Thursday, December 29, 2005

 

Hey again

I'm back in Michigan, believe it or not. I survived. Well physically. It will take several weeks to figure out how much of my soul remains in tact from the family visit.

Via Newmark's door, P.J. O'Rourke: "You see, the real reason I became a communist was to impress girls. Back then, all the pretty ones were revolutionaries. One of the things that's gone wrong for the Left is that their girls just aren't cute any more."

Via Agrophilia, this gem: "Here’s another example of how Wal-Mart is ruining America. When shopping there last week, I would occasionally see an item and think, “Hey, that would be a really great gift for So-and-So... aw man, it’s too cheap! I’ll have to find another gift to give with it! DAMN YOU, WAL-MART!”

Okay, I got deadlines tomorrow so that's all for now.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

 

Public Apology

Well, I am in Rock Island and will be for another day before heading back to Michigan. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Erin for not getting to talk to her for longer and more often while I've been out here. It's a bit hard to talk with family around...especially family that never stops talking. In fact, one particular family member is ranting right now. I think I finally understand where my tendency to narrate my actions and to never shut up comes from and it is not only very scary but also very annoying.

In other news, Senator Kennedy cited an incident regarding the Bush administration sending agents to investigate a student for checking out Mao Tse-Tsung's "Little Red Book" (forget the fact that Kennedy actually said that it was "Mao Tse-Tsung's Communist Manifesto") in an editorial pointing to how out of line the administration is. Well, it turns out that the story was a complete hoax, see here. And of course, Kennedy doesn't think that makes a difference. "Laura Capps, a Kennedy spokeswoman, said last night that the senator cited ''public reports" in his opinion piece. Even if the assertion was a hoax, she said, it did not detract from Kennedy's broader point that the Bush administration has gone too far in engaging in surveillance."

Also, I'd like to point to this Bloomberg piece on the campaign against Wal-mart. I tried to avoid politics while visiting home this year, but the subject of Wal-mart did come up and the salient point from the article, the point that I made in the arguments with family, was that there are no shortage of people clamoring to get jobs at Walmart. 8000 applicants for 525 jobs in Glendale, AZ. People want to work at Walmart, despite all of their "horrible" labor practices. The horrible labor practices that my mother and I both looked at each other and said, "Horrible? Are you kidding?" It seems like those of us who have worked in the real world and who have had to engage in jobs at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum are the ones who understand these practices aren't that horrible. In other words, we are those 7500 applicants who weren't able to get jobs there and suffered because another Wal-mart couldn't be built because people who can afford to shop elsewhere and who have plenty of job opportunities stopped it from being built. As so many people have said before, those who try to stop Wal-mart from entering an area or to change their business practices are harming the people they claim to be looking out for. I find it so aggravating.

Detroit, MI is the 56th most literate city? That is one scary thought. Check out the methodology and you might see why it is a completely meaningless list.

The NYTimes has this article on the Louisianna cleanup and the discrepancy between the private sector cleanup effort vs the government cleanup effort. Yeah, the government should be handling evacuations when they can't even handle the cleanup afterwards.

I would also like to recommend this Cafe Hayek post on "tender chicken."

Okay, for now I'm going to call it quits. Probably won't be able to post again until the weekend, but have fun all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

 

King Kong

Okay, so I saw King Kong on Sunday...the remake obviously. I saw the original many years ago. The remake made me want to go back and see the original again. On the whole I liked the remake quite a bit, but I did feel a little bit angry about some of the themes and messages that I don't remember feeling with the original (perhaps because I was too young to recognize it).

King Kong is as always the sympathetic character, not a mere monster to be feared or exploited as is done by all the world in the fictional universe with the exception of our leading lady. This portrayal is incomplete though. King Kong is an animal. He acts without regard for the consequences of his actions. He is big and brutish and ill tempered. He constantly feels the need to thump his chest and get into fights rather than just getting away from the fight which it seems he could easily do against many of the creatures and people in the movie. He is in most senses just the thug you run into at the bar on a Friday night who has to prove his worth by picking fights to impress the girls. And that bring me to the point of resentment. Every girl who claims that those thugs in the bars don't appeal to them gets all misty eyed when Kong is attacked by the military. The only problem is, Kong destroyed the city looking for a girl. He is too violent to not be dealt with. And this is why I feel a personal sense of anger, not toward the movie which I think accurately portrays how women respond to men (it isn't until she has exhausted her chances with Kong that the sensitive writer becomes a viable option), but rather towards the reality that it portrays.

