Monday, April 30, 2007

Wordly Philosophers and Great Jokes

Maybe the two go together. At The Misanthropic Economist they do!

1) Mark Skousen, a great economist, finance expert, and writer, puts out a great weekly column called The Worldly Philosophers. Each week features a profile of someone who offered great wisdom on finance, investing, economics and life in general. Previous profiles have been of Aristotle, oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, and Jesus Christ.

You can sign up for the column at:

2) I've attempted to tell the following joke twice in the last few days on campus and have gotten nothing, but confused looks. I stole it from Steven Wright.
"I had a horrible day. I went to the store to buy a map and they got all mad at me. They didn't have any maps that weren't an aerial view."
Someone out there, please tell me that that is as funny as I think it is!
One person responded to the joke with: "There's a place a Tyler that's got all kind of maps; try them!"

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Consequences of Ethanol and Biofuels

Here's an article that brings up a couple of serious drawbacks to biofuels.

As the government subsidy induced demand for ethanol increases the demand for corn in the U.S., and other types of crops the world over, increasing pressure will build to convert more land to agricultural uses. This threatens biodiversity and several endangered species and increases the amount of poor land in agricultural production.

As more land is devoted to growing crops for biofuels, the cost of food will go up. This has already happened with the Mexican tortilla situation earlier in the year and food prices going up 10 and 6 percent in Indian and China respectively in the last year. This threatens to increase hunger and malnutrition around the globe.

The last paragraph of the article is worth quoting in full:
"As long as global warming is hyped as the world's most important environmental problem - as many politicians and environmental pressure groups claim - it will be virtually impossible to rationally evaluate other options in dealing with climate change, or confront the unintended consequences unleashed by global warming hysteria."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Stupid Sentence

I found this in the 2006 Annual Report of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. Referencing changes in the industry since the Foundation was founded in 1967, Dan Durheim writes:
"Almost 40 years later, agriculture is more modern than many of our forefathers could ever had imagined."

Agriculture has always been modern in that practices reflected the best available and economically feasible methods and information. Agriculture today is certainly more technologically advanced than our forefathers could have imagined, but it is not more modern.

Not a horribly stupid sentence. It's partly just a matter of semantics, but enough to annoy me.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sheryl Crow Needs to Keep Her Nose Out of My Business! Literally!

On Sheryl Crow's Biodiesel Bus Blog she advocates the use of less toilet paper.
Here's a sample:
"I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don't want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required."

An even greater amount of conservation would occur if we did any of the following:
a) Don't wipe
b) Wipe with a sock which we then wash out
c) Wipe with our hands and then wash them
d) Use newspaper. The Waco Trib works great
e) Use the liner notes from Sheryl Crow albums
f) Use leaves (FYI: pines cones DON'T work well at all!)
g) Eat lots of cheese so the problem solves itself
h) Ban prunes and prune juice (I feel sorry for you older readers, but it's for a good cause)
i) Finally, establish the Association of Sanitary Statistics (ASS for short) and a network of monitors to track toilet paper usage and administer fines to offenders

The first ASS monitor who shows up while I'm on the can to try and tell me how many squares of TP to use will leave covered in...

Student improvement and Religion

Here's a story in the Waco Trib about a study which shows that minority and low income students' academic performance is positively influenced by the religiousness of the student's family and their presence in a private, religious school.

The study's author said that the academic success of these students at private schools has to do with parental involvement, the school culture, and the encouragement of religious commitment. The majority of private school in the study's data set where Christian. So just maybe Christianity doesn't result in complete and total backwardness in its faithful.

The study also found that private schools have greater racial harmony. Now one reason for this could very well be that private schools have a more homogeneous racial complexion, but many public schools are homogeneous as well. I think a better reason for this finding is that all students are at the school voluntarily and (more importantly) they share some common cultural characteristics. So what is seen in many public schools may not be racially based conflict, but instead a conflict of cultures or maybe even a conflict of visions in one sense.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Congestion Pricing in New York City

I don't have the energy to look for a link to the story, but Michael Bloomberg will propose an $8 congestion fee for vehicles entering Manhattan at some point in the city. So maybe congestion pricing is starting to make an impact in the policy arena.

I had a post about congestion pricing a few months ago. Again I highly, highly recommend taking a look at Street Smarts if you're interested in the concept. The Reason Foundation also has lot of stuff online about it at

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Exams, Classes, and Students

Sorry, no good vocabulary words from exams today. I'll just say that the class average would make for a batting average any major leaguer would gladly brag about during retirement.

