thursday Oct 06, 2011
nikhil: i think im going to say this to every master of business administration i meet henceforth
Dilbert on MBAs
Posted at 9:38pm, Thursday Oct 06, 2011
nikhil: i think im going to say this to every master of business administration i meet henceforth
Mitt Romney's Taxes
Posted at 8:18pm, Thursday Oct 06, 2011
Tom: Down with Krugman. He goes from "probably" to "clearly" in just a few sentences.

By including payroll taxes, Krugman is being inconsistent. Romney doesn't work, so he doesn't pay payroll taxes. But here's the thing - if Krugman is going to include payroll taxes in the amount of taxes that people pay, then he can't rail against people for pointing out how much the rich pay in income taxes versus the amount of income they make.

Payroll taxes aren't supposed to be for general expenditures - by and large they're intended for your own Social Security and Medicare in the future. So either they're not a tax, and then we can talk just about federal income taxes for a distribution of what people pay, or they are a tax, and should be included in the amount of overall taxation people are subjected to. Pick one, Krugman.
Bruce Meyer on Income Distribution
Posted at 8:02pm, Thursday Oct 06, 2011
Tom: Meyer and Sullivan's paper, "Five Decades of Consumption and Income Poverty" was absolutely terrific. A PDF link is here:

If anyone tries to talk to me about poverty in America in the future, I will refuse to talk with them until they read that paper. It's that definitive.
Welcome to the 419 Eater
Posted at 6:03pm, Thursday Oct 06, 2011
Avi: Hilarious story of how a guy got a Nigerian scammer to write an entire Harry Potter novel by hand.
Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know
Posted at 1:17pm, Thursday Oct 06, 2011
Tom: Can't wait to read this book.
Steve Jobs narrates The Crazy Ones
Posted at 10:20am, Thursday Oct 06, 2011
Avi: "The ones who are crazy enough to change the world are the ones who do."
IBM Projects It Will Have World’s Most Powerful Supercomputer in Two Years, Artificial Human Brain in 10 | TPM Idea Lab
Posted at 4:53pm, Wednesday Oct 05, 2011
Justin: Glad they're shooting for it.
"Michael" - PS3 Long Live Play -- Full Length - YouTube
Posted at 3:44pm, Wednesday Oct 05, 2011
Michael: Your welcome, Video Game Characters.
In Defense of Romney -
Posted at 10:40pm, Tuesday Oct 04, 2011
Tom: There is a lot to dislike about Romney. But the question is always: What's your alternative? And among everyone on stage (President Obama included)...he wins, almost by default.
Online science and the speed of review
Posted at 6:47pm, Tuesday Oct 04, 2011
nikhil: ah well
Ryan Speech
Posted at 1:11pm, Tuesday Oct 04, 2011
Tom: Congressman Ryan is the real deal - more nerdy than your average politician. I enjoyed hearing him speak.
Social Security Payroll Tax Cut–A Temporary Stimulus With Permanent Damage
Posted at 1:00pm, Tuesday Oct 04, 2011
Tom: As you'll see from my shared items, I'm a bit behind.

Anyway, Blahous brings up a great point - most economists advocate for payroll tax cuts. But if we do that, we have to address their impact on SS.

Hadn't thought about that. Will do so from now on.
"Beware the Wrong Lessons from Poverty and Income Data"
Posted at 12:58pm, Tuesday Oct 04, 2011
Tom: Thoma knows better. In the 1960s, aid to those in poverty was in cash payments - which count against the poverty rate. Now, it is primarily through in-kind benefits - which don't. We could triple aid given through Medicaid, food stamps, and EITC, and it wouldn't affect the poverty rate, due to its bizarre formula.
Richard Feynman on beauty
Posted at 11:20am, Tuesday Oct 04, 2011
Avi: "If I ever go on hallucinogenic walkabout in the desert, I'd want Richard Feynman to be my spirit animal."
The Limited Edition Cheap T-Shirt, Gone in 24hours! | TeeFury
Posted at 11:14am, Tuesday Oct 04, 2011
Tom: Bowties are cool.
Four-year-old learns Darth Vadar is Luke's father
Posted at 1:41pm, Monday Oct 03, 2011
Avi: Something dies inside me every time I remember that I knew this going into the movie.
Experimental one-line algorithmic music
Posted at 1:25pm, Monday Oct 03, 2011
Avi: All kinds of awesome.
The Bankers and the Revolutionaries -
Posted at 8:57am, Monday Oct 03, 2011
Chip: In response to James' post...
Mitchell Hurwitz Promises an 'Arrested Development' Movie, and New TV Episodes -
Posted at 9:50pm, Sunday Oct 02, 2011
Chip: I hope this actually happens.
Mallomars - YouTube
Posted at 5:06pm, Saturday Oct 01, 2011
Chip: got my first mallomars of the season!
Study: A Single Magic Mushroom Trip Causes Long-Term Positive Changes To Personality
Posted at 3:49pm, Saturday Oct 01, 2011
John: Personally, I'm not surprised. (although I doubt the scientific paper would have attached the normative "for the better" label to increases in particular traits).
Innovation Starvation | World Policy Institute
Posted at 5:25am, Saturday Oct 01, 2011
Avi: This is vision. Reminds me of reading Clarke's/Asimov's visions of the space frontier.
Posted at 12:55pm, Friday Sep 30, 2011
Michael: Definitely seeing this.
The Gospel According to Lady Gaga
Posted at 2:08am, Friday Sep 30, 2011
John: Pretty interesting read.
Live data wall and immersive film at THINK exhibit
Posted at 6:34pm, Wednesday Sep 28, 2011
nikhil: yes
Glitch opens to the public
Posted at 4:38pm, Wednesday Sep 28, 2011
Avi: Been using the beta for a while. Awesome stuff.
BBC News - Virtual monkeys write Shakespeare
Posted at 5:29am, Wednesday Sep 28, 2011
John: It's stupid once you read what he's actually doing (nine characters at a time that he saves up to put together the whole thing), but I wanted an excuse to link this:
The Inconsistency of Arithmetic
Posted at 5:15am, Wednesday Sep 28, 2011
John: Mathematicians have cooler very-unlikely-but-would-be-revolutionary findings than physicists.
How to Choose Your Favorite of NPR’s Top 100 SFF Books |
Posted at 11:00pm, Tuesday Sep 27, 2011
Chip: Fun to go through. I've actually read a number of these and am currently in the middle of Book 2 of Game of Thrones (which I highly recommend).
The Mayoress of Mecca
Posted at 6:30pm, Tuesday Sep 27, 2011
Adam: Lot of interesting stuff here.
Iran says could deploy navy near U.S. coast: report - The West Australian
Posted at 2:20pm, Tuesday Sep 27, 2011
Tom: Yeah...that would make sense.

3rd generation Iranian ships, meet 5th generation submarines.
Non-violent protest meets the freeway
Posted at 11:28am, Tuesday Sep 27, 2011
Tom: Maybe the most effective protest of all...
Posted at 12:03pm, Monday Sep 26, 2011
Tom: Damn I love Community. And Doctor Who.
The luck of the Irish
Posted at 11:58am, Monday Sep 26, 2011
Tom: Cowen > Krugman.

This is very uncharacteristic of Cowen, but not in a bad way. He's almost always apolitical.
The Future of the American City
Posted at 11:37am, Sunday Sep 25, 2011
Tom: Frum speaks the truth.

Also, I would've expected Thomas Friedman to write this:

"“What you’re seeing now is what I call the Santa Fe-ing of the world, or the Santa Fe-ing of America,” he said. “The fastest growth you’re seeing is in small urban areas in beautiful places, because now you’ve got e-mail and Web and laptops and iPhones and all that jazz.”"
Posted at 11:35am, Sunday Sep 25, 2011
Tom: Thought of James and gaming the English language.
Posted at 10:20am, Sunday Sep 25, 2011
Adam: James, looks like you'd get along with Greg Mankiw quite well.
Best documentary I have seen this year
Posted at 1:36am, Sunday Sep 25, 2011
Tom: While I don't give a damn about fashion, I appreciate the passion and purity Cunningham exudes.
Gary Johnson, Republican Presidential Candidate: Politics: GQ
Posted at 12:23am, Saturday Sep 24, 2011
Justin: Okay, I promise this is my last post of the night. But it's a good read. Thanks to Dave for the tip.
Sesame Street: G - YouTube
Posted at 11:53pm, Friday Sep 23, 2011
Justin: If you've seen a single episode of the show Glee, you will find this hilarious.
Scientists: Particles appear to travel faster than light -
Posted at 11:49pm, Friday Sep 23, 2011
Justin: Um, I do not believe this. But clearly something cool is going on.
Posted at 11:48pm, Friday Sep 23, 2011
Justin: Astoundingly cool. James in particular will like this -- another big win for computer scientists. More importantly, it seems like this tool might be generalizable for a lot of structural biology problems. For background on the Foldit game, read this:
A Look at PolitiFact Grades of Candidates -
Posted at 11:39pm, Friday Sep 23, 2011
Tom: Quick - worth a look.
Chinese Internet Users Embrace ‘Neo-Colonialist’ U.S. Ambassador
Posted at 12:46pm, Friday Sep 23, 2011
Tom: "Mr. Locke has enjoyed popularity among Chinese Internet users ever since photos of him buying his own coffee at a Seattle Starbucks and carrying his own bags in the Beijing airport were posted online in mid-August. Almost immediately, the ambassador found himself being held up as a measuring stick against which Chinese officials, routinely pilloried for being imperious and prodigal, come up short."

We're quite devious.
Pharmacist Don Colcord Sustains Nucla, Colorado : The New Yorker
Posted at 8:40am, Friday Sep 23, 2011
Avi: Must read.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - FULL 56 Minute Interview/Podcast - YouTube
Posted at 1:49am, Friday Sep 23, 2011
John: I doubt anyone else will want to listen to this whole thing, but I think Todd Howard is one of the greatest creative geniuses of the century and it's fun to listen to him dig into the weeds of his profession a little bit.
My Thoughts on Monetary Policy
Posted at 11:35pm, Thursday Sep 22, 2011
Tom: "3. I don't understand why the Fed is still paying interest on reserves."

I don't either.
Obama’s Buffett Rule: Keep Your Eye on Capital Gains
Posted at 4:29pm, Thursday Sep 22, 2011
John: Rob, here is a TPC (accurate, fairly presented) take on the Buffett Rule
Is basketball scoring a random walk?
Posted at 1:03pm, Thursday Sep 22, 2011
Tom: This reads like a problem set from Math 526 - Discrete Stochastic Processes.

God bless nerds.
Google brings flight search into the Jet Age
Posted at 2:37am, Thursday Sep 22, 2011
John: He had a good run.
Super freaky realtime facial substitution
Posted at 12:46am, Thursday Sep 22, 2011
Avi: This blew me away. Wish they had used better (tailored) source images to really amplify the effect.
Liberal simplification
Posted at 11:08pm, Wednesday Sep 21, 2011
Tom: Nice balance by Wilkinson.
Posted at 10:25pm, Wednesday Sep 21, 2011
Tom: I'd wear it.
China estimate of the day
Posted at 10:17pm, Wednesday Sep 21, 2011
nikhil: sick
What is your favorite word in the English language that most people don't know the meaning of? : AskReddit
Posted at 5:34pm, Wednesday Sep 21, 2011
Tom: A treasure trove of new words. Learned a lot.
It’s what they didn’t say
Posted at 5:25pm, Wednesday Sep 21, 2011
Tom: This (love Sumner):

PPS. I knew there’d be lots of reaction to my “treason” post. A few comments:

1. Obviously I meant the term somewhat ironically–I assumed readers would understand that Perry has debased the term to near meaninglessness. To the modern GOP, it’s like saying someone has bad breath.

2. Despite point one, I was sincerely outraged by the letter. The GOP leaders have made it clear that they want Obama to fail. Some commenters say I am naive about politics, that it’s hardball. I don’t agree. It’s expected that pols will do special favors for farmers or teachers to get elected. That’s softball. It’s not OK to vote for or against a nuclear weapons treaty on anything but idealistic grounds. I put monetary policy in with the nuclear weapons, not the special interests. It’s not OK to oppose policies because they’ll create millions of jobs and get the incumbent re-elected, unless you’d also oppose them if your own party was in charge. I know that in some less developed parts of our globe politicians are willing to almost destroy their country to maintain power. They play hardball. But scorched earth policies are not acceptable in America.

3. I obviously wouldn’t have brought up the term “treason” if Perry had not already done so. His use was outrageous because with all Bernanke’s faults (and you can see I oppose his policies) it’s absurd to accuse a Republican of doing monetary policies aimed at getting a Democrat re-elected. I don’t question Bernanke’s motives. I wish I could say that about his accuser.

4. BTW, this is nothing like the old gold/silver fights. Those people were principled. The gold side favored the same tight money to help creditors, regardless of which party was in power. The modern GOP only favors tight money when the Dems are in office. They called for easy money when Reagan/Bush were in office.
Sphero | Uncrate
Posted at 1:52pm, Wednesday Sep 21, 2011
Avi: I need this immediately.
Jonathan Hardesty's Journey of an Absolute Rookie
Posted at 1:45pm, Wednesday Sep 21, 2011
Avi: This is inspiration.
MUNDAKA 24H on Vimeo
Posted at 12:54pm, Wednesday Sep 21, 2011
Michael: Ripping some waves on a LED enhanced surfboard.
Inside Amazon’s Warehouse
Posted at 12:39pm, Wednesday Sep 21, 2011
Avi: Great read.
Billionaires and Secretaries
Posted at 11:34am, Wednesday Sep 21, 2011
Tom: "Well, it seems as if a number of people in the media have decided that Obama was fibbing when he said that some millionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries — because, as the usual suspects triumphantly declare, on average millionaires pay higher average taxes than middle-income Americans.

"This is, of course, stupid: the operative word is SOME."

Really Krugman? That's you're defense? Ugh.
On The Bright Side, Some People Got $130mm Worth Of Free Poker
Posted at 8:05pm, Tuesday Sep 20, 2011
Adam: Fortunately they had enough money to give our apartment a nice television. Hopefully Irving Picard doesn't come after us.
10 Questions for Ahmadinejad: What the Media Should Be Asking - The Daily Beast
Posted at 7:39pm, Tuesday Sep 20, 2011
Tom: Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone could actually put Ahmadinejad on the spot and ask him some of these questions?
Obama Rejects Obamaism -
Posted at 6:14pm, Tuesday Sep 20, 2011
Tom: Go Brooks, go.
Elad Blog: Hire For The Ability To Get Shit Done
Posted at 5:03pm, Tuesday Sep 20, 2011
Tom: Filed under: Motivation
About what am I optimistic and pessimistic?
Posted at 4:31pm, Tuesday Sep 20, 2011
Tom: "1. I am a utility optimist and a revenue pessimist; better that than the other way around."

Great way to live.
Volpin Props: Daft DeLorean photoshoot!
Posted at 2:59pm, Tuesday Sep 20, 2011
Michael: Daft Punk Helmet build.
Jennifer Granholm's plan to fix America - How the World Works -
Posted at 2:54pm, Tuesday Sep 20, 2011
Tom: Stop underestimating people. We know we're in a global economy.

And coming out against free markets isn't a great strategy.
The Geography of College Football Fans (and Realignment Chaos) -
Posted at 2:46pm, Tuesday Sep 20, 2011
Tom: College Football + Statistics = Heaven.
Cynical about Confidence
Posted at 12:55pm, Tuesday Sep 20, 2011
Tom: Always entertain the idea that you're wrong. Otherwise...people will hate you.

But seriously, good post.
Ben Lai's Wood Graining & Marbleizing Video Demos - Core77
Posted at 12:21am, Tuesday Sep 20, 2011
Michael: Watch the videos. This guy is a magician with paint. If you go through the earlier parts of the story, it covers his past and how he became a decorative painter.
Rennet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 11:46pm, Monday Sep 19, 2011
Michael: Interesting article I found while looking up cheese-making.
Official Google Blog: Launching Google Wallet on Sprint and working with Visa, American Express and Discover
Posted at 7:02pm, Monday Sep 19, 2011
Tom: F-i-n-a-l-l-y.
Online gamers crack AIDS enzyme puzzle - Yahoo! News
Posted at 6:33pm, Monday Sep 19, 2011
Tom: Crowd sourcing...very cool.
How the 'Cellular' Phone Got Its Name
Posted at 4:04pm, Monday Sep 19, 2011
Tom: Noted.
Posted at 4:00pm, Monday Sep 19, 2011
Tom: Feel the love.
PeePoo bags render sacks of shit safe for shantytowns
Posted at 9:21pm, Sunday Sep 18, 2011
Tom: Just the headline.
Obama Tax Plan Would Ask More of Millionaires -
Posted at 9:25am, Sunday Sep 18, 2011
John: Apparently Obama does have more in his negotiating toolkit than the unilateral concession.
How Our Siblings Shape Us | On Point with Tom Ashbrook
Posted at 2:04am, Saturday Sep 17, 2011
Michael: I've been listening to a lot of NPR recently. This is one I think that will resonate with a lot of you guys. It's about the relationships between siblings and their general effects on development.
Alderaan Shoots First
Posted at 1:29am, Saturday Sep 17, 2011
Avi: This had me in stitches.
Rogue traders, rogue burritos, and mothers of two
Posted at 7:47pm, Friday Sep 16, 2011
Adam: Except that almost every rogue trader in history (or at least the ones who lost money and got caught) didn't go to college. The UBS guy didn't actually fit the profile at all.
Let’s Just Go Ahead And Assume That Greek Letters = Evil
Posted at 7:44pm, Friday Sep 16, 2011
nikhil: undeniably true.
Star Wars Blu-ray | Stand Up To Cancer - YouTube
Posted at 1:59am, Friday Sep 16, 2011
Tom: Bill Hader as a Tauntaun and Ken Jeong as Lando made me laugh out loud.
This is how you write a job listing
Posted at 9:29pm, Thursday Sep 15, 2011
Tom: "Your grammar is impeccable. If you can write well, you can do other things well."

Good call.
My Family’s Experiment in Extreme Schooling -
Posted at 6:50pm, Thursday Sep 15, 2011
Tom: Charming read.
Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Notre Dame
Posted at 3:33pm, Thursday Sep 15, 2011
Tom: Watch the gratuitous video. Campbell is beast...when he wants to be.
Confirm Ambassador Ford
Posted at 2:45pm, Thursday Sep 15, 2011
Tom: "Repressive governments prosper when they can control information. Withdrawing American diplomats from repressive countries actually helps those governments. It permits them to more effectively control information when we are not contesting that space. It allows them to describe our actions instead of us making the case ourselves. It prevents us being actively involved in the domestic politics and public debates of those countries. It does nothing to support the brave people risking their lives to challenge a repressive government.

"The Bush Administration was wrong."

Go Kori.
Iran blocks Tor; Tor releases same-day fix | The Tor Blog
Posted at 2:36pm, Thursday Sep 15, 2011
Tom: Nice. HTP!
Think Again: The Two-State Solution - By Michael A. Cohen | Foreign Policy
Posted at 1:50pm, Thursday Sep 15, 2011
Tom: Sorry for the six-page click through, but it's a nice, balanced piece.
ifttt (If This Then That)
Posted at 12:52pm, Thursday Sep 15, 2011
Tom: Re-shared from Leif so that James can see this.

Also, Leif's comment: "This is my favorite recipe so far: It calls you and reads the president's speech from Independence Day every morning."
Do or do not. There is no try.
Posted at 12:51pm, Thursday Sep 15, 2011
Tom: I appreciate the bit at the end on the risks of NGDP targeting, which he hasn't mentioned yet (or often, if he has).
The Poet and the Painter casting shadows on the water
Posted at 12:19pm, Thursday Sep 15, 2011
Tom: For Leif and Avi.
Infant Mortality: A Deceptive Statistic
Posted at 11:26am, Thursday Sep 15, 2011
Tom: I recently read Atlas' forthcoming book on health care. One of the many interesting things I learned: countries don't use the same methods to measure infant mortality. It's so bad that you really can't come up with an objective comparison among (developed) countries with the data currently available. Don't get me started on developing countries.

Bizarre, eh?
The Irony of the Irony of *The Onion*
Posted at 11:17am, Thursday Sep 15, 2011
Tom: Yes - good call, Caplan.
TechShop's Mark Hatch Is Building A Place Where You Can Build Your Dreams | Fast Company
Posted at 4:36pm, Tuesday Sep 13, 2011
Michael: I would love to have something like this in NYC. It was always nice being a studio art major at Colgate, because I basically had free reign to all the fun tools. I would always have the option to fix and make things myself, before being forced to go to a store.
The Importance of Selection Effects
Posted at 12:07pm, Tuesday Sep 13, 2011
Tom: Love it.
Programmers' Day - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 11:03am, Tuesday Sep 13, 2011
Michael: Happy Programmers' Day!
ND Game Wrap (with pics!)
Posted at 9:37pm, Monday Sep 12, 2011
Tom: Michigan fans == amazing.

Video at the very end, Denard section at 7:00. Wonderful story indeed.
Onward towards *Snow Crash*
Posted at 12:14pm, Monday Sep 12, 2011
Tom: Love Neal Stephenson references. A week and a day until his new book!
Never Yet Melted » The Ivy League Hermeneutics of Footwear
Posted at 11:28pm, Sunday Sep 11, 2011
Chip: This will only add to James' loathing of Yale.
Noel Gallagher After Oasis
Posted at 3:18am, Sunday Sep 11, 2011
Avi: Great interview, and longform picked an excellent extract. I can't imagine describing Noel any better than this blurb.
Greatest. Michigan. Comeback. Ever.
Posted at 2:58am, Sunday Sep 11, 2011
Avi: That last 1:12...
Astronaut in space during attacks shares unique footage of 9/11 - Yahoo! News
Posted at 7:35pm, Saturday Sep 10, 2011
Tom: This and the info that the F-16 pilots who scrambled to meet the United Flight 93 were unarmed and knew that they would be kamikaze pilots if necessary are two novel pieces of information I wasn't expecting to hear about during the Anniversary.

Read this article.
Some Links
Posted at 12:29pm, Saturday Sep 10, 2011
Tom: Glad people are enjoying Pennington's Robust Political Economy. Pennington is a really fascinating guy, and tons of fun.
Bielefeld Conspiracy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 7:44pm, Friday Sep 09, 2011
Tom: Internet hilarity.
SB_0105_Veto_Message.pdf (application/pdf Object)
Posted at 4:26pm, Friday Sep 09, 2011
Tom: Very short, great veto letter.
Street Sex Meters For Tax-Paying Sex Workers
Posted at 6:55pm, Thursday Sep 08, 2011
John: Does this count as a "use tax"?
The Tax Foundation - Beyond the Headlines: What Do Corporations Pay in Income Tax?
Posted at 11:44am, Thursday Sep 08, 2011
John: This report glosses over a few issues and is too optimistic about the ability of the foreign tax credit to properly account for foreign taxes paid. However, I think this is by-and-large a more accurate picture of what typical U.S. corporations pay in taxes. The reports in the media have generally been, in my opinion, very misleading.
Posted at 10:55pm, Wednesday Sep 07, 2011
Tom: Oh...yes. Yes, please.
9/11 Anniversary - Watch the World Trade Center Towers in Movies - Metropolis - WSJ
Posted at 7:13pm, Wednesday Sep 07, 2011
Chip: They forgot TMNT!
Posted at 6:55pm, Wednesday Sep 07, 2011
Tom: I hadn't seen this. Just, awesome.
#OCCUPYWALLSTREET | Adbusters Culturejammer Headquarters
Posted at 2:54pm, Wednesday Sep 07, 2011
Michael: I really hope these idiots aren't outside our apartment. Don't they know that the only real bank still in FiDi is Deutsche Bank, and they're not even American?
ViolinistBAKA's Channel - YouTube
Posted at 2:11pm, Wednesday Sep 07, 2011
Tom: For Doctor Who fans, otherwise, skip.
Keygen Jukebox
Posted at 11:18am, Wednesday Sep 07, 2011
Avi: Awesome!
Michigan Museday: There and Back Again, a Walk-On's Tale
Posted at 1:27am, Wednesday Sep 07, 2011
Tom: As the earlier post put it: <3 Kovacs
Where the Jobs Aren’t -
Posted at 11:52pm, Tuesday Sep 06, 2011
Tom: Yup, great article.
What Tyler Cowen would have believed in 2005 if be believed in Austrian business cycle theory
Posted at 10:52pm, Tuesday Sep 06, 2011
Tom: Holy wow. Cowen == sage.
Make Loans, Not War
Posted at 10:31pm, Tuesday Sep 06, 2011
Tom: Lovely.
Gallup: Uninsured Have Increased Under Obama and Since Obamacare Was Enacted |
Posted at 2:33pm, Tuesday Sep 06, 2011
Tom: Well that's awkward...
Hitler, you too.
Posted at 11:47am, Tuesday Sep 06, 2011
Tom: Remains one of my favorite memes.
The health care mandate : SCOTUSblog
Posted at 4:59am, Tuesday Sep 06, 2011
John: Strong words from Reagan's Solicitor General.
Free Kirill Yeskov! LOTR fans deserve to see ‘The Last Ring-Bearer’ in English. « Open Page
Posted at 2:45am, Tuesday Sep 06, 2011
John: I think I'll check it out.
Posted at 8:29am, Monday Sep 05, 2011
Adam: That actually does seem pretty magical. I want to invest my money with whomever did that calculation.
The Persistence of the Color Line — By Randall Kennedy — Book Review -
Posted at 11:46pm, Sunday Sep 04, 2011
Justin: John, wasn't Randall Kennedy the guy we made fun for his pronounciation of "bitch"? This sounds like an interesting read...
Booktrack: Just A Horrible Idea. Really Horrible
Posted at 9:35pm, Sunday Sep 04, 2011
Adam: Pummeled.
Let’s try this again
Posted at 2:41pm, Sunday Sep 04, 2011
Tom: Bravo, Nick. Go Blue.
Posted at 7:10pm, Saturday Sep 03, 2011
Adam: What is this??
Won't Somebody Please Think of the Flakes?
Posted at 11:40pm, Friday Sep 02, 2011
John: Sharing just for this sentence.
Actor Steven Seagal Sued for Driving Tank into Arizona Home, Killing Puppy - Forbes
Posted at 8:04pm, Thursday Sep 01, 2011
nikhil: what
The Patent Pledge
Posted at 12:02pm, Thursday Sep 01, 2011
Tom: PG on patents.
Steelworkers of the Sky -
Posted at 10:39am, Thursday Sep 01, 2011
Chip: Check out the slideshow and video.
Daily Kos: NY-19: GOP freshman echoes Cantor on budget cuts for disaster aid — in disaster-stricken district
Posted at 8:41pm, Wednesday Aug 31, 2011
Justin: Go Dad.
Don Cheadle is Captain Planet from Don Cheadle, Gillian Jacobs, Brenda Song, Efren Ramirez, William Moseley, James Davis, NickCorirossi, CharlesIngram, Funny Or Die,, Steven Leeds, BoTown Sound, kevinstewart, and brianguest
Posted at 4:32pm, Wednesday Aug 31, 2011
Michael: Amazing.
Tax Holiday for Overseas Corporate Profits Would Increase Deficits, Fail to Boost the Economy, and Ultimately Shift More Investment and Jobs Overseas — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Posted at 2:55am, Wednesday Aug 31, 2011
John: I've been somewhat skeptical of the idea of a repatriation holiday. However, reading more of the arguments against it has made me, if anything, more copacetic with it as an idea for some passable short-term stimulus.

One thing you will notice is that opponents tend to focus on the microeconomic results of the similar 2004 break and then sort of skip over the macroeconomic part of the analysis, which is what we should really be caring about. That is they talk at length about what individual firms ended up doing with the money--dividends and redemptions--and since this is not what the proponents in 2004 said they would be used for--reinvestment in the company and creating jobs--they sort of just assume there is no benefit. But of course allowing companies to pay higher dividends and to give money to their U.S. shareholders will serve to increase aggregate demand. It may not have a very high multiplier relative to the dollars brought back into the U.S., but the revenue cost is not that dollar amount. Everyone admits that it will in fact increase revenues in the short term, although it will probably lose net revenue over the long term. In any event, in terms of short-term bang for your buck, it actually looks quite good.

The second argument you will hear is that it will increase foreign investment of U.S. money down the road because businesses will assume the holidays will become a periodic thing they can just wait around for. This is probably true to a certain extent, but you have to understand it in context. Right now, by far the biggest incentive to invest permanently offshore is the benefit of deferral that we grant to such investments. The second biggest incentive has got to be that Obama and the Republicans both have been backing a permanent move to a territorial system, which would essentially be having a repatriation holiday all year, every year. This is a little bit like saying, "Leaving your doors unlocked could lead to break ins" when you've dumped all your valuables out on the front lawn.

Finally, I just wanted to look in depth at this chart, which is a masterful example of misleading people with charts because of it's subtlety. It really looks like businesses were investing a lot more offshore after the first holiday unless you think carefully about what the chart is showing. It helps to think how far short of the trend aggregate permanently reinvested foreign earnings is in each year.

First of all the trend seems consistently higher in the years leading up to the holiday than the $350 mn increase per year they get by going back many years before. The average in the five years before is about $700 mn.

Using a $700 mn increase per year as the trend, in 2006, we were about $2 + .7 - 1.3 = $1.4 mn short of trend. In 2007, we were about $1.4 + .7 - 1.45 = $650 mn under trend. In 2008, we were about .65 + .7 - 1.1 = $250 mn under trend. In other words, while we had returned to the trend in the level of permanently reinvested foreign earnings by 2008, there was nothing really aberrational about these years.

Even using a $350 mn increase per year as the trend estimate, the only aberrational year would be 2008, which is not nearly so striking a pattern.

The critique that the benefits would primarily flow to very large companies that have been shipping business over seas and would not be spread evenly across industries is accurate. I'm just not sure I care so much about that if it means that we can actually accomplish something to help a flagging economy and put some unemployed people back to work.
“Firefighter exam”
Posted at 11:49pm, Tuesday Aug 30, 2011
Tom: Wow. Wow.
The Go-to Snacks of Literary Greats
Posted at 12:26pm, Tuesday Aug 30, 2011
Tom: Woo, Proust. Now if I'd only ever read him...
Obama taps Princeton professor to head White House economics team - The Hill's On The Money
Posted at 10:32am, Tuesday Aug 30, 2011
John: This little bit may be the best sign re Kreuger that I've seen. As you may remember I was sorely disappointed that BABs were left out of the Obama-McConnell compromise at the end of 2012.
Every time an Anonymous protester dons a Guy Fawkes mask, Time Warner goes “ka-ching”
Posted at 11:39pm, Monday Aug 29, 2011
Tom: Now that's funny.
Breakfast Links: August 29, 2011 | ThinkProgress
Posted at 10:22pm, Monday Aug 29, 2011
John: People make FCPA reform sound very sinister. When the "legal restrictions on bribery" on the books force anyone doing business in many countries such as China to commit federal crimes, it might be a good idea to consider relaxing those legal restrictions. Just because the Chamber of Commerce wants to go in some direction doesn't make it evil.
Counting hierarchical kinds
Posted at 9:14pm, Monday Aug 29, 2011
James: very cool
Posted at 6:45pm, Monday Aug 29, 2011
nikhil: cannot wait
Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notes | New Hampshire LOCALVOICES02
Posted at 6:33pm, Monday Aug 29, 2011
John: I'm just sharing this because it's rare to see someone reach middle age and maintain such an impressive level of naivete. First, he thinks Romney will improve his rich-guy image by spending time arguing that he is "only" doubling the size of one of his houses. Second he thinks that "nonliving space" in a beach-front property actually has a chance of being used as nonliving space rather than being a zoning dodge. Maybe he just has a subtle sense of humor? - Mari0
Posted at 6:14pm, Monday Aug 29, 2011
Tom: They should include Portal guns in every game...
The Story 2011: Mitigating William Caines
Posted at 11:58am, Monday Aug 29, 2011
Tom: That's some beautiful, inspirational writing.

"Denard overwhelms all reservations. He is pure. He grew up poor in a place infinitely far away from the manicured lawns and Whole Foods of Ann Arbor but came to Michigan because they said he could play quarterback. He says he never thought about leaving when Rodriguez was fired. Michigan is never going to recruit anyone like him ever again.

"And there are so many guys like him on the team: Vincent Smith, who is 5'6" and is featured in every insider email I get as the scrappiest grittiest toughest guy the coaches love. He's from Pahokee, which may not exist in five years and will never, ever have another kid commit to Michigan. Roy Roundtree and his Donald Duck impression. Ricky Barnum, whose mom was really sick when he was a freshman and who thought about transferring but stayed. Ryan Van Bergen, who committed to Carr and stayed through Rodriguez and wondered where the alumni had been the last three years. Craig Roh, who runs up and down the stairs in Haven Hall if he gets to class early. David Molk, who drops f-bombs in press conferences that no one minds. Taylor Lewan, who has a mustache tattooed on his finger to impress the ladies. Troy Woolfolk and his werewolf alter-ego. Jordan Kovacs, student-body walk-on. Kevin Koger, twitter handle "KogerNotKroger."

"There are no Pryors here. Each of these guys has endured the last three years of crap more gracefully than the university or I have and is still here, trying to set right what started going wrong a long time ago. Whatever reservations I have about the program and its direction are overwhelmed by a fierce desire to see these kids win. Rodriguez may not have been able to keep half the kids he recruited, but the ones who stuck around… man. Denard is their king."
Posted at 12:45am, Monday Aug 29, 2011
Tom: God Bless America.
Conflict and El Nino: How did this get through peer review?
Posted at 12:40am, Monday Aug 29, 2011
Tom: "This paper is a mess. But it got into print and made waves in a lot of popular outlets (for example, here and here). Why? Because it is reviving the long-dead corpse of environmental determinism…people really want the environment to in some way determine human behavior (we like simple explanations for complex events), even if that determination takes place via influences nuanced by local environmental variation, etc."

Total smack down, econometrics style.
In the future, people will cut off their limbs
Posted at 1:01pm, Sunday Aug 28, 2011
Tom: I thought Terminators looked more intimidating.
Bad ass cartoonist (imgur) - Imgur
Posted at 3:35am, Sunday Aug 28, 2011
Tom: Syrian cartoonist...what a guy.
Posted at 11:03pm, Saturday Aug 27, 2011
Tom: I love it.
Ice Climbing World Cup 2011 - Saas Fee Highlights on Vimeo
Posted at 6:28pm, Saturday Aug 27, 2011
Michael: So cool that this is a pro sport
Crossfire (ft. Steel Panther)
Posted at 6:18pm, Saturday Aug 27, 2011
Tom: Nostalgia.
Night-Shifting for the Hip Fleet
Posted at 3:59pm, Saturday Aug 27, 2011
Avi: Longform has been...on form. Again, a great find.
‘Computers Are Like a Bicycle for Our Minds’
Posted at 3:47pm, Saturday Aug 27, 2011
Avi: Great video. 2 minutes.

Can anybody help me find the article he references in the video?
How Much of R is Written in R? | (R news & tutorials)
Posted at 2:44pm, Saturday Aug 27, 2011
Tom: More of R is written in Fortran than in R. That's pretty funny.
"The Evil Market" Comes To the Rescue: Hurricane Preparation is a Science for Walmart, Home Depot
Posted at 2:23pm, Saturday Aug 27, 2011
Tom: God bless capitalism.
- Simple Harmonic (and non-harmonic) Motion § Harvard Natural Sciences Lecture Demonstrations
Posted at 12:57pm, Saturday Aug 27, 2011
nikhil: so cool
Han Solo in carbonite ice cube tray!!!!
Posted at 5:04am, Saturday Aug 27, 2011
Avi: For Tom.
First Wave at Omaha Beach - Magazine - The Atlantic
Posted at 5:02am, Saturday Aug 27, 2011
Avi: Gripping.

~10 min.
Black Swan (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 3:34am, Saturday Aug 27, 2011
John: Finally saw this. What a fantastic movie. Better, and more disturbing, than both Pi and Requiem.
Roger Williams for Congress - The Donkey Whisperer - YouTube
Posted at 12:38am, Saturday Aug 27, 2011
John: He can't lose!
Geico Tiny - YouTube
Posted at 11:51pm, Friday Aug 26, 2011
Adam: While I'm sharing great ads, this is one of my favorites.
Generic terms for streams mapped
Posted at 9:03pm, Friday Aug 26, 2011
nikhil: so cool. geoculture
Old Navy Records Presents: "Super C-U-T-E" by The Audio Threadz - YouTube
Posted at 6:15pm, Friday Aug 26, 2011
Adam: Many thanks to John for introducing me to this gem.
Running foul?
Posted at 6:02pm, Friday Aug 26, 2011
John: I think he should just offer to cut off the legs of any competitors who complain.
Buffett and Bank of America: Playing Poker with Patsies...
Posted at 5:59pm, Friday Aug 26, 2011
John: This mostly sounds right to me, but I'm not too sure about the purported tax benefit for Buffett. This preferred stock is definitely ripe for being characterized as debt.
Posted at 5:47pm, Friday Aug 26, 2011
John: I'm sure this is old news to most of you--current law baseline more or less balances the budget because of the expiration of the 2001-2003 tax cuts, the AMT patches, and doc fix--but what I learned from this graph is that the contribution from doc fix is tiny. You can ignore it and the picture is essentially unchanged. Also the cost of the AMT patch over 10 years is about 1/6 the cost of the 2001-2003 tax cuts. In other words if all you do is allow the entirety of the 2001-2003 tax cuts expire, you already have sustainable deficits in the medium term.
A planet made of diamond (w/ video)
Posted at 1:33am, Friday Aug 26, 2011
John: That would be about one decillion (10^33) carats.
Don’t mess with the bull, kids–you’ll get the horns
Posted at 1:12am, Friday Aug 26, 2011
John: I love Ken Jennings.
Markets in Everything: African Game Hunting in TX
Posted at 12:09pm, Thursday Aug 25, 2011
Tom: This is one of those odd side-effects of markets. Legalizing the sale of big and exotic game introduces private property rights, which often save species from extinction (see Perry's earlier post about how legalizing rhino hunting saved one subset of the species). By allowing people to profit, they breed them like crazy.

But then you have people shoot them. Animal rights activists must feel quite conflicted: save the species or stop people from hunting?
‘However Vast the Darkness, We Must Supply Our Own Light.’
Posted at 11:43am, Thursday Aug 25, 2011
Avi: Must-read interview.
Portal: No Escape (Live Action Short Film by Dan Trachtenberg) - YouTube
Posted at 9:46am, Thursday Aug 25, 2011
Chip: For Silber and other Portal fans.
Some Idiot's Guide to Tequila
Posted at 1:29am, Thursday Aug 25, 2011
Avi: Well-written, funny, and a remarkably good introduction to tequila.

I strongly vouch for the claim of Herradura as excellent.
The coolest cat
Posted at 1:23am, Thursday Aug 25, 2011
Avi: Easily my favorite "goodbye, steve" post.
DoubleRecall Turns Paywalls Into Advertising Dollars -
Posted at 8:03pm, Wednesday Aug 24, 2011
Tom: Holy brilliant. Please take off...
Q: What does 0^0 (zero raised to the zeroth power) equal? Why do mathematicians and high school teachers disagree? | Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist
Posted at 8:02pm, Wednesday Aug 24, 2011
Tom: 3 minutes. Fun. Ahh math.
Death & Co. Team to Open Cocktail Happy Restaurant in FiDi - First Word - Eater NY
Posted at 1:47pm, Wednesday Aug 24, 2011
Michael: Good news for my apartment! New cocktail restaurant from the Death & Co. crew in Financial District
Posted at 11:25am, Wednesday Aug 24, 2011
Avi: FTA: "I once heard a story (originally told by Kevin Young) about Gerson Goldhaber, who was a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. He was talking on the phone with another physicist at SLAC near Stanford University near the end of the day on Tuesday, October 17, 1989. The SLAC physicist suddenly interrupted with, “Gerson, I have to go! There’s a very big earthquake happening!” and then hung up. So Gerson stepped out into a group of people in the hall, made a big show of yawning and checking his watch, then said, “Aren’t we about due for an earthquake?” Before anyone could respond, the Loma Prieta earthquake reached Berkeley, and he became a legend."

Like a boss.
M5.8 Quake? But What Was the ‘Shindo’?
Posted at 8:20am, Wednesday Aug 24, 2011
Chip: Only sharing for the ridiculous statistic that Japan has experienced 190 earthquakes of magnitude 5.5 or above since March 11.
TC Boyle on Man and Nature | The Browser
Posted at 11:12pm, Tuesday Aug 23, 2011
nikhil: i recall reading a tc boyle short story in middle school called "greasy lake"
Alex Pareene (pareene) on Twitter
Posted at 7:10pm, Tuesday Aug 23, 2011
John: Best laughtershock tweet.
Markets in Everything: Wireless Charging Systems
Posted at 12:27pm, Tuesday Aug 23, 2011
Tom: Yes please.
‘Amenemhat II’ at Metropolitan Museum - Review -
Posted at 7:31am, Tuesday Aug 23, 2011
Chip: I'd heard about this earlier and now definitely want to see it.
Markets in Everything: Orbiting Space Hotel
Posted at 2:44pm, Monday Aug 22, 2011
Tom: Already started saving.
Blade Runner II?
Posted at 2:38am, Monday Aug 22, 2011
Avi: As excited as I am for Prometheus, Blade Runner II sounds like a horrible idea.
There I Fixed It: The World’s Most Expensive Microwave
Posted at 9:19pm, Sunday Aug 21, 2011
John: Rob, we don't need to buy a microwave!
More on Warren Buffett's "Mega-Rich"
Posted at 11:26pm, Saturday Aug 20, 2011
Tom: No way. In 2007, 18,400 people paid 10% of federal income taxes. Boggles the mind.
Have You Gotten Your ‘I Survived The CFA Exam’ Shirt Yet?
Posted at 12:17pm, Saturday Aug 20, 2011
nikhil: happy birthday freedman! it's in the mail
Image - TinyPic - Free Image Hosting, Photo Sharing & Video Hosting
Posted at 11:53pm, Friday Aug 19, 2011
John: Had some free time, and I hadn't seen this elsewhere. Here's what the 2010 budget looks like if you combine direct spending and tax expenditures. Gives you a sense of what our current priorities are.
Sales Tax Holidays
Posted at 9:15pm, Friday Aug 19, 2011
John: Here's my possibly passable stimulus idea: A bill that says Congress will reimburse states for any sales tax holidays they institute in 2012. Should have a pretty good multiplier...
Jimmy Carter, Founding Father of the Beer Revolution
Posted at 9:05pm, Friday Aug 19, 2011
John: A lot of people forget that Carter, and not Reagan, was really the start of American deregulation. See, e.g., Airline Deregulation Act. Anyway, it's an interesting and long story with a lot of very bright and dark spots.
13 year Kid studies Trees and uses Fibonacci to make Solar Cells 50% more efficient
Posted at 8:57pm, Friday Aug 19, 2011
John: !?
“Did you Google this or anything?”
Posted at 8:55pm, Friday Aug 19, 2011
John: I know it kind of sucks if you are strapped for cash, but this is what lawyers are for.
The Flow of Time | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine
Posted at 8:51pm, Friday Aug 19, 2011
John: Today in reasons not to fear death.
TRENDING: ‘Idiot’ jab lobbed at Perry – CNN Political Ticker - Blogs
Posted at 8:43pm, Friday Aug 19, 2011
John: Now Rob can watch his favorite conservative pundit be great live and in the flesh. I love how matter-of-factly he says it.
Dolcezza's Robb Duncan: The Self-Taught Mad Genius of Gelato | Creating -
Posted at 8:11pm, Friday Aug 19, 2011
Chip: I just want to know, how many American artisanal ice cream makers are there? That being said, I'd love to try a lot of these flavors.
Zapping the Brain Improves Math Skills : Discovery News
Posted at 3:24pm, Friday Aug 19, 2011
Michael: They are over-clocking people!
Beer and Neoliberalism Redux
Posted at 1:41pm, Friday Aug 19, 2011
Tom: Mmm, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.
A Day in the Life of the Modern San Franciscan
Posted at 1:09pm, Friday Aug 19, 2011
Tom: Love it.
Wag the Dalek -
Posted at 10:19pm, Thursday Aug 18, 2011
Adam: Paul Krugman apparently shares our ridiculous sense of humor. Explain!
Paso Robles Capybara: Giant mystery rodent identified in California.
Posted at 10:16pm, Thursday Aug 18, 2011
Adam: R.O.U.S.! (I was pretty sure they didn't exist, but I guess I was wrong.)
Widespread RNA and DNA Sequence Differences in the Human Transcriptome
Posted at 6:34pm, Thursday Aug 18, 2011
Justin: Sharing this because John is a big fan of anything that complicates or violates the Central Dogma of molecular biology. A group at Penn did the simple thing of comparing whole-genome DNA and whole-transcriptome RNA sequences, which they obtained for a separate purpose (and initially published in a separate paper). Turns out RNA editing (or whatever unknown mechanism is causing these differences) is a lot more widespread than was previously thought. Two people in my year of my program did their summer rotation in this lab.
BBC News - IBM produces first 'brain chips'
Posted at 6:26pm, Thursday Aug 18, 2011
Justin: Sounds crazy, but they skimp on the details.
Ridley Scott Will Take Another Run at 'Blade Runner' -
Posted at 3:34pm, Thursday Aug 18, 2011
Chip: This should not be happening. The risk that they'll screw this up is too high.
Secretary Clinton on the Situation in Syria «
Posted at 12:46pm, Thursday Aug 18, 2011
Tom: About damn time.
Ridley Scott Ready To Direct New Version Of Seminal Sci-Fi Film ‘Blade Runner’ –
Posted at 12:38pm, Thursday Aug 18, 2011
Tom: Ahhh Ridley Scott.
Guardian and Observer style guide
Posted at 7:49am, Thursday Aug 18, 2011
Avi: Love it!

Nifty trick if you click through on an easy way to distinguish whom/who if you want to be a pompous ass anyway.
The dual-taxation meme | Felix Salmon
Posted at 2:19am, Thursday Aug 18, 2011
John: Salmon doesn't know what he's talking about in this one.

First, like many people, Salmon confuses the relevance of effective tax rates and marginal tax rates. Effective tax rates are the relevant measure when determining the equitability of taxation because it gives a measure of the overall burden that you bear relative to what you earn. Marginal tax rates are the relevant measure when determining their impact on economic efficiency because marginal tax rates are what effect the decisions you make.

For example, let's say you have two types of income, one of which isn't taxed at all and one of which is taxed at 70%. Suppose in the absence of any tax, you would get equal amounts of both income. Given that one is taxed at a very high rate and the other is not taxed at all, however, you would probably decide to earn almost all of your income through the untaxed source. If you're looking at your overall tax burden, it could look very low because you get all your income from the non-taxed source. But if you're looking at how much the tax is distorting decisionmaking, and hence imposing a dead weight loss, it's very large because the threat of a 70% tax is a huge deterrent.

The problem with double taxation is one of economic efficiency not equity. Because of the double tax, for example, returns to equity holders of corporations are taxed more than returns to debt holders. This encourages companies to take on greater leverage than they otherwise would, which can of course have negative consequences for the economy as a whole. The point about the effective rates that corporations pay is a canard in this context. In fact, that they pay so much lower than the statutory rate is a sign that their decisionmaking is heavily impacted by the (mis)incentives set up by the tax system.

The second "deeper" point fundamentally misunderstands how an income tax works. It is true that sales taxes are paid in after-tax dollars, but sales taxes are a tax on consumption imposed on top of income taxes not part of our taxation of income! If you look at the total income tax you will see the tax laws are extraordinarily careful (and often convoluted) to make sure that when you put after-tax dollars into an income-generating asset you do not get taxed on those dollars a second time. This is the entire concept of a "tax basis," and it is absolutely a central concept of every income tax around the world. Missing this point reveals a lack of basic awareness of how income taxes function.

Finally, the CTJ statistic is pretty dubious. It didn't sound right to me, so I traced back their sources and found two problems. First, they ignored some of the data, which would have led them to calculate an answer of about 50%. Much more troubling, though, they are using incompatible data sets because the definition of a corporation for tax and state corporate law purposes do not line up, so whatever number they calculate gives only minimal information. It's worth noting, also, that CTJ is not always a reliable source.
U.S. Regulators Lack Key Tool to Unwind ‘Too-Big-to-Fail’ Banks - Bloomberg
Posted at 1:15am, Thursday Aug 18, 2011
John: Frankly I'm really happy they're taking their time with these. See also
Designing a national consumption tax
Posted at 9:31pm, Wednesday Aug 17, 2011
nikhil: this is going to be implemented as soon as i start consuming
Sweetheart come
Posted at 9:25pm, Wednesday Aug 17, 2011
nikhil: ahhhhhhhh
Is MGoBlog The Future Of Sports Journalism?
Posted at 5:14pm, Wednesday Aug 17, 2011
Tom: All hail Brian.
Pretending Pretentious: The flakey story
Posted at 3:27pm, Wednesday Aug 17, 2011
Michael: Cool ideas in here.

Also, notice the "Snow Crash" wheels.
Watching Birds
Posted at 8:39pm, Tuesday Aug 16, 2011
John: Join the dark side, James.
Neal Stephenson - Cryptonomicon
Posted at 7:36pm, Tuesday Aug 16, 2011
John: First time reading post-Baroque cycle. This line becomes much funnier once you know that he is a seventeenth-century alchemist.
Irving Kahn, 105-Year-Old Investment Banker: Economic Downturn Just a Blip - The Daily Beast
Posted at 6:05pm, Tuesday Aug 16, 2011
Chip: Irving Kahn is my uncle's father (no blood-relation to me).
On Health Care and the Constitution: When Does the High Court Step In? - Law Blog - WSJ
Posted at 1:41pm, Tuesday Aug 16, 2011
Chip: Nice interview about the health care circuit split.
How the Academic Left Engages in Debate - John R. Lott Jr. - National Review Online
Posted at 12:54pm, Tuesday Aug 16, 2011
Tom: I'm not up to date on right to carry laws or the literature on their effects on violence. But I certainly trust James Q. Wilson on just about anything related crime.
An idealistic defense of pragmatism
Posted at 12:40pm, Tuesday Aug 16, 2011
Tom: "One could argue that the best argument for libertarianism is that someone like Tyler Cowen could be even a moderate libertarian, just as the best argument for progressivism is that someone like Matt Yglesias could be a progressive. It’s easy for me to dismiss 99.9% of progressives, as I see right through their biases, their lapses in logic, their lack of understanding of economic principles, their shameless misuse of statistics. It’s not so easy to do that with Matt Yglesias. I’d guess many progressives feel that way about Tyler Cowen. If there were no Tyler Cowens we could easily be dismissed as a bunch of moonies. With him, it’s not so easy."

Virtual and Artificial, but 58,000 Want Course -
Posted at 10:03am, Tuesday Aug 16, 2011
Michael: Not sure I believe 58k people will participate in this class, but certainly some cool stuff going on here.
That Makes Sense
Posted at 9:02pm, Monday Aug 15, 2011
Tom: Ohhhhhhhhhhh!
BREAKING: Google Acquires Motorola for 12.5 Billion to ‘Supercharge’ Android
Posted at 7:51pm, Monday Aug 15, 2011
John: This is an interesting deal from a tax perspective. Motorola spun-off Motorola Mobility about six months ago in a tax-free transaction. So when the shareholders sold their stock to Google there was only one level of tax--the shareholder level. The corporation would not have to pay corporate tax on any appreciated gains in the Motorola Mobility property.

From the outside, however, it looks like the IRS would have a pretty good argument that these two transactions should be stepped-together and recharacterized as a sale of the subsidiary to Google. There's a rebuttable presumption that these kinds of transactions are related if they occur within two years. Under those circumstances, there would be two levels of tax--a corporate tax on the sale of the subsidiary and a shareholder tax on the dividend payout of the proceeds.

If the IRS were to succeed in recharacterizing the transaction, you would expect there to be a pretty massive additional tax charge. You would expect the basis in the Motorola Mobility stock to be fairly low relative to the sale price given the presence of a huge (73%) premium paid by Google and all the patents that have probably significantly appreciated in value. To figure out who would have to pay this tax--Motorola or Google--you would have to know more about the facts and look carefully at the Tax Sharing Agreement made between Motorola and Motorola Mobility at the time of the spin-off, but in either event you might expect the looming possibility of either side losing a lot of money to Uncle Same to hinder a deal being made. Then again, maybe that explains part of the very large premium Google paid.
Thinking About Taxes - Megan McArdle - Business - The Atlantic
Posted at 5:00pm, Monday Aug 15, 2011
Tom: Wonderful response to Buffett's op-ed from this morning.
First Listen: 'Muppets: The Green Album' : NPR
Posted at 12:54pm, Monday Aug 15, 2011
Tom: God bless the Muppets.
Ball Park Franks Go After Oscar Mayer Wieners in Dogfight Over Ad Claims - Bloomberg
Posted at 11:32am, Monday Aug 15, 2011
Adam: I'm always surprised that more companies aren't sued for false advertising.
Bulwer–Lytton Fiction Contest - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 1:51am, Sunday Aug 14, 2011
Tom: Just wonderful.
Against Drink Judging
Posted at 12:42pm, Saturday Aug 13, 2011
Tom: Leif, Avi, I'm expecting you to weigh in.
A Startlingly Good Leukemia Trial
Posted at 6:15pm, Friday Aug 12, 2011
John: Justin, any comments on this or the antiviral thing?
The Voice of Cold, Hard Truth to All Would-Be Educators
Posted at 5:45pm, Friday Aug 12, 2011
Tom: I don't necessarily disagree. Victor Hanson told us precisely what he wanted us to learn and take away from his class. It worked (his incredible teaching not withstanding).
A geometric proof of the impossibility of angle trisection by straightedge and compass
Posted at 1:41am, Friday Aug 12, 2011
John: I think I can safely say that the geometric proof is not more accessible than the Galois-theoretic proof, but still intriguing.
What If Tim Berners-Lee Had Patented The Web?
Posted at 1:19am, Friday Aug 12, 2011
John: I think this is pretty much right. The fact that our biggest innovations have hinged on peoples' failure to take advantage of the primary policies we use to incentivize innovation is damning.
August 12, 2011
Posted at 1:08am, Friday Aug 12, 2011
John: Tried this. Cut my d!&% to s#!^.
The DNC hits Romney on 'corporations' comment - Maggie Haberman -
Posted at 8:43pm, Thursday Aug 11, 2011
John: There has never been anyone who's so bad at saying something that's true as Mitt Romney.
How to write faster. - By Michael Agger - Slate Magazine
Posted at 3:36pm, Thursday Aug 11, 2011
Tom: I fully expect James to have already shared this piece.
Dow Down 500+, S&amp;P 500 down 4.4%
Posted at 1:27am, Thursday Aug 11, 2011
nikhil: jeeebus
Posted at 12:51am, Thursday Aug 11, 2011
Tom: Avi. Leif. What. What. What.
Where Children Sleep
Posted at 11:36pm, Wednesday Aug 10, 2011
Michael: Crazy diversity.
From TheMoneyIllusion to Sweden to the NYT
Posted at 10:58pm, Wednesday Aug 10, 2011
Tom: Hipster economist: I was following Scott Sumner before it was cool. 0_o
US military to launch fastest-ever plane | World news | The Guardian
Posted at 8:20pm, Wednesday Aug 10, 2011
Tom: Dear God yes.
U.K. Prime Minister’s Riot Meeting Disturbed by Beach Volleyball Games - Bloomberg
Posted at 12:33pm, Wednesday Aug 10, 2011
Adam: Highly amusing headline.
Jordan's $1.5 Billion Star Trek Theme Park to be Powered by Alternative Energy | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World
Posted at 6:05pm, Tuesday Aug 09, 2011
Tom: Yup. I'll be going, once it's open.
Interesting Banana Facts and Uses |
Posted at 5:13pm, Tuesday Aug 09, 2011
Tom: All hail bananas?
Seeking a Diverse Congress
Posted at 9:05pm, Monday Aug 08, 2011
Tom: Nerds FTW
An Anatomy of European Nonsense
Posted at 4:31pm, Monday Aug 08, 2011
Tom: Fun to read VDH tear a ridiculous idea apart.
August 08, 2011
Posted at 11:58am, Monday Aug 08, 2011
Tom: Alt-text. I half-believe that his wife's name is "Weinersmith."
Medical Marijuana Policy, Then and Now
Posted at 11:55am, Monday Aug 08, 2011
Tom: Caulkins is brilliant. Terrific on methodology. Kleiman + Hawken + Caulkins on drug policy = can't go wrong.
New Fees: Bookstore Admission, Big Bank Deposits
Posted at 9:37pm, Sunday Aug 07, 2011
Tom: #2 - Perhaps evidence against what Krugman calls the Confidence Fairy? Combined with the sky-high level of cash balance sitting at public companies, I have to think there is something to the idea that uncertainty is adding to weak economy.
Why Yasir Qadhi Wants to Talk About Jihad -
Posted at 5:57pm, Sunday Aug 07, 2011
Tom: Terrific read. Long. 15-20 minutes.
Separating Grading From Teaching Without “Teaching To The Test”
Posted at 4:34pm, Sunday Aug 07, 2011
Tom: I've met a lot of Swarthmore graduates who impress me. Their list of alumni is also noteworthy:

Wonder if the teaching style has anything to do with it?
Doctor Who | The Doctor's Wife by Neil Gaiman: typography
Posted at 7:25pm, Friday Aug 05, 2011
Tom: (Spoilers, Season 6, Ep 4)

Terrific. And a terrific episode.
BBC News - Internet Explorer story was bogus
Posted at 5:50pm, Friday Aug 05, 2011
John: :(
Subtle Signals
Posted at 11:30am, Friday Aug 05, 2011
Tom: Brilliant.
Emergency & I
Posted at 10:42am, Friday Aug 05, 2011
Tom: James Monroe...bamf.
Awesome | Talking Points Memo
Posted at 10:26pm, Thursday Aug 04, 2011
Justin: God this is satisfying to listen to.
CAPTCHAs For Keeping Idiots Away: Pics, Videos, Links, News
Posted at 8:42pm, Thursday Aug 04, 2011
Tom: Grammar FTW
$1 chip tests for HIV in 15 minutes flat, fits in your wallet -- Engadget
Posted at 11:39am, Thursday Aug 04, 2011
Tom: If true, a terrific invention.
New Wireless Technologies: LIFI and DIDO
Posted at 11:10am, Thursday Aug 04, 2011
Tom: "…his parents were both physicians, and they denied him an Apple II computer. They feared he would spend all day playing video games on the blasted machine—and they were right. “I was forced to build my own computer and create a graphics display for it and then write video games that I could play,” Perlman says….

"Perlman would use this self-taught ability to understand electronics and computers as a way of getting out of jams. During his senior year in high school, he skipped so many classes that he was in danger of not graduating. So he built an illuminated marquee for the drama department to secure an English credit. Then he designed a computer simulation of the forces behind swings in the U.S. economy during the 19th century for a history credit. Later, while attending Columbia University, Perlman says he took a computer-programming class and taught himself Pascal during the open-book, midterm exam."

Not sure how much I believe, but still makes me chuckle.
Role models
Posted at 11:02am, Thursday Aug 04, 2011
Tom: Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

You want someone who commits.
Posted at 12:56am, Thursday Aug 04, 2011
Tom: Mark Kleiman in true form. ~5 minutes, worth it.

I'm not a legalization guy, but I'm not a lock-em-up-forever guy. I disagree like hell with Kleiman's politics, but his drug policy is right on. And he takes Soros' group to task here, rightfully so.
News from The Associated Press
Posted at 10:36pm, Wednesday Aug 03, 2011
Tom: Probably purchased the materials through one of those do-it-yourself kits that people like Feynman had as kids...
The Mission to Get Osama Bin Laden : The New Yorker
Posted at 9:55pm, Wednesday Aug 03, 2011
Chip: Really good.
yfrog Photo : Shared by GovernorPerry
Posted at 8:46pm, Wednesday Aug 03, 2011
John: Perry continues to eerily remind me of Rob.
News from The Associated Press
Posted at 5:11pm, Wednesday Aug 03, 2011
Adam: Don't try this at home.
Physics Confidential - Tony Rothman - Project Syndicate
Posted at 11:54am, Wednesday Aug 03, 2011
Adam: My version of Tyler Cowen's "we thought we were wealthier than we were" is "we think we are smarter than we are".
VVVVVV beaten in 14 minutes with no deaths
Posted at 12:18am, Wednesday Aug 03, 2011
Avi: I agree with Baio. This is amazing.
The Market's Verdict
Posted at 4:05pm, Tuesday Aug 02, 2011
Adam: It's always amusing when people try to attribute stock market movements to various things, but this one is especially off-base (and a day late).
A Galaxy On Earth
Posted at 11:10pm, Monday Aug 01, 2011
Tom: One of Hanson's better posts.
Budget brinkmanship in a conservative America
Posted at 9:57pm, Monday Aug 01, 2011
Tom: 41% call themselves conservative, 21% call themselves liberal. Should be an interesting 2012 election.
An Externality
Posted at 9:18pm, Monday Aug 01, 2011
nikhil: i have probably said it before, but greg mankiw has the worst sense of humor on earth.
Retail in Japan: Turning silver into gold | The Economist
Posted at 6:22pm, Monday Aug 01, 2011
Adam: I find these stories really amusing. Still not sure how well it would translate here when our population ages.
Gingrich's Fake Followers
Posted at 4:55pm, Monday Aug 01, 2011
Adam: Seems like a lot of work just to be able to brag about twitter followers.
The President Surrenders on Debt Ceiling -
Posted at 4:29pm, Monday Aug 01, 2011
John: I think Krugman's jumped-the-shark on this one. I'm not particularly happy about the deal, as compared to say the Gang of Six proposal, but look at how it impacts each of the three major problems the economy is facing.

In the short term, we have a weakly performing economy with a short-fall in aggregate demand. Cutting spending is not going to help this. However, the cuts in the deal are heavily back-loaded. Spending is being cut $21 bn next year. That's about .1% GDP, and won't be responsible for tanking the economy no matter what multiplier it has. Krugman's alternative--use one of the legal loopholes to unilaterally issue debt--would have some short term negative consequences itself. Can investors have full trust in bonds if their validity is going to be subject to litigation for years? It's a virtual wash short term. Krugman would prefer large additional amounts of stimulus, and I think he's got a very good argument for that, but that's not the relevant benchmark for this deal because it's politically unfeasible. If that's what he's really complaining about, he should just go back to writing articles about how we should be enacting further stimulus. Relative to any conceivably achievable alternative, this deal should have a pretty small if any net effect on short term growth.

The medium term problem is that our debt levels are getting too high relative to GDP. This deal likely helps with that problem. Because the deal does not make it considerably more likely that we will double-dip or have a lost decade, Krugman's concern about it actually exacerbating debt levels seems misplaced. Additionally, phase two will either include some revenue raisers or large cuts in defense spending (unless Democrats truly are entirely spineless). In terms of realining our balance sheet and priorities, I think either of those would be beneficial.

The long term problem is growth in the structural deficit, almost entirely because of growth in health care costs. The deal has essentially no impact one way or the other on this problem, but frankly it doesn't have to. There is some small chance we will see health care cost controls come out of the joint committee, but I doubt it.

