I have always taught my economics students that there is no such thing as a shortage; there is only a shortage at a certain price. If there is a shortage of something at a low price, the excess quantity demanded will drive prices up. These higher prices will induce an increase in the quantity supplied and a reduction in the quantity demanded until a price is reached at which the quantity supplied equals the quantity demanded == no shortage.
But for this basic analysis to apply, markets must be relatively free to work relatively smoothly. In too many jurisdictions, political pull and vested interests lead to prices that do not, indeed cannot, respond to market forces. Politicians and their crony supporters bugger things up. And that is what has happened with water in California.
Here is a pretty good summary from the Washington Post. Unfortunately it is missing this simple overview about the price system and gets into blaming certain uses too much. The list and the accompanying graphics are quite informative. Here is the list; see the full article for the explanations:
8 fascinating images explain California’s dangerous drought
1. California is one of the most-drought stricken regions of the U.S.
2. Things have gotten worse since then.
3. You don't need a PhD to see why California is in trouble.
4. California's water crisis isn't really due to its people.
5. Agriculture is the much bigger consumer of California's water.
6. Almond shaming is justified.
7. But almonds aren't the only offenders.
8. Power generation is another major hidden consumer of water.
Remember through all this that agriculture uses so much water because California's price for using water in agriculture is so low. There is a LOT of agriculture in California that is inefficient and doesn't belong there. It wouldn't be there if the users of that water had to pay prices for the water that reflect the full costs of using it. And if water were priced appropriately, there is a LOT of agricultural land that would be worth a LOT less than it is now.... look at agricultural landowners as the primary beneficiaries of water prices that are too low.
But in addition to agriculture (and other) cronyism, there is another type of political pressure that has contributed to the water shortage (at current prices): Environmentalism. See this.
This is a textbook example of how the media perpetuates a false narrative based on a phony statistic. Farmers do not use 80 percent of California’s water. In reality, 50 percent of the water that is captured by the state’s dams, reservoirs, aqueducts, and other infrastructure is diverted for environmental causes. Farmers, in fact, use 40 percent of the water supply. Environmentalists have manufactured the 80 percent statistic by deliberately excluding environmental diversions from their calculations. Furthermore, in many years there are additional millions of acre-feet of water that are simply flushed into the ocean due to a lack of storage capacity — a situation partly explained by environmental groups’ opposition to new water-storage projects.
It's a fun piece to listen to; and it's a tricky, challenging piece to play (for me, anyway). I've been enthralled by recordings and by live performances of it. It's a treat to be a part of this performance.
Carmina Burana and other numbers, Central Secondary School, London, Ontario. 2pm, Sunday, April 19th.
This is NOT from The Onion:
A [police] spokesman confirmed that officers had searched Banda’s home, though he denied it was a raid. He also said the initial anti-drug program was put on entirely by the school — the police had no involvement. At that event Banda’s son apparently contradicted some of the claims made about marijuana. The school then contacted the child protection agency, which then contacted the police. Officers from the department showed up at Banda’s at home and asked her permission to conduct a search. She refused. They then obtained a warrant and searched her home. The spokesman wouldn’t comment on exactly what was found, except to say that there was “evidence” of drug activity. Banda was then arrested and her son was seized from the home. Currently, there are no criminal charges against her. The spokesman wouldn’t comment on whether charges may be forthcoming. He added that possession of marijuana is illegal in Kansas, without exception.
The absurdity here of course is that a woman could lose her custody of her child for therapeutically using a drug that’s legal for recreational use an hour to the west. It seems safe to say that the amount of the drug she had in her home was an amount consistent with personal use. (If she had been distributing, she’d almost certainly have been charged by now.)
This boy was defending his mother’s use of a drug that helps her deal with an awful condition. Because he stuck up for his mother, the state arrested her and ripped him away from her. Even if he is eventually returned to his mother (as he ought to be), the school, the town, and the state of Kansas have already done a lot more damage to this kid than Banda’s use of pot to treat her Crohn’s disease ever could.
"Who could imagine that they would Freak-Out in Kansas?" [Frank Zappa]
As I mentioned earlier, I'm delighted that the Pope declared the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians to be a genocide. The evidence certainly suggests that it was.
Was it also a Jihad?