Once again, I firmly believe that the majority of students (if you can call them that) should be in technical/trade programs and/or working instead of in universities. Maybe one day employers will wisen up and see just how worthless a university degree has become and stop requiring one for jobs in which a BS or BA is not needed.

I think my general rule from now on if anyone asks me about going to a university is that if you don't have a desire to know something just for the sake of knowing it and if you're not willing to put in at least 8 to 10 hours a day EVERYDAY on class work and study, don't go. This nonsense is only making instructors and professors angry and could lead to some sort of revolt in the near future. Perhaps actually enforcing admission standards or actually kicking people out when they will not do the work would help.

The worst part of it is that college classrooms are turning into high school classrooms. Students actually have to be told to sit down and shut up. The ones in the back spend their time text messaging or chatting quietly instead of paying attention to the lecture.

In my classes, I practically spoon feed them. Twenty percent of the class is just showing up and paying attention. I tell them EXACTLY what material the exams will cover and they still don't bother to study. I will be proud if some people don't graduate college because of me.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus Vs. Duke Lacrosse Case

Head over to to read a nice contrasting of the Imus and Duke lacrosse cases.

The Don Imus Affair

This qualifies as my fellow man's folly so it's a go for this blog. For the record, I find the whole controversy completely and totally stupid. Imus is more or less a shock jock. That's how he makes his money. I haven't watched or listened to his show in several years, but saying off the wall and offensive stuff is what he does. If you don't like it, don't watch or listen to him.

As far as his nappy ho's comment or whatever his comment about the Rutgers women's basketball team was that got everyone's underwear in a bunch, who cares? The Rutgers women's basketball team is supposed to be a group of grown women who I would hope wouldn't get their feelings hurt by such a frivolous affair (which was an attempted joke), but that's obviously not the case. There is a whole class of people in this country, and the world for that matter, just looking to be a victim and another class that profits off the victims. If I reacted like these folks everytime I heard someone say or write something stupid, my department would probably be half the size it is and I would probably be in some sort of correctional facility.

There comes a time when you have to grow up and learn to tolerate the stupid comments of others. I would think college students could do this, but obviously they can't.

Here is a great column on this whole mess.

Proven Right Again

If you go to Overcoming Bias (, which by the way is a great blog, read the entry under Just a Smile? An article in The New Scientist has seemed to validate one of my views.

I know that Ashley and Monica have heard my theory on how geeky guys and nerds respond to female attention. Well that article seems to prove me right.
"(R)esearch indicates that men typically overestimate the sexual interest conveyed by a woman's smile or laughter."
And what really proves my point:
"He found that the the higher the IQ, the more likely they were to think that women would be interested."

It's amazing how someone else had to spend a decent amount of resources to conduct a study whose conclusion was what I said over lunch 2 years ago.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Great News for Cowboys Fans

After an incredibly long year of listening to Cowboys' radio broadcasts last season, this season promises to be much better. Charlie Waters is leaving the booth to be replaced by Babe Laufenberg, who spent the 10 previous seasons in the booth with Brad Sham before Waters took over last season. Waters was a great player a good coach. However, he was a horrible radio analyst. Some of those games last season where just awful to listen to. Laufenberg is really good in the booth. At least one part of the Cowboys will be better this season.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Summing Up Europe

Here a nice story from The New York Times which sums up the situation in Europe:
In a northern town in Britain, the muncipal authorities voted to allow a former Methodist church to become a Mosque.

Two things about this:

1) Why in the world do the municipal authorities in Britain or anywhere else in the Western world have anything at all to do with where a religious structure is located? If the Methodists, or in this case the church was being used as a factory, want to sell the church to Muslims what business is it of the municipality? Or if a group of Muslims decides to build a mosque somewhere, why is it the town's concern? Does anyone ever stop to wonder why the Catholics and Protestants generally get along quite well in American while Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq don't get along quite so well? Maybe it has a little something to do with the fact that the state in America more or less leaves the Catholics and Protestants to themselves whereas in Iraq the Shiites and Sunnis tend to get into "little" conflicts over who controls what. In the U.S., aside from the Baptists doing stupid things occasionally, Christians tend to get along pretty well.

(As a side note, the Methodists never do anything stupid. Unless of course you count giving out awards to controversial local newsletter publishers.)

2) This story is indicative of the decline and fall of Christianity in Europe and the rise of Islam. A church being turned into a mosque is the perfect analogy for where Europe is heading. Once again, I highly recommend Mark Steyn's treatment of this in America Alone.