Over at fusil of yarn, samuelcanread points out this fox. I say big deal... She has a big triangle shaped head that makes her look like ET. Now what about this fox! OMG it's Betty White!

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Gimpei learns some Spanish!

by Gimpei | 12:14 in | comments (3)

Estimado Señor Tarantino,

Me llamo Gimpei y quiero que tú filmes mi guión cinematográfico brillante. Creo que tenemos muchas cosas en común: yo soy americano y tú eres americano, mi pelo es marrón y tu pelo es marrón. A veces yo bebo agua y tú bebes agua también. Como a ti, me gusta leer novelas e ir al cine, y como tu yo soy un Aries. ¡Nosotros somos como la misma persona!

Yo soy de “el Guapo”, una villa pequeña en una isla que se llama “el Jefe”. Hay muchos colinas con vistas al mar y a la ciudad. Un parque está en el centro de la villa, rodeado por dos barrios residenciales. El Guapo es una localidad aletargada; el centro está siempre cubierto de un manto grueso de niebla. En las noches el sonido de las sirenas de niebla resuena a través de las colinas, cantando a la gente de la ciudad para que se duerma con un murmullo profundo. Como nosotros somos como la misma persona, naturalmente tú eres mu inteligente y te gustará mi guión cinematográfico.

A la espera de tus prontas noticias, te saluda atentamente,

Gimpei

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The shame!

by Gimpei | 21:15 in | comments (0)

I'm just writing this post in order to bump my previous post out of the pole position. I looked at it again today and started wondering what the hell I was thinking. Still, the Nabokov clip is cool.

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Damn Nabokov is cool. He reminds me of the mental image I had of Pnin when I was reading Pnin. I also love how he declines to ascribe any overarching meaning to the book, and asks that it simply speak for itself.

Its so much better than all the awful conceptual art we have these days, which is incapable of standing on its own, and instead justifies its existence by "challenging preconceptions." Often these challenges come in the form rehashed and outdated continental philosophy (e.g. making us aware of the limits of our language games through the use of the sublime) or else epiphanies akin to an undergraduate psych thesis (e.g. when Douglas Huebler asked museum visitors to write down one authentic secret and then collected them in an 1800 page book. Guess what? Most of the secrets are the same! Oh my God!).

I've always found the underpinnings of conceptual art to be profoundly stupid. If the point of conceptual art is to challenge preconceptions, doesn't that presuppose that the artist has some privileged perspective on the world that is inaccessible to the rest of us normal people? Of all people in the world who I'd look to for a new perspective, the last person would be some self-absorbed coke snorting "artiste" whose closest connection to the outside world is Queens. I suppose you could use some sort of marxist/freudian argument divorcing artistic intent from effect, but seriously you'd still have to rely upon the same pompous, talentless, drug-addled hack as your medium. *Cough* Tracey Emin *Cough*.

What makes the act of artistic creation so special that it can get around the Duhem-Quine problem that is so problematic for scientific enquiry? Magic? Cocaine? Magical cocaine? Discuss amongst yourselves.

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What what what? How is it possible that slate.com has a french version?

I only have so much hate to give, vas te faire foutre slate.fr!

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Goodbye Iran we loved ye

by Gimpei | 08:43 in | comments (1)

I was wondering how long Iran could stay in the headlines... Looks like its fifteen minutes have passed. Oh well, I guess I'll go listen to human nature.

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I've heard a lot of terms in my time to describe the US government: bloated, constricting, fat, amoral, etc.

But I've never heard constipated, until now that is...

When will Posner shut up? You'd think such a free market enthusiast would feel just a tad bit chastened after the financial meltdown. But no, he's still yabbering on like a senile old man on the porch of a house in Maine who smokes from a pipe and says ayuh a lot.

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Over at Fusil of Yarn, samuelcanread takes on Krugman for tacitly approving of the inflation of a housing bubble back in 2002.

“Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble.”

True, he was quoting. But he was quoting somewhat approvingly.

In the comments, samuelcanread adds:
I read it as Krugman saying we can’t let the economy deflate — that would suck so massively that it’s worth considering doing anything to get consumer spending going. Escape the liquidity trap!
I don't see that in the article. It seems like Krugman's setting up a trade-off between the economy going back into recession and inflating another bubble. He implies that a housing bubble would be good for Bush and Greenspan, but I don't get a sense of how desirable this would be for the US economy. There's no mention of liquidity traps, deflation, or Japan in this article so I'm not sure where samuelcanread is getting that from.

Maybe the problem here is that we're employing an overly structuralist approach to the text. Perhaps we need to employ a more post-structuralist approach, where the text in fact has a plurality of meanings and reverse meanings that are created by the reader. Since Krugman wrote the text, he is ultimately responsible for these meanings. Get out the pitchforks!

P.S. Did I just write that? Maybe I am going insane, or even worse... becoming Deirdre McCloskey.

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Early Henson!

by Gimpei | 08:49 in | comments (0)

If you value your life, you better drink this. I don't care if it isn't being sold anymore, improvise. I've been using dirt from my garden along with an old Wilkins can that I got on ebay. I've been okay thus far...

Don't say you haven't been warned!


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A piece in the Times today by Timothy Egan paints a depressing picture of the trial against Amanda Knox in Italy. For the uninitiated, Amanda Knox is an American exchange student who has been accused of murdering her roommate as part of a satanic ritual.

This led me to two conclusion:
1) Italians living in small towns are crazy
2) Scratch that, maybe we're all crazy

As per the first point, at the time of the murder Amanda Knox was living in a small village in central Italy. I know a thing or two about small, insular villages in Italy: it just so happens that my mother, when she was twenty, lived in one as well.

She was young and naive at the time, having moved to Italy for a man, only to have him dump her once she arrived. With no money and nowhere to go, she ended up working for his family as an aupair. Initially, she rented her own room in the village, but this didn't go down too well. A man in the village used binoculars to watch my mother as she walked around her room in her pajamas. When the man's wife found out, she called the police accusing my mother of being a prostitute bent on luring the men of the village to her bordello--a sexual pied piper of hamlin as it were. My mother was almost thrown in jail, but the family of her ex-boyfriend intervened and let her stay with them.

A year later, when my mother had picked up some Italian, she went on a vacation around northern Italy for a few weeks. During this trip, she stayed in many similarly small and insular towns. On one occasion she ended up in a particularly remote village with no hostels or boarding houses. After asking around, a farming family offered to let her stay at their place for the night. Upon entering the gates of the farm, my mother was taken aback by the sheer number of cats wandering about the grounds. There must have been a hundred or more, and when she asked about it, they assured her it was because they just really loved cats. Being very gracious hosts, they prepared a feast for her that night featuring a rich, hearty stew made from "roof rabbits". My mother noticed that they all started looking at her peculiarly when the stew came out. Not wanting to be rude, she finished her bowl and complemented the wife on her cooking. To which she was answered by a roar of laughter. "We fooled you English girl", they said, "You just ate cat. This is a cat farm." My mother--who to this day maintains that the only thing she won't eat is creamed corn--shrugged and asked for a second helping.

So what's the point? The point is that rural Italians were crazy forty years ago and they're still crazy today.

As per my second conclusion, you'll have to wait until tomorrow...

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Literal music video

by Gimpei | 10:29 in | comments (1)

I was skeptical at first, but this is actually funny.

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Over at Fusil of Yarn, there seems to be a bit of inner conflict stirred up by the kind of things that people do to animals in the name of science. As usual we have my arch nemesis, Slate, to blame for this foolishness. From Fusil of Yarn:

Wanted: a neuroscientist who can bear to do this without skipping a beat to write up the same experiments. And I don’t want straight-forward argument of sadly hurting one animal to save one thousand humans. I’d like to hear from the people who do all this, look into the monkey’s apparently sad eyes, and see nothing there. Will they stand up?
When I was in high school I did the same sort of stuff with mice over the summer. Basically we injected them with fluoresecent cancer cells, and then gave them daily doses of an experimental cancer treatment.

