Saturday, July 11, 2009
I was immediately pronounced "Captain." Yes, that thingie on my right arm says "Spielfuehrer"; I think I am going to ask the folks back at Duke to start calling me "Der Lehrerfuehrer." It has a certain ring to it. (oh, and yes, I realize they were mocking me, by making me Spielfuehrer, but they were mocking me in a friendly way. No, I'm sure of it. All the people trying to hide their laughter, they were just jealous. You know how people are.) I did get a picture of some of the students from my class. F and A, on the right side, both seemed to find all of this rather more amusing than I had hoped. Here is the "after the match" photo. Darned kids. They kicked our butts, 6-2. I contributed two assists, I should note. Both for the other team. (Look, the guy I kicked it to was wide open, and in front of the net. Sure, he was on the THEIR team, not mine, but he WAS OPEN. My teammates were not very impressed. "You are supposed to STOP them from scoring!) If you click on the photo, you will see IDs for Der Geist, Martin, Hajo the intrepid, and of course me (still wearing the Spielfuehrer armband). After the game, Der Geist went around complaining that he had forgotten to bring any underwear. This act played to mixed reviews, at best.
But it was a terrific evening. Very fun, a real sense of fellowship. I was proud to be a member of the department, if only temporarily.
Gad Saad & John Vongas, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, forthcoming
Using evolutionary psychology as a theoretical framework, it is argued that conspicuous consumption serves as a means by which men communicate their social status to prospective mates. Accordingly, men's endocrinological responses, particularly their testosterone levels, are responsive to fluctuations in their status as triggered by acts of conspicuous consumption. Study 1 reports that men's testosterone levels increased and decreased partially (directionally), after driving an expensive sports car and an old family sedan, respectively. Additionally, the location of the drive, either a busy downtown area or a semi-deserted highway, partially moderated this response. Study 2 demonstrates that when men's social status was threatened by the wealth displays of a male confederate in the presence of a female moderator, their testosterone levels increased. This is suggestive of an evolved mechanism for responding to intra-sexual challenges. Collectively, these constitute the first set of studies to measure hormonal outcomes in consumer behavior.
(Nod to Kevin L)
Did Thomas Hobbes have at least some glimmerings of the origins of subjective marginalist thinkings in economics?
Justice of Actions, is by writers divided into commutative, Distributive; ...Commutative they place in the equality of value of the things contracted for; and distributive, in the distribution of equall benefit, to men of equall merit. As if it were Injustice to sell dearer than we buy; or to give more to a man than he merits. The value of all things contracted for, is measured by the Appetite of the Contractors: and therefore the just value, is that which they be contented to give (Leviathan, chapter 15, paragraph 15)
Friday, July 10, 2009
Well this year the bulls are not fooling around, as they claimed their 15th victim since the "festival" started keeping records in the early 1900s.
According to the NY daily news:
"The San Fermin festival Web site said the unidentified man was gored in the neck and lung during a run in which a rogue bull named Cappuccino separated from the pack, which is among the worst things that can happen at Spain's most popular fiesta."
"Rogue"? Really? Why not "Rational" or "Unhappy to be stampeded through the streets only to be ritually slaughtered later in front of a cheering crowd"
Spain is a beautiful country that I greatly enjoyed visiting but there is something deeply F-d up about a place where this is the "most popular fiesta" in the country.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
"BERLIN (Reuters) – A drunk German sparked a slow-speed after stealing a tractor to get home from a nightclub after his girlfriend left without him, said police, who used to try to stop the vehicle.
"After his girlfriend abandoned him in a night club, the 23-year-old driver, who doesn't own a license, commandeered the vehicle to make his way home," a police spokesman said on Monday.
Six began trailing the tractor, which was chugging along at 20 km (12 miles) an hour, after they were alerted to the theft at about 5 a.m. Saturday.
Officers tried holding up stop signs and directing pepper spray through the open window to bring the driver to a halt.
They then tried unsuccessfully to end his getaway by throwing nail belts on the road, but the tractor's tires proved too thick, said the police spokesman.
