I like scotch. I am a somewhat knowledgeable and quite experienced scotch consumer.
I really doubt if someone could pass off cheap stuff to me even if they put it in a bottle that once held expensive stuff. And I'm quite sure they would not be able to pass off rubbing alcohol with food colouring as scotch of any kind.
But that's because I am an experienced consumer of scotch. This is clearly not only a personal benefit, but a social benefit: so long as there are knowledgeable, experienced Scotch drinkers like Ms Eclectic and me, then bars and pubs will be unlikely to try stunts like these.
State investigators say at least one bar in New Jersey was mixing food dye with rubbing alcohol and serving it as scotch.
That’s one of the details released Thursday about an investigation dubbed “Operation Swill.” Twenty-nine bars and restaurants in the state are accused of putting cheap booze in premium brand liquor bottles and selling it to patrons who thought they were buying the good stuff.
Maybe they could pass off Grant's as Johnny Walker, and I wouldn't know the difference. But quite frankly I wouldn't care because I'm not that fond of either. But let 'em try to pass off Islay Mist as Lagavulin, and I'll be suspicious.
So I figure we are doing the rest of society a favour by being so knowledgeable and experienced, right? Right?
Academic economists make their way by demonstrating their mathematical prowess in top-ranked journals. Anyone who denies this is a fool or a knave.
And here is a similar, more fleshed-out condemnation of what we do, this time from Dani Rodrik titled, "What Use Are Economists?". The conclusion:
There is one other thing that the public should know about economists: It is cleverness, not wisdom, that advances academic economists’ careers. Professors at the top universities distinguish themselves today not by being right about the real world, but by devising imaginative theoretical twists or developing novel evidence. If these skills also render them perceptive observers of real societies and provide them with sound judgment, it is hardly by design.
Sadly, it appears the mother duck has given up and abandoned what few eggs she had left. She wasn't there this morning when I checked on her, and there were only maybe two or three eggs left in the planter. As I said in my initial post, when you see how few eggs hatch, with the ducklings surviving to maturity, it becomes clear how powerful natural selection can be.
There have been very few baseball batters who have hit as well as Miguel Cabrera. There have been some for sure. Ted Williams and Babe Ruth come to mind, and I expect there are plenty of others, too.
But I just realized that if the opposing pitchers had walked Miguel Cabrera every single time they faced him, he would have a lower OPS than he does now. Wow!
I will be attending the Summit with journalist credentials and in that capacity will be able to interview these two speakers (and others) while I am there. What should I ask them? Here are some ideas I now have, but I don't know how deep we can get or how much time I will have. I am eagrely searching for other suggestions.
I welcome your suggestions/refinements either via email or in the comments.
My attendance at the summit is supported by several sponsors, including the Department of Economics at The University of Regina.
I just returned from checking on the duck that has nested under a spruce tree along Dundas Street in downtown London, Ontario (for previous postings about the duck and eggs, see the links below).
The two eggs that were on the outer edge of the pot and readily visible have now disappeared. The mother duck has changed position several times. But oddly, on the other side of the tree trunk from where she has been nesting this entire time, there are at least three eggs, uncovered, in a deep hollow.
I wonder if there was another mother duck nesting on the other side of the tree. Given the territoriality I've seen in ducks, that seems unlikely. At the same time, I can't imagine this mom pushed some eggs of her own over there, but maybe...
Anyway, here is a really crappy photo I tried to take of theDuck and Eggs situation. The mother duck is on the left edge of the photo. You can barely make out half of her. The eggs are under a branch on the right side of the trunk.
More updates to follow.
According to too many people, it isn't anti-semitism to hate Israel to the point of hypocritical, illogical, and inconsistent boycotts, etc. I'm skeptical of this position, quite obviously.
British novelist makes the point so well here. An excerpt:
To those who ask why Israel alone of all offending countries is to be boycotted, the answer comes back loud and clear from boycotters that because they cannot change the whole world, that is no reason not to try to change some small part of it, in this case the part where they feel they have the most chance of success, which also just happens to be the part that’s Jewish. That this is, in fact, a “back-handed compliment” to Jews, John MacGabhann, general secretary of the pro-boycott Teachers’ Union of Ireland, made clear when he talked of “expecting more of the Israeli government, precisely because we would anticipate that Israeli governments would act in all instances and ways to better uphold the rights of other”, which implies that he expects less of other governments, and does not anticipate them to act in all instances and ways better to uphold the rights of others. And why? He can only mean, reader, because those other governments are not Jewish.
