News

Loading...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I Thought It Was Just Wabulon

Who drank pickle juice, when I found all of the pickle jars in my house drained of liquid. But now I realize that, once again, I had just failed to realize that Wabulon was ahead of his time: pickleback shots are presently all the rage in NYC.

Owsley Is Dead

Details here.

Song about Owsley here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Difficulty of Predicting Human Action, Part II

So ESPN had fourteen experts pick their final four for the NCAA Tournament. That gives us 56 picks for the final four teams. How many were correct? Two. That's a 3.5% success rate.

Shoulder, Meet Chip. Chip, Meet Shoulder.

For some of the folks at the Mises Institute, life is one giant conspiracy denying them and theirs credit. For instance, I'm doing some work on Nozick at present, and ran across this:

"Many of us felt Nozick's book drew heavily upon Murray Rothbard's work without sufficient credit — indeed, that the whole work was intended as a limited-governnment response to Murray's anarcho-capitalism — though Nozick did grudgingly recognize Murray in the book's 'Acknowledgements.'"

OK, first of all, in the "Acknowledgements," Nozick says that it was a long conversation with Rothbard that inspired him to think about individual anarchist theory at all. What the heck is "grudging" about that? Was there a little smudge of grudge on that page of Blumert's copy of Anarchy, State, and Utopia?

Secondly, what about the charge of insufficient credit in the rest of the book? Well, Rothbard is in the index six times. That is more than Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Hegel combined. Oooh, what a dis!

Incentives Matter

You may have seen the contention that Pete Maravich would have averaged 57 points a game in his collegiate career if only there had been a three-point shot. That is up 13 from the (remarkable) 44 he did average, so that means he would have to make 13 three-pointers per game.

Now, given that the NCAA record for three-pointers per game is currently five-and-a-half or so for a full season, this seems absurd. Maravich, for an entire career, was going to average two-and-one-half times the current season record pace?! When we learn that it was a former LSU (Maravich's school) basketball coach (Dale Brown) that made this claim, our scepticism may grow. But it is contemplating incentives that really debunk this idea. Let us say Brown's charting of Maravich's shots was completely accurate, and it really is true that 13 of his shots per game were from behind where the three-point arc is today. Think of the defense! With no three-point shot, they are reasoning, "Well, better to have Maravich shoot from way out there and hit 40% against us than to go out and cover him, have him drive around us, and hit 50%." Once you add an extra point per long shot made, that calculation changes dramatically. Now, the defense is thinking, "If we let Maravich take open three-pointers, he averages 1.2 points per shot. If we make him drive, he averages 1 point per shot. Get out and get a hand in his face!"

In other words, Brown ran his analysis as if institutions (and the incentives they create) don't matter. But they matter a lot. (Note that Maravich would also be more motivated to take long shots with a three-point shot available to him.)

Most Useless Site on the Internet?

Just might be Answers.com. I'd guess 50% of the answers I see there are either flawed or pure nonsense. Here someone asks what the most three-point shots made in a University of North Carolina home basketball game is, and the "top" answer is that once Donyell Marshall hit twelve in an NBA game!

What's interesting is the Answers.com clearly intended to take advantage of the "wisdom of crowds" in the same way that Wikipedia does. So why are Wikipedia's results so much better? I'm just guessing at this point, but I'd say it's the editing. On Wikipedia, nonsense quickly vanishes from the main article (although of course it lingers in the history files). I don't think Answers.com provides a way to make a bad answer disappear.

Someone Wrote It!

"but I think the body of work for an entire season should be included" -- ESPN message boards

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Difficulty of Prediction

We just checked my wife's tourney pool. In roughly thirty brackets, one person had VCU getting into the round of 32, then losing. That's the only person who picked them to get past the round of 64.

The New Ad Trend

Shows the product being advertised as turning the consumer into a self-centered, immature jerk. And this is supposed to make you want the product! There's the McDonald's ad where the son gets his license, and to congratulate him, his family takes him to McDonald's (say what?), and then make him drive around while they eat all of the food. And I just watched one of Subway's new ads showing their sandwiches turning adults into four-year-old children who deceive each other to steal the other person's food.

Ah, Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal indeed!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Military Intervention as a...

I recall, many years ago, when Wabulon and I were dropping a friend off at his apartment, Wabulon turned to me and asked, "What are we doing?"

"Why, we're dropping Scott off."

"We're not staying?"

"Well, I think if Scott wanted us to stay, he would ask."