At the end of six weeks we killed the mice. There were two techniques for this: either you stuck them in a little guillotine type device that broke their little mouse necks or you put them in a beaker and gassed them to death with CO2. The gassing turned out to be much more efficient as you could do several at a time.

After that, I spent about a week dissecting the dead mice, removing the brain, lungs, spleen, and femur. This was pretty cool at first, but got a bit tedious as time went by, although I have to say I did get pretty damn good at it. The hardest part was cracking open the skull without turning the mouse brain into goo.

The last thing I had to do was freeze each of these organs with liquid nitrogen and then mash them into a pulp so that they could be tested for cancer cell count.

Did I feel anything for the mice? I remember the gassing being mildly disturbing at first--I had pet mice as a child--but I soon became desensitized.

While I was working at the lab, I also saw someone else experimenting on a rabbit. That was harder to take because rabbits are really cute.,So I propose the following: maybe we should breed test animals that are ugly like cockroaches, H.R. Geiger's aliens, or the baby from Eraserhead.

P.S. This is not to say that I approve of using animals for, say, testing make-up. But when it comes to critical research that could save millions of human lives... too bad for the animals. Contrary to what some animal rights activists, you can't conduct all your research in a vial.

P.P.S. I don't think it's possible to separate animal testing by medical researchers from the greater good argument. Most people that I met went into this line of work precisely because it could save millions of lives. That was certainly my motivation: my father had died of lung cancer a year earlier. And I think at first almost all of them felt bad for the animals that they were using for tests. However, after spending years and years at the job the animal becomes just another tool in the lab, much in the same way that cows become nothing more than monetary assets to farmers.

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Damn journalists

by Gimpei | 08:58 in | comments (1)

Why isn't this being covered in the mainstream news? It's not even undernews!

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Down with ads!

by Gimpei | 08:46 in | comments (2)

It probably comes as a great surprise to you dear reader, but I hate advertisements of all kinds. They're distracting, they slow down my computer, and they fill my head with insufferable jingles.

So I found myself agreeing with Farhad Manjoo of slate:

Google's success seems to bear out Palant's idea that users will tolerate and even click on ads that don't bug them, lending credence to his theory that the way to reverse the mass adoption of ad blocking is for publishers to run ads that people don't want to block. That's why his new proposal makes sense. Ad blocking may not be ethical, but there's nothing illegal about it, and there are few technical ways for publishers to limit its effects. Ad blocking is here to stay. But that doesn't have to be the end of the Web—just the end of terrible ads.

Indeed, if all adds were like google's adwords, I wouldn't block a thing: adwords are useful and unobtrusive.

It always seemed to me that internet ads were engaged in an arms race, where companies produced ever more intrusive ads in order to gain an advantage over their competitors. If we leveled, the playing field by forcing all companies to comply to an intrusion threshhold, this incentive would be eliminated.

Granted, this would effectively kill the advertisement production business, but who needs them? Thanks to admen we pay $1 for 5 cent sugar water.Thanks to admen we drink beer that bears a family resemblance to urine. Thanks to admen I feel like chicken every night!

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Lovers!

by Gimpei | 14:06 in | comments (0)

More cowbell!

by Gimpei | 23:36 in | comments (0)

Nice one governator

by Gimpei | 20:09 in | comments (0)

Kudos to Arnold Schwarzenegger for fostering the debate for marijuana legalization. Although I don't smoke pot, I would be overjoyed if it were legalized.

It's a good strategy to make the argument on economic grounds, since there are a lot of prudes out there who can't accept the real argument for legalization: marijuana is not evil or dangerous. Indeed it is relatively harmless when compared to most of our legal vices: Alcohol leads to violent behavior; cigarettes cause cancer; gambling leads to penury; whereas marijuana leads to... lethargy and increased appetite. Who cares?

Legalization of harder drugs like cocaine and heroine are more debatable as they are more prone to abuse. However, given the effect that the drug "war" has had on countries like Columbia and Afghanistan, it may be a good idea to start looking at alternate solutions here as well. I'm open to suggestions.

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They stole my idea!

by Gimpei | 16:58 in , | comments (0)

I've had the idea for at least three years that there should be a site where you can rate anything: doctors, architects, plumbers, schools, etc. Too bad these bastards stole my idea two years before I thought it up.

It's okay though, since they're pure evil: not only do they torture babies, but apparently they're also responsible for killing newspapers. But I have no scruples so I'll use them to get back at all the people who ever wronged me! That's right Malaysia and Slate, I'm talking to you!

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I always heard that the neocons over at commentary were crazy, but I didn't realize how much. Apparently now would be a great time to secure or destroy Pakistan's nukes!

The argument has two prongs

1. Securing Pakistan's nukes would help India, which is a good thing because India is not muslim and is not China.

2. It would also scare Iran, making them more likely to give up on their nuclear program.
Obviously this argument is insane, we should be attacking India instead!

1) Attacking India would not only scare the crap out of Iran, but China as well. Especially since it's entirely unprovoked. People would start to think of the USA like one of those drunken soccer hooligans who break car windows for no reason and give you a "Manchester Kiss" (a head-but) if you look them in the eye.

2) Commentary claims that by securing Pakistan's nukes, we would make it much harder for Kashmiri terrorists to create a safe haven in Pakistan. Again, this argument is complete nonsense. If we remove their safehaven in Pakistan, they'll simply run off to Kashmir and then we're left looking like morons. But, if we take over Kashmir, they can't just run away, because we hold the territory that they want to liberate. So we can set a trap for them, like in Iraq, and they'll all coming running to their deaths. I suggest a pit trap with spikes in it. I know there's a lobby out there pushing for acid traps instead, but that's just prohibitively expensive. We're going to need two, maybe three of these traps to catch all the terrorists; that's a lot of acid!

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Kaus

by Gimpei | 15:21 in | comments (0)

Sometimes I wonder why I read Mickey Kaus, who often seems anti just for the sake of being anti. But then he goes and makes me laugh:

**--Earlier version of this item said "cocoon," not "bubble." But Sullivan arguably is in Obama's cocoon on the issue of torture, no? Not sure about the issue of genital warts! ...
And so I keep coming back.

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According to the New York Times, at least, a couple of distressed debt funds held up the negotiations over Chrysler, forcing it into bankruptcy. While I have absolutely no problem with distressed debt funds (I think they perform and invaluable service), I'm having trouble figuring out what the hell these guys are thinking. You don't play hardball on negotiations against the government when it is protecting blue collar jobs and at a time when wall street is reviled.

Is this part of the same phenomenon of banker indignation blogged about on Samuelcanread? Regardless, I hope that these guys are pilloried, not so much because they deserve it (although they do for being so stupidly arrogant: this is not an ordinary bankruptcy, the normal rules do not apply. You guys do realize you're going to start getting death threats?), but because we desperately need a scapegoat. We may very well need more tarp funds, if not a few nationalizations. I imagine this would be much easier to get if the American people saw a few more heads roll.

And Frank Rich thought he'd only be writing about Arlen Specter this week...

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Brad returns!

by Gimpei | 13:08 in | comments (0)

Oh joyful day. Brad Delong has returned to the Daily Gimpei. Witness this comment to my latest post. It is surely the finest example of the synthesis of the Sinnestrieb ("the sensuous drive") and Formtrieb ("the formal drive") into the Spieltrieb ("the play drive") since Schiller himself! It is short and yet it contains worlds:

I *do* have a day job...
In honor of this most auspicious event, I do hereby declare April the 24th Brad Delong day, and will heretofore add him to my blogroll.