The 40-minute chase finally came to an end when officers shot at the tractor's tires after it rammed into a police car and collided with another vehicle."
My favorite part? "Officers tried holding up stop signs!" Having visited Germany a couple times, I honestly can't believe that didn't work. Maybe the dude was really Austrian.
1. Bob Ethridge (D- ) actually managed to summon moral outrage about the chance that some large corporate chicken farms were about to go bankrupt. Bob's solution: Quick! Give them other people's money!
"I introduced this legislation because these farmers should immediately be eligible for disaster assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” Etheridge said in a statement.
“I will not stand by as rural America’s poultry producers are left abandoned by this economic downturn. We have a tool to help them and this legislation would give them a strong chance to get back on their feet.”
I always thought that a disaster was a hurricane, or flood. This is just straight highway Bobbery, though. Wow.
2. Barack Obama tries to start war with Italy:
President Barack Obama presented Italian President Giorgio Napolitano this morning with a gift from North Carolina.
Obama, meeting with Napolitano prior to the G-8 Summit, presented the Italian president with a variety of American wines. Included in the package was a 2008 Raffaldini Vineyards Vermentino.
Raffaldini Vineyards is in Ronda, between Winston-Salem and Wilkesboro, and the vinyard's owners were thrilled to have their wine included in the gift.
Nothing can possibly go wrong with this... It's not like the Italians know anything about wine, right? Ooops. I predict that Italian Air Force bombers are taking off right now, heading for Diego Garcia in retribution.
3. NC Senate Remembers Vernon Malone. I remember Vernon Malone, also. Last September, at a forum, a few weeks before the election, I espied Senator Malone standing by himself, having some refreshment at the soft drink table. I went over and introduced myself (we had met several times, but I knew he wouldn't remember, no reason he would, he met lots of folks, every day).
He was a very civil and genteel man, and took my hand and leaned over to hear what I had to say. As soon as he heard my name, he literally jumped back, dropped my hand, and half ran across the room to stand with some other folks. He did not look back.
I thought it was odd, but a moment's reflection reveals the explanation: He didn't want anyone to take his picture talking to me. There were in fact lots of reporters and media there. And, in the Senator's defense, I see his point. It would seem disloyal for a senior Democratic Senator to be seen talking to the Libertarian Governor candidate. No harm in it, but why take a chance of having to explain it, especially if I got free ink from it. It was nothing personal, just good political instincts on his part.
So, Senator Malone, you were a fine man, North Carolina misses you, and I don't blame you for high-tailin' it. You moved pretty fast for a 77 year old guy, I have to admit.
The Heritage of Herding and Southern Homicide: Examining the Ecological Foundations of the Code of Honor Thesis
Robert Baller, Matthew Zevenbergen & Steven Messner Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, August 2009, Pages 275-300
The authors examine the ecological foundations of the thesis of a "code of honor" as an explanation for southern homicide. Specifically, they consider the effects of indicators of ethnic groups that migrated from herding economies (the Scotch-Irish), cattle and pig herding, and the relative importance of agricultural production across different areas in the Old South. Using county-level data on argument-related White male homicide offenders (1983 to 1998) from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Supplementary Homicide Reports, the authors observe the theoretically expected positive interaction between the proxy measure of the presence of Scotch-Irish communities, namely, the percentage of churches that were Presbyterian in 1850, and the number of cattle and pigs per capita in 1850. They also find a negative effect of an index of crop production in 1850 on argument-related offending. The overall pattern of these findings is highly consistent with the herding thesis advanced by Nisbett and Cohen.
Herding economies? That's full of sheep dip. It's pretty simple: if you give a bunch of Scottish Presbyterians guns, a LOT of people are going to die. And you can call it a code of honor. But it's more like one of Angus's jokes:
What is the origin of copper wire? It was a shortage: Two Scots, one penny.
*GW Bush may never have said this. But I bet he did.
