26 February 2011

Weekend Links, for Fun

Peggy Lee sings Black Coffee: http://bit.ly/fnzuEE

Deep water delights: http://bit.ly/ikohB3

Most expensive car crash ever: http://read.bi/frfYna

How to foreclose on a bank in the US (it's not easy, you have to beat
their lawyers at their game): http://bit.ly/faLvZN

The guy who beat Wells Fargo's lawyers and foreclosed on one of their
branches: http://bit.ly/ecJP9R

Have a good week-end,


25 February 2011

Ask an economist for marital advice

On "General Theory of the Second Best," I told the story of a female
economist who went to Gary Becker for marital advice. At the time, I
couldn't find the reference, so I told the story as I recalled it.

The nature of the Second Best is that, in the real world, the Second
Best is often better than the pristine best, shown in the academic
world. So, I wanted a real world example. Something on the hoof, as we
say here in the US.

Now I've found the actual reference. It's here: http://bit.ly/hicwjJ.
I guess you can decide if it's an example of the second best being
better than the best in the real world or not.


24 February 2011

The Financial Crisis in Ireland

according to Michael Lewis: http://bit.ly/ha76Ic.

from Vanity Fair.


The General Theory of the Second Best

As I understand it, the general theory of the second best states that
the second best is often better than the best. The original article by
Lipsey and Lancaster is here: http://bit.ly/hiLgM8.

An anecdote, possibly true, helps to understand the concept.

A woman, looking sad, comes to Gary Becker, the economist, for marital
help. "Gary," she says, "I'm a professor of economics. I've proven,
mathematically, that the most efficient way to run a marriage is
50:50. Here's the paper. My husband, also a professor of economics,
has read it. He finds nothing wrong with my paper. We have two small
children. I try to run my household by the 50:50 rule. I do 50%, I
expect him to do 50%. I vacuum 50%, I expect him to vacuum 50%, for
instance. I cook a meal, I expect him to cook a meal, but he just
microwaves or we go out to eat. It's just not working. I'm not happy.
I'm measuring every thing all the time. My husband is disgruntled. Our
marriage is in crisis. What's wrong?"

Prof. Becker says, "Well, your paper is perfect, I can find nothing
wrong with the concepts or the mathematics. You've come to me for
advice and so I say what I want you to do is stop measuring. Stop the
50:50 business and just see how things go. Come back in a month and
let me know things are going."

One month later, the woman returns. "Gary," she effuses, "life
couldn't be better. I'm happy. My husband's happy. Things get done,
and, if they don't perhaps, they didn't need doing in the first place.
If I were measuring, I'm sure I'm doing more than 50%, but for some
things he does 100%. It varies. Best of all, our love life's returned.
Why is this way better than the 50:50?"

Gary says, "Sometimes the second best is better than the best."

Yves Smith referenced this article a lot in her book, Econned, which
is her account of the recent financial crisis.


The Nutmobile

Kitsch works for branding in the US at least: http://usat.ly/eMJhXV.

The best part is that the thing can run on peanut oil.


20 February 2011

Weekend Relaxation

Audio: (Peter Gunn theme) http://bit.ly/enmnyx

Video: (humpback whales off coast of Dominican Republic): http://bit.ly/fzUmyi


18 February 2011

Government officials explain themselves

On the right, we have Donald Rumsfeld: http://n.pr/fcYBi5.

On the left, budget director Jack Lew: http://n.pr/eMbMea.

They're interviewed by the same guy.

No, it's not you and the fact that you may not be a native speaker of

There's a lot of words, but no substance. There's no taking
responsibility for anything. There's no explaining; only obfuscation
(blowing smoke).

Who pays, or paid, these guys? US taxpayers.


17 February 2011

Music & technology chart

Here: http://bit.ly/eTEj6i.


15 February 2011

Accounting Scandals and Scoundrels

from Wikipedia: http://ping.fm/95FBB


The MBA Show

Comedy from poets and quants at MIT's Sloan School of Business: http://ping.fm/ZkN16


Mubarak's assets

http://ping.fm/T83Y4 and


Brush up your Shakespeare



A strategy

Here is an interesting post: http://bit.ly/eIthsI.

When you surf the web, you can do it better if you have a strategy.
What are you looking for? For me, I am looking for people who have
information I don't have, a point of view I don't have, intelligence I
don't have, or something. They have to be able to communicate to me.
Right now I don't have a goal.

Anyhow, this is one blog I'll subscribe to for awhile at least.


14 February 2011

Spy versus spy

A lot of this has happened in the US, so you may not have heard the
story, which proceeded in steps...

1) Wikileaks gets and publishes US Federal Government cables

2) Paypal, and, as I recall, VISA and Mastercard, deny payments to

3) Anonymous, an organization of computer hackers, decides this is an
attack on freedom of information

4) Anonymous hacks Paypal, VISA, Mastercard websites

5) Chambers of Commerce, US I think, who are usually sleepy inactive
little organizations, decide to attack

6) They hire a security firm called HBGary (http://bit.ly/hCQWW9)

7) The Feds close in on Anonymous and/or their contacts, shutting at
least part of their of operations down

8) Anonymous gets wind of the Chambers of Commerce-HBGary
negotiations and publishes that

9) More to follow??


The political economy of revolution

This is Robert H. Frank's review of Kuran's book Private Truths,
Public Lies: http://bit.ly/gZnPRm.

Frank is a behavioral economist from Cornell. Kuran is an economist
from Duke. Kuran popularized the concept of preference falsification,
which is the idea that people in a public setting often don't tell the

It sounds childishly simple, but it helps explain why revolutions can
strike unexpectedly. I suppose it might explain why revolutions might
spread too.


06 February 2011


pictures here: http://bzfd.it/gDdtA3.


How to be somewhat happier

by Oliver Burkeman here: by Oliver Burkeman here: http://bit.ly/i1aZmS.

Different, funny and interesting.