P.S. Brad may be off the hook, but there's still the little matter of Malaysia. Despite my entreaties, I haven't gotten a single hit! Watch out Malaysia, I'm posting photoshoped naked pictures of you unless I see some results.

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Where are you Brad?

by Gimpei | 18:23 in | comments (1)

Brad where are you? Was the shoulder rub bad? Did you not approve of my grappa? I made it myself from the grape residue left over from some wine I also made myself. Did I mention that I did it the old fashion way, stomping on the grapes like a... person who stomps a lot. Please come back, even if you aren't the real Brad Delong. The illusion of a famous visitor is enough for me. I hate being disillusioned; I want to be reillusioned. More illusioning damn it!

P.S. Don't make me photoshop your head onto nude pictures.

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OMG OMG OMG. Warren Ellis + GI Joe. This is too good to be true. I keep slapping myself in case it's all actually a dream, but no it's real! I always liked Transformers, but GI Joe definitely had better storylines. Like the one where a Iceberg gets turned into a killer whale, or when dusty gets transported into an alternate universe where Cobra is good and GI Joe is bad, except there are no goatees! Now all they need to do is bring back Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light. I think Alan Moore would be good for this one. After all, they had to recite poems in order to get their abilities to activate.

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Things are really heating up in the comment section to my post on Brad Delong's blog. A little context, Robin is taking issue with Brad Delong's critique of the media's reportage of a book by Amity Shlaes that questions the success of the New Deal. Brad thinks the book is deeply flawed and that its flaws aren't being properly emphasized by the media. Robin's response follows.

If a book says the earth is not round and congressmen and congresswomen are quoting it, then I do want to know what the hell they're thinking, or not thinking. Like Bush, I don't want to hear their whole argument or reality's forceful rebuttal. I just want to get a sense of this phenomenon on its own terms -- which de long is unwilling, but not ill-equipped, to do. I also want to know the arguments for the world ending in 2012 -- I don't need Brad DeLong to tell me it's not going to end on that date. And I don't really need a piece in the article saying "Experts say the world isn't going to end."

I think, Brad -- whether you be real or fake -- that you over-estimate the imprimatur those articles give Shlaes's opinion and under-estimate how interesting people like Shlaes and their arguments are, whether or not they're right. And i also think you over-estimate how effective your rebuttals are.

For instance, your attack on Updike got all the right points about where Updike was wrong about Shlaes being factually wrong. Good stuff! But you really couldn't think why anyone would want to know Updike's take on this book, whether or not he knew anything about Aggregate Demand? I loved your dismantling of all his and her errors. But you didn't give any credit to Updike for being sarcastic about her book throughout his summaries -- the rebuttal doesn't come at the end, it comes in little stabs like "in a bold stroke of pyschologizing" "[FDR] was more charming, she has to admit, than Hoover" and the condemnation of her style and structure - which for Updike perhaps isn't all, but enough to expose her as a sham. The point is he didn't need to be an economist to see through her. His mockery of her is as effective as yours, if not more so, for being so wry and charming in its Updikean way. And you also condemn him for his little novelistic take on the 1930s at the end. Jesus! I found that part really interesting, but I guess only economists can discuss those 10 years of history now. god forbid the New York Times ever quote Steinbeck again. Or Dos Passos. I'd actually enjoy your reading of Steinbeck, even though you'd apparently be utterly deaf to his style (or lack of it).

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2007/06/poor-john-updik.html

I'm objecting to the tone more than anything else: you get angry in a way that your supporters will cheer and the people who disagree will look elsewhere and the people who don't care will wonder why you're shouting. And you also come across as something of a cultural commisar, which is mean and absurd to say, given how generous you are with your thoughts when in a good mood and given that you're blogging. But your attitude when you want to fight your corner is basically what made Pravda so boring and useless: no need to give any time to enemies of the state, the central committee already established months ago they were ideologically and factually unsound.

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A new visitor!

by Gimpei | 22:42 in | comments (0)

One of the responses to my post on Brad Delong's was from a visitor named... Brad!

Is that you Professor Delong? If so, sit back in my massage chair, relax and make yourself at home. See that art deco liquor cabinet to your right, go ahead and open it. Feel free to pour yourself a snifter; I recommend the grappa.

What, you're leaving already? Have some more grappa... You look tense, would you like a shoulder rub? If you're an impostor, I'll be really angry. Actually, I really need the traffic. Check out my post on slate!

Don't mind that Robin guy who criticized you in the comments section; he's just being defensive because he's a journalist.

Between you and me, journalists are all lazy rubes. They're constantly writing on a deadline, so they don't have the time to check anything they say. Hell, they're so pressed for time that they often let the PR directors of the companies they're supposed to be monitoring write their copy.

As for journalists not reporting accurately on Keynes, the great depression, etc., agreed, criticize away!

At the same time, are you really surprised that the reporting is bad? The subject matter is complicated to the point of incomprehensibility. It's like asking someone to explain Hegel. Nobody understands Hegel, not even... Hegel! Now imagine trying to condense your explanation into a 250 word article. What would you do in this situation? What would you do?!

I know what I'd do: panic and call the first person I could find who could say something about Hegel. I wouldn't be stupid enough to call two people because they'd probably disagree leaving me back at square one. Then I'd send the copy off to my editor as quickly as possible. If it's biased, so what, it's the editor's job to fix that. Besides, I have forty minutes to get something out on Merleau-Ponty. Aaaah.

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Where did Brad Delong's blog title, grasping reality with both hands, come from. Am I alone in finding it extremely irritating? I hope its derived from some famous quote; otherwise it's a perfect example of a horrifically overwritten title, like A Heartbreaking Jerk of Staggering Penis, only worse since there's no irony.

P.S. I do enjoy the blog, I just hate clicking on that title everyday in google reader.

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Crazy ass business card

by Gimpei | 09:29 in | comments (0)

I think the japanese might appreciate these, but the man has to do something about cost.

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Kahneman has some spot on analysis of the use of models in economics. The basic idea seems to be that people want models even if they don't work, because the illusion of certainty they provide is preferable to the reality of a world that is random and uncontrollable.

Reminds me a bit of the recent article on witch hunting in which Johann Hari theorizes that witch-hunting in the Congo is a way for people whose lives have been surrounded by death to regain some control. The collective misfortune of the community becomes the responsibility of the witch, and the witch's killing acts as a communal catharsis.

This also seems to relate to survivor's guilt and the tendency for people who have lost loved ones to feel a responsibility for their death. I've always thought of both of these phenomena as a way of asserting control: better to blame yourself than to accept the fact that the universe is fundamentally chaotic and that awful things can happen at any time for no reason and you can't do a thing about it. But I digress, enjoy the excerpts of the Kahneman's interview below:

Prof. Daniel Kahneman has dozens, perhaps hundreds, of stories about people's irrational behavior when it comes to making economic decisions. ... But the story Kahneman recalls when asked about the economic models at the root of the current financial crisis is actually taken from history, not an experiment. It concerns a group of Swiss soldiers who set out on a long navigation exercise in the Alps. The weather was severe and they got lost. After several days, with their desperation mounting, one of the men suddenly realized he had a map of the region.

They followed the map and managed to reach a town. When they returned to base and their commanding officer asked how they had made their way back, they replied, "We suddenly found a map." The officer looked at the map and said, "You found a map, all right, but it's not of the Alps, it's of the Pyrenees."

According to Kahneman, the moral of the story is that some of our economic models, perhaps those of the investment world, are worthless. But individual investors need security - maps of the Pyrenees - even if they are, in effect, worthless. ...

"In the last half year, the models simply didn't work. So the question arises: Why do people use models? I liken what is happening now to a system that forecasts the weather, and does so very well. People know when to take an umbrella when they leave the house, or when it will snow. Except what? The system can't predict hurricanes. Do we use the system anyway, or throw it out? It turns out they'll use it."

Okay, so they use it. But why don't they buy hurricane insurance?