Jeff Jacoby suggests it had some pretty strong similarities to modern-day jihads.
Speaking at the Vatican during a Sunday Mass to mark the centenary of the slaughter, the pope said it is “widely considered the first genocide of the 20th century” — a quote from Pope John Paul II, who used nearly the same words in 2001. But Francis went further, equating the destruction of the Armenians to the Nazi Holocaust and the Soviet bloodbaths under Stalin. And he linked the genocidal Ottoman assault on Armenia, the world’s oldest Christian nation, with the epidemic of violence against Christians today, especially by such radical Islamist terror groups as ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al Shabab. ...
Talaat Pasha, the powerful Ottoman interior minister during World War I, certainly didn’t disguise his objective. “The Government . . . has decided to destroy completely all the indicated [Armenians] persons living in Turkey,” he brusquely reminded officials in Aleppo in a September 1915 dispatch. “An end must be put to their existence . . . and no regard must be paid to either age or sex, or to conscientious scruples.” ...
That key fact is one the pope, to his credit, refuses to downplay: Armenians were victims not only of genocide, but also of jihad. In imploring his listeners on Sunday to hear the “muffled and forgotten cry” of endangered Christians who today are “ruthlessly put to death — decapitated, crucified, burned alive — or forced to leave their homeland,” Francis was reminding the world that the price of irresolution in the face of determined Islamist violence is as steep as ever.
The jihadists of 1915 murdered “bishops and priests, religious women and men, the elderly, and even defenseless children and the infirm.” The world knew what was happening; the grisly details were extensively reported at the time. Just as they are now, and with as little effect.
However, see this from today's NYTimes, which agrees the conflict was between Muslims and Armenians, but which also highlights the political (more than the religious) nature of the genocide:
“They threw them in that hole, all the men,” said Vahit Sahin, 78, sitting at a cafe in the center of the village, reciting the stories that have passed through generations.
Mr. Sahin turned in his chair and pointed toward the monastery. “That side was Armenian.” He turned back. “This side was Muslim. At first, they were really friendly with each other.”
A hundred years ago, amid the upheaval of World War I, this village and countless others across eastern Anatolia became killing fields as the desperate leadership of the Ottoman Empire, having lost the Balkans and facing the prospect of losing its Arab territories as well, saw a threat closer to home.
Worried that the Christian Armenian population was planning to align with Russia, a primary enemy of the Ottoman Turks, officials embarked on what historians have called the first genocide of the 20th century: Nearly 1.5 million Armenians were killed, some in massacres like the one here, others in forced marches to the Syrian desert that left them starved to death.
The genocide was the greatest atrocity of the Great War.
Over a decade ago, my older son (aka David Ricardo Palmer) and I constructed this arch. It was displayed that spring at both the Bright's Grove and the Blyth art galleries.
Our artists' statement is a reflection of the existentialism inherent in the Myth of Sisyphus.
L' Arc des Perdants Anonymes
(The Arch of the Anonymous Losers):
A Celebration of the Existential Quest
Like many triumphal arches, this sculpture is a celebration. In this work, we celebrate the process of continued search and quest despite not reaching a specific goal or prize.
Constructed entirely of losing cups from the 2004 Tim Hortons "Roll Up the Rim to Win" contest, our work is rooted in the ontological search for meaning. People who search for meaning in life are often frustrated, feeling lost when they are unable to arrive at some clear and definitive sense of purpose. The existential answer lies in the joy and value of the search activity itself.
We see the experience of playing the Tim Horton lottery as a reflection of this search. People buy cups of coffee hoping to win a big prize. They lose. They go back for more. And the process makes people smile. This simple, day-to-day process is a symbolic representation of the joie de vivre that is evinced in the human experiential quest for meaning.
L' Arc des Perdants Anonymes is constructed with nearly 3000 used, losing cups from the Tim Hortons 2004 contest. The artists used approximately 10 pounds of glue sticks to construct the sections of the structure. These sections are held together in places with 3M hook and loop material. The artists gratefully acknowledge the assistance of their families and persons at their respective workplaces for their assistance.
For more photos and information, see this.
I just received the following email. I'm tickled by some of these attempts to part me from my money:
We are from China, we are very interested in your grape wine.