I’d call this implicit racism if I were a citizen of those circumambient Muslim countries that aren’t being boycotted – a tacit assumption that nothing can ever be done, say, about the persecution of women, the bombing of minorities, discrimination against Christians, the hanging of adulterers and homosexuals, and so on, because such things are intrinsic to their cultures – but at least now that we have got rid of anti-Semitism, tackling Islamophobia should not be slow to follow.
The Economic Summit I will be attending will be held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, July 11-13. It is their 5th annual such get-together. Details are here at their website.
It appears I will be there with the expectation that I write about and report about what transpires. Well, of course! As much as I love to consume economics, I also love to talk about it and write about it. This will be a perfect fit!
My attendance at the summit is supported by several sponsors, including the Department of Economics at The University of Regina.
Sponsorship in professional sports is big money, even at the minor league level. I recently had a Facebook exchange with some local friends about sponsorship at the local ballpark back in the days when I was Doc Palmer, doing play-by-play of the London Werewolves. Here is a summary I wrote for some friends.
Following some discussion on FB yesterday about promotions andsponsorships at sporting events, I wrote that John Kuhn, when hewas general manager of the London Werewolves [Frontier League,baseball], once told me that he had a fantasy of having every pitchin a game sponsored, as in "the next pitch is brought to you by..."but likely much more creative than that. John then wrote to me viaFB [reproduced here with his permission]:
If only to test the limits of one's patience.
"This crotch grab brought to you by Crüex--the brand real menchoose when they have jock itch.."
May I pass this on? I love it!
Yes, you may Doc and thank you for asking.
True, I did once want to do a Promotional Gluttony night.I believe folks would rebel by the 2nd inning.
John was an amazing, creative entrepreneur while he was here.
I have been invited to attend the Rocky Mountain Economic Summit in Jackson Hole in mid-July. This is not THE big Jackson Hole monetary economics conference (that one is scheduled for August), but it will have a number of well-known, well-informed, bright people whose brains I am looking forward to picking (see below).
Fortunately several sources, including the Department of Economics at The University of Regina, will be supporting my attendance there. In return, I'll be live-blogging the presentations, to the extent possible, blogging the preliminary work, blogging post-summit reactions, and presenting a seminar in August at The University of Regina about the Summit.
Some of the speakers there will include:
I am really excited about this opportunity and am grateful to the Summit sponsors and to The University of Regina Economics Department for making my attendance possible.
John Silvia, Chief Economist, Wells Fargo (TBC)
Julian Callow, Head of International and European Economics, Barclays Capital
Axel Weber, Chairman of UBS, former President, Deutsche Bundesbank and visiting professor, Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago
W. David Hemingway, EVP & Chief Investment Officer, Zion Bank Corp
Charles Plosser, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Jim Bullard, President, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
I had never heard of this until a few days ago: The Great Emu War of 1932. [h/t Rebekah]. It is a classic example of how private citizens, responding to incentives, outperformed gubmnt employees. From Wikipaedia,
Following World War I, large numbers of ex-soldiers from Australia, along with a number of British veterans, took up farming within Western Australia, often in marginal areas. ...
The difficulties facing farmers were increased by the arrival of as many as 20,000 emus. Emus regularly migrate after their breeding season, heading to the coast from the inland regions. With the cleared land and additional water supplies being made available for livestock by the West Australian farmers, the emus found that the cultivated lands were good habitat, and they began to foray into farm territory...
Farmers relayed their concerns about the birds ravaging their crops, and a deputation of ex-soldiers were sent to meet with the Minister of Defence, Sir George Pearce. Having served in WWI, the soldier-settlers were well aware of the effectiveness of machine guns, and they requested their deployment. ...
Summarizing the [highly unsuccessful] culls, ornithologist Dominic Serventy commented:
“ The machine-gunners' dreams of point blank fire into serried masses of Emus were soon dissipated. The Emu command had evidently ordered guerrilla tactics, and its unwieldy army soon split up into innumerable small units that made use of the military equipment uneconomic. A crestfallen field force therefore withdrew from the combat area after about a month.