"The question is, how much will the hurricane insurance cost? Since you can't predict these events, you would have to take out insurance against many things. If they had listened to all the warnings and tried to prevent these things, the economy would look a lot different than it does now. So an interesting question arises: After this crisis, will we arrive at something like that? It's hard for me to believe."

The financial world's models are built on the assumption that investors are rational. You have shown that not only are they not rational, they even deviate from what is rational or statistical, in predictable, systematic ways. Can we say that whoever recognized and accepted these deviations could have seen this crisis coming?

"It was possible to foresee, and some people did. ... I have a colleague at Princeton who says there were exactly five people who foresaw this crisis, and this does not include ... Ben Bernanke. One of them is Prof. Robert Shiller, who also predicted the previous bubble. The problem is there were other economists who predicted this crisis, like Nouriel Roubini, but he also predicted some crises that never came to be."

He was one of those who predicted 10 crises out of three.

"Ten out of three is a pretty good record, relatively. But I conclude from the fact that only five people predicted the current crisis that it was impossible to predict it. In hindsight, it all seems obvious: Everyone seemed to be blind, only these five appeared to be smart. But there were a lot of smart people who looked at the situation and knew all the facts, and they did not predict the crisis." ...

The interesting psychological problem is why economists believe in their theory, but this is the problem with the theory, any theory. It leads to a certain blindness. It's difficult to see anything that deviates from it."

We only look for information that supports the theory and ignore the rest. "Correct..." ...

Let's end with your story of the Swiss soldiers and the map of the Pyrenees. I know why the map helped the soldiers: it gave them confidence. But why didn't they use a map of the Alps? Why don't we use the right economic models, ones that are relevant to extreme cases as well?

"Look, it's possible that there simply is no map of the Alps, that there is nothing that can predict hurricanes."

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There is a sadness

by Gimpei | 09:08 in | comments (0)

Avid readers of the Daily Gimpei will remember my description of Updike as a "penis with a typewriter". While Updike may not have liked this characterization, I think J.G. Ballard would have found it quite apropos. Alas, he can appreciate it no more for he has passed away.

I leave you now with some excerpts of Ballard's classic "Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan."

WHY I WANT TO FUCK RONALD REAGAN [1967] by JG Ballard [excerpt from "The Atrocity Exhibition" ]

RONALD REAGAN AND THE CONCEPTUAL AUTO DISASTER. Numerous studies have been conducted upon patients in terminal paresis (GPI), placing Reagan in a series of simulated auto crashes, e.g. multiple pileups, head-on collisions, motorcade attacks (fantasies of Presidential assassinations remained a continuing preoccupation, subject showing a marked polymorphic fixation on windshields and rear trunk assemblies). Powerful erotic fantasies of an anal-sadistic surrounded the image of the Presidential contender.


Subjects were required to construct the optimum auto disaster victim by placing a replica of Reagan’s head on the unretouched photographs of crash fatalities.

In 82% of cases massive rear-end collisions were selected with a preference for expressed fecal matter and rectal hemorrhages. Further tests were conducted to define the optimum model-year. These indicate that a three year model lapse with child victims provide the maximum audience excitation (confirmed by manufacturers’ studies of the optimum auto disaster). It is hoped to construct a rectal modulous of Reagan and the auto disaster of maximized audience arousal.

Motion picture studies of Ronald Reagan reveal characteristic patterns of facial tones and musculature associated with homoerotic behavior. The continuing tension of buccal sphincters and the recessive tongue role tally with earlier studies of facial rigidity (cf., Adolf Hitler, Nixon). Slow-motion cine films of campaign speeches exercised a marked erotic effect upon an audience of spastic children. Even with mature adults the verbal material was found to have a minimal effect, as demonstrated by substitution of an edited tape giving diametrically opposed opinions...

INCIDENCE OF ORGASMS IN FANTASIES OF SEXUAL INTERCOURSE WITH RONALD REAGAN. Patients were provided with assembly kit photographs of sexual partners during intercourse. In each case Reagan’s face was super imposed upon the original partner. Vaginal intercourse with "Reagan" proved uniformly disappointing, producing orgasm in 2% of subjects.

Axillary, buccal, navel, aural, and orbital modes produced proximal erections. The preferred mode of entry overwhelmingly proved to be the rectal. After a preliminary course in anatomy it was found that the caecum and transverse colon also provided excellent sites for excitation. In an extreme 12% of cases, the simulated anus of post-costolomy surgery generated spontaneous orgasm in 98% of penetrations. Multiple-track cine-films were constructed of "Reagan" in intercourse during (a) campaign speeches, (b) rear-end auto collisions with one and three year model changes, (c) with rear exhaust assemblies...

SEXUAL FANTASIES IN CONNECTION WITH RONALD REAGAN. The genitalia of the Presidential contender exercised a continuing fascination. A series of imaginary genitalia were constructed using (a) the mouth parts of Jacqueline Kennedy, (b) a Cadillac, (c) the assembly kid prepuce of President Johnson...In 89% of cases, the constructed genitalia generated a high incidence of self-induced orgasm. Tests indicate the masturbatory nature of the Presidential contender’s posture. Dolls consisting of plastic models of Reagan’s alternate genitalia were found to have a disturbing effect on deprived children.

REAGAN'S HAIRSTYLE. Studies were conducted on the marked fascination exercised by the Presidential contender’s hairstyle. 65% of male subjects made positive connections between the hairstyle and their own pubic hair. A series of optimum hairstyles were constructed.

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Those crazy Japanese

by Gimpei | 15:48 in | comments (0)

From Japan Today:

A 34-year-old man was charged with assault on Wednesday, accused of wiping saliva on a woman’s coat while she was sleeping on a Keihin Tohoku line train.

Police said Nobufumi Kamigaki, a resident of Yokohama City, wiped saliva he had put in his hand on the left shoulder of the 23-year-old woman sitting next to him, at around 7.10 a.m. Wednesday. Train security personnel on board happened to see the incident and escorted the man off the train at Tsurumi station, handing him over to police.

Kamigaki has admitted to wiping saliva on the woman’s clothes and told police he had done it to about 20 women since the end of last year, telling police: “I wanted to make beautiful women dirty.”

I wonder if he's named Gimpei too...

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Once more I have stolen a delightful clip from boing boing for your viewing pleasure.


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Is this really happening?!!

by Gimpei | 10:04 in | comments (0)

Jaiku

by Gimpei | 08:50 in | comments (0)

From an anonymous coward comment in a slashdot post, I bring you Jaiku:

Clouds hide Mt. Fuji;

But a crooked tree halfway

Class java.io.LineNumberInputStream extends java.io.FilterInpuStream has been deprecated!

If you're laughing right now, you are a super nerd.

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Juliet Lapidos misses the point entirely in her critique of Battlestar Galactica. The problem is not that the show is secretly misogynist. The problem is that the show has been increasingly tailored to a certain melodrama loving, female demographic.

See, the first season of the show was badass. The Cylons had just exterminated 99% of humanity and they were tenaciously pursuing the last 1%. This translated into lots of cool scenes with spaceships blowing up and teleporting away in the nick of time. They also had this neat V-like twist where the Cylons looked like human beings, so there was lots of intrigue onboard the ship as to who was a spy. Finally, they had this great character in the philandering Dr. Gaius Baltar. Revenge of the Nerds aside, the media never portrays geeks as babe-magnets, never! This was monumentous--the intellectual worshiped--it was like France on a spaceship! What's more Gaius was haunted by a spectre of the Cylon that tricked him into turning over the codes for the earth's defenses; there was genuine pathos with these awesome dream sequences where he got to have even more sex.

