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Things one middle-aged economist finds interesting



Updated: 2017-10-16T05:52:00-04:00

 



The NCAA's ruling on UNCheat (aka Chapel Hillary)

2017-10-16T05:52:00-04:00

I have no words. So I'll borrow Dennis Dodd's: "There is no more academic fraud. Cheating might as well be a major." Now, to be fair, there were at least two attempts to explain--not excuse, but explain--the decision. One is...     Related Stories"The dam holding back school choice will soon collapse""‘They Said I Was Within a Minute of Death’""America’s lopsided recovery: Study shows pockets of economic prosperity, leaving millions behind"  I have no words. So I'll borrow Dennis Dodd's: "There is no more academic fraud. Cheating might as well be a major." Now, to be fair, there were at least two attempts to explain--not excuse, but explain--the decision. One is on Bill Simmons's site: "North Carolina Was Always Going to Get Off in the NCAA’s “Paper Class” Investigation". Here's its key point: More importantly, the athletes involved did not breach their status as amateurs by taking the paper classes. And that’s a problem for the NCAA, which as an organization really only has the authority to deal with amateurism-related violations. Excuse me? Why then does the NCAA nominally set academic eligibility requirements which all Division I schools make a huge--huuuuge!--production out of complying with? To wit: Student-Athletes are required to meet and maintain certain academic standards in order to practice and compete in Division I athletics.   AND The Academic Performance Program (APP) is designed to ensure Division I student-athletes receive exemplary educational and intercollegiate-athletics experiences.  The APP encourages student-athlete graduation through a reward and penalty system directly tied to a team’s academic performance. The APP umbrella covers both the Academic Progress Rate (APR) and Graduation Success Rate (GSR).  I'm sorry, but while we thank you for playing, this explanation is no good. The other attempted explanation I saw was from the usually extremely insightful Paul Mirengoff at PowerLine, "Widespread Academic Corruption Lets UNC Sports Off the Hook". Paul's argument is that while the charge was that UNC provided "unfair benefits" to the athletes in the form of these phony courses, the phony courses were provided probably with the purpose and certainly with the result of helping all UNC students who shouldn't have been admitted in the first place.  Hence, no "unfair benefits" and no penalty.  The charge of "unfair benefits" was made because the enforcement staff thought that that would be a more acceptable charge. Charging fraud would, it was thought, put the NCAA in the position of assessing the academic quality of a member institutions' courses which the NCAA has vehemently said it cannot do.  But fraud it was! There's ample documentary evidence that these were not "easy courses". They were fraudulent courses. (And I think the evidence clearly shows they were conceived and implemented solely to help the athletes not anybody else.) Don't believe me? Allow me to quote from the NCAA's decision memorandum, first page: Within the academic review of the classes outside the NCAA infractions process, UNC told its accrediting body that the 18 years of academic conduct was "long-standing and egregious academic wrongdoing." It also originally adopted it's accreditor's characterization of the wrongdoing as "academic fraud". The details are many and are so, so gory. If you want a decent summary, written in a white-hot fury, by a Dukie, I recommend, "A Pitiful Victory: Lies, damned lies and UNC". It ends this way: How very sad then that after fighting Jim Crow for decades, after fighting for justice and inclusion, how dreadful is that the former champion of the oppressed welcomed African-American students and athletes to campus, only to exploit many of those athletes for their physical talents and money-making abilities and to fail at the one thing a university is supposed to do. Enjoy your victory, champs. This is what you wanted, right? &#[...]



"‘They Said I Was Within a Minute of Death’"

2017-10-16T05:42:00-04:00

Rep. Steve Scalise had some bad luck followed by some really good luck. Interesting, and uplifting, story.     Related Stories"America’s lopsided recovery: Study shows pockets of economic prosperity, leaving millions behind""The dam holding back school choice will soon collapse""Plan and Act in case AI or something else kills your job"  Rep. Steve Scalise had some bad luck followed by some really good luck. Interesting, and uplifting, story.      Related Stories"America’s lopsided recovery: Study shows pockets of economic prosperity, leaving millions behind""The dam holding back school choice will soon collapse""Plan and Act in case AI or something else kills your job"  [...]