(Nod to Kevin L)
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
"German police called to clear a road of a dead badger found the animal in question had in fact gorged itself on over-ripe, fermented cherries and, blind drunk, staggered out into the middle of the road.
"The animal's stomach had turned the fruit to alcohol and the badger was, to put it crudely, drunk as a skunk," said a police statement on Wednesday. "In addition, the badger was suffering from diarrhoea studded with cherry stones."
Prodding the reluctant beast with a stick, officers managed to persuade it to leave the road near the town of Goslar in northwestern Germany and to sleep off his night of excess in a nearby meadow.
"It could not immediately be established whether the badger got into trouble with his wife when he came home in such a state," the tongue-in-cheek police statement concluded."
Link to story with a picture is here.
Mark Elchardus & Bram Spruyt, Social Science Quarterly, June 2009, Pages 446-460
Objective: Using cross-sectional and panel data, this article estimates to what extent the association between students' choice of academic discipline and their sociopolitical attitudes is due to socialization and selection effects.
Methods: This is done on the basis of seven incoming cohorts of students and one panel of students. Changes in the panel are controlled for contextual influences by comparing them to a control group.
Results: Both selection and socialization effects are observed. The first are, however, much stronger than the second.
Conclusions: Although the literature, and particularly the more popular literature, highlights socialization effects, these turn out to be very modest. Future research should address the questions of how and why students select academic disciplines in a way that establishes strong relations between those disciplines and their sociopolitical attitudes.
Interesting. I think this means that people are confused even before they BECOME sociologists.
Bust size and hitchhiking: A field study
Nicolas Guéguen: Perceptual and Motor Skills, December 2007, Pages 1294-1298
To test the effect of a woman's bust size on the rate of help offered, 1200 male and female French motorists were tested in a hitchhiking situation. A 20-yr.-old female confederate wore a bra which permitted variation in the size of cup to vary her breast size. She stood by the side of a road frequented by hitchhikers and held out her thumb to catch a ride. Increasing the bra-size of the female-hitchhiker was significantly associated with an increase in number of male drivers, but not female drivers, who stopped to offer a ride.
Experimental pain thresholds influenced by sex of experimenter
K. Gijsbers & F. Nicholson, Perceptual and Motor Skills, December 2005, Pages 803-807
Thresholds for pressure pain were tested in 64 adult human subjects (age: M=22.0 yr., SD=7.5). The subjects were young adults drawn from a student population. They were divided into two groups of men and two groups of women, with 16 participants in each group. A female experimenter tested one group of men and a male experimenter tested the other group. The women were tested in a similar way by an experimenter of the same sex for one group and the opposite sex for the other group. The two experimenters were dressed in a manner that emphasised their gender roles. The men tested by a female experimenter showed a higher average pain threshold than the men tested by a male experimenter, but there was no difference in the average pain thresholds of the two groups of women.
Testing for telepathy in connection with e-mails
Rupert Sheldrake & Pamela Smart, Perceptual and Motor Skills, December 2005, Pages 771-786
This study investigated possible telepathic communication in connection with e-mails. On each trial, there were four potential e-mailers, one of whom was elected at random by the experimenter. One minute before a prearranged time at which the e-mail was to be sent, the participant guessed who would send it. 50 participants (29 women and 21 men) were recruited through an employment web site. Of 552 trials, 235 (43%) guesses were hits, significantly above the chance expectation of 25%. Further tests with 5 participants (4 women, 1 man, ages 16 to 29) were videotaped continuously. On the filmed trials, the 64 hits of 137 (47%) were significantly above
(Major Nod to Kevin L)
For growing marijuana.
On. her. FRONT. PORCH.
"It's a brilliant plan. They'll never catch me, see? It's hiding in plain sight, see? Have you ever heard of anyone growing MJ on the front porch?"
I'm no fan of this particularly dumb law, but the police are in fact obliged to enforce it. At least go with the BACK porch, I think.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
There are two places you don't want to be if you value your safety.
One is laid up in a trailer with Sweet Thang watching "Green Acres" reruns when a tornado strikes.
