Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

College Campuses? Cripes.

I ranted once about how Academia (among other non-profit institutions) attracted the left because unlike the real world (AKA, the "private sector") you didn't have to produce anything of worth, nor compete, nor have any real skills. Actually, it's probably best you don't because it seems as far as I can tell, Academia's primary purpose is not to educate, but employ those who would otherwise be unemployable.

Thus, when I saw this on Market Power (hail another economist!), I had to post it here as well.

Coase Colored Glasse

Ye, another link for thee to digest. But this is no ordinary regular economist link to digest, but an environmental economics link to digest.

Understand I was never a big fan of environmental economics. I always thought trying to value things like "scenery" and "pollution" was similar to trying to program a model that predicts the minds of women; rather impossible. But hey, that's why we economists insist on using all the letters in the Greek alphabet when developing our formulas. They may be worthless, but, hey, they're pretty and sure impress the heck out of actuaries!

So freshen up on the positive and negative externalities of blogging and pay a visit to Coase Colored Glasses.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Of Producers and Parasites

I found this chart reading an article about the flat tax, and while it's original purpose was to demonstrate that even under a flat tax New Zealand's rich would still be paying the lion's share of the taxes, I noticed that the poor got one heck of a deal (either way) in that they contributed nowhere near the amount of resources they consumed.

Would be curious if anybody has/knows of similar data for the US or other OECD countries.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Every spring and fall a local WWII historical society hosts a hangar dance as a fund raiser. They deck out an old hangar with WWII memorabilia, bring some old WWII planes like the B-25 and P-51 out on the tarmac, and encourage people to show up in vintage attire. Fortunately for me I have an old Army Air Corps uniform and when donned with my bomber jacket I look the part rather well. Add to all of this about 700 people, the majority of which are in uniform and era clothing, and an 18 piece big band, and you have what I deem to be the closest re-enactment we can achieve today of what was the pinnacle of American culture for a glorious, but all too brief four hours.

But I take what brief American-glory-day hours I can get, and this past weekend presented such an opportunity, for there was such a hangar dance at scenic Fleming Field.

I arrived with a cadre of friends and about 20 students as I also teach dance on the side and host field trips to such events. And since most of my friends are just friends, and most of my students are middle aged married folk, I opted to mingle my way into the crowd to see if I could find myself a cute girl or twenty to dance with.

Bethel College, a local uber-religious college where they ban sex, kissing, holding hands and just plain looking at the opposite sex, oddly enough sent no less than 50 female representatives in sort of a "false advertising" sort of way. Of course I didn't know they had such representation until I danced with enough of them to know where they were sitting, who they were talking to, and just how numerous they were. But once ID'd, I knew who not to ask to dance as it would be futile.

This still left of bevy of immaculately dressed women, one of which in particular caught my eye; a 20-something platinum blond with a 1940's turquoise dress gift-wrapping an amazing figure. And knowing that in about an hour they would have all the men in uniform parade around the hangar, and knowing I had not brought a date, I would have to secure myself a girl in vintage attire to be on my arm for this parade. Thus, it was time to turn on the ol' Captain Capitalism charm.

I spent the next hour dancing the plurality of dances with this girl. Putting on some of the more flashy, yet easy to follow moves, thereby impressing her and at the same time making her think somehow she was a great dancer. I'd make some witty commentary about how she looked like Ingird Bergman, and then quote Casablanca. And as it was somewhat of a chilly evening, I employed a rather cunning tactic; when dancing on the tarmac I would have her wear my bomber jacket to keep her warm.

Oh yeah, I was in.

And I was, for when they announced the parade was about to start, she agreed to be on my arm for the parade.

So there we were. Me in my smart uniform, looking as if I had just got off the Memphis Belle. Her, with her nice blue eyes accompanying her turquoise dress, blushing a bit as she was a little embarrassed. All in the shadow of a B-25 bomber and an 18 piece big band playing away. It couldn't have gotten any better.

Which means it only could have gotten worse.

For while we were parading around the hangar and people were cheering us on, we approached a group of Bethel girls that I had recognized from the earlier that evening. They were looking at me and cheering me on giving me the thumbs up. But as I got closer I realized I misread their line of vision by a few arcseconds, for they weren't looking at me and giving me the thumbs up, they were looking at the girl on my arm. And sure enough as we passed, "Wooo! Way to go Jessica!"

Great, I had a Bethel girl on my arm.

"So, you go to Bethel?" I asked.

"Yeah, how'd you know?"

"Oh, just a hold old are you?"

"I'm 19."

Great, I was dancing with a child this entire time. And a religious nut on top of it.

Now, there is an element of strategy to these hangar dances. For unlike most other dances, the hangar dance attracts people that I deem to be morally similar to myself. In other words, in the past when I have gone out on dates with the girls I've met at the hangar dance, they tend to be of a bit higher quality and caliber. Furthermore, since the hangar dance is held only twice a year, it is somewhat urgent and important that you play your cards right and spend your time wisely. I just blew 2.5 hours on a 4 hour dance that would not be repeating itself for another 6 months.