Wabulon looked shocked. "Oh, no, no one could possibly know if they want you to stay until you have been over for at least four or five days."

I thought of this today when, on the drive to work, Sandy asked me, "Why do you think we're really in Libya?"

"Whoa," I responded, "let's not rush things here. Are we even sure why we're in Afghanistan yet? Sandy, military intervention is a discovery procedure. It may take you years to figure out why you really invaded some foreign country."

But the damned planning mentality always wants to know everything in advance.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Questa Settimana in il Wall Street Journal

Un articolo di interesse: Tony Blair scrive come "Confronting Gadhafi Is Not Enough." Capite che Gadhafi è pazzo, e ha missili!

Il articolo è accompagnato da una fotografia di Tony Blair quando stava vendendo Gadhafi i missili.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Weakest Argument for Anarchism Ever?

You be the judge.

Roderick Long (aka "BerserkRL"?) argues against Tyler Cowen's anti-anarchism argument as follows:

"Tyler Cowen... said what happens is that basically this [system of competing protection agencies] forms into a cartel, and it’s going to be in the interest of this cartel to sort of turn itself into a government. And any new agency that comes along, they can just boycott it.... Sure. All kinds of things could happen. Half the country could commit suicide tomorrow. But, is it likely?"

Well, given that in every single instance, without any exceptions, where we've seen a state of anarchy or semi-anarchy in the past, a government has arisen to fill the vacuum, the answer is, very obviously, "Yes, it's almost a near certainty that Cowen's scenario will play out the way he said it would."

But, I know, in the imaginary trufry market, this would never, ever happen.

Stifling Cognitive Dissonance

It's interesting how libertarians are able to shut down the cognitive dissonance between their utopian fantasy of the "trufry market" and the nearly constant barrage of lies and nonsense we are fed by actual corporations operating in the actual market. It's a minor example, but I just watched an ad in which a "doctor" claims that "all of my patients are my top priority." That's just a straightforward abuse of the plain meaning of the words "all," "top," and "priority." And yet this passes for valid communication for many market advocates.

UPDATE: By the way, Jeff Tucker just posted an article in which he actually concludes that capitalists are entitled to lie to us, because they have brought us nice ice cream!

Friday, March 11, 2011

For St. Patrick's Day...

have you considered a little roll in the filth?

"By way of compensation, however the poorer districts of Dublin are among the most hideous and repulsive to be seen in the world. True, the Irish character, which under some circumstances, is comfortable only in the dirt, has some share in this..." -- Friedrich Engels, Conditions of the Working Class in England

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Because Wars Are So Fun!

"With the Libyan unrest now a full-fledged civil war watched by the entire world, idly standing by is no longer an option." -- Benny Avni

Bob, is it OK to call Avni an idiot?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Come One, Come All!

To the first annual meeting of the Ciceronian Society, where I am presenting during the first panel, "Traditionalist Critiques of Enlightenment Political Thought." (And, my libertarian friends, I know sometimes you think I'm picking on you, but it's pretty much most of the political thought since 1600 that I reject!)

Based on Their Entire Body of Work from the Season Throughout the Entire Year!

I've commented before on this annoying phenomenon, but it's getting worse: now we have people writing "their body of work from the season," when "body of work" is already just a trendy, pretentious synonym for "season." Here you go:

"Adams said that officials are selected, much like teams for the NCAA tournament, on the basis of their body of work from the season..."

Now, this could have been written, "on the basis of their entire season," which is four words shorter and conveys no less information. But it's like an echo chamber of mindlessness: One writer hears a sportscaster saying "body of work," so he writes it, so it is seen by an announcer, so he says it, so it is seen by a writer, so he writes it...

Friday, March 04, 2011

The Genius of Max Weber

Hear it praised over at ThinkMarkets.

Where Can I Buy Trufries?

Where is this "trufry market"? It sounds like a great place -- apparently, nothing ever goes wrong there! In fact, it's impossible for things to go wrong there. I want to go check it out, but when I sesarch for it, I can't find it on Mapquest:

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Help! I'm Being Oppressed!

Here's the kind of indignities through which the English kings used to put the American colonists:

"In 1661 King Charles II explicitly forbade Massachusetts from executing anyone for professing Quakerism. In 1684 England revoked the Massachusetts charter, sent over a royal governor to enforce English laws in 1686, and in 1689 passed a broad Toleration act." -- Wikipedia

Can you imagine that? Stopping us from executing Quakers? Viva la revolución!