"America’s lopsided recovery: Study shows pockets of economic prosperity, leaving millions behind"

2017-10-16T05:40:00-04:00

But generally good work by Utah and the upper Midwest.     Related Stories"Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""The Identification Zoo - Meanings of Identification in Econometrics""The dam holding back school choice will soon collapse"  But generally good work by Utah and the upper Midwest.      Related Stories"Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""The Identification Zoo - Meanings of Identification in Econometrics""The dam holding back school choice will soon collapse"  [...]



"The Identification Zoo - Meanings of Identification in Econometrics"

2017-10-16T05:37:00-04:00

Arthur Lewbel, Boston College, forthcoming in JEL: Well over two dozen different terms for identification appear in the econometrics literature, including set identification, causal identification, local identification, generic identification, weak identification, identification at infinity, and many more. This survey: 1....     Related Stories"America’s lopsided recovery: Study shows pockets of economic prosperity, leaving millions behind""Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""Multi-Billion Dollar Stadiums: The Seen vs. the Horrid Unseen"  Arthur Lewbel, Boston College, forthcoming in JEL: Well over two dozen different terms for identification appear in the econometrics literature, including set identification, causal identification, local identification, generic identification, weak identification, identification at infinity, and many more. This survey: 1. provides a general framework for characterizing identification concepts, 2. summarizes and compares the zooful of different terms for identification that appear in the literature, and 3. discusses concepts closely related to identification, such as observational equivalence, normalizations, and the differences in identification between structural models and randomization based reduced form (causal) models. Related: James Heckman and Burton Singer, AER, May 2017: Abduction is the process of generating and choosing models, hypotheses, and data analyzed in response to surprising findings. All good empirical economists abduct. Explanations usually evolve as studies evolve. The abductive approach challenges economists to step outside the framework of received notions about the "identification problem" that rigidly separates the act of model and hypothesis creation from the act of inference from data. It asks the analyst to engage models and data in an iterative dynamic process, using multiple models and sources of data in a back and forth where both models and data are augmented as learning evolves.      Related Stories"America’s lopsided recovery: Study shows pockets of economic prosperity, leaving millions behind""Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""Multi-Billion Dollar Stadiums: The Seen vs. the Horrid Unseen"  [...]



"The dam holding back school choice will soon collapse"

2017-10-16T05:25:00-04:00

I don't know about "soon," but it does seem like choice is, finally, winning. But if those charters don't get with the Liberals' program in California--real quick--I'll bet bad stuff will happen: "Fewer charter schools choosing CalSTRS pensions".     Related Stories"Plan and Act in case AI or something else kills your job""Do You Need a Blockchain?""Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council"  I don't know about "soon," but it does seem like choice is, finally, winning. But if those charters don't get with the Liberals' program in California--real quick--I'll bet bad stuff will happen: "Fewer charter schools choosing CalSTRS pensions".      Related Stories"Plan and Act in case AI or something else kills your job""Do You Need a Blockchain?""Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council"  [...]



"Why We’ll Have Evidence of Aliens—If They Exist—By 2035"

2017-10-16T05:13:00-04:00

We'll see.     Related Stories"Watch science writer Carl Zimmer explain CRISPR in 90 seconds""Einstein and Feynman ushered me into grad school, reality ushered me out.""All blue-eyed people have a single ancestor in common"  We'll see.      Related Stories"Watch science writer Carl Zimmer explain CRISPR in 90 seconds""Einstein and Feynman ushered me into grad school, reality ushered me out.""All blue-eyed people have a single ancestor in common"  [...]