If you can provide, we sincerely hope establish a longterm friendly cooperation
partner relationship with each other via our first cooperation.
1. Red grape wine 40000 bottles.
2. White grape wine 20000 bottles.
3. Request 750ml /per bottle.
4. FOB price,we will have a face to face talk about the details and sign the contract,
after both of us confirm the price. We will pay 40% T/T,then delivery the goods
after 40 days.
Eric mentioned in the comments to this post that the Yankees have had a female radio announcer for over a decade. We get many of the Yankee telecasts here in London, Ontario, but not their radiocasts.
Eric then sent me this link, providing the biographies of the Yankee broadcasters.
An award winning journalist, Suzyn Waldman joins John Sterling in the radio booth as the Yankees' color commentator on WCBS-AM radio in 2005, becoming the first woman to hold a full-time position as a Major League broadcaster. Waldman has spent the greater part of two decades overcoming all the obstacles that go along with being a female sports broadcaster, and has risen to the top of her profession. ...
Waldman's life and struggles have been the subject of hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, and chapters in books, including the "MacMillan Book of Baseball Stories," "You Go Girl" and "That's Outside My Boat" both by Charlie Jones and Kim Doran. She has been profiled on the Today Show, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, ABC's 20/20 and NBC's Dateline.
But check out her other interests: economics and theatre! Sportscasting, baseball, economics, and theatre: a perfect combination! But I haven't been able to ascertain her views on sabremetrics yet.
A native Bostonian, with a degree in Economics from Boston's prestigious Simmons College, Suzyn spent 15 years on the Broadway Musical Stage, and is proudest of her two years starring opposite Richard Kiley in "Man of La Mancha."
I don't agree with everything he says, but the Pope is right about the Armenian genocide. From Wikipaedia:
The Armenian Genocide (Armenian: Հայոց Ցեղասպանություն Hayots Tseghaspanutyun),[note 3] also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, traditionally by Armenians, as Medz Yeghern (Armenian: Մեծ Եղեռն, "Great Crime"),was the Ottoman government's systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects inside their historic homeland which lies within the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey. The total number of people killed as a result has been estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million. The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, [emphasis added] the day Ottoman authorities rounded up and arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre. Other indigenous and Christian ethnic groups such as the Assyrians and the Ottoman Greeks were similarly targeted for extermination by the Ottoman government, and their treatment is considered by many historians to be part of the same genocidal policy. The majority of Armenian diaspora communities around the world came into being as a direct result of the genocide.
Raphael Lemkin was explicitly moved by the Armenian annihilation to coin the word genocide in 1943 and define systematic and premeditated exterminations within legal parameters. The Armenian Genocide is acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides, because scholars point to the organized manner in which the killings were carried out in order to eliminate the Armenians, and it is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust.
Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies the word genocide is an accurate term for the mass killings of Armenians that began under Ottoman rule in 1915. It has in recent years been faced with repeated calls to recognize them as genocide. To date, twenty-two countries have officially recognized the mass killings as genocide, a view which is shared by most genocide scholars and historians.
Pope Francis described it as the "First genocide of the XX century", causing a diplomatic incident with Turkey. The bishop of Romedefended his pronouncement by saying it was his duty to honour the memory of the innocent men, women and children who were "senselessly" murdered by Ottoman Turks 100 years before he became Pontiff. He also called on all heads of state and international organizations to recognize "the truth of what transpired and oppose such crimes without ceding to ambiguity or compromise." 
Why are there no women in the broadcast booths for Major League Baseball? There are many who could do the job, and do it better than some of the talking heads that are there now. [See this].
Back when I did radio play-by-play for the AA London Tigers, I worked with many different people as co-announcers. Despite my strongly worded suggestions to the station manager that we find women to co-broadcast in the booth, it never happened.
Women doing play-by-play; women doing commentary and analysis. I see no reason why it shouldn't and won't, eventually, happen.
There are two women whose names come to mind immediately for me.
Christina Kahrl. Christina was also a regular on rec.sport.baseball. She and I corresponded a couple of times back then, and we are Facebook friends. I have no doubt she could do the job well. From the website cited above, "Her credentials: Want someone who can tell a good anecdote but also understands sabermetrics? Karhl, a co-founder of the analytical website Baseball Prospectus and an ESPN writer/editor, would be a good catch. She’s also a vocal transgender activist and has spoken about how baseball eased her transition."