The other is standing between the Rev. Jesse Jackson and a hot microphone when a black celebrity dies.
Just think of a famous black person who has died within the past 30 years. Now try to picture Jesse not at the funeral.
You can bet your last copy of "Thriller" that when Michael Jackson is laid to rest today, Jesse will be there.
The reverend has become a latter-day Zelig, the Woody Allen character who turned up everywhere throughout history. The tragic part is that like Zelig, too often he's just part of the backdrop.
You may agree with Barry, or not. But you know what he thinks. 'Cause he tells you.
And the only counterargument I usually get is, "But the government wouldn't do this unless there is a good reason!" A variant, in other words, of "I was just following orders!"
Look, I admit that the U.S. has had some problems lately, blindly following our leaders into an unjust war, the Patriot Act, and the insane war on drugs. But...Germany? Are you kidding me? I would have thought the whole early-to-mid century experience would have made citizens skeptical of the claims of government.
It has had the opposite effect. Germans simply assume that anything the government tells them to do must be (1) good for the individual, (2) good for the society, and (3) good for the environment. No need to check, no evidence counts, it is simple and abject faith that the government is always right. (Karl Marx famously said that if Germans were going to stage a protest to shut down a train station, they would buy a train ticket first.)
Then, when we come to an obvious clusterf**k, like the "Abwrackprämie" program, they say, "Ah, we need to have some reforms, and spend more money. Then this program will work. It is a good idea, it just hasn't been implemented correctly."
Um...no. It is a BAD idea, and spending more money on it will only make it worse. Here is a really insightful article on the "buy back," which has been a disaster in nearly every way. It is expensive, it has not helped the German auto companies, and it is BAD. FOR. THE. ENVIRONMENT.
Government is dominated by organized interest groups, out for profit. That's it, that's all you need to know. Everything else is just eyewash. The buy back program is a payoff to the car companies, and labor groups. It has nothing to do with the environment, except when it comes to selling the program to you saps who pay the bills.
To their credit, real German environmentalists, who actually DO care about the environnment, have come to this realization also. It makes no economic sense to scrap the cars, when they have lots of useful life left (first reuse, THEN recycle, right?). The problem is that if the cars are not scrapped, then they continue to pollute, in other countries where they will probably last for another 200,000k kilometers.
Jürgen Resch, who heads a German environmental group called Deutsche Umwelthilfe, said he expected "hundreds of thousands" of scrapping-bonus cars to be exported. "They will go on damaging the environment with emissions," he said, and wind up disassembled in countries where the scrapping standards are "far lower than ours."
Don't reform, folks. Abolish. Stop the madness.
Now the U.S. has a similar, perhaps even more ambitious, program. Not surprisingly, the German program has had some....
"... unintended consequences. First, the obvious car to buy, when an owner turns in a clunker, is small and cheap. That means sales of Hyundais, Dacias, Skodas and European-model Fords have been better stimulated by the scrapping bonus in Germany than sales of Mercedes sedans or BMWs. By the end of March, only about 24 percent of the bonus money had gone toward German-made vehicles — above all Opels and VWs. In May the German share had risen to 40 percent, according to a report by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (the Verband der Automobilindustrie).
The other problem, though, is regulating what happens to old cars. These schemes are no good for the environment if the clunkers don't get junked. A newsmagazine called Monitor, a sort of German 60 Minutes, examined the fate last February of a decent but down-at-the-heels 1994 Mercedes turned in for the scrapping bonus. The avenues for a junk dealer to re-sell a car that wasn't, in fact, junk, were numerous and tempting.
"It's an invitation to fraud," said Michael Wacker, a burly auto-parts dealer who pointed to a halfway decent VW resting on a hydraulic lift in his yard. "That's only got 62,000 miles on it. Plenty of people would like to drive something like that."