The idea that this deal calls into question the continued functioning of American democracy verges on the absurd. It's the kind of messy democratic politics that has been around for hundreds of years, and really isn't bad from a policy standpoint. It should have a small net effect on short term growth relative to any conceivably achievable alternative, should help our medium term problems of excessive debt and distorted priorities, and will very likely have no impact at all on the long term.
Assorted links
Posted at 12:50pm, Monday Aug 01, 2011
Adam: #2
*Cowboys and Aliens*
Posted at 11:54pm, Sunday Jul 31, 2011
Tom: Cowen sat through it? What the hell.
Review & Outlook: India's Guaranteed Joblessness -
Posted at 10:47pm, Sunday Jul 31, 2011
Avi: I don't know many people in manufacturing in India (across various industries, not just the one I participate in) who aren't severely affected by this. This policy reminds me of:'s_syllogism
If Obama Likes Lincoln So Much, He Should Start Acting Like Him | The New Republic
Posted at 6:09pm, Sunday Jul 31, 2011
John: I don't know how you write this piece without quoting Lincoln's July 4th speech to Congress:

"Soon after the first call for militia, it was considered a duty to authorize the commanding general in proper cases, according to his discretion, to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, or, in other words, to arrest and detain, without resort to the ordinary processes and forms of law, such individuals as he might deem dangerous to the public safety. This authority has purposely been exercised but very sparingly. Nevertheless, the legality and propriety of what has been done under it are questioned, and the attention of the country has been called to the proposition that one who has sworn to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed" should not himself violate them. Of course some consideration was given to the questions of power and propriety before this matter was acted upon. The whole of the laws which were required to be faithfully executed were being resisted and failing of execution in nearly one third of the States. Must they be allowed to finally fail of execution, even had it been perfectly clear that by the use of the means necessary to their execution some single law, made in such extreme tenderness of the citizen's liberty that, practically, it relieves more of the guilty than of the innocent, should to a very limited extent be violated? To state the question more directly, are all the laws but one to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces lest that one be violated? Even in such a case, would not the official oath be broken if the government should be overthrown when it was believed that disregarding the single law would tend to preserve it? But it was not believed that this question was presented. It was not believed that any law was violated. The provision of the Constitution that "the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it," is equivalent to a provision--is a provision--that such privilege may be suspended when, in case of rebellion or invasion, the public safety does require it. It was decided that we have a case of rebellion, and that the public safety does require the qualified suspension of the privilege of the writ which was authorized to be made. Now it is insisted that Congress, and not the executive, is vested with this power. But the Constitution itself is silent as to which or who is to exercise the power; and as the provision was plainly made for a dangerous emergency, it cannot be believed the framers of the instrument intended that in every case the danger should run its course until Congress could be called together, the very assembling of which might be prevented, as was intended in this case, by the rebellion."
STUDY: Internet Explorer Users Are Dumber
Posted at 5:57pm, Sunday Jul 31, 2011
John: Opera is the best.
Interactive Tour of the Barnes Foundation - Interactive Feature -
Posted at 2:12pm, Sunday Jul 31, 2011
Chip: In keeping with my recent interest in the Barnes. The audio commentary is worth listening too as well.
'Art Of The Steal': Actual Heist Or Conspiracy Theory? : NPR
Posted at 1:51pm, Saturday Jul 30, 2011
Chip: Just watched this on Netflix streaming, and I would highly recommend it. Is it biased? Yes. But it also presents a lot of incontrovertible facts. I'm sad I never saw the collection before they began the move.
3 ways Obama could bypass Congress -
Posted at 4:51pm, Friday Jul 29, 2011
John: I want Obama to do this just so I can watch the speech announcing it.
The trillion-dollar coin solution
Posted at 11:50am, Friday Jul 29, 2011
Adam: This is a really good idea, although it doesn't require platinum coins. All you have to do is a combination of quantitative easing (the Fed printing money and using it to buy government bonds) with the Rob Paul idea (having the Fed tear up/burn/otherwise destroy the government bonds on its balance sheets). Unlike every other deficit reduction plan being discussed, this one would actually stimulate the economy. And I don't see how it would cause inflation...the Fed has already increased the size of its balance sheet by a few trillion dollars with no inflation. A few trillion more wouldn't hurt either. So I don't know why people are talking about the need for reverse QE with this; the point is it's a really way to kill two birds with one stone and do more QE.
A Sovereign Ratings Downgrade for the US? End of the world or bump in the road?
Posted at 10:21pm, Thursday Jul 28, 2011
nikhil: although its worrying from a financial standpoint, the idea of the default risk in the us dollar is really interesting theoretically. for a lot of people who havent had to think about the problem before (and i dont think many have), it will be like reintroducing air resistance into a simplifiedphysics problem. that said, i dont think we will come to that stage for a long time.
Abraham Lincoln's Cooper Union Address
Posted at 6:08pm, Thursday Jul 28, 2011
Chip: Great speech. If you substitute taxes/Federal debt in for slavery, much of it would apply equally today. Favorite passages:

But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, "Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!"


Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to spread into the National Territories, and to overrun us here in these Free States? If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored - contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man - such as a policy of "don't care" on a question about which all true men do care - such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance - such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did.
Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.
“Anti-slave rally” to oppose Fred Wilson project
Posted at 6:05pm, Thursday Jul 28, 2011
Chip: Interesting.
Composition 1.01: How Email Can Change the Way Professors Teach - James Somers - Technology - The Atlantic
Posted at 10:21am, Thursday Jul 28, 2011
Adam: As always, great stuff.
HeLa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 2:09pm, Wednesday Jul 27, 2011
Michael: Justin, care to elaborate any further on this?
CNN Anchor Don Lemon Appears not to Care for CNN - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - 07/26/11 - Video Clip | Comedy Central
Posted at 11:49am, Wednesday Jul 27, 2011
Michael: Yay, journalistic integrity.
Glenn Beck likens Norwegian dead to Hitler youth | Media | The Guardian
Posted at 6:34pm, Tuesday Jul 26, 2011
Chip: wow...
U.S. Appeals Court: OK to check DNA of those arrested
Posted at 5:57pm, Tuesday Jul 26, 2011
Chip: This was the case that we briefed for our final legal writing assignment. It's basically about whether the government has the right to extract DNA from arrestees; the Third Circuit (NJ, PA, DE) ruled that the government has that right. The article doesn't mention it, but there was a preliminary procedural issue, the collateral order doctrine, that was also contested. In short, you're usually only allowed to appeal final decisions of the court (i.e., those decisions which end the case). There are some basic exceptions to this rule (for instance, preliminary injunctions are appealable) and then some fuzzier exceptions. The collateral order doctrine sets out a rule for nonstandard exceptions to the finality rule. I had the unfortunate task of arguing at our mock oral argument that the exception did not apply in this case when it pretty clearly did. One of the elements of the rule is whether the right being appealed would disappear if you had to wait for the case to end (i.e., bail determinations are appealable even though the case has only just begun because if you had to wait to the end of the case, you would have already suffered the harm which you seek to end). Here, the right to extract an arrestee's DNA would be lost on appeal because the arrestee would no longer be an arrestee. He would either be free or a prisoner.
Are We Alone? New Analysis Suggests Life Could Be Extremely Rare In the Universe| Statistics Crush Optimism in Search for Extraterrestrials | Search for Life, SETI |
Posted at 5:27pm, Tuesday Jul 26, 2011
Tom: I desperately want this to be wrong, so I will assume it's wrong.

Bam. That's logic.
Sequoia, Accel, And Union Square Top SecondMarket’s New VC Scoreboard
Posted at 4:04pm, Tuesday Jul 26, 2011
Adam: Hipmunk is killing it in the private market with 41 watchers. Whatever that means.
Former Morgan Stanley Analyst Framed For Armed Robbery By Boyfriend Now Being Accused Of Setting Him Up
Posted at 3:44pm, Tuesday Jul 26, 2011
Adam: This is unbelievable.
IRS Change Helps 'Innocent Spouse' -
Posted at 2:05pm, Tuesday Jul 26, 2011
John: The IRS backs down on its cruel position I shared earlier.
‪OldSpice's Channel‬‏ - YouTube
Posted at 1:15pm, Tuesday Jul 26, 2011
Michael: There is a new Old Spice YouTube campaign taking place today with near real-time responses to twitter messages. Starring both Mustafa and Fabio.
‪Maker Profile - Kinetic Wave Sculptures on MAKE: television‬‏ - YouTube
Posted at 12:59pm, Tuesday Jul 26, 2011
Michael: This artist, Reuben Margolin, makes really interesting kinetic sculptures based on waves and other movements he witnesses in nature. Really intricate and meticulous work goes into these things.
Pitts on Opt-Out Voting
Posted at 5:46am, Thursday Jun 30, 2011
Nikhil Srivastava: so many good ways to change voting in ways we intuitively think of as unfair.
Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel: DEA unravels a cocaine cartel web -
Posted at 3:04pm, Monday Jul 25, 2011
Tom: Looking forward to reading this whole series.
In defence of the maligned PowerPoint -
Posted at 9:26am, Monday Jul 25, 2011
Adam: Interesting perspective. I feel like James would have a strong opinion on this.
Cornel West is Cool
Posted at 5:14pm, Sunday Jul 24, 2011
Tom: I had the opposite reaction. Cornel West...oy.
Very short interview. Here's one question:

"Q: You have 30 seconds of private time with the president — what do you say to him?

"A: I would say: “Look at that bust of Martin Luther King Jr. in the Oval Office and recognize that tears are flowing when you let Geithner and others shape your economic policy, when you refuse to focus on poor and working people or when you drop the drone bombs that kill innocent civilians. Tim Geithner does not represent the legacy of Martin King.” "
The Doctor Eloped With Marilyn?
Posted at 5:07pm, Sunday Jul 24, 2011
Tom: Makes sense.
Class of 2011: The New Numbers
Posted at 1:46pm, Sunday Jul 24, 2011
Tom: At the bottom:

"Photo day!: From his picture I think Devin Gardner is going to end up being CEO of something. Will Campbell wins the "Fell for the old 'hey everybody let's all look like we're really tough in our photos' shtick" award. Meanwhile Klingons are attempting to steal Denard's smile because it has the power create habitable, lush new planets all by itself."
Olivia Wilde of ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ and ‘The Change-Up’ -
Posted at 11:39am, Sunday Jul 24, 2011
Justin: Sharing on just for a few of the paragraphs on the second page, which I'm repasting below, if you don't want to read the whole article. Pretty surprising to hear about where she comes from, and the ridiculously cool experiences she seems to have had starting in childhood. Makes me think that her and James Franco should date. Also, John, check out her real last name: any chance she's related to Chloe?


Ms. Wilde, who attended the Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., was raised to be inquisitive and have opinions. Her mother is an investigative journalist known for covering United States military scandals for “60 Minutes,” PBS and ABC News. Ms. Cockburn also directed the acclaimed 2009 documentary “American Casino,” which looked at how the financial meltdown impacted the working class.

Andrew Cockburn, her father, is also a journalist and the author of books like “Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall and Catastrophic Legacy.” Together, the Cockburns helped produce the 1997 movie “The Peacemaker,” starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman in a tale about stolen nuclear weapons. The film was based on a book the couple wrote, “One Point Safe.”

(In a nod to her father’s Irish heritage, Ms. Wilde looked to Oscar Wilde for a stage name.)

The Cockburn home in Washington was a hotbed for intellectuals and celebrities. The writer Christopher Hitchens, a family friend, sometimes baby-sat. Ms. Wilde remembers listening in on a conversation at the dinner table between the diplomat Richard Holbrooke and Mick Jagger. “They finally noticed me and sent me to bed,” she said with a laugh. “I wish I could remember what the discussion was about.”


Because she was such a fan of slapstick humor — Ms. Wilde lists the “Police Academy” movies as childhood favorites — her parents took her to a taping of “Saturday Night Live” when she was 10, and they attended the after-party. Chris Farley noticed her and challenged her to a brownie-eating contest. “He won, but I gave him a run for his money,” Ms. Wilde said.


But role diversity also reflects her wanderlust. She’s one of those people who casually peppers a conversation with sentences like “I was in Brazil, learning how to free-dive from some spear fisherman.”

That tendency to leap before she looks is evident in her personal life too. When Ms. Wilde was 19 she was engaged to Tao Ruspoli, a filmmaker and son of an Italian prince (for real), at the anything-goes Burning Man festival in Nevada. A few weeks later she married him on an old school bus, where he was living. She filed for divorce in March.

“It was a great eight years, but it was time for both of us to move on,” she said. At the least she came away with entertaining stories about visiting his family in Italy, like the time she arrived at a “casual” dinner to find trumpet players and people on stilts dropping flower petals. “I was like, where am I?” she said.
Involuntary celibacy
Posted at 9:10am, Sunday Jul 24, 2011
nikhil: No, it was Patty who chose a life of celibacy. Selma had celibacy thrust upon her.
America's Top 20 Beer Cities
Posted at 2:36pm, Saturday Jul 23, 2011
Tom: Weird that their results start at #1, but whatever.

Boston and San Fran rank pretty highly. Saw Anchorage and went, huh?
Flickr: Hengki Koentjoro's Photostream
Posted at 10:38am, Saturday Jul 23, 2011
Michael: Really amazing Indonesian b&w photographer
NASA'S SUCCESSFUL QUANTIFYING OF COMEDY TIMING (By Penn Jillette and Teller) • Set Your Motherfucker to "Receive".
Posted at 1:51am, Saturday Jul 23, 2011
Tom: I'm sure this would happen to me too.
Tom Saving on the Social Security Trust Fund
Posted at 11:15pm, Friday Jul 22, 2011
Tom: More bizarro accounting.
Comic for July 22, 2011
Posted at 9:10pm, Friday Jul 22, 2011
John: I enjoyed this one.
Balanced Budget Amendments Are No Magic Bullet
Posted at 8:07pm, Friday Jul 22, 2011
John: First, I didn't know that's where "silver bullet" came from.

Second, I think Buffet had a fantastic idea for enforcement: if the limit is broken then incumbents will become ineligible to run for Congress in the next election cycle.

Third, I think there should be a provision to allow stimulus funds to be given to the states in proportion to population and with no strings attached. States can then decide whether they prefer to use spending increases or tax cuts.

Fourth, you can write a BBA that exempts the capital budget, although that makes the last problem harder to solve.

Fifth, the gimmickry problem is actually really hard and unavoidable, but I think still worth it.
Northeastern Creates Tattoo That Tracks Sodium and Glucose via an iPhone | Bostinnovation: Boston Innovation, Start-ups and Tech News
Posted at 1:11pm, Friday Jul 22, 2011
Tom: Tech-mology.
xkcd: Mimic Octopus
Posted at 11:28am, Friday Jul 22, 2011
Tom: Floored by the alt-text.

Reminds me of reading Brian Jacques' Redwall when I was 8 and being blown away by the anagram concerning Martin and Mathias, the warriors.
The Internet Tidal Wave
Posted at 8:41am, Friday Jul 22, 2011
nikhil: cool, cool, cool
‪rebecca's Channel‬‏ - YouTube
Posted at 8:33am, Friday Jul 22, 2011
Michael: More Rebecca Black, haha.
Cortlandt Councilman Becker said to examine run for U.S. Congress - Blogs
Posted at 9:53pm, Thursday Jul 21, 2011
John: Winning news cycles already.
Anonymous & LulzSec Statement to FBI - TNW Media
Posted at 12:45pm, Thursday Jul 21, 2011
Michael: "We’re back – and we’re not going anywhere. Expect us."

Kinda reminds me of:
Sumner on the Big Macro Debate
Posted at 12:08pm, Thursday Jul 21, 2011
Tom: Scott Sumner is the man.
xlarge_einstein-monroe.jpg (640×360)
Posted at 2:08am, Thursday Jul 21, 2011
John: Very fun to move back and forth.
Paris Review – Harvard and Class, Misha Glouberman
Posted at 1:10am, Thursday Jul 21, 2011
Tom: Fascinating. 4 minutes. Read the whole thing.
The First Annual Meeting of the International Cuff Link Association
Posted at 1:05am, Thursday Jul 21, 2011
Tom: This is real.
Larry Summers calls Winklevoss twins 'A**holes' - Jul. 20, 2011
Posted at 11:59pm, Wednesday Jul 20, 2011
John: Definitely watch the video.
‪Video: Who is Calling Rick Perry?‬‏ - YouTube
Posted at 9:23pm, Wednesday Jul 20, 2011
John: I'm not really sure why he's backpedaling so furiously, but this is not very presidential. He does look a bit like Gucc when he gets that weird smile about 20 seconds in.
Cain Opposed Healthcare Reform Before It Was Cool - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast
Posted at 8:57pm, Wednesday Jul 20, 2011
Justin: Woah.
‪BP'eed on commercial‬‏ - YouTube
Posted at 6:33pm, Wednesday Jul 20, 2011
Chip: More awesomeness
Larry Summers calls Winklevoss twins 'A**holes' - Jul. 20, 2011
Posted at 6:23pm, Wednesday Jul 20, 2011
Chip: Awesome
2 N.J. teens labeled sex offenders for life after 'horseplay' incident |
Posted at 6:03pm, Wednesday Jul 20, 2011
Chip: This is absurd.
Guilty Men | The Weekly Standard
Posted at 12:20pm, Wednesday Jul 20, 2011
Drew: This is another take on part of the Financial Crisis that we didn't discuss, but I think is very relevant.
Witold Pilecki - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 12:59am, Wednesday Jul 20, 2011
Michael: A soldier of the Second Polish Republic, the founder of the Secret Polish Army (Tajna Armia Polska) resistance group and a member of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa). As the author of Witold's Report, the first intelligence report on Auschwitz concentration camp, Pilecki's operation enabled the Polish government-in-exile to convince the Allies that the Holocaust was taking place.
He did this by purposely getting caught and put in a concentration camp and then escaping!
The Gang of Six Is Back, Presents Bipartisan Deficit-Reduction Plan - The Note
Posted at 4:24pm, Tuesday Jul 19, 2011
John: I'm basically shocked by this news. These guys came out of nowhere, and based on the summary I've heard, this is a pretty darn good plan policy-wise that is left of what Obama had been proposing.

According to Tax Notes Today: "The Senate "Gang of Six" has released a summary of their new deficit reduction proposal, which would cap spending through 2015 while reforming the tax code through reduced tax rates and brackets for individuals and corporations, tax expenditure cuts, permanent alternative minimum tax repeal, and increased tax code progressivity."

The devil will still be in the details, but this is immensely encouraging. Crapo and Coburn are very conservative.
Armied to the hilt
Posted at 4:17pm, Tuesday Jul 19, 2011
Adam: Russia seems to have a lot of "other".
160-Year-Old American Express Out-Innovates Google and Groupon | TechCrunch
Posted at 12:40pm, Tuesday Jul 19, 2011
Tom: This makes so much more sense than Groupon and others. Visa and Mastercard will be right behind them. Built in base, easy to use and figure out...boom.
TeenNick’s ’90s Nostalgia Fest -
Posted at 11:20pm, Monday Jul 18, 2011
Chip: Yeeeeeeeesssssss!!!!!!
Size Matters
Posted at 9:52pm, Monday Jul 18, 2011
nikhil: im not going to read this, but i hope there is a reacronymization of GDP
Neighbors Are Mad At Guy Who Got $300K House For $16
Posted at 8:54pm, Monday Jul 18, 2011
John: It's kind of funny to call adverse possession a "little-known Texas law" since it is a principle of property law that applies across all states that every person who goes to law school learns about in their first year. But anyway, the details vary, and this is a particularly fun example.
Astronomers Discover Habitable ExoEarth Orbiting Binary Star - Technology Review
Posted at 2:13pm, Monday Jul 18, 2011
Tom: What are we waiting for? Let's go.
Vancouver, British Columbia Version Of Popular Game Show 'Cash Cab' Strikes And Kills A Pedestrian « CBS New York
Posted at 1:45pm, Monday Jul 18, 2011
Tom: Oh lord.
Posted at 11:47am, Monday Jul 18, 2011
Tom: Hit it right on the nose, like usual.
Posted at 12:17am, Monday Jul 18, 2011
Tom: Avi.
Greek CDS Restructuring Credit Event and Repudiation - Seeking Alpha
Posted at 9:58pm, Sunday Jul 17, 2011
John: I've wondered here before if anyone buying and selling sovereign CDS has any idea what the scope of a credit event is. I think this is a good effort on the particular issue of whether 100% voluntary restructuring qualifies as a credit event, but you can see how the interpretation is at odds with the literal meaning of the terms.
Economic Update Slides
Posted at 8:08pm, Sunday Jul 17, 2011
Tom: A lot of good data here.
Seven Errors in Today’s New York Times Editorial
Posted at 2:49pm, Sunday Jul 17, 2011
Tom: Worth a read, for law types.
Look out Tea Party, here comes the Tequila Party | The Observers
Posted at 1:11pm, Sunday Jul 17, 2011
Tom: "Your shot for change."

Nevada Test Site: Tourists revisit the Cold War at Nevada Test Site -
Posted at 1:10pm, Sunday Jul 17, 2011
Tom: Note to self.

Also, I will definitely go on one of these tours in my lifetime.
Everyday Carry
Posted at 12:20pm, Sunday Jul 17, 2011
Avi: This made me really happy.
New Promo for Dexter Season 6 -
Posted at 10:28am, Sunday Jul 17, 2011
Chip: Can't wait!
The horrifying AAA debt-issuance chart
Posted at 5:57pm, Saturday Jul 16, 2011
nikhil: When he isn't whining about some politician, this guy has some great posts.
Stream Media @jcobbopera
Posted at 6:52pm, Friday Jul 15, 2011
John: The Congressional Research Service is in general fantastic. Here's a particularly nice report.
Eric Cantor Insists We Reduce The Deficit, Unless It Means Going After The Drug Industry | The New Republic
Posted at 12:25pm, Friday Jul 15, 2011
John: I don't think this is a hypocritical position for Cantor. I've talked at great length about taxes that are really spending in disguise, but the phenomenon can work the other way around. Passing a law that says a company has to sell its product to the federal government at below market prices is not a spending cut.
Good thing he didn’t ask Alex to explain the Solow growth model (in French)
Posted at 11:37am, Friday Jul 15, 2011
Adam: This is why I don't like Canadians.
Cell Phones
Posted at 12:14am, Friday Jul 15, 2011
Adam: Reinhart-Rogoff
Skinner on Campus
Posted at 8:07pm, Thursday Jul 14, 2011
tvchurch: Glorious.
One Thousand
Posted at 8:04pm, Thursday Jul 14, 2011
tvchurch: Avi - you're brilliant buddy. What an incredible reader base you've developed!
Bag the bomb
Posted at 4:37pm, Thursday Jul 14, 2011
Adam: That's pretty cool.
China's New Parochialism - TIME
Posted at 4:24pm, Thursday Jul 14, 2011
tvchurch: No kidding?
Happy 12th birthday, MetaFilter!
Posted at 1:55pm, Thursday Jul 14, 2011
Avi: MeFi is 12 years old? Holy moley I feel old.
Intellectual Property In The Anti-Trek Economy
Posted at 11:52am, Thursday Jul 14, 2011
tvchurch: I might need to start watching TNG now.
July 14, 2011
Posted at 11:48am, Thursday Jul 14, 2011
tvchurch: Shared mostly for the alt-text over the Red Button (Must click through)
The President’s offer is left of Bowles-Simpson
Posted at 11:07pm, Wednesday Jul 13, 2011
John: This argument might be undercut a bit by the fact that Bowles and Simpson put out a press release essentially supporting Obama's plan today and Alan Simpson said "The stuff that’s going on in my party, where the -– pettiness overcomes the patriotism -– it’s just disgusting to me. Reagan raised taxes. We’ve never had less revenue to run this country since the Korean war." Rough timing. Also undercut by the fact that every House Republican on the commission rejected Bowles-Simpson as well because it raised revenues.
Computer Reads Manual, Plays Civ
Posted at 7:52pm, Wednesday Jul 13, 2011
John: This kind of spookily cool. What if you give it access to other forms of written advice like guides on the net?
Becker Attack: Woman Drugs Husband's Dinner, Cuts Off Penis, Throws It In Garbage Disposal: LAist
Posted at 4:25pm, Wednesday Jul 13, 2011
John: Probably her last name drove her to it.
Unverified Voracity Swings A Toothpick | mgoblog
Posted at 12:07pm, Wednesday Jul 13, 2011
tvchurch: This is reassuring. And funny.

Bonus though, if you click through: While playing golf, Lloyd Carr looks like the gentleman he is.
July 13, 2011
Posted at 12:16am, Wednesday Jul 13, 2011
John: I'm keeping it warm with my face.
Netflix Adjusts Pricing, Renting Those Plastic Discs Just Got More Expensive
Posted at 7:40pm, Tuesday Jul 12, 2011
Adam: I'm not happy about this! This is being called a 60% price increase, but it's really part of a 78% price increase since the price of the 1-DVD unlimited plan was raised by $1 per month not that long ago.

What's bad about this is that if they had originally had this pricing model nobody would have complained. But they lured millions of people in with what was advertised as "free" streaming in additional to the DVD service (or as Netflix came to see it, a heavily discounted DVD plan in additional to the streaming service) and now that they're raising the prices people like me are very displeased because the streaming service is missing a lot of movies and is therefore far less appealing as a stand-alone offering.

At this point I'm planning to abandon the DVDs and just do the streaming service...any better ideas?
Rx for a 405 headache | Zev Yaroslavsky
Posted at 6:12pm, Tuesday Jul 12, 2011
tvchurch: I'm pumped I'm not around to see this happen.
Strunk & White: 50 years of stupid grammar advice?
Posted at 6:09pm, Tuesday Jul 12, 2011
tvchurch: James?
Hoover Was No Budget Cutter - Megan McArdle - Business - The Atlantic
Posted at 3:12pm, Tuesday Jul 12, 2011
tvchurch: Note to self.
Consommé - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 1:26am, Tuesday Jul 12, 2011
Michael: Interesting. I had no idea how intensive this process was until seeing this:
Posted at 1:03am, Tuesday Jul 12, 2011
tvchurch: Blows my mind.
1,556 Calories for Lunch
Posted at 5:27pm, Monday Jul 11, 2011
Adam: Maybe she was hungry and using my heuristic.
What's Happening In My State? - Map | Justice For Sale | FRONTLINE | PBS
Posted at 2:38pm, Monday Jul 11, 2011
Chip: interesting
Judge a campaign by its lawyer - Kenneth P. Vogel -
Posted at 12:32am, Monday Jul 11, 2011
John: Laura's working for Perkins Coie DC this summer.
Thwarted markets in everything
Posted at 7:24pm, Sunday Jul 10, 2011
nikhil: awesome
Christiane Amanpour ABC | Founding Father Constitution | Video | Mediaite
Posted at 6:24pm, Sunday Jul 10, 2011
Justin: lolz.
Are You a Level-Six Leader? — HBS Working Knowledge
Posted at 11:15am, Sunday Jul 10, 2011
John: This kind of thing is inevitably too cute for its own good, but this one hits upon something for me: one of my biggest challenges coming out of school is to try to develop the skills needed to build an institution up rather than to thrive within an existing one. It's something I'm just beginning to come to terms with but which will be absolutely crucial to being a top-notch lawyer. It's probably even more difficult today with the soft-landing-pads that have been created for graduates from elite universities; it has become very easy to go with the flow and take your generous paycheck/grant. But that's not even necessarily within the narrow self-interest of the business that employs you, let alone the other obligations you have to answer to.
Stream Media @jcobbopera
Posted at 9:51am, Sunday Jul 10, 2011
John: Interesting read for lawyers/law students but sharing mainly for the excellent writing. Here's an excerpt:

C. Self, Friendship, and Justice

Consider for a moment the picture of the human person that would emerge if the utilitarian claim were in fact correct. It would mean that in all my choices I must consider the well-being of all humanity-actual and potential-as the range of my concern. Moreover, every actual or potential human being is absolutely equal in his claims upon me. Indeed, I myself am to myself only as one of this innumerable multitude. And that is the clue to what is wrong with the utilitarian vision. Before there is morality there must be the person. We must attain and maintain in our morality a concept of personality such that it makes sense to posit choosing, valuing entities-free, moral beings. But the picture of the moral universe in which my own interests disappear and are merged into the interests of the totality of humanity is incompatible with that, because one wishes to develop a conception of a responsible, valuable, and valuing agent, and such an agent must first of all be dear to himself. It is from the kernel of individuality that the other things we value radiate. The Gospel says we must love our neighbor as ourselves, and this implies that any concern for others which is a human concern must presuppose a concern for ourselves. The human concern which we then show others is a concern which first of all recognizes the concrete individuality of that other person just as we recognize our own.

It might be objected that the picture I sketch does not show that each individual, in order to maintain the integral sense of himself as an individual, is justified in attributing a greater value to his most essential interests than he ascribes to the most essential interests of all other persons. Should not the individual generalize and attribute in equal degree to all persons the value which he naturally attributes to himself? I agree with those who hold that it is the essence of morality for reason to push us beyond inclination to the fair conclusion of our premises. It is a fair conclusion that as my experience as a judging, valuing, choosing entity is crucial to me, I must also conclude that for other persons their own lives and desires are the center of their universes. If morality is transcendent, it must somehow transcend particularity to take account of this general fact. I do not wish to deny this. On the contrary, my claim is that the kind of preference which an individual gives himself and concrete others is a preference which he would in exactly this universalizing spirit allow others to exhibit as well. It is not that I callously overlook the claim of the abstract individual, but indeed I would understand and approve were I myself to be prejudiced because some person to whom I stood in a similar situation of abstraction preferred his own concrete dimensions.

Finally, the concreteness which is the starting point of my own moral sensibility, the sense of myself, is not just a historical, bio- graphical fact. It continues to enter into and condition my moral judgments because the effects which I can produce upon people who are close to me are qualitatively different from those produced upon abstract, unknown persons. My own concreteness is important not only because it establishes a basis for understanding what I and what all other human beings might be, but because in engaging that aspect of myself with the concrete aspects of others, I realize special values for both of us. Quite simply, the individualized relations of love and friendship (and perhaps also their opposites, hatred and enmity) have a different, more intense aspect than do the cooler, more abstract relations of love and service to humanity in general. The impulse I describe, therefore, is not in any sense a selfish impulse. But it does begin with the sense of self as a concrete entity. Those who object to my thesis by saying that we must generalize it are not wholly wrong; they merely exaggerate. Truly I must be ready to generalize outward all the way. That is what justice consists of. But justice is not all of morality; there remains a circle of intensity which through its emphasis on the particular and the concrete continues to reflect what I have identified as the source of all sense of value-our sense of self.

Therefore, it is not only consonant with, but also required by, an ethics for human beings that one be entitled first of all to reserve an area of concern for oneself and then to move out freely from that area if one wishes to lavish that concern on others to whom one stands in concrete, personal relations.

Similarly, a person is entitled to enjoy this extra measure of care from those who choose to bestow it upon him without having to justify this grace as either just or efficient. We may choose the individuals to whom we will stand in this special relation, or they may be thrust upon us, as in family ties. Perhaps we recognize family ties because, after all, there often has been an element of choice, but also because-by some kind of atavism or superstition- we identify with those who share a part of our biological natures.

In explicating the lawyer's relation to his client, my analogy shall be to friendship, where the freedom to choose and to be chosen expresses our freedom to hold something of ourselves in reserve, in reserve even from the universalizing claims of morality. These personal ties and the claims they engender may be all-consuming, as with a close friend or family member, or they may be limited, special-purpose claims, as in the case of the client or patient. The special-purpose claim is one in which the beneficiary, the client, is entitled to all the special consideration within the limits of the relationship which we accord to a friend or a loved one. It is not that the claims of the client are less intense or demanding; they are only more limited in their scope. After all, the ordinary concept of friendship provides only an analogy, and it is to the development of that analogy that I turn.
50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Posted at 7:17am, Sunday Jul 10, 2011
John: This is very fun.
How Apple Led The High-Stakes Patent Poker Win Against Google, Sealing Ballmer’s Promise
Posted at 12:27am, Sunday Jul 10, 2011
Adam: Key paragraph: "It was around this time that Google began making odd bids, based around mathematical constants. The Nortel group was apparently confused by the seemingly random numbers Google was bidding. Reports have stated that they weren’t sure if Google was 'extremely confident or bored'. Others believed Google was trying to confuse their rival bidders."
Movie Review: The Cast of Horrible Bosses Works Hard for the Money -- Vulture
Posted at 11:36pm, Friday Jul 08, 2011
tvchurch: James, I can't believe you made us watch Swimming With Sharks that one time.
Well: Should Hospitals Be Run by Doctors?
Posted at 9:37pm, Friday Jul 08, 2011
John: I would go to a hospital if Justin were running it.
QUOTE: “I could end the deficit in 5 minutes. Y…
Posted at 8:45pm, Friday Jul 08, 2011
John: I think I'm modifying my Amendment proposal.
The Matt Drudge market indicator - The Term Sheet: Fortune's deals blog Term Sheet
Posted at 4:29pm, Friday Jul 08, 2011
Adam: I love these kinds of things.
Hammer Conversations J J Abrams And Michael Giacchino
Posted at 3:04pm, Friday Jul 08, 2011
Mike: Really nice talk about growing-up wanting to get into the movie business.
Geometric Batman
Posted at 1:23pm, Friday Jul 08, 2011
Avi: Click through for some amazing other art. Superman, Star Wars etc.
‘I Believe You Are the Greatest Film-Maker at Work Today.’
Posted at 1:11pm, Friday Jul 08, 2011
Avi: I know James usually shares the good Letters, but this one is pure magic. My favorite filmmaker writing about my second favorite filmmaker.
Watch a Belated But Excellent Citywide Reenactment of the Bill Pullman Independence Day Speech -- Vulture
Posted at 12:42pm, Friday Jul 08, 2011
Mike: Awesome.
James Somers: That's a hell of an honor.
Yes, I’m going here
Posted at 12:41pm, Thursday Jul 07, 2011
tvchurch: I know zero details about the Casey Anthony case, but what Nick is saying here makes sense. The benefits of abiding by procedural justice far outweigh the costs.
A Decade of Mexican Progress
Posted at 12:25pm, Thursday Jul 07, 2011
tvchurch: "Final thought: Realistically speaking, Mexican progress is the only plausible path to an open border. Once their GDP is half of ours, few Mexicans will want to immigrate, and Americans will magnanimously acquiesce. Maybe."

What Is The Case Against Calorie Menu Labeling
Posted at 11:52am, Thursday Jul 07, 2011
Adam: I actually use calorie labels to increase my caloric intake; when I'm hungry I'll order something with more calories under the assumption that it would be more filling.
Posted at 10:00pm, Wednesday Jul 06, 2011
nikhil: i bet an anti-power point party and some clever marketing could get more than 100k votes in the 2012 us presidential race
George Jonas: Using lawfare to anchor the Gaza flotilla | Full Comment | National Post
Posted at 5:31pm, Wednesday Jul 06, 2011
tvchurch: (Just the highlighted passages on lawfare)

Neat way to combat the flotillas.
Ladies Love Gay Marriage
Posted at 4:35pm, Wednesday Jul 06, 2011
tvchurch: LL Gay M. Distant relative of LL Cool J.
John Goodman Hits a Home Run
Posted at 2:13pm, Wednesday Jul 06, 2011
tvchurch: Ha! about the second part on Rawls. I'll have to remember that. - What People Know About Drugs Is Wrong
Posted at 1:35pm, Wednesday Jul 06, 2011
tvchurch: More, at 21:30 - 25:20. Great.
Bloggingheads on drug policy with John McWhorter
Posted at 1:18pm, Wednesday Jul 06, 2011
tvchurch: 40 minutes - listening to it idly.

At 6 minutes, more about legalization effects. I hate Kleiman's politics, but he's really good on drug policy. One of his co-authors was my prof at Pepperdine - she's amazing.
Alex Rosen » Blog Archive » The power of sponge learning or: why I read Hacker News even though I understand very little of it
Posted at 12:41pm, Wednesday Jul 06, 2011
tvchurch: I'll echo his sentiment. The only programming I do is for Stata / Econometric modeling, but I find reducing "unknown unknowns" very helpful.
BUNI - Buni
Posted at 8:46pm, Tuesday Jul 05, 2011
tvchurch: Worth the trade off.
Flying Cars Get OK From Department of Transportation | Bostinnovation: Boston Innovation, Start-ups and Tech News
Posted at 6:18pm, Tuesday Jul 05, 2011
tvchurch: Year 2000, here we come.
Which American Accent Do You Have?
Posted at 3:22pm, Tuesday Jul 05, 2011
tvchurch: Northern for me.
Breakfast Links: July 5, 2011
Posted at 11:24am, Tuesday Jul 05, 2011
tvchurch: "Then you'll be back in here quoting Gordon Wood."
The Mother of All No-Brainers -
Posted at 8:33am, Tuesday Jul 05, 2011
Justin: !!!
Explode Something Today
Posted at 3:24pm, Monday Jul 04, 2011
tvchurch: Worth every second. I am cracking up. Sometimes, a little jingoism goes a long way.
David Frum on Pioneering Conservatism | FiveBooks | The Browser
Posted at 11:42am, Monday Jul 04, 2011
tvchurch: And this is why I like David Frum. 6-8 minutes.

I endorse the de Soto section and the notion that unsentimentality is more of a conservative thing.
Assorted links
Posted at 11:31am, Monday Jul 04, 2011
tvchurch: I've been going through #1, and David Frum's picks. He repeatedly brings up "unsentimental thinking" as a conservative virtue.

Contrast that with the stereotype of "Bleeding Heart Liberals" and he might be right. I've played around with the idea.
Percussive Maintenance
Posted at 10:31am, Monday Jul 04, 2011
Avi: I have a PhD in this.
Posted at 11:07pm, Sunday Jul 03, 2011
tvchurch: Challenge accepted.
An Intuitive Guide To Exponential Functions & e | BetterExplained
Posted at 11:06pm, Sunday Jul 03, 2011
tvchurch: From further down in the article, although this explanation is also probably more helpful:

"e is the base rate of growth shared by all continually growing processes. e lets you take a simple growth rate (where all change happens at the end of the year) and find the impact of compound, continuous growth, where every nanosecond (or faster) you are growing just a little bit.

"e shows up whenever systems grow exponentially and continuously: population, radioactive decay, interest calculations, and more. Even jagged systems that don’t grow smoothly can be approximated by e.

"Just like every number can be considered a “scaled” version of 1 (the base unit), every circle can be considered a “scaled” version of the unit circle (radius 1), and every rate of growth can be considered a “scaled” version of e (the “unit” rate of growth)."
InTrade And Jon Huntsman: Why The Media’s Faith In The Internet Betting Ring Is Foolish | The New Republic
Posted at 12:05pm, Sunday Jul 03, 2011
John: Good summary of problems.
Killer Badger
Posted at 10:49am, Sunday Jul 03, 2011
Avi: badger badger badger badger MUSHROOM MUSHROOM
Ron Paul’s Surprisingly Lucid Solution To The Debt Ceiling Impasse | The New Republic
Posted at 10:23am, Sunday Jul 03, 2011
John: What I'm interested in knowing is if the Fed has the authority to do this without congressional authorization.
Forgot About [John] Jay
Posted at 3:05pm, Saturday Jul 02, 2011
tvchurch: That's why Gordon Lloyd, a professor of mine at Pepperdine, responds to arguments summoning the wisdom of the Founders with, "Which ones?"

Because he's crazy enough that he actually put together attendance records of the Constitutional Convention.
Dealtalk: Google bid pi for Nortel patents and lost | Reuters
Posted at 3:02pm, Saturday Jul 02, 2011
tvchurch: :-D
John Jay saves the day
Posted at 3:33pm, Friday Jul 01, 2011
tvchurch: No, Wilkinson didn't spell Governor wrong. Take a read at Gouverneur Morris' Wikipedia page: (
A change in regime?
Posted at 3:24pm, Friday Jul 01, 2011
tvchurch: Troubling.
Crack sentencing retroactivity
Posted at 3:20pm, Friday Jul 01, 2011
tvchurch: Endorse.
Assorted links
Posted at 2:35pm, Friday Jul 01, 2011
tvchurch: 5's Abstract: This paper analyzes longitudinal data to evaluate three claims that are key
to a recently developed theory of professorial politics. The theory explains the liberalism
of the American professoriate as a function of reputation-based self-selection: because
academia has a reputation for liberalism, liberals are more likely to pursue graduate
degrees and academic careers. We examine whether in fact young Americans who
identify as liberal are more likely to enroll in graduate programs with the intention of
completing a doctorate; the proposition that such a tendency cannot be explained away by
variables unrelated to occupational reputation; and the claim, also made by the theory,
that exposure to many years of higher education is not a major cause of the liberalism of
graduate students. We find support for all three claims, with ambiguity only on the
question of whether the greater propensity of those on the left to attend graduate school
results from personality differences.
What happens when you limit collective bargaining by teachers’ unions?
Posted at 2:24pm, Friday Jul 01, 2011
tvchurch: Fun times.

Other pieces posted here can be RSS'd from (
Union curbs rescue a Wisconsin school district | Byron York | Politics | Washington Examiner
Posted at 12:02pm, Friday Jul 01, 2011
tvchurch: All I think when I read this is, "No duh."
Stephen Colbert Gets a Super PAC
Posted at 5:41pm, Thursday Jun 30, 2011
Adam: Niiiice.
Is Equality Before the Law Always Good?, David Henderson | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty
Posted at 3:03pm, Thursday Jun 30, 2011
tvchurch: Ah, a counter-example. Hmm. Didn't convince me that it's wrong on the face of it, but it's something to consider.
Oxford Comma Dropped: University of Oxford Styleguide Says No To Serial Comma#s300557&title=Roisin_Bonner
Posted at 2:21pm, Thursday Jun 30, 2011
John: Jimbo?
Chávez should get credit for economic miracle - Andres Oppenheimer -
Posted at 12:48pm, Thursday Jun 30, 2011
tvchurch: Oy vey.
IBM develops 'instantaneous' memory, 100x faster than flash -- Engadget
Posted at 11:55am, Thursday Jun 30, 2011
tvchurch: I feel the need for speed.
News Corporation Sells MySpace for $35 Million -
Posted at 6:43pm, Wednesday Jun 29, 2011
Chip: Wow. This isn't quite on the scale of bad business decisions as the combination of Time Warner and AOL, but going from a value of $580 million to $35 million in 6 years is pretty bad.
Health insurance mandate survives — narrowly : SCOTUSblog
Posted at 5:24pm, Wednesday Jun 29, 2011
John: Looks like a very big win--the first decision with some ideological defection.
The Makers
Posted at 4:43pm, Wednesday Jun 29, 2011
Mike: I would happily work at any of these places.
And he shall be called…
Posted at 4:30pm, Wednesday Jun 29, 2011
tvchurch: Nick is a funny kid.

And I've decided that I need two dogs, one named Maize and one named Blue.
The Obama Doctrine Defined « Commentary Magazine
Posted at 1:24pm, Wednesday Jun 29, 2011
tvchurch: Fitting, or not?

I'm inclined to agree.
Why the Fed should pay no attention to the debate about structural unemployment
Posted at 12:37pm, Wednesday Jun 29, 2011
tvchurch: The thing is - Sumner is a very smart guy. I would dismiss claims from any political pundit that we should ignore the effect of structural unemployment, but the fact that Sumner is saying it makes me consider it.
Credit Suisse Chief Penalized $750,000 in Divorce Case -
Posted at 11:28am, Tuesday Jun 28, 2011
Adam: I think this ruling is nuts, but really this guy should sue whatever lawyer let him sign that document.
Posted at 12:59am, Tuesday Jun 28, 2011
tvchurch: Ain't it the truth?
windows · A List of People Who Need to Stop Writing Software
Posted at 8:41pm, Monday Jun 27, 2011
tvchurch: I laughed out loud at the AOL link.
Futurama Fry Is Not Sure About A Lot Of Things
Posted at 8:34pm, Monday Jun 27, 2011
Chip: mostly for silber...
Jeff Bridges Takes The Giver -
Posted at 8:11pm, Monday Jun 27, 2011
Chip: I hope this happens.
The Lawyer Surplus, State by State -
Posted at 7:30pm, Monday Jun 27, 2011
Chip: No doubt there are many more lawyers passing the bar than there are jobs available (or than there is a need for). But I think looking at bar passage rates is misleading, particularly at the extremes of New York and D.C. My guess is that there are a significant number of people who take the bar in NY but don't actually practice there. Additionally, because D.C. allows people to practice law who have passed in other states (I think it's all other states but am not positive), there are a lot more people practicing and planning to practice in D.C. than this would suggest. Additionally, plenty of people take the bar in more than one state.
Iran to stage missile wargames from Monday - Yahoo! News
Posted at 3:58pm, Monday Jun 27, 2011
tvchurch: 0_o
My Syria, Awake Again After 40 Years -
Posted at 3:02pm, Monday Jun 27, 2011
tvchurch: So foreign to me.
What's happening to America’s leadership role? - The Washington Post
Posted at 3:00pm, Monday Jun 27, 2011
tvchurch: Yes. Good point - always keep in mind that it's not a zero-sum game.
I Was Wrong About Same-Sex Marriage
Posted at 1:32pm, Monday Jun 27, 2011
tvchurch: Go Frum.
The Impacts of the Affordable Care Act: How Reasonable Are the Projections? -- by Jonathan Gruber
Posted at 12:02pm, Monday Jun 27, 2011
tvchurch: I'm going to read this with great interest.

I still want something akin to Wyden-Bennett: (
xkcd: Hofstadter
Posted at 11:40am, Monday Jun 27, 2011
tvchurch: James.
Calvinball by thisisjoew - $10
Posted at 1:40am, Monday Jun 27, 2011
Avi: For everybody who was once a child.
YouTube - Lampiony Poznan 21 czerwca 2011 Noc Kupały
Posted at 11:55pm, Sunday Jun 26, 2011
Mike: Really cool visual. It reminds me of Miyazaki movies.

"In celebration of the Summer Solstice 8,000 paper lanterns were released into the air in Poznań, Poland, creating this dramatic night sky filled with man-made stars."
NYC Meetup Tuesday 7p
Posted at 9:47pm, Sunday Jun 26, 2011
tvchurch: James, you going?
Bridge Comes to San Francisco, With Made-in-China Label -
Posted at 2:30pm, Sunday Jun 26, 2011
tvchurch: And why wouldn't you do this? Save a few hundred million dollars? Absolutely.
Your DVR Sucks Power
Posted at 2:18pm, Sunday Jun 26, 2011
tvchurch: Never would've guessed. Gotta be a more efficient way to make DVRs, yeah?
Define the Ratio of People to Cake by Giles Turnbull - The Morning News
Posted at 9:03pm, Saturday Jun 25, 2011
John: Funny stuff. A little surprised by the Jane St one, because it's the easiest one unless I'm missing something. ht Avi
Try And Name Jamie Dimon One Industry That Doesn’t Have Its Share Of Bad Apples
Posted at 6:09pm, Saturday Jun 25, 2011
nikhil: truer than people think, i think, but not true
Posted at 6:03pm, Saturday Jun 25, 2011
nikhil: there's just too much out there to know
Best Ezra Klein Post Ever
Posted at 5:25pm, Saturday Jun 25, 2011
tvchurch: Caplan's excerpt is right on - best part of the whole thing. People got mad at the big banks - but they lost tons and tons of money. It wasn't an intentional defrauding, otherwise their losses would have been much less severe.
Arts & Letters Daily (25 Jun 2011)
Posted at 2:29pm, Saturday Jun 25, 2011
nikhil: #1 is a great article
How to Make a Clock Run for 10,000 Years | Gadget Lab |
Posted at 1:10pm, Saturday Jun 25, 2011
tvchurch: There is no point to doing this other than to say, "Look at what we can accomplish." And it's glorious.
General David Petraeus: I disagree with Barack Obama but 'I'm no quitter' – Telegraph Blogs
Posted at 12:57pm, Saturday Jun 25, 2011
tvchurch: Petraeus is the man.
Managerialist America
Posted at 12:18pm, Saturday Jun 25, 2011
tvchurch: "To my mind, all this suggests a structural antagonism not between the rich and the not-rich, but between the corporate managerial class, the diffuse crowd of individuals who actually own the companies the managerial class so jealously control, and the rest of us, who are harmed by the knock-on effects the sorts of managerial malfeasance enabled by the regulatory reinforcment of the separation of ownership and management, and the amplification of agency problems that reinforcement entails. An "ownership society" worth the name would both increase shareholders control in corporate governance and make it much easier to push out incumbent managers by means of "hostile" takeovers. Sometimes a little hostility is warranted."

Right on.
Posted at 1:13am, Saturday Jun 25, 2011
Justin: Hahaha. From the year my sister was born.
Christie Hails Passage of Bipartisan Pension & Health Reform for State Workers | The Weekly Standard
Posted at 3:08pm, Friday Jun 24, 2011
tvchurch: The 6 minute video is worth watching if you haven't seen Gov. Christie speak. I'm incredibly impressed (although the public-private school tiff was a bit too personal).
10,000 Year Clock
Posted at 12:30pm, Friday Jun 24, 2011
tvchurch: Anathem!
Lab yeast make evolutionary leap to multicellularity
Posted at 11:04am, Friday Jun 24, 2011
tvchurch: Ah. Science.
Posted at 10:58am, Friday Jun 24, 2011
tvchurch: I just changed my parent's home number to Tardis in my phone. Now I'm super excited for them to call me.
CHART OF THE DAY: If Congress Does Nothing, The Deficit Will Disappear | TPMDC
Posted at 10:39am, Friday Jun 24, 2011
Justin: Note that the "do nothing" option includes letting Medicare reimbursement rates fall according to the SGR formula, which is both a horrible idea and never going to happen. Still an interesting perspective, though -- especially because the effect of the doc fix on total spending is less significant that the effect of the Bush tax cut extension on revenues.
California Welfare rolls show serious financial stress —
Posted at 9:23pm, Thursday Jun 23, 2011
Justin: I've been pretty absent on Reader the past few weeks. But this is worth a quick perusal of the graphs -- which are frightening. Hat tip to David.
Pixar’s ‘Cars 2,’ With Larry the Cable Guy and Owen Wilson - Review -
Posted at 6:53pm, Thursday Jun 23, 2011
Chip: Has Pixar actually made just an okay movie?
Health Inequality
Posted at 6:44pm, Thursday Jun 23, 2011
John: Still waiting for someone to put forward that tie-Social-Security-retirement-age-to-life-expectancy-by-income proposal.
Mark Cuban Files The Ultimate "Fuck You" Legal Brief
Posted at 4:43pm, Thursday Jun 23, 2011
Rob: This is great.
Preaching to the Choir
Posted at 12:02pm, Wednesday Jun 22, 2011
tvchurch: Gah, Krugman.

I endorse Mankiw.
Nozick, Wilt Chamberlain, and Theories of Justice
Posted at 11:57am, Wednesday Jun 22, 2011
tvchurch: Not sure if this whole Slate article/Nozick controversy has popped up for others. Metcalf's article is torn apart by the summary Horwitz links to, among others. Metcalf has to be hunkering down right about now.
AP NewsBreak: A twist in Obama's health care law - Yahoo! News
Posted at 2:20pm, Tuesday Jun 21, 2011
tvchurch: 0_o
Teen Builds Nuke Detecting Device, Saves Us All From Horrible Death
Posted at 1:17pm, Tuesday Jun 21, 2011
tvchurch: This kid is awesome.
China’s rising sex ratio at birth | East Asia Forum
Posted at 12:20pm, Tuesday Jun 21, 2011
tvchurch: 120 males to every 100 females! Holy cow.
Obama’s Illegal War in Libya -
Posted at 12:19pm, Tuesday Jun 21, 2011
tvchurch: Way to compromise intellectual integrity for politics.
Asia Times Online :: Assad's shrinking options
Posted at 12:17pm, Tuesday Jun 21, 2011
tvchurch: I'm not sure this even qualifies for what Levitsky and Way call a "competitive authoritarian" system.
Guy With Sign On Wall Street Offering $10 Million/Year For An Initial Investment Of $250K
Posted at 10:49am, Tuesday Jun 21, 2011
Adam: But does Apple take 30% of it?
The Ideological Turing Test, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty
Posted at 11:59pm, Monday Jun 20, 2011
tvchurch: This just made me love B. Caplan all the more (and I happen to think he's a bit crazy).

His emphasis on empiricism and methodology of the Karl Popper variety (and is there any other?) is better than most.

Krugman: put up or shut up.
Posted at 11:40pm, Monday Jun 20, 2011
tvchurch: This remains the best bit ever on the Colbert Report.
Thomas Keller on Creativity and Casual vs Fine Dining - Eater Interviews - Eater National
Posted at 5:25pm, Monday Jun 20, 2011
Mike: Thomas Keller is the guy behind Per Se and French Laundry aka Cary's boss.
One in 3 Workers Wants to Leave Job: Mercer - Bloomberg
Posted at 11:30am, Monday Jun 20, 2011
Adam: Yikes. Although maybe part of this is due to higher unemployment: presumably the best employees are the ones who think they're not getting paid enough, and those employees were generally not the ones laid off so they now comprise a larger percentage of the workforce?
Wife Sales: “An Efficiency-Enhancing Institutional Response”
Posted at 11:23am, Monday Jun 20, 2011
tvchurch: Jesus, Pete Leeson can't help himself anymore. He loves to back up ridiculous claims with economics...
Thomas Friedman turns lemonade into lemons
Posted at 11:20am, Monday Jun 20, 2011
tvchurch: Oh boy.
Gaming the library | The Harvard Library Innovation Laboratory
Posted at 7:59pm, Sunday Jun 19, 2011
tvchurch: Love it.
Police dogs can distinguish identical twins
Posted at 2:03pm, Sunday Jun 19, 2011
tvchurch: Whoa, very neat.
Krugman on Favorite Books
Posted at 2:00pm, Sunday Jun 19, 2011
tvchurch: Krugman drives me crazy. And this is why. I used to give Krugman the benefit of the doubt. Good economics often skewed due to his political preferences.

Now, the burden of proof is the other way around. I have to assume he's starting from a political position and injecting economics where necessary.
Paul Krugman picks five books
Posted at 1:57pm, Sunday Jun 19, 2011
tvchurch: Another installment in, "Krugman, are you $%#@! kidding me?

Q: "When I read your book, The Conscience of a Liberal, I came to realise that that purpose is to save the middle-class America you grew up in. Do you feel it’s under threat?"

A: "It’s not under threat – it’s actually largely, but not completely, gone. We’re trying to recapture it. We really have had a tremendous polarisation [in wealth]. People notice it every once in a while and it comes as a huge revelation to them. So for example, in last week’s New York Times, Nicholas Kristof had a column about how maybe we’re turning into Pakistan. It’s clear that we are not at all the relatively equal middle-class society we were, and we’re getting less so. That’s something you want to try to turn around."

Actually, if his worldview really is influenced by the idea that the middle class has largely disappeared and we're facing an America of poor or rich, then his columns make more sense. But really? Middle class gone? You've got to be kidding me.
How About Europe Learning from Mississippi?
Posted at 1:51pm, Sunday Jun 19, 2011
tvchurch: "The European Union as a group ($32,700 GDP per capita in 2010) ranks below America's poorest state, Mississippi ($32,764)."

Wait, what?
President Obama's Views on Gay Marriage 'Evolving' -
Posted at 9:13am, Sunday Jun 19, 2011
Justin: Well, duh.
Republican Senator Says “Fuck It”, Legalize Gay Marriage - Jezebel
Posted at 9:04am, Sunday Jun 19, 2011
Justin: Wow. Nice.
AARP expects Social Security benefit cuts - Jun. 17, 2011
Posted at 4:16pm, Saturday Jun 18, 2011
John: Wowza.
Campaign Finance As A Floor Rather Than A Ceiling | ThinkProgress
Posted at 4:06pm, Saturday Jun 18, 2011
John: Arizona has this style of campaign finance law, and the Supreme Court is hearing a First Amendment challenge this term in McCommish v. Bennet. Chances are that it will be struck down because extra funding is triggered if the opponent spends more money, which the Court will likely see as attaching a "penalty" to the exercise of First Amendment rights. I don't really agree with that result, and I think it perverts the First Amendment, but I'm predicting this will be unconstitutional soon. A law which simply provided the same amount of public support no matter what would have a better chance of surviving, although I'm sure there would still be some votes against it on the Court.
Why Meir Dagan speaks out - JPost - Opinion - Columnists
Posted at 1:54pm, Saturday Jun 18, 2011
tvchurch: Holy shit - that's some heavy stuff.
A Few, Unwitting Agreements about Healthcare
Posted at 1:47pm, Saturday Jun 18, 2011
tvchurch: A very reasonable column on the health care debate, for both sides.
Fourth Circuit Upholds Two-Year Innocent Spouse Limitation Period
Posted at 1:42pm, Saturday Jun 18, 2011
John: I complained before about instances where the IRS pursued individual cases overzealously without considering the systemic consequences and hence ended up winning cases they wish they had lost. These innocent spouse cases are sort of the flip-side to this situation--the IRS has been trying to get some systemic wins on the level of deference their regulations are due, but has been pursuing some truly cruel individual cases in order to do so.

Here's the legal background. If a husband and wife both sign a joint return, then they are each individually liable for the complete amount of any penalties, underpayments, etc. that arise out of that return. However, there are a few exceptions for so-called "innocent spouses." The statute provides three ways of obtaining innocent spouse status:

(1) The spouse had no reason to know about the understatement, it would be inequitable to deny relief, and they filed for relief within 2 years of filing the return.

(2) the spouse is no longer married to the individual who filled out the return, was not living in the same household as them during the year in which the return was filed, and they file for relief within 2 years.

(3) A catch-all: "taking into account all the facts and circumstances, it is inequitable to hold the individual liable for any unpaid tax or any deficiency."

In interpreting the last equitable relief catch-all in its regulations, the IRS applied the 2 year filing requirement from (1) and (2) to the catch-all as well.

The Supreme Court recently redefined the standard of deference due to the IRS in a case called Mayo. The IRS is now trying to find cases that will give them the strongest possible precedent. Therefore, they are seeking out the people who are most deserving of this innocent spouse relief possible but who waited more than 2 years to file for relief; they are vigorously pursuing the claim that their regulation is entitled to deference and that the 2 year requirement is thus strict.

This particular woman had been repeatedly beaten by her spouse. He essentially threatened to beat her again if she did not sign the joint return. Then he skipped out of the country and left her holding the bill. Because she didn't have proper legal advice, she didn't file for innocent spouse relief before 2 years passed. The IRS actually lost in the Tax Court, but the case was overturned on appeal. The IRS has been quite successful with these innocent spouse cases.

Pursuing these cases so vigorously is unnecessary and cruel. Even if they end up dropping the case having gotten the desired precedent, and don't try to collect from the woman, they've put her through multiple rounds of litigation. In light of the less-than-clear-cut statutory language, the IRS certainly could have offered her a generous settlement and made this whole thing go away. Or better yet they could amend their regulation and get rid of the arbitrary two-year cap on what is obviously intended to be a safety valve for cases like this one. If there's anyone who is deserving of a break from the government, it's got to be this woman.
Publications by Googlers
Posted at 7:25pm, Friday Jun 17, 2011
Mike: Haven't had a chance to go through this, but I'm sure there is some really good stuff.
YouTube - Hardly Working: Start-up Guys
Posted at 6:29pm, Friday Jun 17, 2011
tvchurch: Brilliant. Leif, met any dudes like this?
YouTube - Basic Training: How to Make a Bed With Hospital Corners
Posted at 6:07pm, Friday Jun 17, 2011
Drew: If I ever made my bed, it would be using this method to the T.
Reductio Ad Absurdum
Posted at 11:11am, Friday Jun 17, 2011
tvchurch: Harry Potter has killed my ability to read latin phrases. I saw the title of "Reductio ..." and I immediately heard Daniel Radcliff yelling it in my head. » Blog Archive » NPF: INFILTRATION
Posted at 10:38pm, Thursday Jun 16, 2011
tvchurch: 1-2 minutes. Read it and laugh.
JPM Summer Intern Blast Colleagues With Invite To “Wild” Rager With Lax Policy On Fake IDs, Thinks Better Of It, Reminds Everyone Underage Drinking Is Illegal
Posted at 7:22pm, Thursday Jun 16, 2011
Adam: Anyone want to join them?
Rebecca Black Pulls Infamous ‘Friday’ Video From YouTube
Posted at 5:25pm, Thursday Jun 16, 2011
Adam: What??
Writing on the wall in my favorite Bar
Posted at 12:48pm, Thursday Jun 16, 2011
tvchurch: I'm going to start leaving this everywhere.
Senate Republicans Abandon Norquist | The New Republic
Posted at 10:46pm, Wednesday Jun 15, 2011
John: Pleased that 34 Republicans decided to violate the letter of the Norquist pledge. Deeply disappointed that 13 Republicans and 46 Democrats voted to keep this terribly flawed policy.
People Argue Just to Win, Scholars Assert -
Posted at 10:43pm, Wednesday Jun 15, 2011
John: The idea that rationality and truth-seeking are independent was the source of the name of Modulo Truth. I would put a different spin on it than this article does though.
Apple's Retail Secret: Full Service Stores -
Posted at 9:41pm, Wednesday Jun 15, 2011
Adam: It turns out!
Exclusive: Google Nexus 4G detailed - 720p display, 4G LTE, Android 4.0
Posted at 5:15pm, Wednesday Jun 15, 2011
tvchurch: New phone at Thanksgiving? Done.
Beware the headline-writer!
Posted at 1:10pm, Wednesday Jun 15, 2011
tvchurch: "Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrox."

Using that in the future.
Neverending shampoo
Posted at 10:33am, Wednesday Jun 15, 2011
Avi: Oh man this had me in stitches.
YouTube - SWITL Picks Up Semi-Liquid Materials #DigInfo
Posted at 10:22am, Wednesday Jun 15, 2011
Avi: Holy sweet mother of magic. It looks fake. I don't understand. What's happening.
The True Life Confessions of Fleetwood Mac
Posted at 6:25am, Wednesday Jun 15, 2011
Avi: Must-read.
Mobius ships
Posted at 6:24am, Wednesday Jun 15, 2011
Avi: Some of my hobbies are considered a bit odd, but this is just crazy.
GameBoy Color emulator in Javascript
Posted at 6:23am, Wednesday Jun 15, 2011
Avi: Blown away.
Sean Bean 'stabbed outside London pub' | Film & TV News | NME.COM
Posted at 10:54pm, Tuesday Jun 14, 2011
tvchurch: Priorities.
beardpaintings: This is a painting of robots playing...
Posted at 8:23pm, Tuesday Jun 14, 2011
tvchurch: Upon further inspection, "Beard painting" does in fact mean painted using a dude's beard.
The Boehner Ultimatum Makes No Legal Sense
Posted at 8:22pm, Tuesday Jun 14, 2011
tvchurch: Last paragraph. Boom.
Infrastructure Money Should Buy Us Things Worth Having
Posted at 8:22pm, Tuesday Jun 14, 2011
tvchurch: Filed under my 'infrastructure' tag, yet I still don't have a good one line definition of what 'infrastructure' is. The tubes that make up the Internet, maybe?
Document: Syria orchestrated border battles with Israel - Washington Times
Posted at 4:00pm, Tuesday Jun 14, 2011
tvchurch: No kidding.
Editorials | NLRB complaint against Boeing needs critical look | Seattle Times Newspaper
Posted at 12:32pm, Tuesday Jun 14, 2011
tvchurch: I wasn't aware Boeing's plans were this far developed. NLRB is setting itself up to be rebuked.
Print - Father of the Year - Esquire
Posted at 12:02pm, Tuesday Jun 14, 2011
Avi: Profile on Lasseter. I didn't realize how much he heads now. I loved the image of him juggling countless iPads on the way to work to watch submissions.
Disney raises theme park prices for summer -
Posted at 10:36pm, Monday Jun 13, 2011
tvchurch: Exactly. Disney parks have crazy pricing power.
Brier Dudley's Blog | Report: Facebook IPO in early 2012, for $100 billion+ | Seattle Times Newspaper
Posted at 7:42pm, Monday Jun 13, 2011
tvchurch: Bubble trouble. | A foot above
Posted at 5:26pm, Monday Jun 13, 2011
tvchurch: I want him in the Olympics.

Imagine. "In America, we're so good that we don't even need arms to shoot a bow."
Solar’s getting cheaper, fast | Grist
Posted at 3:22pm, Monday Jun 13, 2011
Michael: Solar approaching grid parity... exciting...
Seth's Blog: If you're going to work...
Posted at 11:46am, Monday Jun 13, 2011
tvchurch: Note to self.
I hope this one doesn’t try to murder me
Posted at 11:45am, Monday Jun 13, 2011
tvchurch: Nick is hilarious.
Best news this month
Posted at 11:03am, Monday Jun 13, 2011
tvchurch: "When troops refuse to fire on the people, the revolution wins."


Also, the fall of Assad in Syria would be the biggest geostrategic win for the U.S. in the Middle East in decades.
GOP Debate: Questions For The Field
Posted at 11:01am, Monday Jun 13, 2011
tvchurch: Re: Pawlenty question - the number of citizens with health insurance is not strictly monotonic. I could think of a few scenarios where even the most strident liberal would be okay with a fall in the number of Minnesotans with health insurance.
xkcd: Magic School Bus
Posted at 10:59am, Monday Jun 13, 2011
tvchurch: Terrific misdirection. I laughed hard.
IBM's centenary: The test of time | The Economist
Posted at 12:11am, Monday Jun 13, 2011
tvchurch: Neato. 1-2 minutes.
Government by the ‘experts’ - The Washington Post
Posted at 9:34pm, Sunday Jun 12, 2011
tvchurch: Worth a read. Not good.
The Secret History of Boeing’s Killer Drone
Posted at 12:13pm, Sunday Jun 12, 2011
Avi: I can't remember where I instapaper'd this from a while back, but I saw this on GMSTR and had to share it (mostly for Tom). Very cool Clancy-esque story.

~10 minutes.
The Latest Government Solution to a Non-Problem
Posted at 11:10pm, Saturday Jun 11, 2011
tvchurch: Wow.
The Grover Norquist Ethanol Trap | The New Republic
Posted at 2:56pm, Saturday Jun 11, 2011
John: I'm definitely rooting for Coburn on this one from the politics angle, but beyond that the ethanol tax credit is also absolutely terrible policy. Because ethanol consumption levels are determined by administrative mandate, the subsidy actually goes almost entirely to regular fossil-fuel based gasoline consumption. I just wrote a paper about this, in fact, which should be up on Harvard's website soon.
D0 Decides to be Debbie Downers
Posted at 12:48pm, Saturday Jun 11, 2011
John: :'(
Assorted links
Posted at 6:40pm, Friday Jun 10, 2011
nikhil: #1 will be John's favorite news story of the week
BPS Research Digest: Is it time to rethink the way university lectures are delivered?
Posted at 2:41pm, Friday Jun 10, 2011
tvchurch: < 2 minutes.
The problem isn't on the supply-side - War Room -
Posted at 12:21pm, Friday Jun 10, 2011
tvchurch: This statement is just so mind-boggling to me, I can't comprehend it. Does Robert Reich really think we should ignore the supply side part of economics and only focus on the demand curve? Why go into a boxing match with one hand tied behind your back?
China has joined the club with its first aircraft carrier | Matthew Good | Comment is free |
Posted at 11:57am, Friday Jun 10, 2011
tvchurch: Victor Hanson explained this exact point to our class this Spring. Carrier strike groups are incredible, dominant beasts. And we have 11 of them.
The Other Jobs Indicator
Posted at 11:49am, Friday Jun 10, 2011
tvchurch: I ran into Ed Lazear yesterday in the elevator, post interview. He had this tie untied around his neck. I love my job.
FREAK-est Links
Posted at 11:10am, Friday Jun 10, 2011
tvchurch: #1 - I know I played Halo better with a full bladder. Gave me a sense of urgency.