[For the second foray]: Taking to the field on 13 November 1932, the military found a degree of success over the first two days, with approximately 40 emus killed. The third day, 15 November, proved to be far less successful, but by 2 December the guns were accounting for approximately 100 emus per week. Meredith was recalled on 10 December, and in his report he claimed 986 kills with 9,860 rounds, at a rate of exactly 10 rounds per confirmed kill. In addition, Meredith claimed 2,500 wounded birds had died as a result of the injuries that they had sustained....
In spite of the problems encountered with the cull, the farmers of the region once again requested military assistance in 1934, 1943 and 1948, only to be turned down by the Government. Instead, the bounty system that had been instigated in 1923 was continued, and this proved to be effective: 57,034 bounties were claimed over a six-month period in 1934.
Desalination (and other processes to derive potable water) are expensive and use a great deal of energy. If the process of using graphene can be perfected, the cost of producing potable water will plummet. People will be better off, especially those who live in areas where fresh water is both scarce and under-priced and salt water is plentiful. Here is a recent article about the possibility of using graphene in desalination filters. An excerpt:
Graphene researchers won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for developing the wonder-material.
In addition, the film is super thin — just a single atom thick — so that the water simply "pops through the very, very small holes that we make in the graphene and leaves the salt behind," said Stetson [of Lockheed, which is working on the project].
Lockheed anticipates that their filters will be able to provide clean drinking water "at a fraction of the cost of industry-standard reverse osmosis systems," their press release says. Water-poor regions of the world will be the first to benefit.... Perforene isn't a game-changer, yet. Lockheed is still in the prototype stage. One challenge is figuring out how to scale up production. Graphene is cheap but it's very delicate because of its thinness, also making it difficult to transfer.
There is undoubtedly much to perfect yet, and this announcement from Lockheed may well be unduly premature. But here's hoping. Something like this would really benefit the poor of the world. And it would be a game-saver for Florida, California, Hawaii, and probably the US Southwest, indirectly. Is it real, or will it go the same way as the various attempts to revive the steam automobile?
Addendum: I really doubt that using graphene-based water filters would do much to alleviate the low-water-level problems in the Great Lakes, however.
Last week I posted about a duck and her eggs in downtown London. I am happy to report that all seems well so far.
I have walked by the nesting place nearly every day since then, and the mother duck is still alive, quiet, alert, and nesting. One of the eggs that was outside the nest seems to have disappeared, but amazingly one is still there.
Clearly I am not the only one to have noticed her. There is a little plastic container inside the tree, possibly to capture water for her or possibly to hold food someone might have been providing (or who knows? maybe it was there before she began her nesting, but I don't remember having seen it there initially).
Yesterday noon during my walk to McDonald's, I checked on the situation again. I was initially quite concerned when I saw that ALL the other evergreens had been removed from their huge planters (something I don't understand. I liked them). But the shelter tree for the mother duck and her eggs had been left in place. Here's a photo of two of the other planters, showing the trees removed.
So someone on the city works/parks crew is doing their best to leave her undisturbed and protected.
Can you imagine this situation during the depression less than 100 years ago? What are the odds the duck and her eggs would have been left alone then? My guess is they wouldn't have survived there. As our society becomes wealthier, we tend to forgo hunting and foraging for food like this. I guess there's a positive income/wealth elasticity of demand for "Awww....".
Over five years ago, I posted that McDonald's was no longer my favourite restaurant:
Over the years, though, I find that I go to McDonald's less and less. Partly that is because I just cannot eat the way I used to. But my past two visits to two different outlets were more than disappointing. Both times, the burgers were far too salty. And both times the McFlurries (which are nowhere near as good as DQ Blizzards anyway) tasted really awful — sort of sour or something. And, now that I think about it, the shakes have tasted off lately at other times, too.
Because I am now on a low-carb diet, I haven't been to a McDonald's for quite some time. But because today is McHappy Day, and McDonald's is giving a dollar to Ronald McDonald House for every large-ish item ordered, I decided to give them a try. I went to the one near where we live, in downtown London. I was very pleasantly surprised.