"Just Because A Dealer Says They Will Order You A Car From The Factory Doesn’t Mean They Can"

2017-10-15T05:06:00-04:00

Including this, which I didn't know. I came to find out after a long conversation with Lexus corporate, that Lexus, unlike the European brands, will not build a customer car. The dealership can request a build, but if the factory...     Related Stories"Here's how Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters describes Ludicrous Mode in his Tesla""This simple trick keeps pollution out of your car""Massive Takata Airbag Recall: Everything You Need to Know, Including Full List of Affected Vehicles"  Including this, which I didn't know. I came to find out after a long conversation with Lexus corporate, that Lexus, unlike the European brands, will not build a customer car. The dealership can request a build, but if the factory will only build the most popular configurations and if that particular spec never gets made, the store will never get it.      Related Stories"Here's how Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters describes Ludicrous Mode in his Tesla""This simple trick keeps pollution out of your car""Massive Takata Airbag Recall: Everything You Need to Know, Including Full List of Affected Vehicles"  [...]






"17 of the most indulgent desserts money can buy around the world, ranked by number of calories"

2017-10-14T05:43:00-04:00

They had me at the "Cannoli Bazooka".     Related Stories"How to Pick the Best Chocolate Bar Your Money Can Buy""The Tater Tot Is American Ingenuity at Its Finest""This low-cal pint is the best-selling ice cream in America"  They had me at the "Cannoli Bazooka".      Related Stories"How to Pick the Best Chocolate Bar Your Money Can Buy""The Tater Tot Is American Ingenuity at Its Finest""This low-cal pint is the best-selling ice cream in America"  [...]



"For $50,000, Simmons will hand-deliver the Vault to your home"

2017-10-13T05:51:00-04:00

I would think you'd have to a big KISS fan to want to pay that, but Gene thinks there will be enough to make it worth his time.     Related Stories"Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - American Girl""How the Bee Gees went from No. 1 to national pariahs""Bruce Springsteen Picks His Top 5 Favorite Springsteen Songs"  I would think you'd have to a big KISS fan to want to pay that, but Gene thinks there will be enough to make it worth his time.      Related Stories"Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - American Girl""How the Bee Gees went from No. 1 to national pariahs""Bruce Springsteen Picks His Top 5 Favorite Springsteen Songs"  [...]



"If It Has No Side Effects, It Probably Doesn’t Work"

2017-10-13T05:45:00-04:00

"If someone tries to sell you something with zero risks and zero side effects, they’re either lying or they’re selling something useless."     Related Stories"Are Omega-3s The Secret To Better Gut Health?""This May Be The First New Cancer Indicator In 30 Years""The Texas telemedicine breakthrough"  "If someone tries to sell you something with zero risks and zero side effects, they’re either lying or they’re selling something useless."      Related Stories"Are Omega-3s The Secret To Better Gut Health?""This May Be The First New Cancer Indicator In 30 Years""The Texas telemedicine breakthrough"  [...]



"Are Omega-3s The Secret To Better Gut Health?"

2017-10-13T05:30:00-04:00

To paraphrase Glenn Reynolds, "Is there anything Omega 3s can't do?"     Related Stories"This May Be The First New Cancer Indicator In 30 Years""The Texas telemedicine breakthrough""The Corruption of Public Health"  To paraphrase Glenn Reynolds, "Is there anything Omega 3s can't do?"      Related Stories"This May Be The First New Cancer Indicator In 30 Years""The Texas telemedicine breakthrough""The Corruption of Public Health"  [...]



"Plan and Act in case AI or something else kills your job"

2017-10-12T05:52:00-04:00

I used to spend a couple of minutes each semester telling my students that no matter what job they were in, or planned to get, they needed to think of themselves, at least occasionally, as entrepreneurs. What assets and liabilities...     Related Stories"Do You Need a Blockchain?""Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""The New Democrat Party"  I used to spend a couple of minutes each semester telling my students that no matter what job they were in, or planned to get, they needed to think of themselves, at least occasionally, as entrepreneurs. What assets and liabilities do I have? Where are the opportunities for me, and what are the threats to my livelihood? Unlike their grandparents, very few people today can count on working for IBM or the assembly line for 30 years or more.  And I said if that frightened them or was otherwise unacceptable, they could do what I did and work for the government. (But I quickly noted that they might not be able to count on that much longer, either.) I have no idea if it will help, but I tried. This article makes a similar point.        Related Stories"Do You Need a Blockchain?""Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""The New Democrat Party"  [...]