TMI? Absolutely not. It's SCIENCE!
Newt’s Implosion
Posted at 10:20pm, Thursday Jun 09, 2011
tvchurch: Bonus points for the term "Hitlercare."

I mean, wow.
Justices rule fleeing police is a violent felony -
Posted at 8:44pm, Thursday Jun 09, 2011
John: Sort of a fun 6-3 split. I don't know any others so far where Kagan and Sotomayor come down on opposite sides.

The conclusion of Scalia's dissent was especially rowdy:

We face a Congress that puts forth an ever-increasing volume of laws in general, and of criminal laws in particular. It should be no surprise that as the volume increases,so do the number of imprecise laws. And no surprise that our indulgence of imprecisions that violate the Constitution encourages imprecisions that violate the Constitution. Fuzzy, leave-the-details-to-be-sorted-out-by-the-courts legislation is attractive to the Congressman who wants credit for addressing a national problem but does not have the time (or perhaps the votes) to grapple with the nittygritty. In the field of criminal law, at least, it is time to call a halt. I do not think it would be a radical step—indeed, I think it would be highly responsible—to limit ACCA to the named violent crimes. Congress can quickly add what it wishes. Because the majority prefers to let vagueness reign, I respectfully dissent.
YouTube - SMBC Theater - The Legend of Zelda
Posted at 7:43pm, Thursday Jun 09, 2011
John: For Nikhil
Arriving Early And/Or Staying Late At The Office? Consider Coke Over Coffee As The Responsible Thing To Do
Posted at 3:01pm, Thursday Jun 09, 2011
Adam: Another reason that I don't drink coffee.
AT&T to Offer Free Wi-Fi Web Access in New York City Parks - Bloomberg
Posted at 1:39pm, Thursday Jun 09, 2011
Adam: Sounds promising.
Obama Most Veto-Shy President in More than a Century
Posted at 1:35pm, Thursday Jun 09, 2011
Adam: This is bad analysis: George W. Bush didn't veto a bill until the middle of his second term. But Grover Cleveland's average of a veto every 5 days is pretty amazing.
White House Mulling Employer-Side Payroll Tax Cut As Additional Stimulus Measure
Posted at 11:35am, Thursday Jun 09, 2011
tvchurch: This is what the administration should have done in the first place, back in 2008 with the first stimulus.
YouTube - Best Action Scenes Ever!!! (Indian Robot Endhiran)
Posted at 11:26pm, Wednesday Jun 08, 2011
Mike: Awesome
Employer Costs for Employee Compensation news release text
Posted at 1:13pm, Wednesday Jun 08, 2011
tvchurch: It costs an employer more than 30% above the worker's gross salary to hire that person. Yeesh.
full story (The Confidence Man)
Posted at 10:17am, Wednesday Jun 08, 2011
Avi: Great profile on Lalit Modi, the elusive guy who put the IPL together.
Assorted links
Posted at 11:00pm, Tuesday Jun 07, 2011
nikhil: 5. coooool
Shoot an Elephant, Save a Community | Hoover Institution
Posted at 4:14pm, Tuesday Jun 07, 2011
tvchurch: Property rights are an amazing thing.
Z on TV: Jon Stewart: Weinergate has not been his finest hour - TV show critic David Zurawik on the show business, culture and craziness of television -
Posted at 2:32pm, Tuesday Jun 07, 2011
tvchurch: This has always been my biggest criticism of Jon Stewart - whom I have always enjoyed watching, for the record. But when he's wrong and called on it, he claims he doesn't have to be responsible because he's a comedian. He's more than that.
Semi Precious Weapons - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 12:25am, Tuesday Jun 07, 2011
Adam: Continuing the Lady Gaga theme, these guys deserve a share.
Schumpeter: The angel and the monster | The Economist
Posted at 12:23am, Tuesday Jun 07, 2011
Adam: This is a little ridiculous, but I will say that the Lady Gaga concert I attended was absolutely fascinating from a sociological perspective. It felt like a religious revival for the excluded of society (i.e. "monsters"), with Gaga fighting off the demons of insecurity and materialism to basically become the patron saint of inclusion.
Security is Mathematics
Posted at 12:12am, Tuesday Jun 07, 2011
tvchurch: For James, ~ 2-3 minutes.

Agree, except for the last line about sending people to math school for for years. Feels haphazardly thrown in.
Mysterious number 6174 |
Posted at 10:02pm, Monday Jun 06, 2011
tvchurch: Mind boggling.
How US health care reform will affect employee benefits - McKinsey Quarterly - Health Care - Strategy & Analysis
Posted at 9:38pm, Monday Jun 06, 2011
John: Does anyone have a subscription?
Firms halting coverage as reform starts: survey - MarketWatch
Posted at 5:33pm, Monday Jun 06, 2011
tvchurch: This is not good. Not good at all.
If 12 SEC Coaches Are Against It, It Can't Be All Bad
Posted at 3:24pm, Monday Jun 06, 2011
tvchurch: Brian's recent use of "HOWEVA" has been cracking me up.
Grover Norquist Is The Most Powerful Force Blocking Spending Cuts And Tax Reform
Posted at 12:54pm, Monday Jun 06, 2011
tvchurch: Norquist! Relent a bit. Come on now.
Global Commission on Drug Policy: ho, hum
Posted at 12:48pm, Monday Jun 06, 2011
tvchurch: Essential post to read if you pay attention to drug policy. Mark Kleiman is on the left and a name I trust on drug policy.
Specialists Aim to Simplify the Online-Ad Landscape -
Posted at 7:21pm, Sunday Jun 05, 2011
Chip: Silber, James...
RealClearPolitics - Courageous Decisions
Posted at 3:28pm, Sunday Jun 05, 2011
tvchurch: Hooyah.
Econ 101 and it’s exceptions: old wisdom from Will Wilkinson
Posted at 3:06pm, Sunday Jun 05, 2011
tvchurch: Will Wilkinson is one of those writers who consistently write with great clarity. Must emulate.
Check Your Science IQ
Posted at 2:57pm, Sunday Jun 05, 2011
tvchurch: 12 for 12. Electron question was the only one I had to think about.
The North Korean global happiness index
Posted at 2:53pm, Sunday Jun 05, 2011
tvchurch: Yet ANOTHER index they're beating us in. We need to satisfy the glorious socialist overlords to be happier!
New College of Humanities Set to Put the Cat Amongst the Pigeons |
Posted at 1:28pm, Sunday Jun 05, 2011
John: What a freakin' faculty.
S.F. Exempts Stock Options From 1.5% Payroll Tax in Bid to Keep High Tech Firms
Posted at 1:14pm, Sunday Jun 05, 2011
John: I believe I predicted this would happen several months ago on Reader.
Richard Scarry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 11:47am, Sunday Jun 05, 2011
John: Happy birthday!
Does this technique reliably increase your fluid intelligence?
Posted at 11:33am, Sunday Jun 05, 2011
nikhil: this should be an olympic sport
Posted at 1:44am, Sunday Jun 05, 2011
tvchurch: Continuing the reasons why Foxtrot has been my favorite comic since I could read.
Anyone Familiar with Project Euler?
Posted at 1:42am, Sunday Jun 05, 2011
tvchurch: No way. James, Ken Anderson is referencing your piece. Terrific!

By the way, he's a very, very smart guy. On the lawfulness of drone attacks, he's one of the best.
Costco - Shelf Reliance THRIVE™ 1-year Supply Dehydrated & Freeze-Dried Food For 1 Person
Posted at 12:24am, Sunday Jun 05, 2011
tvchurch: America. Seriously, food for a year for $1,000. What? #FirstWorldProblems
The Demagoguing of Medicare Reform
Posted at 6:56pm, Saturday Jun 04, 2011
John: I guess I read a strange set of sources because I see this pointed out all the time. The difference is in how the level of the premium support is determined.

Under the PPACA, the level of support in any exchange is determined through a competitive bidding process. You look to the second cheapest plan in a particular exchange that provides certain level of coverage designated as "silver" coverage. Then you receive support such that you could purchase that plan and not spend more than x% of your own annual income, where x is determined by where you are relative to the poverty line.

Under Ryan's plan the level of premium support is determined by formula. In 2022, support is set so that 65 year olds will receive $8,000, which is approximately the average amount that 65 year olds are projected to receive under current law. After 2022, this number increases in proportion to inflation as determined by the Consumer Price Index.

Assuming that health care costs continue to grow at rates much higher than inflation. According to the CBO, per capita health spending grew at a real (after inflation) rate of 4.9% from 1965 to 2005. While the PPACA premium support would track this growth reasonably well (there could be some discrepancies between growth in premium support and growth in per capita health spending depending on how generous "silver" plans are compared to average usage of health care), Ryan's plan will fall behind this rate of growth by about 5% each year. If we had the same growth from 2022 to 2062 as we had from 1965 to 2005, the premium support provided under a PPACA competitive bidding system would be about 6 or 7 times higher than under a Ryan inflation-growth system. In other words, seniors would only be able to afford about one sixth of the health care in 2062 that they would be able to afford now. That's why people are upset at the plan for shifting costs onto seniors.

Now Ryan says that his plan will lower growth rates, and it may to some degree. You would expect that placing the costs of receiving health care on the decision maker will constrain growth to a certain degree. But we have plans that do just this right now under Medicare part C, the so-called Advantage Care plans, and they too have seen per capita spending growth rates significantly above inflation (about 2 to 3 percent real growth). Even if we assume real growth of only 2% from 2022 to 2062 (I think most health care experts see this as wildly optimistic), seniors will still receive less than half the support in 2062 that they do in 2022.

Mankiw does have a point here. There is a viable system of Medicare privatization that would look something like PPACA, probably with a public option, that would cover seniors and people who cannot get health insurance through their employers (or ideally dismantle the employer-provided system as well). I think it's still somewhat doubtful that this would be enough to hold down cost growth, but it's possible. In any event, that is not what Ryan's plan is.
The Global War on Drugs has Failed
Posted at 12:24pm, Saturday Jun 04, 2011
nikhil: compelling, and very well typeset
Adapting the Eye: An Archive of the British in India, 1770–1830 |
Posted at 5:46pm, Friday Jun 03, 2011
Chip: My sister's exhibition :) !
Posted at 11:53am, Friday Jun 03, 2011
tvchurch: We need to bring that sort of thing back...
Low-Cost Instructional Changes Can Cut Achievement Gap in Intro Biology, Scholars Say - Faculty - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Posted at 11:50am, Friday Jun 03, 2011
tvchurch: Forcing kids to put what they know into words, both verbal and written. Works wonders.
Groupon IPO: Growth Rate Is 2,241%
Posted at 9:02pm, Thursday Jun 02, 2011
John: Obviously the bulk of world GDP in 2014 will be Groupon revenue.
Lucas on the Great Recession
Posted at 8:20pm, Thursday Jun 02, 2011
John: The slides are really good. I do agree with much of what he says. I disagree somewhat with his reasons of why recovery was slow in 1930's and now, e.g. I don't think that the PPACA "promises [a] large increase increase in [the] role of government," but I think he did a good job quickly stating and comparing the causes of decline. It's a pretty clear presentation too.
A Great Moment in Punditry
Posted at 12:00pm, Thursday Jun 02, 2011
tvchurch: This guy seems legit.

Zaky: Apple’s Cash to Exceed $300 Billion by 2015
Posted at 11:23am, Thursday Jun 02, 2011
Avi: "So if Apple grows 0.00%, then by 2015, it will have more cash per share than the stock is trading at today."

Something is seriously broken.
Shiny by WinterArtwork - $10
Posted at 11:21am, Thursday Jun 02, 2011
Avi: I want!

I love the hilarious 'shop to the models.
Nemo Documents Displays Your Files in an Incredibly Intuitive Calendar View [Download Of The Day]
Posted at 11:02am, Thursday Jun 02, 2011
Avi: Absolutely ingenious. I wish I had this idea. I want a Mac version.
How to be a Rock Critic & Here’s How []
Posted at 10:59am, Thursday Jun 02, 2011
Avi: Hilarious. Check the date as well.

Short. 7 min.
Story of the Tokelau Teenagers Lost in the Ocean for 51 Days: Newsmakers: GQ
Posted at 10:59am, Thursday Jun 02, 2011
Avi: Must-read.

Don't remember, but ~12min.
Adam Winkler: The Founding Fathers' "Individual Mandate"
Posted at 6:07pm, Wednesday Jun 01, 2011
John: This is actually a very powerful argument. I'm surprised I hadn't heard about it earlier.
Huntsman In 2007: ‘I’m Comfortable’ With Individual Mandate, Would ‘Make System More Efficient’ | ThinkProgress
Posted at 4:43pm, Wednesday Jun 01, 2011
Justin: For John.
'Schalit's kidnappers are 'dying in unfortunat... JPost - Defense
Posted at 4:26pm, Wednesday Jun 01, 2011
tvchurch: Holy crap.
The Contribution of Behavioral Economics to Political Science - Annual Review of Political Science, 14(1):201
Posted at 1:00pm, Wednesday Jun 01, 2011
tvchurch: Looking forward to reading this, and keeping it tagged under "Behavioral Economics."
Unverified Voracity All About Obviously
Posted at 12:24pm, Wednesday Jun 01, 2011
tvchurch: The Daniel Tosh MSU video at the end.
Senior Citizens Lining Up to Tackle Fukushima
Posted at 1:59am, Wednesday Jun 01, 2011
John: Jesus.
PrawfsBlawg: Women in the Profession: More Data for Bill
Posted at 1:04am, Wednesday Jun 01, 2011
John: This is a good question to be asking, and a worrying chart. I wonder if the data is presented in a way that somewhat exaggerates the problem. You can see the data presented in another way here:

My tendency would be to ask the question: "Why is the number of men applying to law school increasing slightly while the number of women applying to law school is staying essentially unchanged?"
Airplane annoyance leads to brouhaha in skies over D.C. - The Washington Post
Posted at 11:52pm, Tuesday May 31, 2011
tvchurch: Definitely the most interesting part of the story. 16,700 gallons!
Bits and Pieces
Posted at 11:47pm, Tuesday May 31, 2011
tvchurch: Good stuff Arms. Way to motivate me!
Bubble, Bailout, and Cover-Up
Posted at 11:29pm, Tuesday May 31, 2011
tvchurch: This is an important point.
We Don’t Accept That Card Anymore
Posted at 11:11pm, Tuesday May 31, 2011
tvchurch: The GOP needs a one-liner and an elevator speech for selling their Medicare plan.
Assorted links
Posted at 4:01pm, Tuesday May 31, 2011
tvchurch: #5 seems worrying for academics.
The Warden's Exit
Posted at 12:02pm, Tuesday May 31, 2011
tvchurch: Please watch the GIF. EVERYBODY GETS A CAR!
Wanna Bet?
Posted at 11:51am, Tuesday May 31, 2011
tvchurch: Honestly, I'd be willing to make that wager too. But I don't have $10,000.
Getting over embarrassment in order to get things done | | ProtoShare BlogProtoShare Blog
Posted at 11:32am, Tuesday May 31, 2011
tvchurch: Arms, we've talked about this, haven't we?

New mantra: Iterate, iterate, iterate.

Catchy, isn't it?
How to send and reply to email
Posted at 12:16am, Tuesday May 31, 2011
tvchurch: Good points.
RÉSONAANCES: CDF: Wjj bump almost 5 sigma!!!
Posted at 9:23pm, Monday May 30, 2011
John: Update.
Bezoar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 8:24pm, Monday May 30, 2011
Justin: Check out the second paragraph in History. I wish I could get IRB approval for an experiment like that.
First Person: New date for Doomsday
Posted at 1:50pm, Monday May 30, 2011
John: This really makes me not like the guy.
President Obama gifted The Witcher 2 from Polish Prime Minister
Posted at 1:32pm, Monday May 30, 2011
John: Lucky duck. I'm sure he has Boot Camp.
Op-Ed Contributors: Why Medical School Should Be Free
Posted at 11:19pm, Sunday May 29, 2011
John: Justin, what do you think about this idea?
Daniels Insists He Could Have Beaten Obama
Posted at 4:46pm, Sunday May 29, 2011
John: Not to be a Daniels fanboy, but this is the second time I've seen this hyped up by a ridiculous headline. Christiane Amanpour asked him if he thought he could have won in an interview. He didn't go out of his way to volunteer this opinion. And "no one can know" is pretty light on the "insist[ence]." How was he supposed to answer the question: "No, Christiane, I would have been creamed"?
Rep. Kriesel's Full Speech On Gay Marriage, Bucking The GOP | The UpTake on
Posted at 4:27pm, Sunday May 29, 2011
John: Pretty powerful stuff from a guy who's not exactly a seasoned public speaker.
Progressive Blog Digest: a daily must-read
Posted at 1:51pm, Sunday May 29, 2011
tvchurch: Mark Kleiman is like the Paul Krugman of crime issues. Terrific on substance relating to his scholarly research. Awful on political affairs. I say that because I read this post and immediately thought, 1) That's laughably wrong, and 2) JournoList. For more on JournoList, see the Wiki page: (

That idea that one side of the political spectrum is more open to ideas is also quite laughable. Ideology is ideology; it has the same effect on cognitive bias regardless of which the side of the aisle you identify yourself with.
Ads Implant False Memories | Wired Science |
Posted at 1:39pm, Sunday May 29, 2011
John: Cool.
Assorted links
Posted at 10:16am, Sunday May 29, 2011
nikhil: 1. is good in general
Badass of the Week: Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart
Posted at 11:37am, Saturday May 28, 2011
tvchurch: "The pilot of Gordon and Shughart's Black Hawk first attempted to land right next to the crash site of Super Six-Four, but the LZ was too hot � a flood of small arms fire, RPGs, and an excess of ground debris and fire made insertion impossible. So instead of putting down in the middle of the action, Gordon and Shughart jumped from the hovering helicopter 100 meters from the crash site, getting boots on the ground just seconds before an RPG smashed into the Black Hawk, blowing the door gunner's leg off and severely injuring many of the crew (in a related tale of impossible badassitude, the pilot of this Black Hawk ended up flying the bird home with a bullet in his shoulder and his co-pilot unconscious). The two Delta snipers moved quickly through the shanties of the neighborhood, fighting the enemy solely with their rifles and pistols. Before long, they'd fought through the streets to reach the clearing where the smoking hulk of Super Six-Four lay motionless."

The posts on this site have been excellent every single time. 100% success rate on posting - that's impressive.
Bryant Park | Calendar
Posted at 7:19pm, Friday May 27, 2011
Mike: Let's check some of these out
Advice for the Recently Tenured
Posted at 4:40pm, Friday May 27, 2011
tvchurch: Made me chuckle.
Tyler Cowen, America's Hottest Economist - BusinessWeek
Posted at 3:17pm, Friday May 27, 2011
Justin: Smartypants.
Senior Deutsche Bank Employee Didn’t Know You Couldn’t Bring Guns On An Airplane
Posted at 12:36pm, Friday May 27, 2011
Adam: That doesn't sound like a new kind of fun.
Profile of Tyler
Posted at 11:44am, Friday May 27, 2011
tvchurch: Honestly, this piece gets me motivated.
Once Again, We Cannot Pay For Social Security By Ending the Bush Tax Cuts on High Earners
Posted at 11:33am, Friday May 27, 2011
tvchurch: Wow. That's what you call a smack down in the policy world.
World's best Tetris player
Posted at 3:26am, Friday May 27, 2011
Avi: Seen this video many times, but it's still just absolutely ridiculous.

The five minute mark play is probably (under those conditions) at 80th percentile in terms of quality of play.
On the Floor Laughing
Posted at 3:03am, Friday May 27, 2011
Avi: This was an unexpected surprise.
‘The Tree of Life,’ From Terrence Malick - Review -
Posted at 11:44pm, Thursday May 26, 2011
Chip: More great writing from A.O. Scott. Really looking forward to seeing this movie.
Deutsche Bank Employees Might Want To Avoid Cafeteria Fare For The Time Being « Dealbreaker: A Wall Street Tabloid – Business News Headlines and Financial Gossip
Posted at 11:26pm, Thursday May 26, 2011
John: Nikhil?
The dying of the light - Roger Ebert's Journal
Posted at 11:04pm, Thursday May 26, 2011
tvchurch: There's got to be a simple fix for this...
YouTube - 國小個人舞台賽第一名
Posted at 10:20pm, Thursday May 26, 2011
John: This might be even more impressive than these things usually are.
Dogfish Head planning 3-yr $45 mil expansion, investment by top craft brewers may exceed $250 mil
Posted at 9:18pm, Thursday May 26, 2011
John: Lots of good news here.
World's best Tetris player
Posted at 9:07pm, Thursday May 26, 2011
John: Skip ahead to 4:30 or so and watch to the end once you watch a bit of the beginning.
World's best Tetris player
Posted at 9:07pm, Thursday May 26, 2011
John: Skip ahead to 4:30 or so and watch to the end once you watch a bit of the beginning.
New York City in Black & White
Posted at 9:03pm, Thursday May 26, 2011
John: Bread looks so good..and I'd never seen the old Penn Station.
Edward James Olmos joins ‘Dexter’
Posted at 8:54pm, Thursday May 26, 2011
John: BOOSH!
IBM’s Watson Now A Second-Year Med Student - Bruce Upbin - Tradigital - Forbes
Posted at 5:48pm, Thursday May 26, 2011
tvchurch: So cool. The medical device they use in Star Trek will be a reality.
Pawlenty's pace picks up - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Posted at 12:36pm, Thursday May 26, 2011
tvchurch: I'm pretty okay with T-Paw.
Extended Mind
Posted at 1:06am, Thursday May 26, 2011
John: I tried the scrollover text thing with but I didn't get very far.
Google Correlate lets you see how your data relates to search queries
Posted at 10:00pm, Wednesday May 25, 2011
nikhil: sweeeeeeeeeet
Tim Pawlenty's crusade for truth
Posted at 1:42pm, Wednesday May 25, 2011
tvchurch: "Mr Pawlenty's delivery was hardly electrifying, but then he works hard not to appear too exciting. Graced with the sober mien of the Minnesotan male, Mr Pawlenty calls to mind the old joke about the Norwegian farmer who loved his wife so much he told her. Conor Friedersdorf, having endured Mr Pawlenty's campaign bio, "The Courage to Stand", suggests the book might be more aptly titled "Well Adjusted Man From Loving Family Is Hardworking, Unlikely To Do Anything Terribly Objectionable". David Weigel observes that Mr Pawlenty's soporific reputation is so well-entrenched that "He's actually had to field questions about how boring he is." So Monday's big moment demanded a dramatic gesture to grab the attention of the yawning political media, and Mr Pawlenty delivered. He called for the end of ethanol subsidies in Iowa, to a crowd of Iowans, which is a bit like dropping your trousers before a congregation of octogenarian Mennonites."

What a terrific paragraph.

If Pawlenty is nominated, at this point I'm pretty happy. He's not a rabble-rouser and he's not prone to ridiculous statements - yet. This is politics we're talking about...
Ready to Erase Whiteboards, IdeaPaint Lands 1,700 Lowe’s Stores - Bloomberg
Posted at 12:11pm, Wednesday May 25, 2011
Adam: For the new apartment?
Darlin' (band) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 10:38pm, Tuesday May 24, 2011
Mike: Cool tidbit
OECD Better Life Initiative
Posted at 8:58pm, Tuesday May 24, 2011
John: Fun.
Tagxedo - Shop
Posted at 5:22pm, Tuesday May 24, 2011
tvchurch: For James, Avi, Leif - very cool.
Greek fire
Posted at 11:34am, Tuesday May 24, 2011
tvchurch: In the Harry Potter universe, I believe this is caused by the spell, "Fiendfyre."

Hahaha, yeah, I looked that up.
The Associated Press: Tax cheats among recipients of stimulus money
Posted at 12:25am, Tuesday May 24, 2011
tvchurch: Filed under: to be expected.

You put up that much money, people are going to jump through hoops to get it. And without an established system (institution) for compliance, there are bound to be inefficiencies.
12% of Americans Are Immigrants, But the Top 70% of Science Students Are Children of Immigrants
Posted at 10:41pm, Monday May 23, 2011
tvchurch: Whoa.

I like it.
California prisoner release
Posted at 9:33pm, Monday May 23, 2011
tvchurch: Last paragraph - absolutely.
TaxProf Blog: Most (Penn, Harvard) & Least (Johns Hopkins, Texas A&M) Productive Faculties
Posted at 8:21pm, Monday May 23, 2011
John: Woot.
Strong Dollar = Strong Economy ?
Posted at 8:19pm, Monday May 23, 2011
John: Christy really does it home with this one--maybe she's pleased to be back in academia where truth-telling is goal number one. She particularly hits stride at the end:

"Fed policy is determined by inflation and unemployment in the United States. But if Mr. Bernanke could discuss the exchange rate openly, he would probably tell you that one way any monetary expansion helps a distressed economy is by weakening the dollar. That is taught in every introductory economics course, yet the Fed is asked to pretend it isn’t true.

Likewise, fiscal policy is determined by domestic considerations. But trimming our budget deficit, as we should over the coming years, would also weaken the dollar. And that, in turn, would blunt the negative impact of deficit reduction on employment and output in the short run.

STRANGELY, every politician seems to understand that it would be desirable for the dollar to weaken against one particular currency: the Chinese renminbi. For years, China has deliberately accumulated United States Treasury bonds to keep the dollar’s value high in renminbi terms. The United States would export more and grow faster if China allowed the dollar’s price to fall. Congress routinely threatens retaliation if China doesn’t take steps that amount to weakening the dollar.

But in the very next breath, the same members of Congress shout about the importance of a strong dollar. If a decline in its value relative to the renminbi would be beneficial, a fall relative to the currency of many countries would help even more in the current situation.

To say this openly risks being branded not just an extremist but possibly un-American. Perhaps it is time for a more adult conversation. The exchange rate is the purview of market economics, not of the Treasury or strong-dollar ideologues."
Do Marginal Tax Rates Matter? - Megan McArdle - Business - The Atlantic
Posted at 1:03am, Monday May 23, 2011
John: McArdle is right on with this one.
Should the Milwaukee Art Museum protest Ai Weiwei's detention? - JSOnline
Posted at 4:55pm, Friday May 20, 2011
Chip: Good overview of the issues here
The End Of Blippy As We Know It
Posted at 12:15pm, Friday May 20, 2011
Chip: When I first read about Blippy I thought it was a really stupid idea. I'm glad to see the world has only gone partially insane re LinkedIn.
Posted at 12:04pm, Friday May 20, 2011
John: Good article by a Steptoe partner about the political prospects for international tax reform.

The article talks about a couple great ideas that I hadn't heard about before that help mitigate the problem, which I discussed with Justin earlier, with having corporate marginal tax rates significantly lower than the top individual marginal tax rates:

"Additional revenue might be found using various ‘‘backstop’’ reform measures that would be designed to prevent a significantly reduced corporate tax rate from facilitating avoidance of the individual income tax. Those measures would be highly desirable under the Wyden-Coats plan even with a 24 percent rate, or under any other reform plan that would reduce the corporate rate to a level
significantly below the maximum individual rate. In particular, to prevent the use of corporations as incorporated pocketbooks, interest and portfolio
income of corporations (including dividends on portfolio stock) should be taxed at a rate similar to that of the highest individual marginal tax rate, with exceptions provided for regulatory reserves of banks and insurance companies. Also, to prevent the shifting of income to personal service corporations, income derived from the personal services of a shareholder or a related party should be taxed at the maximum individual rate. These measures would not be designed primarily to raise revenue, but it nevertheless seems likely that they would
generate revenue, and in amounts that might prove significant."

I don't think these proposals would completely eliminate the use of closely held corporations as, essentially, tax shelters for their shareholders, but it could take out a big chunk of the problem. There's also some cost in added complexity, but that's usually the price you pay for anti-avoidance rules.
The stars of modern SF pick the best science fiction | Books | The Guardian
Posted at 6:00pm, Thursday May 19, 2011
tvchurch: And this is just the first volume of three.
LinkedIn (LNKD) Unbelievable Price - $100
Posted at 5:57pm, Thursday May 19, 2011
tvchurch: Absurd.
Amazon Now Selling More Kindle Books Than Print Books
Posted at 5:57pm, Thursday May 19, 2011
tvchurch: Whoa.
On TermKit | Steven Wittens -
Posted at 7:10am, Thursday May 19, 2011
Avi: Tried to install this, but I just gave up in the end. I think the idea is absolutely brilliant. I love me some bash, my bashrc is hundreds of lines long and I'm very comfortable in it, but this is a step in the right direction.

The amount of flak this guy is getting is almost as surprising as his incredibly reasonable responses to every criticism.
Charles Barkley: In sports, ability to play should outweigh sexual orientation - The Washington Post
Posted at 2:40am, Thursday May 19, 2011
John: Best thing the Round Mound has done since swinging a golf club.
Sentences to ponder
Posted at 5:48pm, Wednesday May 18, 2011
tvchurch: Neat paper. If, however, there were only 40 Republican professors identified, I'd be wary of making any statements about Republican professors. That's a small N.
A Romney we can respect - The Boston Globe
Posted at 1:41pm, Wednesday May 18, 2011
tvchurch: Hahahaha
Charges Against the N.S.A.’s Thomas Drake : The New Yorker
Posted at 3:31am, Wednesday May 18, 2011
Avi: Eerie.

Very long read. Forgot when I started, but at least fifteen minutes.
YouTube - Wiwi Kuan: Google Translate Song
Posted at 9:08pm, Tuesday May 17, 2011
John: Like a Taiwanese GlaDos.
A Rare Win For Venture Investors In Regenerative Medicine
Posted at 9:05pm, Tuesday May 17, 2011
John: Diabetic foot ulcer treatment--helluva business.
Coburn Out: Is this The End For The Gang of Six?
Posted at 5:36pm, Tuesday May 17, 2011
John: Coburn was the only Republican who was talking sanely about long-term deficit reduction. Large scale reform is dead for now. We'll probably just see some more short-term cuts with a negligible impact on any of the real problems.
Charges Against the N.S.A.’s Thomas Drake : The New Yorker
Posted at 4:05pm, Tuesday May 17, 2011
tvchurch: Hell of a read.
GOP Field Looking More Mainstream
Posted at 12:34pm, Tuesday May 17, 2011
tvchurch: If Pawlenty, Huntsman, and Daniels are the only three legit GOP candidates left over, we're in great shape. (Compared to other candidates) I approve of all three.

Now, let's get one of them past the primaries, and put Condi Rice at VP.
The offshore bias in U.S. manufacturing
Posted at 12:27pm, Tuesday May 17, 2011
tvchurch: "In terms of income distribution, think of these rents as going to those individuals and institutions which are good at managing international supply chains. That’s a relatively small number of people. A lot of the offshoring is enabled by an innovation — the internet — which really does boost productivity but not in a way which much helps the median U.S. wage."

That's something I've got to keep in mind, even if the effect doesn't completely negate increases in median wages.
Reflections on Gifted Programs, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty
Posted at 12:08am, Tuesday May 17, 2011
tvchurch: The link is to Jeffrey Smith of the University of Michigan. I couldn't help but notice that he co-wrote a lot of papers with Jim Heckman. Solid.
Economic Enlightenment Revisited: New Results Again Find Little Relationship Between Education and Economic Enlightenment but Vitiate Prior Evidence of the Left Being Worse · Econ Journal Watch: Economic enlightenment, college education, economic education, schooling
Posted at 9:51pm, Monday May 16, 2011
John: I think I predicted this result in Reader back when the original survey was reported on.
Are Oil Prices a Threat to the U.S. Economy?
Posted at 7:55pm, Monday May 16, 2011
tvchurch: "real output is now above its pre-recession level, U.S. oil consumption is 2 million bbls. per day below pre-recession levels."

Oh, neat?
What about the economy keeps Larry Summers in cold sweats at night?
Posted at 1:24pm, Monday May 16, 2011
tvchurch: James: This is like asking Larry Summers, "What are you worried about?"

If the Earth Stood Still - What Would Happen if the Earth Stopped Spinning?
Posted at 6:36am, Monday May 16, 2011
Avi: Fascinating reading.

<5 min.
Samoa time jumps forward by a day
Posted at 3:15am, Monday May 16, 2011
John: Money value of time.
America’s Most Isolated Federal Prisoner Describes 10,220 Days in Extreme Solitary Confinement « Solitary Watch
Posted at 10:43pm, Sunday May 15, 2011
Justin: I have no doubt whatsoever that this qualifies as both "torture" and "cruel and unusual punishment." I've long been horrified by extreme solitary confinement. I really struggled even to read to the end of this description.
America’s Most Isolated Federal Prisoner Describes 10,220 Days in Extreme Solitary Confinement « Solitary Watch
Posted at 10:43pm, Sunday May 15, 2011
Justin: I have no doubt whatsoever that this qualifies as both "torture" and "cruel and unusual punishment." I've long been horrified by extreme solitary confinement. I really struggled even to read to the end of this description.
This Weekend, Don’t Let These Amateurs Put You To Shame
Posted at 7:07pm, Sunday May 15, 2011
nikhil: this explains my black eye. also can someone spot me rent next month?
The Trickle-Down Stimulus
Posted at 12:56pm, Sunday May 15, 2011
tvchurch: "So the stimulus was the left's version of 'trickle-down economics?'"

Another Sign Manufacturing Leads Recovery: Mich. Could Collect $1Billion in Extra Taxes in 2011-2012
Posted at 12:55pm, Sunday May 15, 2011
tvchurch: Go Rick Snyder!
Assorted links
Posted at 12:47pm, Sunday May 15, 2011
tvchurch: Also, #5 is why Chris Blattman is the man.
Assorted links
Posted at 12:45pm, Sunday May 15, 2011
tvchurch: #1 - Calling them "super immigrants" is genius political maneuvering, worthy of Frank Luntz.
Margaret Spellings vs. Mitch Daniels: Ms. Hubris vs. Mr. Humble : Education Next
Posted at 12:33pm, Sunday May 15, 2011
tvchurch: I'm definitely a right-of-center think tank type. Good description.
Henry Kissinger on the China Challenge -
Posted at 12:19pm, Sunday May 15, 2011
tvchurch: Oh yeah, that's why he's Henry Kissinger...

The third of three sections is the most interesting for IR analysis.

~8-10 minute read, but only 2-5 if you read the last section. It gives a solid basis for thinking about Sino-US relations.
Trouble at the IMF
Posted at 10:11am, Sunday May 15, 2011
Adam: This is nuts.
Yglesias » Limits On The Federal Government’s Power To Regulate Commerce
Posted at 4:52pm, Saturday May 14, 2011
John: I think this is embarrassingly wrong because it shows he just isn't paying any attention to the legal arguments that he's weighing in on. First, his examples are unconstitutional not because they fall outside of the enumerated powers of Congress but because they run afoul of independent limits set by other parts of the Constitution. The point of the legal argument is not that Congress could do anything it wanted; it's that it doesn't make much sense to enumerate powers if one of them is so big that it covers everything. Second, the argument that the mandate falls outside of the Commerce Clause power is not an argument about the "methods" by which the government regulates the national economy. Opponents argue that it is not regulation of economic activity at all but a regulation of people just for existing because it makes them go and buy something they don't want. Finally, obviously there is no "dispute over whether or not congress has the authority to regulate the national economy." The power is the power to "regulate Commerce . . . among the several States." The long standing argument is about the scope of the power to regulate the national economy, not about whether congress has the authority to regulate it in the first place.
Russia restaurant fact of the day
Posted at 4:50pm, Saturday May 14, 2011
tvchurch: If you make something hard to do...
Chapman on Inflation
Posted at 4:43pm, Saturday May 14, 2011
tvchurch: Important point: gas prices are driven by world markets as well as domestic policies.

More important point: I have a sneaking suspicion most of our indices were created when the effect that the international market had on our domestic market was small. I'll be developing that hypothesis at Hoover.
Raising The Social Security Retirement Age Is Incredibly Regressive
Posted at 4:39pm, Saturday May 14, 2011
tvchurch: Novel idea. I've got to build this into how I look at Social Security fixes now.

And that's why you read people whose ideology you disagree with.
“What are you worried about?”
Posted at 4:37pm, Saturday May 14, 2011
tvchurch: Classic James post. I am armed with Armsisms.

Har har.
How Remarkable is the Netflix Move into Streaming?
Posted at 4:31pm, Saturday May 14, 2011
tvchurch: Always wondered what Netflix's bandwidth costs were. Now I know!
*The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life*
Posted at 4:29pm, Saturday May 14, 2011
tvchurch: Harold Bloom is a trip. I read his book Genius ( the summer after my freshman year in college. I think I was only capable of appreciating about 5% of the book.

I like Cowen's point in the last paragraph.
A Veteran of SEAL Team Six Describes His Training
Posted at 3:23pm, Saturday May 14, 2011
tvchurch: Just, amazing.
Lockitron Lets You Unlock Your Door With Your Phone
Posted at 10:56pm, Friday May 13, 2011
tvchurch: 99% sure James named this company...
Candy desk
Posted at 10:25pm, Friday May 13, 2011
tvchurch: Ha! Love this little bit of trivia. They all eat and smoke in the chambers...
Ugly American (epithet)
Posted at 10:20pm, Friday May 13, 2011
tvchurch: A phenomenal book, by the way. I've heard the movie with Brando is also well worth the watch.
Demography: ...isn't destiny, one hopes | The Economist
Posted at 5:27pm, Friday May 13, 2011
Adam: I think some of these projections are nuts...they underestimate the mean reversion that will occur in fertility rates.

On a related note, there should be futures markets in population. There are tons of reasons people would want to use them for hedging.
The Judicial Power of the Purse: How Courts Fund National Defense in Times of Crisis, Staudt
Posted at 7:14am, Friday May 13, 2011
John: Interesting stuff.
No More Good Eats: Alton Brown Ends Show
Posted at 4:24am, Friday May 13, 2011
Yglesias » Taxing The Rich And Economic Growth
Posted at 9:05pm, Thursday May 12, 2011
John: These numbers are fundamentally misleading. What they leave out is the top marginal rate paid by corporations and the portion of what is essentially individual income but which is held in corporate form. Prior to 1986, top corporate rates were drastically lower than individual rates and provided the greatest tax shelter in history. While individuals would have to pay a tax on money they took out of their closely held corporations through dividends, they were able to earn investment income on money in corporate form at these drastically lower rates, and that income, and the corresponding decrease in effective tax rate, doesn't show up in the second chart because it was technically earned by the corporate person. These figures are basically imaginary, and liberals should be aware of that rather than wishing away actual tradeoffs between progressive taxation and economic growth.
Governor Mitch Daniels: The Most Reasonable Republican Who Might Run In 2012? | The New Republic
Posted at 7:48pm, Thursday May 12, 2011
John: Is it telling that all of the examples Kazin manages to muster are from the last three months or so except for allusions to Koch brothers' conspiracies? Kazin seems mostly ignorant of Daniels' pre-2011 record. He's right insofar as Daniels is now moving fairly swiftly rightwards, but as he himself points out, that's necessarily going to be true of anyone running for the Republican presidential nomination.
The quality of muddling
Posted at 7:25pm, Thursday May 12, 2011
John: I'm not on board with everything here, but some interesting thoughts.
Posted at 7:22pm, Thursday May 12, 2011
Chip: Smallest 7-11 in Japan
Alton Brown calls an end to 'Good Eats' -
Posted at 11:54pm, Wednesday May 11, 2011
Mike: Nooooooo!!!!
What Is the Most Difficult Sentence to Understand in the Tax Code? « Going Concern: An Online Tabloid for Modern Accounting & Finance Professionals
Posted at 3:50pm, Wednesday May 11, 2011
John: 509(A) is the definition of a "private foundation" and says that a private foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization (that's a non-profit corporation operating for the purpose of religion, charity, science, and some other enumerated purposes) that is not specifically excluded in paragraphs (1)-(4). Paragraph (3) is one of the exclusions from the definition of a private foundation. But what counts as an organization to which paragraph (3) applies depends on whether it has certain relationships with organizations to which paragraph (2) applies. This sentence is saying that when deciding whether paragraph (3) excludes a particular organization from being a private foundation, you need to act as if those organizations that it is related to are organizations to which paragraph (2) applies so long as the related organizations fall outside of paragraph (2) only because they are 501(c)(4)'s, (5)'s, or (6)'s (other kinds of tax-exempts) instead of 501(c)(3)'s. Clear, no?

Also, there's a typo in the sentence as it appears here: the last "509(a)(3)," should read "501(c)(3)."
Jon Stewart’s Fake News on Tax Expenditures
Posted at 2:13pm, Wednesday May 11, 2011
John: Yeah, I complained about this too. Sometimes Stewart doesn't know what he's talking about, and it bites him because of the nature of satire.
See Through Frosted Glass with a Piece of Clear Tape [Video]
Posted at 3:04am, Wednesday May 11, 2011
Avi: Brilliant.
Perelmans Give Penn Medical School $225 Million -
Posted at 9:22pm, Tuesday May 10, 2011
Justin: WHAT. THE. FUCK.
What Warner Did in Virginia Could Point The Way in Washington
Posted at 9:10pm, Tuesday May 10, 2011
John: I suppose this is doable and helps in the medium term, but it would be a pretty big let down. Better something than nothing.
Winning at the game of money
Posted at 9:06pm, Tuesday May 10, 2011
John: Awesome, James. (Reshared from Avi).
Gus Johnson Leaving CBS to Join Fox Sports Covering Football, Basketball - Bloomberg
Posted at 4:42pm, Tuesday May 10, 2011
Adam: Good news.
You come at the Lion King, you best not miss
Posted at 10:34am, Tuesday May 10, 2011
Avi: And I'm posting this because it dogs on the underrated-but-really-quite-overrated season 2.
Bin Laden's compound recreated as a Counter-Strike map
Posted at 12:54am, Tuesday May 10, 2011
Avi: About time this happened.
On the Floor Laughing: Traders Are Having a New Kind of Fun - James Somers - Technology - The Atlantic
Posted at 12:39am, Tuesday May 10, 2011
James: the die is cast
Rob Trangucci: Congrats on publishing this! Must feel GREAT to get this out the door. Can't wait to read this.
James Somers: Thanks, man—definitely a load off. Thanks for your comments. You'll see that the piece turned out pretty much exactly like you said it should, though I think I still have some curse words in there...
Rob Trangucci: Saw the curses you held and the curses you dropped from the article and the ones you dropped were the biggest offenders. Don't think the current instances detract from the article at all (in fact I like the 60mn one now)
Justin Becker: Goodness I enjoy reading your writing (both your analysis and the prose itself). Congrats on the publication! I'm going to have to send to the parents, post on FB, etc.

My favorites:

"...sixty fucking million actual American dollars." I laughed out loud. It's also the perfect example of how curse words can add crucial meaning to a sentence or song lyric.

The super-concise, super-clear, super-informative two paragraphs summarizing what Nikhil's job actually is. This was a pretty essential part of the piece but also ran the risk of getting bogged down in details (and distracting from the primarily visual/in-the-moment nature of the piece), and I think you pulled it off perfectly. I also this turn-of-phrase: "with a little edge baked in here and there"

"pre-scandal Tiger Woodsian knack for blocking out distractions". Again, laughed out loud.

The analysis of the essential features of what makes a game, a game -- relief from "the anxiety of freedom."

My simultaneous favorite and least favorite sentence: "On the one hand you might call the trader's game a simulacrum, an ersatz replica of, say, the sort of kinetic corporeal bazaar you'd find in the midst of the Roman Forum." I gotta say I would have never called a trader's game that. :)

In conclusion, a pretty sweet read.
James Somers: Thanks, man!

I will say that I stole the 'what existentialists called "the anxiety of freedom"' quote and basic idea from a dialogue I watched a month or so ago, but hopefully I didn't plagiarize that too directly.

Really glad you liked it, though.
Adam Freedman: Yeah lots of great lines in that article. My favorite was actually the very simple "Bits become dollars and dollars become stuff" which is as good a description of the 21st century economy as you can get.

Although you kind of dated the piece with that S&P number...the index hasn't been at 1238 since the middle of December.
James Somers: It wasn't the index that was at 1238, I don't think, but some other security. (Or maybe it was the index. Honestly I had no idea what I was looking at. Pretty sure the number was precisely 1238, though.)

On to quiz dash!
John Cobb: Great little article there, Jimbo.

It made me think about how the things I enjoy most about lawyering and tax overlap with the things I look for in games: being part of a larger story that extends back into time immemorial, the feeling of developing arcane knowledge, sustained involvement in a developing "quest," emphasis on judgment over quick twitch ability.
Chip Shaffer: Really great article. This was published in the physical magazine too?

I liked your subtle Cryptonomicon reference too.
James Somers: Thanks. Nice catch on the Cryptonomicon reference.

Definitely wasn't in the physical magazine. We'll get there someday.
John Cobb: Btw, I finished The Baroque Cycle. It's worth it, but you have to be willing to devote a lot of free time.
James Somers: Jesus that's impressive. I keep thinking about it in bookstores, but I don't know if I want that to be all I read for the next four months.
Avinash Vora: Nice. Payoff for me was right out of the gate--I loved the description of the office, the people, the workstation.
James Somers: Justin, I thought that you in particular would appreciate this opening from my first draft, which I eventually realized was totally inappropriate:

It's just past 11:30am on a Friday and I am enjoying my sixth hour of sleep. I'm in a queen-sized bed. Lying warmly beside me is an attractive, thin—and fairly expensive, I hate to say—personal computer. I left it on last night, and as a result my brain has accidentally mainlined about seven and a half episodes' worth of West Wing dialogue.

Something seems to be whirring and blooping. It sounds urgent, and for a second I think I'm being paged by the White House. This excites me tremendously, but the feeling quickly metastasizes into something closer to crushing disappointment as I come out of my protoconscious haze and realize that I am not, in fact, a speechwriter for President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet, and that I don't even have a pager.
Justin Becker: Hahahaha, I do appreciate that, for many reasons. Certainly your sleeping 'til 11:30 would have had made a fitting, albeit ridiculous, contrast to the highly professional and energetic world you were about to enter (as well as that of the West Wing).

Though, I must point out, I can't stand your use of "metastasize." You seem to be using it as an evocative synonym of "progress," when really it should be reserved for "spreading" (or more accurately: breaking apart, spreading, and changing) as well as for cases where the ominous implications are really justified.

On the plus side, both my mom and Samantha read the piece and LOVED it. They were both duly impressed.
Justin Becker: Oh, and I've been meaning to ask, where did that sweet picture come from (the drawing of computer screens at the top of the article)?
James Somers: That's awesome—really great to hear that Samantha and your mom liked it. I'm a big fan of both of theirs, despite only meeting them briefly. (Which we need to do something about, particularly in Samantha's case.)

I 100% jacked that use of "metastasize" from a DFW fragment: "…since the explanation of any transgression inevitably metastasizes into _excuse_", where he uses it in basically the same (wrong, according to you) way. I think I'm with you, but it's a word that sounds really cool and the context sorta finesses the meaning.

The top picture was actually drawn as far as I can tell specifically for this article, which to me was very exciting.
Avinash Vora: "The top picture was actually drawn as far as I can tell specifically for this article, which to me was very exciting."

That's awesome. I was thinking how amazing it was that you found a picture like that in the Atlantic's libraries.

Big leagues, baby.
Laura Fong: This is awesome!
Review & Outlook: Tax Revenues Are Rising -
Posted at 5:45pm, Monday May 09, 2011
John: The whole article is behind a pay wall, but I'm wondering if they at least mention this:
On the Floor Laughing: Traders Are Having a New Kind of Fun - James Somers - Technology - The Atlantic
Posted at 2:49pm, Monday May 09, 2011
Adam: I'm not genuinely delighted to go into the office every day??

Re-shared for the non-overlapping portion of our readership.
Leaving the village
Posted at 10:18am, Monday May 09, 2011
Adam: Good post. This brings up some really interesting issues about the effects of a fragmented society. I could definitely see this idea being expanded into a book about the negative sociological implications of the decline in social capital. Oh wait, Robert Putnam wrote that book 11 years ago... :)
Leaving the village
Posted at 12:32am, Monday May 09, 2011
Avi: James in form. Excellent summary of what I think everybody realizes but may not have quite succinctly described (even to themselves) yet.
The Inflation Monster Under the Bed -
Posted at 11:31pm, Sunday May 08, 2011
John: Laura actually just got a raise before she even started working. There's been some salary boosting in the legal field, but it's mostly been firms that cut salaries during the downturn.
I agree with Paul Krugman
Posted at 6:36pm, Sunday May 08, 2011
Adam: The first sentence here is interesting. I actually think Mankiw and Krugman agree on most things. The only economic issues that they disagree on are that they have slightly different expectations of fiscal multipliers for government spending and an arcane dispute over the ability of central banks to set inflation expectations.

My interpretation of Krugman's writing is that he considers Mankiw one of the rational conservative economists (as opposed to Cochrane/Fama/Mulligan who are just batshit crazy). Of course they have different views on the proper role of government - everybody does. But I would guess if you read both of their intro economics textbooks, they would be almost identical.
How to Beat High Airfares -
Posted at 1:06am, Sunday May 08, 2011
Justin: I adore this recurring column so much it's difficult to express. I think it's a nerd-power sort of thing. God bless Nate Silver.
What's high school for?
Posted at 12:28am, Sunday May 08, 2011
tvchurch: From Andrew Brod.

James, adding this to the HighSchool Google Docs...
Einstein was right. Again.
Posted at 2:40pm, Saturday May 07, 2011
Avi: Not that I would have doubted it, but I loved this.

The idea stems from some sense of admiration for people who can envision such high-level thoughts that cost billions to test. Can you imagine that they made the four most perfect spheres man has ever seen? So awesome.
How to Jump From Rooftop to Rooftop
Posted at 3:57am, Saturday May 07, 2011
Avi: I love this website.
Unfortunate Name: The Plantation
Posted at 3:44am, Saturday May 07, 2011
Avi: Sounds absolutely delicious. Basil + grapefruit is a winning combination.
How fast is the Internet at Google? Mind blowing. - TNW Shareables
Posted at 1:19am, Saturday May 07, 2011
tvchurch: Here's my question: how big will media and movie files get? Is there a limit? The human eye can only comprehend so much - if the limit on a 13" screen is truly 1080p at 120hz, what's the point in making movies any larger than 4.7 GB? What happens when we all get Internet like this, and we can stream HD movies like nothing? I'll always want faster Internet, but for 90% of people, the connection that streams HD movies without a problem might just be all they need.

But then again, maybe with fast enough Internet we can download in Star Trek.
Revisiting the Obama Doctrine
Posted at 4:37pm, Friday May 06, 2011
tvchurch: The whole thing.

This is the article I've been meaning to write. It's just missing a constructive, here's-what-we're-looking-for section.
A provocative vision of a post-supercarrier US Navy - Battleland -
Posted at 4:27pm, Friday May 06, 2011
tvchurch: Interesting, and I don't know the strategic importance of more supercarriers v. smaller ships, but I do like the Science Fiction image created in my head from "drone-spewing motherships."
What Stephen Harper Learned From George W Bush
Posted at 4:16pm, Friday May 06, 2011
tvchurch: Nice. I'm much more open than that GOP about immigration and race issues - it's one of my biggest issues with the GOP. Get with it guys...
The opportunities of sweatshop workers
Posted at 2:19pm, Friday May 06, 2011
tvchurch: With Krugman on this one, although it doesn't sit right, even if it is the right way of thinking about it.
Going After Online Plane-Ticket Buyers - BusinessWeek
Posted at 11:04pm, Thursday May 05, 2011
Adam: Steve Huffman might be my favorite person: "I don't mean that in a condescending way, but it's true."
Ahmadinejad allies charged with sorcery | World news | The Guardian
Posted at 5:47pm, Thursday May 05, 2011
tvchurch: Umm...what?
Coffee, Sex, Blowing Nose May Increase Risk of a Stroke, Dutch Study Finds - Bloomberg
Posted at 4:07pm, Thursday May 05, 2011
Adam: The risk factors are amusing.
The Limited Edition Cheap T-Shirt, Gone in 24hours! | TeeFury
Posted at 1:40pm, Thursday May 05, 2011
tvchurch: Bought it.
French existentialism, as narrated by Star Wars – Chris Blattman
Posted at 1:33pm, Thursday May 05, 2011
tvchurch: Laugh out loud funny. C-3PO really is the most convincing.
Posted at 10:20am, Thursday May 05, 2011
Avi: BAMF.
Posted at 10:31pm, Wednesday May 04, 2011
nikhil: groupon is truly the facebook of groupon
DOJ to BCS: Why, Exactly, Do You Exist?
Posted at 10:06pm, Wednesday May 04, 2011
John: I don't really know much about antitrust law, but it would seem weird to me if it cares whether the BCS uses a playoff or not.
The Military Industrial Complex
Posted at 5:12pm, Wednesday May 04, 2011
tvchurch: Yikes.
Greg Mankiw's Blog: Increasing Inequality around the World
Posted at 3:34pm, Wednesday May 04, 2011
John: One interesting thing from the report, which The Economist doesn't mention:

Household structures have changed profoundly over the past decades in OECD countries. There are more single-headed households with and without children today than ever before; their share among working-age households has increased in all OECD countries, on average from 15% in the late 1980s to 20% in the mid-2000s. Smaller households are less able to benefit from the savings associated with pooling resources and sharing expenditures. A trend toward smaller households therefore is likely to increase
earnings and income inequality.

Among couple households, the wives of top earners were those whose employment rates increased the most. There was also a tendency in all countries towards a phenomenon often described as “assortative mating”, that is to say people with higher earnings having their spouses in the same earnings bracket – e.g. doctors marrying doctors rather than nurses. Today, 40% of couples in which both partners work belong to the same or neighbouring earnings deciles, compared with 33% some 20 years ago.

These trends have contributed to higher household earnings inequality. Some observers even consider these changes in family formation to be a main reason for rising inequality. Daly and Valletta (2006), for instance, suggest that the increase in single-headed families is responsible for a large proportion of the growth in inequality in the United States and several studies suggest that the increasing correlation of spouses’ earnings across couple households contributes significantly to widening inequality (Cancian and Reed, 1999; Hyslop, 2001; Schwartz, 2010). For an overall assessment, it is important to consider the effect of these demographic changes along with the impact of “pure” labour-market-related changes.

Also interesting is:

Public cash transfers, as well as income taxes and social security contributions, play a major role in all OECD countries in reducing market-income inequality. Together, they are estimated to reduce inequality among the working-age population by about a quarter on average across OECD countries (Figure 5). This redistributive effect is larger in the Nordic countries, Belgium and Germany, while it is well below average in Chile, Iceland, Korea, Switzerland and the United States.

In most countries, the extent of redistribution has increased over the period as a whole. As a result, tax-benefit policies have offset some of the large increases in market-income inequality but they appear to have become less effective at doing so over the past 10-15 years. Up until the mid-1990s, tax-benefit systems in many OECD countries offset more than half of the rise in market-income inequality. However, since then, while market-income inequality continued to rise, the stabilising effect of taxes and benefits on household income inequality has mostly declined. In some countries, taxes and benefits became less redistributive during the past decade.
Hamilton College - Pundit - Executive Summary
Posted at 2:24pm, Wednesday May 04, 2011
John: Go lawyers!
Bin Laden Fallout
Posted at 1:38pm, Wednesday May 04, 2011
tvchurch: I disagree with none of this article. The first paragraph is especially devastating.

I would not have believed any of this would come true in 2008. Wow.
Crist goes on air - Ben Smith -
Posted at 1:30pm, Wednesday May 04, 2011
John: ?!
Crist goes on air - Ben Smith -
Posted at 1:30pm, Wednesday May 04, 2011
John: ?!
Wall Street's Cult Calculator Turns 30 -
Posted at 8:26am, Wednesday May 04, 2011
Chip: My dad should have been interviewed for this. Despite being retried, I think he still uses it every day.
The real reasons for the dollar’s decline
Posted at 12:05am, Wednesday May 04, 2011
John: So I have this weird thing where every time I read a blog I hear something along these lines, but if I turn on my TV, all the guys are saying that anyone who doesn't think QE2 is the cause of this, that and the other must be joking. They don't even treat other causes as a serious possibility. My inclination is to think the TV guys are idiots, but is that the right explanation?
Bill Gross Finally Tells Investors What He And His Wife Wear To Bed
Posted at 9:40pm, Tuesday May 03, 2011
nikhil: great story
Greg Mankiw's Blog: The Purple Tax Plan
Posted at 6:46pm, Tuesday May 03, 2011
John: Honestly, it strikes me as a tax plan only an economist could love. Can you imagine the administrative problems involved in keeping track of these credits? Maybe if/when all money becomes electronic... This isn't to say that a consumption tax plus rebate is a bad idea, but the credit method seems unworkable to me.
Posted at 5:22pm, Tuesday May 03, 2011
tvchurch: Re: #1 - I wonder if it is because so many more of us watching things on our computers now.
One of my favourite poems
Posted at 6:46am, Tuesday May 03, 2011
Avi: One of my personal favorites as well. Used to phenomenal effect in Equilibrium.

Only just discovered that in his collected works "Aedh" is replaced by "He".
Bin Laden is Dead, But Our Delusions Live On
Posted at 8:55pm, Monday May 02, 2011
tvchurch: "But we know Pakistan has been playing a double game for almost a decade, cooperating just enough to keep receiving billions in aid and military hardware, at the same time supporting and protecting the insurgents and terrorists killing our troops in Afghanistan."

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita once wrote on the game theory problem that is Pakistan. As long as there is a little instability, it receives hundreds of millions to billions of dollars from the United States. If that money is being skimmed from by people in charge, what the hell do you think they're going to do? Fight the instability or keep the paychecks coming?
UBL, BHO & 2012
Posted at 8:22pm, Monday May 02, 2011
tvchurch: Yes. Agree completely.
AFP: Bin Laden used wife as human shield: US official
Posted at 4:10pm, Monday May 02, 2011
tvchurch: Truth.
The Secret Team That Killed Osama bin Laden - Marc Ambinder - Politics - The Atlantic
Posted at 10:57am, Monday May 02, 2011
Drew: Totally badass. It seems that our forces have improved a lot in the last 10 years, and continue to do so, from integration and cooperation.
Libertarian vs. existentialist notions of freedom
Posted at 4:08am, Monday May 02, 2011
John: Watch some of the other OneMinuteGalactica Star Wars videos as well. There's a lot of good ones.
For GOP: Pawlenty vs. Romney is the Main Event
Posted at 11:18pm, Sunday May 01, 2011
tvchurch: :( Wish Daniels had more name recognition. He's my choice for domestic-side politics.
The harm done by levered ETFs
Posted at 8:18pm, Sunday May 01, 2011
nikhil: I can't buy (or short) etfs with borrowed money, so for me it's a way to make a levered, short-term bet on treasuries. Also, I believe there are weekly- and monthly-rebalanced levered ETFs that aren't so bad.
Techno-anthropology: A Rough Guide to Social Skills for Awkward Smart People
Posted at 8:17pm, Sunday May 01, 2011
tvchurch: For James and Avi - nice use of contrast misreaction. Filing under Munger Psychology.
Microsoft: Why Windows Phone 7 has a better soft keyboard
Posted at 5:30pm, Sunday May 01, 2011
John: Cool beans.
Africans Tell the UN to Buzz Off — The American Magazine
Posted at 3:40pm, Sunday May 01, 2011
tvchurch: Very interesting - I remember growing up and being told by many people that DDT was evil. Then I read the data and looked at the cost/benefit and changed my mind. Given a choice between using DDT and not in Africa, it makes much more sense to do the former.

Doing more digging, I learned that the creator of DDT was given the Nobel Prize.

For more on DDT effectiveness, see: (
YouTube - The President's Speech Trailer
Posted at 1:47pm, Sunday May 01, 2011
tvchurch: Great fun. Three minutes that'll make you chuckle.
20 Minutes That Changed Music: Queen at Live Aid, July 13th, 1985
Posted at 9:11am, Sunday May 01, 2011
Avi: If you are even remotely interested in music as a performance, then you are selling yourself short by not watching this right now. It's on YouTube.

This, and Queen's return to Wembley in 1986 for what was another epic concert should be required watching for anybody who wants to perform, musically or not. My DVD of that performance probably has laser wear on it from how many times I've watched it. Most of this performance is also on YouTube.

Led Zeppelin wrote some of the greatest music ever, and Plant was a genius frontman and basically made it cool for a man to sing like a girl, but he never commanded seas of people like this. When The Beatles played in Yankee stadium the first time they came to the States and women were basically just taking their panties off and throwing them directly at the band, they still never could make crowds be their slaves like this. Hendrix, Morrison, Ramones, Stones, etc. are the same.

To quote the end of the article: "But you show me a band that kicks it as freestyle as Queen did that day…I don’t think you can. That was it, the best 20 minutes in music we’ll ever see, Queen at Live Aid, July 13th 1985."
Why the SEC should look at levered ETFs
Posted at 4:42pm, Saturday Apr 30, 2011
John: The ol' 2^n is not identical to 2 problem. Algebra can be hard.
Surge superintendent to spearhead spooks
Posted at 1:46pm, Saturday Apr 30, 2011
tvchurch: "In practice Mr Obama's anti-ideological pragmatism amounts to little more than carrying on the policies of his more ideological and motivated predecessor. No doubt Bush administration vets are gratified to learn that Mr Obama has implicitly conceded that their foreign policy approach is in fact "what actually works". But those who supported Mr Obama over John McCain precisely because he promised to get America out of Iraq and Afghanistan will be rather less pleased."

Pretty much.
Moment of truce truth - Ben Smith -
Posted at 4:17pm, Friday Apr 29, 2011
John: I'm watching...
McDonald’s Hires 62,000 in U.S. Event, 24% More Than Planned - Bloomberg
Posted at 2:17pm, Friday Apr 29, 2011
tvchurch: Holy cow.
The Obama doctrine: Leading from behind - The Washington Post
Posted at 2:06pm, Friday Apr 29, 2011
tvchurch: Right up until "Who truly reviles America the hegemon? The world that Obama lived in and shaped him intellectually", I find very little to disagree with in this article.

I would like to see someone come to President Obama's defense regarding the first half of this article, because I'm not seeing what the rebuttal would be. I truly think President Obama's foreign policy is terrible. I need someone to argue against me.
What do the personnel moves (and the reporting on them) tell us about Team Obama?
Posted at 1:32pm, Friday Apr 29, 2011
tvchurch: Quick note on someone you might not be familiar with: Ryan Crocker. He's the man. The fact that he's going back to Afghanistan should make you happy. He's a doer - He deserves as much of the operational credit for the surge in Iraq as Petraeus and Odierno. Very capable man. Props to President Obama for putting him there. Minus for leaving Gen Eikenberry there for so long, especially since the Petraeus+Crocker combo was so effective in Iraq, but unused in Afghanistan.
Department of Awful Statistics
Posted at 1:29pm, Friday Apr 29, 2011
tvchurch: (Linked this one since you don't have to click through.)

If I make 150,000 dollars, and the top tax rate is 35%, then the income taxes I pay will not come out to 35%.

If the tax rate is 20% up to 100k, and then 35% after that (making the math easy), then I pay 20,000 in taxes on 100k, plus 35% on the additional 50k. That's 20,000 + 17,500 = 37,500. Of my original income, that's only 25%.

I always read about politicians who are "hypocrites" because they make 400k, but only pay a tax rate of 28.9%. It's because of marginal tax rates, not because they're using loopholes (generally).

Same goes for wealthy people whose primary source of income is dividends and capital gains. Those are taxed at much lower rates than income taxes, which is why someone who doesn't work but has a lot of equities can pay an average tax rate close to 15%.

It's not unfair, it's just the arithmetic of our system.
Removed the beard
Posted at 5:30am, Friday Apr 29, 2011
tvchurch: Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

YouTube - The best bloopers ever
Posted at 11:17pm, Thursday Apr 28, 2011
Drew: One of my favorite (the most hilarious) videos I've managed to find on YouTube so far.
Is the Debt Limit Unconstitutional?
Posted at 11:00pm, Thursday Apr 28, 2011
Adam: Huh? Debt isn't required for the US government to pay people.
Erin Burnett Is Leaving You
Posted at 10:36pm, Thursday Apr 28, 2011
Adam: Nooooooo!
Natural Gas
Posted at 9:59pm, Thursday Apr 28, 2011
nikhil: there is SO MUCH energy in the world
College Teams, Relying on Deception, Undermine Gender Equity -
Posted at 6:18pm, Thursday Apr 28, 2011
Drew: Considering the length of this article, I found it surprising that not once do they consider that maybe the very concept of the law is flawed - not b/c equal opportunity is not a good goal to have, but b/c there are just fewer female athletes (which I don't know is true or not, but the numbers outlined here certainly beg the question).
Louis Althusser - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 11:57am, Thursday Apr 28, 2011
John: I don't think this sentence well describes Marx, although I have not read very much of him. But, it is the first sentence I have read that makes sense out of the this branch of thinkers. Complex machinations judged by some standards of internal consistency rather than by the existence of any relation to reality. I can understand why this might be amusing as a diversion, but why some people take it seriously still eludes me. It's like mathematics deprived of both rigor and its connection to the sciences. It strikes me as more akin to a mental disease than a useful strain of thought.