But then, they introduced all this crap on how the Cylons couldn't reproduce because they didn't know how to love--and then it all went downhill. Suddenly, the space battles ended and in its place came love triangles and religious mumbo jumbo. Dee loved Apollo who loved Starbuck who loved Anders. Saul Tigh loved his wife Cally, but when he thought she had died, he grew to love a number 6 and got her pregnant. Of course when Cally was reborn, she was none too pleased about Tigh's new squeeze so she induced a miscarriage by forcing Saul Tigh to choose between his two loves. AAAH!!! It's like Days of Our Lives in space; Battlestar Galactica even has a guy with an eyepatch. All we need now is for Rosalyn to be possessed by the devil and the circle will be complete.

Battlestar Galactica is obviously pandering to the same demographic that used to watch soaps and is currently fixated on Gossip Girl. If Lapidos has a problem with this, then she should direct the blame where the blame is due: women. In short, I challenge Lapidos to become the Bill Cosby of feminism. Women need to look in the mirror and come to terms with the fact that they secretly love melodramatic, misogynist crap, and are the primary reason that it continues to thrive.

Only then can we all sit down together, male and female, and watch a true feminist work of art: Alien 2!

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Things aren't looking so good for neoclassics these days, what with all their models and artificially constructed puzzles melting before their eyes:

Charles Goodhart, who was fortunate enough not to encounter complete markets macroeconomics and monetary economics during his impressionable, formative years, but only after he had acquired some intellectual immunity, once said of the Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium approach which for a while was the staple of central banks’ internal modelling: “It excludes everything I am interested in”. He was right. It excludes everything relevant to the pursuit of financial stability.
Exactly! By the way, this wasn't written by some heterodox crank, but rather a founding member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England.

P.S. I'm not sure if it's good or bad to be a macroeconomist right now. I suppose its bad since everything has been thrown up in the air, but that also leaves so many promising new avenues for research.

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Silence critics!

by Gimpei | 08:35 in | comments (0)

I want at least one hit from Malaysia!

Anwar Ibrahim


Reformasi

uhh... Mahathir bin Mohamad is neither a dustbin nor the prophet Mohamad, discuss!

Nike?

Come on Malaysia, all I need is one hit.

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Gimpei is so old!

by Gimpei | 12:15 in | comments (0)


How old are you? Older than 25? Well then you better face the facts: you're past your prime; each new day just brings you one day closer to death.

Take this post from boing boing on video arcades:

In this RPGNet forum, a youngster asks, "I was reading about arcades and how you'd have to queue to play popular games as well as follow rules like no throwing in fighting game or the others wouldn't let you play. This seems rather strange. The money cost must have gotten expensive pretty quickly as well. I'm not old enough to have been to them when they were around so I'm curious about what they were like."
I am speechless. Arcades aren't around anymore? What do you do when you have to go bowling for a birthday party, but Jimmy stole the only 9 pound ball, and beside you hate bowling anyway because it sucks and it makes your hand hurt? What DO you do? What!

I know what I used to do: play Street Fighter II. It was something like this:
In arcades, you queued up for popular or new games, usually. You set down a quarter or a button or something on the machine (quarters were the popular choice), and you watched, and when the next round came up (in fighting games, this was when someone lost, but in other games, it was when they ran out of quarters), you jumped in. This usually meant you were playing against someone else, so you got to know everyone who was a regular quick.
Exactly! Except the arcade was in Japan Town so you thought you knew everyone else, but that's because you thought you were always playing the same Asian guy named Ping or something. I can say this because I'm not racist!

But wait, what were the mores of this ancient community? From Boing Boing:
I know in our arcade, there was a little sticky on the Street Fighter machine, reading, "M.Bison is an automatic forfeit of next turn", which meant that, if someone chose Bison (who, in the older Street Fighters, was dangerous as hell in an experienced player's hands), they got to play one round with him, and, win or lose, they had to hand the controls over to the next player in line.
Guess what Boing Boing, they may have taken that kind of shit at your arcade, but not at Japan Town Bowl. Yes M. Bison was cheap, but that's only if you sucked and couldn't properly counter Bison's Psycho Crusher with Ryu's Shōryū-ken. Then again, if you sucked that bad, you were probably one of those guys who played Guile all the time because you thought his flash kick was invincible (it's not). You probably never had the experience where Ping would totally surprise you by suddenly becoming awesome and using one of those crappy characters like Dhalsim to beat the pants off you.

Oh god I'm old...

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That's one ugly mug!

by Gimpei | 17:04 in | comments (2)


If I've learned anything from the many seminars I've attended over the years, its that pretty pictures are a huge asset. Take this map of the Iranian blogosphere. I don't know if it proves anything, but it sure looks cool. If I were a department head, it would make me more amenable to throwing some cash their way.

P.S. What's up with the massive interest in Persian poetry? Looks like all those friends of mine with Poetry MFAs have finally found their market. Now all they need to do is learn Persian...

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Woa

by Gimpei | 09:10 in | comments (0)

Is this a flying sausage or flying balls. I can't decide...

P.S. Flying buttocks?

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Nobody puts baby in a corner... Unless it's with a synthesizer!

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So Blow really freaked me out yesterday. Apparently even though I voted for Obama, watched the Wire, and support affirmative action (in France), I'm probably still a racist!

See there's a study at Harvard that can tell you whether you're a secret racist using next generation super duper science techniques. But fret not, dear reader, not only did I pass, I demonstrated a "slight automatic preference for dark skin over light skin." According to the website only 9% of all white people are in this group, whereas a whopping 76% are racists. I guess those hundreds of hours spent on hotornot were not in vain...

Can I get a certificate for this because I think it would really help my white-liberal street cred. This seems like a far better liberal status-symbol than, a prius or a mod haircut. The idea of walking down Bedford avenue in Williamsburg and shaming 76% of all hipsters is golden.

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LOL Cats

by Gimpei | 10:01 in | comments (1)

Somebody stole my idea!

by Gimpei | 13:26 in | comments (0)

Somebody stole my slate attack idea, except they honed it into a fine dagger aimed at the heart of Mickey Kaus!

[What do you have against Kausfiles? -- ed.]

Okay, you sit down to read your Slate, and you're enjoying your Daniel Gross and Fred Kaplan and Dahlia Lithwick, right? And then there's Mickey fucking Kaus, bottom right hand corner, just waiting to suck. And it's the last thing you read, so it spoils everything you read before it.

[You could just not read it. -- ed.]

I hate it, yet I'm uncontrollably drawn to it.
So true, except about slate in general.

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Is it just me or is Bob Herbert's love affair with Obama starting to get a little creepy?

Before Herbert was boring because he would talk about social problems that still exist but no one cares about anymore. Now he's boring because he seems to have morphed into fluffer in chief. Fire the man damn it!

...Or keep him on if he starts to write about his dreams of Obama riding around on a white unicorn, and then the unicorn suggests that they stop at the beach and the unicorn asks if he can apply some tanning oil to Obama's back because he wouldn't want Obama to get burnt. No no no he wouldn't want that... And then the unicorn unzips itself and out comes... Bob Herbert. Oh God!

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I feel nothing but jealousy with respect to this research team who have gained access to 60 terabytes of Everquest 2 data! With so much data, they will surely be able to reach the mythical land of Asymptopia, where the laws of large numbers actually apply.

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Sank you Danny Choo!

by Gimpei | 10:35 in | comments (1)

Words can't explain how much I've been enjoying Danny Choo's guest blogging on Boing Boing. He's the guy who did the storm trooper earth wind and fire dance.

I just can't get enough of this clip that he found. Especially the guy coming out of the turnstile.

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Misogyny English style!

by Gimpei | 10:05 in | comments (0)

Aha. Here's the science behind the goodyear advertisement. Seems pretty ironclad to me, no?



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Holy misogyny batman!

by Gimpei | 18:04 in | comments (1)

Maybe sexism really is worse than racism. This ad doesn't even look like it's that old. Too late now... I already voted for Obama.