"Do You Need a Blockchain?"

2017-10-12T05:50:00-04:00

Interesting short piece of what blockchain offers--and doesn't offer--businesses.     Related Stories"Plan and Act in case AI or something else kills your job""Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""The New Democrat Party"  Interesting short piece of what blockchain offers--and doesn't offer--businesses.      Related Stories"Plan and Act in case AI or something else kills your job""Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""The New Democrat Party"  [...]



"Watch science writer Carl Zimmer explain CRISPR in 90 seconds"

2017-10-12T05:41:00-04:00

Just what it says on the label.     Related Stories"Einstein and Feynman ushered me into grad school, reality ushered me out.""All blue-eyed people have a single ancestor in common""A psychologist explains how lucky people differ from unlucky people"  Just what it says on the label.      Related Stories"Einstein and Feynman ushered me into grad school, reality ushered me out.""All blue-eyed people have a single ancestor in common""A psychologist explains how lucky people differ from unlucky people"  [...]



"The Old New Left and the New New Left"

2017-10-12T05:04:00-04:00

Charles Kesler explains how the Left started out bad and how it's gotten worse.

Charles Kesler explains how the Left started out bad and how it's gotten worse.

(image)



"Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council"

2017-10-11T05:47:00-04:00

George Will has some fun with the Seattle City Council. Seattle’s city council is as undeterred by constitutional and statutory language as it is by social science.     Related Stories"Multi-Billion Dollar Stadiums: The Seen vs. the Horrid Unseen""McHealthcare Deluxe""Plan and Act in case AI or something else kills your job"  George Will has some fun with the Seattle City Council.  Seattle’s city council is as undeterred by constitutional and statutory language as it is by social science.      Related Stories"Multi-Billion Dollar Stadiums: The Seen vs. the Horrid Unseen""McHealthcare Deluxe""Plan and Act in case AI or something else kills your job"  [...]



"These people definitely got the skills to pay the bills"

2017-10-11T05:46:00-04:00

A fine way to spend two minutes. (Link via Jonah Goldberg.)     Related Stories"Watch Adam Schefter’s 8-year-old daughter interview Patriots players""One Woman, 17 British Accents""Even with Irma knocking at our door, we here in Miami are NOT FREAKING OUT AT ALL!"  A fine way to spend two minutes. (Link via Jonah Goldberg.)      Related Stories"Watch Adam Schefter’s 8-year-old daughter interview Patriots players""One Woman, 17 British Accents""Even with Irma knocking at our door, we here in Miami are NOT FREAKING OUT AT ALL!"  [...]



"The New Democrat Party"

2017-10-11T05:37:00-04:00

Caroline Glick slams the anti-Semitism of some of the Liberal elite.     Related Stories"Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""Multi-Billion Dollar Stadiums: The Seen vs. the Horrid Unseen""McHealthcare Deluxe"  Caroline Glick slams the anti-Semitism of some of the Liberal elite.      Related Stories"Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""Multi-Billion Dollar Stadiums: The Seen vs. the Horrid Unseen""McHealthcare Deluxe"  [...]



"Multi-Billion Dollar Stadiums: The Seen vs. the Horrid Unseen"

2017-10-11T05:30:00-04:00

One of the biggest boondoggles going. Related: an analyst at the Show-Me Institute predicts that Amazon's proposed HQ2 will also turn out to be a big boondoggle.     Related Stories"Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""McHealthcare Deluxe""The Jobs Problem"  One of the biggest boondoggles going. Related: an analyst at the Show-Me Institute predicts that Amazon's proposed HQ2 will also turn out to be a big boondoggle.      Related Stories"Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""McHealthcare Deluxe""The Jobs Problem"  [...]