Lacan is the worst offender. I watched him speaking, and read some of his works, and he seems like a pure charlatan. Derrida is not much better, although he may be caught up in his own prison of empty ideas where Lacan is simply trying to ensnare others.

I agree that Zizek is interesting to listen to, but only because he has a knack for applying the same trick to everything--what if typical way of thinking X actually has it backwards?--rather than any ability to exercise judgment; it looks like more untethered mental gymnastics.

I don't put Foucault and Freud in this category. They appear to have cared about reality and had some legitimate insights.

Maybe James or Justin (who studied at least some of these guys in a more formal context) can explain if there is anything more here?
Netflix Is Killing BitTorrent in The US | TorrentFreak
Posted at 8:40pm, Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
tvchurch: Make it easy and cheap, and you'll get more people to use it.
Trump Unable To Produce Certificate Proving He's Not A Festering Pile Of Shit | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
Posted at 7:26pm, Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
John: Ouch.
Gasoline Taxes vs. Exxon Profit, per Gallon
Posted at 6:13pm, Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
tvchurch: Interesting...Very interesting. I would like to see it for the whole industry, though.
The Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare — NYC — Restaurant Review -
Posted at 5:13pm, Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
Justin: man, how badly do you want to eater here!
Leading from behind
Posted at 2:13pm, Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
tvchurch: On President Obama's foreign policy failings.
Another Educational Milestone for Women: They Now Hold More Total Graduate Degrees Than Men
Posted at 2:03pm, Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
tvchurch: Nice. Increasing my chances of becoming a stay-at-home dad with a badass working wife!
The Price Elasticity of the Demand for Oil
Posted at 2:00pm, Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
tvchurch: The point to keep in mind:

"Third, this all depends on substitute technologies. In the past, there were few good substitutes for oil. If there are more good substitutes in the future then the elasticities will get larger. We do know that as the price of oil increases so does energy innovation (as measured by the number of energy patents)."
Reviewing The 2006 Recruiting Class: Top 50
Posted at 1:59pm, Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
tvchurch: Read the top bit and the bit about "So what does this say?" Ratings aren't perfect...Keep that in mind.
Bryan Caplan defends pacifism
Posted at 1:42pm, Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
tvchurch: "Pacifism today could quite possibly doom Taiwan, Israel, large parts of India (from both Pakistan and internal dissent), any government threatened by civil war (who would end up ruling Saudi Arabia and how quickly?), and I predict we would see a larger-scale African tyrant arise, gobbling up non-resisting pacifist neighbors. Would China request the vassalage of any countries, besides Taiwan that is? Would Russia “request” Georgia and the Baltics? Would West Germany have survived?"

How Norquist’s Pledge Blocks Real Deficit Cuts
Posted at 1:41pm, Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
tvchurch: "The federal government offers a tax credit of up to $9,500 for the purchase of plug-in electric cars. How exactly is that different from writing a check to every plug-in buyer? Yet canceling this program would count as a tax increase under Grover Norquist’s test."

Good point.
How do you find this stuff?
Posted at 1:40pm, Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
tvchurch: I love getting stuff from James, Avi, and Leif (there are others of you, I know, but they're the ones who fill up my shared feed. Also, Blattman.). I'll quit subscribing to so many blogs when I find someone with very similar reading/sharing habits. Or...when I get a real job and can't spend an hour and a half on Reader a day.

P.S. Blattman follows me too. Very neat.
The Samuelson-Stolper theorem
Posted at 1:34pm, Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
tvchurch: This is one of the most important macroeconomic/international trade concepts you can wrap your mind around.

I wrote about it here a year ago: (

What I was looking for was the "factor price equalization theorem." People use labor where it's cheapest, comparatively, and people use capital where it's cheapest, comparatively. But the rations will shift and change.
Height over Time
Posted at 9:32am, Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
Adam: What caused the decline between 1830 and 1890?
Motivation and IQ, incentives matter
Posted at 8:41am, Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
Adam: I don't think this result is surprising (maybe the extent of it is) but I'll share because she was one of my college professors.
Goldberg So Close To Make Sense On Debt Ceiling, Yet So Far Away | The New Republic
Posted at 1:09am, Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
Justin: I like both of their arguments and I'm going to leave it at that.
Color and Gender Stereotypes -
Posted at 11:25pm, Tuesday Apr 26, 2011
James: There's more if you click through but this is the money paragraph.
Remembering to respect the preferences of the poor
Posted at 7:11pm, Tuesday Apr 26, 2011
John: (1) Maslow messed up his hierarchy.
(2) More evidence for the massive consumer surplus of the internet.
BLACKFIVE: Westboro Baptists Defeated
Posted at 4:11pm, Tuesday Apr 26, 2011
tvchurch: That's one way to do it.
On bureaucratese and gobbledygook
Posted at 2:11pm, Tuesday Apr 26, 2011
Chip: I don't agree with all of his pet peeves, but the letter itself is great.
Critics Forcing Fed Into the Wrong Fight
Posted at 1:26pm, Tuesday Apr 26, 2011
tvchurch: "A question for inflation worriers. If inflation is imminent, why are US corporations holding so much cash? Isn’t cash the last thing you’d want on the eve of an inflation? In my history of the 1970s, I described a formative experience in my own life: watching a stamp auction in the mid-1970s. Paddles flying as dealers bid on Austro-Hungarian stamps, stamps that could not even be used to mail a letter. Afterward, I approached a dealer to ask why he had bid so furiously. He answered in French, “Le monnaie est merde” : “Cash is shit.” That’s inflation psychology.

"And let me ask you, Mr. or Ms. Gold Buyer: If you believe inflation is coming, why don’t you go out and borrow as much money as you can? The way to profit from inflation is not to buy gold with cash. It is to buy gold (or land or oil or Austro-Hungarian postage stamps) with borrowed cash. The inflation comes along, wipes out your debt – and you own an inflation-protected asset purchased with other people’s money."

Good points.
Google Motors = the Real New GM
Posted at 1:24pm, Tuesday Apr 26, 2011
tvchurch: "Keep in mind that traffic accidents in the U.S. every year kill about the same number of Americans as died during the entire Vietnam war. As for productivity, how many millions (billions) of hours are wasted each year as we look for parking? Poof. Soon, you will simply have your car drop you off at the front door, then send it on its way to find a parking spot."

This is one of those things that won't catch on forever, but when it does, it really will make a (huge) measurable difference in people's lives. You'd think to do that we'd need a huge breakthrough in science, like a cure for cancer. But something as hum-drum as a driverless car system would do it.
Piracy: Brigands seeking harbours | The Economist
Posted at 9:43am, Tuesday Apr 26, 2011
Adam: I would guess a lot of criminal activity falls into this category.
YouTube - SMBC Theater - Both Sides
Posted at 3:19am, Tuesday Apr 26, 2011
John: Did I share this before? I just love this line:
We exist in different epistemological paradigms!
Netflix tops Comcast as largest video subscription service - Apr. 25, 2011
Posted at 3:08am, Tuesday Apr 26, 2011
tvchurch: Wow.
Trump: Obama Not Harvard Material | NBC New York
Posted at 1:34am, Tuesday Apr 26, 2011
tvchurch: Disregard content, take a look at the two pictures. Who do you think the editors like more? 0_o
Felix, Gordon Brown, the former British Prime Minister,...
Posted at 9:35pm, Monday Apr 25, 2011
John: Sounds to me like a Wally-esque proposal to surf Internet porn.
Haley Barbour Will Not Run for President | Swampland
Posted at 4:01pm, Monday Apr 25, 2011
John: :'(
April 25, 2011
Posted at 3:44pm, Monday Apr 25, 2011
tvchurch: SMBC in a nutshell. Excellent.
Education Reform Realism
Posted at 3:34pm, Monday Apr 25, 2011
tvchurch: Didn't read this, just saw "Michael Petrelli" and thought...I wonder if he is related to Peter or Nathan.
k27ps.jpg (600×782)
Posted at 5:17am, Monday Apr 25, 2011
Avi: The first comment on the Reddit thread for this brilliant picture is:

"Instead of each year having different rosters, each year would have DIFFERENT RULES!!!"

Browncoats Forever by WinterArtwork - $10
Posted at 4:31am, Monday Apr 25, 2011
Avi: For everybody, but mainly TVC who is most likely going to be the only one who actually buys this.
Vortex Tardis
Posted at 4:30am, Monday Apr 25, 2011
Avi: For TVC and LJN.
People Talking Past Each Other
Posted at 10:58pm, Sunday Apr 24, 2011
Adam: Maybe bloggers shouldn't write dumb stuff like that...
Washington Job-Destroying Hubris Gone Wild
Posted at 10:06pm, Sunday Apr 24, 2011
tvchurch: Seriously? Hmm.
Mum, what's sex?
Posted at 5:55pm, Sunday Apr 24, 2011
John: This has to be the best example of "the conversation" ever.

A few of the questions:

"But how do they know when?" Mulan asked. "Does the man say, 'Is now the time to take off my pants?'"

"But Mum, how can people do that? I mean, how do their legs go? You know, not everyone can do the splits."

"Mum, do you think there would be any videos of humans mating on the internet?"
Posted at 4:45pm, Sunday Apr 24, 2011
tvchurch: That's Saturn sticking out on the bottom left. Neat.
“The People’s Budget”
Posted at 3:02pm, Sunday Apr 24, 2011
tvchurch: "There have been some good criticisms of the funny assumptions behind the Ryan plan, but actually this budget isn’t better, either in terms of its final conclusions, its adherence to best scientific practices, or its transparency in getting to its results."

Cowen isn't a political hack - filed away for future political debates...
Bad News on Gasoline Prices–What Government Should Do in Response
Posted at 2:57pm, Sunday Apr 24, 2011
tvchurch: Yes:

"There is no question that the increased scarcity brings with it increased hardship. But the real question is not whether things are worse because of external changes, but whether government can do anything constructive to counter the situation. And the answer is the same as it always is: no. There is no massive conspiracy to use world turmoil to create hidden cartels. Oil is fungible, and there are too many players in motion at any one time for this scenario to be credible."
Assorted links
Posted at 1:46pm, Sunday Apr 24, 2011
John: #4 (and I'm sure you'll click on #5 as well)
TaxProf Blog: Capping the Employer-Sponsored Insurance Tax Exemption
Posted at 8:32pm, Saturday Apr 23, 2011
John: I know Blaine. Very cool.
It takes four minutes to disassemble and then reassemble a Jeep
Posted at 5:11am, Saturday Apr 23, 2011
Avi: Holy moley.
Using Wolfram Alpha to prove 1=0
Posted at 2:34am, Saturday Apr 23, 2011
John: This is wrong. 0^0 is indeterminate, as can easily be demonstrated from lim{x->0+} x^0 = 1 != 0 = lim{x->0+} 0^x. Indeed, defining f(x) = e^(1/x) and g(x) = ax, we see that f(x)^g(x) is identical to e^-a over the reals minus 0, yet lim {x>0} f(x) = lim {x->0} g(x) = 0, so we can make 0^0 be any positive real number. 0^0 is often defined as 1 when working in combinatorics and with summations like the one shown here to make things neater, but it is a bona fide indeterminate just like 0/0 or inf/inf. Why Wolfram Alpha evaluates the second sum as zero is still a mystery.
New transitive adjectives
Posted at 2:04am, Saturday Apr 23, 2011
John: Financial types are just short English.
April 23, 2011
Posted at 11:59pm, Friday Apr 22, 2011
John: Cartoon version of The Last Question.
Large Tax Increases Are Not a Semantic Question - Megan McArdle - Business - The Atlantic
Posted at 5:51pm, Friday Apr 22, 2011
John: One thing McArdle is forgetting (lots of people do this): We have state and local taxes in this country! So the numbers should really be going from 35%, 26%, 17% to 48%, 32%, 19%; for the poorest 20% of Americans, taxes would go from $1960 to $2190; etc. Things do look less drastic when state and local taxes are taken into account.
Posted at 3:45pm, Friday Apr 22, 2011
John: More good stuff from OKCupid.
Laser sparks revolution in internal combustion engines | Science Blog
Posted at 9:32am, Friday Apr 22, 2011
Avi: Forgive the disgusting title, but this is awesome.
Posted at 4:41pm, Thursday Apr 21, 2011
tvchurch: Very, very cool.
Heaven: Greatest Uncommon Denominator Magazine
Posted at 2:47pm, Thursday Apr 21, 2011
John: I love the interwebmachine.
Posted at 2:37pm, Thursday Apr 21, 2011
John: Eat it, Ginia Bellefante.

It honestly was a terrible review:

"The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half."

I don't know what's weirder, the assertion that women don't enjoy The Hobbit or the assertion that all the naked women (there were more tits in the pilot than at a meeting of the Audobon Society) were included primarily to appeal to female viewers.
April 21, 2011
Posted at 2:31pm, Thursday Apr 21, 2011
tvchurch: Excellent. Always open in browser and put mouse over red button for alt-text.
Price Controls for Limo Rides
Posted at 12:42pm, Thursday Apr 21, 2011
John: So this would have been unconstitutional 75 years ago, but not anymore. If you've heard the phrase "Lochner era," this is what those justices were trying to prevent. Most people think they went way overboard (striking down minimum-wage and child-labor laws), so there is a huge amount of deference today to legislative decisions concerning economic regulation so long as they aren't interstate protectionism and do not completely destroy the value of someone's property.
Eases or Shifts? You Decide
Posted at 11:30am, Thursday Apr 21, 2011
John: This was the legitimate core reason behind the fix-your-leaky-roof-before-you-build-new-houses argument for using doc-fix to question CBO scoring of PPACA, which got wildly over-stated by opponents, thus losing out on the opportunity to make a credible argument that could have improved the policy outcome.
Winner in 2012
Posted at 9:57pm, Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
nikhil: seems about right. obama maybe a little cheap, and trump is a fad. what do you think?
Beer-drinking charts of the day
Posted at 8:40pm, Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
nikhil: whoa
Google Ngram Viewer
Posted at 6:27pm, Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
John: So what happened in 1978? "Acquiror" is used almost exclusively in legal circles (I do find it more natural although I would never in a million years say buyor or purchasor). There was an International Banking Act of 1978 and a Bankruptcy Act of 1978, but that wouldn't really explain this big a spike. It's probably just an artifact of how ngrams work.
Prince Charles' record-breaking wait to take throne - Yahoo! News
Posted at 3:50pm, Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
tvchurch: Jamaica too? So cool.
Roe v. Wade: Is it still the law of the land? - By Dahlia Lithwick - Slate Magazine
Posted at 3:36pm, Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
Chip: Timely, given that we've been discussing Roe and Casey this past week in class. Some of these changes in state laws - no abortions after 20 weeks - are clearly unconstitutional insofar as they violate Roe/Casey. The others I'm not so sure about.
The rich in Europe are poor.
Posted at 3:12pm, Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
tvchurch: Take a look at the graph.
The Nature of Arab Unrest - Victor Davis Hanson - National Review Online
Posted at 3:08pm, Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
tvchurch: I agree.
China As Foreign Investor: Exporting its Worst Habits
Posted at 3:05pm, Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
tvchurch: That's going to come back to bite them in the ass.
Choices Must Be Made
Posted at 2:30pm, Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
tvchurch: Yes.
Under Protest
Posted at 2:20pm, Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
tvchurch: Read. 2 minutes. Feel my righteous indignation.

Megan McArdle is this shit, for both sides of the aisle.
'The Economist' To Halt Production For Month To Let Readers Catch Up | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
Posted at 9:30am, Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
Adam: So true.
What Happens When Solar Power Is as Cheap as Coal | Fast Company
Posted at 2:43am, Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
Rob: This is just wrong on so many levels.
HitchSafe Key Vault
Posted at 2:01am, Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
Avi: This is genius.
Required Reading - posters inspired by classic novels
Posted at 10:53pm, Tuesday Apr 19, 2011
Mike: Some good stuff in here. I especially like the minimalist "Catcher in the Rye" print
The economics of Bitcoin
Posted at 10:26pm, Tuesday Apr 19, 2011
nikhil: reminds me a bit of cryptonomicon
Hulu - Saturday Night Live: White Like Me
Posted at 9:52pm, Tuesday Apr 19, 2011
Chip: Classic SNL skit. Eddie Murphy is so good.
YouTube - LEGO GBC 20 modules 【レゴ】 玉ころがしをつくってみた
Posted at 8:34pm, Tuesday Apr 19, 2011
Chip: Rube-Goldberg-like Lego contraption. Amazing.
New: Flexible Date Searching for Flights
Posted at 11:28am, Tuesday Apr 19, 2011
Adam: This might actually eliminate any remaining agony I experience when searching for flights. I really could have used this a few days ago...
Where The Sodomites Are
Posted at 11:21am, Tuesday Apr 19, 2011
Adam: Um, wasn't this resolved with Lawrence v. Texas? Please explain, law school students.
Cameron Hints He May Block Brown
Posted at 10:56am, Tuesday Apr 19, 2011
Adam: I'm sure this wouldn't sound nearly as harsh if spoken in a British accent.
Shadows Bright As Glass: When Brain Injuries Transform Into Art : NPR
Posted at 10:40am, Tuesday Apr 19, 2011
Chip: Really fascinating. A guy had a stroke and emerged an almost completely different person (he went from being a chiropractor to a compulsive artist).
YouTube - Look At Me Now - Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes (Cover by @KarminMusic)
Posted at 11:40pm, Monday Apr 18, 2011
Mike: She kills the Busta Rhymes verse.
Not Enough Money - Ramesh Ponnuru - National Review Online
Posted at 10:51pm, Monday Apr 18, 2011
John: I imagine this reflects Bernanke's thinking.
Lawmaker's Big Fundraiser Nets Just $650
Posted at 10:04pm, Monday Apr 18, 2011
Adam: That's impressive.
Competitive Pricing | The Incidental Economist
Posted at 9:32pm, Monday Apr 18, 2011
John: I really suggest reading basically all of these posts.
Justice, Too Much and Too Expensive -
Posted at 6:40pm, Monday Apr 18, 2011
Chip: Based on this, I agree.
Chicks With Steve Buscemeyes
Posted at 6:20pm, Monday Apr 18, 2011
John: Great memeage.
Jesse Jackson Jr. Blames The iPad For Killing Jobs
Posted at 4:25pm, Monday Apr 18, 2011
tvchurch: Wow.
TaxProf Blog: CTJ: America’s Tax System Is Not as Progressive as You Think
Posted at 3:20pm, Monday Apr 18, 2011
John: Some data to tackle the question I couldn't answer before. Mankiw cited a study showing that American federal income taxation was the most progressive of major countries. I pointed out that federal income taxation is not identical to the tax system operating as a whole.

This analysis extends to all taxes--federal, state and local; income, sales and property; etc. It shows a slightly progressive tax system as it operates on the whole. Of course, there is no comparative element here, and it would not be surprising if America still came out looking pretty good when the spending side is excluded. As I discussed before, when taxation and transfer payments are taken into account, America is a little below average in progressiveness of distributions. Even that analysis is incomplete, however, as countless policy decisions beyond taxes and direct transfer payments have an impact on the distribution of goods and services.
Ten Things You Need to Do if You Were Hired Today
Posted at 2:01pm, Monday Apr 18, 2011
tvchurch: Good advice to rocking your job.
[Video] Byron Wein Talks Inflation, the S&P 500, and Why Cutting the Deficit Most Likely Causes a Recession
Posted at 1:57pm, Monday Apr 18, 2011
tvchurch: "Larger picture... 25% of our nation's GDP is now coming directly from government - which is nothing more than transfer payments + borrowing. That's not entrepreneurial private sector business or wealth creation. That does not represent 'healthy' in any shape or form."

The Future Of Sportswriting
Posted at 12:09pm, Monday Apr 18, 2011
Adam: Two problems here: 1) giving people free seats at sports games technically does have some cost, and 2) this makes the generous assumption that people (especially old people who consider themselves no longer fit for the workforce) are decent writers.
YouTube - Fantastic goal Pa Modou Kah (Roda) v VVV Venlo! April 17th, 2011
Posted at 2:14am, Monday Apr 18, 2011
John: Good celebration too (and what a cross).
President Obama's Passover Seder Is On Monday
Posted at 2:08am, Monday Apr 18, 2011
John: Sharing for the Eric (the) Lesser pic.
Courses — Open Yale Courses
Posted at 1:44pm, Sunday Apr 17, 2011
John: Great stuff.
The Default Major - Skating Through B-School -
Posted at 8:06pm, Saturday Apr 16, 2011
Chip: I guess the NYT finally got around to reading James' Michigan article.
Mental disorder graphics
Posted at 7:25pm, Saturday Apr 16, 2011
nikhil: cool unintentional optical illusion: when the image is moving up in your visual field the odd block looks like it's moving to the right, and when down to the right
A Christian Scientist’s guide for opting out of Medicare
Posted at 7:20pm, Saturday Apr 16, 2011
nikhil: i wonder if you can claim presents as deductions if you're a christmas scientist
Spike Jonze Presents: Lil Buck and Yo-Yo Ma
Posted at 3:15pm, Saturday Apr 16, 2011
John: How often does someone completely steal the show from Yo Yo Ma?
Posted at 8:24am, Saturday Apr 16, 2011
nikhil: wow! lightning-bolts-from-the-eyes angry
Trebuchette - the snap-together, desktop trebuchet by Michael Woods — Kickstarter
Posted at 2:59am, Saturday Apr 16, 2011
John: If you ever wanted a laser-cut trebuchet that launches superballs about 20 feet..
Slashdance - Democratic Deficit Reduction Plan - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - 04/14/11 - Video Clip | Comedy Central
Posted at 11:05pm, Friday Apr 15, 2011
John: Funny stuff, but he manages to show off some ignorance around the five minute mark. "The tax code isn't where we spend, it's where we collect." I guess he hasn't been reading me Reader feed.
PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker charged by Manhattan U.S. Attorney with fraud and illegal gambling offenses - ESPN
Posted at 9:58pm, Friday Apr 15, 2011
Adam: Yikes.
YouTube - ACジャパン あいさつの魔法(English Subtitles)
Posted at 8:58pm, Friday Apr 15, 2011
Chip: Oh man. If my school was indicative of most schools in Japan, Japanese educators are obsessed with the importance of proper greetings (good morning, good afternoon etc.). I can't remember once being told that it's essential to good decorum to always say "Hello" and "Good Morning" to whoever you happen to be passing, in elementary school, let alone middle and high school (my students were in middle and high school). Throughout the school year there were probably four or five speeches given by a teacher to the entire student body on this topic.
Icelandic Phallological Museum
Posted at 7:15pm, Friday Apr 15, 2011
Adam: Any wikipedia page that contains a photo with the caption "Non-human penises" is worth a read.
Controlling the National Debt: Chess, Not Checkers
Posted at 11:50am, Friday Apr 15, 2011
John: It's not clear that there is a lot here that you couldn't also say about the approach Obama outlined (although with the IPAB instead filling in the functional role of decentralized decisionmaking for Medicare), but in any event, a more thoughtful case for Ryan's plan.
Huntsman's Praise for Obama, Clinton
Posted at 11:35am, Friday Apr 15, 2011
Adam: Please still write actual letters?
Gregg Lippman’s Deutsche Bank Team: Cooking MC’s Like A Pound Of Bacon
Posted at 10:04pm, Thursday Apr 14, 2011
nikhil: when he left he left a bunch of ties in his desk, including the dark blue one in my closet. no lyrics though.
Can a Good Mormon Be a Good Democrat?
Posted at 9:17pm, Thursday Apr 14, 2011
John: I've befriended several Mormons in the past year. Very nice, down-to-earth, and tolerant individuals. I had a conversation with several Mormons this summer about atheistic spiritualism, and they were not at all offended or upset by my stance on things and did not try to convert me. I did also meet a very liberal Mormon. It's more common among female Mormons than males.

You still sometimes hear people say unflattering things about Mormons as a group in a way that would be socially unacceptable if applied to almost any other group of people. These things really are a product of ignorance.
Barometer question
Posted at 7:16pm, Thursday Apr 14, 2011
Adam: I don't see how this is a moral dilemma; it's just a stupid question.
Amazon tells record labels to back off, Cloud Drive licensing not necessary
Posted at 2:12pm, Thursday Apr 14, 2011
John: I also respect what Amazon is doing here. There are some troubling developments in copyright law, however, that this could push to the fore. The Ninth Circuit, which used to be a very fair use/copyright exception friendly circuit, recently came down with a decision in Vernor that drastically limits the scope of the first sale doctrine ( Digital MP3 sales can easily follow the software licensing model, which would allow sellers of music to become licensors that can impose any use restrictions on copies of their music that they choose. I don't know if the current contracts between music distributors and consumers would allow for this, but they could easily be updated by changing some fine print.

In contrast to Nimmer, who is probably the eminent copyright lawyer and scholar in the United States, I think this development of the law is a bad direction. Copyright represents a limited monopoly right granted to producers of new expressive works solely for the purpose of incentivizing innovation. There is an inherent economic tradeoff between increased incentives to produce and the deadweight losses associated with monopoly pricing. Allowing copyright holders free reign to modify the scope of their monopoly rights will cause them to set this scope at the point that maximizes their own gain, which externalizes this deadweight loss from the decisionmaker. While Congress may not be perfect as a policy-setting body, indeed I think the evidence is that they go too far in granting monopoly rights, they are at least able to take into account all aspects of general welfare.
Zipcar IPO Soars 66% Out of the Gate
Posted at 11:39am, Thursday Apr 14, 2011
Chip: As per your previous post, James.

I'd forgotten that customers don't even pay for gas, just the hourly charge, which is one more reason I'd be concerned, though apparently investors are not.
Peter Thiel: We’re in a Bubble and It’s Not the Internet. It’s Higher Education.
Posted at 3:11am, Thursday Apr 14, 2011
John: I'm not sure how contrarian this is, but it's a cool idea.
YouTube - Funniest Japanese Girls Prank
Posted at 9:24pm, Wednesday Apr 13, 2011
Mike: Those crafty Japanese
Penis fencing
Posted at 8:25pm, Wednesday Apr 13, 2011
nikhil: no!
Tax Update Blog: The perils of too much education
Posted at 6:47pm, Wednesday Apr 13, 2011
John: A sensible result. I gotta make sure I pay my taxes correctly in the future!
Big Mac Index
Posted at 11:06pm, Tuesday Apr 12, 2011
Adam: My one beef with this Wikipedia page: not enough (very easy to make) puns.
Area Man Gets Three And Half Years Behind Bars For Telling Women He Worked At Deutsche Bank
Posted at 9:38pm, Tuesday Apr 12, 2011
nikhil: yeaa!
Detention, Interrogation, and Targeted Killing, and a Conference at Penn
Posted at 7:16pm, Tuesday Apr 12, 2011
tvchurch: "Under Obama, the CIA has killed more people than it has captured, mainly through drone missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. At the same time, it has stopped trying to detain or interrogate suspects caught abroad, except those captured in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The GOP’s Romney Problem
Posted at 11:40am, Tuesday Apr 12, 2011
tvchurch: Good warning.
Posner on Means-Testing, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty
Posted at 11:39am, Tuesday Apr 12, 2011
tvchurch: Means testing! Woo!
How to Properly Iron a Dress Shirt
Posted at 11:37am, Tuesday Apr 12, 2011
Avi: Decent information, but:

(1) You can't iron a dress shirt properly without ironing the shoulders!
(2) Sleeves before body.
(3) Max out the heat for linen on any iron. One notch less for cotton.
(4) It's cool, you need to use more water than you expect.

It takes 4 minutes if you know what you are doing, 10 if it's your first time.
Melty roads
Posted at 11:25am, Tuesday Apr 12, 2011
Avi: That looks absolutely amazing.
These Are the First Three Adobe Photoshop Touch Apps for iPad [Photoshop]
Posted at 11:17am, Tuesday Apr 12, 2011
Avi: Exclusively for, "my most precious body appendage is tingling with pleasant turgidity anyway".

Your summer seasonals
Posted at 12:22am, Tuesday Apr 12, 2011
tvchurch: Mmm, Oberon. Can't wait to have one while watching a baseball game.
Budgeting for Opportunity -
Posted at 11:42pm, Monday Apr 11, 2011
Justin: So nice to see a conservative (with an audience) write something like this. The plan he outlined sounds pretty reasonable.
Old Georgian lady accidentally knocks out Armenia's Internet
Posted at 1:56pm, Monday Apr 11, 2011
tvchurch: What.
Lawmaker Quits for Watching Porn
Posted at 12:47pm, Monday Apr 11, 2011
Adam: Why would you do this IN parliament?
Obama’s new approach to deficit reduction to include spending on entitlements - The Washington Post
Posted at 9:50pm, Sunday Apr 10, 2011
John: This is very welcome news. I'm particularly impressed that he's willing to slog into health care again since that is the real issue on the spending side. I can't see anything really working that conforms to his no new taxes under 250K pledge. He seems to be still holding to that. Maybe he can claim a reduction in marginal rates satisfies the pledge despite an increase in actual dollars paid from base-broadening and also call it a necessary concession later in the process.
The shallow water wave equation and tsunami propagation
Posted at 4:36pm, Sunday Apr 10, 2011
John: "In particular, the wavelength of the tsunami is far greater than the depth of the ocean (which is typically 2-3 kilometres). As such, despite the depth of the ocean, the dynamics of tsunami are essentially governed by the shallow water equations."
Paper iPads hot sellers as Chinese honour dead - Yahoo! News
Posted at 3:55pm, Sunday Apr 10, 2011
John: Trade deficit?
$4.44 a gallon? Seriously?
Posted at 2:48pm, Sunday Apr 10, 2011
tvchurch: Yeah, Brod, I'm paying $4.20 a gallon right now. Thanks for the app.
When Will We See the "First Bank of Walmart"?
Posted at 2:45pm, Sunday Apr 10, 2011
tvchurch: If you fear this, you need to re-evaluate your priorities. More competition, and access to an actual bank instead of check cashing centers will be good for those with low-income in America.
A Great Week for the GOP
Posted at 2:40pm, Sunday Apr 10, 2011
tvchurch: Noted for the term "talk radio conservatism."
Noahpinion: About that TFP stagnation...
Posted at 8:34pm, Saturday Apr 09, 2011
John: Note also from the comments that "nondurables" includes services.
Posted at 4:19pm, Saturday Apr 09, 2011
tvchurch: Just, hilarious. Go Blue.
How to Get a Real Education at College -
Posted at 3:58pm, Saturday Apr 09, 2011
tvchurch: A terrific read.
Sidney Lumet, 86, Director of Modern Film Classics, Dies -
Posted at 2:04pm, Saturday Apr 09, 2011
Chip: If you haven't seen Network, watch it now. Amazingly, it's even more prescient now than it was 35 years ago. I most recently watched The Verdict, which was also fantastic (it essentially uses the trope of a down-on-his-luck lawyer but just does it really really well; having Paul Newman star certianly didn't hurt either). Serpico's great. Dog Day Afternoon's a classic. I still haven't seen 12 Angry Men yet, but that's also supposed to be fantastic. Finally, for an easy introduction into all the steps that go into making a movie, I would highly recommend his short book, Making Movies.
After Japanese Quake, a Mayor Must Make Fateful Choice -
Posted at 11:38am, Saturday Apr 09, 2011
Chip: Great article: real news from a human interest angle that's really compelling.
Mark Pennington on Hayek and Habermas
Posted at 11:57pm, Friday Apr 08, 2011
tvchurch: Pennington was at the IHS Summer Seminar I was at last summer. He was a lot of fun to talk to.
The 'No Sale' Sale - BusinessWeek
Posted at 6:00pm, Friday Apr 08, 2011
John: This might be an interesting list for people to read. What the article is completely missing is a policy perspective. It basically suggests that all of these things exist because of poor (or even corrupt?) decisions by Congress. I'd like to write a little bit about this first one to illustrate why that might not be the case.

The policy ideal, at least from the standpoint of economic efficiency and preventing tax planning or avoidance, is a flat tax on Haig-Simons income ( If the government could perfectly share in the same fixed percentage of every person's economic losses and gains as the occurred, there would be no opportunities for tax planning or avoidance. We can begin to see why that can't work in practice by examining "The 'No Sale' Sale."

In a Haig-Simons world we would want to tax the appreciation of value in an asset as it accrues. If your property goes up in value, you are wealthier and have experienced income growth.

However, it quickly becomes clear that it would be very difficult to tax appreciation as it accrues. Let's say you own a home. Each year it changes in value. Most of the time it goes up (so you have income), and sometimes it goes down (like recently, so you have losses). Think of the difficulty if you had to pay taxes on these gains annually or even more regularly (like you do with wages through withholding). You would constantly have to hire appraisers. The drain on the economy from valuation alone would probably be larger than the amount of money collected at any reasonable rate.

Moreover, what do you do if you are like many people and have a home whose value is substantially larger than the value of your liquid assets? If you experience a large gain, you might not have enough money available to pay your tax liability. You would have to sell the house in order to pay for the taxes.

Finally, the politics and compliance would be difficult. People are not economists. It is pretty counter-intuitive to have to pay tax on something that is more or less just sitting there. If the tax system, which relies on voluntary compliance backed up by a quite small number of audits, strays too far from what people consider comprehensible and fair they simply won't pay.

Because of these valuation, liquidity and compliance issues, the United States, like every other country that I know of, has what's called a realization system for taxing accrued gains. You only pay taxes on appreciated gains when those gains are "realized," i.e. when you dispose of the asset in return for something else of value. At that point, we know the value of the asset, so valuation is not a problem. Liquidity is also less of a problem because you are selling the asset anyway (there are special rules for so-called "like-kind exchanges" where you swap two pieces of property that deal with some of the remaining liquidity problems). Finally, compliance is much easier and more natural as it is intuitively obvious when you sell something that you have actually had income.

But the realization requirement creates room for this kind of planning opportunity. First, there is value in deferring your taxes. Because of the time value of money, it is better to pay taxes next year than to pay them today. Second, realizations are typically voluntary events. You can decide when to sell your property so you can, in effect, decide when to pay taxes on appreciated gains.

There is some real bite, at least initially, to the realization requirement. If you can't sell an asset, then you are going to bear the risk that it declines in value. If you want to ditch that risk, you have to, in the first instance, pay your taxes now rather than later.

This "no sale" sale is a way to try to get around the economic downside--bearing risk in the asset's value--that goes along with the tax advantage--deferral on the taxation of accrued gains. By putting a collar of options around the shares, the executive has dramatically lowered his risk without triggering immediate taxation.

Congress has created tools to deal with this kind of move. If you remove substantially all of the risk in holding an asset, then you are deemed to have disposed of it under the Code and you have to pay taxes now. But you can see Congress can't play this game perfectly. Congress does not want to make people go through valuation and liquidation any time they get any sort of option protection on an asset. But there is no bright line between removing all risk and removing none, so a flexible standard has to be applied by the courts. Thus, some opportunity to plan remains baked into the system.

Another potential solution would be to introduce "mark-to-market" taxation on certain assets like stocks that trade on public exchanges. This idea is fairly natural. All of the problems associated with taxing gains as they accrued, which we discussed above with the house example, are less severe when publicly traded stocks are at issue. First, valuation is not a problem--there is a market price. Second, liquidity is much less of a problem--typically you own a large number of shares so you could sell off a fraction of them to pay your taxes annually. Finally, the idea that you earn money when your stocks go up is pretty intuitive, so compliance is less of an issue. There are a fair number of people who favor a mark-to-market system for publicly traded stocks, more or less for these reasons.

But mark-to-market has problems of its own. It creates a distortion on the market. There would be an incentive to put money into assets that do not have mark-to-market treatment because you could get the benefit of tax deferral. But a disincentive to hold liquid assets would reduce overall liquidity in the economy, which can be very economically harmful (as we saw in 2008).

So, we see that even this seemingly simple "tax dodge" exists not because Congress is corrupt or stupid but because any approach presents fairly complex policy trade-offs. It's not at all obvious that the cure wouldn't be worse than the disease for this kind of transaction.
Meredith Whitney = Voldemort? Muni Buffs Think So.
Posted at 2:01pm, Friday Apr 08, 2011
John: Sharing for: "Investments in muni-bond funds have shriveled for 21 consecutive weeks. New bonds may shrink to half last year’s level."

A big part of this is probably the increased credit risk of municipalities. But part of it might also be something I harped on about the Obama-McConnel deal back when it was struck. That deal extended many of the tax stimulus provisions from the ARRA. However, the deal explicitly left out Build America Bonds. BAB's provided an alternative tax treatment for certain kinds of municipal bonds that, in addition to not leaking part of the subsidy intended for municipalities to high-rate tax payers, allowed tax-exempts and foreign investors to participate in the tax savings involved in investing in muni-bonds. I can't help but think that extending the Build America Bonds provisions would have reduced some of the drying up of credit for municipalities by opening them up to global credit markets.
Relativistic statistical arbitrage
Posted at 1:42pm, Friday Apr 08, 2011
tvchurch: Cowen - behind the times. Kraft sent this to James and I months ago...
How Richard Feynman Thought
Posted at 1:42pm, Friday Apr 08, 2011
tvchurch: If you like Feynman:

"It’s not quite true that Feynman could not accept an idea until he had torn it apart. Rather, the idea could not yet be part of his way of thinking and looking at the world. Before an idea could contribute to that worldview, Feynman wanted to turn over the idea, to see why it was true, from any angle that he could find. (I like to think that Feynman would have enjoyed my book on Street-Fighting Mathematics.) In other words, he wanted to connect a new idea to what he already understood and thereby extend his understanding."
40 Things I Learned in My First 40 Years
Posted at 1:22am, Friday Apr 08, 2011
tvchurch: Read. Digest. Embrace.
Best XXX Ever! Mom Don't Read (PIC) | Fork Party
Posted at 11:15pm, Thursday Apr 07, 2011
John: Brian Greene's latest book is the best one yet.
Questions that are rarely asked
Posted at 10:19pm, Thursday Apr 07, 2011
nikhil: i think this question is rarely asked for a good reason
Making the Ryan Economic Assumptions Work
Posted at 7:14pm, Thursday Apr 07, 2011
tvchurch: "I should note that every single one of these projections is utterly possible and indeed internally consistent. Paul Ryan and Heritage are implicitly assuming a repeal of US immigration restrictions.

"Such a restriction would drive up GDP and down the portion of GDP spent on defense. It would result in an enormous housing boom and the aftermath of that boom will bring down the rate of unemployment.

"If this had simply been made explicit I would have endorsed the plan immediately."

Thought provoking comment.
The Cicada Principle and Why It Matters to Web Designers » HTML & CSS, Layout » Design Festival
Posted at 3:35pm, Thursday Apr 07, 2011
tvchurch: Neat hack.
Iron Dome intercepts first rocket - Israel News, Ynetnews
Posted at 1:59pm, Thursday Apr 07, 2011
tvchurch: It works? Wow. That's awesome.
Scrooge McDuck Gives Richest Alternative Investment Managers A Run For Their Money
Posted at 1:52pm, Thursday Apr 07, 2011
Adam: Some of these are a little questionable.
Case Against Smith
Posted at 8:56am, Thursday Apr 07, 2011
John: Apparently this is not a joke and is made by real law students.

The evidence that Smith is an "extremist," a "radical," and is "against common sense concepts of fairness" is:

(1) Two phrases taken from a newspaper article, one of which is not put in any context by the article, and the other of which describes him as an "intellectual powerhouse."

(2) An op-ed that argued for the position that won in the Supreme Court in one case.

(3) An amicus brief that argued for the position that won in the Supreme Court in a second.

(4) Two negative quotes from politicians strongly in favor of the particular law that he is strongly opposed to. If you read the first source, which is about McCain's temper, McCain claims that what he actually said to Smith was "I don't want to shake hands with you." If you read the second source you see it is in the context of Clinton nominating Smith for a position on the FEC (under pressure by the GOP for sure). Smith responded to the quote by saying "I don't hate campaign finance reform. I favor some reforms."
Zediva Streams New Releases Through Copyright Loophole
Posted at 6:04am, Thursday Apr 07, 2011
John: Clever girl.
Accused Insider Traders Argue Over How Much Effort They’ll Exert To Destroy Evidence Like Two Guys Debating Whether It’s Worth Paying the Extra $5 For Getting The Pizza Delivered Rather Than Picking It Up Down The Block
Posted at 10:14pm, Wednesday Apr 06, 2011
nikhil: unbelievable
P.J. O’Rourke: "Atlas Shrugged. And So Did I"
Posted at 7:40pm, Wednesday Apr 06, 2011
tvchurch: ""But I will not pan “Atlas Shrugged.” I don’t have the guts. If you associate with Randians—and I do—saying anything critical about Ayn Rand is almost as scary as saying anything critical to Ayn Rand. What’s more, given how protective Randians are of Rand, I’m not sure she’s dead."

Mike Hart Visualizes You Some Scoreboards
Posted at 7:34pm, Wednesday Apr 06, 2011
tvchurch: Holy crap. Can't wait to go back.
US LHC Blog » A hint of something new in “W+dijets” at CDF
Posted at 7:06pm, Wednesday Apr 06, 2011
John: Fairly accessible.
Rivlin: ‘I don’t support the version of Medicare premium support in the Ryan plan’
Posted at 6:13pm, Wednesday Apr 06, 2011
John: Rivlin continues to be my biggest octogenarian crush.
General Electric's Aggressive Tax Strategy | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
Posted at 4:41pm, Wednesday Apr 06, 2011
John: Other factors determining G.E.'s low tax bill that I left out of my discussion.
RSA Animate – The Internet in Society: Empowering and Censoring Citizen?
Posted at 3:12am, Wednesday Apr 06, 2011
John: Laura is a big fan of Evgeny.
Texas Brewpubs Want Permission To Sell Beer In Stores
Posted at 2:42am, Wednesday Apr 06, 2011
John: Let's say we quintupled the beer tax to 25 cents per 12 ounce federal excise tax on beer. How much revenue would that raise as a percentage of federal outlays?

Well 20 cents per beer works out to about $70 per barrel, which in turn is somewhere around $20bn if there are no exemptions ( That's about half a percent of 2010 federal outlays, which isn't chump change but also isn't exactly "a lot of much-needed revenue." That's also assuming there are no behavioral effects, which assumption kind of defeats the other purpose of reducing crime and improving public health. This might very well be worth doing for Pigouvian reasons, but its not really a revenue raiser.
Justice Kagan's First Dissent - Andrew Cohen - National - The Atlantic
Posted at 6:56pm, Tuesday Apr 05, 2011
John: She happens to be right on this one too. Kennedy's distinction borders on the absurd. Even if one were to ignore the "similar economic consequences" of a tax credit and a direct expenditure, the creation of a tax credit directly creates higher deficits, which directly creates higher interest payments to creditors of the federal government that are paid out of general taxpayer funds. A dissenting taxpayer's green dollars are still contributing to "an establishment in violation of conscience." Even under the crabbed standard the Court creates, the distinction doesn't fly.
Michael Steinhardt Wants To Know How Long Before People Like CNBC ‘Wake Up’ To Warren Buffett’s ‘Reality’ « Dealbreaker: A Wall Street Tabloid – Business News Headlines and Financial Gossip
Posted at 6:06pm, Tuesday Apr 05, 2011
John: This is an amazing interview.
NASDAQ to Rebalance Nasdaq-100 to Rely Less on Apple (AAPL)
Posted at 5:04pm, Tuesday Apr 05, 2011
tvchurch: Very, very interesting.
Air Force spending $4 million a day for Libya war - Yahoo! News
Posted at 1:45pm, Tuesday Apr 05, 2011
tvchurch: Good to know.
The Limited Edition Cheap T-Shirt, Gone in 24hours! | TeeFury
Posted at 12:58pm, Tuesday Apr 05, 2011
tvchurch: Cyber3PO & R2Dalek? Ordered.
Don’t disgust me, please
Posted at 12:04pm, Tuesday Apr 05, 2011
Chip: This is great and really surprising given it's a letter from the 1870s. What the blurb doesn't mention is that Lafcadio Hearn was one of the first westerners to travel to Japan and was probably the first western popularizer of Japan through his collection of traditional Japanese ghost/supernatural stories. The movie Kwaidan is fantastic and based on Hearn's collections.
Michele Bachmann 2012? - Katrina Trinko - National Review Online
Posted at 7:53am, Tuesday Apr 05, 2011
John: Hadn't been thinking too much about her, but Bachmann is currently sitting in 4th on Intrade behind Romney, Pawlenty, and (my boy) Daniels.
Campaign-finance Reform and the Supreme Court : The New Yorker
Posted at 4:28pm, Monday Apr 04, 2011
Chip: Nice, brief overview of Supreme Court decisions on campaign finance. I disagree w/ Toobin in that I don't think the right-leaning justices are making these decisions for the express purpose of benefiting the GOP.
Erdős–Bacon number - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 1:35pm, Monday Apr 04, 2011
Adam: Most of these shouldn't count (film score credits? really?) but Natalie Portman's is legit.
Suicides Now More Plentiful Than Traffic Deaths
Posted at 11:45am, Monday Apr 04, 2011
tvchurch: Wow.
jtnimoy - Tron Legacy (2010)
Posted at 11:14pm, Sunday Apr 03, 2011
tvchurch: Wow.
Badass of the Week: Dudley Morton
Posted at 3:44pm, Sunday Apr 03, 2011
tvchurch: What a hilarious read. NSFW.
The Difference Between Politeness and Tact
Posted at 3:16pm, Sunday Apr 03, 2011
tvchurch: Ha!
04/03/2011 |
Posted at 2:51pm, Sunday Apr 03, 2011
tvchurch: Good lord I love FoxTrot. #Nerds
Seminal books for each decade
Posted at 2:41pm, Sunday Apr 03, 2011
tvchurch: Nice list. I need to re-read Catch-22 and the Great Gatsby.
Nation's most dangerous small city rehires police - Yahoo! News
Posted at 8:38pm, Saturday Apr 02, 2011
Chip: Now I feel safe working in Camden this summer.
Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes - The Washington Post
Posted at 2:24pm, Saturday Apr 02, 2011
tvchurch: "We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.

"The final report by the U.N. committee of independent experts — chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis — that followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report has found that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza” while “the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.

"Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets."

No kidding.
Chipotle's Chelsea Location: Best Quality-Per-Dollar Ratio In The City | Serious Eats : New York
Posted at 1:42pm, Saturday Apr 02, 2011
Mike: I'm going to miss working right by this Chipotle...
NMA Portrays Groupon Users as a Horde of Zombies - Video Interlude - Eater National
Posted at 1:34pm, Saturday Apr 02, 2011
Mike: I love these videos.
A Cure for Fiscal Failure? by Kenneth Rogoff - Project Syndicate
Posted at 1:14pm, Friday Apr 01, 2011
Adam: Ken Rogoff is on board with my idea, and calls it "certainly one of the more innovative and promising ideas to emerge from a rather barren policy landscape".
James Cameron Says The Next Revolution in Cinema Is…
Posted at 11:41am, Friday Apr 01, 2011
Adam: Sounds exciting.
Supreme Mistakes | Pepperdine Law Review Symposium | School of Law | Pepperdine University
Posted at 11:09am, Friday Apr 01, 2011
John: This is a symposium on the "most maligned Supreme Court cases," but one of these things is not like the others.

Korematsu: You can lock people up based on the country their parents came from.

Plessy: Separate but equal is A-OK.

Buck: Yay eugenics!

Dred Scott: Black people are not humans.

Erie: When federal courts are hearing state law claims, e.g. breach of contract, negligence, etc., they should apply state law rather than creating new federal common law.
‘The Pale King’ by David Foster Wallace - Book Review -
Posted at 9:37am, Friday Apr 01, 2011
Chip: For DFW fans...
Pioneer Anomaly Solved By 1970s Computer Graphics Technique - Technology Review
Posted at 2:53am, Friday Apr 01, 2011
John: I coded up some Phong shading back in the day.
Dopiest Constitutional Amendment of All Time?
Posted at 8:52pm, Thursday Mar 31, 2011
John: Yeah...this is a somewhat...simpler...approach than what I was thinking about for a balanced budget amendment.

Even worse is Section 4: "Any bill that imposes a new tax or increases the statutory rate of any tax or the aggregate amount of revenue may pass only by a two-thirds majority of the duly chosen and sworn Members of each House of Congress by a roll call vote."

Second only to the Corwin Amendment (
Computers and Calculators in Schools
Posted at 5:54pm, Thursday Mar 31, 2011
tvchurch: Throw calculators out.
Path Dependence
Posted at 5:53pm, Thursday Mar 31, 2011
tvchurch: QWERTY !> DVORAK? Hmm. Really?
How the Peace Process Empowers Arab Regimes
Posted at 5:47pm, Thursday Mar 31, 2011
tvchurch: "The fact that a wave of revolutions has shaken the foundations of Arab politics without the slightest apparent connection to popular outrage against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians should be surprising to most experts and politicians in the West. For over four decades, the driving idea behind the West’s approach to the Middle East has been the supposed centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to Arab popular anger at the West and its key to ensuring the stability of the West’s favored regimes."

There goes that explanation...
Most of the $110B Payroll Tax Cut of 2011 is Being Diverted to Food and Energy Costs
Posted at 5:40pm, Thursday Mar 31, 2011
tvchurch: President Obama passed the payroll tax on the wrong side - the employee - if he wanted to boost hiring. Political waste.
TaxProf Blog: Tax Court: Woman Can Deduct Funds Withdrawn by Abusive Boyfriend
Posted at 4:18pm, Thursday Mar 31, 2011
John: Here's a different example of weird IRS litigation strategy. Why do they drag this woman to court on a close call over peanuts? They can't think this is the best case to establish a precedent with given the defendant's sympathetic nature. They're not getting much money off of this. It's not like she was committing tax fraud--she's taking a perfectly defensible tax position. And if anyone could use a break from the tax man...
BBC News - Gravity satellite yields 'Potato Earth' view
Posted at 3:23pm, Thursday Mar 31, 2011
tvchurch: Very neat.
Secret Space Plane Can’t Hide From Amateur Sleuths | Danger Room |
Posted at 3:21pm, Thursday Mar 31, 2011
tvchurch: So cool.
“Ethos of the Unit”
Posted at 2:34pm, Thursday Mar 31, 2011
tvchurch: Definitely.
Attention Gold-Digging Women of Silicon Valley: I’m On To You
Posted at 11:21am, Thursday Mar 31, 2011
Adam: Um, I just tried to replicate these results and the only one for whom this is true is Zuckerberg.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is Back as The Governator -
Posted at 10:29am, Thursday Mar 31, 2011
Chip: Sweet. Don't know if anybody else does this, but when reading the quotes by Arnold, I found myself reading them in his voice rather than my own.
YouTube - twin baby boys have a conversation - part 2 ORIGINAL VIDEO
Posted at 10:17am, Thursday Mar 31, 2011
Chip: what on earth are they talking about?
Posted at 6:19am, Thursday Mar 31, 2011
John: Trippiest game ever.
SSRN-Like Water for Energy: The Water-Energy Nexus Through the Lens of Tax Policy by Roberta Mann
Posted at 5:41am, Thursday Mar 31, 2011
John: More reasons to like PV.
Dealpolitik: Has Warren Buffett Lost His Way?
Posted at 4:07am, Thursday Mar 31, 2011
John: Something like this is a really bad reason to go to jail. Just don't do it, folks.
The new tax havens - 60 Minutes - CBS News
Posted at 10:09pm, Wednesday Mar 30, 2011
John: The first few minutes are a little silly, but this is a relatively fair popularized look at the biggest international tax issue for the U.S. From my point of view, the biggest bullshitter here is the Congressman who has an impressive streak of saying almost nothing that is true. The Cisco guy also has a couple of iffy moments. You can see him clearly dodge one question about whether lowering the corporate rate would "solve all of the problems," and the interviewer lets it slide. I also don't think the one time amnesty proposal makes much sense at all.
Facebook as Leading Sector...
Posted at 9:48pm, Wednesday Mar 30, 2011
nikhil: i cannot follow this logic. can anyone help me?
Language Log » “I know, right?”
Posted at 2:16pm, Wednesday Mar 30, 2011
Chip: I say this all the time.
Lawmaker to Kan: Watch Jack Bauer - Japan Real Time - WSJ
Posted at 8:59am, Wednesday Mar 30, 2011
Chip: wwjbd
Oliver Peoples Commemorates "To Kill a Mockingbird" With New Frames -
Posted at 1:32am, Wednesday Mar 30, 2011
Mike: James, I think you should get these.
Should We Cut Corporate Taxes By Raising Rates on Investors?
Posted at 6:20pm, Tuesday Mar 29, 2011
John: This is a good idea, but a modification is even better. Instead of using the higher rates on investors to lower marginal rates on corporations, you can allow corporations to deduct dividends just as they would deduct interest payments to creditors. In addition to getting essentially the same efficiency and distributive benefits, you knock out the differential treatment between debt and equity as a means of raising money for corporations. Treasury tried to do this back in 1990, so we have some pretty detailed plans about how it would go. Even though you won't hear Jon Stewart talking about it, this is orders of magnitude more important to the fairness and efficiency of our tax code than worrying about what G.E. pays in United States income taxes in any given year (not that we shouldn't also worry about that).
Women Engineers Are Jerk-Averse
Posted at 5:32pm, Tuesday Mar 29, 2011
Adam: I honestly thought this post was going to be about the derivative of acceleration.
Every river system mapped in World of Rivers
Posted at 2:13pm, Tuesday Mar 29, 2011
John: OhmygodIneedthat! River map is awesome.
Quadrocopter Ball Juggling
Posted at 1:50pm, Tuesday Mar 29, 2011
John: These things are always cool.
WISER :: Multi-state survey of Race & Politics
Posted at 12:05am, Tuesday Mar 29, 2011
John: That's a pretty big difference.
Posted at 11:28pm, Monday Mar 28, 2011
Adam: Oy, Carly. "Melissa Cosgrove" and "cut takes"? Shouldn't the world have solid context-aware spell-check technology by now?
Religious Symbol or Cultural Symbol? -
Posted at 9:02pm, Monday Mar 28, 2011
Chip: Posting this because we just last week discussed the same topic in my Japanese Law and Society Class. In the Japanese context the issue was whether a Shinto ceremony at the groundbreaking for a government building was really a religious ceremony or just cultural. The court in Japan said the ceremony was not religious. While I still disagree with the court in Japan, I think it had a lot more going for it than the Italian court does in this case (assuming the author's rendition of the opinion is accurate). The more fundamental issue (not addressed by the court) is whether or not Shintoism itself is even a religion or really just a collection of cultural beliefs. Again, I think it definitely is a religion, but there's a lot of evidence you could bring up to support the contrary position.
Bernanke Press Conferences Are More Significant Than The New York Times Says
Posted at 6:09pm, Monday Mar 28, 2011
John: I think this is a very good idea. Until taking my class on the financial crisis, I was woefully ignorant about what the Fed was doing, could do, did in response to emergency, why it did what it did, what legal authority it had, etc. I don't think the public at large is now much better informed than I was, and the Fed is hugely important while have quite low political accountability.
Adventures in Non-Destructive Budget Cutting
Posted at 5:21pm, Monday Mar 28, 2011
Adam: Wouldn't the vending machine lobby love a change like that? Everyone would have to buy new vending machines.
The Koch brothers and the progressive master narrative
Posted at 3:03pm, Monday Mar 28, 2011
tvchurch: "The progressive master narrative is that inequalities of income and wealth are easily translated into inequalities of political power, and that the rich as a class exploit this unequal power to shape the basic structure of our public institutions to their permanent advantage, in effect disenfranchising the less-wealthy and leaving their rights and interests without the protection of authentically democratic institutions. I think the channel through which the Kochs have most influenced American politics illustrates several problems with this narrative."

Wilkinson is always worth reading. I like this piece - the Left has demonized the Koch Brothers. Here is a measured assessment.
Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992)
Posted at 1:21pm, Monday Mar 28, 2011
John: Justin, we had a discussion a long time ago, before I started law school, about whether a judge would be bound to overrule Roe if he or she came to the conclusion that it was wrongly decided. Here's Justice Kennedy tackling that question. (I can't actually say for sure that it is Kennedy, because in an extremely rare occurrence Kennedy, O'Connor and Breyer co-wrote this opinion and didn't say which part was written by whom. But reading between the lines, it's very likely Kennedy.) It's an interesting read.
Defending Obama in Shanghai
Posted at 11:41am, Monday Mar 28, 2011
tvchurch: I keep reading Julian Ku because he's in a very interesting situation - an American spending a year in China, teaching and auditing Chinese law classes. The contrasts in viewpoints and policies between the U.S. and China are fascinating.
Model Rail
Posted at 1:27am, Monday Mar 28, 2011
John: It's clearly HO not H0.
List of best-selling music artists - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 11:28pm, Sunday Mar 27, 2011
Chip: Good list. Jay Z, surprisingly low. Lady Gaga, surprisingly high, given her relatively recent introduction.
10000310183 - Google Search
Posted at 12:37pm, Sunday Mar 27, 2011
John: Here's a fun game. Try to find a lower number with no hits.
Scrubs Season 1 – episode 24 – My Last Day | Free Online Episodes
Posted at 11:29am, Sunday Mar 27, 2011
John: 17:45-18:00. The Double!
Dorf on Law: Taxes, Information, and Democracy
Posted at 5:49am, Sunday Mar 27, 2011
John: There's something to this, but if I could just push back a bit.

Take a look at this chart:

and try to figure out if there is some neutral reason to want to include payroll tax revenues in any receipt. Also, keep in mind that the "dedicated financing stream" for Social Security comes from a flat tax that exempts both income over $107K and income earned from investments, while income taxes come from a progressive rate structure that exempts income below a certain amount (that varies from family to family but can be as high as $60K) and still taxes investment income, although at a lower rate than ordinary income.

Honestly, if people are confused about whether it is Social Security versus Medicare that poses the biggest long-term budget problem, instead of thinking that it might be foreign aid or government salaries, that's a huge win.

Finally, budget growth, in the form of health care cost growth, is the most daunting problem we face. But we do have a budget level problem as well, one which is arguably more important in the medium term. To answer the question: What is the most desirable level of government spending? Americans need to know how much the things they like cost. Buchanan is worried they might not make the most informed choice possible, and in a way that will harm a program that has redefined the challenges of old age. ( But they have to make this choice somehow. Making it blind is not a better option.
Digitize A Book Using A Circular Saw [Video]
Posted at 1:36am, Sunday Mar 27, 2011
Avi: Purely for the hilarious title.
ROBBINS: Afghan atrocities and jihadist victories - Washington Times
Posted at 4:00pm, Saturday Mar 26, 2011
tvchurch: Filed under 'hypocrisy for both sides.'
Our Children's Financial Crisis
Posted at 2:42pm, Saturday Mar 26, 2011
tvchurch: "The seeds of this crisis were planted long ago, by previous generations. Our parents and grandparents had noble aims. They saw poverty among the elderly and created Social Security. They saw sickness and created Medicare and Medicaid. They saw Americans struggle to afford health insurance and embraced health care reform with subsidies for middle-class families."

Mankiw tries his hand at Presidential Speechwriting.

I don't like the $2 gas tax raise, but taxing employer-provided health insurance is a must.
Connect the dots
Posted at 2:38pm, Saturday Mar 26, 2011
tvchurch: Scott Sumner is taking a break for a while.

I can't believe he spent so much time blogging!

Can't wait until he's back.
Best-ever quantum measurement breaks Heisenberg limit - physics-math - 23 March 2011 - New Scientist
Posted at 1:24pm, Saturday Mar 26, 2011
tvchurch: Um, what?
The Zapruder Goal
Posted at 1:17pm, Saturday Mar 26, 2011
tvchurch: But when they do it on TV it always gets clearer! I don't understand...

The Price of Taxing the Rich
Posted at 1:14pm, Saturday Mar 26, 2011
tvchurch: You don't have to like the commentary. But the graph is neato.
G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether -
Posted at 10:56pm, Friday Mar 25, 2011
John: G.E.'s an Ivins client as well.
Society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind
Posted at 8:50pm, Friday Mar 25, 2011
nikhil: icy
Geography lesson
Posted at 6:40pm, Friday Mar 25, 2011
tvchurch: For the geography lesson. Not sure about other part.
The Speech Obama Hasn't Given -
Posted at 6:34pm, Friday Mar 25, 2011
tvchurch: Fair point (although the exclamation point lessens her credibility).
The GOP Anti-Bachmann Campaign Begins
Posted at 5:58pm, Friday Mar 25, 2011
tvchurch: GOP++

No Palin or Bachmann.
Quantum Smell
Posted at 4:03pm, Friday Mar 25, 2011
John: Cool stuff.
The Worst Thing
Posted at 3:20pm, Friday Mar 25, 2011
tvchurch: "The way not to get sucked into an operation with uncertainty at the end is for the President to develop clear and achievable political objectives for going to war, to let the Pentagon develop military plans that will attain the President’s objectives, to organize a coalition both willing and able to achieve those objectives, to persuade the American people the objectives are worth the risk and cost we will be shouldering, and put the war at the center of the President’s political agenda until the objectives are achieved."

By May Jim Tressel Will Be A Pakistani Shepherd
Posted at 3:20pm, Friday Mar 25, 2011
tvchurch: "Hope you like sweatervests made from your own wool, sheeps"

Made me laugh.
Mapping the 2010 U.S. Census -
Posted at 9:02am, Friday Mar 25, 2011
Chip: Good map. From what I could tell, Michigan was the only state to have a decrease in population over the past 10 years.
Chartwell, the infographics font
Posted at 7:08am, Friday Mar 25, 2011
Avi: Brilliant!
Plaza Hotel Condo Sale Sets New York Record at $48 Million - Bloomberg
Posted at 4:21pm, Thursday Mar 24, 2011
Adam: That's a lot of money.
Iran gets a UN human rights investigator
Posted at 3:57pm, Thursday Mar 24, 2011
tvchurch: Woohoo! We'll see if it's a meaningful critique later.
After Collective Trauma, Religiosity and/or Spirituality Found to Affect Health Outcomes - UB NewsCenter
Posted at 2:59pm, Thursday Mar 24, 2011
John: I always like to plug irreligious spiritualism as an important part of anyone's psychological toolkit.
Badass of the Week: Hideaki Akaiwa
Posted at 2:58pm, Thursday Mar 24, 2011
tvchurch: ...and I found a new blog to follow.

But yeah, read the article for an, "Oh, awesome." feeling.
Slow motion lightning /
Posted at 2:13pm, Thursday Mar 24, 2011
John: This adds a lot to that ol' lightning actually goes in reverse tidbit.
The Monkey Cage: Voting: Could This Be a Trend?
Posted at 1:40pm, Thursday Mar 24, 2011
John: If I were asked for the single federal constitutional amendment that I think would be the best idea, it would enable something like this at the federal level.
UNITED STATES V. DAVIS, 397 U. S. 301 :: Volume 397 :: 1970 :: US Supreme Court Cases from Justia & Oyez
Posted at 1:18pm, Thursday Mar 24, 2011
John: A few weeks ago I was trying to explain to Rob the phenomenon of the IRS repeatedly shooting itself in the foot, but the example I was thinking of was pretty complicated. Here's one that's relatively easy to explain, so I thought I would go ahead and do one of those long Reader posts about it.

The issue in this case is the taxation of redemptions. Corporate tax is fundamentally about how you tax money that comes out of a corporation and goes into the hands of stakeholders. But a shareholder can get money in exchange for his equity interest in a corporation in all sorts of ways.

First, money can come out in the form of a dividend--i.e. the corporation wants to share some of its retained earnings with its equity holders so it gives them some cash. A dividend is taxed as ordinary income (under the Bush tax cuts this story has changed somewhat, but that's not important for the story in 1970), which meant (at the time) about 70% went to Uncle Sam.

Second, the shareholder can sell some of his stock in the corporation. This will typically trigger a capital gain. That means the shareholder pays absolutely nothing on the amount that he initially put in, he "recovers his capital," and then pays only (at the time) 20% on the untaxed appreciated gain of the stock. Obviously, that looks a lot better if you are the taxpayer.

Third, he can sell some of his stock back to the corporation itself. This is called a redemption. The problem with a redemption is that, depending on the circumstances, it can look, from the shareholder's economic perspective, exactly like a dividend or exactly like a third party sale.

So how do you tax redemptions? Congress decided that it would try to identify, or in many circumstances have courts identify, redemptions that were more sale-like and ones that were more dividend-like and tax them accordingly. Part of this effort was to create a provision of the Code that simply said that a redemption that is "essentially equivalent to a dividend" will be taxed like a dividend.

Now, the IRS started adopting an aggressive litigation strategy on the meaning of this provision. They pursued this case all the way up to the Supreme Court and won a resounding victory. The Court created the very inclusive bright-line rule that I excerpted above.

This sounds like great news for the IRS. They have this really powerful tool that they can use to characterize redemptions as dividends, and the tax rate on dividends is much higher than on sales.

But, the story doesn't end there. The IRS seemed to forget about another provision of the Code. Section 243 contains what is called the intercorporate dividends deduction. It basically says that if you are a corporation that owns stock, then you don't have to pay taxes on the dividends that you receive. This is designed to prevent the corporate double-tax from turning into a corporate triple or quadruple or more tax when dividends get passed around some complex corporate structure before coming out the the ultimate individual shareholders.

Now the IRS's hard fought sword can be turned against them by corporate tax planners. To a tax planner a bright-line inclusive rule that may not map on to economic reality and that they can use to structure a transaction to receive a definite tax gain is just free money. So the IRS ended up losing big time even though they won their case.