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David Brooks is a guilty pleasure of mine. Why guilty you say? Because I get the impression that he doesn't really have an opinion on anything and simply writes whatever seems hip. Take, for example, his wild love/hate swings on Obama, or his defense wayback when of big government conservatism.

Still, given that he's often taken as the metric of moderate conservatism, neoclassics may have reason to be worried:

The nation had essentially bet its future on economic models with primitive views of human behavior. The government had tried to change social psychology using the equivalent of leeches and bleeding. Rather than blame themselves, Americans directed their anger toward policy makers and experts who based estimates of human psychology on mathematical equations.
I never know what Brooks believes because he often cages his statements in elaborate rhetorical devices. Here's one possible reading:

The government shouldn't intervene because it doesn't know what it's doing and will just make things worse. Economics isn't a science; it's just abstract mathematics.

If so, it's a pretty cunning about turn from someone who would have a few years ago turned to economists as a justification for the same end: don't intervene because markets are efficient (economists agree!).

It's certainly a better argument than the efficient markets hypothesis, but still seems flawed:

1) Not intervening is what got us here in the first place
2) The models may be flawed, but not all policy needs models. In fact, I'd argue the best policy is driven by common sense. The best thing Milton Friedman did was point out the obvious: there can't be a permanent trade-off between unemployment and inflation because people will eventually catch on and develop inflation expectations. No shit. I don't understand how anyone could have thought otherwise. Then again, looking at academia in general, there seems to be a huge incentive to argue for conclusions that defy logic; it's a lot more interesting than being told what you already know.
3) Economists do spend a lot of time thinking about the economy so they must know something. Just ignore their models, listen to their common sense arguments, and check up on their statistics. It won't be perfect but its better than nothing... I hope.

I'll leave you with this entertaining snip-it from an old Brooks piece that reminds me why I continue to read him:
When Democrats open their mouths, they try to say something interesting. If the true thing is obvious and boring, the liberal person will go off and say something original, even if it is completely idiotic. This is how deconstructionism got started.

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Those crazy Cubans...

by Gimpei | 09:59 in | comments (1)

I always heard that Fidel Castro loved to give four hour long speeches, but I never really stopped to think what he actually talked about. Is this what it's like? It's worse than the Film Noir professor I had in college whose lectures were a hopeless mash of: recollections about his battle with alcoholism ("alcoholics like to think they can get better just by switching from hard liquor to beer, but believe me it doesn't work") , speculations on the sexuality of actors in the 1940s, and panegyrics to his dog (who was admittedly very cute).

Here are some of Castro's thoughts on Rham Emanuel's name:

What a strange surname! It appears Spanish, easy to pronounce, but it’s not. Never in my life have I heard or read about any student or compatriot with that name, among tens of thousands.

Where does it come from? I wondered. Over and over, the name came to mind of the brilliant German thinker, Immanuel Kant, who together with Aristotle and Plato, formed a trio of philosophers that have most influenced human thinking. Doubtless he was not very far, as I discovered later, from the philosophy of the man closest to the current president of the United States, Barack Obama.

Another recent possibility led me to reflect on the strange surname, the book of Germán Sánchez, the Cuban ambassador in Bolivarian Venezuela: The transparence of Enmanuel, this time without the “I” with which the German philosopher’s name begins.

Enmanuel is the name of the child conceived and born in the dense guerrilla jungle, where his extremely honorable mother, Colombian vice presidential candidate Clara Rojas González, was taken prisoner on February 23, 2002, together with Ingrid Betancourt, who was a presidential candidate in that sister country’s elections that year...

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Those crazy Japanese...

by Gimpei | 09:11 in | comments (1)

Is this clip racist or has it gone so far overboard that it's broken through the space-racist continuum and is now lost somewhere in the uncanny valley.

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I have my first irate comment. This is a good start, the sparing use of caps is a nice touch, as is the confusing grammar (what does "their" refer to in the second paragraph?). However, it would be nice if there was a bit more swearing and such. Could I suggest this as a template?

Anyway, onto the comment:

You're all over the place, Gimpei! You just repeated all the points i was making with my comment, and then claiming them as your own, at length.

The fact that your vaunted lab experiments FALSIFY their assumptions suggests they are FALSIFIABLE, no? So just say that their assumptions have been shown to be wrong. Otherwise you're like the Derridean who uses ersatz logical reasoning to proudly prove that there can be no such thing as logical reasoning.
There's seems to be some confusion here. My argument was that assumptions about consumer behavior have been disproved, and yet the majority of macroeconomists have ignored this result and continue to use these assumptions as if nothing had happened. This suggests that these assumptions are insulated from empirical testing, i.e. they are not falsifiable.

For a science to be falsifiable in the Popperian sense, the scientists who are actually using these assumptions need to accept that they can be disproved, and need to agree on the manner in which they can be disproved. There doesn't seem to be a way to disprove neoclassical assumptions in economics, thus by Popper's criteria, economics is a pseudoscience. Is this clear?

This is my interpretation of Popper, not my own opinion. I'm a big fan of Daniel Hausman and highly recommend his book The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics.

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Five responses to a single post, it's a Gimpei record! I have challenged you reader. Do you feel your mind expanding? It's because I'm blowing it! Hmm... that didn't come across right. Anyway, the debate seems to have progressed. Take the latest response:

We can predict the economy with much better precision than we can the weather: ie. I can tell you roughly what the economy in China will look in 6 months far more accurately than I could the weather -- even taking into account seasonal variations! So there goes meteorology.
There are two fundamental problems with this comment:

1. I never said that predictive power is necessary for something to be a science.

2. Meteorology is a terrible example.


Let's start with problem number one. In the previous post I was giving reasons for why according to Popper economics is a pseudoscience.

In fact, I disagree with Popper on most points and think he's a terrible model for all sciences. Late Popper lets up a bit on the strict falsification criteria. However, he never managed to get around Kuhn's critique: if Popper's methodology had actually been followed, many of the our greatest scientific discoveries would never have been made. Popper's disciple, Lakatos, tried to deal with this problem; unsuccessfully in my opinion, but that's another story.

As for the content of the comment, predictive power is obviously not a prerequisite for a science. If it were, evolutionary theory, geology, etc wouldn't be sciences. Not even Popper would go that far. He just really disliked Freudianism and Marxism.

My point was that, from the point of view of Popper, for economics to be a science, it has to be possible to falsify any assumption. I argued in the previous post that there were certain privileged assumptions about consumer behavior that are immune to falsification: they aren't questioned when macro models fail and they aren't questioned when lab and field experiments suggest that people actually behave completely differently. There's actually a paper written by Popper where he tries analyze economics and its pretty entertaining to see him dance around the obvious conclusion that, by his criteria, it is a pseudoscience.

On to part 2: Meteorology is a stupid example.

You can predict the weather in six months with greater confidence than the state of the Chinese economy. In six months time, we have a pretty good idea that the temperature will be in a certain narrow band in China.

If only business cycles were as easy to predict as seasonal changes. China just posted a 20 million drop in employment! In six months, they could be sitting pretty or tanking. Are you clarevoyant or just exhibiting an overconfidence bias?

More fundamentally, Meteorologists aren't in the same position as macroeconomists since the science of meteorology on the micro-level is pretty sound. Last time I checked, we didn't have 30 years of experiments undermining the laws of thermodynamics!

Game, set, and match. Keep the comments comming; they grow more sophisticated by the minute. If you're lucky I may even tell you where Milton Friedman got it the most wrong (hint: it has nothing to do with free markets).

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Romoney raised an interesting point in response to the previous post:

But aren't economic theories at least theoretically falsifiable? The problem is that they are so very hard to falsify.
My answer is that by Popper's criteria, neoclassical economic theory is not falsifiable. I disagree with Popper fundamentally, and my memory is somewhat hazy, so let me apologize ahead of time for what is surely a crude bastardization of Popper's theory of falsifiability (at least early Popper).