"McHealthcare Deluxe"

2017-10-10T05:42:00-04:00

Another excellent piece by Kevin Williamson. Money 'graph: What’s too often lost in the Sturm und Drang of recent Republican efforts to reform the insurance reforms enacted by Democrats in 2009 is this: The Affordable Care Act has not worked...     Related Stories"Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""Multi-Billion Dollar Stadiums: The Seen vs. the Horrid Unseen""Plan and Act in case AI or something else kills your job"  Another excellent piece by Kevin Williamson. Money 'graph: What’s too often lost in the Sturm und Drang of recent Republican efforts to reform the insurance reforms enacted by Democrats in 2009 is this: The Affordable Care Act has not worked as advertised. That is the fundamental fact around which the debate should be organized. The ACA did not result in lower premiums but in the opposite; it did not result in more competitive insurance markets but in the opposite; it did not result in superior health-insurance plans but, at least in many cases, the opposite; it has not resulted in universal coverage. Among the major promises made on behalf of the ACA, only one of any significance has been delivered on: It is the case that more Americans have health insurance today than they did in 2009. But the ACA has underdelivered on that point, too: Only about 16.5 million people — barely 5 percent of the population — gained health coverage from the passage of the ACA through 2016, and the vast majority of those, 81 percent, were new Medicaid beneficiaries.      Related Stories"Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""Multi-Billion Dollar Stadiums: The Seen vs. the Horrid Unseen""Plan and Act in case AI or something else kills your job"  [...]



"It's Time to Break Up Amazon" . . .

2017-10-10T05:40:00-04:00

. . . asserts Fast Company. But John Palmer responds, "Wrong, wrong, wrong."     Related Stories"Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""Multi-Billion Dollar Stadiums: The Seen vs. the Horrid Unseen""McHealthcare Deluxe"  . . . asserts Fast Company. But John Palmer responds, "Wrong, wrong, wrong."      Related Stories"Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""Multi-Billion Dollar Stadiums: The Seen vs. the Horrid Unseen""McHealthcare Deluxe"  [...]



"The Jobs Problem"

2017-10-10T05:36:00-04:00

I like the solution proposed: more federalism combined with the education system working with the private sector.     Related Stories"Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""Multi-Billion Dollar Stadiums: The Seen vs. the Horrid Unseen""Plan and Act in case AI or something else kills your job"  I like the solution proposed: more federalism combined with the education system working with the private sector.      Related Stories"Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""Multi-Billion Dollar Stadiums: The Seen vs. the Horrid Unseen""Plan and Act in case AI or something else kills your job"  [...]



"This May Be The First New Cancer Indicator In 30 Years"

2017-10-10T05:35:00-04:00

The next time you have blood work done, you may want to check your platelets.     Related Stories"The Texas telemedicine breakthrough""The Corruption of Public Health""Researchers Figured Out What Causes Stillbirths — and That Could Change Everything"  The next time you have blood work done, you may want to check your platelets.      Related Stories"The Texas telemedicine breakthrough""The Corruption of Public Health""Researchers Figured Out What Causes Stillbirths — and That Could Change Everything"  [...]



"Keeping politicians in check is the key to getting along."

2017-10-11T10:01:13-04:00

Writes Glenn Reynolds. Keeping the politicians in check is the key to almost all questions of political economy. UPDATE: Link fixed now. Thanks, Michael.     Related Stories"Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""The New Democrat Party""Multi-Billion Dollar Stadiums: The Seen vs. the Horrid Unseen"  Writes Glenn Reynolds. Keeping the politicians in check is the key to almost all questions of political economy. UPDATE: Link fixed now. Thanks, Michael.      Related Stories"Seattle’s Nietzschean City Council""The New Democrat Party""Multi-Billion Dollar Stadiums: The Seen vs. the Horrid Unseen"  [...]