The market for slightly used, slightly gas-guzzling cars in Poland and the Czech Republic, not to mention Africa or Russia, is a lucrative reason for some junk dealers not to scrap still-drivable cars. The Monitor journalists had no trouble finding people to export their Mercedes from Germany in spite of documents claiming it should have been scrapped locally; and of course it's just as easy to pollute the climate from Russia or Africa as from Germany or the United States." (Source)
I have to admit, I am pretty excited about the US program. Here is the list of cars owned at Haus Mungowitz (yes, we have six cars. Ask NeanderBill):
1. 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan (170k miles) (18 mpg)
2. 1995 Ford Mustang (185k miles) (16 mpg)
3. 2001 Lincoln Town Car (105k miles) (22 mpg)
4. 2006 Ford F-150 full size pickup truck (40k miles) (15 mpg)
5. 2001 Ford E-150 conversion van (80k miles) (12 mpg)
6. 2005 Toyota Corolla (48k miles) (35 mpg)
The sum of the values of 1, 2, and 3 is about $1,000, maybe. But I am happy to do my public duty, and sell them three or four times their value to Barack Obama, as long as he pays me personally. My scruples would prevent me taking actual TAX dollars, of course. Of course, now that I know that it is my public DUTY to take the tax money, for the good of the environment...I'll have to think about it.
A. Kemasang, Race & Class, July 2009, Pages 69-83
Abstract: Tea is and has for long been so ubiquitous a part of daily life, in the UK
particularly, that its true significance remains almost invisible. Yet, as this article shows, it has nonetheless been of unprecedented importance in the historical, social and economic development of Britain, from the eighteenth century onwards, and not only as a major plantation-grown commodity of colonial trade. Indeed, its knock-on health benefits, as a counter to alcoholic alternatives and insanitary water supplies, were of primary importance to the growth and maintenance of the early industrial working class - and hence to the very development of Britain's early industrial and colonial supremacy.
The American Century? Migration and the Voluntary Social Contract
Jonathon Moses, Politics & Society, forthcoming
Abstract: This piece argues that free migration was a central if implicit part of the
liberal social contract and that America's founders were both aware of this and exploited it to legitimate their new state. The piece begins by describing this uniquely American contribution to liberal political thought. It then juxtaposes this contribution against the nature of our own international order, to show just how foreign the American Century has become. The piece closes with a short depiction of what an American Century would look like today - were it true to this early ideal - and comments on its feasibility.
Our Forgotten Founders: Reconstruction, Public Education, and Constitutional
Tom Donnelly Yale Working Paper, March 2009
Abstract: In this Article, I will consider a question that has been largely ignored by legal scholars: What role has public education played in constructing (or reinforcing) a constitutional culture that celebrates our Founding Fathers, but gives short shrift to their Reconstruction counterparts? To that end, I will look at the constitutional stories we tell our schoolchildren about the Founding generation and their Reconstruction counterparts. In particular, I will focus on the construction of constitutional heroes within these two key periods. First, I will use the Founding narrative as my baseline. From there, I will compare that account to our textbooks' treatment of Reconstruction. In the end, today's high school textbooks tend to praise the Founding generation and canonize certain key Founding Fathers, while, at the same time, largely ignoring Reconstruction's key players and
underemphasizing the constitutional revolution our Forgotten Founders envisioned (and began to wage). Our Reconstruction Founders deserve a more prominent place in the public's consciousness - and in the constitutional stories we tell our schoolchildren. If today's schools teach our children to revere the Founding generation by emphasizing their achievements and largely ignoring their shortcomings, our schools should (at the very least) stress the ambition of our Reconstruction Founders - even if they did not fully succeed in their efforts - and connect their incompletely - realized vision to the expansion of individual freedom and equality in the twentieth century.
Monday, July 06, 2009
The Muriqui (which is an indian word meaning "happy men of the forest") are endangered but their population in the reserve is steadily growing.
We also saw some capuchin and howler monkeys!
Here is a slideshow:
Martin was assigned to help me give a major university-wide talk. It had been pretty widely advertised, all around the...well...university. We expected a decent crowd (meaning, since I was the speaker, more than about three, which is the number that SHOULD come out to hear me).