So I did what any other normal red-blooded American male would do, I got myself a beer. The bar was inconveniently placed in a high traffic area, near the band and the dance floor. And immediately after I had finished my drink and turned around, I almost bumped into the most attractive girl in the entire dance.

I hadn't mentioned this girl before, for even though I noticed her very early on in the dance, up until that point in the dance, she was irrelevant. She was WAAAAY TOO ATTRACTIVE to mention. And even though she was one of the very first things I saw, she was soooooo attractive that I wrote her off like a brand new computer under section 179 because she was out of my league.

And now she was right infront of me.

Now, normally I don't bother with chicks out of my league. Which then prompts the typical discussion, "well, some of these girls are so good looking that they intimidate most guys and are actually rarely approached." None of which entered into my mind, because I was busy blurting out, "hey, wanna dance?"


So there I am dancing with the girl who is hands down the most attractive, drop dead gorgeous woman in the entire joint. (Mind you, this isn't my opinion. She just literally was that good looking!) And as I made my way through the dance, spinning her and so forth, I got to appreciate the amount of care and attention she put into her outfit. It was a stunning black ruffled, knee-length vintage dress that she accented with a cropping hat, black fishnets and cute 1940's heels. She had her hair done up in a tight style which displayed her face perfectly. Rarely am I intimidated, but she was so impressive that I was actually a little off in my dancing.

I thanked her for the dance, still under the impression I was not in her league and the dance was charity, but as the night went on, I noticed she was standing by herself, on the edge of the dance floor more often than not. And whilst enroute to the bathroom, something made me change my path and I asked her to dance again. This time smiles were exchanged, banter was engaged in, and another dance promised. This led to more dances which led to more conversation which led to more smiles, and soon flirting (which Bethel College also bans).

By the end of the night I had danced with this girl more than anybody else. And after we had finished our 6th dance, I asked her, "Hey, you going to dance next week by the same band?"

She said, "I don't know, I just heard about it tonight."

"Well, I know a guy who might be interested in taking you."

"Really? I might know a girl who might be interested."

"Really, well, how about I give you my number and you can give it to the girl. And you give me your number and I'll give it to the guy. And then maybe we can go on a double date."


"And then in the unlikely event that they stand us up, perhaps we can go to the dance together, you know, as back up."

And with a little smirk and a sexy squint she said, "Maybe."

And so I sashayed to the bar to jot down my number, returned for one final dance, gave her my number and said, "it was a pleasure." She reached out and touched my arm and said, "likewise." I headed home and fell asleep.

Now what does all of this have to do with 505025?

505025 is a theory I concocted back in my college days, that most of my male friends appreciate and deem one of my better theories. And it basically states;

"50% No x's 50% Show = 25% Go."

And it was the theory running through my head while I drove back to my humble abode that night, for during college my friends and I noticed that while a fair amount of girls would say yes to a date, a disturbingly high percentage of them would cancel or stand you up. Thus, on the onset, there is a 50% chance the girl will say no. But even if she says "yes" that doesn't mean she's actually going to show. i.e.- there is only a 50% chance of her showing up on the date, and thus an overall initial chance of a 25% chance of actually going on a date.

Now, empirically, the theory is more something like "30% No x's 25% Show = 17.5% Go" as sadly the majority of girls would say yes, but unfortunately, the majority of them would bail before the date (thereby unnecessarily raising your hopes, and crushing them later). And while I'd like to think that the banter, conversation, interaction and flirting I had with this knock out 40's babe was unique and special, sadly I had been in the position before where I was just as supremely confident and the random fates of chaos dealt me a different hand. Of course, I also subscribe to Oddball's theory from Kelley's Heroes, which advocates positive waves, but the economist in me really has a hankering for empirical and historical data.

Regardless, what does this tell us about economics? Nothing, directly anyway. But I guarantee you there is a lesson in economics to be learned here. For while it may not be obvious now, it will become very apparent in a future post.

But for those of you who insist on getting your daily economic fix, here's an interesting chart continuing with the theme and hailing back from the days of WWII.

Things that Make You Say "Hmmmm...."

Just found this interesting. Like when Johnny Depp in "Pirates of the Carribean" found out there was a curse he said, "So there is a curse. That's interesting."

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Old Versus New Europe, Taxes and Growth

To dull the relentless assault of pain and agony that we call “life” I employ a wide sort of medicines and remedies. Sometimes I submerse myself in work, making sure the finances are all secure and that future sources of revenue are certain. More recently since February I have worked out, running and lifting weights to kill the time during slow season (and may I say with a little pride, added to my peck-age and bicep-age). And then there is always video games; ahhhh yes, video games, where you can go to a foreign, make-believe world and fool yourself into thinking that somehow you’re actually doing something for society like killing Nazi’s or shooting aliens. But last night I opted for booze, which I have laid off recently, and made up for last night.