There's an idea in the philosophy of science that comes out of logic called the Duhem-Quine problem. It basically says that certain scientific hypotheses cannot be disproved because in order to test them empirically you need to add extra auxiliary assumptions, and if the test fails you can simply reject the auxiliary assumptions rather than the original hypothesis.

Popper was well aware of this logical difficulty and argued that a discipline could only be considered a science insofar as it structured its tests in a manner that all hypotheses, not only auxiliary assumptions, can be falsified.


A cursory glance at economics reveals that there are certain sacred cows, termed the "hard core", that cannot be disproved. Take general equilibrium (DSGE) models, which forms the basis for a large amount of macro work. In DSGE models, a set of "hard core" assumptions in consumer theory allow hundreds of millions of people to be aggregated into a single "representative consumer."

These assumptions are extremely restrictive. Since the late seventies, behavioral economists have found in the lab, in the field, and with people from all walks of life that these assumptions are consistently violated. People simply do not behave in the manner assumed by neoclassical theory.

There are a plethora of responses by neoclassical economists: these tests have been performed in a lab so they don't apply in the real world; they may have been applied in the real world, but only to a few hundred people etc. These responses are normally followed by the claim that, through the magic of aggregation, inconsistencies on the individual level are miraculously smoothed out.

This argument might make sense if DSGE models actually worked, but they don't. Neoclassical economists like to say that their models are true because they "fit" a set of data that has been fed into them. However, this criteria of "fitness" hardly constitutes a test of their verity. This is because the coefficients in these models are simply adjusted (the technical term is "calibrated") until the best fit is reached. So these models fit by definition!

A better test of a model is whether, once calibrated for one set of data, it works as well with a different set of data: if we feed a new set of data (for which we already know the outcomes) into the model, to what degree do the predictions of the model match the actual outcomes. Unsurprisingly most models fail miserably at this point.

The true test, of course, is whether a model can predict outcomes in the real world. Unfortunately, as we have seen over the past year, they've seriously dropped to ball on this one.

Thus not only have neo-classical macroeconomists known for the past twenty-five years that their assumptions are wrong on the micro level, but their models don't work at the macro level either. Rather than questions these assumptions, because it would involve completely refashioning macroeconomics, they have, as predicted by Quine, simply rejected the auxiliary hypotheses particular to each distinct model. At this point there isn't any evidence left that could get them to change their minds; the "hard core" assumptions of macro are unfalsifiable.

If you've managed to make it this far in my post, kudos to you. I'd like to reiterate that I disagree fundamentally with Popper, but I do think that neoclassical macro is in a precarious state. The only thing that has kept it alive for so long is the absence of a competing research program. There's something called agent based modeling that could be promising, but it has been marginalized up until now by the neoclassics who control all the major journals. Given the myriad shortcomings of neoclassical macro, it seems worthwhile to at least give these guys a shot. If some major breakthrough were to come out of agent based modeling, it could reinvent macroeconomics on a far stronger microfoundation.

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I've been meaning to read more econ blogs, because they are so insightful, especially about other disciplines. Take this post on Marginal Revolution:

The author is Kristin Luker and the subtitle is Research in an Age of Info-Glut. I enjoyed this book very much and I thought it was one of the best books on the philosophy of the social sciences I have read, ever. In part it is good because it ignores philosophy of science (and Continental philosophy gobbledy-gook) and focuses on the anthropology of how research is actually done. Here is the author's summary of her message

It's so true, philosophy of science is worthless unless of course it's Popper. Stephen Hawking likes Popper, and what is economics if not the physics of the social sciences? I need to read some Popper.

[Reads Popper]

Uh oh, seems Popper's philosophy implies that economics is a pseudo-science like marxism or psychoanalysis (according to Popper real science doesn't make unfalsifiable assumptions).

But wait! There's this person called Deirdre McCloskey, and she says that economics is a science. Except she's a postmodernist who doesn't believe that science reveals truth, tries to analyze economics as if it were literature, and has the uncanny ability to bore and annoy simultaneously.

Damn you philosophy of science! You've won this round, but I'll win the war by never reading you again and ignoring anything you have to say. After all, the proof is in the putting and look at how successful macroeconomics has been recently... except... doh!

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I just can't get this skit out of my head. Want bitty!


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As part of my research, I've been delving into some papers from other disciplines. Now I am a big fan of interdisciplinarity; I'm delighted by the move in economics to borrow from other disciplines like psychology, sociology, and history and hope that it accelerates. But... Man is there a lot of crap in other disciplines. I guess I shouldn't be surprised given the amount of crap churned out by economists, but still.

Take this anthro paper on the internet in Malaysia. First off, the writing is terrible:

Having visited putatively exemplary innovative spaces such as Silicon Valley, Cyberjaya planners were clearly convinced of the importance of creating an environment of interactive conduct.
This is anthropology guys, you know one of those liberal arts subjects that has no use in the "real" world. At the very least, you're supposed to be able to write! Reading this sentence makes me feel like I'm chewing on dried cow dung: too many needless polysyllabic words and irritating alliterations.

The kicker, which prompted me to write this post is the following:
If Southern California was the exemplary intelligent space on account of its ‘technical virtuosity and economic dynamism’ (Winner, 1992, p. 32), then its inhabitants--what Nigel Thrift has termed Homo Silicon Valleycus (Thrift, 2000, p. 688)--were imaginatively positioned at a global evolutionary apex in the minds of MSC planners.
Aren't anthropologists supposed to do lots of field work, where they visit physical locations rather than simply reading about them in a book? These guys don't seem to know much about basic geography: silicon valley is in Northern California. You may think this is a tad nit picky on my part, but if you're supposed to be an expert in anthropological implications of new media, this is one thing I think you should know.

I don't see why they didn't just go the traditional route and write in a manner that is so incomprehensible that the paper is impossible to critique, like Homi Bhabha:

If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities, and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to 'normalize' formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality.

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The Palestinian Israeli conflict has been going on for a hundred years now with no end in sight. So I think it's time that we think "outside the box" on this one.

I have a modest proposal, based upon a very simple but compelling premise:

The best compromise is when neither party is happy.

So based on that premise, here’s the plan:

1. Move both the Palestinians and the Israelis to some godforsaken part of the world with plenty of space. Like, say, the Australian outback.

2. Turn present day Israel/Palestine into a toxic nuclear waste dump so that nobody has any incentive to return and fight for control ever again.

3. Everybody's miserable. but they can rebuild their lives together wrestling crocs, shaggin' Roos, and drinking Fosters.

4. If the Australians complain, just continue to expand the "settlements" on their land until they're boxed in like the Palestinians today. Since they are relatively godless, nobody will care, apart from maybe the atheist lobby (i.e. Christopher Hitchens). Also, given Australia's triple crimes of Silver Chair, Yahoo Serious, and Neighbors, they've really had it coming for a while.

Have I offended enough people yet?

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Wowa! What do we have here? Obama naked, getting a sensual rubdown from a unicorn. I think what makes this painting classy is the painstaking detail on the unicorn's buttocks. Makes me think of the horses that Whitman rides through Leaves of Grass:

A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive to my caresses,
Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears,
Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground,
Eyes full of sparkling wickedness, ears finely cut, flexibly moving.

His nostrils dilate as my heels embrace him,
His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure as we race around and return.

I but use you a minute, then I resign you, stallion,
Why do I need your paces when I myself out-gallop them?

Even as I stand or sit passing faster than you.

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As part of my ongoing obsession with Slate (actually I'm not so much obsessed as too lazy to hunt out my own set of blogs and tie them into google reader), I point you, dear reader, to the following post by Timothy Noah.

So as to spare you the bother of the click-through, let me summarize: summer internships are now being sold for as much as 2,500 a pop! What a scandle! In fact there's even a web site where any old schmoe can purchase these internships.

