Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Burt Helm's article on AirBnB

Did an interview with Burt Helm, of INC, on AirBnB

The link is here....

He raises some interesting questions.

Airbnb, a startup which is still not yet eight years old, continues to face many of the same challenges it faced last year: It's trying to retain a folksy, community-driven image even as it surpasses multinational hospitality chains in size. It faces public relations crises when bad things happen in Airbnb homes--most recently, a death in Texas and report of a rape in Spain. And it still runs afoul of local governments who say the company's listings are unlawful.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Optimal Fraud, and Efficiency Fraud

"Deliver the Vote! Micromotives and Macrobehavior in Electoral Fraud"

Ashlea Rundlett & Milan Svolik
American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract: Most election fraud is not conducted centrally by incumbents but rather locally by a machinery consisting of a multitude of political operatives. How does an incumbent ensure that his agents deliver fraud when needed and as much as is needed? We address this and related puzzles in the political organization of election fraud by studying the perverse consequences of two distinct incentive conflicts: the principal-agent problem between an incumbent and his local agents, and the collective action problem among the agents. Using the global game methodology, we show that these incentive conflicts result in a herd dynamic among the agents that tends to either oversupply or undersupply fraud, rarely delivering the amount of fraud that would be optimal from the incumbent's point of view. This equilibrium dynamic explains when and why electoral fraud fails to deliver incumbent victories, why incumbents who enjoy genuine popularity often engage in seemingly unnecessary fraud, and it predicts that the extent of fraud should be increasing in both the incumbent's genuine support and reported results across precincts. A statistical analysis of anomalies in precinct-level results from the 2011-12 Russian legislative and presidential elections supports our key claims.

Nod to Kevin Lewis


@econtalker was kind enough to include me (much more than I deserved) in the 500th episode of "Econ Talk."

The link is here.

Got to tell the Unicorn story, which is also a centerpiece of The Thing Itself.

Thanks so much to Russ Roberts, for having created a new thing in the world.

 For many thousands of people, Mondays are now a good day.

Friday, November 13, 2015


I have not had this experience.  But that may be because (a) most students actually want an education; the students who are focused on subverting education are likely to come from rich families that pay for everything, freeing little Junior and Buffy to be indignant with impunity and (b) my classes just don't promise any of this sort of thing.

So, with the caveat that I have never seen this kind of class, and the warning that this video is actually fairly offensive,  here is one version of "educayshun."

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Holy Toledo!

People I am grooving on Car Seat Headrest (AKA Will Toledo).

Dude has like 10 albums up on Bandcamp! (go to the lower right to see them all)

Now he's signed to Matador and has released a sort of best of compilation from his existing work.

Highly Highly recommended.

Reminds me a bit of Jens Lekman and of White Fence. This is the kind of low fi shit that really floats my aging boat!

Here's one of my favorites:

Monday, November 09, 2015

The TSA does NOT save us from terrorists

There's an old joke:

A:  Elephants are really good at hiding in trees.

B:  Wait, what?  That can't be right.  I've never seen an elephant in a tree.

A:  Well, right.  See how well they hide?

The TSA operates on pretty much the same principle.  There is enormous expense and hassle, including a lot of just aggressively personal abuse (just this week, I saw an old lady yelled at until she burst into tears, just because she had an artificial hip and didn't know what to do).

But there are no terrorist attacks.

See how well the TSA is protecting us from terrorist attacks? usual, Adam Ruins Everything.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

"Genius Faculty" at ILS Freedom Week

Pretty great video.

I like the part that the students talk about the "Genius faculty."  But then they show Steve Horwitz. (Thanks, folks, I'll be here all week!)

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Angus gets nudged!

So Richard Thaler has an NYT op-ed, The Power of Nudges for Good and Bad

You can read it here.

I thought it was a bit unbalanced, and I tweeted the following:

Richard was not pleased and tweeted back (he's pretty aggressive on Twitter):

"Total" is a matter of fact, and can be discussed "Willful" is just a cheap shot.

As to whether or not I misread it, here is Thaler in the piece:

"As far as I know, the government teams in Britain and the United States that have focused on nudging have followed these guidelines scrupulously. But the private sector is another matter. In this domain, I see much more troubling behavior."

So I tweeted a 140 character version of that quote back to him and dropped the mic.

But then Richard tweeted,

@FarmerHayek @ez_angus I have said the opposite dozens of times. Read the book!
— Richard H Thaler (@R_Thaler) October 31, 2015

And then I realized, "hey Angus, you got NUDGED"!!!

Though it's not clear to me how the first sentence in any way incentivizes me to follow the command in the second.