My Professor last term, who advises governments around the world, analogized this kind of thing to watching a soccer match between a professional team and ten year olds. The professionals (i.e. the corporate taxpayers) are completely disciplined and keep their positions on the field. When they pass the ball to one player, the kids (i.e. the tax authorities) all run together in unison towards the ball. When they finally get there, the professional just kicks the ball to his teammate who can effortlessly score.

Now, the analogy is a little overdrawn. The IRS not only has Congress's ears, but they write the bulk of the rules themselves in the form of Treasury regulations. They are more like ten year olds who are able to change the rules mid-play. The amount of disorganization that suggests is probably accurate. Anyway, there are definitely times when you have to ask yourself if the Commissioner is paying enough attention to overall litigation strategy.
Tenure for Teachers: How much is it Worth? «
Posted at 11:17am, Thursday Mar 24, 2011
John: Interesting post.

tl;dr version: Christie says removing tenure for teachers will save money. If the value that teachers place on tenure exceeds the cost to the state in supplying it, then getting rid of tenure will actually lose money in the medium to long term because salaries will have to go up more than the offsetting savings. Some statistical analysis plus past experience with removing tenure form superintendents suggests this will lose NJ a lot of money.

tl;dr version for the tl;dr version: Christie doesn't get that when you are in economic negotiations instead of prosecuting people, you will individually get a better result by growing the pie than by being a hard ass.
Limewire Being Sued For 75 Trillion
Posted at 4:15am, Thursday Mar 24, 2011
John: The sad part is that they have a credible (although likely not winning) argument on the $75 trillion figure. Congress might want to reconsider that statutory damages provision.
A Dog House Heated and Cooled Using Geothermal Energy DogEden
Posted at 7:44pm, Wednesday Mar 23, 2011
John: Rob, you should be modeling the shit out of this.
Quickening - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 4:43pm, Wednesday Mar 23, 2011
John: Never heard of this before. Anyway, it's kind of interesting to note that quickening, onset of brain activity, and viability all occur relatively rapidly, typically somewhere between weeks 15 through 23. About 4% of abortions are performed during those weeks, and 95% occur before them.
TaxProf Blog: Smith Posts Tax Papers on SSRN
Posted at 2:45pm, Wednesday Mar 23, 2011
John: Go Ivins! This guy is going to be my boss.
Time Management and the Budget Debate
Posted at 2:42pm, Wednesday Mar 23, 2011
John: Good article. Also, take a look at it over at CNN. They really manage to mess it up with a megafuckton of clutter.
Present arms
Posted at 1:26pm, Wednesday Mar 23, 2011
Adam: The UAE is responsible for almost 5% of the arms exports detailed here? That seems like a lot for a country with a population of 5 million.
Republicans Introduce Legislation Redefining Pi as Exactly 3
Posted at 1:06pm, Wednesday Mar 23, 2011
Detroit's Population Crashes -
Posted at 1:04pm, Wednesday Mar 23, 2011
tvchurch: Says it all.
New 3D Battery May Charge Phones in Seconds > Battery >
Posted at 3:05am, Wednesday Mar 23, 2011
John: Sounds cool.
Yglesias » Means-Testing Social Security
Posted at 2:57am, Wednesday Mar 23, 2011
John: Means-testing means one of two things. One way is to test versus the amount of non-Social Security income the person has during retirement. As you see this saves almost no money, and it also creates a disincentive to save for retirement.

The other way is to test versus lifetime-income. Since that's the one that makes much more sense, it would be nice if this chart had something to do with it.
Permission to land
Posted at 11:49pm, Tuesday Mar 22, 2011
tvchurch: Wow.
BBC News - Guatemala's Alvaro Colom to divorce wife Sandra Torres
Posted at 10:48am, Tuesday Mar 22, 2011
Adam: True love.
Posted at 4:57am, Tuesday Mar 22, 2011
Avi: Cute and clever. The guys at ThinkGeek are amazing—remember the 8-bit tie?
Boxer: ‘The DOS Game Emulator That’s Fit for Your Mac’
Posted at 3:06am, Tuesday Mar 22, 2011
Avi: If Gruber is only getting to this now, that means too many people haven't heard of it. Boxer was one of the few apps I got on day one with a Mac. Played plenty of Duke Nukem, Hocus Pocus and ran QB45 in this. Excellent program.
A Libyan Insurgency Would Not Look Like Iraq
Posted at 12:23am, Tuesday Mar 22, 2011
tvchurch: #2 - Alastair Smith's To Lose a Battle: France, 1940 is also worth reading.
Copy-Machine Question Spawns Deposition for the History Books
Posted at 12:17am, Tuesday Mar 22, 2011
John: Ah.
Another Netflix Content Idea: Saving Cancelled Cult Hits
Posted at 10:56pm, Monday Mar 21, 2011
John: Please please please.
That was quick: Four lines of code is all it takes for The New York Times’ paywall to come tumbling down » Nieman Journalism Lab » Pushing to the Future of Journalism
Posted at 7:54pm, Monday Mar 21, 2011
tvchurch: Wow.
Some Early Thoughts on Chinese Constitutional Law
Posted at 7:08pm, Monday Mar 21, 2011
tvchurch: Very interesting to me.
Some Early Thoughts on Chinese Constitutional Law
Posted at 7:08pm, Monday Mar 21, 2011
tvchurch: Very interesting to me.
A Town Orthogonal To Mudville
Posted at 4:41pm, Monday Mar 21, 2011
tvchurch: Last picture. Makes me chuckle.
Chebyshev Is Ready for her Close Up
Posted at 4:39pm, Monday Mar 21, 2011
tvchurch: Best name for a dog ever? #NerdJoke
Libya crisis: Gaddafi uses civilians as human shields to prevent military targets | Mail Online
Posted at 3:37pm, Monday Mar 21, 2011
tvchurch: "Meanwhile, Gaddafi has ordered his troops to round up civilians from nearby towns to be used as human shields towns to avoid targets being hit by allied forces, it was claimed today."

forget harvard and a 4 year degree you can make more as a plumber in the long run says prof. kotlikoff: Tech Ticker, Yahoo! Finance
Posted at 3:10pm, Monday Mar 21, 2011
John: Should have followed through on those childhood dreams of becoming a plumber...
What nation has the most progressive tax system?
Posted at 3:07pm, Monday Mar 21, 2011
John: This is somewhat misleading. Tax system =/= federal income taxation. The ultimate source of this data, the OECD, does actually offer a somewhat comparable but more comprehensive picture of the distributed effects of government policy with both taxing and spending taken together, and the United States does not come out on top there. (

If you look at the before tax and transfers Gini coefficients and the after tax and transfers Gini coefficients you can see what impact government policy is having on the distribution of wealth. Before taxes an transfers, the United States is the 10th most unequal OECD country with a gini coefficient of .46 compared with a weighted average of .45. After taxes and transfers, the United States is the 4th most unequal OECD country, with a Gini coefficient of .38, compared to a weighted average of .31. So the United States has a significantly below average progressivity when measured in this way.

I can't get free access to the report that the article is citing, but I can tell you the table it is drawn from is entitled "Alternative measures of progressivity of taxes in selected OECD countries, mid-2000s." You would think if the primary measure used showed the same result, the article would have cited that data instead.
GOP Is Blowing It by Pandering to Tea Party
Posted at 1:27pm, Monday Mar 21, 2011
John: This is pretty damning stuff coming from Bartlett. (
RealClimate: An open letter to Steve Levitt
Posted at 1:16pm, Monday Mar 21, 2011
John: This was kind of fun to read. Ouch.
Would a New Class of Nuclear Reactors Have Withstood the Tsunami?
Posted at 12:15pm, Monday Mar 21, 2011
tvchurch: "The two biggest advantages of the fast reactor design is that it requires no spent fuel pools and uses cooling systems that require no power to function, meaning the loss of power from the tsunami might not have crippled a fast reactor plant so severely."

Absent crazy regulation for building plants, think of the advances we might have made in structure, safety, and efficiency in nuclear power.
India (Ind) vs West Indies (WI): Sachin Tendulkar puts integrity above quest for 100th ton
Posted at 12:13pm, Monday Mar 21, 2011
Avi: Exemplifies my favorite sportsman ever. This man makes me proud to be a fan of India.

~90 seconds. Horrific writing warning.
Bagel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 9:17pm, Sunday Mar 20, 2011
Chip: Great article. It even covers Montreal versus New York style bagels!
Argh, But All Right
Posted at 6:55pm, Sunday Mar 20, 2011
tvchurch: "The team is hereby awarded the above image of slightly silly looking Vikings charging headlong to glory."

I'll take it.
A tale of Washington and Iowa and Libya
Posted at 1:10pm, Sunday Mar 20, 2011
tvchurch: Samantha Power wrote A Problem From Hell, about the history of genocide in the twentieth century. It's an important read - and it won her the Pulitzer. One of the things that occurred to me was that Power would be one of the few hardcore Democrats who would advocate the use of force, even unilaterally, to stop human rights violations.
The Dangers of Radiation
Posted at 1:02pm, Sunday Mar 20, 2011
tvchurch: Worth reading. ~ 1 minute
YouTube - "United We Rise" | Peop1e [HD]
Posted at 11:16pm, Saturday Mar 19, 2011
tvchurch: Well, well worth five minutes. I wish I could write that well, and I wish I could speak like Chaplin.

Excerpted from the film "The Dictator."
Senator Obama on the Constitution
Posted at 8:54pm, Saturday Mar 19, 2011
tvchurch: 0_o
News from The Associated Press
Posted at 5:51pm, Saturday Mar 19, 2011
tvchurch: Only a few minutes read, worth it. From AP.
Mass honeybee deaths now occurring worldwide, says UN
Posted at 3:40pm, Saturday Mar 19, 2011
Weegee: Mass honeybee deaths now a worldwide problem (via @Shocklee)
Chart of the Day: Deaths per Energy Source
Posted at 2:25pm, Saturday Mar 19, 2011
tvchurch: Noted. I'm sure there are valid "but a better way to look at it..." explanations, but something to keep in mind.
Some Commentary
Posted at 1:29pm, Saturday Mar 19, 2011
tvchurch: Paul Krugman is predictably snarky.
The War of Ideas
Posted at 11:54am, Saturday Mar 19, 2011
Adam: Or you could do my idea, which is to have independent fiscal policy. An FOMC-type committee would decide what government's net fiscal position should be (or maybe even specify revenue and spending targets) and then Congress would have to fill those in with actual taxes/appropriations as to keep the whole thing democratic and constitutional. I'm sure that last sentence will get my yelled at by John, but I'm sure there's a way to (in theory at least) make the targets somewhat binding and yet still constitutional.
Bye NPR. Hello BBC, Al Jazeera, Chinese Radio.
Posted at 12:34am, Saturday Mar 19, 2011
tvchurch: This:

"The most likely winner, at least the short term, will be foreign government broadcasters. Already, local public radio stations often fill gaps in programming with news from the BBC. It is easy to imagine demand for the BBC will increase if programming from NPR becomes unavailable or drops in quality. But BBC is not the only game in town. The recent performance of Al Jazeera English in covering the Middle East may embolden AJE to explore avenues. I would be surprised if Russia Today wasn’t actively seeking to expand its reach. The same for Chinese Government broadcasters, including Xinhua and Radio China International. I do not anticipate a large expansion into public radio, however. "

Xinhua reports directly to the Propaganda and Foreign Affairs section of Chinese bureaucracy, and it is going to step in as a news source that is considered legitimate. Remember that if you see Xinhua in the byline.
Mankiw and Weinzierl on stabilization policy
Posted at 12:25am, Saturday Mar 19, 2011
tvchurch: "PS. Neither the Boston Fed nor any local universities have ever asked me to present a paper on how NGDP targeting–level targeting–targeting the forecast, could have greatly reduced the severity of the asset price collapse of late 2008, the associated banking crisis, and the recession itself. I’ve put together a persuasive group of PowerPoint slides, have honed my presentation at the AEA meetings and elsewhere, and am ready to go if anyone wants an interesting and controversial take on the Great Recession. I’ve debated countless economists, including some pretty distinguished ones, and found no holes in my logic. Don’t expect me to be a pushover just because I come from a small school."

Boom. Challenge thrown down.
YouTube - (Subbed) Nuclear Boy うんち・おならで例える原発解説
Posted at 7:13pm, Friday Mar 18, 2011
nikhil: this is hilarious
Copy-Machine Question Spawns Deposition for the History Books - Law Blog - WSJ
Posted at 6:57pm, Friday Mar 18, 2011
Chip: This is making the rounds among the law blogs now, and it's worth reading. I can't imagine a more frustrating experience.
YouTube - (Subbed) Nuclear Boy うんち・おならで例える原発解説
Posted at 11:45pm, Thursday Mar 17, 2011
Chip: In case you were confused about what exactly is happening in Japan, this video should help clarify things.
Goose step
Posted at 10:15pm, Thursday Mar 17, 2011
nikhil: hey theres a name for this
“What’s the worst-case scenario?”
Posted at 10:09pm, Thursday Mar 17, 2011
nikhil: extremely helpful
Japan Churns Through ‘Heroic’ Workers Hitting Radiation Limits for Humans - Bloomberg
Posted at 9:17pm, Thursday Mar 17, 2011
Chip: this is why we need radiation-hardened robots.
Liquidity Traps and Unicorns
Posted at 5:32pm, Thursday Mar 17, 2011
tvchurch: ...and there's the rebuttal.
Putin Takes an Electoral Shellacking and No One Notices
Posted at 2:51pm, Thursday Mar 17, 2011
tvchurch: Key part is first two paragraphs.
Reagan and Interest Rates
Posted at 2:49pm, Thursday Mar 17, 2011
tvchurch: Touche Krugman (previous share from Kling). Rebuttal?
Morning Crankiness, Nobel Laureates Edition
Posted at 2:45pm, Thursday Mar 17, 2011
tvchurch: "The way I see it, 2011 is like 1982 in that foreign capital is what is helping to keep interest rates down in the United States. I would call it the "international safe haven trap" if I would call it anything.

"When you read the phrase "liquidity trap," you should think to yourself, "a situation in which it has become impossible for a government to debase its fiat currency." That should help you to understand why so few of us believe in liquidity traps."

Had dinner with Scott Sumner the other night, he also disagrees that we're in a liquidity trap.

How can Krugman think what he is saying is true? Is he on autopilot now?
*Why Marx was Right*
Posted at 2:22pm, Thursday Mar 17, 2011
tvchurch: Yikes.
Stunning Tweets from Resistance Claim Kamikaze Defected Pilot Hero crashes into Gadaffi stronghold
Posted at 2:04am, Thursday Mar 17, 2011
tvchurch: No kidding? I wonder how accurate.
Sarah Palin
Posted at 11:56pm, Wednesday Mar 16, 2011
tvchurch: Holy cow.
Dog tired dog days
Posted at 10:45pm, Wednesday Mar 16, 2011
nikhil: this is pretty much my life at this point
Facts about prices, potassium iodide edition
Posted at 10:26pm, Wednesday Mar 16, 2011
nikhil: hyper-inflation is comical. after that 1946 hungary episode the entire circulation (how much you'd have if you collected every currency note in the country) was worth less than 1/10th of a US cent
Museum of Bristol vs Banksy - a set on Flickr
Posted at 5:49pm, Wednesday Mar 16, 2011
tvchurch: Wish I could see this exhibit.
Barack Obama's lack of leadership -- John Podhoretz -
Posted at 4:32pm, Wednesday Mar 16, 2011
tvchurch: Honestly, not a bad criticism.
Concrete Poured Into Ant Colony Reveals Insect Megalopolis - Sally Schneider - Life - The Atlantic
Posted at 11:59pm, Tuesday Mar 15, 2011
tvchurch: Whoa. Neat 3 minutes. Fast forward to 1:30 if you want to.
Accidental SEO - How I got 400,000 page views without even knowing it | Ginzametrics
Posted at 11:28pm, Tuesday Mar 15, 2011
tvchurch: James, you bastard.

The Fragility of Complex Societies
Posted at 11:11pm, Tuesday Mar 15, 2011
tvchurch: "I confess I do not quite fathom the constant American news blitzes about all sorts of China Syndrome scenarios. Radiation pollution is a serious worry, but right now no one has died from exposure and perhaps 10,000 have perished from the tsunami and earthquake. It seems to me the greater worry right now is not yet a meltdown, but the vast dangers resulting from disruptions in food, water, power, and sewage.

"Odder still, it was almost crass to watch American TV heads lead in with shrill, hyped-up mini-dramas about possible radiation clouds descending here on the West Coast, even as their backdrop screens showed biblical disasters of earthquake, flood and human wreckage. Whether we are exposed to a chest-X-ray dose of radiation seems insignificant in comparison to the horrific conditions that millions of Japanese are now enduring."

Markets Roiled by Earthquake
Posted at 11:06pm, Tuesday Mar 15, 2011
tvchurch: What matters for the market in the long run is whether companies continue to make more, or not. The Nikkei will rebound if the listed companies 1) Make profits and 2) investors assign high enough expectations about future profits (in the form of higher p/e ratios)
» Something I wanted to say about RSS for a long time Alex Kessinger
Posted at 11:04pm, Tuesday Mar 15, 2011
tvchurch: I need a Reader client that integrates @jsomers notes/archives system. I stopped using del.ic.ious (or whatever) years ago, and my default has been to share things in Reader and add tags like crazy. My tagged items are where I go when I recall that I've read something about a subject.

Avi, James, what do you think?
Accidental SEO - How I got 400,000 page views without even knowing it | Ginzametrics
Posted at 10:30pm, Tuesday Mar 15, 2011
Adam: It turns out this is not the first result when I google "accidental SEO".
Gingrich Support for 2012 Greater Among Fox News Viewers
Posted at 6:55pm, Tuesday Mar 15, 2011
John: Why don't the Palin numbers grab the headline here? They're more interesting.
U.S. Passes France as World's Biggest Wine-Consuming Nation - Bloomberg
Posted at 6:35pm, Tuesday Mar 15, 2011
Adam: There's a wine and cheese culture among young Americans?
It's Business Time
Posted at 2:57am, Tuesday Mar 15, 2011
Avi: Boom!
Today is pi day
Posted at 2:56am, Tuesday Mar 15, 2011
Avi: "we have calculated pi out to over 6.4 billion digits but only 39 of them are needed to calculate the circumference of a circle as big as the universe"

A geek and his computer is storied right in that quote.
Glenlivet 70 Year Old Whiskey
Posted at 2:50am, Tuesday Mar 15, 2011
Avi: Holey moley.
Deutsche Bank Employee Suspended For Taunting Protesting Doctors, Nurses
Posted at 10:09pm, Monday Mar 14, 2011
nikhil: i would have gone with "get a job, sir"
Tehran uses revolts as cover for dirty deeds - The China Post
Posted at 7:05pm, Monday Mar 14, 2011
tvchurch: Pisses me off to no end. Iranian influence in Afghanistan and Iraq contribute greatly to violence in those regions. Obviously not the sole reason or anything, but it would help tremendously if the IRGC/Quds Force wasn't focusing on those countries.
RealClearWorld - Iran and Saudis' Countermove on Bahrain
Posted at 6:57pm, Monday Mar 14, 2011
tvchurch: Truth. Everyone has their hands in everything...
Radioactive contamination found on 17 U.S. Navy crewmembers in Japan
Posted at 2:27pm, Monday Mar 14, 2011
tvchurch: The second paragraph. Treated with soap and water. And Drudge has this running on the front page. Oy vey.
Assorted links
Posted at 2:03pm, Monday Mar 14, 2011
tvchurch: #6 - Our very own James Somers.

Strong work bud.
Some Perspective On The Japan Earthquake: MicroISV on a Shoestring
Posted at 1:41am, Monday Mar 14, 2011
Avi: Great insight into Japanese preparedness for disasters. via HN.
And Yet the Western Left then Celebrated the Glories of the U.S.S.R.
Posted at 12:32am, Monday Mar 14, 2011
tvchurch: Not sure about bourgeois dignity, but the Grapes of Wrath bit made me chuckle.
Arab League seeks Libya no-fly zone - Africa - Al Jazeera English
Posted at 4:22pm, Sunday Mar 13, 2011
tvchurch: We have international approval. President Obama needs to stop stalling. Make a decision, yes or no. Show some leadership.
'Where are the Arabs?' - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
Posted at 4:21pm, Sunday Mar 13, 2011
tvchurch: Good point.
Why I am not worried about Japan’s nuclear reactors. | Morgsatlarge – blogorific.
Posted at 3:59pm, Sunday Mar 13, 2011
tvchurch: Long, but absolutely worth reading.

Love engineering.
ABC News - Japan Earthquake: before and after
Posted at 2:27pm, Sunday Mar 13, 2011
tvchurch: Japan: before and after.

10 Fat-Chance Tax Deductions
Posted at 12:42am, Sunday Mar 13, 2011
John: Honestly, I actually read the Designer Clothes case and probably would have come out the other way.
Rumsfeld's Rebuttal by Victor Davis Hanson - City Journal
Posted at 8:30pm, Saturday Mar 12, 2011
tvchurch: VDH was talking about Rumsfeld's book the other day in class. I'd like to know what people who hate Rumsfeld think of it.
Why the Fed needs to get its act together on payments
Posted at 6:39pm, Saturday Mar 12, 2011
nikhil: just started subscribing to this guy
Japanese quake and predicted tsunami wave heights
Posted at 3:11am, Saturday Mar 12, 2011
nikhil: thia will look cwey familiar to anyone who took waves with georgi
Posted at 1:16am, Saturday Mar 12, 2011
Avi: via @tvchurch.

Mindblowing. This must be one of the coolest things I have seen in a long time. As Tom said, this show is a must-watch.
Posted at 4:12pm, Friday Mar 11, 2011
tvchurch: Real life Up. I will watch this show.
Chart Of The Day II
Posted at 3:55pm, Friday Mar 11, 2011
John: Very effective. Just a few comments about the items on the right side of the charts. Obviously what counts as a "tax break for the wealthy" depends a lot on your baseline for what the right amount of tax is, but I think a number of these take a strange position on that question.

Including only the allowance of a mortgage deduction for vacation homes is a dramatic underprediction of the amount by which the wealthy get a special tax break that is untethered to economic or policy reality. As I've said many times, the mortgage interest deduction is an upside down subsidy, giving wealthy individuals a 35% break on their interest payments, while poorer individuals receive only 15% or 10% or nothing. Converting this to a credit (or removing it entirely) would mean wealthy individuals would pay several hundreds of billion dollars a year more in taxes.

The chart also omits the upside down subsidy created by the exclusion of employer provided healthcare, which is even larger than the mortgage interest deduction.

The "cost of 'estate planning' techniques used by wealthy to avoid taxes" is pretty vague. To the extent this includes lost revenue due to section 1014, which allows appreciated but untaxed gains to disappear into tax nothings upon death, probably should be seen as a tax break (although this should be understood in concert with the estate tax). Other estate planning techniques come simply from the fact that wealthy individuals take optimal advantage of wholly legitimate and desirable tax preferences in the Code, such as the charitable deduction. It's pretty misleading to jumble everything together.

It's really the limit on itemized deductions that was special in the first place, so the next one is a little odd. This is only a tax break for the wealthy if literally any provision in the tax Code that causes wealthy individuals to pay less taxes is a tax break. I think the idea behind this chart was to identify "loopholes," not to engage in a purely mathematical exercise.

The next three are all tax breaks on the corporate level tax. It's not clear exactly what the incidence of these taxes are, i.e. no one knows who ultimately faces the burden of the corporate tax and hence no one knows who ultimately benefits from . Economists disagree and admit general ignorance. To the extent there is a consensus, it is that shareholders bear at least a fairly large chunk. Most shareholders in these companies are likely wealthy, so some of these numbers probably hold up pretty well. If, as some believe, customers bear the bulk of the burden, then, for example, the oil company tax breaks would be progressive tax breaks because the less wealthy consume a disproportionate amount of gasoline. If employees bear the burden, then you would have a mixed bag depending on whether it was executive salaries or lower-level workers who were most effected. Finally, if holders of capital in general bear the burden, then the numbers would probably hold up quite well. The same goes for the other corporate tax breaks listed below.

The "tax loophole for managers of hedge funds" is a very tricky one. It's really unclear what the baseline should be here. Presumably the lower tax paid on capital gains as a general matter is not being treated as a special break, because that would again be very much larger than any of the numbers included in this chart. And the portion of compensation for hedge fund managers that receives a special tax break comes from their share of profits in investment in capital assets. The reason people think of it as a loophole is that this income is really not an investment by the hedge fund managers, but is a payment by the investors for the manager's services. Typically, salary is the paradigmatic example of ordinary, as opposed to capital, income. Suffice it to say that there is no principled answer to the question of which treatment is appropriate as a matter of tax law and policy, but that the current treatment is the more favorable to hedge fund managers of the two possibilities.

For the last one, obviously this is a political judgment about what the right marginal rate for the wealthy to pay is. I think it is sensible and not misleading to include it here, though.
Income Inequality: It’s a Global Thing | FrumForum
Posted at 3:14pm, Friday Mar 11, 2011
tvchurch: This is the guy from the blog The Empiricist Strikes Back. Good piece on income inequality.
The Blind Man Who Taught Himself To See | Men’s Journal
Posted at 2:33pm, Friday Mar 11, 2011
tvchurch: Holy hell. He's Batman.
My Surprises
Posted at 2:30pm, Friday Mar 11, 2011
tvchurch: Mind blown.
Updates and Video of the Quake and Tsunami, in Japan and Elsewhere -
Posted at 2:28pm, Friday Mar 11, 2011
tvchurch: ""It's really a testament to Japanese construction methods,'' he said. "I can't imagine a quake of this magnitude in Los Angeles or San Francisco causing almost no damage. The contrast to Haiti could not be more extreme.''"

Rich countries have building codes and better engineering. Makes a huge difference.
"Common mistakes made by economists"
Posted at 2:25pm, Friday Mar 11, 2011
tvchurch: "10. Odds are good that you primarily know one sort of person: highly educated, high-achieving, extremely cerebral, etc. Odds are also good that you give too much weight to feedback and ideas from this sort of person, while discounting arguments and complaints from people who don’t know the right way to persuade you. Try to keep that in mind."

Good one.
Posted at 9:28am, Friday Mar 11, 2011
Avi: Shared for one of the coolest bad songs of all time.
Posted at 5:30am, Friday Mar 11, 2011
John: This is kind of a fun opinion. AT&T was claiming that it had a right to "personal privacy" under the Freedom of Information Act. Roberts writes for a unanimous court holding that corporations do not have "personal privacy" and just really shits all over their argument. You can read section II, excerpted below, for the core of the opinion.

In conclusion, Roberts adds: "We reject the argument that because 'person' is defined for purposes of FOIA to include a corporation, the phrase 'personal privacy' in Exemption 7(C) reaches corporations as well. The protection in FOIA against disclosure of law enforcement information on the ground that it would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy does not extend to corporations. We trust that AT&T will not take it personally."
Can you name the US Supreme Court Justices 1789-Present? | Online Games & Trivia by Sporcle
Posted at 3:26am, Friday Mar 11, 2011
John: This gets really hard pretty fast. I ended up with 39 (36 if you discount duplicates that I didn't really know), which I felt pretty good about. I got them all back through LBJ, and did well on Kennedy, Eisenhower and FDR. Other than that was just a few big names.
MIT Media Lab's new logo is a Processing sketch
Posted at 11:13pm, Thursday Mar 10, 2011
Avi: Awesome!
Nickelodeon to Re-Air Beloved Nineties Sitcoms
Posted at 4:15pm, Thursday Mar 10, 2011
John: Pete & Pete!
Justice Scalia Objects -
Posted at 1:22pm, Thursday Mar 10, 2011
Chip: For an alternative interpretation of what Scalia is up to in his dissents, see:
which basically argues that he's trying to influence law students.
Old Harlem Black Label Lager.
Posted at 2:29am, Thursday Mar 10, 2011
Indian Government to try and control Internet publishing
Posted at 2:18am, Thursday Mar 10, 2011
Avi: "It is begining. They will give us a little progress and in return take our freedom, one by one, bit by bit. They will use arguments of patriotism, national security and our great culture, to shut up anyone who has a contrary viewpoint."

For my friends outside India: this blogger became a cyber-celebrity in Bombay for his restaurant reviews. He eats out a lot, is passionate about food and is influential to new restaurants.
Understanding Genetics: Human Health and the Genome
Posted at 2:10am, Thursday Mar 10, 2011
John: I always wondered about this.
Top 10 YouTube Videos of All Time
Posted at 1:52am, Thursday Mar 10, 2011
John: Does anyone know what the hell #9 is doing on here? I mean, OK, Justin Bieber may not be a great artist, but I understand who his audience is. I had never heard of Pitbull, and that song is just really, really terrible.
Samsung Unveils Solar-Powered Zero Energy Transparent TV
Posted at 1:04am, Thursday Mar 10, 2011
John: Rob, I bought a couple of these for our place.
Posted at 10:31pm, Wednesday Mar 09, 2011
Adam: Cute, though the second and third panels aren't necessarily correct. There are plenty of situations where governments advertise services for free with no intention of separating you from your money (and there are conceivably situations where profit-seeking organizations would as well). And the veracity of the third panel clearly depends on your definition of "save".
Australian Brewery Invents “Space...
Posted at 6:58pm, Wednesday Mar 09, 2011
tvchurch: Best new RSS subscription.
Paul Krugman: Ignorant, and proud of it
Posted at 12:49pm, Wednesday Mar 09, 2011
tvchurch: I couldn't believe my eyes when I read Krugman's words. Scott Sumner's analysis is excellent:

"That’s right, and George Will isn’t Michael Moore; and a liberal blog, almost by definition, is a blog written by someone who chooses not to notice that asymmetry. No need to read Marginal Revolution, Becker/Posner, Econlog, John Taylor, Greg Mankiw, Robin Hanson, Steven Landsburg, etc, etc. Nothing of interest, just move right along folks. I’m always amazed when someone so brilliant can be so clueless about life. How someone can reach middle age and still live in a kindergartener’s world of good guys and bad guys.

"Perhaps if Krugman would get out a bit more he might make fewer embarrassing errors, like this one, where he forgot the fallacy of composition, something taught in EC101. I guess none of his liberal friends have the nerve to point out these sorts of silly errors. So it’s still there, uncorrected after two weeks. A monument to his pride at being ignorant of the views of those with whom he disagrees.

"You might ask whether I’m being a bit harsh calling him “ignorant.” Actually, he’s the one who proudly flaunts his ignorance of conservative thought."

And then this, which was me for a while:

"Some conservatives have given up on reading Krugman because of his insulting tone."
Why is Obama Arming the World?
Posted at 12:46pm, Wednesday Mar 09, 2011
tvchurch: I'm bookmarking this to share with friends on the Left the next time I'm feeling preachy and holier-than-thou.
Employer Costs for Employee Compensation news release text
Posted at 12:19pm, Wednesday Mar 09, 2011
tvchurch: I realize I'm a nerd because I subscribe to the BLS Economic News Releases, but numbers like this are good to know for people who have never employed people or run payroll (including me). I knew it cost a lot to hire employees, but I didn't have specific numbers in mind.
BBC News - Voyager: Still dancing 17 billion km from Earth
Posted at 12:01pm, Wednesday Mar 09, 2011
tvchurch: Makes me feel like the Galileo 5 speech in West Wing (
I'll Get Right On That. Happy Easter.
Posted at 11:50am, Wednesday Mar 09, 2011
tvchurch: Oh boy. OSU is screwed.
Common mistakes of left-wing economists?
Posted at 11:44am, Wednesday Mar 09, 2011
tvchurch: "5. Significantly overestimating the quality of the political economy of an America with more powerful labor unions and underestimating the history of labor unions as racist, corrupt, protectionist, and obstructions to positive change."

Jeez, tell us how you really feel.

Anyway, this is a good read, along with the companion piece here (
Grandiloquent Bloviator: Your Move, South Dakota
Posted at 11:38am, Wednesday Mar 09, 2011
tvchurch: School shootings in places where they have guns.

~ 3 minutes. Read it!
The Million Song Dataset
Posted at 10:59am, Wednesday Mar 09, 2011
Avi: Oh this is gold.
Hawthorne effect
Posted at 9:56am, Wednesday Mar 09, 2011
Avi: Speaking from personal experience, the measurable increase and its sustain is enough that some tests are basically invalidated.
The Rolling Stone Interview: Stanley Kubrick in 1987
Posted at 9:50am, Wednesday Mar 09, 2011
Avi: "I mean, I’m doing interviews to help the film, and I think they do help the film, so I can’t complain. But it isn’t…it’s… it’s difficult."

This epitomizes Kubrick so deftly.
Union Myths
Posted at 7:32pm, Tuesday Mar 08, 2011
tvchurch: "The biggest myth about labor unions is that unions are for the workers. Unions are for unions, just as corporations are for corporations and politicians are for politicians."

Very good sentences.
What is the consumer surplus of the internet?
Posted at 7:21pm, Tuesday Mar 08, 2011
nikhil: a bajillion dollars is my estimate, and that's just to me
Quote of the Day
Posted at 7:19pm, Tuesday Mar 08, 2011
Adam: Eminem? I guess this guy's constipated.
Law Firm Recruiters Rank Best Law Schools - US News and World Report
Posted at 6:51pm, Tuesday Mar 08, 2011
John: Clearly a superior ranking system.
Afghanistan and Nation-Building
Posted at 2:46pm, Tuesday Mar 08, 2011
tvchurch: This:

"I spend time these days with JAG officers at the Army JAG school at UVA, next door to the law school. They have all spent time in Afghanistan or Iraq or both, sometimes as JAGs and sometimes as officers before going to law school — which tells you something about the length of time the Afghanistan war has been underway, in case we needed reminding. They and others with whom I talk, at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and other places, are the most compelling engage–intellectuals I know.

"They are smart in a way that makes it an embarrassment to watch the twits who inhabit, say, The Social Network — and mostly they didn’t attend fancy schools, partly because they came from a different class background and partly because the fancy schools wouldn’t consider ROTC. (And kudos to Harvard for reversing course.) They understand teamwork and hierarchy in a way that shows the limits — weird as this sounds to our elite institutions — of the “free agent,” bits of human capital freely floating to the highest rate of return in the de-racinated market culture that exemplifies the top levels of academia and the students it sends out into the world.

"These officers, by contrast, live at the intersection of the two American cultures of “honor” and “consent,” and their philosophy is not libertarianism, but its necessary counterpart, or necessary corollary, for a free people to govern itself. That philosophy, so far as I can tell from my conversations with our officer corps, is most closely tied to “civic republicanism,” a political philosophy much discussed a couple of decades ago, but which has fallen out of favor in recent years. (The link between those two, honor and consent, is that once you have given your consent, in the free exercise of your liberty, it is honor that makes you come through, enabling the trust among others that they can rely upon you into the future. Without this, our much celebrated libertarianism is mere license, externalizing the costs of our choices onto others in society.)

"The problem for these officers in Afghanistan, I’ve come to believe, is that their military culture makes it nearly impossible to say no. They are given a problem, and they have to come up with a way forward. Maybe not to solve it, but at least a way forward. And since questioning the goal is not a seriously available option at their level of command — available to the “intellectual,” but not to the “engaged‘” as a form of action — they are stuck with the model. Which in this case is counterinsurgency through the lens of anthropology as the intellectualism, and nation-building as its form of engagement."
Facebook Users to Get Warner Bros. Movies -
Posted at 12:58pm, Tuesday Mar 08, 2011
Chip: I think I was talking to either Nikhil or James over winter break about how Facebook was going to use its newly formed currency to displace the App Store/Amazon. It has begun.
What is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR)?
Posted at 11:26pm, Monday Mar 07, 2011
tvchurch: Good to know. A quick read, really.
Posted at 2:37pm, Monday Mar 07, 2011
John: When I complain about things like the mortgage interest deduction and the exclusion for employer provided insurance being "upside down subsidies," this is concretely what I'm talking about.
Get Off My Court
Posted at 1:02pm, Monday Mar 07, 2011
tvchurch: "Vogrich is never going to be a star but you've probably noticed a few defensive MANBOUNDS in the last couple games that came from a surprising source."

I vow to use MANBOUNDS while watching basketball from now on.
Educational Extravagance, But the Unions Love It
Posted at 12:44am, Monday Mar 07, 2011
tvchurch: Holy crap.
Mark Pennington's Robust Political Economy: Classical Liberalism and the Future of Public Policy
Posted at 7:42pm, Sunday Mar 06, 2011
tvchurch: Was at a weeklong IHS seminar this summer with Pennington. He's a ton of fun, and he's very comfortable discussing econ ideas that are outside the box.

Also, we love his British (Scottish? I don't even know) accent. MAHK, PENNINGTON.
YouTube - xion protective gear - stuntpadding Demo
Posted at 7:36pm, Sunday Mar 06, 2011
tvchurch: 1:37 long - this is the material of the future. Very neat.
A virus so large it gets viruses
Posted at 5:24pm, Sunday Mar 06, 2011
John: Cool beans.
What is the ultimate left-wing novel?
Posted at 2:42pm, Sunday Mar 06, 2011
tvchurch: Best critique of the left-wing I've read:

"It elevates the seen over the unseen, can easily portray a struggle for justice, focuses on the anecdote, and encourages us to judge social institutions by the intentions of the people who work in them, rather than looking at their deeper and longer-term outcomes."
M. U. P. P. E. T. S.
Posted at 2:21pm, Sunday Mar 06, 2011
tvchurch: Muppets.

(Michigan beat State yesterday in basketball.)
Shower-curtain effect
Posted at 11:02am, Sunday Mar 06, 2011
Adam: Never really thought about this before...
Upgrading Windows, from 1.0 to 7.0
Posted at 4:49am, Sunday Mar 06, 2011
Avi: 20 years of backwards-compatibility is a feat of software engineering unrivaled by almost anybody. Bravo.
Crazy Downhill Urban Bike Race Caught On Helmet Cam
Posted at 8:54pm, Saturday Mar 05, 2011
John: Nuts.
Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software -
Posted at 5:51pm, Saturday Mar 05, 2011
John: This is, of course, good for clients. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this is also good for young lawyers who have jobs. If the software is capable of doing a good job at it without direct supervision, then it's most likely to be extremely boring work. The people who are worse off are (1) young attorneys who won't get jobs because there is less work and (2) partners who can no longer justify high billing rates for large amounts of document review.
Galton's Bayesian Machine
Posted at 1:28pm, Saturday Mar 05, 2011
nikhil: neat
Christie Blasts Illinois Governor
Posted at 10:18am, Saturday Mar 05, 2011
Adam: Well this seems socially constructive.

Also interesting that two states 1000 miles apart picked a fight with each other; usually this happens with adjacent states like California and Nevada or New York and Connecticut.
Wisconsin vs. Texas, on education
Posted at 8:04pm, Friday Mar 04, 2011
tvchurch: He's right.

The link is quite good.
Seat 29E
Posted at 7:46pm, Friday Mar 04, 2011
nikhil: haha hilarious
Brown and Nelson introduce 'Taxpayer Receipt Act' - Political Intelligence - A national political and campaign blog from The Boston Globe -
Posted at 7:29pm, Friday Mar 04, 2011
John: I saw this being tossed around a while ago. Thought it was a swell idea. Hope it actually goes somewhere.
Allegiant's new idea
Posted at 1:22pm, Friday Mar 04, 2011
Adam: Seems to me that there are a ton of both theoretical and practical issues with fuel price-based tickets, including: 1)what customer would want uncertainty as to how much their flight will cost?, 2) how many travelers know anything about the oil market (or the jet-fuel market or whatever the ticket price is based on)?, and 3) wouldn't this be a regulatory nightmare? Airline ticket purchases have to be approved by the department of homeland security when they DON'T include financial derivatives.

The other two links are also interesting. For the record I barely noticed a difference relative to regular economy when I was sitting in "economy comfort" on KLM. Maybe I just don't care about legroom that much.
Nolan Chart
Posted at 4:47am, Friday Mar 04, 2011
John: Damn, I loved this one.
On the elusiveness of Uppercase Things
Posted at 10:01pm, Thursday Mar 03, 2011
nikhil: yeahhhhhh
RStudio: a new IDE for R that makes coding easier
Posted at 9:21pm, Thursday Mar 03, 2011
nikhil: looks nice, at least. the think i hated most about matlab (basides the 1 indexing) was sizing all the sub-windows.
Northwestern University defends after-class live sex demonstration - Chicago Sun-Times
Posted at 5:51pm, Thursday Mar 03, 2011
Chip: i clearly took the wrong classes in college.
Morgan Stanley Exec Who Bit Off A Colleague’s Ear “Mike Tyson-Style”: Current Vice Chairman Of Deutsche Bank Securities
Posted at 4:18pm, Thursday Mar 03, 2011
Adam: Yuck.
[Video] CNBC: Rare TV Interview with Manager of World's Largest Hedge Fund - Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates
Posted at 3:09pm, Thursday Mar 03, 2011
tvchurch: I'll be watching this later. And no, I'd never heard of him.
Oh hey, Murbarak. Nice pinstripes. Wait, what? Oh shit, those...
Posted at 2:09pm, Thursday Mar 03, 2011
tvchurch: Wow, wearing pinstripes like a boss.
How to make better decisions?
Posted at 2:08pm, Thursday Mar 03, 2011
tvchurch: Funny, I definitely play Halo better with a full bladder. I'm much more alert.

Yeah, TMI, I know.
David Leonhardt on the state pension shortfall
Posted at 1:55pm, Thursday Mar 03, 2011
tvchurch: He's exactly right to say it's exactly right (Yeah, I'm feeling obnoxious).

Never assume 7-8 percent growth when planning your financials. Let it be a pleasant surprise.
My 'Note in Reader' bookmarklet has stopped working! - Google Reader Help
Posted at 1:32pm, Thursday Mar 03, 2011
John: By the way, if your "Note in Reader" button has stopped working, as mine and many others' did, see here for a workaround.
Northwestern University defends after-class live sex demonstration - Chicago Sun-Times
Posted at 1:08pm, Thursday Mar 03, 2011
John: More life imitates art.
Moscow on the Adriatic
Posted at 12:19am, Thursday Mar 03, 2011
tvchurch: Sad that this is a reasonable statement:

"I’m afraid that altruism is our only hope."
Posted at 9:20pm, Wednesday Mar 02, 2011
tvchurch: Lawyered.

Really though, read the first few paragraphs and then scroll down. Makes it hard to think Nick is anything but correct.
On a Per-Capita Basis, China's GDP = U.S. in 1878
Posted at 9:18pm, Wednesday Mar 02, 2011
tvchurch: This just cannot be right. China's Per Capita GDP is much higher than $2,800 a person. I'd estimate China's Per Capita GDP at 40 years behind the United States, not 130+.
America wrong continent for High-Speed Trains
Posted at 9:17pm, Wednesday Mar 02, 2011
tvchurch: The relevant statistics:

"High-Speed train countries Spain and France have 3 times higher population density than America. China has 4 times higher, Germany 7 times higher, Japan 10 times higher, South Korea 15 times higher and Taiwan 20 times higher population density than the U.S. Germany is more densely populated than New York state, and China more densely populated than California."

Countries have inherent differences, although many people don't think that way. I, for instance, can't help but start my analysis of other countries with assumptions about behavior based on what people do in America. But not everyone behaves like Americans.
WSJ/NBC News Poll Finds Support Lacking for Entitlement Reductions -
Posted at 8:54pm, Wednesday Mar 02, 2011
Chip: Well duhhh. We all want to have our cake and eat it too, but I don't know you the country will seriously reduce the deficit without cutting into entitlement programs and/or defense:
Laying Claim to a Treat, and Hearing, ‘Not So Fast’ -
Posted at 8:48pm, Wednesday Mar 02, 2011
Chip: I love whoopie pie. Brownie Bites in Summit makes a particularly good one.
How to Distort Polls: The NYT/CBS Poll on Public Sector Workers
Posted at 6:40pm, Wednesday Mar 02, 2011
tvchurch: Saw this poll on the front page of the NYTimes yesterday. I thought it looked a bit fishy.

There are very different ways to ask the same question, yielding very different results. So it is with most polls.
Times Columnist Frank Rich Leaves for New York Magazine -
Posted at 3:46pm, Wednesday Mar 02, 2011
Chip: More bad news for The TImes.
Thinking about the immortality of the crab
Posted at 11:13pm, Tuesday Mar 01, 2011
nikhil: great
Six Tests for Corporate Tax Reform
Posted at 7:09pm, Tuesday Mar 01, 2011
John: A good set of goals.
Russia Today (RT) expands into San Francisco, claims ratings success in Washington and New York
Posted at 1:54pm, Tuesday Mar 01, 2011
tvchurch: Yeah, absurd.

Also, watch Russia Today if you want to see well-done propaganda against the U.S.
Unverified Voracity Comes Up Milhouse
Posted at 1:42pm, Tuesday Mar 01, 2011
tvchurch: Shared just for the first picture. Go Blue.
The U.S. Doesn't Make Anything Any More? We Make Some Pretty Cool High-Tech Glass Products
Posted at 4:46am, Tuesday Mar 01, 2011
tvchurch: James, Avi, watch this. Please, let's get to this future.

(Bonus points for being about Dow - Gotta love that Midland-based company!)
AP Bio
Posted at 9:18pm, Monday Feb 28, 2011
Avi: Good summary. His disbelief at where we stand mirrors my own.
Posted at 1:54pm, Monday Feb 28, 2011
John: Worth reading at least the beginning. Probably parts V and VI as well.
Posted at 9:45am, Monday Feb 28, 2011
Adam: Very clever. Good thing I'm reading this blog again after the author's lack of output led me to temporarily cease my subsciption to this feed.
Beautiful Time-Lapse of Milky Way over Lake Tahoe
Posted at 7:33am, Monday Feb 28, 2011
Avi: Oh sweet mother of beauty this is amazing.

Watching this reminds me why I wanted to get into astrophysics and makes me regret that I didn't.
Comings and goings at the NY Times
Posted at 10:59pm, Sunday Feb 27, 2011
Mike: Some big changes... hopefully, this will be an improvement. I'm skeptical.
Actors in Character - Now That is Acting!
Posted at 10:41pm, Sunday Feb 27, 2011
Avi: Brendan Fraser, Laurence Fishburne, Jeff Daniels, John Goodman & Michael Douglas were all quite excellent.
SwipeGood Gives Its Start Fund Cash To Charity
Posted at 3:26pm, Sunday Feb 27, 2011
tvchurch: What a genius concept for a company, although I wonder if their use of $150,000 cash is a good idea, from an operational standpoint.
There Still Will Be No Jasmine Revolution in Shanghai
Posted at 3:18pm, Sunday Feb 27, 2011
tvchurch: (The second paragraph)
Kristof on Ending Double Standards on Democracy
Posted at 3:17pm, Sunday Feb 27, 2011
tvchurch: No group of people is incompatible with democracy, although the very real possibility exists that the "people power" revolutions will be co-opted by more organized groups of people not averse to actively repressing people who disagree with them.
Security Council Refers the Situation in Libya to the ICC
Posted at 3:15pm, Sunday Feb 27, 2011
tvchurch: There has been some criticism of the ICC for being Africa-centric. I'm not sure the implications people make from that statement are true. Regardless, I hope Luis Moreno-Ocampo (the Prosecutor) can put the screws to Al-Qadhafi.
Under pressure
Posted at 11:38pm, Saturday Feb 26, 2011
tvchurch: Hell of an anecdote.
Friedman (unit)
Posted at 7:14pm, Saturday Feb 26, 2011
Adam: One of my favorite units.
What counts as enough progress?
Posted at 3:14pm, Saturday Feb 26, 2011
tvchurch: Neat idea.
Project Euler problem 191, or, how I learned to stop counting and love induction
Posted at 3:13pm, Saturday Feb 26, 2011
tvchurch: Every now and then I try to explain to my friends here what a bunch of brilliant nerds my Michigan group was - and how much time we used to spend on seemingly useless, but neat things.

This is proof positive.

Solid work James.
Links for Warren Buffet's 2010 Letter
Posted at 2:57pm, Saturday Feb 26, 2011
tvchurch: Buffett's letter is out! This just made my day.
Posted at 2:41pm, Saturday Feb 26, 2011
nikhil: gooooooooo
Utah Boy Allegedly Stabs Stepfather in Fight Over Chicken Patty -
Posted at 2:28pm, Saturday Feb 26, 2011
John: I'm sure Justin can relate.
YouTube - Louis CK Donald Rumsfeld Lizard O and A
Posted at 4:20am, Saturday Feb 26, 2011
John: This is pretty funny between minutes 2 and 11.
YouTube - Charlie Sheen Exclusive: "Either You Love Or You Hate"
Posted at 10:59pm, Friday Feb 25, 2011
Chip: if you haven't heard this yet, it's epic:

people say, oh, you know you better work through your resentments, yeah, no, i'm gonna hang onto them, and they're going to fuel my attack, and they're gonna fuel the battle cry of my deadly and dangerous secret and silent soldiers, cause they're all around you
Why Would Workers Want Collective Bargaining Rights?
Posted at 9:44pm, Friday Feb 25, 2011
tvchurch: There's a paper in this - how responses change when one includes trade-offs. Nice.
YouTube - TEDxCaltech - Scott Aaronson - Physics in the 21st Century: Toiling in Feynman's Shadow
Posted at 8:27pm, Friday Feb 25, 2011
John: Eyal used to work for him.
What does the unrest in the Middle East tell us about China?
Posted at 1:49am, Friday Feb 25, 2011
tvchurch: Read this paragraph:

"Isn't this the era of the "Rise of the Rest," isn't the unipolar moment over yet again? Isn't China already a global leader, pushing for what it wants internationally? Alas, despite all the predictions about the new international politics, the world is waiting to see what Washington will do. When it comes to the biggest issue of the day -- the revolt of Middle East publics against their leaders -- China has nothing to say. To the contrary: Rather than show any leadership at all, China has run home and hidden under a very large stone (or behind a Great Wall and Firewall)."

Condi Rice was at Pepperdine a few weeks ago and was asked about China's rise. One really good point she brought up was that China is unlikely to be a global leader in information technology, since it works so hard to censor its own people. I thought it was a good point.
Greeks Just Say No to Austerity
Posted at 7:13pm, Thursday Feb 24, 2011
tvchurch: This is why they can't have nice things.
2001: A Space Odyssey Poster
Posted at 1:05pm, Thursday Feb 24, 2011
Avi: Beautiful.
How Watson Could Have Been Defeated on Jeopardy
Posted at 12:54pm, Thursday Feb 24, 2011
John: Apropos of James' hacker story.
On summarizing a noisy scatterplot with a single comparison of two points - Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science
Posted at 10:39am, Thursday Feb 24, 2011
John: Neat statistical lemma.
3-D ‘Great Gatsby’ to Film in Australia -
Posted at 8:29am, Thursday Feb 24, 2011
Chip: What is the point of doing this in 3d?
Porn vs. prostitution: Why is it legal to pay someone for sex on camera? - By Michelle Tsai - Slate Magazine
Posted at 10:49pm, Wednesday Feb 23, 2011
John: The most recent Family Guy raised this question.
Attorney General: Gov't will no longer defend Defense of Marriage Act
Posted at 5:17pm, Wednesday Feb 23, 2011
John: This is huuuuuge.
What's Next for Egypt?
Posted at 2:36pm, Wednesday Feb 23, 2011
tvchurch: "But elections are not the same as democracy unless more than one candidate has a fair opportunity to run. Living in the United States, it is often difficult to imagine anything but a fair election for president and the other major government positions, but our world is full of countries with rigged elections that, for example, require that candidates be approved by the government."

Always stress this point when talking about democracy and democratization.
Assorted links
Posted at 1:46pm, Wednesday Feb 23, 2011
tvchurch: #4 - Yes. One paragraph. Read it.
Matt Godin Visits, Reacts
Posted at 12:00pm, Wednesday Feb 23, 2011
tvchurch: "MATT: Yeah, I talked to Coach Hoke for about 30 minutes in his office. We talked about everything, and you can tell he doesn't take any crap. He's ready to bring Michigan back."

That's what I want to hear.
Will Denny’s Largest Shareholders Increase Their Stakes After Seeing This Clip Of Two Women Brawling Over Syrup?
Posted at 10:22pm, Tuesday Feb 22, 2011
nikhil: jeeeeeeeeezus
Where the livin' is easiest
Posted at 9:20pm, Tuesday Feb 22, 2011
Adam: Always an interesting ranking. Lots of Australian and Canadian cities.
Libya Dissertation Fact of the Day
Posted at 9:20pm, Tuesday Feb 22, 2011
tvchurch: No way. No peaking, read from the top down. Funny stuff.
John Marshall Harlan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 2:35pm, Tuesday Feb 22, 2011
John: Strange person to be the lone dissenter from Plessy v. Ferguson.
Supreme Court hears soap opera story of interest to the tea party
Posted at 9:29am, Tuesday Feb 22, 2011
Chip: Interesting case. I know nothing about issues of standing. Regarding the issue of whether the legislation is legal vis-a-vis the 10th Amendment, my understanding is that most Justices interpret it simply as a truism: whatever powers the Federal government doesn't have, the state governments do. But, if the Federal government wants to increase its powers through legislation (that complies with the Constitution through the commerce clause etc.), it can, and those powers will no longer belong to the state.
The Relationship between Union Membership and State Budget Deficits
Posted at 10:03pm, Monday Feb 21, 2011
John: Good except for this sentence, which confuses the null and nil hypotheses!

"Based on these measures, states with larger unionized workforces do not have larger budget deficits."

Tsk tsk.
Seriously, Weather?
Posted at 12:00pm, Monday Feb 21, 2011
tvchurch: Internet, meet Toomey. This is his weather blog. This is why he's the man.
Major in the Universe
Posted at 9:26am, Monday Feb 21, 2011
Adam: That's brilliant.
Why exactly can nothing go faster than the speed of light? : askscience
Posted at 12:39am, Monday Feb 21, 2011
tvchurch: Found on HackerNews, skeptical that it was on Reddit but a fun read.
‘Dead Island’ Trailer
Posted at 11:53pm, Sunday Feb 20, 2011
Avi: Wow. The cinematography and editing is comparable to the best in film.
Google C++ Style Guide
Posted at 11:24pm, Sunday Feb 20, 2011
tvchurch: Good for future reference.
Can't Wait for the Movies: Big Mommas Like Father Like Son from FOD Team, Jaleel White, Colton Dunn, dannyjelinek, BoTown Sound, and Dustin Bowser
Posted at 9:28pm, Sunday Feb 20, 2011
Mike: This is a great idea for a segment.
YouTube - The Sagan Series (Pt 2) - Life Looks for Life
Posted at 7:20pm, Sunday Feb 20, 2011
Mike: Oh, Carl Sagan.
You Can’t Handle the Truth
Posted at 4:50pm, Sunday Feb 20, 2011
tvchurch: Truth.
Three Charts Tell The Story
Posted at 12:15pm, Sunday Feb 20, 2011
tvchurch: Wow. That's a heck of a change (chart 1). Imagine if the ratios of spending were flipped like they were back in 1960. We'd be spending trillions on the military...
Scientists build first anti-laser
Posted at 2:50am, Sunday Feb 20, 2011
John: I like this computer thing.
Bat phone
Posted at 6:48pm, Saturday Feb 19, 2011
tvchurch: I want.
Philip Wadler: Scientific programming does not compute
Posted at 1:52pm, Saturday Feb 19, 2011
John: Don't screw up, Justin.
San Francisco Wants to Tax Your Stock Options– All of Them.
Posted at 1:12pm, Saturday Feb 19, 2011
John: It's probably good tax policy theoretically, but a city can't do this unilaterally. If I were a startup, I'd get the hell out of Dodge.
Impossible Tax Swaps
Posted at 12:05pm, Saturday Feb 19, 2011
Adam: Hmmm not sure I agree with that statistical analysis; I'd probably argue that the policy change curve is platykurtic, although it probably depends on how you measure policy changes.
Grind Time
Posted at 10:25am, Saturday Feb 19, 2011
Avi: 3-for-3 Score-O? That's crazy.

Also, hell yes.
Star Wars and Me, Sitting in a Tree
Posted at 10:02am, Saturday Feb 19, 2011
Avi: I didn't know about these making-of featurettes. They're on YouTube. Going to watch.
Given our current technology and with the proper training, would it be possible for someone to become Batman?
Posted at 8:42am, Saturday Feb 19, 2011
Avi: This is just pure amazing.
Justin Bieber wins MVP over Scottie Pippen in celebrity game - ESPN
Posted at 11:23pm, Friday Feb 18, 2011
Adam: Bieber mania hits ESPN...
How do most people split the rent?
Posted at 10:35pm, Friday Feb 18, 2011
John: Used the calculator for Rob and my place, and it appears Rob is overpaying by $1.34 / month. I will buy him a pizza.
Rivals Consider Hostile Bid for NYSE - CNBC
Posted at 10:25pm, Friday Feb 18, 2011
John: I never knew the exchanges were themselves publicly traded. Meta.
YouTube - Wisconsin Governor to Dem Senators: Do your job.
Posted at 10:14pm, Friday Feb 18, 2011
John: VP possibility? 2.0
Posted at 3:34pm, Friday Feb 18, 2011
tvchurch: Holy hell, about time. Click on his classic page. Cracks me up every time.
Touching the political third rail
Posted at 3:32pm, Friday Feb 18, 2011
tvchurch: "defying political death"

No kidding.
Watson Jeopardy! computer: Ken Jennings describes what it's like to play against a machine. - By Ken Jennings - Slate Magazine
Posted at 9:46pm, Thursday Feb 17, 2011
Adam: Ken Jennings is a pretty solid writer.
Unverified Voracity Heads For The Wall Of Shame | mgoblog
Posted at 6:31pm, Thursday Feb 17, 2011
tvchurch: The video is great for Mich grads.
Right-sizing government « The Reality-Based Community
Posted at 3:28pm, Thursday Feb 17, 2011
tvchurch: Good essay.
“technology,” expectations, pseudoreading
Posted at 1:31pm, Thursday Feb 17, 2011
tvchurch: I like the pseudoreading bit.
Star Wars: First Class
Posted at 1:26pm, Thursday Feb 17, 2011
tvchurch: Very well done.
DakotaPoll Finds Large Majority of Tea Party Supporters Favor Sales Tax Increase for Education : Dakota Poll
Posted at 7:08am, Thursday Feb 17, 2011
John: Somewhat interesting results.
CSI: Internet
Posted at 3:44am, Thursday Feb 17, 2011
John: Good app.
Yen Keeps Tokyo Rents Highest in World for Expats - Japan Real Time - WSJ
Posted at 10:08pm, Wednesday Feb 16, 2011
Chip: Note to self: if I ever return to Tokyo in a professional capacity, make sure employer pays for housing.
The Story
Posted at 4:23pm, Wednesday Feb 16, 2011
tvchurch: "But now, I’ve started a new job in a new city, and there are new people around all the time. And they don’t know my story. I imagine this is one of the most unique aspects of being a young cancer patient. I also think it’s a situation most cancer patients would kill to be in. Every day now, I’m in a situation when I’m very close to people who have no idea what I’ve been through. And sometimes, that’s troubling. It’s sort of like you just want to grab them and shake them and say, “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT I’VE JUST BEEN THROUGH?!

"But you don’t. And then you realize how lucky you are to be able to work or socialize closely with others who have no idea what you’ve been through."

Nick's the man.
First Word: CB3 Approves Milk Bar II, The Beagle, Denies Snack Dragon
Posted at 8:55pm, Tuesday Feb 15, 2011
nikhil: yeah i'm way not enough of a foodie to enjoy this blog. mike i'll trust you to share what's good.

(btw i'm not recommending anyone to read this post)
Visualize This: TV’s top earners
Posted at 8:47pm, Tuesday Feb 15, 2011
nikhil: can charlie sheen possibly make 1.25mm per episode of 2.5 men?
Most sincerely yours
Posted at 8:38pm, Tuesday Feb 15, 2011
nikhil: some strong points in there
The Volokh Conspiracy » Asteroid defense and libertarianism
Posted at 7:38pm, Tuesday Feb 15, 2011
John: Life imitates art?,19025/
Hong Kong gets 1 Gbps broadband service for $26 a month – Tech Products & Geek News |
Posted at 6:25pm, Tuesday Feb 15, 2011
tvchurch: Get your shit together, America.
The GOP’s Budget Challenge
Posted at 6:17pm, Tuesday Feb 15, 2011
tvchurch: Very interesting.
Against the Negative Income Tax
Posted at 2:51pm, Tuesday Feb 15, 2011
John: More on using randomized experiments to test the impact of different public policy measures.
AREVA - Harvard Business Review
Posted at 1:20pm, Tuesday Feb 15, 2011
John: We're reading this case study for a "business school style class" conducted by an HBS professor in my Energy Law & Policy class. I'm sharing so that I can quote the first paragraph of the case study, i.e. what HBS students actually have as their assigned reading, because it was hilarious how much it lived up to the stereotype law students have of business school as an academic wasteland.

"The offices of Anne Lauvergeon, the CEO of Areva, the French nuclear power giant, looked out over one of the oldest views of Paris. The interior of the century-old building had been modernized, and felt as up-to-date as the company's tower in the Parisian suburb of La Defense, but the vista showed Paris in all its historic glory. Beyond a stretch of tenements and maze of centuries-old Parisian alleys stood the Sacre-Couer Basilica atop the Montmartre hill, started in 1875, completed in 1914, and as breathtaking almost a century later."

It eventually became substantive, but was this really necessary? Maybe the business prof really wanted to become a novelist.
The Three Cabrolleros
Posted at 12:19pm, Tuesday Feb 15, 2011
tvchurch: Hahaha...BROS!
Lifestyles Of The Rich But Not Famous
Posted at 12:16pm, Tuesday Feb 15, 2011
tvchurch: "The highly educated are, in fact, working harder than ever."

Thought so.
Guy commits his genome to Github, smartass forks and issues a pull request
Posted at 12:30am, Tuesday Feb 15, 2011
John: Hardy har har.
Ecuador Court Orders Chevron to Pay -
Posted at 10:21pm, Monday Feb 14, 2011
nikhil: if you ever become a judge, john, you should order a company's employees to bow and curtsy to one another in greeting
Assorted links
Posted at 10:16pm, Monday Feb 14, 2011
nikhil: #1 just for this line: '"That was a very funny episode," Augur recalls. "But this is not a laughing matter."'
Six lines
Posted at 8:52pm, Monday Feb 14, 2011
nikhil: no kidding. haha just kidding!
Phantom rings
Posted at 8:49pm, Monday Feb 14, 2011
nikhil: love the word fauxcellarm
Regarding your stupid complaint
Posted at 8:46pm, Monday Feb 14, 2011
nikhil: this is great
Exchange mergers: Back for more | The Economist
Posted at 8:24pm, Monday Feb 14, 2011
Adam: Best sentence I've read in a while: "The goodwill from the last round of deals may have been partly written down but the industry’s tendency to confuse anodyne descriptions of globalisation with statements of industrial logic remains unimpaired."
TaxProf Blog: Johnston: Obama/GOP Tax Policy Stiffs the Working Poor
Posted at 6:28pm, Monday Feb 14, 2011
John: Here's the distributive story of the Obama-McConnell tax deal. I've been talking about this quite a bit, but these are some harder numbers. Executive summary: As a result of the compromise, the average household earning less than $30K per year will see a $100 increase in their taxes due in 2011 versus 2010 while the average household earning more than $30K per year will see a $656 decrease in taxes due.
Drunken Sailor Assault Basketball | mgoblog
Posted at 1:56pm, Monday Feb 14, 2011
tvchurch: Please scroll down just to see the wallpaper. So awesome.
Wanted: A Grand Strategy for America
Posted at 1:34pm, Monday Feb 14, 2011
tvchurch: "This failure was not the result of bad luck. It was the predictable consequence of the Obama administration’s lack of any kind of coherent grand strategy, a deficit about which more than a few veterans of U.S. foreign policy making have long worried."

Rings true.
Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953.
Posted at 4:56am, Monday Feb 14, 2011
John: I now know the worst piece of art ever produced.
Who's Unemployed? -
Posted at 11:23pm, Sunday Feb 13, 2011
John: Sort of responds to that thing Mankiw posted a while back.
The Silent Justice
Posted at 10:05pm, Sunday Feb 13, 2011
Adam: On an pretty much completely unrelated note, I wish someone transcribed my life in chess notation.
How Much Do We Know About Egypt?
Posted at 3:16pm, Sunday Feb 13, 2011
tvchurch: Good point.
Boston planning to murder potholes with your phone's accelerometer
Posted at 3:15pm, Sunday Feb 13, 2011
tvchurch: Neato.
World of Snow and Ice
Posted at 3:13pm, Sunday Feb 13, 2011
tvchurch: Neat picture. That is all.
How to Get a Raise | Strategy, Philosophy, Self-Discipline, Science. Victory.
Posted at 2:52pm, Sunday Feb 13, 2011
tvchurch: Solid advice.
Nerd Fort! Coworking in the San Fernando Valley!
Posted at 2:51pm, Sunday Feb 13, 2011
tvchurch: I am so doing this if I'm in LA over the summer.
YouTube - Popin' Cookin' #3 - たのしいおすしやさん (Sushi)
Posted at 5:38am, Sunday Feb 13, 2011
John: Mesmerizing.
Royal flush
Posted at 10:06pm, Saturday Feb 12, 2011
Adam: I'm repeatedly surprised by how bad some toilets are. Toilets getting clogged would seem to be a pretty trivial engineering problem.
Steptoe & Johnson LLP: Banking
Posted at 9:51pm, Saturday Feb 12, 2011
John: Deutsche is a client of Steptoe! This is really exciting; maybe I can get put on a matter this summer.
'Just Go With It': A Sad Union of the Saccharine and Scatological - Christopher Orr - Culture - The Atlantic
Posted at 4:59pm, Saturday Feb 12, 2011
Rob: One of the most scathing movie reviews I've ever read.
The Associated Press: Ethics watchdog targets congressional sleepovers
Posted at 4:01pm, Saturday Feb 12, 2011
John: This is kind of funny, but CREW's almost certainly correct that the Congressmen should be paying taxes on the imputed income from this free lodging. There are two relevant provisions in determining whether Congressmen can properly exclude the imputed income from the fringe benefit of free housing.