From my experiences in the media sector, I can confidently say that this new development has probably increased equality. Whereas in the past, cushy internships were limited to the immensely wealthy and well-connected, now the wealthy, or even the upper middle class can get their foot in the door.

I know what you're thinking: you're being too cynical Gimpei, the MSM must rigorously screen their interns. They wouldn't, for example, give an internship to the daughter of the editor-in-chief's psychoanalyst, to a well-respected foreign academic's son who wants to improve his english, or to the children of fellow journalists. Actually, they do and almost exclusively.

Here's the thing:

1) Editors are lazy. What other business has half-days on fridays during the summer so that the staff can go off to their country homes?

2) The work that interns perform requires absolutely no ability. None. They could easily be replaced by monkeys.

3) From the editors perspective then: why bother going through an intensive interviewing process when you can just ask a friend if their kid needs some work sending faxes and making copies?

The problem is that although internships are a poor signal of ability, they are the only way of getting your foot in the door. In my opinion, if some middle class kid likes music enough to get his parents to drop 2,500, more power to him. Worst case he'll just be taking the place of one of Peter Travers' kids, which can only be a good thing.

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Silent snow, secret snow

by Gimpei | 00:36 in | comments (0)



With a little bit of snow, London can actually be beautiful in a spooky sort of way.


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All you fans out there of the Daily Gimpei are no doubt aware of some of the issues I've had with Slate. Nevertheless, I do find myself visiting their site several times a day. Also, I visit my site several times a day (and from different IP addresses!). Naturally the most efficient solution would be for me to write for Slate: that way I wouldn't have to visit as many disparate sites.

Now I know what you're wondering, Slate: Why would we help you, Gimpei, when you've both mocked and shamelessly copied our site (i.e. Kaus)? What do we have to gain?

1. Slate is always looking for the next young pundit:

I am young and I often say things that bear a family resemblance to the writings of a pundit.

2. Slate expects its contributors to be masterful wordsmiths

I can use words that seem big, but are actually understood by the majority of your readership.
Readers love this because it makes them feel smart:

At the risk of sounding sesquipedalian, it really seemed like someone hit Aretha Franklin with a sartorial ugly stick at the inauguration.

I can also use words that nobody understands (even me!). This adds value to your brand by signaling to your readership that you are smarter than them, and thus worthy of being listened to:
When it comes to a Gimpei/Slate merger, I truly believe that our interests are in syzygy!

3. Slate demands contributors who can be insightful and pithy

Surely you jest, because the Daily Gimpei is nothing if not insightful and pithy:

Gimpei on twitter:

"If I really cared about what you're doing every second of the every day, I am probably stalking you. Why make it any easier for me?"


Gimpei on Barbara Kingsolver:

"If, as David Foster Wallace wrote, Updike is just a penis with a dictionary, then surely Barbara Kingsolver is just a vagina with an Almanac." DISCLAIMER: I have not read a word of Barbara Kingsolver, but come on, with a title like "The Poisonwood Bible" it just works.

4. This is the publishing business we're talking about here. You are not related to, have not gone to college with, or slept with anyone bearing any connection to Slate. Slate will never hire you, never!

It's true Slate. I am not related to you and I have never managed to get in your pants. However, I read you so obsessively that sometimes I feel like laws of space and time have been transcended and that we are alone together on a tropical beach: I in my boardshorts with hair bleached blond by the sun, you in a sleek, cut-away one piece. We exchanged the briefest of glances at the pool side bar, but what our gaze lacked in longevity was more than made up for in fiery concupiscence. And I know it may sound funny Slate, but during these special moments, I feel... No... I know that somewhere out there on the other end of the DSLAM you feel the same... Can't you see Slate? We don't have to be star crossed lovers; some stories do have happy endings!

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Rabbit well done?

by Gimpei | 23:36 in | comments (0)

We at the Daily Gimpei are nothing if not respectful of the dead. So let us all share a moment of silence for the "penis with a thesaurus".

Okay... Let us now end this moment of silence. Who actually likes Updike? I read Rabbit Run and found it mildly entertaining. I tried to read a few of his pieces on art in the New York Review of Books and on literature in the New Yorker... but they were so boring that I couldn't get more than a page in. If only he was as entertaining as a penis with a thesaurus.

P.S. If Updike is a penis with a thesaurus, there must be vagina with an almanac out there somewhere. Barbara Kingsolver perhaps?

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Say it isn't so Dr. Olken. Please, say it isn't so. The root of all evil can't be television.

What about "The Wire?" I'm sure if Indonesian peasants were spending their time watching "The Wire" instead of normal TV, their social capital would increase hugely. Think of all the extra time spent around the watercooler puzzling over whether Omar's luck will ever run out...

Except their are no watercoolers in the jungles of Java. You've won this round Olken... But I'll be back.

P.S. I actually finished reading the article and it turns out that although television watching decreases social capital and attendance at village meetings, it has no effect on the quality of governance. Take home message: Don't bother trying to change things because evil always prevails; better to spend your time watching television so that you can escape from the cruel cruel world.

Take that Olken. Little did you know I had an ace up my sleeve going by the name of... Olken!

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I'm not sure what my feelings are in terms of this opening to a travel piece:

Every language attracts a special kind of student. Spanish speakers are lazy and charming. Those who have mastered French are sometimes chic and always sybaritic. Hebrew attracts the committed; Turkish, the committed and complicated. Adventurers are drawn to Arabic, and Mandarin is for brainiacs who love a challenge—so much so that they often abandon the language altogether once they've got it down. And Japanese? Japanese speakers are serious, serious people. Of course, all languages demand tedious, diligent study, but there's something about Japanese that calls out to those who are quiet, kind, and, often, spiritual. People who would rather kneel on a tatami mat contemplating a calligraphy scroll than, say, slump on a sofa watching Gossip Girl.
There are some things I really hate about it: the heavy reliance on sweeping generalizations; the fact that I had to look up the definition of the word sybaritic (it means lover of opulence); the reference to that pox of my existence show Gossip Girl.

But, I find myself drawn to it at the same time. There's something fun about reading these sorts of broad generalizations. Stereotyping always has a certain appeal because it makes the world seem simpler and less indeterminate. Reading stuff like this is also a bit like going to a palm reader; what does the language that I speak say about me?

In conclusion, I've decided this is a good template for the lead-in to a fluff piece. I shall keep it on record and continue to collect similar devices. Once I reach a critical point, I think I should be able to design a program that automatically spits out engaging fluff pieces. I'll make millions.

P.S. Do they teach this kind of stuff in J-School (I know you've read this "anonymous" so you better respond)

P.P.S. They do in short story writing classes:
Dialogue: Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway
Narrative Structure: The Lady with the Pet Dog by Chekov
To show that creative writing isn't all formulaic: Emergency by Dennis Johnson

P.P.P.S Someone should start teaching In Dreams Begin Responsibility by Delmore Schwartz for an example of some excellent neuroticism. Since the majority of people in creative writing classes are neurotic, they should learn how to channel their disability productively.

P.P.P.P.S. Why do asperger sufferers get an official diagnosis and heaps of sympathy and not neurotics? Someone needs to create a neurotics lobby that fights for the rights of all neurotics. I nominate Woody Allen.

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I'll admit it: I am a wee bit prone to spiteful jealousy. But every so often something comes around that is just too damn good for me to dismiss with one of my withering philippics.

Take these dudes from the clip above who attached a wiimote to a skateboard allowing you to play Tony Hawk with an actual skateboard. This seems like a great way to mix exercise with fun. What I'd really like to see is some sort of contraption where the skateboard doesn't actually have to move. Instead you should be able to use your balance to change the position of the skateboard, and, with the help of some straps, jump at appropriate times.

Somebody make this; I'd buy it!

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