The problem is when I drink I typically do it at a bar. And when at the bar I usually bring some work to do or something to read. Of course work and reading do not mix well with booze, so it has been on more than one occasion that I had a poor recollection of the articles I’ve read and had to double check my work from the night before.

But drunk as I was, even a liberal high on pot, heroin, Windex, and a Krugman article combined would have been able to draw the connection between two charts I saw.

And since this post has been made on a Thursday morning, I’m going to assume most of you are at work and reasonably sober, and therefore can make the connection yourself.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Sunday, May 08, 2005

When One Follows the Advice of Women

After much beratement and criticism (from no less than 2,200 readers! – Many, many sincere thanks for all the press JMPP and Marginalrevolution!) as to how I fumbled the ball with this economist babe by not asking for her number, I took it upon myself to remedy the situation and implement some of the advice and strategies different people suggested and see if they worked. And I figured whose advice better to follow than the experts on courtship, dating and romance; women.

The most common criticism I received from women centered around one general theme;

That I did not show initiative/aggression/courage, thereby failing to prove to her I was a skilled hunter and courageous defender, capable of providing for her and our would be children and defending them from the roving bands of wild rabid mammoth that frequently roam the Minnesota plains here.

Thus I formulated a cunning plan.

My cunning plan was this;

1. Take initiative and look up the offices of where she said she worked.

2. Be aggressive and courageous and buy her a simple single flower with a polite note attached asking if she was ever going to take me up on the offer of dancing and dining (and that my poor economist heart was broken, sniff sniff)

3. Show that I had interest by dropping it off at the front desk of her workplace enroute to my favorite lake for my daily run.

By logical reasoning, this would no doubt display that I was aggressive, courageous, had interest and much initiative. And how could it possibly fail? For this plan was designed to do exactly what all the women here have been advocating me to do.

Which reminded me of a theory I concocted back in my college days;

“When you devise a plan and are so confident in it that you ask yourself the question, how can it possibly fail?…you will soon find out.”

Key to this plan was to just drop off the flower with the receptionist in a clandestine operation sort of way and get out of there, ensuring that I would not be seen as the stalker type. This would allow her to throw the flower away and not have to respond unless she really wanted to.

And since I was enroute to a run and had no intention of meeting her I was dressed in my running gear; cut off sweat pants, my Boston Red Sox hat and a Mr. Bubble T-shirt I got from sending in the $4.95 with proof of purchase of Mr. Bubble Bubble Bath. Damn did I look sexy.

So I park the car, feed the meter, run to the skyscraper, hit the elevators, go to the correct floor, follow the signs to the suite number, and noticed it’s not that big of an office. Just a simple door with a buzzer. So I clicked the buzzer, waited and who do you suppose answers the door.

Oh joy. It’s the economist babe.

So much for the covertness of this clandestine operation.

Trying to put on my best smile given I was wearing my fetching Mr. Bubble-T-Shirt, I gave her the flower and the note and said, “hi!”

Her face was pure panic. I could have just as well handed her an ebola-infested live tarantula.

Obviously scared, she said, “how did you know where I worked?”

Realizing that she now viewed me as your friendly neighborhood stalker-man, I tried to calm her down by reminding her that, “You told me you worked here.”

Realizing my cunning plan was an utter failure and that she was actually scared by my appearance, I wanted to get hell out of there fast as possible so as not to worry her anymore. Maintaining my smile I said, “well I gotta go. Hope you like the flower,” did an about face, bouncily jogged to the elevator and made way to my favorite lake for my daily run.

Now I enjoy my daily run for it’s just over 6 miles long and it gives me a fair amount of time to ponder and reflect about life’s daily occurrences. And during this particular daily run, I drew several important lessons from this whole ordeal that I think all men should heed and follow;

1. It is infinitely better to be viewed as an unaggressive, unmotivated man who has not the courage to ask you for your number than to be viewed as a stalker. i.e.- Ball in Court Theory is a great theory!

2. Today it is no longer socially acceptable to give a girl flowers unless you know her, otherwise you run the risk of being misperceived as a stalker, see lesson 1. Ergo, no more flowers for the ladies (Besides they cost $2.95, that’s like almost a shot of whiskey!)

3. Women do not appreciate the Mr. Bubble line of designer T-Shirts.

4. Appreciate Adam Smith’s theory of specialization and stick with what you’re good at.

5. Baghdad Bob’s intelligence on Iraqi and US troop movements during the invasion is supremely superior to women’s intelligence on themselves. i.e.- Don’t listen to women’s advice about women.

Alas, it seems to me I shall stick with my time-tested, well-devised and energy-saving strategy of letting them come to me.