The first is § 119, which provides exclusions for certain meal and lodging fringe benefits. Under § 119, for free lodging to be excluded it must be the case that "the employee is required to accept such lodging on the business premises of his employer as a condition of his employment." Congressmen are not required to sleep in their offices in order to be members of Congress, so that's very likely out.

The second relevant provision is an exemption for reimbursed "traveling expenses while away from home in the pursuit of a trade or business" under § 162(a)(2). There are two problems here though.

The most glaring one, is that this provision is for reimbursed expenses incurred by the employee, not freebie's given away by employers. Reimbursements also need to be made pursuant to certain substantiation requirements, § 274(d), that the Congressmen are unlikely to have met unless they got some tax advice.

The second problem is that these Congressmen will very likely not be treated as being "away from home" because their "tax home" will be Washington. The tax home is the area where you regularly conduct business, regardless of where your family lives. Moreover, there is a special provision for state legislators that can elect to treat their home district as their tax home even if they live and work in the state capital. The need for this special provision underscores the fact that Congressmen would not qualify for reimbursement exemptions.
Inside J-Archive, the nearly comprehensive online Jeopardy! archive maintained by obsessive fans. - By Daniel D'Addario - Slate Magazine
Posted at 2:36pm, Saturday Feb 12, 2011
Adam: Someone should tell this guy about Jimbo Jeopardy.
Wunderkind Fun
Posted at 11:20pm, Friday Feb 11, 2011
John: Very cute; kind of frightening.
Edmund Burke Blogs Egypt
Posted at 5:34pm, Friday Feb 11, 2011
tvchurch: Solid.
Posted at 1:00pm, Friday Feb 11, 2011
John: Reminds me of closing cardboard boxes by overlapping the flaps.
Posted at 8:41am, Friday Feb 11, 2011
Avi: My favorite alt-text in a long time.
Photography Contests
Posted at 8:41am, Friday Feb 11, 2011
Avi: "You have a nice picture right there. But it’s not good enough. It’s not contest worthy. Desaturate it. Pull out the black. Overexpose your whites. Don’t forget the noise. Throw on a fucking vignette, and you’ve got a winner. Any self-respecting photographer will bitch about contest-toning, but you know what? We all fucking do it, every last one of us."

That was amazing.
Trading on volatility
Posted at 8:53pm, Thursday Feb 10, 2011
nikhil: you can also trade options on vix futures. the vix is an index that tracks the one-month implied volatility of the S&P 500 index. so thinking about a vix option is one of the easiest ways to see how you can trade "vol of vol", or how volatile the quantity [how volatile something is going to be] is going to be.
Were bankers fools or knaves?
Posted at 8:38pm, Thursday Feb 10, 2011
nikhil: if somebody took 90% of your net worth and bought (for you) the shares of some random company, would you hold onto it or sell it?
Pew Forum: Income Distribution Within U.S. Religious Groups
Posted at 8:07pm, Thursday Feb 10, 2011
tvchurch: Very neat.
Cyanide & Happiness #2322 -
Posted at 7:17pm, Thursday Feb 10, 2011
John: (snarf!)
When Freedom Is Bad for Business - Magazine - The Atlantic
Posted at 3:15pm, Thursday Feb 10, 2011
tvchurch: Ridiculous. Hernando de Soto pointed out a long time ago that making it hard to start businesses is a terrible idea.
‘Toy Story 3’ Is Pushed by Pixar for Best Picture Oscar -
Posted at 12:23am, Thursday Feb 10, 2011
Chip: The article's meh, but check out the video (A Rare Look Inside Pixar Studios). It seems like an awesome place to work. It's also neat to see the snippets of voice actors acting.
Kepler Data Visualized
Posted at 8:49pm, Wednesday Feb 09, 2011
John: Gets you a bit further along the Drake equation.
Posted at 8:44pm, Wednesday Feb 09, 2011
John: Sharing just for the first line of the opinion. Well done Judge Kozinski.
On Insider Trading . . . and Shredding and Smashing and Purging - Law Blog - WSJ
Posted at 6:50pm, Wednesday Feb 09, 2011
John: Just say no to spoliation (
Brian Jacques, Writer of Redwall Series, Dies at 71 -
Posted at 5:22pm, Wednesday Feb 09, 2011
Chip: Noooo. Silber, I know you're sharing in this loss.
Sparrow 1.0
Posted at 2:55pm, Wednesday Feb 09, 2011
Avi: This looks wacky...but I want to try it. I think my email volume would be too overwhelming in this kind of an interface, and offline syncing is important but isn't mentioned. Has anybody tried this?
Gladwell on US News « Truth on the Market
Posted at 9:18pm, Tuesday Feb 08, 2011
Chip: Anyone with a subscription care to share the actual article?
A second draft of a non-technical article on universality « What’s new
Posted at 7:57pm, Tuesday Feb 08, 2011
John: Really good.
Obama’s Fruitcake and the Truth About Business Taxes
Posted at 7:02pm, Tuesday Feb 08, 2011
John: Sharing primarily for this portion: "But these breaks are only one reason why the statutory rate tells less than the whole corporate tax story. It turns out that more than half of taxable business income in the U.S. is earned by pass-through companies such as partnerships and S corporations. Their owners pay individual taxes on this income, but owe no corporate tax at all.

Because this happens far less frequently elsewhere, it is very difficult to compare U.S. business taxes (either rates or payments) with those in other countries. Peter Merrill, a principal at the accounting firm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, argues that the shift to pass-through companies may be the single most important reason why U.S. corporate tax revenues are so low."

This is part of the story I didn't really go into in my response to Nikhil's post before. I think Gleckman is actually missing the importance of the marginal rates in this part of the story. It is another illustration of the importance of the relationship of marginal rates. To understand why so much business income is now earned through partnerships rather than corporations, we have to understand the incentives set up by the relationships between the marginal rates.

Having income sit in a corporation has one potential (major) tax benefit and one (major) tax cost. The cost is that you have to pay the second tax on dividends when you take the money out of corporate solution. The potential benefit is that while the money is in solution, any investment income it earns is taxed at corporate rather than personal rates.

Before 1986, the highest marginal corporate rate was considerably lower than the highest marginal personal rate. This set up an incentive for wealthy individuals to get their money into corporate form. They could save more taxes from the benefit of being subject to lower rates than they lost from the second tax on dividends.

After 1986, that rate difference essentially disappeared (and was even sometimes reversed). So the benefit disappeared and all that remained was the cost. The current rate relationships are the primary cause of the slow exodus of business income from the corporate form. Now there are non-tax business reasons for being incorporated, and the tax code currently imposes a further requirement that any publicly traded company is taxed as a corporation, so this exodus has been gradual and incomplete.

So anyway, the key take home is once again that different marginal rates, and their relationship, set up important tax incentives for businesses. The impact of marginal rates might not be straight forward, but it's absolutely critical to understanding what is going on. It's not enough to just look at where the government is getting its revenue from; you have to understand the forces that the tax code exerts on business behaviors and incentives.
Maria Altmann: Maria Altmann, 94, dies after winning return of painting seized by Nazis -
Posted at 6:41pm, Tuesday Feb 08, 2011
Chip: If you haven't been to the Neue Gallerie, you should go. The cafe they have (featuring Viennese food - think sausage etc.) is also quite good. It's pretty much across the street from the Met.
The invisible American welfare state
Posted at 1:08pm, Tuesday Feb 08, 2011
John: If I had been asked, I'm pretty sure I would have been put on this list. I'm acutely aware of the subsidized nature of my student loans, but I still don't generally think of it as "using a government social program."
Should We Be Surprised at Political Bias in Academia?
Posted at 12:36pm, Tuesday Feb 08, 2011
tvchurch: Holy hell.
Markets in Everything: Polish Board Game Recreates Communist Shopping Hell
Posted at 12:34pm, Tuesday Feb 08, 2011
tvchurch: Odd. But neat.
Robust statistics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 2:34am, Tuesday Feb 08, 2011
John: Woody.
List of Buddha claimants - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 8:02pm, Monday Feb 07, 2011
Adam: One of the many great Wikipedia lists.
Christina Aguilera FAIL
Posted at 6:00pm, Monday Feb 07, 2011
John: The truly embarrassing thing is that Fail Blog corrected the wrong part of the song in this video, which doesn't even show the part where she messed up. You've got to be kidding me.
Late Night Bacon Recipe : Rachael Ray : Food Network
Posted at 2:13pm, Monday Feb 07, 2011
John: Eat it, Bitman. Also, read the reviews.
The Tiny Humanity Bubble | jackadamblog
Posted at 1:45pm, Sunday Feb 06, 2011
Chip Shaffer: Space is big.
James Somers: Yeah, don't forget that there are a hundred billion galaxies, each with an average of a hundred billion stars.
Justin Becker: ridiculous!
John Cobb: Was I the only person surprised by how big the humanity bubble is? Looks like we'll hit another arm in like 5000 years. Decent chance of contacting intelligent life at that point, no?
Avinash Vora: @John: agreed. I (a) didn't realize that we've been broadcasting for a hundred years already and (b) like the idea that another arm is a good target for sentient life being contacted.
James Somers: I'm not so sure, John. I agree with Avi that hitting a new arm is a neat idea but "contacting intelligent life" is a really complex problem. Even if there is intelligent life in that particular spot—and already you're like six terms deep in the Drake equation—it has to be looking for your signals, it has to find them, and then it has to make sense of them.

This last bit could be the hardest. I think it's an open problem to say whether one can bootstrap a conversation with aliens. It's presumably a lot harder than, say, deciphering hieroglyphics. At least there your symbol systems are grounded in the same (human) cognitive architecture and a set of shared referents, like stars and artifacts.

I'm bullish on the whole operation but there is a lot of work between sending out a signal and having any kind of fruitful dialogue.
John Cobb: There's a really good statistical argument against what I said, I suppose.
John Cobb: It's kind of wild that there are more than 10^11 stars within 75,000 light years of us. / FT Magazine - Love you and leave you
Posted at 1:44pm, Sunday Feb 06, 2011
tvchurch: Come again?
Very cute Volkswagen commercial featuring a little kid dressed as Darth Vader
Posted at 1:04am, Sunday Feb 06, 2011
Avi: I loved this.
Obama Aide Mistook 4-Star General for Waiter
Posted at 10:16pm, Saturday Feb 05, 2011
Adam: I love when this kind of stuff happens.
Kardashev scale - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 4:46pm, Saturday Feb 05, 2011
tvchurch: Very, very neat.
Hackers Penetrate Nasdaq's Computers -
Posted at 4:39pm, Saturday Feb 05, 2011
tvchurch: The hacker, Zero Cool, penetrated a record 1,507 systems, causing a seven-point drop in the market.
Challenge to Attorney General Eric Holder: Correct the Misinformation on the DOJ Website
Posted at 4:34pm, Saturday Feb 05, 2011
tvchurch: Hm, interesting.
Hosni K. Mubarak, Will You Please Go Now?
Posted at 4:22pm, Saturday Feb 05, 2011
tvchurch: Holding onto your title as long as possible makes sense from a bargaining point of view. His office can be something he gives up later instead of harsher punishment, if there every is any.
Hernando de Soto on Egypt
Posted at 4:18pm, Saturday Feb 05, 2011
tvchurch: Everyone should read Hernando de Soto's The Mystery of Capital. He oversells his idea, but at its core it is absolutely correct. Bringing extralegal assets and companies into the legal system is a potent reform of the low-hanging-fruit variety.
Top 500 U.S. Manufacturing Firms Had Sales in 2010 of $4.5 Trillion, Greater Than Germany's GDP
Posted at 4:16pm, Saturday Feb 05, 2011
tvchurch: Wow.
Posted at 2:06pm, Saturday Feb 05, 2011
Avi: Awesome!
One for My Photo Album
Posted at 11:56am, Saturday Feb 05, 2011
nikhil: once again, literally zero humor content. i cannot stress enough how painfully unfunny i find this.
Arts & Letters Daily (03 Feb 2011)
Posted at 11:44am, Saturday Feb 05, 2011
nikhil: #1!
SAT, ACT, Admissions Costs, Tutor Costs: The College Frenzy -
Posted at 12:16am, Saturday Feb 05, 2011
Chip: James, another article on your favorite topic.
Does everyone need a college degree? Maybe not, says Harvard study. -
Posted at 2:39am, Friday Feb 04, 2011
John: This is conventional wisdom by now, right?
Some people just shovel snow; he shapes it into dodecahedrons
Posted at 11:51pm, Thursday Feb 03, 2011
John: Build one at Harvard! I don't mind someone poking fun, and these things are just cool. Also Alberto De Sole could rotate it.
Google's Childish Response To Microsoft Using Google To Increase Bing Relevance | Techdirt
Posted at 4:52pm, Thursday Feb 03, 2011
John: This strikes me as basically right. It's kind of interesting that we don't provide legal protection for this kind of thing--there are lots of similar pieces of intellectual property that we give away monopoly rights to in order to promote innovation--but it strikes me that more likely than not we are already past the ideal point of protection for spurring innovation and that more protection would make us worse off rather than better.
When Putin met Reagan « Iconic Photos
Posted at 3:02pm, Thursday Feb 03, 2011
tvchurch: When Putin met Reagan.
How To Look Smart
Posted at 12:39pm, Thursday Feb 03, 2011
tvchurch: I half expected this to be shared by Leif or Stephanie.
Space stasis: What the strange persistence of rockets can teach us about innovation. - By Neal Stephenson - Slate Magazine
Posted at 11:27pm, Wednesday Feb 02, 2011
tvchurch: Neat paragraph.

I just want another Neal Stephenson novel.
Netanyahu: Iran Wants Egypt to be ‘Another Gaza’
Posted at 9:03pm, Wednesday Feb 02, 2011
tvchurch: ~8 minutes, for those of you interested in democratic peace theorem and in Egypt.

Take it with a grain of salt - from a politician.
Art Project, powered by Google
Posted at 6:19pm, Wednesday Feb 02, 2011
Chip: I'm sure most of you have already seen this, but if you haven't, check it out. Very cool. Especially neat are the gigapixeled paintings (each museum chose 1 painting for this) where you can see it in crazy up close.
The Great Stagnation, Low-Hanging Fruit and America’s ‘Sputnik Moment’ - Real Time Economics - WSJ
Posted at 2:25pm, Wednesday Feb 02, 2011
John: What do you get if you take the geometric mean of Cowen and Kurzweil?

= We (ConKurzil)^1/2
= We (CinorulzK)^1/2
= We root: C, I no rulz, K?
= It is a core human feature to be overconfident in our ability to predict the future.
YouTube - Annie Hall
Posted at 12:50pm, Wednesday Feb 02, 2011
Chip: This is for Rob: "The key word here is indulgent."
ymarkov: The Last Ring-bearer
Posted at 3:27am, Wednesday Feb 02, 2011
Avi: If I can figure out a way to wangle the PDF into a usable MOBI, I'll read this. There's an HTML version floating around as well.
Internet Engineering Task Force - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 3:03am, Wednesday Feb 02, 2011
Avi: What an awesome name. Click around to read about the fascinating end of IPv4.
Ruling Against Health Care Law Evens Scorecard at 2-to-2 -
Posted at 2:58am, Wednesday Feb 02, 2011
John: I think it's a better written opinion than the first one striking down the individual mandate, and it's really quite thorough as a history of the doctrine, so if you really want to see the reasons some people think it is unconstitutional, this is a good place to look.

Money grafs from Commerce Clause analysis:

It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting - as was done in the Act - that compelling the actual transaction is itself “commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce” [see Act § 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted. . . . If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be “difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power” [Lopez, supra, 514 U.S. at 564], and we would have a Constitution in name only. Surely this is not what the Founding Fathers could have intended. See id. at 592 (quoting Hamilton at the New York Convention that there would be just cause to reject the Constitution if it would allow the federal government to “penetrate the recesses of domestic life, and control, in all respects, the private conduct of individuals”) (Thomas, J., concurring). In Lopez, the Supreme Court struck down the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990 after stating that, if the statute were to be upheld, “we are hard pressed to posit any activity by an individual that Congress is without power to regulate.” See id. at 564. (emphasis added). If some type of already-existing activity or undertaking were not considered to be a prerequisite to the exercise of commerce power, we would go beyond the concern articulated in Lopez for it would be virtually impossible to posit anything that Congress would be without power to regulate.

As previously noted, the Supreme Court has summarized and defined the current state of the law under the Commerce Clause, and it has uniformly and consistently declared that it applies to “three broad categories of activity.” Lopez, supra, 514 U.S. at 558 (emphasis added); accord Morrison, supra, 529 U.S. at 608. It has further described the third category as “the power to regulate those activities having a substantial relation to interstate commerce.” Lopez, supra, 514 U.S. at 558-59 (emphasis added); accord Morrison, supra, 529 U.S. at 609; see also Raich, supra, 545 U.S. at 17; Perez, 402 U.S. at 150; Wickard, supra, 317 U.S. at 124; Darby, supra, 312 U.S. at 119-20; Jones & Laughlin Steel, supra, 301 U.S. at 37. Without doubt, existing case law thus extends only to those “activities” that have a substantial relationship to, or substantially affect, interstate commerce. I am required to interpret this law as the Supreme Court presently defines it. Only the Supreme Court can redefine it or expand it further - a point implicitly made by one of the defendants’ own cited authorities. See Stern, supra, at 1363 (stating that the Supreme Court had at one point in time only talked about “movement” of goods across state lines under the Commerce Clause because it was necessary to decide those earlier cases and there had “been no need for a broader definition” of commerce; going on to opine that “it would seem timely that the Supreme Court” expand the definition, as “the time has now arrived for the [Supreme] Court to cut loose from the ‘old’ approach and to select the ‘new’ one”) (emphasis added).

Money grafs from Necessary and Proper Clause analysis:

One of the amicus curiae briefs illustrates how using the Necessary and Proper Clause in the manner as suggested by the defendants would vitiate the enumerated powers principle (doc. 119). It points out that the defendants’ are essentially admitting that the Act will have serious negative consequences, e.g., encouraging people to forego health insurance until medical services are needed, increasing premiums and costs for everyone, and thereby bankrupting the health insurance industry - unless the individual mandate is imposed. Thus, rather than being used to implement or facilitate enforcement of the Act’s insurance industry reforms, the individual mandate is actually being used as the means to avoid the adverse consequences of the Act itself. Such an application of the Necessary and Proper Clause would have the perverse effect of enabling Congress to pass ill- conceived, or economically disruptive statutes, secure in the knowledge that the more dysfunctional the results of the statute are, the more essential or “necessary” the statutory fix would be. Under such a rationale, the more harm the statute does, the more power Congress could assume for itself under the Necessary and Proper Clause. This result would, of course, expand the Necessary and Proper Clause far beyond its original meaning, and allow Congress to exceed the powers specifically enumerated in Article I. Surely this is not what the Founders anticipated, nor how that Clause should operate.

. . .

[T]he “end” of regulating the health care insurance industry (including preventing insurers from excluding or charging higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions) is clearly “legitimate” and “within the scope of the constitution.” But, the means used to serve that end must be “appropriate,” “plainly adapted,” and not “prohibited” or inconsistent “with the letter and spirit of the constitution.” These phrases “are not merely hortatory.” Raich, supra, 545 U.S. at 39 (Scalia, J., concurring in judgment).

The Necessary and Proper Clause cannot be utilized to “pass laws for the accomplishment of objects” that are not within Congress’ enumerated powers. As the previous analysis of the defendants’ Commerce Clause argument reveals, the individual mandate is neither within the letter nor the spirit of the Constitution. To uphold that provision via application of the Necessary and Proper Clause would authorize Congress to reach and regulate far beyond the currently established “outer limits” of the Commerce Clause and effectively remove all limits on federal power.

The reasoning on the Commerce Clause issue is fairly sound. You can debate the wisdom of using the inactivity/activity distinction as a means of policing the outer limits of Congress's most expansive power, but it's a relatively coherent line to draw in an area of doctrine that has seen great difficulty drawing such lines.

I don't agree with the characterization of the Act that appears in the first paragraph quoted above from the Necessary and Proper Clause argument. It seems that it would frequently be the case that if you entirely removed certain provisions from a given statute, the efficacy of other provisions could be negatively effected and may even become worse than nothing at all. That's a lesson about the interconnectedness of a statutory scheme, not a demonstration that the PPACA is "ill-conceived."

The second section is, I think, incorrect. First, it's worth noting that he is quoting from a concurring opinion in Raich. The plurality opinion in Raich, as well as the majority opinion in Comstock, frame the test as Congress having a "rational basis" that the means will lead to the desired end, a considerably more lenient standard.

Second, even under the stricter standard, the mandate should succeed. It is clearly "plainly adapted" to the ends--large numbers of economists and health care policy experts both liberal and conservative have suggested that a mandate is the best tool for achieving the ends sought. The "prohibited" and "within the letter and spirit of the Constitution" phraseology comes originally from McCullough, where in context it means not contrary to some independent limitation imposed by the Constitution (e.g. Ex Post Facto Clause, Bill of Rights).

It's worth pausing to carefully consider this sentence: "The Necessary and Proper Clause cannot be utilized to 'pass laws for the accomplishment of objects' that are not within Congress’ enumerated powers." Just prior to this, Judge Vinson has stated that the objects in this case, i.e. the regulation of the insurance market including the ban on denial based on pre-existing conditions, are in fact within Congress's enumerated powers. He is confusing means with ends in this sentence, which is a crucial distinction. It simply isn't the case that if a means falls outside of the enumerated powers, then it is not authorized by the Necessary and Proper Clause. That would render the Clause entirely vacuous. It's the end that needs to be authorized.

Because of this fundamental conceptual error, Judge Vinson avoids any discussion of what independent limitation he believes the individual mandate is inconsistent with. The only candidate is the Tenth Amendment, which reserves powers not delegated to Congress to the States. But saying that the 10th amendment operates in this way would just recapitulate the error of rendering the Necessary and Proper Clause nugatory. If any means that were reserved to the states because outside of Congress's enumerated powers, were thereby inconsistent "with the spirit and the letter of the Constitution," then there would be nothing left for the Necessary and Proper Clause to do.

I think these important errors mar an otherwise well-written and well-reasoned opinion.
Posted at 10:23pm, Tuesday Feb 01, 2011
John: This blog is kinda funny.
*Euphemania: Our Love Affair with Euphemisms*
Posted at 9:47pm, Tuesday Feb 01, 2011
nikhil: uhhhh The name "canola" was derived from "Canadian oil, low acid" in 1978.
February 01, 2011
Posted at 9:07pm, Tuesday Feb 01, 2011
John: Woah.
How Porn Is Affecting the Libido of the American Male -- New York Magazine
Posted at 8:22pm, Tuesday Feb 01, 2011
Chip: I guess this is becoming the it topic for magazines.
Why We Train Foreign Militaries
Posted at 1:31pm, Tuesday Feb 01, 2011
tvchurch: Really, really good point.
Everything you ever wanted to know about mobile money
Posted at 1:27pm, Tuesday Feb 01, 2011
tvchurch: The advantage of not having incumbent technologies?
Google Declares War on the Egyptian Government
Posted at 1:26pm, Tuesday Feb 01, 2011
tvchurch: Go Google.
Shit Photojournalists Like
Posted at 12:18pm, Tuesday Feb 01, 2011
Avi: Must read blog. Spot-on and hilarious.
Redesigning OSX Spaces: 45˚ Is All It Takes
Posted at 11:16am, Tuesday Feb 01, 2011
Avi: What a terrible suggestion from the blog of one of my favorite UX designers.
Does nobody else know the Control+[n] to go to the nth screen?
Adults with college degrees, over time
Posted at 11:36pm, Monday Jan 31, 2011
nikhil: really interesting data, especially the racial stuff. who knew colorado was so educated?
Smithsonian censorship: S. Wayne Clough must step down to safeguard the Smithsonian Institution's mission -
Posted at 8:45pm, Monday Jan 31, 2011
Chip: Good summary of what happened at the Smithsonian that also (in my opinion correctly) argues why the head of it should go.
Corporate Tax Reform: Where’s the Beef?
Posted at 8:03pm, Monday Jan 31, 2011
John: Useful specifics on corporate tax expenditures. Summary: We're unlikely to remove the corporate tax expenditures that are actually expensive, e.g. the second largest expenditure is for accelerated depreciation of machinery and equipment that was dramatically increased for 2011 as one of the provisions Obama demanded as part of the Obama-McConnell tax compromise.
America's Poorest 5% = India's Richest 5%
Posted at 12:46pm, Monday Jan 31, 2011
tvchurch: "In fact, America’s bottom ventile is still richer than most of the world: That is, the typical person in the bottom 5 percent of the American income distribution is still richer than 68 percent of the world’s inhabitants."

Holy eff.
China "tiger mother" fact of the day?
Posted at 11:46am, Monday Jan 31, 2011
tvchurch: Culture extrapolated on national legislation. Hm.
Martingale (betting system) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 11:21pm, Sunday Jan 30, 2011
Adam: For James
Fun With Purchasing Power Parity
Posted at 6:23pm, Sunday Jan 30, 2011
Adam: Interesting little map here.
The Sounds Of Skyrim - News -
Posted at 5:56pm, Sunday Jan 30, 2011
John: James, thought you mihgt be interested in this. Interviews with a guy who does something very specific at a very high level of quality.
Egypt: It’s the Economy, Stupid
Posted at 4:37pm, Sunday Jan 30, 2011
tvchurch: "But Egypt does not have enough oil and too many people for that solution to work for very long. It cannot afford to buy acquiescence. It must earn consent. And that means gradually bringing more and more of the population into politics.

"The New York Times reports on how power is monopolized in Egypt: “In local council elections in 2008, there were 52,000 open seats. Government decisions to disqualify candidates meant that 43,600 seats were uncontested and awarded to the ruling party. Out of a total of 51,546 seats, the ruling party won 99.13%."

Neat read on Egypt.
Assorted Links
Posted at 11:53pm, Saturday Jan 29, 2011
John: #5: OhmygodIneedthat!
Penny Arcade! - A Priori
Posted at 11:43pm, Saturday Jan 29, 2011
John: I actually listened to the (appellate) oral args for this case this summer as part of my work at ConSource. I don't remember this line though.
How To Write Badly Well
Posted at 9:24pm, Saturday Jan 29, 2011
John: Like this blog.
Four Pests Campaign - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 5:31pm, Saturday Jan 29, 2011
James: One of many tragically stupid experiments of 1958-62.
Nikhil Srivastava: haha the line "Mao declared 'forget it'" is great
Tax policy
Posted at 5:13pm, Saturday Jan 29, 2011
nikhil: Interesting post, I'd like to hear what John has to say.
From the Plastic Age of Vinyl Records to the Digital Age: Your Phone is Now Becoming Your Wallet
Posted at 3:37pm, Saturday Jan 29, 2011
tvchurch: Please get there faster.
Al Jazeera's live stream of the Egypt protests
Posted at 2:34pm, Saturday Jan 29, 2011
Avi: Al Jazeera has had phenomenal coverage. I can't remember another major event like this that had such detailed, clear and up-to-date coverage. Their reporters were showing scenes and giving information that I didn't see on the major networks for sometimes hours.
Scott Adams on How to Tax the Rich -
Posted at 1:54pm, Saturday Jan 29, 2011
tvchurch: Worth a quick read, if only for this concept.
[Video] Flash from the Past - Katie Couric, Bryant Gumbel in 1994 "What is this Internet Thing?"
Posted at 1:46pm, Saturday Jan 29, 2011
tvchurch: What is the Internet anyway?
The Power of Fuck
Posted at 1:38pm, Saturday Jan 29, 2011
tvchurch: "Just two words. No more, no less. The point was to show the agent that I really wanted the boarding pass, and also maybe get her to think I was a crazy -- at risk of exploding into a tantrum of expletives in front of other customers and employees."

Cyanide & Happiness #2309 -
Posted at 1:31pm, Saturday Jan 29, 2011
John: Gnarly.
Greg Mankiw's Blog: Tax Justice
Posted at 1:30pm, Saturday Jan 29, 2011
John: Is it weird that Sandel and a woman saying tax principles should be based on the Bible are the voices from the left in this?
Men are climbing to the moon but they don't seem interested in the beating human heart
Posted at 10:02am, Saturday Jan 29, 2011
nikhil: painful
Information Feudalism — Crooked Timber
Posted at 12:33am, Saturday Jan 29, 2011
John: I might start using this tag. It also is a good point in general about not confusing decentralization with deregulation, which should be further extended to not confusing deregulation with fostering functioning free markets. Presumably, raw ideology aside, it's the last one that you actually want public policy to accomplish.
We're number one!
Posted at 8:59pm, Friday Jan 28, 2011
Adam: This makes me want to go to Hawaii, Utah, and Wyoming. I think I'll stay away from Kentucky.
Someone on Hacker News has a good sense of humor
Posted at 8:10pm, Friday Jan 28, 2011
Adam: Great stuff.
Note to Hosni Mubarak
Posted at 5:50pm, Friday Jan 28, 2011
tvchurch: "Of course the U.S. has a tough hand to play. Mubarak has pursued a reasonably responsible policy toward Israel, no doubt at some cost to his popularity. As was the case in Iran, the alternative to a corrupt autocracy could easily prove to be a corrupt, theocratic, anti-American autocracy. But the short-term gains from propping up one of “our sonsofbitches” have to be weighed against the long-term costs of further alienating those Egyptians who agree with Americans in disliking tyranny."

Keep that in mind.
Land of Rape, Lions, and Bones, Apparently
Posted at 5:46pm, Friday Jan 28, 2011
tvchurch: "Yes, that has always been my least favorite thing about African cities: plenty of cheap beer, but you're constantly tripping over stray femurs and tibias."

What a line.
WSJ: John Paulson Bests $4B Gains of 2007, with $5B Year in 2010
Posted at 10:58am, Friday Jan 28, 2011
tvchurch: Turns out John Paulson isn't just a one-off.
Explaining Aggregate Demand and Aggregate Supply, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty
Posted at 5:30pm, Thursday Jan 27, 2011
tvchurch: Solid post. ~ 3 minute primer on thinking precisely about macroeconomics.

That was an odd sentence, but I can't seem to put it another way.
Assorted links
Posted at 4:30pm, Thursday Jan 27, 2011
tvchurch: Brian Greene's Elegant Universe is a dense but excellent resource on String Theory. I might have to take a look at his new book.
Wednesday Recruitin' Arrives with the Cavalry
Posted at 4:16pm, Thursday Jan 27, 2011
tvchurch: Just, beautiful.
U.S. Budget Deficit to Pass $1.5 Trillion This Year
Posted at 4:13pm, Thursday Jan 27, 2011
tvchurch: "The market is fully prepared to serve as judge, jury and executioner if we don't straighten up soon."

25 Years of Digital Vandalism -
Posted at 1:21pm, Thursday Jan 27, 2011
Chip: Read the first few paragraphs for the story of the first computer virus.
The Virtuosi: Darts
Posted at 10:35pm, Wednesday Jan 26, 2011

This is a question I've wondered about basically every time we've played darts. Since I also have an easier time hitting 19 than 20, this makes it pretty clear where I should be aiming. That is if we ever start playing 501 instead of cricket.

Also, the series of heat maps was a pretty powerful way of conveying why the set of optimal aiming points takes that nifty curve to the left. Pretty impressed with this blogger.
James Somers: Yeah this is almost a paradigm of recreational tech blogging.
Avinash Vora: One of my favorite posts of your recent shares.
Nikhil Srivastava: Now we need the same data if for distributions with less horizontal variance than vertical.
Justin Becker: good point.
Nikhil Srivastava: And what Aaron and I wanted to do senior spring, which was a more detailed analysis of beirut form, reracking, and aiming technique - with lots of data.
James Somers: One way to do that - and this has no doubt been the subject of many an underclassman's engineering term project - is to build a ping pong ball launcher robot. Then you could see how different trajectories, spins, and speeds affect sink rates, and you try to pinpoint the highest-EV target for each standard rack.

I think it would actually be possible to do this using a slightly more sophisticated computer model than the one this guy used for darts. The added complexity would come from the fact that ping pong balls don't strike the cups in a single point, and of course from the fact that they bounce. But I'm pretty sure 3D game engines are powerful enough, and easy enough to use, that over a weekend or two you could create a plausible environment. Maybe John knows a bit more about that sort of thing.

Also—is Aaron on Reader?
John Cobb: I was pretty much only into graphics. I once tried to make a primitive physics engine, but it was mildly disastrous. Anyway, the modern ones could certainly do some pretty cool simulations, taking into account spin, etc.; I'm not sure how easy their interfaces are to pick up.
Avinash Vora: Easy. 2D physics modeling is downright pedestrian today, and you can model 3D physics with any number of Googleable libraries. Most indie game dev engines have halfway decent physics engines as well.

Spin on a spherical object bouncing on the rim of a cup is a lot of modeling. No idea about that.
A Plea for a raise, By Jack Kennedy
Posted at 9:44pm, Wednesday Jan 26, 2011
nikhil: interesting, he was already a democrat
Local g
Posted at 9:42pm, Wednesday Jan 26, 2011
nikhil: would be better without the last row, but still good
H.R. 25: Fair Tax Act of 2011 (
Posted at 7:49pm, Wednesday Jan 26, 2011
John: The existence of this bill creates the annoying feature that every single section of the Internal Revenue Code is flagged as subject to proposed legislation by the major online legal databases.
CBO: Tax Cut Deal to Push 2011 Federal Deficit to $1.5T
Posted at 2:44pm, Wednesday Jan 26, 2011
tvchurch: Good article on the budget deficit. Crazy, crazy figures.
Road Runner - Coyote Falls 2010 on Vimeo
Posted at 2:28am, Wednesday Jan 26, 2011
tvchurch: 3 minutes of childhood, updated.
The State Of The Union, In Your Words : NPR
Posted at 12:02am, Wednesday Jan 26, 2011
John: Most accurate analysis. In case you're wondering, this was my second favorite Obama speech after 2004.
Comic for January 25, 2011
Posted at 6:11pm, Tuesday Jan 25, 2011
John: Dilbert gets in on the tax expenditures game.
New issue of Econ Journal Watch
Posted at 3:03pm, Tuesday Jan 25, 2011
tvchurch: Just starting to take a look at the AP Econ piece. Caught my eye because Ferrarini led a conference I was at last semester in DC for IHS.
University of Virginia
Posted at 2:59pm, Tuesday Jan 25, 2011
tvchurch: I think it's neat that the JAG guys would come listen in on the human rights course.
Flavor Flav’s Incipient Fried Chicken Empire
Posted at 2:57pm, Tuesday Jan 25, 2011
tvchurch: Cheers to Will Wilkinson.
Lion tacos off the menu following threats - U.S. news - Life -
Posted at 12:55pm, Tuesday Jan 25, 2011
tvchurch: Now I really have no reason to go to Arizona.
RadioShack Says Day Will Retire as CEO in May; To Be Replaced by Gooch - Bloomberg
Posted at 4:55am, Tuesday Jan 25, 2011
Adam: I guess RadioShack is getting into solar energy.
Uneasy Street
Posted at 4:27am, Tuesday Jan 25, 2011
Avi: Unbelievable.

Alaska should've pulled their goalie on the powerplay.
A Softer World: 633
Posted at 8:54pm, Monday Jan 24, 2011
LJN: alt text
China fact (book) of the day
Posted at 3:06pm, Monday Jan 24, 2011
tvchurch: The Great Leap Forward is fascinating, and terrible.
Scientists Aren’t Always Complete Idiots
Posted at 1:49pm, Monday Jan 24, 2011
John: I can now retire from publishing bad science articles. I just can't imagine anyone surpassing this effort.

Here's the math part:

"With 60 symbols, letters and marks one can define an infinity of mathematical expressions. These are then reified and turned into objects. They include numbers, vectors, matrices, tensors, sets, spaces, topoi and so on. Mathematicians are mostly fascinated by infinity, and whether, for example, out of the infinity of even numbers they can all be equated to the sum of two prime numbers. But there is only an infinity of mathematical objects, not a super-infinite (transfinite) totality.

So how has it happened that for a hundred years, the mathematical establishment has swallowed the idea of transfinite sets? Georg Cantor produced an argument that seemed to point to transfinite immensities, but that was before we realised that mathematics was incompletable. In effect Cantor's argument showed that the set of real numbers was incompletable. It did not (could not) show that there were more mathematical objects than an ordinary infinity.

Cantor thought that mathematics was timeless, so his mistaken interpretation looked at the time (the 1890s) quite reasonable. At which point blind faith kicked in and David Hilbert, Bertrand Russell, Alfred North Whitehead and many others who ought to have known better, became intoxicated with the idea of the transfinite. This was amazing! Numbers beyond infinity! It was like discovering that God had an elder brother.

Once installed, blind faith ensured that the transfinite would continue to thrill and amaze generations of students - in spite of the inconvenient fact of its mathematical impossibility."

I'm speechless.
The Matrix Re-Reloaded
Posted at 1:01pm, Monday Jan 24, 2011
John: I actually liked the second and third movies, and even I'm asking "Why?"
The Great Depression with Great Brevity
Posted at 12:55pm, Monday Jan 24, 2011
tvchurch: One paragraph. Novel idea.
Quote of the Day
Posted at 12:38pm, Monday Jan 24, 2011
tvchurch: For once, a good point from Rush. A really good point.
Will Planet Earth Have ‘Two Suns’ By 2012?
Posted at 12:37pm, Monday Jan 24, 2011
tvchurch: In which case I will dress up as Luke Skywalker and go to Tunisia where the iconic image from Episode IV was shot.
Posted at 12:36pm, Monday Jan 24, 2011
tvchurch: "And yet, despite a century of scientific familiarity, samples drawn from Pareto distributions are routinely presented to the public as anomalies, which prevents us from thinking clearly about the world."

" all likelihood, we're trying to put a Pareto peg in a Gaussian hole."

Great, great find James.
Some “Humour” For Your Weekend
Posted at 12:28pm, Monday Jan 24, 2011
tvchurch: Terrific. The first guy gets Caine right on. 1:43 long.
Posted at 8:52am, Monday Jan 24, 2011
John: This one sucks even worse than the other. Land of 1000 dances begins with real lyrics.
Then And Now of the Day: Shanghai, 1990 vs. 2010. [reddit.]
Posted at 10:47pm, Sunday Jan 23, 2011
John: Holy crap.
Earth may soon have a second sun
Posted at 8:53pm, Saturday Jan 22, 2011
John: This would be cool.
VOA on The Daily Show (Updated)
Posted at 5:40pm, Saturday Jan 22, 2011
tvchurch: 14 minutes, but you've got to watch this clip. Americans don't know much about the VOA because that material is not allowed to be down domestically.

An Iranian Daily Show? So cool.
Assorted links
Posted at 9:37pm, Friday Jan 21, 2011
nikhil: #1 - i almost stabbed someone with a spoon today for pressing the elevator button for the 2nd floor
Chewbacca Defense
Posted at 5:22pm, Friday Jan 21, 2011
tvchurch: My lord, he's using the Chewbacca defense!
A thought experiment
Posted at 5:15pm, Friday Jan 21, 2011
tvchurch: Dear Lord, he's using sophistry!

But seriously though, good point.
Amy Chua
Posted at 12:25pm, Friday Jan 21, 2011
tvchurch: "On the other hand, who the fuck cares about the piano and violin?"

"How can you compete, America, with a billion Chinese children more machine than mammal playing Flight of the Bumblebee perfectly, in perfect unison? You can’t. When a billion pianos sound, no one can hear you scream."

...Will Wilkinson remains one of my favorite bloggers.
Dimon And Blankfein: Who Wore It Better?
Posted at 9:31pm, Thursday Jan 20, 2011
nikhil: i love this blog
Posted at 9:17pm, Thursday Jan 20, 2011
James: this is a very bad XKCD
Michael Silber: Yes, I'm glad I had to see it again. Thanks for posting.
Finally! Someone combined bowling and billiards
Posted at 8:46pm, Thursday Jan 20, 2011
John: I wanna play.
L'Hôte: the blindspot (updated)
Posted at 8:21pm, Thursday Jan 20, 2011
John: Freddie's making a lot of fun of my ideological kindred, and I would probably drive him insane since I am a purified Platonic form of what he spends most of this post railing against, but lots of this is true and refreshing.

Of course, I not only disagree with his policy preferences, but also with his basic idea that there is too much bloodlessness and not enough sticking to principle. I don't think his approach is a good way of figuring out what the right answers are, and I don't think the right answers are so obvious that they don't require great effort to figure out. I think his errors on substance are a result on his errors in methodology. But there should be more room for leftist critiques in the political blogosphere.

The beginning of the comments is worth reading as well.
Track of the Day: 'Mad Tom of Bedlam' - Stephen Cooke - Culture - The Atlantic
Posted at 5:38pm, Thursday Jan 20, 2011
tvchurch: Good God Charlene looks good in the video. Go Blue, baby.
U.S. Helps Vaccinate Seven Million Pakistani Children Against Measles and Polio
Posted at 5:14pm, Thursday Jan 20, 2011
tvchurch: It cost < 6 million to vaccinate seven million children? Terrific.
An End to the Dreaded Stadium Beer Line
Posted at 1:17pm, Thursday Jan 20, 2011
tvchurch: For Avi and Leif.
Wal-Mart Plans to Make Its House Brand Healthier -
Posted at 9:43am, Thursday Jan 20, 2011
Chip: This is great.
Health Care Spending, Again - By Yuval Levin - The Corner - National Review Online
Posted at 1:08am, Thursday Jan 20, 2011
John: Let's describe what is actually happening, and then you can say whether this deserves the name "bending the cost curve down" or not. This is math, so it's easy-peasy:

In 2014, 30 million additional people are projected to get health insurance, many of whom will have coverage subsidized by the United States government. As a result, the federal budgetary commitment in 2014 is projected to be significantly higher with the bill than without the bill. In addition, the rate of growth is projected to remain slightly higher in 2015 and 2016 with the bill than without thus making the magnitude of the difference in the budgetary commitment in the two scenarios get even bigger. After that point, however, the rate of growth is expected to be lower for the remainder of the budgetary window (through 2019). Thus this difference shrinks. However, the difference in the rate is not enough to make up for the difference in the level by the end of the budgetary window, so the federal budgetary commitment to health care is projected to be higher in 2019 with the bill than without the bill. CBO does not make precise projections outside of the window. However, they expect that the rate of growth of the additional spending provisions will be smaller than the rate of growth of the additional tax and cost restraint provisions. This means that the two cost curves will eventually cross one another, and the CBO projects that in the long term the federal budgetary commitment to health care will be lower with the bill than without the bill.

In other words, for t>=2016, we have something like:

B_withACA = e^(a(t-2016))+C
B_withoutACA = e^(b(t-2016))+D

where C>D, and a<b, and where the two exponential curves cross at some point after t=2019.

Now, if you're going by the CBO's projections, I would call that "bending the cost curve." Just like the deficit, you should generally care more about the long term growth rate than the short term level. In fact, I remember Mankiw saying something about conservatives being the ones who cared about the long term. But evidently not in this case.
Adventures in market reporting
Posted at 11:12pm, Wednesday Jan 19, 2011
nikhil: 90% crap
Delicious Books FAIL
Posted at 8:57pm, Wednesday Jan 19, 2011
John: I hate to think what would happen if James visited this aisle.
Posted at 2:11pm, Wednesday Jan 19, 2011
tvchurch: You have got to play around with this. Compare the US to China, or Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, or Iran.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration v. Nelson : SCOTUSblog
Posted at 11:53am, Wednesday Jan 19, 2011
John: Supreme Court rules 8-0 against Justin.
Generation Why? by Zadie Smith | The New York Review of Books
Posted at 11:39pm, Tuesday Jan 18, 2011
Mike: This is great. I used to be one of those people that used facebook all the time. Now I only visit if someone messages me or I have a party invite. If there were an easy way to secure all my friend's emails and birthdays in my address book, I'd be pretty comfortable deleting my account to.
Wall Street Needs Fresh Ideas To Compete With Tech Firms For Talent
Posted at 9:59pm, Tuesday Jan 18, 2011
nikhil: all great ideas
China Fear of the Day
Posted at 9:45pm, Tuesday Jan 18, 2011
nikhil: moral: gucc don't go to shanghai, you will be executed
Critics' Picks: 'Rosemary's Baby' - Video Library - The New York Times
Posted at 8:53pm, Tuesday Jan 18, 2011
Chip: This was recently on the front page of Rosemary's Baby is one of my favorite horror movies. I definitely recommend you see it if you haven't already. Also, don't watch this if you haven't seen the movie because Scott reveals some spoilers.
If You Think <i>You're</i> Cold ... - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan
Posted at 7:13pm, Tuesday Jan 18, 2011
John: Cool.
Book review: Sam Harris’ The Moral Landscape
Posted at 6:57pm, Tuesday Jan 18, 2011
John: I wouldn't sign on with this root-and-branch, but there's some very good stuff here, especially in the second half.

I would just emphasize, in re: the last two highlighted paragraphs, that there is more to our ordinary practices of normative discussion than identifying irrational behavior and attempting to persuade. Such conversations also serve to identify and communicate about behaviors that go against our own standards or consensus standards of communities to which we belong. These are of great importance even if the outcome would not be rationally binding on or persuasive to a hypothetical outsider. Additionally, inculcation in these types of conversations can on practice be considerably more persuasive than direct attempts to persuade.
Dog Might Provide Clues on How Language Is Acquired -
Posted at 11:44pm, Monday Jan 17, 2011
Mike: The 1,000 nouns is amazing, but if you read through it gets even crazier when she understands a few verbs and categories as well.
Posted at 11:18pm, Monday Jan 17, 2011
Adam: My favorite building in Dubai, although it's not quite complete. I called it "the Inception building" but apparently its real name is "Infinity Tower".
100 or so Books that shaped a Century of Science » American Scientist
Posted at 10:29pm, Monday Jan 17, 2011
nikhil: the ones i've read have all been good
Scottish whisky the way South Americans like it... | Mail Online
Posted at 7:33pm, Monday Jan 17, 2011
John: Great idea.
SSRN-The Taxing Power, the Affordable Care Act, and the Limits of Constitutional Compromise by Brian Galle
Posted at 5:59pm, Monday Jan 17, 2011
John: The article provides a brief, if somewhat one-sided, statement of the taxing power argument for the constitutionality of Obamacare. As a practical matter, these arguments are unlikely to matter in the end. It's hard to envisage any of the Justices deciding that this argument comes out the other way from the Commerce Clause and Necessary & Proper Clause arguments. Conceivably Roberts could agree to side with the liberal bloc in exchange for a minimalist majority opinion authored by himself based on the Tax and Spending Clause.

Somewhat ugly politics aside, this is an independent and often overlooked part of these cases. I'll offer a summary below:

Everyone is arguing over whether Congress has the power to enact a specific portion of the healthcare reform bill(s) recently passed that provides that individuals who do not obtain minimal health insurance will pay the federal government 2.5% of their income with a minimum of $695 and a maximum of the average cost of a certain class of fairly weak health insurance. This is called the "individual mandate" or "individual responsibility requirement (IRR)."

As you remember from grade school, Congress is not empowered to pass any bills they like. They only have certain enumerated powers laid out in the Constitution. Opponents of Obamacare claim that the IRR provision does not fall within any of these powers, and they have won one of their cases at the District Court level.

The Government has given multiple possible arguments that the IRR provision is constitutional. The arguments that get the most attention are that Congress is empowered by the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. However, the Government also argues that it is empowered by the Tax and Spending Clause that states that "[t]he Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States."

Opponents have countered with three arguments.

First, that the IRR penalty is not a tax at all. This doesn't seem like much of a winner. It is true that the monetary payment is consistently referred to as a "penalty" rather than a tax, and Obama publicly stated that it was not a tax while trying to get the bill passed. However, the IRR provision of the bill is codified as section 5000A of the Internal Revenue Code, is administered by the IRS, refers to the person who pays the penalty as a "taxpayer," who must obtain insurance for the "taxable year," etc. Additionally, the Supreme Court has held that Congress need not call something a tax to invoke its taxing power.

The second argument is that the IRR is a "direct" tax and therefore must be "apportioned" between the States. This argument ends up looking basically like the Commerce Clause and Necessary & Proper Clause arguments.

You probably remember the famous 3/5ths compromise concerning how slaves were to be accounted for in determining population. Part of that compromise was to include a provision banning "direct Taxes" that are not "apportioned" among each of the states in proportion the population of "free Persons" plus 3/5 of "all other Persons," AKA slaves.

Of course, the IRR penalty would not be so apportioned, so the question is whether it is a direct tax. Unfortunately, "direct" taxes are not really a concept of tax law that appears outside of the Constitution, and no one is quite sure what it means. The standard view is that they are taxes that attach to a taxpayer by virtue of their being alive or owning a certain kind of property, rather than by virtue of some event.

Because of this, the argument ends up looking just like the Commerce Clause argument. Opponents say that the penalty attaches as a result of "inactivity," which just means being alive. Proponents say that the penalty attaches because of a decision not to obtain health insurance in light of the fact that everyone requires emergency medical care at some point in their lives. This is the same as the activity/inactivity distinction that opponents have tried to draw, and proponents have tried to diffuse, in the Commerce Clause context.

Even if the IRR penalty is a direct tax, the Government still may claim that it is an income tax, which is exempted from the apportionment requirement by the Sixteenth Amendment. This is where most of the independent legal action is. The Government claims that it is an income tax because the amount of the penalty is determined by a percentage of gross income as long as that amount falls within a minimum and a maximum. This capping on both sides happens frequently throughout the Code, such as the cap on the amount of Social Security payroll taxes paid. Opponents return that there is not a whole lot of wiggle room between the minimum payment and the maximum payment, and that the tax functionally amounts to a more or less fixed price that is determined by the cost of health care and not by a taxpayer's income.

Opponents have to be wary of framing their arguments in ways that would invalidate large portions of our existing tax law, but there probably is some real meat in this argument. Clearly if there was no room between the two caps, you can't call the tax an income tax, and a tiny gap doesn't seem like it should be enough either. So the question is just how large is the gap between the sharply defined minimum ($695 in 2015 thereafter adjusted for inflation) and the somewhat more opaquely defined maximum ("an amount equal to the national average premium for qualified health plans which have a bronze level of coverage, provide coverage for the applicable family size involved, and are offered through Exchanges for plan years beginning in the calendar year with or within which the taxable year ends") and how much that gap differs from other similar tax provisions. I don't know if the relevant rates have even been defined yet, and I don't think the courts have gotten into the grist of this argument in the decisions produced so far.
A Heartbreaking Diary of Staggering Genius
Posted at 5:46pm, Monday Jan 17, 2011
tvchurch: Graphs of the day. Neat.
Man discovers glasses-free 3D tech in the blink of an eye (video)
Posted at 12:23am, Monday Jan 17, 2011
John: Rob showed this to me, but I thought I would share it.
Scientist Plans to Clone Woolly Mammoth (Just Not For Theme Park) | News & Opinion |
Posted at 11:40pm, Sunday Jan 16, 2011
tvchurch: Oh hell yes.
Jurassic Park Theme (1000% Slower) by birdfeeder on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free
Posted at 6:24pm, Sunday Jan 16, 2011
Mike: Pretty damn cool.
Bloop - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 6:10pm, Sunday Jan 16, 2011
Mike: Bloop is a great word.
Bathyscaphe Trieste - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 6:07pm, Sunday Jan 16, 2011
Mike: The glass cracked and they continued going down?!
U.S. Observes Religious Freedom Day
Posted at 1:10pm, Sunday Jan 16, 2011
tvchurch: It's mandatory.

Posted at 12:56pm, Sunday Jan 16, 2011
tvchurch: "Spending per government entity is the product of spending per constituent times constituents per entity. If we had higher spending per constituent but many fewer constituents per entity, we would have a healthier diffusion of government power."

This is an idea worth keeping in mind.

(I'm with him that we shouldn't do his hypothetical example not excerpted, but the idea above is solid.)
YouTube - Domino's Tests Limits Of What Humans Will Eat
Posted at 11:25am, Sunday Jan 16, 2011
Chip: This is also good, and the fact that youtube placed a domino's ad next to the video made it even better.
YouTube - Supreme Court: Death Penalty Is 'Totally Badass'
Posted at 11:23am, Sunday Jan 16, 2011
Chip: This is really good.
The Essayist | Hard Core: The new world of porn is revealing eternal truths about men and women, by Natasha Vargas-Cooper
Posted at 3:02am, Sunday Jan 16, 2011
John: Worth a read.
Assorted links
Posted at 12:04am, Sunday Jan 16, 2011
John: In addition to suffering from the same pernicious idea as Krugman's piece, Mansfield's interview manages to string together some good sentences into complete gobbledygook.
Edge World Question Center: Your Cognitive Toolkit
Posted at 11:37pm, Saturday Jan 15, 2011
nikhil: Many of these are good ideas. I think Sean Carroll's is well-written.
Posted at 10:55pm, Saturday Jan 15, 2011
nikhil: Am I sharing this before James?
Civic Literacy Quiz
Posted at 10:12pm, Saturday Jan 15, 2011
John: I got the one about Puritans wrong instead. I kind of stand by my answer as being also correct, and I think the question they are talking about is poorly written too. But really a pretty good little quiz that has some actual substance.
Ain't It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news.
Posted at 4:16pm, Saturday Jan 15, 2011
Chip: Hopefully, this'll end up a reality.
Rachel Maddow is no Glenn Beck
Posted at 1:28pm, Saturday Jan 15, 2011
tvchurch: "“Rachel Maddow is no Glenn Beck,” Michael Kinsley recently observed. Kinsley is a journalist of deep experience and sharp intelligence, doubtless among the best in his craft. But this time his liberal outlook shows, for in truth Maddow and Beck are creatures of the new media, commentators who sprang from nowhere, their stock in trade is opinion pure and simple. A conservative, I hold no brief for Glenn Beck, a self-dramatizing man who pronounces on things he knows and things he doesn’t. Out of curiosity, I have tried to watch him, but not recently, I know the act, and its hucksterism and self-regard are alien to me. In the same vein, Rachel Maddow’s program is of no interest. Her presence on the tube, at that time in the evening, is no soothing thing, anger drives her program, the devotees who tune her in come to partake of that anger. Her certitude is of a different variety than Beck’s. The latter came to his worldview, so I understand, through trauma and self-improvement, Maddow had come to hers without equivocation, doubt had never broken into her worldview. Her viewers come to her not to be enlightened, but to be reassured of the righteousness of their rage. In the Bush years, those who turned to her and to Keith Olbermann came to proclaim that they were mad as hell and that they weren’t going to take it anymore. Thus Kingsley erred, Maddow and Beck are two sides of the same coin. There is an eerie quality to Olbermann calling for peace and self-restraint in the aftermath of the Tucson tragedy. He does so, but angrily. He better be accommodated – or else."

Partisan is partisan.
Top Performers Maniacally Prepare for Job Interviews
Posted at 1:27pm, Saturday Jan 15, 2011
tvchurch: Good to know.

James, did you secretly ghost write this post?
Afghan Partnership Opens Modern Carpet Processing Facility
Posted at 1:22pm, Saturday Jan 15, 2011
tvchurch: Neat.
A Tale of Two Moralities -
Posted at 3:53am, Saturday Jan 15, 2011
John: I think the central thrust of this column is a deeply pernicious falsity. Pernicious because it is close to being true, and is very alluring, but is ultimately wrong, and gets in the way of true progress.

The following is an excerpt from some related scribblings entitled "Judicial Ideology: The Sacred and the Profane"

Ideological principles, in and of themselves, are not absolute, personal moral principles. Rather they are analytical tools employed in making profound moral decisions. They are a means of exploiting patterns and degrees of similarity that run throughout our normative lives.

Each day an individual is confronted with new moral puzzles and simply cannot, given limited cognitive resources and time, review each problem afresh. Instead, frameworks are built up based on trends and consistencies.

But these trends and consistencies are, in reality, only partial. The framework works great good by revealing them amidst the seething chaos of ordinary life. But it works great evil by blinding us to their gaps and limitations. The systems of ideological axioms and rules of derivation that provide the structural skeleton for broad sets of related political beliefs are idealizations--toy models of sorts--under which different political ideas and decisions may play themselves out with relative certainty. But we shouldn't confuse this type of contrived certainty with actual moral certainty.
BBC News - Swine flu offers 'extraordinary super immunity'
Posted at 4:39am, Friday Jan 14, 2011
John: Now I feel like I missed out.
Food Trend Prediction: Finger Limes | Apartment Therapy The Kitchn
Posted at 4:22am, Friday Jan 14, 2011
John: Wanna get me some.
Why women shouldn't be "burdened" with the vote: 1915 - Boing Boing
Posted at 4:18am, Friday Jan 14, 2011
John: Even Mormons!
Treasury offers debit cards for tax refunds - BusinessWeek
Posted at 4:14am, Friday Jan 14, 2011
John: Good idea.
Vince Vaughn and Kevin James in ‘The Dilemma’ - Review -
Posted at 9:57pm, Thursday Jan 13, 2011
Chip: What a great line: To ask if Mr. Vaughn and Ms. Connelly have any chemistry is to invoke the wrong science; extreme disparities of size and shape suggest, instead, a fascinating problem of zoology, as if a whippet had decided to cohabit with a yak.
Soon, your life will be nothing but Facebook
Posted at 5:43pm, Thursday Jan 13, 2011
John: Sharing just for the sixth box on searching. Who the hell is searching for "facebook" on a search engine? That's like asking what the number is for 911.
Southwest Pilot Holds Plane For Murdered Child's Family
Posted at 3:59pm, Thursday Jan 13, 2011
John: If you thought holding an elevator was bad...

OK, it's actually a heart-warmingly human gesture.
Can All of Us Make a Concerted Effort to use Words Correctly?
Posted at 1:32pm, Thursday Jan 13, 2011
tvchurch: Noted.

Like saying "centered around" something. You can't center around anything; you can only center on something.
Posted at 4:48am, Thursday Jan 13, 2011
Avi: For James: This is my new typeracer.
The design of the sci-fi corridor
Posted at 4:47am, Thursday Jan 13, 2011
Avi: Must read (or see?)
What are the Windows A: and B: drives used for?
Posted at 4:46am, Thursday Jan 13, 2011
Avi: The fact that this is on "" is just depressing.

I am having raging nostalgia for my 286.
Google to Add Pay to Cover a Tax for Same-Sex Benefits -
Posted at 12:26am, Thursday Jan 13, 2011
John: Old article, but kind of interesting. Paying taxes can be quite annoying for domestic partners because they are married for state income tax purposes but not for federal income tax purposes due to DOMA.
N.D. Tops 350,000 Bbls/Day, Could Double by 2015
Posted at 3:48pm, Tuesday Jan 11, 2011
tvchurch: Ah, North Dakota? Odd.
Fallen Astronaut
Posted at 3:46pm, Tuesday Jan 11, 2011
tvchurch: This is just cool.
“I’ve got your back”
Posted at 2:44pm, Tuesday Jan 11, 2011
tvchurch: Reads like a Ben Casnocha post.

Bill Watterson .net - Biography, Pictures, Videos, & Quotes
Posted at 1:58pm, Tuesday Jan 11, 2011
Avi: tl;dr: BW started the strip at 27, retired at 37. He's 52 now.

And I think I am going to buy the Calvin & Hobbes box set I've been eyeing for a few months now.

Instapaper for Chrome Adds Offline Sync to Your Long Articles [Downloads]
Posted at 1:43pm, Tuesday Jan 11, 2011
Avi: Awesome.
The Worst Part About All Of This Is Hoke Rhymes With "Joke" And "Choke," Thus Providing A Steady Stream Of Hur Hur Hur Posts From Teenage Fans Of Rivals
Posted at 1:32pm, Tuesday Jan 11, 2011
Avi: Sweet mother of god this is actually happening.

This won't do.
The Game of Darts-Part II: Technique
Posted at 1:25pm, Tuesday Jan 11, 2011
Avi: For James.
Posted at 10:18pm, Monday Jan 10, 2011
Mike: James will love this game and you should too
The Mathematics Of Beauty « OkTrends
Posted at 9:08pm, Monday Jan 10, 2011
Mike: I think I may like these OkTrends articles more than the site itself.
Tragedy in Arizona
Posted at 8:25pm, Monday Jan 10, 2011
tvchurch: "Blame is a way of simulating control: if we can just identify who was at fault, we can stop it. The problem is, when we can't identify any very plausible target, we too readily go after implausible ones."

How much unemployment is structural?
Posted at 6:14pm, Monday Jan 10, 2011
John: This somewhat undercuts the way I've been thinking about economic stimulus. It's very important to keep an eye out for this kind of change that potentially renders inaccurate your conceptual models that are based on generalizations about past events. A reaction from Krugman or Delong would be very interesting.
I'm feeling like a very large turd on a very thin stick
Posted at 5:01pm, Monday Jan 10, 2011
Chip: Powdered East Indian vulva?
Chinese Rote Reptition vs. American Self-Esteem
Posted at 1:36pm, Monday Jan 10, 2011
tvchurch: "
What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences."

Devils in Love―The Major Seventh Augmented Fourth Chord «
Posted at 11:12am, Monday Jan 10, 2011
Avi: Two reasons for the share:

(1) Excellent description. I particularly like the description for the VII.
(2) Click through to the site. Awesomest header ever.
BLOG: The Eyes Have It
Posted at 9:40pm, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
Chip: Interesting, but more details about what's going on in our brains would have been nice.
Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior -
Posted at 9:13pm, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
John: Laura sent this to me with the note "Almost exactly the way I was raised." I think it's fair to say she has mixed feelings about it: pretty effective results, but the author is overly optimistic about the lack of downsides.
For Law School Graduates, Debts if Not Job Offers -
Posted at 7:53pm, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
Chip: The article points out a real and legitimate problem that deserves coverage (and has previously been covered a lot by other more law-specific publications/websites). However, the article undermines its point by picking a complete moron for their poster boy (even while they somewhat acknowledge he's an idiot). I could go on, but, I'll just say this article made me mad.
The culture that is Texas
Posted at 3:50pm, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
tvchurch: No kidding? Wow.
Yglesias » State and Local Taxation
Posted at 1:07pm, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
John: Important part of the picture.
Sriracha Citrus Mayo
Posted at 11:35am, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
Avi: Make this.
Is the Manning/Brady rivalry really a rivalry?
Posted at 11:30am, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
Avi: Excellent column. FTA:

"Mike Lombardi claimed Brady reads coverages so spectacularly that sometimes, if a defensive back falls down, Brady won't notice the open receiver because he already has processed the coverage and the receiver wasn't supposed to be open, so he knew not to waste his time looking there."

~10 mins
iPhone = Mac 2.0
Posted at 10:42am, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
Avi: "Second, there is the Mac’s rebirth. Last year, its US market share approached 10%, with a 90% unit share in the $1k-and-greater segment."

I know that's been said (I may have shared it) before, but that figure always amazes me. In the market they compete in (>$1k laptops), they have a 90%+ market share.
Morning After Hang On-ers
Posted at 4:18am, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
Hacker News | VLC for iOS Pulled from the App Store
Posted at 2:59am, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
Avi: Excellent comments on this one. Apple/Applidium/VideoLAN and the politics of OSS. There's a very interesting subdiscussion on regulatory bodies as well.

Don't read if you aren't the least bit interested in App Store ethics, GPL, VideoLAN politics etc.
A World Held Hostage: Miles Drumbeat Update
Posted at 1:33am, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
tvchurch: "Now… this exact same article was written three years ago—almost to the letter—but apparently no meeting ever happened or was set up. Les Miles did get punched in the face with millions of dollars, though, and his agent probably plays "have a nice day" as part of his hype-up video to this day."

My Proposal for a Code of Ethics for Economists
Posted at 1:15am, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
tvchurch: The importance of being wrong.
Imperfect, but true
Posted at 1:12am, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
tvchurch: "I should have quoted Hayek and said that I “prefer true but imperfect knowledge, even if it leaves much indetermined and unpredictable, to a pretence of exact knowledge that is likely to be false.”"

Buffett and Munger always say they'd rather be roughly right than precisely wrong. Great sentiment.
An Assignment for Progressives
Posted at 1:10am, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
tvchurch: "Instead, write an essay that explains why government-subsidized mortgages with low down payments are a great idea. Answer Wallison's main point, which is that other countries where people seem to be well-housed do not rely on the GSE model."