Sadly, I'm not sure it will happen anytime soon. For one reason, most viewers/listeners seem disinclined to pay attention to solid numerical analysis. And for another reason, I cannot see most viewers/listeners overcoming the unfortunately deeply ingrained sex biases in sports and sportscasting.
Obama is to meet Castro today. I'm guessing Obama will fawn over him and not treat him at all the way he treated Harper or Netanyahu, et al.
I'm delighted that the US and Cuba are trying to re-establish more nearly normal relations. It's about time. Let's hope part of the normalization will include a massive challenge to the US sugar lobby and the US corn-syrup lobby and allow Cuban sugar into the US.
In a recent posting, I argued that OPS [On-base-percentage Plus Slugging-average] is an excellent comparatively easy and comparatively good statistic to use for assessing the performance of batters in baseball.
For the same reasons, I think OOPS [Opponents' OPS] is a comparatively easy and comparatively good statistic for assessing baseball pitchers. The statistic is readily available via the MLB website, and it measures how well a pitcher avoids letting batters reach base and how well the pitcher avoids letting opposing batters hit for power.
I have noticed that baseball sportscasters are moving toward telling us about opponents' batting average [which tell us nothing about walks given up nor about extra-base hits] or about WHIP, which is Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched [which is a bizarre measure telling us nothing more than (and really not as much as ) "Opponents' On-Base-Percentage].
Maybe in another ten years' time they will start using OOPS as well as OPS.
May I live to see the day.
Ever since I read about the possibility of multiverses, I have been intrigued. Since then, I had imagined that the multiverses would exist because of the possibility that there are really 11 dimensions in the universe, but this article [via Jack] presents a different possibility: there are multiverses out there all within our given 3- or 4-dimensional universe but we don't see them because they are so far away their light could not have gotten to us yet.
Our definition of "the universe" has been changing since the invention of the first telescope when we peered out into the cosmos and learned that the Earth is not the totality of existence.
But the universe is a lot bigger than what we could ever see with a telescope.... Our universe is just the spherical amount of light that has had time to reach us. If we wait another billion years for more light to reach us, our definition of the universe would change... [emphasis added].
Someone standing on a planet trillions of lightyears away would have a completely different picture of "the universe" based on how much light has reached their planet.
By definition there's no way to get to these other bubble universes because we'd have to travel faster than the speed of light. [emphasis in the original].
What a neat perspective!
No, this post is not about the weather. It is to announce that finally, after many ups and downs, I have reached my goal weight. Over 5 years ago I weighed nearly 205 lbs. I knew I was overweight and out of shape. I set my goal at 160 (I had weighed only 155 just 8 years previously).
I told myself I would not eat a Dairy Queen Blizzard (one of my favourite treats!) until I reached the goal. Today I reached that goal. I won't be able to get to a Dairy Queen for several days, but believe me, I'm going for a Skor Blizzard sometime soon.
Here is a graph of my weight for the past 61 months.
You can see all the bouts of lack of will power in the graph. The big start came from using weight-watcher/point-counting/calorie-counting. But I was hungry all the time on that diet and kept cheating and regained lots of weight.
The second half of the graph shows what happened under our modified version of a low-carb diet. We went on this diet in July, 2012.
I have not been nearly so hungry on this diet, I eat lots of fat, protein, and vegetables. I don't count calories, and I certainly don't try to avoid fat anymore.
I generally eat cheese or pepperettes as snacks. In restaurants, I sometimes order a pasta dish - hold the pasta, or burgers - no bun. I really have enjoyed this diet much more than any other diet I have been on.
Yes, I go off this diet frequently (as my Facebook friends know, one of my favourite hashtags is #carbsbedamned), but the neat thing about the low-carb diet is that when I go back on it, my weight goes right back down fairly quickly.
Exercise? I try to walk some, and I do some exercises now and then for my back, but overall I know I exercise less now than I used to. The weight loss is due to the diet change, not exercise.
The weight chart is from a smartphone app called "Lose It!". It's a good app in that it is no-charge, and it stores your data in the cloud so you can continue it as you change phones and platforms. I started it using an iPhone3 and kept it through all my various phone changes, including an android for two years.