In my email today, I received a message stating that the University of Regina will [hallelujah!] a have balanced budget this year. In part the message said,
The 2013-14 Saskatchewan provincial budget provided a base operating grant increase to our University of 1.9 per cent plus funding for the third year of the Nursing program. Even with this investment, the University had to find savings to maintain a balanced budget. As a result, budget reductions of 3 per cent, totaling $3.5 million, have been requested of, and achieved by, all academic and administrative units.
Funny, the university is receiving more money but has made all units take budget reductions. What??
Either way, this doesn't sound like much to be happy about.
And to get those reductions? They have eliminated twenty posiions. I have no idea how many (if any!) administrative positions have been cut; my guess is that they came from the teaching faculty. 8-(
We absolute must face the reality that because of scarcity, we will not all receive "the best medical care possible". There simply is not enough to go around. Jonathan Kay nails it:
Even the wealthiest societies, no matter what the funding model for their health systems, have finite resources available to treat the human body’s potentially infinite medical needs. Someone, somewhere has to make a decision about where those finite assets go.
Such decisions seem horrifying to most of us because life, in most contexts, is too precious to be captured with dollars and cents, or even with the ordinal rankings used to assign transplantable organs. And utilitarianism can, indeed, be taken to monstrous extremes on the fringes of bioethics. But where the day-to-day business of critical-care medicine is concerned, some measure of soulless cost-benefit analysis is an absolute necessity — because every dollar (or organ) used on one patient within a public or private insurance network usually is, in effect, taken from another.
If we don't understand this simple truth, we are doomed to misallocating health resources.
A summary of too many people's view of the Canadian health care system is:
Better that one rich person be denied care so that 50 poor people can stand in line hoping to get it.
... which of course completely ignores both supply effects and the beneficial rationing effects of the price system.
People who have seen me with dark hair tell me it takes years off my appearance. Here is one example:
So maybe there's hope? From Gabriel,
I expect none of this stuff will be commercially viable while I'm alive. Or if it is, I'll probably be too old to care. Oh well, the rest of you have so much neato stuff to look forward to.
"For generations, numerous remedies have been concocted to hide gray hair," said Dr. Gerald Weissmann, the editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, "but now, for the first time, an actual treatment that gets to the root of the problem has been developed. While this is exciting news, what's even more exciting is that this also works for vitiligo. This condition, while technically cosmetic, can have serious socio-emotional effects of people. Developing an effective treatment for this condition has the potential to radically improve many people's lives."
Some years ago, on the recommendation of Bill Sjostrom who was then an active blogger, Ms. Eclectic and I bought a round, clear-glass teapot that held a stainless-steel basket as an infuser. We bought a cheap one (perhaps something like this one only smaller and probably not as good), but it worked just fine until last week when we discovered that the plastic cradle/handle was seriously cracked.
Before checking Amazon, we visited a couple of local shops and on an impulse bought a Bodum Tea Infuser. It is fantastic! I gather from the reviews that other people also love this type of tea pot/infuser, but that it is fragile and one must handle it with a bit of care.
What do I like so much about it? Very simply, the basket that holds the tea leaves is designed so that once you press down on the Bodum plunger (i.e., once you "Bodum-ize" the tea leaves), the steeping process stops. The tea doesn't become at all bitter, a major complaint I have had with the tea at some places that serve afternoon tea. See my reviews here.
The tea Bodum-izer system works so well, I have even re-used the tea leaves for a second and even a third pot of tea, and there is still absolutely no bitterness in my lapsang souchong tea (which is prone to bitterness if over-steeped).
I love this teapot. If you're a tea-drinker, you probably will, too. At the very least, consider getting one like it and make sure you can stop the steeping easily. We have the 34-ounce size and find it is just the right size for us.
A blatantly anti-semitic rally took place in Hungary [h/t Tom Palmer].
It is maddening and frightening that this party is the third largest in Hungarian Parliament. Also be sure to check out the links along side that story.
Several hundred supporters took part, despite attempts by the government to prevent it going ahead.
Jobbik said the rally was a protest against what it said was a Jewish attempt to buy up Hungary.
The party, which says it aims to protect Hungarian values and interests, is the third largest in parliament.
It regularly issues anti-Semitic statements.