I'd love to read that essay.
Paragraphs to Ponder
Posted at 1:10am, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
tvchurch: "I suspect that the health-care-cost component of hiring is a major drag on the U.S. economy. Instead of encouraging employer-provided health insurance, I would say that we should outlaw it. Instead of outlawing bare-bones catastrophic health insurance for individuals and households, I say we should encourage it."

I'd bet it's one of the top three drags on hiring.
24-Hour Time Lapse of the World's Airline Traffic
Posted at 1:01am, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
James: Lots going on here—watch all the way through. Pay attention in particular to the shift from night to day. It has big and not-so-big effects on the direction of flows and also on the geographical distribution of flights.
The PISA Rankings and the Role of Schools in Student Performance on Standardized Tests—Posner
Posted at 12:57am, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
tvchurch: "The 2009 PISA test scores reveal that in American schools in which only a small percentage (no more than 10 percent) of the students receive free lunches or reduced-cost lunches, which are benefits provided to students from poor families, the PISA reading test scores are the highest in the world."

While I keep that in mind when people tell me our schools are falling behind, I'd like to know what happens when we compare that sample to an analogous sample in the rest of the OECD countries.
Five Things of 2010
Posted at 12:50am, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
tvchurch: Felicia Day.

Good lord.
If you have to put a question mark after the phrase, "Is X a crime," it probably shouldn't be a crime
Posted at 12:45am, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
tvchurch: Want to chuckle? Spend five minutes and read Nick's article.

Such a hacker.
Top 5 Navy Stories of 2010
Posted at 12:40am, Sunday Jan 09, 2011
tvchurch: I find #2 of the utmost importance.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Critical Condition After Shooting - ABC News
Posted at 10:50pm, Saturday Jan 08, 2011
John: In case you ever wonder why we have a democracy, a big part of it is so that this happens as rarely as possible. I hope she will be alright.
Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior -
Posted at 5:35pm, Saturday Jan 08, 2011
Mike: This was a pretty funny article.
Timothy Ferriss - ‘The 4-Hour Body’ - Review -
Posted at 7:03pm, Friday Jan 07, 2011
Chip: This book sounds absurd and hilarious. Some choice quotes from the review:

“The 4-Hour Body” reads as if The New England Journal of Medicine had been hijacked by the editors of the SkyMall catalog.

Want to have “wolverine” sex? Who doesn’t? Eat 4 Brazil nuts, 20 raw almonds and 2 capsules of fermented cod-liver oil and butterfat four hours before intercourse.

I was able to facilitate orgasms,” he writes, “in every woman who acted as a test subject.”
Luang Prabang, Laos: The Mekong's Last Undiscovered City -
Posted at 2:10pm, Friday Jan 07, 2011
Chip: And you killed it. I think I can speak for Nikhil when I say that Luang Prabang was the highlight of our trip to Thailand and Laos last year, though New Years in middle-of-nowhere Thailand was also quite memorable. One of the great things was that it wasn't so touristy, especially compared to Chaing Mai in Thailand. However, it seems like that's going to be or already is rapidly changing, for the worse. The article highlights the alms procession which takes place at 5:30 every morning (monks walk through the town as villagers donate food). For me, this was one of the most disturbing sights. Not the procession itself, but the fact that surrounding all these monks, really, suffocating them, were all these tourists (I have to admit, myself included) taking picture after picture. I'm reminded of the Britney Spears South Park where the paparazzi destroys her because they just constantly take her photo etc. Anyway, I'd recommend visiting before it becomes even more touristed.
A year of learning
Posted at 10:53am, Friday Jan 07, 2011
Avi: I love this idea.
A Question About Ice Crushers
Posted at 10:44am, Friday Jan 07, 2011
Avi: I once crushed ice using a bag and a mallet. I swear the ice was tastier.
Finally, Star Wars on Blu-ray
Posted at 10:43am, Friday Jan 07, 2011
Avi: Woah. $90 for the 6 + 3 discs of special features. 30 hours? Awesome awesome. Time to give Lucas even more of my money.
Random Observations: Teaching linear algebra
Posted at 3:16am, Friday Jan 07, 2011
tvchurch: I'm with James - the techniques ring true.
A Review of the Best Robots of 2010
Posted at 12:08am, Friday Jan 07, 2011
John: Lots of cool videos here in addition to the one I shared earlier. In particular, check out the XOS 2 under automated warfare, and the Petman under robo-locomotion.
YouTube - ACTROID-F in AIST Open Lab 2010 02
Posted at 11:57pm, Thursday Jan 06, 2011
John: That is deep in the uncanny valley.
Cocaine vaccine could make drug addiction a distant memory
Posted at 11:48pm, Thursday Jan 06, 2011
John: Cool.
Score The Goal FAIL
Posted at 5:22pm, Thursday Jan 06, 2011
John: That's actually really impressive.
Bad Words
Posted at 5:20pm, Thursday Jan 06, 2011
John: Whatever the right answer is here, I'm pretty sure this isn't it. The idea isn't the make anyone's "life a little more comfortable." I'm not a huge fan of the book, but it is the American novel. "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn." That's Ernest Hemingway's take. The idea that it can just harmlessly be removed from high school curricula is crazy to me. My preference would be to leave it in if at all possible--you do lose some of the satiric bent of the book by bowdlerizing it, and it smacks of censorship--but it's frankly a fairly minor change. If that's what it takes to get it into schools, then so be it.
Learned Hand - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 3:47pm, Thursday Jan 06, 2011
John: More good legal writing:

[Facts of the case, feel free to skip: taxpayer was the sole owner of a corporation that held stock that had considerably appreciated. In order to avoid having to pay double-taxation, i.e. both (1) a tax on the gain from selling the stock and (2) a tax on the distribution of the dividend from the corporation to the shareholder, the taxpayer created a new corporation, shifted the stock to that corporation, liquidated the new corporation transferring the stock to herself, and then sold the stock paying only a single tax on the accrued gain. Liquidations are not taxed and corporate "reorganizations" defined as "a transfer by a corporation of . . . a part of its assets to another corporation [such that the transferor's] stockholders . . . are in control of the corporation to which the assets are transferred." The transaction here falls within the literal meaning of those words, but clearly is designed solely to lower the tax collected.]

Judge Learned Hand writes: "A transaction, otherwise within an exception of the tax law, does not lose its immunity, because it is actuated by a desire to avoid taxation. Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury . . . Therefore, if what was done here, was what was intended [to be covered by the statue defining reorganization], it is of no consequence that it was all an elaborate scheme to get rid of income taxes, as it certainly was.

Nevertheless, it does not follow that Congress meant to cover such a transaction, not even though the facts answer the dictionary definitions of each term used in the statutory definition. It is quite true . . . that as the articulation of a statute increases, the room for interpretation must contract, but the meaning of a sentence may be more than that of the separate words, as a melody is more than the notes, and no degree of particularity can ever obviate recourse to the setting in which all appear, and which all collectively create.

The purpose of the section is plain enough; men engaged in enterprises -- industrial, commercial, financial, or any other -- might wish to consolidate, or divide, or add to, or subtract from, their holdings. Such transactions were not to be considered as 'realizing' any profit, because the collective interests still remained in solution.

But the underlying presupposition is plain that the readjustment shall be undertaken for reasons germane to the conduct of the venture in hand, not as an ephemeral incident, egregious to its prosecution. To dodge the shareholders' taxes is not one of the transactions contemplated as corporate 'reorganizations.'"
Law and Our Rights
Posted at 2:21pm, Thursday Jan 06, 2011
John: Very thoroughly reasoned.
Journal’s Article on ESP Is Expected to Prompt Outrage -
Posted at 12:22pm, Thursday Jan 06, 2011
Chip: someone posted something about this earlier.
Se7en ending with stuffed animals
Posted at 11:36am, Thursday Jan 06, 2011
Avi: Don't be that idiot who watches this without first having seen the film.
Angry Witches Cast Spells To Protest Romanian Taxes
Posted at 2:56am, Thursday Jan 06, 2011
John: Yet all of the major tax reform proposals fail to include investments in white magic protection spells.
Polarized America Page
Posted at 11:06pm, Wednesday Jan 05, 2011
John: Good historical data. We're mostly right back where we used to be when it comes to polarization. The interesting thing is that what creates less national polarization is actually great big wedge issues that drive different regions of the country against one another like Civil Rights.
Moment of Zen - Nuts to My Face - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - 01/04/11 - Video Clip | Comedy Central
Posted at 9:10pm, Wednesday Jan 05, 2011
Adam: Speaking of nuts...
A Millionaire Paul Weiss Partner Might Get Money from His Ex-Wife — Thanks to Bernie Madoff « Above the Law: A Legal Tabloid - News, Gossip, and Colorful Commentary on Law Firms and the Legal Profession
Posted at 5:52pm, Wednesday Jan 05, 2011
Chip: It's cool when topics you've studied in law school (mutual mistake in contract) pop up in real live cases in the actual news.
Very good sentences
Posted at 12:48pm, Wednesday Jan 05, 2011
tvchurch: Charlie Kelly: King of the Rats
The Entrepreneurial Army?
Posted at 12:31pm, Wednesday Jan 05, 2011
tvchurch: Ha, Tim Kane let me read and comment on an early draft of this piece a few months back.

It's fascinating to read.
Posted at 8:58pm, Tuesday Jan 04, 2011
John: This is how I imagine a young James.
Another Cost of Hyperinflation
Posted at 6:35pm, Tuesday Jan 04, 2011
Adam: Sounds like some pretty stupid kids.
The Making of Tron: Legacy on Vimeo
Posted at 6:29pm, Tuesday Jan 04, 2011
Avi: Must-see.
Posted at 10:48am, Tuesday Jan 04, 2011
nikhil: yes!
Reid Set a Filibuster Record : Roll Call
Posted at 11:42pm, Monday Jan 03, 2011
John: Probably wouldn't have guessed this.
The science and imagination behind modern dessert : The New Yorker
Posted at 10:37pm, Monday Jan 03, 2011
Mike: Continuing my food kick of late. This looks at how pastry chefs have been the ones who are really pushing the limits of food.
Brett Favre, New York Jets sued by two former team masseuses - ESPN New York
Posted at 9:36pm, Monday Jan 03, 2011
Adam: "I guess I have bad intentions"...I really need to use that pick-up line.
The 2010 Seattle Seahawks: Worst. Playoff. Team. Ever?
Posted at 9:06pm, Monday Jan 03, 2011
Adam: This is way more analysis than is required to determine that the Seahawks suck, but still worth reading for the reference to some basketball team called the "Sheboygan Red Skins".
Goldman Invests in Facebook at $50 Billion Valuation
Posted at 6:09pm, Monday Jan 03, 2011
Avi: $50b? Unreal. I really don't get the valuation.
The Shrinking Soundbite Is Nothing New
Posted at 8:09pm, Sunday Jan 02, 2011
John: According to Ray Kurzweil soundbites will soon consist entirely of nanosecond-long chirps.
Forking Etiquette
Posted at 1:53am, Sunday Jan 02, 2011
John: My mother and brother use Continental while my father uses American. I flip back and forth depending on some unknown function of the circumstances and random chance. Apparently, I can't even choose sides properly when it comes to fork etiquette--there must be something wrong with my brain.
TaxProf Blog: Using Tax Law to Encourage Foreign Investment in U.S. Municipal Bonds
Posted at 2:24pm, Saturday Jan 01, 2011
John: I wrote earlier about the advantages of the Build America Bonds approach in terms of not leaking part of the subsidy intended for state and local governments to top-bracket investors. This article shows another advantage. For some reason, unknown to me, the Build America Bonds were specifically excluded from the Obama-McConnell deal.
The Doctor has been here. by uniique_com - $9
Posted at 4:05am, Saturday Jan 01, 2011
Avi: DW+SG. Awesome.
Blogging in fits and starts
Posted at 3:27pm, Friday Dec 31, 2010
tvchurch: "I’ve also hurt my back recently and really should be typing as little as possible. On the plus side, my meds make me drowsy and a little high, so any posts should be all the more interesting."

Hooray for honesty?
YouTube - The Clay Pigeon Golf Shot
Posted at 3:06am, Friday Dec 31, 2010
Mike: That's ridiculous. James, this is something you actually bet $50 on.
Aid Watch Rerun: African leaders advise Bono on reform of U2
Posted at 11:31am, Thursday Dec 30, 2010
tvchurch: Ha!
Dark Ssside
Posted at 5:45am, Thursday Dec 30, 2010
Avi: Blasphemy has never looked so awesome.
December 29, 2010
Posted at 8:25pm, Wednesday Dec 29, 2010
John: Good one.
TaxProf Blog: Michele Bachmann, Tax Geek
Posted at 7:59pm, Wednesday Dec 29, 2010
John: Who knew?
Benny Hill Bar Boobs (via professorpaddler) There’s a been...
Posted at 6:31pm, Wednesday Dec 29, 2010
tvchurch: Well worth the 9 seconds.
Mayor of Newark, New Jersey starts Twitter blizzard cleanup snowpocalypse revolution
Posted at 6:30pm, Wednesday Dec 29, 2010
LJN: Cory Booker has done stuff like this several times before. Admittedly, I know nothing of his policies, but this sort of engagement is impressive.
There Was Once a Woman Who Had Immortal Cells
Posted at 3:38pm, Wednesday Dec 29, 2010
tvchurch: Very, very neat. ~ 3 minutes.
2010 Domestic Box Office Visualized in Chart and Video
Posted at 3:19pm, Wednesday Dec 29, 2010
Adam: Neat graph.
Superior, Speed Fly on Vimeo
Posted at 1:38pm, Wednesday Dec 29, 2010
Mike: I'm over heli-skiing, I want to do this!
Today I learned that "Dexter" and "Sinister" are latin words that meant "right hand" and "left hand," the former being that which represents good and the latter that which represents evil.. : todayilearned
Posted at 11:48am, Wednesday Dec 29, 2010
James: good to know
Women, Men and the New Economics of Marriage | Pew Social & Demographic Trends
Posted at 6:14pm, Tuesday Dec 28, 2010
tvchurch: A very neat read.
Legend of Zelda prototype found and ripped
Posted at 5:26pm, Tuesday Dec 28, 2010
Avi: Baio describes it well. It's more morbid...
Libertarian cancer patient reads the Sunday paper: A multi-part series
Posted at 12:44pm, Tuesday Dec 28, 2010
tvchurch: "I guess what bothers me is this: When people get information from dumbed-down sources, they come away with a dumbed-down view of the world."

I wonder how true that is. Seems more right than wrong.
Super-Economy: The amazing truth about PISA scores: USA beats Western Europe, ties with Asia.
Posted at 12:44pm, Tuesday Dec 28, 2010
John: Crude is the operative term here, but the central thrust of demographic correction is an important point.
Yglesias » The Coherence of Conventional Ideological Categories
Posted at 12:22pm, Tuesday Dec 28, 2010
John: Not so much coherence, as the most workable way of jamming hundreds of policy decisions into two baskets, but OK I'll buy it. I think the last paragraph especially helped me understand why I chafe at political parties so much. Their fundamental organizing principles aren't ideas or even values but pure power politics -- what group(s) of people are you going to give more stuff to.
How Much Did It Cost AOL To Send Us Those CDs In The 90s? “A Lot!,” Says Steve Case
Posted at 12:57am, Tuesday Dec 28, 2010
tvchurch: I will never forget the wall of AOL CDs that Patrick Fortune and his roommates made in DC, flipped around to form a warped mirror. We all took turns stealing 5-10 CDs from the Post Office every time we were in there.
The Problem of Measurement
Posted at 11:44pm, Monday Dec 27, 2010
tvchurch: (On teacher evaluations, long-ish)

Go McArdle:

"Myself, I'd be happy with a more subjective, manager-intensive effort to evaluate teacher performance, weeding out the very bad teachers, and using pay to lure the very best ones into the places where they are most needed: schools that teach disadvantaged kids. But it's worth noting that such a system is pretty much totally incompatible with a unionized workplace--certainly one with a unionized workforce as adversarial as the teacher's union is in many cities. The whole union system is set up to deal with standardized processes. The sort of hands-on, intensive managerial monitoring and coaching that O'Hare imagines is almost impossible to imagine in the context of a collective bargaining process where rewards and punishments--and the conditions for each--must be clearly spelled out in advance."
Quality teaching: Just add seasoning?
Posted at 11:21pm, Monday Dec 27, 2010
tvchurch: For Avi and James, especially.

I'd like to know the robustness of these findings.
It's time to change the headline on Afghanistan
Posted at 10:45pm, Monday Dec 27, 2010
tvchurch: "But I also agree with my colleague, Peter Fever, that the president has done a poor job selling his policy. The administration's strategic messaging on the war is a half-baked compromise between touting a success and ignoring a war their political base dislikes. As a result, the administration is content to pop up once a year, groundhog-like, utter establishment platitudes like "Progress Made, Challenges Remain" about Afghanistan, and go back into hiding until the next event forces them to acknowledge we're still there."

RGK (Kaufman) says President Bush's biggest mistake was not being able to properly communicate his policies. Sounds like a 'no shit' observation, but President Obama is doing the same thing.
When Numeracy Misleads
Posted at 10:40pm, Monday Dec 27, 2010
tvchurch: Ah, Numeracy. Wish it was more widespread.
Know Which Apps to Remove From MSConfig with This Startup Applications List [Lists]
Posted at 10:31pm, Monday Dec 27, 2010
tvchurch: Every time my parents' computers slow to a crawl, I disable just about every 'msconfig' application. Works every time.
Hirsute Politics
Posted at 10:30pm, Monday Dec 27, 2010
tvchurch: I'm not getting rid of my beard anytime soon. I wonder if there are similar results for successful businessmen. Probably more professors with beards, though.
Doctor Who Series 6 Trailer!!!!!
Posted at 10:26pm, Monday Dec 27, 2010
tvchurch: I refuse to watch! Just about to finish season 3.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Built in Minecraft
Posted at 8:58pm, Monday Dec 27, 2010
John: Shit's crazy.
Kalamazoo beer exchange
Posted at 10:28am, Monday Dec 27, 2010
tvchurch: If I still lived in Ann Arbor, I'd have to make a road trip to K-Zoo to try this place out.

Toomey, I see no reason why you shouldn't take a day trip over!
Perfect Remixed
Posted at 4:05am, Monday Dec 27, 2010
Avi: About the closest you could get to a perfect vodka martini. The soda is a brilliant, brilliant touch.

Vodka martini, not martini. Please.
Are unions the enemy of the arts?
Posted at 4:01pm, Sunday Dec 26, 2010
tvchurch: You've got to be kidding me.
“The Proposal” – My Cinematic Love Letter to Sara Prindiville
Posted at 2:43pm, Sunday Dec 26, 2010
Mike: This is really creative and cute.
Malkiel's Recommended Asset Allocation
Posted at 12:44pm, Sunday Dec 26, 2010
nikhil: seems about right
Missing white woman syndrome
Posted at 12:02pm, Sunday Dec 26, 2010
Adam: Why is that a "syndrome" and not an "effect"?
December 25, 2010
Posted at 9:23am, Saturday Dec 25, 2010
John: You're welcome, Justin.
December 24, 2010
Posted at 5:45pm, Friday Dec 24, 2010
John: I have to admit, I couldn't have told you who John Bardeen was.
The Simple Software That Could -- but Probably Won't -- Change the Face of Writing - James Somers - Technology - The Atlantic
Posted at 2:43pm, Friday Dec 24, 2010
tvchurch: Didn't realize until recently that James wrote this piece.

Keep up the solid work, Armsey.
A Corporate Version of the "Resource Curse"?
Posted at 11:52am, Thursday Dec 23, 2010
John: Millman should have been my Corporations professor. I might not have learned any law per se, but it would have been so much more interesting.
Pat Robertson Wants to Decriminalize Pot - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine
Posted at 11:23am, Thursday Dec 23, 2010
John: How often do social liberals, libertarians, and the Christian right get to team up?
Flight of the Navigator WebGL demo for Firefox 4
Posted at 6:03am, Thursday Dec 23, 2010
Avi: Must see.
Hitting the Bull: The Game of Darts-Part I
Posted at 6:00am, Thursday Dec 23, 2010
Avi: "According to the dart historian, Patrick Chaplin, the game of darts has its roots in archery. Other early origin possibilities include javelins and crossbow bolts, but seeing as how the early game of darts made use of an archery-like target, and the fact that the game is also widely known as “arrows,” it becomes rather clear that archery then, is its most likely ancestor.

I have to admit–I do not understand how this transition could have happened. Imagine some muscled, bow and arrow-wielding warrior saying to his compatriot: “Dude, imagine how much damage we could do if we made these things like an eighth the size, and then we threw them with our hands!?”"

For James.
Conan Video - Gravyboat Lifehouse Commercial 11/24/10 -
Posted at 11:26pm, Wednesday Dec 22, 2010
Mike: Probably one of the funnier things I've seen in the while. There were several others like this tonight that should probably go up soon.
TMM solves the UK structural deficit
Posted at 11:11pm, Wednesday Dec 22, 2010
nikhil: john, thoughts?
New Hedge Fund Offers Can’t Lose Strategy
Posted at 8:18pm, Wednesday Dec 22, 2010
Adam: I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this isn't going to work.
Posted at 7:48pm, Wednesday Dec 22, 2010
tvchurch: What a hell of an idea.
Deutsche Bank Settles Tax-Fraud Case -
Posted at 11:05am, Wednesday Dec 22, 2010
John: Next time you guys should get some advice from Ivins Phillips and Barker ( or Steptoe and Johnson ( before listening to these accountants. I hear both firms have excellent tax practices.
Fictional Kids Books That Should Be Real
Posted at 10:10pm, Tuesday Dec 21, 2010
tvchurch: For Leif and Avi. - Main Menu
Posted at 12:35pm, Tuesday Dec 21, 2010
Avi: You kind of have to click through to see the site properly, but this is my new favorite website. For Rubyists: it's got the same level of whimsy I remember from _why's stuff.
Grinchiest Cities - Galleries - The Daily Beast
Posted at 6:57am, Tuesday Dec 21, 2010
John: We're #1!
Things I like #2 – Admissions of Failures and Mistakes
Posted at 12:56am, Tuesday Dec 21, 2010
tvchurch: What an excellent practice.
ITU capitulates, admits that the term '4G' could apply to LTE, WiMAX, and 'evolved 3G technologies'
Posted at 12:53am, Tuesday Dec 21, 2010
tvchurch: 4G, still not a real standard. What marketing poodoo.
Matt Yglesias on monetary and fiscal stimulus
Posted at 12:51am, Tuesday Dec 21, 2010
tvchurch: "He did take the opportunity to sell it in 2001 using Keynesian arguments, but that’s because Keynesianism is more intuitively appealing, especially to swing voters and Congressmen."

File that away under Munger's 'Availability Tendency'.
Is RyanCare a version of Obamacare?
Posted at 12:50am, Tuesday Dec 21, 2010
tvchurch: "My view is that when it comes to health care economics, just about everyone should have egg on their faces."

This is a hard problem, putting together politics + economics.
Reihan vs Ravitch
Posted at 12:44am, Tuesday Dec 21, 2010
tvchurch: Going by credentials alone, you would assume Ravitch is someone you should listen to on education policy, but she's not.

She came out against a few good ideas for school reform a few months (a year?) ago, and I can't remember who on the blogosphere tackled her poor analysis. Anyway, if my memory serves me correctly, her "analytical framework" really is imperfect.
Right Cut, Wrong Side: Obama Botches the Payroll Tax Holiday
Posted at 12:19am, Tuesday Dec 21, 2010
tvchurch: But he can't give it to employers, because that's politically the worst of the three options, even though it is clearly the best, economically.

~2 minute read. This is how a stimulus should have looked (the employer version, not the employee version).
Regarding Those Cut Scenes From ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’
Posted at 12:19am, Tuesday Dec 21, 2010
Avi: This might be the astute thing John Gruber has ever written.
Age and happiness: The U-bend of life | The Economist
Posted at 10:06pm, Monday Dec 20, 2010
Adam: I may end up sharing every article from the Economist's Christmas Specials if they're all as interesting as this first one. This is also a good intro to a lot of the key concepts in positive psychology.
Here Today, There Tomorrow: Head of OCC to Return to Covington - Law Blog - WSJ
Posted at 4:47pm, Monday Dec 20, 2010
John: Another example of Will Wilkinson's point. Now, I agree with Dugan's sentiment at the end of the article, and wouldn't mind following an analogous career path, but it's certainly a notable feature of our regulatory system.
Business Finds Receptive Ear in Roberts Court -
Posted at 4:08pm, Monday Dec 20, 2010
John: Unlike the previous charge of conservative activism, this claim has more behind it than likely biased perceptions. On this issue, Liptak is actually backed up by the numbers.
Assorted links
Posted at 3:51pm, Monday Dec 20, 2010
John: #3: Rob and I live in filth other than the flat screen TV, and it suits us just fine.
The Value of Good Teachers
Posted at 1:35pm, Monday Dec 20, 2010
John: Jeez.
xkcd: Sickness
Posted at 12:03pm, Monday Dec 20, 2010
tvchurch: Today's XKCD is terrific.

The weapons of science, baby.
France24 - Opposition cries foul over 'humiliating' propaganda
Posted at 11:58am, Monday Dec 20, 2010
tvchurch: I like that his name is 'Alexandr'. Only one 'e'. I think he banned the second one.
YouTube - SMBC Theater: Health Consultant!
Posted at 5:09am, Monday Dec 20, 2010
John: Not as good as "touch him on the penis" but still good.
YouTube - Hawaii marching band formation of a ball being kicked
Posted at 3:35am, Monday Dec 20, 2010
John: Not bad.
Jeff Varasano's NY Pizza Recipe
Posted at 1:18am, Monday Dec 20, 2010
tvchurch: Found this on HackerNews with the title "How an Engineer Does Pizza." I guess so.
Word Lens, augmented reality translation for the iPhone
Posted at 1:05am, Sunday Dec 19, 2010
Avi: Just in case you're one of the few people who missed this: The Future Is Here.
UPDATE 6-Venezuela assembly gives Chavez decree powers | Reuters
Posted at 11:47pm, Saturday Dec 18, 2010
tvchurch: Oy vey.
Ben Franklin Had More Than 200 Synonyms For ‘Drunk’ | Badass Digest
Posted at 11:32pm, Saturday Dec 18, 2010
James: another winner via @bryemye
Brian Miles: Ben Franklin was never president because he was waaaaaaay too fucking cool to be president. End of.
Michael Silber: I think I'm going to get nimptopsical tonight
Questions Asked and Answered
Posted at 3:26pm, Saturday Dec 18, 2010
tvchurch: I guess if she calls it ObamaCare, I will do.
Econ Books for Young Children
Posted at 11:06am, Saturday Dec 18, 2010
John: I would pay so much money to have Greg Mankiw read Harry Potter to me out loud.
14 Wild Ideas
Posted at 9:21am, Saturday Dec 18, 2010
John: Weird, wild stuff.
Concurring Opinions » Trends in Law
Posted at 7:41am, Saturday Dec 18, 2010
John: We had the same property professor.
So THIS Is How Bloomberg Gets Earnings Reports Hours Before They're Publicly Released...
Posted at 7:27am, Saturday Dec 18, 2010
John: Unclear that this is lawful under insider trading rules either. The SEC's Regulation FD provides that accidental selective disclosures of material nonpublic information to certain parties who might be expected to trade on that information must be followed "promptly" by "disclosure that is reasonably designed to provide broad, non-exclusionary distribution of the information to the public." Presumably any companies who found out the news was leaked on Bloomberg should have made a public press release as soon as practically possible in order to comply with the law. Since it was already written, that could have been done very quickly.
Reuters/Second Life » US Congress launches probe into virtual economies
Posted at 4:40am, Saturday Dec 18, 2010
John: Eventually this will be really important.
Verbal vs. mathematical aptitude in academics | Gene Expression | Discover Magazine
Posted at 12:59am, Saturday Dec 18, 2010
John: Biology is like a poor man's Earth Science. (If Justin doesn't actually read my posts, does it make sense to make fun of him?)
Preet Sweep! DOJ Charges Five More in Big Insider-Trading Investigation - Law Blog - WSJ
Posted at 9:28pm, Friday Dec 17, 2010
nikhil: although it would mean both our careers had taken an unexpected turn, there is nothing i would enjoy more than to obfuscate and confabulate my way out of your line of questioning in a courtroom
Order of Service
Posted at 9:22pm, Friday Dec 17, 2010
nikhil: around this time of the year it gets pretty slow around the office
File:Boys with hoops on Chesnut Street.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 8:51pm, Friday Dec 17, 2010
Adam: Possibly my favorite picture ever. From the Wikipedia article on "hoop rolling", which for some reason you also get redirected to if you type in "hoop and stick" but not if you type in "hoop trundling".
From Truck Stops To Wall Street
Posted at 8:47pm, Friday Dec 17, 2010
Adam: Hey that's my cousin!
Mapping demographics of every block and city in America
Posted at 7:51pm, Friday Dec 17, 2010
nikhil: shared
YouTube - Partners in Kryme - Turtle Power (classic vid)
Posted at 3:28pm, Friday Dec 17, 2010
Chip: This is amazing. At some point when I'm back we have to watch TMNT. It's been too long.
A General Mattis Christmas Story
Posted at 2:40pm, Friday Dec 17, 2010
tvchurch: General Mattis, call sign 'Chaos'. What a bamf.
Ben Franklin Had More Than 200 Synonyms For ‘Drunk’ | Badass Digest
Posted at 2:30pm, Friday Dec 17, 2010
James: another winner via @bryemye
Brian Miles: Ben Franklin was never president because he was waaaaaaay too fucking cool to be president. End of.
Michael Silber: I think I'm going to get nimptopsical tonight
MINA Breaking News
Posted at 9:27pm, Thursday Dec 16, 2010
nikhil: this cannot be real but if it is it is in credible
Preet Sweep! DOJ Charges Five More in Big Insider-Trading Investigation - Law Blog - WSJ
Posted at 9:07pm, Thursday Dec 16, 2010
John: DOJ is contemplating antitrust actions against the banks too. Nikhil, THE LAWYERS ARE COMING AFTER THE BANKERS MWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!11e^(2*pi*i)
Digg - Study Confirms That Fox News Makes You Stupid
Posted at 8:55pm, Thursday Dec 16, 2010
John: I know this is low hanging fruit, but this is kind of my bag. Put together this and this: and you may be able to draw some actual conclusions about the interaction between one's political beliefs and one's knowledge of more-or-less objective facts. One frequently dugg commenter accidentally happened on the answer! ("I love irrefutable evidence for things I already knew").
Peter Luger and Other Steakhouses - Mr. Critic -
Posted at 7:08pm, Thursday Dec 16, 2010
Chip: Schlaaaagggg
Man Cons Woman Into Paying For eBay Auction She Won
Posted at 4:42pm, Thursday Dec 16, 2010
John: People always have funny notions of what is and isn't a binding contract.

A contract is a mutual manifestation of assent to an exchange of promises or performances. Except in special circumstances, like the sale of real estate, the form that assent takes is irrelevant. You can certainly form a binding contract by email, just as you can do orally, or even through actions alone.

If this went to court, the guy would probably have to pay the $1000. Self-help through deceit is not a remedy to breach of contract. If he wanted his $600 bucks, he could have sued in small claims court.

Oh, and it's also fraud, so it's tortious as well.
PhD Challenge » Blog Archive » Announcing the 2010 PhD Challenge Winner
Posted at 4:19pm, Thursday Dec 16, 2010
John: From the paper:

Also, since the system is being used at night with a wide variety of callers, there are many out-of-domain utterances that the language model does not expect. For example, a caller could yell: “I smoke crack rocks” which isn’t likely to be correctly parsed by the grammar, and for which words are not in the dictionary.
The Miami Heat's New Incentives
Posted at 2:29pm, Thursday Dec 16, 2010
tvchurch: Getting the incentives right?

1 short paragraph if you click through.
"I Smoke Crack Rocks"
Posted at 2:25pm, Thursday Dec 16, 2010
tvchurch: Nice!
Mapping Academia
Posted at 1:51pm, Thursday Dec 16, 2010
tvchurch: For the geeks out there, worth a read. ~2 minutes to read, another 2 to digest.
A weird, weird trial
Posted at 1:25pm, Thursday Dec 16, 2010
tvchurch: Yikes:

"True to form, history is repeating itself as a farce. The evidence behind the current case, a trove of documents on CDs delivered to a newspaper by a “secret informer,” consists of blatant forgeries. These documents are allegedly secret military plans from 2003 detailing the coup preparations. Yet they contain anachronisms that leave no doubt that they were prepared in late 2008 at the earliest.

"The most striking among these anachronisms are the references to entities -- firms, NGOs, military installations, hospitals – by names that they had yet to acquire. It’s as if a text pretending to be from 1970 referred to Diana Spencer as Princess of Wales—a title which she acquired only in 1981—or mentioned her car crash decades later. To any but the most jaundiced eye it is obvious that the incriminating documents have been authored not by the military officers on trial, but by others many years later."
Mapping America — Census Bureau 2005-9 American Community Survey -
Posted at 3:33am, Thursday Dec 16, 2010
tvchurch: Take a look. Very cool.
Hulu - ReGenesis: Baby Bomb - Watch the full episode now.
Posted at 11:09pm, Wednesday Dec 15, 2010
John: Justin, did you know there was a show about molecular biologists? Filled with jargon too.
YouTube - Llamas with Hats
Posted at 10:43pm, Wednesday Dec 15, 2010
Chip: My torts exam was based on this video (though I didn't know about this video till afterwards). Ridiculous.
The Pioneer Anomaly, a 30-Year-Old Cosmic Mystery, May Be Resolved At Last | Popular Science
Posted at 10:36pm, Wednesday Dec 15, 2010
John: A rare gem: actual, well done science journalism!
Some Measures Of Inequality Are More Equal Than Others
Posted at 9:50pm, Wednesday Dec 15, 2010
John: Millman is always a fascinating read on these issues.
The Doctrinal Limits of “Necessary” in the Necessary & Proper Clause
Posted at 12:57pm, Wednesday Dec 15, 2010
John: Interesting discussion.

It's unclear to me why the Essential to a Broader Regulatory Scheme Doctrine needs another limiting principle. There are many laws you could devise, like mandating wearing hats, that simply aren't essential to any regulatory scheme aimed at furthering a goal that Congress is authorized to pursue through legislation by one of it's enumerated powers. The Substantial Effects Doctrine needed extra limitation because it could cover almost anything. This just doesn't seem to be a concern for the EBRSD.
Abandoned Footnotes: Why are estimates of US foreign aid so biased?
Posted at 3:18am, Wednesday Dec 15, 2010
John: In'erestin'
Fidel: 'Cuban Model Doesn't Even Work For Us Anymore' - Jeffrey Goldberg - International - The Atlantic
Posted at 10:41pm, Tuesday Dec 14, 2010
Mike: This is just bizarre.
Dissed by Nassim
Posted at 7:48pm, Tuesday Dec 14, 2010
Adam: I was given this book as a Secret Santa gift if anyone wants to read it.
Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?
Posted at 3:45pm, Tuesday Dec 14, 2010
John: It's fun to watch this move around the blogosphere like a game of telephone. Hudson made a point which was mildly taken out of context by Kerr which was mildly taken out of context by TPM which was mildly taken out of context by Chait. Now it has transformed into a "simple misreading of the Constitution."

The portion of the opinion that this sentence is drawn from might be less than crystal clear, and it might fail to understand the key factual point as I see things (that the individual mandate is a means to allow the proper functioning of regulations like the ban on exclusions for preexisting conditions that clearly do fall within the Congress' Commerce Clause power), but it is not making a "simple" legal error.

The argument the judge is making in this passage is that the Commerce Clause can't generally regulate "commercial inactivity" because that would allow the government to regulate anything and everything - e.g. it could mandate wearing hats because hats have an interstate market. In this sentence, he's saying that the Necessary and Proper Clause also cannot support the general regulation of inactivity. No clause of the Constitution can reasonably be read to authorize any and all actions by Congress. I don't think this should be terribly controversial.

The real problem with this is that there is a special justification for the individual mandate. The mandate is necessary to have both the regulations of insurance terms that Congress wants and reasonable prices for consumers. That's what really makes it different from the hat example, and that's the work the Necessary and Proper Clause is supposed to be doing here. But the problem is definitely not a simple misreading of the Constitution, and liberals need to wake up and learn a bit about the Constitution if they want to make this argument forcefully.
Voyager spacecraft nears exit of solar system
Posted at 1:53pm, Tuesday Dec 14, 2010
tvchurch: Thrusters on full.
How To Safely Store A Password |
Posted at 1:03pm, Tuesday Dec 14, 2010
tvchurch: An encryption algorithm that uses a work factor? Keeps up with Moore's Law?

So cool.
Rotary FiOS
Posted at 6:47am, Tuesday Dec 14, 2010
Avi: I love the letters by each number. I have a hilarious mental image of myself typing out an SMS on this thing.
Perth, Western Australia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 2:31am, Tuesday Dec 14, 2010
tvchurch: Thanks public school. This is the first time I've ever heard of Perth.
USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 2:04am, Tuesday Dec 14, 2010
tvchurch: I didn't know.

I'm currently watching "Carrier" on Netflix, a ten-part documentary about the USS Nimitz. It's excellent.
Visualizing Friendships | Facebook
Posted at 10:19pm, Monday Dec 13, 2010
tvchurch: Check out the high res picture. Very neat.
Are high food prices good or bad for poverty?
Posted at 12:41pm, Monday Dec 13, 2010
tvchurch: Title seems like there's an obvious answer, but his first line is key:

"It depends on whether the poor are selling or buying, of course."
Great Courses on Sale at The Teaching Company
Posted at 2:54am, Monday Dec 13, 2010
John: I've seen some of their material, and it's quite good.
Posted at 5:27pm, Sunday Dec 12, 2010
John: They forgot me! This is kind of silly though.
Testing Laws via Randomized Controlled Trials
Posted at 2:47pm, Sunday Dec 12, 2010
John: Interesting idea.
Posted at 1:36am, Sunday Dec 12, 2010
tvchurch: The James Franco Project - Skim the first few paragraphs. James Franco was in four different grad school programs. Crazy.

Obama’s Very Good Week -
Posted at 11:49pm, Saturday Dec 11, 2010
John: I would certainly identify myself as a "network liberal," but as I see it, this is just inaccurate.

The gripe from the left is not just that there are Republican parts to the deal. The gripe from the left is also that the major parts Obama put into the deal are quite conservative in approach: payroll tax holiday replacing the Maxing Work Pay Credit (this swap actually raises taxes on individuals earning less than 20K a year or couples earning less than 40K a year) and immediate expensing of business investments. The identifiably liberal portions of the bill (extending unemployment benefits and the stimulus packages enlargements of the Child and Earned Income Tax Credits) make up only about $70 billion out of nearly a $1 trillion price tag, whereas the centrist stuff that Obama asked for makes up $270 billion.

Bernie Sanders is angry and filibustering because there is very little in this bill to help out the little guy period, not because Obama is working across party lines.
Superheroes minimalized
Posted at 12:59pm, Saturday Dec 11, 2010
nikhil: silber will like this, and the tmnt are great
Creative Kitchen Products - 22 Pics
Posted at 3:50am, Saturday Dec 11, 2010
John: An astonishingly large amount of useless crap.
College football coaches’ ballots
Posted at 8:36pm, Thursday Dec 09, 2010
nikhil: maybe one day journalists will be junior lab technicians, responsible for putting together some throwaway graphic or story about some research
[citation needed]
Posted at 5:03pm, Thursday Dec 09, 2010
tvchurch: Terrific. - News : The five best-paying government jobs
Posted at 4:51pm, Thursday Dec 09, 2010
John: Before you read, see if you can guess who the second (average) highest paid (group of) federal government employee(s) is after the President. As a not very helpful hint, after this group comes the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
About | Law and the Multiverse
Posted at 4:36pm, Thursday Dec 09, 2010
John: Fun blog.
“Cultural Defenses,” Crime, and De Minimis Violations
Posted at 3:55pm, Thursday Dec 09, 2010
John: Three parts interesting one part creepy-weird.
H1N1 vaccine linked to 700 percent increase in miscarriages
Posted at 5:45am, Thursday Dec 09, 2010
John: This headline that showed up in my Recommended feed was something, so I went to read the actual paper (which was a little difficult to find). It's written (unpublished) by an organization called NCOW, which spends most of its time advocating against genetically modified foods. The paper was extremely bizarre and showed a basic inability to understand statistics, science, causation, common sense, etc. They compared the rate of miscarriages of women who had been vaccinated to the rate of fetuses that died as a result of mothers dying from H1N1. They concluded that because the first number was higher than the second, H1N1 vaccines were not supported by "risk-benefit assessment" and presented a danger to women. They didn't bother to try to look up or figure out the background miscarriage rate, which is considerably larger than the numbers they are dealing with. These people are posing a real threat to pregnant women's lives. I just hope very few actually listen to this thoughtless pseudoscience.
Portastudio on iPad, with Faux Cassette, and Everything Old is New Again
Posted at 4:16am, Thursday Dec 09, 2010
Avi: FTA:

"Cassette tape-style transport. (Linear transport, I might add. Seriously. You have to rewind and fast forward to get around.)"


The portastudio, for anybody who hasn't used it, is still in my top 10 gadgets of all time, by the way.
A Deadly Ritual: 5 Men Who Died from Shaving
Posted at 2:48am, Thursday Dec 09, 2010
Avi: FTA:

"The composer wrote “I am God” in a journal, experimented with tone and harmony in his compositions, and designed a special organ that created projections of colored light instead of music when played. His final work was to be the Mysterium, a grandiose piece which would last seven days and be played at the foothills of the Himalayas in India. Scriabin believed that bells hung from clouds would gather people to this location and that the Mysterium would usher in an armageddon, transforming the earth into a world of total bliss."

Like a boss.
Dan Feyer, the Crossword Wizard Who Is Fastest of All -
Posted at 9:46pm, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
John: Impressive.
Deal of the Day: "Arrested Development: The Complete Series"
Posted at 9:44pm, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
John: Good deal.
Ezra Klein - Mark Zandi on the tax cut deal
Posted at 9:31pm, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
John: If you actually think about the numbers presented here for a second, they are pretty bad. Zandi is admittedly on the optimistic edge of predictions, and he's saying that we're getting about $300 billion GDP growth from this - that's 30 cents on the dollar, about the same multiplier as the "horrible deal on stimulus grounds" as Klein describes the upper-bracket tax cuts. My initial warm reaction to this deal has turned decidedly cold. I also don't understand the tone of the article. Am I taking crazy pills, or can Klein just not do arithmetic?
TaxProf Blog: Obama-Republican Bill Gives Choice to Heirs of Decedents Dying in 2010
Posted at 4:55pm, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
John: This confirms that section 1014 (no taxation on accrued gains ever if you hold the property until death) is back.

Also, now you can choose to take advantage of it retroactively for 2010 (although you then have to pay the 35% tax). Because it is a ex post change made voluntarily by the taxpayer, this election is basically just a cash payment to the wealthy with very minimal benefit to anyone else. Conceivably there is some marginal reduction of the distorting incentive for the heirs to hold onto the property until they die and hence avoid paying the 15% capital gains tax on gains that accrued during the decedent's life in addition to those gains which accrue during their life; this is getting extremely attenuated though.

I just let out a GOB Bluth "Come on!"
Capsule Built by SpaceX Returns Safely From Orbit -
Posted at 4:08pm, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
Chip: The beginning of a new era in space travel?
Targeting Political Advertising on Television
Posted at 3:53pm, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
John: Here you go, James.

From the paper:

Our results suggest that television advertising is effective in persuading voters in congressional races. This result is consistent with the findings of Gerber et al. (2007) for Gubernatorial races and Huber and Arceneaux (2007) for Presidential races. Further, we find that, without proper econometric controls, we would find a positive turnout effect. Once controlling for fixed effects at the level of campaign advertising decisions (i.e., for a media market in a congressional district), the turnout effect is no longer significant. Lacking econometric controls may be one possible explanation for why Freedman, Franz and Goldstein (2004) and Shachar (2009) find significant turnout effects in Presidential races. Our result of no turnout effect in congressional races is consistent with the evidence on turnout effects in Presidential races as reported by Ashworth and Clinton (2007), Krasno and Green (2008), and Huber and Arceneaux (2007). Thus, we add to the literature on advertising effects by providing evidence on congressional races and by providing a potential explanation for the inconsistent results on these effects in Presidential races.


The magnitude of the advertising effect on candidate choice, however, is moderate. We illustrate by calculating the average effect of a uniform increase in advertising exposure. We hold all variables at observed values and use the estimated parameter values to predict a baseline turnout and Republican vote share.9 We then increase and decrease Democratic exposure for every observation by one standard deviation (45 ad exposures) and observe the effect on turnout and Republican vote share. We perform the same calculation for Republican candidates. The results are reported in Table 3. We find that for both parties, a change in exposure from one standard deviation below the baseline to one standard deviation above leads to an increase in that party’s vote share of 3.5%. While not a huge effect, it is substantial enough to swing a close election. For example, in 2004 this would have reversed a number of election outcomes including the defeats of incumbents Christopher Shays, Max Burns, Philip Crane, and Baron Hill.

Paper contains much more if you're interested.
The Princess Bride...With Lightsabers
Posted at 2:53pm, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
John: Check out the fencing techniques link as well.
Tron Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk
Posted at 12:51pm, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
Avi: +1 to Tom and Leif for making me impulse buy this. Excellent.
The morning of the galactically stupid
Posted at 12:50pm, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
tvchurch: Long yet hilarious post by Nick.
The culture that is Wisconsin
Posted at 12:43pm, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
tvchurch: Oh wow.
TaxProf Blog: GOP Excludes Build America Bonds From Tax Plan to Force States Into Bankruptcy to Crush Public Employee Unions
Posted at 12:42pm, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
John: It also doesn't include BAB's!

Good god, this just keeps getting worse!
Google Maps offline caching
Posted at 6:57am, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
Tumblr Backup App for Mac
Posted at 6:34am, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
Avi: I almost crapped my pants at the thought of losing all of BoW.
Tron Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk
Posted at 6:34am, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
Avi: +1 to Tom and Leif for making me impulse buy this. Excellent.
McSweeney's Internet Tendency: Surprising Index Entries from Sarah Palin's New Book "America By Heart."
Posted at 3:09am, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
tvchurch: Re-shared from Leif. Terrific.
Leslie Nielsen, William Shatner and the power of re-runs
Posted at 3:05am, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
tvchurch: Watch the 15 second clip. Busted out laughing. - Mystery Surrounds Cyber Missile That Crippled Iran's Nuclear Weapons Ambitions
Posted at 2:50am, Wednesday Dec 08, 2010
tvchurch: Been working on finals for a week, so I'm just getting to this. But truly, one of the most fascinating things I've read in a while.

Very, very impressive what people can do when they put their minds to something.
‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ Promotional Photos
Posted at 6:45am, Tuesday Dec 07, 2010

Still one of my favorite visuals in cinema.
U.S. Unloads Citi Stake for a $12 Billion Profit -
Posted at 11:02pm, Monday Dec 06, 2010
Adam: You're welcome.
Ezra Klein - Can the White House win in 2012 by losing on the Bush tax cuts now?
Posted at 6:13pm, Monday Dec 06, 2010
John: Politics aside, this is pretty acceptable as short-term policy. The Making Work Pay Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit extensions are basically a milder version of a payroll tax holiday that's more targeted at families with lower incomes and more children. Probably has pretty good stimulative effect given the average savings rates of the recipients.

This compromise also includes some less often talked about aid to state and local governments in the form of I mentioned these before in passing; they are a more efficient way of subsidizing the financing of state and local bonds.

Ordinarily, state and local bonds (subject to certain abuse prevention limitations) produce interest payments that are deductible by the taxpayer/investor. The idea is that this makes the after-tax rate of return higher for these bonds than for corporate bonds with similar risk profiles and before-tax rate of returns. Say a corporation with identical default risk to a local government offers a bond with 10% annual interest. The after-tax rate of return on this corporate bond will be only 6.5% for investors in the 35% tax bracket because they must pay taxes on the interest they receive. A state or local government can offer a similar bond with only 6.5% interest, and the investor will be indifferent between the two because they effectively pay no tax on the interest. This reduces the costs of borrowing for the local government.

However, local governments typically can't get all the financing they want from 35% bracket taxpayers. And someone in the 28% bracket will prefer the corporate bond because it offers him a 7.2% after-tax rate of return.

Therefore, in order to get all the financing they want, the local government might have to offer 7.2% interest. But now look what is happening: the 35% taxpayer is making an after-tax rate of return of 7.2% versus the corporate bond that would give him 6.5%. Thus he's getting an unnecessary windfall of .7%. This is called a leaky subsidy, because the federal government is basically paying money (in the form of forgone tax revenue) that goes both to the intended target--state and local governments--and partially to wealthy taxpayers/investors as a windfall.

The Build America Bonds solve this problem by either (1) making direct payments to the state and local governments in certain circumstances at the government's election, or (2) converting the deduction into a (taxable) credit that assigns exactly as much money to each taxpayer as is necessary to make them indifferent between the corporate bond and the government bond. These taxable credits are also made tradeable, i.e. you can sell them, so that investors don't have to figure out in advance whether they will have any taxes at all in the year in question. Tax-exempt organizations like Harvard can then get in on the fun as well.

Lots of job losses right now are coming from layoffs of state and local government workers. It's a real drag on the recovery. These bonds should help to ease that drag because it allows these governments to borrow money more cheaply at a time when they are experiencing dramatic budget shortfalls.

Obviously, long-term extension of many of these things would be bad policy without some offsets. But Build America Bonds might be worth keeping around as a replacement to traditionally tax-exempt bonds.
Lawsuit of Day: Woman Breaks Hand Trying to Wipe Her Bum, Case Can Go to a Jury « Above the Law: A Legal Tabloid - News, Gossip, and Colorful Commentary on Law Firms and the Legal Profession
Posted at 5:32pm, Monday Dec 06, 2010
Chip: Darwin Award?
Lesson #821 - Santa Claus
Posted at 5:17pm, Monday Dec 06, 2010
tvchurch: Have faith.
Posted at 3:19pm, Monday Dec 06, 2010
John: Politics aside, would this work legally?

Executive summary: I think it's ultimately unlikely that this strategy could succeed. There are two potential problems. First, the Commissioner of the IRS might not play along. Second, courts would likely issue an injunction within a fairly short time period. There is room in the doctrine for some of the arguments in step 6, so a lot rests on whether it would be perceived by the judiciary as a fishy tactic. My guess is that it very much looks fishy.

Step 2: The IRS Commissioner might not play along.

Obviously none of this gets off the ground if the IRS Commissioner just ignores Obama. Given that the current Commissioner was appointed by Bush and has expressed some exasperation at political moves, he very well might not go for it.

How could Obama respond? Well, the Commissioner is removable at the President's will. However, appointing a new Commissioner would require approval by the Senate, which wouldn't happen under these circumstances. So an Acting Commissioner would move up, and Obama would have to convince them. It's possible that eventually he will find someone who will go along with the plan. On the other hand, he might bristle a lot of feathers by firing the current Commissioner in a political stunt, and presumably the person who replaces the Commissioner will be close to and/or hired by the Commissioner, so he might not run into anyone who is willing to cooperate.

Step 6: The courts would likely issue an injunction within a fairly short time period.

Arguments (b) and (c) are the easiest arguments to deal with: no way do these work. The Treasury Department, like any executive agency, is only authorized to adopt regulations that are consistent with the statutory provisions they are interpreting and implementing. Chevron is a case that says when an underlying statute is silent or ambiguous about a particular issue, there is a presumption that Congress has delegated the authority to interpret the statute within its "zone of ambiguity." This means that the executive branch gets deference over interpretive matters only when there interpretation is "reasonable" in light of the statutory text. But there's nothing at all ambiguous about FICA. The statute says "In addition to other taxes, there is hereby imposed on the income of every individual a tax equal to the following percentages of the wages . . . 6.2%." I.R.C. § 3101(a). This is just straight up silly.

The standing issue is an open question. The Supreme Court has been somewhat skeptical of standing of members of Congress to sue for the enforcement of a federal statute, but they have not squarely ruled on the issue.

Article III of the Constitution requires that the courts of the United States preside only over "cases" and "controversies." In a long line of cases, this has been interpreted to mean that the courts cannot hear a case unless the plaintiff can demonstrate (i) that they have suffered or will likely suffer and actual or imminent injury-in-fact that (ii) is fairly traceable to the conduct of the defendant, and (iii) will likely be redressed by the kind of relief that the plaintiff seeks.

Prongs (ii) and (iii) are pretty easy here: the members of Congress will be arguing that the President's actions cause the under-enforcement of the laws, and an injunction from the court ordering enforcement will clearly redress this problem.

The question is whether members of Congress have the kind of particularized injury necessary to support standing. It is not enough to claim an undifferentiated injury shared by all, e.g. that a general interest in the proper enforcement of the law has been harmed. However, members of Congress face a particular harm: their power to vote for legislation is clearly eroded by the actions of the President.

The D.C. Circuit Court, who would likely hear this challenge on appeal, has held that a "diminution of congressional influence in the legislative process" is a cognizable Article III injury as long as the members of Congress do not have a legislative remedy available to them acting through the ordinary political process. Here, because any modification of the statute would be ignored by the President, they do not have such a remedy.

Ultimately standing is a perniciously flexible doctrine. It seems unlikely to me that courts will not choose the option that is open to them of allowing this suit to be heard on its merits, especially since it really doesn't look very good. There would be some interesting politics here, because it is the conservatives who have typically lobbied for a narrow reading of injury-in-fact while the liberals have lobbied for a broad reading. However, I have a hard time seeing five members of the Court holding that there is no way to get the President to enforce a duly enacted statute, and members of Congress probably have the best standing argument of anyone.

There's actually two separate legal arguments available that might be characterized as versions of (d).

First, the President could argue that the Treasury's actions are not subject to judicial review under statutory law because they are committed to the agency's discretion. § 704 of the Administrative Procedure Act states that all "final agency actions" that do not have adequate remedy elsewhere will be reviewable, inter alia, as not in accordance with statutory law such as the FICA. However, § 704 is subject to an exception in § 701(a)(2) for actions "committed to agency discretion as a matter of law."

The Supreme Court has held that the § 701(a)(2) exception includes certain categories of actions, where deference is traditionally afforded to the executive's decisions, such as decisions not to prosecute specific parties. This would seem to suggest that the Treasury's action would not be reviewable. However, the Court has suggested both in dicta and in concurrences that this would not apply to systematic under- or non-enforcement of a statute such as at issue here. Thus this argument is probably a loser. The Supreme Court hasn't had an opportunity to address this directly, so it would be free to rule the other way, but the indications are they would not go along with this, and I don't think the facts Balkin suggests lend themselves to special treatment.

Second, the President could make a separation of powers argument. He could argue that because Article II of the Constitution vests the executive power in the President, it is his prerogative to decline to enforce a statute. After all, decisions to prosecute are paradigmatic examples of executive activities.

I'm not a constitutional scholar like Balkin, but this seems like a sure loser to me. Article II also says that "[t]he President shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed." In fact, many of the recent decisions expanding Presidential power have been predicated on the necessity of preserving the ability of the President to carry out the duty imposed on him by the Take Care Clause. It seems wholly implausible to me that ordering an agency not to enforce, or to systematically under-enforce, specific provisions of a statute is consistent with ensuring the faithful execution of that statute.

In sum, the standing argument is the only one that really has much purchase. But this standing argument can be dealt with quickly by the courts. First, standing is addressed immediately at the onset of a case. Second, this particular standing issue does not rely on many factual issues that need to be resolved. Thus, I don't think Obama would get a large amount of time before an injunction is issued. It's unlikely he could stretch out this litigation for anywhere near two years.
In ‘60 Minutes’ Interview, Bernanke Favors Revised Tax Code -
Posted at 12:57am, Monday Dec 06, 2010
John: Ben and I continue to have more in common.
TaxProf Blog
Posted at 10:18pm, Saturday Dec 04, 2010
John: Gotta love the mixture of restraint and obviously being really pissed off in this letter. I want to see the draft where the beginning of the third paragraph read "While I know you and your colleagues are a bunch of [expletive deleted] who have been [expletive deleted] around so that you can try to out-grandstand one another, I actually take my job seriously."
YouTube - The Sahara Solar Breeder Project : DigInfo
Posted at 6:31pm, Saturday Dec 04, 2010
John: God speed.
Response to the electricity industry’s timeline of environmental regulations | Grist
Posted at 1:59pm, Saturday Dec 04, 2010
Michael: Interesting scoop -- Power sector trade group predictably trying to obfuscate EPA pollutant oversight, and WRI does a great job cutting through the bull...
My Agnosticism about UI
Posted at 12:07pm, Saturday Dec 04, 2010
John: And here's Mankiw talking about the very same thing. Thank you, Greg, for your impeccable timing.
In search of a Komodo dragon
Posted at 11:07pm, Friday Dec 03, 2010
nikhil: :)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984) - IMDb
Posted at 10:33am, Friday Dec 03, 2010
John: That's nice.
The top ten pundits among Republican activists - ConservativeHome's Survey blog
Posted at 10:28am, Friday Dec 03, 2010
John: Depressing. Only three and a half of these people actually believe more than half of the things they say, and for one of those it's only because he's not self-reflective and serious enough to see through his own bull. Meanwhile Frum, Brooks and Douthat get less than 2% combined, and you have to imagine there's some overlap there. I imagine Julian Sanchez, Jim Manzi, Conor Freidersdorf, Ramesh Ponnuru, and Reihan Salam weren't even nominated. It's OK, John, it's a survey of "activists."
How Partisanship Works
Posted at 4:13am, Friday Dec 03, 2010
John: Really nice and good.
December 03, 2010
Posted at 3:45am, Friday Dec 03, 2010
John: James, a practical use for our philosophical discussion last month.
Medical researcher discovers integration, gets 75 citations « An American Physics Student in England
Posted at 3:32am, Friday Dec 03, 2010
Avi: This is hilarious—I can't believe this isn't a joke.

Shared mainly for the gag, but there's some interesting (sidelined, but still) information on teaching that at least James and Tom will share my interest in.
Deficit panel deadlocked - John Maggs -
Posted at 2:21am, Friday Dec 03, 2010
John: Not that surprising.

I can understand the House Republicans' votes. They probably wouldn't vote to raise taxes by one thin dime. I can understand Schakowsky and the union guy for pretty much the obverse reason. Those are enough to kill the deal already.

But why Max Baucus? That one's got to be self-serving rather than ideological. His quote suggests the cuts to agricultural subsidies played a big role:

"I have studied the Deficit Commission recommendations at length -- and I can tell you they are wrong for Montana and wrong for rural communities across the country. Reducing our federal deficit is imperative, but we cannot cut the deficit at the expense of veterans, seniors, ranchers, farmers and hard-working families. Instead, we need to look for common-sense ways to help businesses create jobs and grow our economy. These recommendations are wrong for our state, they are wrong for our country, and I simply can't support them."

The plan treats veterans and hard-working families quite well. Why do the moderate Democrats suck so hard?

Anyway, I can take solace that Alice Rivlin, who totally kicks ass (, will vote yes.
Ben the Bodyguard
Posted at 12:30am, Friday Dec 03, 2010
Avi: Unlike the rest of the Internet, I was not so impressed:

(1) Why is very basic HTML/CSS/Javascript suddenly called HTML5? There's nothing "HTML5" about this besides the DOCTYPE. It's becoming like the 2005 craze of calling everything "Ajax". In the 90's we called this DHTML, which at least made some sense.

(2) This is frightfully unusable. I didn't realize I was supposed to scroll until I saw the comments at HN. I just thought it was a landing page and assumed the hype was about what must have been very cool markup until I saw it was not.

(3) It loaded slowly for me. Image slicing was not so well done.

That said, it is novel. Definitely one of the more unique pieces of flashy web development I've seen since
Minimalist Doctor Who
Posted at 11:32pm, Thursday Dec 02, 2010
Avi: Love it. Reminds me of those awesome minimal Mad Men posters Kottke highlighted a while back.
Stupid less/fewer automatism at the WSJ
Posted at 10:04pm, Thursday Dec 02, 2010
Chip: Yes!
YouTube - Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes - The Joy of Stats - BBC Four
Posted at 3:07pm, Thursday Dec 02, 2010
John: Wonderful.
Pocket Chain Saw
Posted at 12:35pm, Thursday Dec 02, 2010
Avi: This really made me laugh. Then I imagined the famous chainsaw scene in Scarface with this and laughed a bit more.
Posted at 12:34pm, Thursday Dec 02, 2010
Avi: A true legend.
Aynes on Kate Chase & Bradwell v. Illinois
Posted at 1:35am, Thursday Dec 02, 2010
John: Chase was a pretty interesting guy. Among other things, when he was Secretary of the Treasury, he coined the phrase "IN GOD WE TRUST" that now appears on our money. He instructed the Director of the Mint:

Dear Sir: No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.

You will cause a device to be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition.

And then later suggested:

I approve your mottoes, only suggesting that on that with the Washington obverse the motto should begin with the word OUR, so as to read OUR GOD AND OUR COUNTRY. And on that with the shield, it should be changed so as to read: IN GOD WE TRUST.

Wiki has more.
Disney Looks to Make Japan Duffy Craze Global - Japan Real Time - WSJ
Posted at 1:03am, Thursday Dec 02, 2010
Chip: What great marketing.
The Obama Deficit Panel’s Tax Reform Version 2.0
Posted at 10:33pm, Wednesday Dec 01, 2010
John: The specifics are good. I'm going to go through everything here based on the misguided assumption that anyone cares what I think.


They propose a cap with some real procedural teeth. The cap takes a bit to go into effect to protect the economic recovery. I might have waited a little longer, but this is OK. Savings are split evenly among non-defense and defense. Maybe the ideal balance isn't quite equal, but this is pretty reasonable.

There's some nice specifics here on budgeting for disaster funding and the Transportation Trust Fund. Basically just some good gov't reform everyone can get behind.

There's still a lot of handwaving: establishing committees to find cuts, "unleashing the agencies," etc. There's plenty of reason to be skeptical, but if the procedural teeth mentioned above are actually in effect there might just be enough pressure.

Obama has already suggested the pay freeze, which is probably bad policy on net, and it's in here too. This is a minor negative. On the plus side, they got rid of the cuts to contractors and limited the cuts to employees to attrition, which responded to some well-placed criticism from the left.

There's an earmark ban. It's not a huge savings, but it's probably a good idea anyway.


Three brackets, 28% top marginal bracket: Minimizes distortion of an income tax. The last time we did a base-broadening/rate reduction we reduced the # of brackets as well. Unclear that it's really a good idea. Ideally I would leave more flexibility for Congress to raise revenue without impacting taxpayers with lower incomes.

Cap gains and dividends taxed at that rate: Removes the windfall to the wealthiest so that their average tax rates actually reflect their marginal tax rates without creating the excessive lock-in of higher rates.

Remove phaseouts: Good. Phaseouts are basically ways to increase the marginal rates on upper-middle class but not rich taxpayers without anyone noticing. There's no benefit to them that isn't better achieved by just straightforwardly fiddling with the marginal rates.

Keep EITC, CTC, standard deductions and personal exemptions: These act essentially as zero marginal tax brackets that ease the burden of taxes (i.e. limit to payroll taxes) on the working poor and those with larger families.

Mortgage interest deduction: They ended up keeping this in part, which is a bit of a shame. Anyway, it has been converted into a credit, so that taxpayers with higher incomes no longer receive larger subsidies than those with lower incomes. It is also limited to the first 500K on a single home, which at least helps decrease the distorted incentives to purchase a home. I would have preferred doing away with this and strengthening EITC in order to make up for regressive effects at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Healthcare exemption: Phased out over time to nothing. YAY!

Charitable deduction: Converted to a credit, so no upside down subsidy. That's good, although maybe this one should be made refundable so that individuals with no income tax liability can take advantage of it.

Eliminate itemized deductions completely: This is a big boon to simplicity in addition to expanding the tax base.

Remove exemption for state and municipal bonds: Ideally I would have tweaked this rather than removed it, similar to how the stimulus plan worked. Attach taxable and tradable credits rather than an exemption. This way the federal gov't can still help states and local gov'ts get lower interest rates on their financing but without leaking some of the subsidy to those in higher brackets. Actually, with the streamlined bracketing, no changes might have been necessary. Direct subsidies to state and local gov'ts would be better, but are politically unfeasible.

Retirement accounts: They kept these in as tax expenditures. Probably a good idea. This is the kind of distortion we like. It's hard to say whether there are better ways of doing this than through the tax code, but it works pretty well the way it is.

Other expenditures: They removed all the rest of the approx 150 tax expenditures other than things from ObamaCare. Maybe there are some worth keeping in there, I don't know. In general, good riddance.

Alternative Minimum Tax: Removed. Good. Almost everyone thinks this is broken. Moreover, it's reason for being was to limit the effect of all of these tax expenditures, so we wouldn't need it anymore anyway.

Increase gas tax: Pigovian goodness. Raises revenue, increases efficiency, better for the environment, better for United States' long term place in the world. What's not to like? (Consumers AKA everybody will be very angry)

Estate tax: They don't do an estate tax, which is unfortunate in my view. There's already a huge boon to the rich in the form of the step-up in basis upon death (appreciated gains in property that you hold until death are never taxed). An estate tax would partially right this wrong.

Corporate taxes: Same basic plan here. Broaden the base and reduce the rates. Shift to a territorial system where taxation depends on where money is earned rather than what it is used for afterwards. I know less about this area. This basically brings us in line with the rest of world who have lower marginal rates but manage to raise more revenue.