For my earlier postings about this diet, see:
Over the past four years, the movement of oil by rail in the US has grown dramatically. This graphic shows the phenomenal growth. It's a GIF, so watch it for a few seconds to see the growth.
So killing the Keystone Pipeline really, really helped the railways that carry oil shipments.
It will be interesting to see what happens with a GIF like this over the next few years, assuming the price of oil stays low.
I don't know why I was reminded of this recipe that I posted nearly a decade ago, but I think it merits a repost:
I saw this recipe on the internet way back before Al Gore invented it (the internet).
Midsummer Night's Dream, produced by Funeral Pyre Theatre, opens with a preview performance this evening and continues the rest of the week at The Arts Project. A lot of very fine young actors have worked diligently to perfect their craft for this production. The performances dates and times are:
The setting for this production is contemporary with some intriguing staging.
[disclosure: I play Theseus, Duke of Athens, in this production]
After reading news items involving perpetrators who commit vicious, nasty crimes, I have to admit that I would get some pleasure from knowing they suffered from some form of punishment. Call it revenge, call it retributive justice, call it unChristian, call it what you will, I would receive some sense of satisfaction from knowing such criminals suffered fates worse than death.
I wrote about this topic a number of years ago. Here is a link to the paper I wrote. And here is the abstract:
It has sometimes been argued that one way to reduce the costs of law enforcement would be to reduce the probability of detection and conviction (hence saving those costs), while at the same time increasing the size of the punishment. Following this strategy would keep the expected costs (to a risk neutral criminal) of committing a crime constant and hence keep the deterrence level constant; it would have the benefit, though, of reducing costs to the rest of society.
There are some well-known objections to such a policy. One such objection deals with marginal deterrence: A convicted murderer serving a life sentence with no chance of parole in a jurisdiction which bans capital punishment has nothing to lose from killing a prison guard -- there is no marginal deterrence to the commission of a more serious crime or any additional crime for that matter. In fact, so long as there remains any upper limit to the amount of punishment that can be inflicted upon a convicted criminal, the only ways to create some type of marginal deterrence are to reduce the punishments for less serious crimes, which will either reduce the deterrence of those less serious crimes, or alternatively to require the use of more of society's scarce resources to increase the probabilities of apprehension and conviction.
It is possible to reduce this marginal deterrence problem, however, by practicing cruel and unusual punishment on perpetrators of serious crimes, i.e. by raising the limits of allowable punishment. Anecdotal evidence suggests this practice is followed unofficially with child molesters and killers of prison guards and hence provides some additional deterrence against these crimes.
Despite the theoretical validity of this argument, our society has chosen to impose a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Furthermore, over time we seem to have lowered the threshold of what is considered cruel and unusual. Following Dr. Pangloss, the concluding section of the paper examines why rational maximizers would choose to give up this additional potential deterrence. The explanations depend upon an assumed positive income elasticity of demand for humanitarianism or for insurance against the costs of punishing the innocent. While there are some reasons to accept the humanitarianism argument, the insurance argument seems more persuasive.
For some of my earlier postings on the topic, see the following:
Last night we watched the opening Major League Baseball game of the 2015 season. Right away I noticed that ESPN showed OPS for all the batters.
OPS is "On base percentage" Plus "Slugging Average". It is a pretty decent measure of how well a batter avoids making outs and how well the batter hits for power (i.e. extra bases). Like all index numbers, it isn't perfect. But it is probably the best comparatively simple measure of a batter's performance, and likely the best comparatively simple measure of a batter's ability.
OPS emerged (as I recall) during the many discussions and debates on the old internet newsgroup: rec.sport.baseball. The discussions there were heated and illuminating and likely formed a basis for much of what came to be known as "Moneyball". It was a thrill to be a part of them.
I tried to use the measure, OPS, back in the 1990s when I was doing some baseball sportscasting, but had to fight nearly everyone along the way. It is refreshing and pleasing to see this simple concept finally being so well-accepted within the mainstream sports media.
Thank you, ESPN.
Check out the time signatures. The music for the 6th movement for 3rd horn is on the left; for 4th horn on the right. ;-) 3/4 or 4/4? Clearly 4/4, based on the notes, but confusing.