Anyway, Martin has the key to the cabinet, and we open it up. It had to look like two Neandertals trying to figure out a VCR. "Why flash 12! 12! 12!? And what is 12, anyway?" "HUNH. Me not know."
We poked and pushed buttons, and I went and got a VGA cable from my office. (For some reason, you have to bring your own VGA cable, to connect a laptop. Strange, since everything else is provided.) I pushed the "Aus" button, on the theory that...well, I didn't have a theory. Of course, that turned the beamer off, and we had to wait to recycle it.
Never did get the thing to connect. Martin went and got the hausmeister, who was not in. Martin walked back and forth 20 times, reporting back, while I pressed buttons and grimaced. On the 12th trip, Martin reported that the hausmeister was in fact in his office, but on the phone. On the 20th trip, the hausmeister accompanied Martin back. The HM opened the door, and pressed the big, master "ein" button. And then he said something in German. I assume it was something on the order of, "Lots of electronic equipment works better if you turn it on! Boy, are you guys dumb!"
And it did. Work better. When we turned it on. I blame Martin for this.
Anyway, it all worked, and we had an hour before the talk, which was to start at 6. Except that 6 means 6:15, in bizarro world Germany academics. (As I have written before). So, as I left, I said, "See you at 5:45, Martin!" And he said, "See you at 6:15!"
And both of us thought, "Wait, he can't have that right. I must have misheard him."
I got back at 5:45. And there is no one in the building, anywhere. I start to freak out (I do have a time fetish, and I hate, hate, HATE to be late.) A few people show up at 6:05, and one of them, mirabile dictu, has a KEY. The freakin' key that I need to open the cabinet, and set up the projector (and turn on the "Ein" key, by the way).
We barely get set up in time.
Martin strolls in, at 6:14. Which would have been fine, except that he HAD THE KEY. If someone else had not had a key, my head might have exploded by this time.
So...when Martin comments that Ryan Smith was traded to the LA Kings, I am trying to be happy. Martin, inexplicably, is a big LA Kings fan. That's like being a Kansas City Royals fan in baseball, except that the Royals were once good. (Interesting, btw, that there was some bad blood between Smyth and the Kings, not so long ago. These things do blow over, once he's a teammate, but still...)
Anyway, props to Ryan Smyth, and to Martin. And next time I want to get my OWN key.
Sunday, July 05, 2009
2. Steve McNair found dead in condo. Ick.
23 years ago today we were going to the second wedding reception at the Elks Club, in Westerly, RI. The wedding had been at 9 am, and I hadn't slept at all the night before. Then we drove to a bad hotel outside of Boston, where we spent our wedding night. My friends had loaded every part of Donna's suitcase, including her pill bottles, with rice. Took years to live down the rice thing, and to get all the rice out of our luggage and pockets of clothing. Donna was so mad she stayed in the bathroom of the hotel for two hours and cried. Nice wedding night. "Honey? Sweetie? Are you okay?" "NO! I hate you and your friends! Don't you DARE touch me."
Next morning, before dawn, we flew to Bermuda, for our honeymoon.
My wife is a better person than I am in every way, except one: I married better than she did!
Happy anniversary, dear....
Peter Jonason, Norman Li & Margaret Cason Journal of Sex Research, forthcoming
Abstract: Traditionally, research on romantic and sexual relationships has focused on
1-night stands and monogamous pairs. However, as the result of men and women pursuing their ideal relationship types, various compromise relationships may emerge. One such compromise is explored here: the "booty call." The results of an act-nomination and frequency study of college students provided an initial definition and exploration of this type of relationship. Booty calls tend to utilize various communication mediums to facilitate sexual contact among friends who, for men, may represent low-investment, attractive sexual partners and, for women, may represent attractive test-mates. The relationship is discussed as a compromise between men's and women's ideal mating strategies that allows men greater sexual access and women an ongoing opportunity to evaluate potential long-term mates.
(Nod to Kevin L)