Distributive Effects: This hasn't changed from the analysis we've all been talking about. It's progressive as compared to current policy. Slightly regressive as compared to Clinton-era policy, except still progressive at the very top because of cap gains treatment. Will this plan transform America into a wonderful Eden of equality? No. Will this plan transform America into a socialist regime where the means of production are controlled by a shadowy cabal? No. It plops us more-or-less in between what Democrats and Republicans are asking for, although again it makes Warren Buffet's average tax rate higher than his secretary's as he has requested. 48% of the additional revenue is collected from tax increases to the top 1% of taxpayers. 32% is raised from the top .1%. This is not a plan to help out the super-rich as Krugman might pretend.


Healthcare: There's a little bit more meat here than there was originally. Doc Fix is addressed permanently. The reform pilots that looked promising in Obamacare are expanded. Still a good chunk of the long term savings is based on the notion that growth in healthcare spending can be limited to GDP growth + 1%. At least there are some procedural suggestions to try to get this done, but they are pretty weak (Congress and the President must "make recommendations" whenever the goal isn't met over a five year period). This is probably the weakest part of the plan.

Social Security: This is a mixed bag.

There are some genuine progressive reforms in here. Benefits are actually increased for low income individuals while they are decreased for high income individuals. Additionally, there is a special benefit for individuals who work for 30 years at minimum wage to insure they are living significantly above the poverty level.

However, the combination of the increased retirement age (indexed to life expectancy, expected to go up to 69 by 2050) and a pretty weak hardship exemption (which has now been spelled out a little more clearly - it's just for those "physically unable to work") is problematic. Life expectancy does not increase uniformly up and down the income ladder, so that those who need benefits the most are being prevented from receiving them because those who need them least are living longer. It seems to my uneducated mind that you could have the retirement age indexed to life expectancies based on income-level. I haven't heard of any proposal like that though. Obviously, doing this would reduce some of the savings.

There is some increase in the cap on payroll taxes as well. As I've said previously, this operates as an increase in the marginal tax rate on wages and thus operates as a distortion on people's incentive to work. The increase in the cap here is fairly small-est increase in 2020 is from 168K to 190K.

They also use a better measure of inflation. This has the effect of limiting benefit growth, of course, but in a way that makes sense across the board. This part is basically good gov't reform.

The final recommendation is to "begin a broad dialogue on the importance of personal retirement savings." OK, that's totally fluffy, but I like it a lot.

Significantly more than 60% of the budget shortfall is being supplied by tax increases and benefit cuts to those who are better off. About 45% is being provided by the inflation adjustment and the increases in the retirement age. (This adds up to more than 100% because of the benefit increases to those worse off in the plan). The plan balances SS through 75 years and beyond.

Miscellaneous: Some good stuff in here. Scaling back on agricultural subsidies and student loan subsidies that have set up some pretty bad incentives. (I know I benefited from those student loan subsidies, but that doesn't mean I can't complain about them).

There's also a suggestion to make the triggers for automatic extensions to unemployment benefits more realistic, i.e. make them easier to trigger because Congress is constantly finding the need to jump the gun as the triggers are now. I think this is a good idea. These triggers operate as automatic stabilizers by stimulating the economy when things go badly. Automatic stabilizers do a really good job of overcoming poor political incentives to cut back spending during recessions and increase spending during growth and thus minimize the volatility of the business cycle. The automatic stabilizers we had in effect already were a big and under-appreciated part of the reason 2008 didn't turn into 1929.


It's not really related to the long term deficit, but B-S added the suggestion of a payroll tax holiday in 2011 that R-D had included. It's a good idea.

Longest Reader post ever! Hope you all enjoyed.
The World in a Satirical Nutshell
Posted at 10:24pm, Wednesday Dec 01, 2010
tvchurch: These were the guys who did "The Front Fell Off." Amazing.
John Bolton for President (No Joke!)
Posted at 10:23pm, Wednesday Dec 01, 2010
tvchurch: Vote Mustache?
IDPPPA: Introducing the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act, a.k.a. Fashion Copyright - Counterfeit Chic
Posted at 10:09pm, Wednesday Dec 01, 2010
Chip: This makes sense.
TaxProf Blog: Galle & Utset: Is Cap & Trade Fair to the Poor?
Posted at 7:04pm, Wednesday Dec 01, 2010
John: Very good.
Va. lawmaker claims pat-downs part of 'homosexual agenda' -
Posted at 5:59pm, Wednesday Dec 01, 2010
John: Va. lawmaker claims Al Qaeda and homosexuals strange bedfellows
Chris Dodd vs. Filibuster Reform
Posted at 5:53pm, Wednesday Dec 01, 2010
John: Maybe just start with filibuster reform. Things have been as divisive as they are now in the past.
HLS Potpourri: Professor Nesson Victim of Phishing, While Students Fish for Constitutional Protection from the TSA
Posted at 3:07pm, Wednesday Dec 01, 2010
John: I know Jeff and Anant pretty well. This is a bit harsh.
Stuxnet is a game changing weaponized computer virus
Posted at 2:16am, Wednesday Dec 01, 2010
John: A year!
Google Translate Beatboxing
Posted at 12:35am, Wednesday Dec 01, 2010
John: Fun to play around with.
Spanish woman claims ownership of the Sun, says she's going to start charging for use
Posted at 12:32am, Wednesday Dec 01, 2010
John: She may be stretching the meaning of "I am not stupid, I know the law." On the other hand, we'll probably soon see an article in the NY Times about how her claim is valid.
Flickr Hack Makes 3D Model of Any City in a Day
Posted at 12:29am, Wednesday Dec 01, 2010
John: Nikhil already wrote this.
The Middle Path of Reform
Posted at 11:59pm, Tuesday Nov 30, 2010
John: The conservative education policy experts who are publishing in my journal (that I mentioned a while ago) seemed to think this was basically what was going on. Instead of radical adjustments to Obama's education reforms, they offered what were essentially tweaks that were trying to push this dialectic forward. NCLB, in their view, was an experiment that had its own successes and failures. They thought Obama had derived some good lessons from the failures but perhaps hadn't appreciated all of its successes.
Democrats’ Dwindling Options on Tax Cuts - David Leonhardt -
Posted at 10:55pm, Tuesday Nov 30, 2010
Michael: A good summary of the state Democrats find themselves in.
Rinky Dink, But Where And Who?
Posted at 1:24pm, Tuesday Nov 30, 2010
tvchurch: "Bowls are made of… wood. And wood has a winning record against… water… so… A WITCH"
The Meaning Of "Constitutional Conservatism"
Posted at 12:42pm, Tuesday Nov 30, 2010
John: Judson Phillips' view is hardly representative of what would ordinarily be called constitutional conservativism, which is hardly new, and certainly is not empty. I think it's fair to say that conservatives have a more theoretically coherent and well-developed approach to constitutional interpretation than liberals. This approach, centered around textualism, originalism and federalism, has been developed into a pretty sophisticated theory over the past 40 or so years. Whether it is an ultimately satisfying approach is a different question, but this post seems largely based on ignorance and/or epistemic closure.
Balancing inverted pendulums - Hack a Day
Posted at 11:27pm, Monday Nov 29, 2010
nikhil: whooooa. found via hackernews
522 U.S. 479
Posted at 10:03pm, Monday Nov 29, 2010
John: Leave it to Scalia to join all of an opinion except for a footnote.
Public Policy Polling: Americans not impressed with Bloomberg
Posted at 8:55pm, Monday Nov 29, 2010
John: Surprising.
Our Fiscal Security - Fiscal Blueprint
Posted at 8:48pm, Monday Nov 29, 2010
John: This is a very different type of proposal. The liberal answer to center-right Bowles-Simpson and center-left Domenici-Rivlin plans that shared the same basic focus - capping discretionary spending, lowering marginal rates while broadening the tax base by removing tax expenditures, limiting growth in or cutting entitlement benefits.

This plan, instead, cancels the Bush tax cuts on earners over 250K, increases payroll taxes on earners over 106K (bumps up effective marginal rates on wages by about 12%), adds a millionaires tax bracket, puts a limit on miscellaneous deductions (essentially this is like watered-down tax expenditure reform, you leave out the big ones [healthcare insurance and mortgage interest] and take away the small ones only from people without children or families earning six figures), taxes capital gains and dividends as ordinary income (the other plans do this, but they have much lower marginal rates, so it's a move from 15% to 45% instead of 15% to 25%), creates a new tax on financial speculation, broadens the corporate tax base without decreasing marginal rates, enacts cap and trade, creates a public option for healthcare insurance, makes significant cuts to defense spending, and increases "public investment" meaning putting all the defense spending cuts into infrastructure, R&D and early childhood education.

This is a totally different approach. Basically, it enacts several major liberal policy goals and pays for it with defense spending cuts and significant tax increases on families earning more than 100K a year. I believe the plan actually increases federal outlays on net. The wealthiest could see their effective marginal tax rates tripled, and upper-middle class taxpayers could see something like a 50% increase.

I like some parts of this plan. It has the most serious approach to healthcare cost reductions. The plan has the major virtue of making zero cuts to Social Security benefits. It also contains several measures to improve the lot of the working poor, by strengthening and continuing EITC and MWPC.

I like the idea of increased public investment, but it's place in a plan designed to reduce the long-term structural deficit is questionable. Whether or not it has a positive effect on the deficit depends on how well the government makes these investments.

I think the tax portion is pretty bad. Of course, that's where all the pain is coming from, so that's to be expected. But this plan significantly increases the distortionary effect the tax system has on the economy, where B-S and D-R do a good job in limiting it. From an economic efficiency standpoint, you want lower marginal rates on a broader base. This plan does little if anything to expand the base and contains very large increases in marginal rates.

Cap gains going up to 45% is the most obvious thing here. This is liable to give you pretty significant lock-in effects. You get to keep earning untaxed returns on an investment until you sell it, but then you have to pay half to the government. This gives you a really strong incentive to find ways not to sell things that have appreciated in value. That can put a significant strain on the economy. Lower cap gains rates also gives some incentive to investment and savings, so this portion is partially undoing what the public investment portion does. Or rather, it is centralizing that function by having the government choose what things are worth investing in. There are pros to this--public education and infrastructure might be thought to have significant positive externalities--but there are problems too--you lose the wisdom of the crowds. Basically, this is the kind of thing that makes David Brooks cry at night.

There are lots more increases to marginal rates beyond capital gains treatment. The incidence of both the employer and the employee contribution of payroll taxes is almost entirely on the employee in real life, so this is like a 12.4% bump in marginal rates for people earning between 110K and 150K and a 6.2% bump for people earning above 150K. Another 3%*n (depending on the number of a taxpayer's dependents) bump comes from the return of the phaseout of the personal exemption. And another 3% from the phaseout of itemized deductions. There's the 4.6% bump from the Bush tax cuts expiry. If Mankiw is worried about a 4.6% increase in marginal rates, what do you think he would say about a 25.8% increase for a family of four with joint income of 250K? Or a 12.4% bump for a family of four earning 110K?

Simultaneously, the plan does very little to broaden the tax base. The plan improves on the fairness of the mortgage interest deduction by converting it into a refundable credit, so that it is no longer an upside-down subsidy, but this makes it's distortionary effect worse. It does the same with the charitable deduction, although there we probably aren't worried much about distortion. The healthcare exemption isn't touched.

I don't know enough to evaluate the tax on financial speculation. I would slightly prefer a carbon tax to a cap and trade system.

On net, this is a serious proposal for balancing the budget, so it accomplishes the basic goal that it set out to do. For that reason, I would definitely prefer this to doing nothing. This is probably better than B-S too, because it doesn't have the silliness of a revenue cap, and it doesn't place a heavy burden on families that would have a tough time shouldering it. But I would probably pick D-R over this plan because of the significantly better treatment of the tax code.

Of course, none of them will be passed.
YouTube - Crazy Oklahoma State Interception vs. Oklahoma - November 27, 2010
Posted at 6:25pm, Monday Nov 29, 2010
John: Well done.
Ah, Reinhardt
Posted at 5:51pm, Monday Nov 29, 2010
John: If Reinhardt writes the opinion, it should be fun. His dissent from a denial of an Establishment Clause challenge to the pledge of allegiance contained random snipes at Sarah Palin and the Tea Party in the footnotes.

Offsetting Kerr's suggestion that this hurts Prop 8 opponents in the long run, this means the Supreme Court will very likely hear the case. If the Ninth Circuit reverses Judge Walker, the Supreme Court could just deny cert and dodge the question. My guess is that Kennedy, at the end of his career, will be inclined to finish what he started in Lawrence. He's the deciding vote, and probably the author of the majority opinion, either way, and I don't think he wants to come out on the wrong side of history.
YouTube - Fail Compilation November 2010
Posted at 10:41pm, Sunday Nov 28, 2010
nikhil: these range from awkward to ming-bogglingly painful, and most of them are hilarious
Defenestrations of Prague
Posted at 7:37pm, Sunday Nov 28, 2010
Adam: This was my favorite Wikipedia article for a number of years until I discovered "list of sexually active popes".
Should He Stay or Should He Go: The Rich Rodriguez Saga
Posted at 2:56pm, Sunday Nov 28, 2010
Avi: Rumor is a rumor,
Legal Theory Lexicon: Procedural Justice
Posted at 2:15pm, Sunday Nov 28, 2010
John: There is a large mathematical literature about cake cutting:
The last twelve years of reading fiction
Posted at 12:47pm, Sunday Nov 28, 2010
John: Cryptonomicon being so good that it transcends authorship, of course.
What's Your Political News IQ?
Posted at 10:55am, Sunday Nov 28, 2010
tvchurch: 12 for 12, although the 'Which does the government spend more money on?' question gave me pause.
Amazon's cloud computing has revolutionized American small business, but can Amazon beat rising competitors? - By Jill Priluck - Slate Magazine
Posted at 10:35am, Sunday Nov 28, 2010
Adam: James they stole your article!!
Lessons In Becoming An Expert - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan
Posted at 2:11am, Sunday Nov 28, 2010
John: Love the picture. The
With Facebook Claiming the Word 'Face,' Some Alternatives -
Posted at 1:44am, Sunday Nov 28, 2010
John: NY Times picks up on the same mistake. Facebook is not a few steps away from "trademarking" or "getting a trademark" to anything. The PTO does not issue trademarks; it registers existing trademarks. At most you could say they are a few steps away from having their trademark recognized by the PTO.

A trademark is something that a company uses to identify its products. As the word suggests, it marks the product as coming from a specific source. State-based common law and the federal Lanham Act protect a company from having others misappropriate its trademarks and protects consumers from misleading use of such marks. One tool the Lanham Act provides is a national registry so that other people can be on notice of what trademarks exist. Being in the registry grants a company special procedural rights in trial and puts others on notice so they can't have a defense of good faith use in ignorance of the existence of a competing trademark. The PTO is deciding whether to place Facebook's claimed "face" mark in the registry.
Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 5:36pm, Saturday Nov 27, 2010
John: Read this case today for Admin. The standing issue is a very good example of when the resolution of a legal question necessarily relies on the resolution of a contested political question. Massachusetts challenges the EPA's failure to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act.

However, just because an agency is not following its statute, does not mean anyone at all can sue them. The Constitution requires that the courts only here "cases" or "controversies," which has been interpreted to mean that the plaintiff in a suit must show (1) that they have suffered or will imminently suffer a harm (2) that is caused by the defendant's conduct, and (3) such that if they win the case they will obtain redress for the harm.

Massachusetts says "We are suffering a harm - we own coastal property, and the failure to regulate carbon dioxide will cause increased global warming, and hence we will lose more of our property than we otherwise would. If the court orders the agency to adopt additional regulations, then we will likely not be injured as severely."

The EPA says "This is too tenuous a link to support standing. We don't know whether decreasing carbon dioxide will leave you with more land than you would otherwise have."

Resolution of the redressability prong of standing appears to depend entirely on a factual question: If the EPA regulates carbon dioxide, will ocean levels rise less than they would otherwise." Here, it seems much more appropriate to me (although I'm still troubled by it on different grounds) that the Court should split on ideological lines. This is in stark contrast to a case where the legal question has nothing to do with the disagreement between ideologies but where it is just the case that different parties prefer different outcomes. In those cases, it is very troubling to see the Court come out in an ideologically predictable way. It is strong evidence that they are saying "This is the answer that I want and I will resolve any close questions to achieve that outcome." Here it simply reflects the fact that, under law as it currently exists, differing opinions on particular questions can lead to different outcomes of a given case.
Honorific Resolutions (and the Establishment Clause)
Posted at 2:52pm, Saturday Nov 27, 2010
John: But not Pi Day!
Erik's Lecture 1 in 6.849: Geometric Folding Algorithms: Linkages, Origami, Polyhedra (Fall 2010)
Posted at 2:04am, Saturday Nov 27, 2010
John: Pretty cool OCW class.
Give Me Something To Read Best of 2010
Posted at 10:52pm, Friday Nov 26, 2010
John: No idea if any of these are actually good, but thought I would pass it along.
The Instability of Moderation -
Posted at 10:03pm, Friday Nov 26, 2010
John: Something along these lines, although not conceptualized in the same way, is probably what my professor meant when he said the real cause of the financial crisis was bad luck. Also, I take it that Krugman would agree that this is more of an argument for pessimism than an argument against continued use of Samuelsonian economics as a driver of policy.
4th Amendment Wear
Posted at 6:59pm, Friday Nov 26, 2010
John: I think a lot of responses to this have been way overblown, but this is actually kinda clever/fun. To be clear there isn't really any argument that these scans actually violate the 4th amendment under current case law (for a whole bunch of reasons- consent, no reasonable expectation of privacy, search narrowly tailored to protect a compelling government interest, etc.) But it's not disruptive, and it makes its point effectively.
To: My widow
Posted at 6:08pm, Friday Nov 26, 2010
nikhil: this is very weird
A new problem in social choice theory
Posted at 5:55pm, Friday Nov 26, 2010
nikhil: this seems fairly silly
NPR Hip Hop
Posted at 3:54pm, Thursday Nov 25, 2010
tvchurch: I'll always re-share anything about Toomey's songs.
Ros-Lehtinen targets inter-American threats
Posted at 12:35pm, Thursday Nov 25, 2010
tvchurch: Rep. Ros-Lehtinen used to make faces at Weston Jones and me when we were Doc Pages on the Rostrum in order to make us laugh while we were on C-SPAN. She also always asked us what we were reading and suggested books for us.
Production vs. Predation
Posted at 12:32pm, Thursday Nov 25, 2010
tvchurch: "How much of the personal wealth in the United States is the result of market production to satisfy consumer demands and how much of this wealth is the result of special privileges and other forms of predation?"

Great question. I agree with Boudreaux's estimation.
The Beginning of the END
Posted at 9:59pm, Wednesday Nov 24, 2010
John: I think that this all assumes sovereign CDS actually tracks risks analogous to those of corporate swaps:

So what happens if everyone thinks this is what they are trading, and then they figure out it isn't?
Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helioophthalmic Outburst Syndrome
Posted at 9:29pm, Wednesday Nov 24, 2010
nikhil: oh come on
Facebook To Own the Word "Face" - Slashdot
Posted at 8:49pm, Wednesday Nov 24, 2010
John: Slashdot gets in on the absurd headlines game.

You can already appreciate the limitations just by reading the post. However, even the full text comes up way short.

To a company that is already nationally recognized, registration does not confer any additional rights except for the availability of statutory damages of $500 per infringing product. The substantive liability standard is the same as if Facebook did not have a valid registration: are consumers likely to be confused about the source of the product at issue and believe it comes from Facebook? There are also some other effects like shifting of burdens of proof. Basically, this is just making Facebook have to pay less money to lawyers to defend their trademark within the field listed. The post also neglects to mention that any third parties are entitled to challenge the registration within that three month period.
Facebook Shares Chopped Up Into Derivatives as Value of Social Site Soars - Bloomberg
Posted at 8:47pm, Wednesday Nov 24, 2010
Adam: There is no way that FarmVille should be worth $5.4 billion.
Monadology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 8:04pm, Wednesday Nov 24, 2010
John: Descartes seems so much more reasonable when compared to his pseudo-contemporaries. See also
Deficit Plans Cut Marginal Tax Rates, But Raise Average Rates, for High Earners
Posted at 6:49pm, Tuesday Nov 23, 2010
John: I largely agree with this, but I think it's making a bit of an over-generalization. Many, if not most, liberal critics have been more up front about what they don't like about the tax proposals of the deficit commission by saying that any plan needs to be more progressive than Clinton-era taxes. I think they're wrong, but I respect what they are saying.

Unlike those critics, Krugman has decided, for whatever reason, to sit on the border between evasiveness and dishonesty about this issue. He's said in the past that he's willing to sacrifice honesty for effective messaging. Obviously, it hurts his credibility in wonk circles, but that's not much of a concern to him. Those liberals that agree with him on the substance probably aren't going to hold it against him that he's playing it fast and loose with his rhetoric.

It really comes down to how much intrinsic value he places in being honest to the readers of his columns. I think he's made a poor choice.
Judge Kimba Wood, Standing Up for Women
Posted at 5:13pm, Tuesday Nov 23, 2010
John: In addition to being charming, Judge Wood also happens to be a total babe.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt guest stars
Posted at 5:00pm, Tuesday Nov 23, 2010
tvchurch: I'm really enjoying reading the semi-live blog of Leif watching Buffy. Literally booted up Netflix to start Doctor Who to keep up my end of the bargain.
Richard Thaler's question
Posted at 4:59pm, Tuesday Nov 23, 2010
tvchurch: John Holland of University of Michigan's response:

"From the time of Aristotle onward, natural philosophers believed that the basic law underlying motion was that all objects (eventually) come to rest. It took Newton to lay aside the myriad details (friction, etc.) in order to build an idealized model that requires 'forces' to change direction or velocity. Subsequently, everything from models of fluid flow to slinging satellites to the outer solar system used Newton's model as a starting point."
Could China buy the IMF?
Posted at 4:51pm, Tuesday Nov 23, 2010
tvchurch: "At the very least this kind of bidding war for influence in international organizations would give us a sense of how countries value them."

House Dem dares GOP on healthcare repeal - The Hill's Healthwatch
Posted at 4:08pm, Tuesday Nov 23, 2010
John: I think if I were in Congress the first piece of legislation I would propose would be a ban on legislative backronyms.
Department of "Huh"? (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Blogosphere? Brad DeLong Edition)
Posted at 3:43pm, Tuesday Nov 23, 2010
John: This was Chait's end-of-argument problem with Bowles-Simpson as well that I talked about the other day. I don't quite agree with Mankiw that current policy is a "better" benchmark, although I did and do think that it is important that the 2015 policy under current law is not something that either party is endorsing. My point, which is probably consistent with what Mankiw is saying, was that these plans, which are of course already very controversial, are not intended to make the United States distributively just. They are intended to cut the long term structural deficit, which is a different if related problem. Liberals and conservatives should be willing to compromise on the progressiveness of the tax system in order to solve this other problem. Bowles-Simpson represents such a compromise: the level of progressivity is more or less in the middle of Obama's proposal and the Republican's proposal. Insisting that a deficit reduction plan also match your ideological goals concerning the redistribution of wealth is the same as insisting that you don't really care about solving the long term deficit. It is clearly a deal killer for both sides.
Linda Greenhouse and Reva Siegel bring new insights to Roe v. Wade | Harvard Magazine
Posted at 12:06pm, Tuesday Nov 23, 2010
John: Lot of interesting tidbits in this article.
Vintage political posters
Posted at 10:16pm, Monday Nov 22, 2010
Chip: Some of these are quite powerful. I particularly found the poster in support of Vietnamese women and children, Environmental pollution series and the ones dealing with Hiroshima/Nagasaki to be so.
Tired and emotional
Posted at 12:42pm, Monday Nov 22, 2010
tvchurch: Totally using this at some point.
That's Interesting, But Does It Pass The Alchian Test?
Posted at 4:41pm, Sunday Nov 21, 2010
tvchurch: I just received Alchian's complete works courtesy of IHS. I've also been through some of his University Economics. He really is a terrific economist to read.
YouTube - Oozinator - Questionable Super Soaker
Posted at 3:07pm, Sunday Nov 21, 2010
Chip: I feel like they should have taken a different angle with this...
Institutions Matter
Posted at 10:37am, Sunday Nov 21, 2010
Adam: Good point.
Treasury’s Prime Directive: Protect the Banks
Posted at 5:26am, Sunday Nov 21, 2010
John: This is an example of something I find incredibly frustrating. I have a sense that Pasquale is trying to say something important. He seems to take it as either so gobsmackingly obvious, or so unimportant to actually demonstrate its reasonableness, that he doesn't bother to fully articulate why he believes what he is saying. It seems, to me, that the post has two purposes: (1) to establish a point about the importance of the prevalence of fraud to discussions of the appropriate policy response to the high rate of forcelosures in the country, and (2) to establish that he is the kind of person who regularly uses the word "struthious" and others who don't, and hence might also not accept his underlying claim, are mentally deficient. I wish I could just meet him in person and say, "Please, please articulate your points in a way that are likely to be fully understood and listened to by an audience who is not already entirely won over. A couple of sarcastic comments interspersed by hand-picked quotes from others does not achieve that goal even when it connects all the dots in your own head."
A Banana Republic?
Posted at 9:37pm, Saturday Nov 20, 2010
tvchurch: Will Wilkinson may be the clearest writer I know on the subject of income inequality. He reminds me of Jeane Kirkpatrick - cutting through the BS, right to the center of the issue.

Read time ~ 2 minutes.
Israel Behind Stuxnet Attack on Iran?
Posted at 9:18pm, Saturday Nov 20, 2010
tvchurch: I've got to repeat my point that cyber warfare is a cheap way to wage warfare in democracies without involving the electorate. (This from a first order perspective. There are issues with retaliation that could affect the analysis.)
Taxes, Spending, and Semantics
Posted at 3:47pm, Saturday Nov 20, 2010
nikhil: duhhh
Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen on Flash’s Effect on MacBook Air Battery Life
Posted at 7:44am, Saturday Nov 20, 2010
Avi: Can anybody corroborate? I went a week with no Flash, AIR and Chrome, and did not notice any difference.
Chance of Dying From Airport Backscatter Radiation About the Same as Chance of Getting Killed by Terrorists
Posted at 7:37am, Saturday Nov 20, 2010
Avi: Too perfect.
Lawyers to Carnival Passengers: Don't Come Crying to Me
Posted at 11:21pm, Friday Nov 19, 2010
Adam: So apparently maritime law is a real thing ( I always thought it was a joke (
The Clarity of Supreme Court Opinions
Posted at 3:56pm, Friday Nov 19, 2010
John: Fun.
Jet Lag May Cause Stupidity
Posted at 12:41am, Friday Nov 19, 2010
John: If I had circadian rhythms, I would be unstoppable! Mwahahahaha.
Unfounded Rumor Of The Afternoon: Bed Bugs At Deutsche Bank?
Posted at 11:21pm, Thursday Nov 18, 2010
Adam: Let's stay away from Nikhil.
Big Mac alert!
Posted at 8:53pm, Thursday Nov 18, 2010
Adam: Alert! Alert! Alert!
Can you name the sport by its playing surface's lines? - sporcle
Posted at 8:48pm, Thursday Nov 18, 2010
Adam: Surprisingly difficult.
Japan Pushing the Yakuza Mob Out of Businesses -
Posted at 7:59pm, Thursday Nov 18, 2010
Chip: That's crazy. The mob economy in Japan is about $242 billion (I'm assuming this is yearly, but it's unclear).
Recipe FAIL
Posted at 4:28am, Thursday Nov 18, 2010
John: The cement would probably be an improvement.
The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Bold, Controversial Stab at the Deficit and Tax Reform
Posted at 4:27am, Thursday Nov 18, 2010
John: An interesting alternative to the deficit commission's plan. From looking over it it is really pretty similar - lower marginal rates for individuals and corporations, tax capital gains as ordinary income, remove/limit many tax expenditures, cap both defense and non-defense discretionary spending, progressive benefit buts in Social Security, use a more accurate measure of inflation for cost of living adjustments, increase Medicare benefits by only GDP+1, remove some other things like farm subsidies. It seems the major differences are 1) the VAT and 2) this proposal does not increase the Social Security retirement age. As a result, I take it this plan balances at somewhere like 23% GDP rather than 21%, although it's hard to say for sure. This also has the payroll tax holiday, but that isn't really part of a long term budgetary plan.
Are high food prices good or bad for poverty?
Posted at 9:33pm, Wednesday Nov 17, 2010
tvchurch: The title and the first line.
Format and clean your data with Google Refine
Posted at 8:12pm, Wednesday Nov 17, 2010
nikhil: oh man i've always wanted one of these!
Just in Time for Yale/Harvard Football Game, Harvard Mocks Murdered Yale Student
Posted at 7:43pm, Wednesday Nov 17, 2010
nikhil: this is hilarious!
Posted at 1:05pm, Wednesday Nov 17, 2010
John: I hope to get quite crapulous this weekend.
Stuxnet Worm Did Likely Target Iranian Nuclear Facilities - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
Posted at 12:44pm, Wednesday Nov 17, 2010
tvchurch: Iran, meet cyberwarfare. It's much less prone to overt political controversy.
Human Development: Mississippi Ranks Above Italy
Posted at 12:41pm, Wednesday Nov 17, 2010
tvchurch: I always criticize comparisons between the United States and other 'Western' countries because our homogeneity is so extreme. There are definitely countries in Western Europe that approximate our diversity, but comparing statistics on an aggregate level between the U.S. and a country like Japan without any caveats is comparing apples and oranges.

Next time I think my argument will go better by citing how different the states are in the U.S.
The Debt Commission Plan: No Deal
Posted at 5:19am, Wednesday Nov 17, 2010
John: Chait obviously has a very different view of compromise from me.

This rhetoric of "low low" rates just seems bizarre to me. The fact is that 35% and 39.6% are just not that different. If he's talking about the very low effective rates on the super-wealthy, then this plan does quite a bit to address that issue.

More importantly, the point of the plan just isn't to make the tax code more or less progressive. It plops down in the middle of what Democrats and Republicans are currently calling for. That doesn't have any necessary relation to what the "right" answer is, but the point of the deficit commission is to reduce the deficit not to hash out ideological disputes between liberals and conservatives.

Chait's basic idea here is that liberals can just wait until bad things start happening so that they can get a plan that is more favorable to them when the politics are better. That's just ass-backwards stupid. If you wait until the bond market blows up, then things will be a lot worse for everyone. He's willing to risk peoples' livelihoods over a small decrease in rates at the top relative to Clinton-era levels. It's no use pointing to the other guys and say they are more manipulative. This is just plain bad behavior.
The Wilderness Downtown
Posted at 2:00am, Wednesday Nov 17, 2010
Mike: This is a very cool artistic application of the Google API.
Amazon Gets Into Film Production With Amazon Studios
Posted at 11:34pm, Tuesday Nov 16, 2010
Adam: I should write a movie.
The Chicago mayor's race: His kind of town | The Economist
Posted at 8:05pm, Tuesday Nov 16, 2010
Adam: Short article worth reading just for the line about Jesse Jackson Jr.
YouTube - Steve Ansolabehere on Interest Groups and Money in Politics (1 of 11)
Posted at 7:45pm, Tuesday Nov 16, 2010
John: Very interesting series. Doesn't answer the question James posed, though.
Jeff Rosen On Al Franken
Posted at 6:53pm, Tuesday Nov 16, 2010
John: This is a neat little anecdote. The troubling thing is that it seems, from my knowledge and research at least, that Franken was just making it all up. Under the Delaware case law, a controlling shareholder is defined functionally as someone who exerts control over, either by having the votes to select or by other effective domination, a majority of the board of directors.

I've searched all over the place to try to find this 20% threshold somewhere in the law, and the only where 20% appears in Delware statutory law (conceivably it could be from case law, but the cases I've seen all use the functional test and courts are remiss to create such bright-line rules that have a legislative feel of arbitrariness about them) is the definition of a corporate "affiliate" for the purposes of the Fraudulent Transfers Act. Needless to say, this is not the same thing as a controlling shareholder. Obviously 50% + 1 always satisfies the functional criterion, but I just don't think it is done with a number.

20% seems low to me, anecdotally. Most controlling shareholders that I've heard of are more in the mid-thirties or above range. There's not much sense in holding 20% of a corporation's stock and not trying to acquire more. Disclosure rules and insider trading regulations come into effect at 5% or 10%, and I don't think you can have effective control even for widely held corporations at 20%. The most natural way someone gets in that range is as a precursor to a tender offer in a hostile takeover.
The Effects of Capping Pay -
Posted at 6:14pm, Tuesday Nov 16, 2010
John: This is from a looooooong time ago internet-wise, but I just saw that my Corporations professor wrote this bit for the Times. Apparently, he was all over the debate about excessive executive compensation for propped up financial institutions because he had co-written a book in 2006 the presaged most of the issues. Seems he's since been rewarded with a tenure track position at HLS.
Two New Studies Show Benefits For Beer Drinking Women | Brookston Beer Bulletin
Posted at 4:30pm, Tuesday Nov 16, 2010
LJN: ...ladies
TPC Tax Topics | Distributional Estimates for Bowles-Simpson "Chairmen's Mark"
Posted at 3:25pm, Tuesday Nov 16, 2010
John: So here is a much more detailed analysis that is responsive to Krugman's concerns. It shows that he was wrong, although I probably went too far in suggesting that the plan was as progressive at Krugman's dream come true. It is less progressive at the top quintile than Obama's proposal, although it may be more progressive at the very top (behavioral changes, which the report ignores, are particularly likely at the very top, so this analysis likely overstates the progressivity there).
There is No College Cost Crisis -
Posted at 2:08pm, Tuesday Nov 16, 2010
Chip: I'm still skeptical but do appreciate hearing the other side. When they talk about income left on the table, they're not clear as to whose income: the kids or the parents paying. It could be there's more income left on the table for the parents because the students are just taking out more loans.
An open letter to conservatives
Posted at 1:12pm, Tuesday Nov 16, 2010
tvchurch: Great post on QE.
More Kinect Craziness: Mind-Blowing 3D Video Effect
Posted at 11:18pm, Monday Nov 15, 2010
John: Pretty cool.
Assorted links
Posted at 10:59pm, Monday Nov 15, 2010
nikhil: #2 is a really good article, though i think it focused a bit too much on small > big

#4 is ridiculous, but i'm glad it's being done in an era where at least some people will take it seriously and try to replicate it
Farmer Wants a Wife (TV Series 2007) - IMDb
Posted at 10:30pm, Monday Nov 15, 2010
Adam: 1.8!
The Mismeasure of Man
Posted at 10:18pm, Monday Nov 15, 2010
nikhil: this is right on
Golfer blinded by bad shot sues pal for no 'Fore!' - Golf - Yahoo! Sports
Posted at 7:10pm, Monday Nov 15, 2010
Chip: As ridiculous as the circumstances around this lawsuit are, it actually brings up a ton of 1L tort issues.
An Ode to Bourbon - Newsweek →
Posted at 2:46pm, Monday Nov 15, 2010
tvchurch: When politicians and others complained to President Lincoln about General Grant's drinking problem, Lincoln's response was, "If it makes fighting men like Grant, then find out what he drinks, and send my other commanders a case!"
Just give the poor cash?
Posted at 12:56pm, Monday Nov 15, 2010
tvchurch: A little cash to those in extreme poverty has an enormous marginal benefit.
How a financial collapse starts
Posted at 12:00pm, Monday Nov 15, 2010
tvchurch: "The longer-run question is why there should be any Irish or Greek banks at all."

Actually, a great point.
Gold is the Metal
Posted at 2:58am, Monday Nov 15, 2010
John: Buy!
Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget - Interactive Feature -
Posted at 11:52pm, Sunday Nov 14, 2010
John: Best. interactive. feature. ever.
A theory of optimal tattoos
Posted at 5:27pm, Saturday Nov 13, 2010
nikhil: n-dot
Romance Fiction: Getting Dirty in Dutch Country - BusinessWeek
Posted at 5:14pm, Saturday Nov 13, 2010
nikhil: did you know if you highlight something on a page and then "note in reader", it uses that as the teaser text?

anyway, this is the funniest sentence i've read in a long time.
The Monkey Cage: Here Comes the 112th Congress: The Most Conservative (and Most Polarized) in Decades
Posted at 10:31pm, Friday Nov 12, 2010
John: Wowzers!
The Bowles-Simpson Deficit Reduction Plan Doesn't Add Up | Capital Gains and Games
Posted at 10:11pm, Friday Nov 12, 2010
John: This is a much better criticism, but I think it is overstated. It really only applies to one portion of the plan: the handling of the non-defense discretionary budget. One could essentially adopt the plan minus the reduction in non-defense discretionary spending with a relatively small increase in rates to make up the shortfall, and not really run into this problem.

Looking in a window of the next decade, only about 20% of the deficit reduction in the plan is coming from reduced non-defense discretionary spending.

Another 20% comes from decreasing defense discretionary spending, where the panel has given many specific things that the government should stop doing or do less of: overseas bases and base support, commercial activity with civilians, research and development, facilities maintenance, separate schooling for military children outside of the usual system, etc. This is in contrast to the non-defense side where the substantive suggestions are mostly limited to eliminating earmarks and reducing foreign aid, and everything else is somewhat magical handwaving.

Another 20% comes from tax reform, which is quite specific about what the government should stop doing, e.g. subsidizing people from buying second homes or first homes over $500K with the mortgage interest exclusion, subsidizing costs of building gas and oil wells, etc. Part of this is also a substantial gas tax.

Another 25% comes from Social Security reform, tort reform, fixing the inflation indexing used in Medicare, and various other changes to specific entitlement programs like farm subsidies. There is a lot of handwaving here about the long term savings in Medicare that I don't really buy, and where this argument hits home.

He seems to think the criticism applies well to farm subsidies. I don't see the logic behind that. Where does the reduction come from? Farm subsidies are horrible policy that no one who doesn't own a farm actually thinks the government should be doing. Why don't they eliminate them entirely? Probably because it's a hot button issue in Iowa where Presidents have to go through and it's a lot easier to say "everyone must share the pain" then to cut them entirely. But is this really a problem with the plan? It doesn't need some coherent story about why every last cut represents the right level of government involvement. It needs to get the job done.

The final 15% comes from reduced interest produced by the other savings.

So, yes, this is really a kitchen sink approach, but it does say a lot about what government should be doing less of. The bulk of the savings, at least in the short term come from reasonably specific cuts and tax increases. The non-defense discretionary budget cuts and the long term cost containment for Medicare involve some magical thinking, but that doesn't mean the plan isn't worth doing as a whole with the rather huge caveat that the 21% cap on revenues is a horrible idea. Because even if the plan is implemented, that line is not going to be held, and there is no sense in putting a cap on revenues in a deficit reduction plan. You should be putting a floor on revenues.
Further assorted links
Posted at 8:51pm, Thursday Nov 11, 2010
John: #2- Also PGS (my philosophy of mind professor) said this would happen. Anyway, it's pretty spooky stuff.
Better Book Titles
Posted at 8:45pm, Thursday Nov 11, 2010
John: I don't know lots of the books, but my favorites:

"Likeable Rapists by Vladimir Nabokov"
"One Long Sentence About Handjobs by James Joyce"
"Horny, Drunk Guys Invent Philosophy by Plato"
These author-inspired cocktails by San Francisco writer Jimmy...
Posted at 6:15pm, Thursday Nov 11, 2010
tvchurch: Priceless post.
Unserious People -
Posted at 4:33pm, Thursday Nov 11, 2010
John: Krugman just doesn't care about reality anymore. He's not this stupid. The commission's recommendations do two things with respect to income taxes paid by high income earners. (1) It lowers the top marginal rates to a number of different numbers depending on the plan - one of which is 35 in the more straightforward plan, and another of which starts out at 23 (that removes all tax expenditures and then asks Congress to build them back up with offsetting increases in rates) - and (2) it closes various "loopholes" that benefit the rich more than the poor, in particular capital gains and dividend income are taxed at the ordinary income rate. It is obvious to anyone who read over the plan that in order to see whether this is a tax cut or hike to the rich you need to add these two up. And it's not that hard to do it and to find out, say for the 23% plan that Krugman thinks is ridiculous, this is a hike on the top quintile of about $750 billion dollars, i.e. exactly what Obama and Krugman have been asking for.

It's not like there is nothing in this plan for a liberal to complain about. There are some serious cuts to Social Security benfits. Even here, Krugman is again possibly wrong or at least way overstating his case about the impact on people like janitors. There is a "hardship" exemption built into the hike in retirement age. The devil is in the details on that one. But, certainly the plan would be troubling to seniors in the second and third lowest income quintiles. The plan is also fairly quick to lower discretionary spending given the potential for a long-lasting slow growth. But Krugman should at least have the decency to critique the plan on those grounds. Unserious indeed.
Iran Fails to Win Seat on UN Women’s Panel
Posted at 5:59pm, Wednesday Nov 10, 2010
tvchurch: O_o
WH Backs Away from 2011 Afghan Withdrawal
Posted at 5:56pm, Wednesday Nov 10, 2010
tvchurch: Good.
Opinio Juris » Blog Archive » Google Maps to Blame for Nicaragua’s Invasion of Costa Rica?
Posted at 1:15pm, Wednesday Nov 10, 2010
John: Leave it to Grover Cleveland to fuck things up.
Why America’s Top Students Tune Out the GOP | FrumForum
Posted at 1:10pm, Wednesday Nov 10, 2010
John: Re the final graf: Eyal, who doesn't have a political bone in his body, asked me just a few days ago how the Republican position of tax cuts and deficit-hawkery made any sense.
The good, the bad, the funny, and the Order Nisi
Posted at 5:21pm, Tuesday Nov 09, 2010
tvchurch: "This was the worst news I received in a while actually: Comcast is the only available cable provider for my building in DC. That news hit me like a ton of bricks. I'll be able to handle the whole cancer thing - they have treatment for that. But there is no known cure for Comcast. And that is depressing.

"What's more, I'm two blocks from the damn Verizon Center. You can't run some Fios a quarter mile from a building you spend millions to sponsor, Verizon? Poor form."
seoulbrother: An Old Fashioned This is my go-to drink. The...
Posted at 12:36pm, Tuesday Nov 09, 2010
Avi: This is a man's cocktail.

Bombay folk: Wink makes the best one. Ann Arbor folk: Zanzibar, but make sure they hold the soda.
Assorted links
Posted at 12:34pm, Tuesday Nov 09, 2010
tvchurch: #1

Especially in extreme poverty (World Bank measure) areas? Imagine being able to double someone's income.
Boy Genius Report on the Samsung Galaxy Tab
Posted at 12:33pm, Tuesday Nov 09, 2010
Avi: FTR, my experience was completely different. I was playing Canabalt through the browser fine, and watched a few videos. The device is awesome, if pricey.
With Korg iMS-20 for iPad, Patch Cords Meet Multi-Touch; Sounds + Videos
Posted at 12:30pm, Tuesday Nov 09, 2010
Avi: Drool-worthy. This is like the DS-20 on crack.
U.S. Takes Its Lumps at the U.N. Human Rights Council: Is it Worth It?
Posted at 11:59am, Tuesday Nov 09, 2010
tvchurch: "The HRC has no legally binding authority (or much moral authority) anyway. Mostly, it just serves to further damage the U.N.’s image in the United States, a dangerous thing to do now that the Republican House is back in charge of U.N. funding."

A New Phase in the Decline and Fall of the Republic?
Posted at 8:12am, Tuesday Nov 09, 2010
John: This is an oddly asymmetrical analysis: Ackerman notes that both Congress and the President formally hold power to stop the other in their tracks through the combination of regulatory control and the veto and the combination of legislative control and government shutdown respectively. He goes on to say that Congress is limited in its ability to use its formal powers by political safeguards, e.g. backlash for shutting down the government. Yet apparently no one will notice if the President vetoes everything in sight and uses administrative agencies to adopt radical policy shifts. He does have some story here about shutdown being more salient as a singular event than the aggregation of numerous Presidential acts. But to the extent that voters will notice anything beyond the state of the economy in 2012, I think we have seen that they do pay attention at the margins to individual policies adopted by the President and his party. There are political costs to unilateral presidential action, especially in a media climate that is primed for narratives of liberal "overreach."
Chart Of The Day
Posted at 4:31pm, Monday Nov 08, 2010
John: Probably worth noting that the block of Iraqis killed by Saddam Hussein is 10 to 20 times larger.
DeMint Standard
Posted at 3:52pm, Monday Nov 08, 2010
John: DeMint deserves a much harder time than even Chait is giving him here. He references Paul Ryan's roadmap repeatedly as how he would go about cutting long term spending. According to the CBO's analysis, the roadmap balances the budget around 2080. It accomplishes this, in part, by making about a 16% cut in Social Security outlays by that time relative to baseline and a whopping 76% cut in Medicare outlays relative to baseline. That's not exactly "not talking about cuts in Social Security," and "cutting benefits to seniors" is most definitely "on the table."
A brief foray into vectorial semantics
Posted at 11:13am, Monday Nov 08, 2010
Avi: Nice, James.

I have a poorly hacked together Vim plugin that looks at little snippets and evaluates when I might need to recycle a function (e.g., factorial or prime generation) and drops it at the cursor, TextMate-style. Principally, it works much like this.

I love the idea of writing with a semantically-growing database of your previous writings.
Bob Zoellick on monetary reform
Posted at 3:39am, Monday Nov 08, 2010
John: Score one for Ron Paul.
YouTube - Wheel of Fortune 1 letter solve
Posted at 10:47pm, Sunday Nov 07, 2010
John: Woah..meta.
Trader Joe's recalls items with cilantro
Posted at 10:12pm, Sunday Nov 07, 2010
John: The main symptom of the illness being eating things that taste like old pennies.
Survey FAIL
Posted at 10:08pm, Sunday Nov 07, 2010
John: That's a pretty difficult question. A few options:

1) A survey is something that asks people to respond to questions. Thus, this is a survey.

2) A survey is an attempt to gain useful information from users. This is basically just a bug. Thus, this is not a survey.

3) A survey is an attempt to gain useful information from users. This is someone's attempt to get users to distinguish between the definitions provided in (1) and (2). Thus, this is a survey.
Shaq Versus The Harvard Crew Team
Posted at 3:44pm, Sunday Nov 07, 2010
nikhil: i think i would bet on harvard, unless kobe bryant were on board
The Burger Lab: Revisiting the Myth of The 12-Year Old McDonald's Burger That Just Won't Rot (Testing Results!) | A Hamburger Today
Posted at 2:05am, Sunday Nov 07, 2010
John: I had always assumed a normal burger would rot when I saw those photos.
Hulu - Good Eats: There Will Be Oil - Watch the full episode now.
Posted at 11:31pm, Saturday Nov 06, 2010
John: Fantastic ep.
Bonus Quote of the Day
Posted at 6:46pm, Saturday Nov 06, 2010
Adam: How inspiring.
Command-Click OS X Dock Items to Show Them in Finder [Mac Tip]
Posted at 12:21am, Saturday Nov 06, 2010
Avi: Brilliant!
Geithner Visited Jon Stewart in April, Though Not for Laughs - Bloomberg
Posted at 8:30pm, Friday Nov 05, 2010
Adam: Huh?
Were House Dems Smart To Vote Against The Party?
Posted at 7:16pm, Friday Nov 05, 2010
John: This strikes me as a bit of willful blindness. Democrats were on pretty strong footing before the election when they were arguing that a loss of around 50 seats could be explained by poor economic conditions and the softness of the existing majority after the 2006 and 2008 waves and without reference to the aggressiveness of Obama's policy approach.

At this point, though, the Republicans won about 65 seats. Nyhan shows a pretty strong statistical signal that votes for unpopular legislation hurt individual candidates. Two points is a big swing, and this is the estimated effect for voting for only one of four controversial bills after controlling for district competitiveness, etc.

Now you can come up with some story about why this effect would have happened no matter what. But that's not borne out by the historical models, which predicted between 45 and 55 seats lost. Obviously, you can't run the counterfactuals where the economy rapidly improved or where Obama chose to pursue different kinds of reform. But the best evidence indicates that the approach he took cost Democrats somewhere around 10 to 20 seats in the House. My guess is that Democrats should actually be happy with trading that for universal health insurance. There's no reason to rationalize it away.
Political games
Posted at 11:01pm, Thursday Nov 04, 2010
nikhil: I wonder what the personal finances of political lobbyists look like. Republicans have to be hoping the stock market goes down over the next two years.
Seizing control
Posted at 9:51pm, Thursday Nov 04, 2010
tvchurch: A much different way to look at it. Anyone see merit to the argument?
Best Sign at the Rally for Sanity
Posted at 9:50pm, Thursday Nov 04, 2010
tvchurch: "How Seinfeldian"

That's something I want to hear more in conversation.
Prop. 19 supporters vow to keep pursuing legal pot - San Jose Mercury News
Posted at 10:23am, Thursday Nov 04, 2010
John: That sentence must be intentional.
Election 2010: What the Democratic Debacle Means for Fiscal Policy
Posted at 3:10pm, Wednesday Nov 03, 2010
John: This seems largely right to me. I think it underplays the presence of moderate GOPers a little too much - there's some possibility for a center in the House if a lot of the freshmen Republicans in blue districts behave as they did in state legislatures or as their constituencies might suggest. One wonders how different these guys will be from Blue Dogs. That might just be enough to hold off things like a shut down or defunding ObamaCare though.

If I were Obama, and thinking about #5, I would be drawn to education above anything else. Seems like there is some room for compromise there.

Also did y'all see Rubio's victory speech? Kid is going places. Don't know if 2012 is too early, but watch out in 2016.
Theory of the firm - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 2:42pm, Wednesday Nov 03, 2010
John: This is a pretty interesting area of economics that I never considered before taking Corporations. Also brings to mind an analogy of a Communist state to a gigantic corporation.
Where Do Democrats Go Next? -
Posted at 10:02pm, Tuesday Nov 02, 2010
Chip: This is amazingly sensible, but I question how much, if any of it, will happen.
Justices Split on Violent Games -
Posted at 7:38pm, Tuesday Nov 02, 2010
Chip: I love the shout out for Mortal Kombat.
Japan to China - Google Maps
Posted at 3:30pm, Tuesday Nov 02, 2010
John: Step 43 is a doozy.
Is America Ready? - Mormons - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - 6/12/2007 - Video Clip | Comedy Central
Posted at 8:17pm, Monday Nov 01, 2010
Chip: So this is an interview w/ my Property professor who's specialty is religion and America or something like that, with a particular focus on Mormonism. This would likely have been funnier if it didn't feel so awkward b/c I know her. My guess is she saw that it was an interview with The Daily Show and thought it would be w/ Jon Stewart, not Samantha Bee (or she didn't realize that the interviews w/ the correspondents aren't serious at all).
Mike Shanahan says Donovan McNabb not in shape for 2-minute drill - ESPN
Posted at 7:04pm, Monday Nov 01, 2010
Adam: I feel like I've heard this before...
Is Dark Matter Supernatural?
Posted at 3:30pm, Monday Nov 01, 2010
John: Skip to "It's the final category..."

I don't think this argument makes any sense. Combining the premise that "science" just is what scientist's do with premise that scientists are just reasonable people trying to come up with the best explanations given empirical evidence is just boot-strapping all of empiricism into science.

Words do have meaning, and "science" typically refers to the kind of things that scientists do and have done in the actual world for the past few centuries. It does not mean what those people would do if they were confronted with dramatically different empirics.

The assumption that there is so much regularity that is amenable to quantitative analysis is a core feature of scientific analysis, so that for example scientists can abstract away from certain features of an experimental setup in extrapolating to general statements. Saying otherwise is simply letting science bleed out into a vague sort of being reasonable.
BlogPost - Best Restore Sanity Rally signs: Vote for your favorite slogan here
Posted at 2:57pm, Monday Nov 01, 2010
John: So, the signs are basically of three types:

1) (Some subset of particularly conservative) conservatives are dumb/evil.

2) We have shared values, so can't we all just get along?

3) Both sides are crazy; let's just watch South Park.

Stewart, at least in word, was encouraging more along the lines of 2 and a little bit of 3. I was actually surprised to see a good number of those mixed into this (admittedly tiny) sampling. I wonder what the overall distribution looked like?
In Which I Praise a Combat Uniform
Posted at 2:24pm, Monday Nov 01, 2010
tvchurch: Didn't read the article, just wanted to share the picture. Camo uniforms? Seems unfair to the other team since they CAN'T SEE YOU!
4-Year-Old Can Be Sued, Judge Rules in Bike Case -
Posted at 1:40am, Monday Nov 01, 2010
John: James, you might find this interesting in light of the feminist argument we were talking about. Children are one of the few areas where tort law departs from its "objective" reasonable person standard. That is a child is generally judged by the standard of the reasonably prudent child of similar age and experience.
Posted at 1:00am, Monday Nov 01, 2010
Mike: Very well done little comic.
A wiki for spaces. A town anyone can edit. School architecture founded on mnemonic principles
Posted at 5:13pm, Sunday Oct 31, 2010
nikhil: i really like this idea. but silber probably would have failed middle school.
Hyper-Rational Harry
Posted at 2:46pm, Sunday Oct 31, 2010
tvchurch: Oh, you bet I'll be reading this version of HP.
Does Her Face Foretell Her Fate? | Walker Evans, Lucille Burroughs, Daughter of a Cotton Sharecropper -
Posted at 10:21am, Sunday Oct 31, 2010
Chip: A well done portrait can tell a lot.
Thorn (letter) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Posted at 7:05pm, Saturday Oct 30, 2010
nikhil: thorn!
Further assorted links
Posted at 7:03pm, Saturday Oct 30, 2010
nikhil: #3
There is a There, There: The Political Geography of Cyberspace
Posted at 6:27pm, Friday Oct 29, 2010
tvchurch: Nice use of Gibson.
Popularizing Arrow's Theorem II
Posted at 11:23am, Friday Oct 29, 2010
tvchurch: "Arrow showed that when a group chooses, there are no underlying preferences to uncover--not even in theory."

Sounds like a good critique of ideologies that cite a 'general will' of public (I'm looking at you Rousseau).
Panic! We got our man
Posted at 10:52pm, Thursday Oct 28, 2010
Adam: This is somewhat absurd.
4-Year-Old Can Be Sued, Judge Rules in Bike Case -
Posted at 10:07pm, Thursday Oct 28, 2010
Chip: hmmmmm...
Hands-on: Rock Band 3′s Keytar, a Surprisingly Serious $80 MIDI Keyboard
Posted at 2:59am, Thursday Oct 28, 2010
Avi: It's amazing that a game development company managed to put this out for $80. The MIDI port is just amazing.
The Piña Colada Revisited
Posted at 2:51am, Thursday Oct 28, 2010
Avi: I can't remember the last time I disagreed so strongly with this otherwise fantastic collection of drinking stories. This abomination is not a pina colada.

Of course it's going to be so sweet if you use sugar! And how do you get the proper consistency without cream of coconut?

Conservatives Abandon Education Reform
Posted at 4:35pm, Wednesday Oct 27, 2010
John: I edited an article written by, among other people, a senior adviser to W on No Child Left Behind. Very thoughtful and had both lots of good things to say about Obama's education reform as well as constructive criticism backed up by data. Not that this really contradicts Chait's point, as this guy could easily fit into the "tiny handful of conservative education policy specialists."
Gator Machete Junior
Posted at 1:15pm, Wednesday Oct 27, 2010
Avi: I just wanted to share the machete awesomeness with you guys.
Posted at 12:58pm, Wednesday Oct 27, 2010
Chip: I wonder when the word "oriental" when used in this way become taboo/politically incorrect.
Rock Band 3, Behind the Scenes: When A Music Game Gets More Real
Posted at 12:09pm, Wednesday Oct 27, 2010
Avi: This is fascinating if you're not familiar with what has been going on.

There's a real, legitimate 6-string electric guitar as a controller coming.
BlogPost - Four Loko fears run rampant across college campuses
Posted at 9:02am, Wednesday Oct 27, 2010
John: This sounds like what I used to do freshman year, which was abundantly stupid. Of course, when I was doing it, it was at least pretty obvious that it was dangerous because I was mixing hard alcohol and caffeine pills rather than drinking something from a brightly colored can.
Ezra Klein - David Brooks didn't always dismiss policy achievements
Posted at 6:05am, Wednesday Oct 27, 2010
John: I'm inclined to give Brooks a pass on this inconsistency. He's an op-ed columnist in the Times whose basic role is to tell liberal elites things they don't want to hear. It's not like either of these articles is totally off-base. They're just simplified sides of the same coin.
Arts & Letters Daily (26 Oct 2010)
Posted at 7:24pm, Tuesday Oct 26, 2010
nikhil: #1 is short and sweet
David Cameron-ism and The Deficit Commission
Posted at 6:39pm, Tuesday Oct 26, 2010
John: Bingo bango bongo. Go for it commission!

But an eensy bit more nuance is required here. Not all tax expenditures are in the form of deductions with the resulting upside-down subsidies (i.e. where rich people get a bigger tax break than poor people). Many these days are credits that do more or less exactly what Chait is suggesting, although they are somewhat more progressive as they allow people to still take the standard deduction, rather than itemizing, which is a boon only to the poor.

But anyway, more attention for tax expenditures is an eminently good thing--they account for about 7% of GDP per year ($980 billion in 2008) and are rarely scrutinized.
Texting While Driving (and Invading My Privacy While Texting)
Posted at 6:04pm, Tuesday Oct 26, 2010
John: As long as it was only the timing of outgoing texts that was revealed, which is all that is necessary, I would be totally happy with this. Limits the moral hazard problem with minimal privacy concerns.
Reasons You Might Be Denied a Rifle/Shotgun Permit in New York City
Posted at 4:01pm, Tuesday Oct 26, 2010
John: This is just poor politics from the perspective of gun control advocates. This is sure to get shot down and thus give some precedent behind invalidating gun control legislation that is less than an outright ban.
Luna Luna, Rabbits and You: Japanese Women's Health Comes to the iPhone - Japan Real Time - WSJ
Posted at 8:09am, Tuesday Oct 26, 2010
Chip: "Cute" has no bounds in Japan.
What's really behind that $1.3 trillion deficit?
Posted at 7:28pm, Monday Oct 25, 2010
John: The distinction between revenue decreases and spending increases is largely illusory. A large part of the decrease in revenue over the past couple of years is due to tax expenditure measures in the stimulus act, i.e. provisions that are nominally tax cuts but are actually equivalent to sending out checks to subsidize various things.

So You're Planning To Get Killed On Election Day
Posted at 7:05pm, Monday Oct 25, 2010
John: Somewhat bolsters Brooks' point.
Probably Bad News: Pregnancy FAIL
Posted at 2:44pm, Monday Oct 25, 2010
John: Great quote from the husband.
Jesson on Health Policy & the Tax Code
Posted at 2:30pm, Monday Oct 25, 2010
John: Good chapter. Jesson neglects to mention an interesting part of the history that my tax professor told us (I think he's probably telling the truth). The reason the IRS decided to exclude employer-provided health insurance from income in the 40's was not because they wanted to subsidize it (as the policy argument goes today). Instead, they thought it would be an administrative hassle that wasn't worth it given the tiny amounts of money involved at the time. Probably not an argument that would fly now...
Common Sense and the Marginal Student
Posted at 1:14pm, Monday Oct 25, 2010
tvchurch: "I simply consider common sense more reliable than instrumental variables. Fancy econometrics reduces my confidence in my original position, but only slightly."

Not sure my econometrics professor would like that, but I sure do! Especially after that earlier paper I shared on Rainfall Democracy using IV Regs.
Charles Murray’s New Elite Checklist
Posted at 1:08pm, Monday Oct 25, 2010
tvchurch: "There’s a lovely arbitrariness to it."

That's a critique I've often thought of, but couldn't put into words.
Judge Davis refuses request for "reasonable damages" instruction in Capitol v Thomas-Rasset
Posted at 6:29am, Monday Oct 25, 2010
John: This blogger is out to lunch. First, the judge did recognize that statutory damage provisions are subject to Due Process review--he noted that this is the job of the courts and not the jury. The jury's job here is to find whether the conditions required to trigger statutory damages have been met, not to say whether the application of the statute in the case violates the Constitution. If the jury returns an excessively large verdict, then it will be reduced by the court afterwards. Juries do not decide whether statutes are unconstitutional as applied or otherwise.

Second, it's a little weird to call this all a "long standing principle of copyright law." (1) It is a principal not of copyright law, but of punitive damages in civil suits. The application of this doctrine to statutory damages, which are not straight-forwardly punitive in nature but are also designed to allow money damages when actual damages are simply difficult to determine accurately, is not a well-settled matter. From perusing the cases, it looks like courts have more often than not found the doctrine does not apply to the Copyright Act. (2) The whole doctrine that the Due Process Clause places limits on the size of the ratio of punitive damages to actual damages rather than just the absolute size of punitive damages dates back only to 1996.
YouTube - Old Spice | Heart of a Champion starring NFL Superperson Ray Lewis
Posted at 10:19pm, Sunday Oct 24, 2010
Mike: This is amazing.
A rainfall theory of democracy
Posted at 7:06pm, Sunday Oct 24, 2010
tvchurch: Just downloaded this paper to read for later, but I'm not impressed with the premise.

Rainfall? No. Read Bueno de Mesquita, Downs, Smith, Levitsky, and Way on democratization.
11 Things You Didn't Know About Pinball History - Popular Mechanics
Posted at 5:57pm, Sunday Oct 24, 2010
Mike: Really? Pinball was illegal?
The Education of President Obama -
Posted at 11:20am, Sunday Oct 24, 2010
Michael: Interesting window into the White House's view on the its first two years -- must read again and note some specifics
Inside the Senate’s battle over climate change : The New Yorker
Posted at 10:58am, Sunday Oct 24, 2010
Michael: A fascinating and illuminating account of the climate bill's journey through the Senate -- contains interesting tidbits about Lieberman's and Graham's motivations and tactics, as well as some speculation on tactics from the White House.
Sam Harris on Morality
Posted at 2:32am, Sunday Oct 24, 2010
John: I saw you liked this James. Definitely gets a +1 from me.
Captain’s Blog » The Pear: An Excerpt from ‘Beatrice and Virgil’ by Yann Martel
Posted at 2:48pm, Saturday Oct 23, 2010
James: wow! - stunning.
James Somers: I don't know if I've ever read something that so perfectly described a thing.
Avinash Vora: James: I'm glad you liked this. It's easily the highlight of the book.

Everybody: I've shared my favorite sentence with James, but for anybody else: "An apple is not eaten, it is conquered." and "Those who carry a knife and a pear are never afraid of the dark."
What 17 Million Americans Got from a College Degree
Posted at 9:24pm, Friday Oct 22, 2010
tvchurch: What.
Ronald Reagan and Gay Rights
Posted at 1:16pm, Friday Oct 22, 2010
John: The interesting bits begin at graf 6 of the op-ed that begins "Proposition 6 rests..." Somewhat of an unexpected piece.
Insider Trading is Legal for Congressional Insiders
Posted at 7:19am, Friday Oct 22, 2010
John: It's not entirely clear this is true. The statute defines insider trading as "buying or selling a security, in breach of a fiduciary duty or other relationship of trust and confidence, while in possession of material, nonpublic information about the security." Congressmen clearly don't have (under ordinary circumstances) any relevant fiduciary duties, but a Court could easily hold that there is a duty of confidentiality when a member of Congress finds out nonpublic information in their official capacity. I'm pretty sure there simply isn't a case on this. The issue is as much if not more an enforcement problem than what the law is. And it is very clear that this is not a case where Congress created a "loophole" or "exempted" themselves as is sometimes said.
Jello Shots? Yes, Jello Shots.
Posted at 6:46am, Friday Oct 22, 2010
Avi: Mint Julep jello shot? With garnish? How is this not perfect?
Hooters Girl Competes In Contest Thinking She'll Win A Toyota, Actually Wins Toy Yoda
Posted at 10:45pm, Thursday Oct 21, 2010
John: Hooters screwed up on this one

Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 20(2)(a):
Find your flight via visual interface
Posted at 9:37pm, Thursday Oct 21, 2010
nikhil: hey, this wasn't shared to me! i shared this!
G.O.P. Odds of House Majority Now 3-in-4
Posted at 9:31pm, Thursday Oct 21, 2010
John: Apparently fundraising numbers are a factor in the model.
How to write scientific papers
Posted at 1:49pm, Thursday Oct 21, 2010
tvchurch: Really for James and Avi.
Eliezer_Yudkowsky comments on Rationality Quotes: February 2010 - Less Wrong
Posted at 1:45pm, Thursday Oct 21, 2010
tvchurch: James FTW!
Classical economics reading list
Posted at 1:44pm, Thursday Oct 21, 2010
tvchurch: I was at an IHS / Liberty Fund conference last weekend, and the prof leading the discussion was pissed that we read The Wealth of Nations before Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments. She argued that you cannot really understand where Smith is coming from until you get his moral philosophy. He was a philosopher, after all.

I think it's a valid point, and it's one I'll hold onto for a long time.
TARP Makes 8.2% Profit
Posted at 1:40pm, Thursday Oct 21, 2010
tvchurch: Excellent, the govt. in the money making business!

Social Annealing
Posted at 1:39pm, Thursday Oct 21, 2010
tvchurch: "New Years Resolution Effect"

Excellent name for it, Armsey.
The path to elite leadership
Posted at 1:29pm, Thur