Despite their statements that women don't like the thugish bad boy brawlers, their actions invariably speak to the contrary. When a guy gets kicked out of a bar for starting a fight, a beautiful woman is invariably grabbing his coat and following him out. That is the story of King Kong. It's about the guy who is a jerk and "nice" guys instinctively recognize that we aren't "supposed" to behave that way, but he gets the women anyway. Kong also has some insight into why those human thugs do so well with women. Women like to think that they see something deeper and special about them that noone else does. Women like to think they have some special insight. The problem is that they really don't. Often the man is just a possessive animal like Kong and needs to be put down just like Kong.

I found myself toward the end of the movie rooting for Kong's demise and I wondered why I felt any sympathy for him at all. He was from the land that time forgot and thrust into a modern world in the same way that those brutish men we run into daily seem to be anachronistic, born a couple centuries too late. This is not sufficient reason to give them a pass and it isn't sufficient reason to give Kong a pass either.

Still, I like the movie which was a suprise to me. I didn't like any of the Lord of the Rings movies which Jackson did. I was always a fan of his earlier work...think Heavenly Creatures or Meet the Feebles. On that note I would like to encourage the rental of those two movies by providing some quotes

From Heavenly Creatures

All the best people have bad chests and bone diseases. It's all frightfully romantic.

She is most unreasonable. Why could not mother die? Dozens of people are dying all the time, thousands, so why not mother? And father too.

We have decided how sad it is for others that they cannot appreciate our genius.

Pauline Parker: Oh, I wish James Mason would do a religious picture! He'd be perfect as Jesus! Juliet Hulme: Daddy says the Bible's a load of bunkum!
Pauline Parker: But we're all going to heaven?
Juliet Hulme: I'M not! I'M going to The Fourth World... it's sort of like heaven. Only better, because there aren't any Christians!

From IMDB here is a brief synopsis: Based on the true story of Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker, two close friends who share a love of fantasy and literature, who conspire to kill Pauline's mother when she tries to end the girls' intense and obsessive relationship.

As for Meet the Feebles...as the coverbox says, it's the muppets on crack.

Monday, December 12, 2005

 

Price Fixing with prices at or below the cost of production?

So I was just randomly reading this article from Computerworld and was trying to figure out how there could be price fixing as indicated when I finally got to the last line of the article. "The computer companies and the U.S. government maintain that strong DRAM prices hurt business, despite the fact most DRAM makers posted heavy losses during the year in question, 2001, and DRAM prices remained below or near the cost of production for most of the year. "

Okay...wait a second. They ended up pleading guilty despite the fact that their prices just barely, if at all, covered the cost of production for most of the year and they posted heavy losses for the year.

If we go to the Department of Justice we get the following link.

"The charged combination and conspiracy consisted of a continuing agreement, understanding, and concert of action among the defendants and their coconspirators, the substantial terms of which were to agree to fix the prices for DRAM to be sold to certain OEMs. "

But I'm still lost. These companies acted in a concerted effort to sell DRAM at certain prices to SPECIFIC OEM's? Let's assume that this is true. If it is then there is the opportunity for arbitrage to sort things out. A quick internet search doesn't reveal this as being the case. So now I'm fascinated. I will admit I am generally skeptical of Antitrust claims. Most of the "landmark" Antitrust cases of been proven in subsequent years to be complete bunk to anyone with even a cursory understanding of economics. Also, very little weight is ever given to the idea of a "cost saving cartel." The Antitrust suit against vitamin companies in the 90's had the perverse effect of increasing prices once the "cartel" was disbanded. So let's hypothesize the arbitrage is impossible for whatever reason. Then it looks like we simply have a case of price discrimination based upon willingness and ability to pay. From an economic perspective that isn't really a bad thing. In fact, marketed properly I'm sure that many people would support the idea. If I told you that we were going to charge less to smaller companies because they can't afford to pay as much and we like to encourage small businesses, I'm sure that many antitrust advocates would applaud the decision.

I would have liked to have seen this go to court. It still might as there are other manufacturers being investigated. I imagine that based upon the history of Antitrust cases in the U.S. that they were worried that a prolonged legal battle would just drain resources and even if they did nothing wrong they might still lose because of how muddled the Antitrust laws are with regard to economic reasoning.

In other economic news, here is a slate article from Landsburg on different methods of establishing wage differentials based upon the decision to wait an additional year to have a child.

For those of you interested in the math, here is the article that Landsburg is writing about.

This paper also from Virginia makes mention of something I've complained about for a long time. The sequence in A Beautiful Mind where John Nash supposedly comes up with his "Nash Equilibrium" is not in fact a Nash Equilibrium. The paper is entitled "Participation Games: Market Entry, Coordination, and the Beautiful Blonde."

Okay...time for me to get back to work.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

 

New Header

Well, Erin will be happy. She suggested my new header, however so that my old one remains immortalized I will include it in this post. "Women are alot like buses, sooner or later you start to think you'd rather have a car." - Unknown.

The new one is more intellectual...or maybe less...who knows, but it's still good.

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