Star Wars is dead

Disney used to be a wonderful organization itself.  Now it is the evil vampire squid of the entertainment world, mindlessly devouring and excreting out the stinking remnants of one entertainment franchise after another.  It was never going to happen, but imagine how much creativity could have been unleashed if George Lucas had released Star Wars under the LGPL.  Instead, we’re going to get gay Ewoks singing musical numbers and Hispanic princesses wielding lightsabers and going on intergalactic voyages with sparkly alien vampires where they defeat the evil Ritt Momney and Pand Raul in the process of learning the important lesson that the ultimate truth in life is to be tolerant of others who are different… unless they are Republicans.

via Vox Popoli: Star Wars is dead.

FEMA Response, Once Rare, Is Now Routine and Overused

A superstorm requires supersmart government. But making wise decisions from a distance is hard. Economists call this the problem of local knowledge. The information needed for making rational plans is distributed among many actors, and it is extremely difficult for a far-off, centralized authority to access it. The devil really is in the details. (This is why the price system, which aggregates all that dispersed insight, is more economically efficient than a command-and-control system.)

So emergency and disaster response should be, as much as possible, pushed down to the state and local level. A national effort should be reserved for truly catastrophic events. Indeed this preference for "local first, national second" can be found in the legislation authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The number of federal emergencies has soared, stretching capabilities. Increasingly state and private resources are overlooked.

But just the opposite has been happening in recent decades. There were, according to a Heritage Foundation analysis, 28 FEMA declarations a year during the Reagan administration, 44 during Bush I, 90 during Clinton, 130 during Bush II, and 153 so far during Obama’s term. The result is federal emergency response effort stretched thin in its capabilities to deal with major disasters.

via FEMA Response, Once Rare, Is Now Routine and Overused – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.

The gender pay gap is a media myth

I limited myself to full-year private sector workers with a bachelors degree who were ages 21 to 26 in 2009-2010. Within this group I controlled for age, race, Hispanic and immigrant status, detailed geographic location, weekly work hours, college major and occupation. Controlling for college major accounts for the fact that men tend to choose majors that lead to higher earnings later in life. Controlling for occupation captures “compensating wage differentials” for positive or negative aspects of the job. For instance, dangerous or unpleasant jobs may pay more, while jobs offering flexible hours or more generous benefits might pay less. Including all these controls, the gender pay gap for young college grads drops to around 1 percent.

Even then, do my results mean that discrimination reduces pay by 1 percent? Hardly. It’s well known that women negotiate over pay less aggressively than men. Better negotiating tactics could easily generate a 1 percent pay difference. More broadly, the 1 percent figure denotes the unexplained pay difference – simply because the data we have can’t explain it doesn’t mean the difference is due to discrimination. Better data might explain even more of the difference. Moreover, even if discrimination exists – and it surely does, even if its overall effects aren’t huge – the cure of greater government control over the labor market might be worse than the disease.

via The gender pay gap is a media myth | AEIdeas.

Should Tuition Be Lower for STEM, Higher For Other Majors?

Tuition would be lower for students pursuing degrees most needed for Florida’s job market, including ones in science, technology, engineering and math, collectively known as the STEM fields.

The committee is recommending no tuition increases for them in the next three years.

But to pay for that, students in fields such as psychology, political science, anthropology, and performing arts could pay more because they have fewer job prospects in the state.

An interesting thought: if you want more science/technical/engineering/math majors, charge them less. Conversely, charge more for the easier, softer majors. Via A Bunch of Arguments in Favor of Regressive Tuition, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty.

How Can A 15-Year-Old Escape Poverty?

Suppose a 15-year-old from a poor family in the First World asked you an earnest question: "What can I do to escape poverty?"  How would you answer?

Responses from progressives, liberals, moderates, and left-libertarians are especially welcome.

All the comments are great. Given that the natural state of Man is poor, cold, and hungry, the answers are all ways to become richer than Nature would otherwise allow you. Via Escaping Poverty: Your Friendly Advice, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty.

Greedy Speculators In Advance Of Hurricane Sandy

Have you noticed the enormous increase in greedy speculation in the northeast over the past two days?  It’s quite something!  In advance of hurricane Sandy, consumers are now artificially increasing the scarcity today of the likes of bottled water, canned goods, batteries, and medicines by stocking up on these goods.

And all of this self-interested speculation – done merely in anticipation of staple goods being much more scarce after Sandy strikes than they are today – is applauded and even encouraged by the news media and government leaders!

What gives?  Many of the same people who today publicly encourage us to speculate (“Make sure your family has ample supplies of batteries!”) are among the loudest critics of speculation at other times and in other markets.

But in fact the oil speculator who, say, buys oil today in anticipation of oil becoming more scarce tomorrow does just what a consumer does today in a supermarket in anticipation of a disruptive storm: both persons usefully transfer resources across time.  They both stock up on resources that are today relatively abundant in order to preserve these resources for consumption at a time when they are relatively more scarce (and, hence, more precious).  Both persons transfer resources from today – when the consumption of any one bottle of water or gallon of gasoline provides relatively less benefit – to tomorrow when the consumption of that same bottle of water or gallon of gasoline will provide relatively more benefit.

Anticipating the future and taking actions to allocate goods and services from times of relative abundance to times of relatively greater scarcity is an immensely useful activity.  And we all perform such speculation whether or not we are popularly identified as “speculators.”

Quoted in its entirety; it was just too good. Via Speculators Storm Safeway!.

People with GEDs are more like high-school dropouts?

While GED holders are as smart as graduates, in terms of future outcomes (annual income, unemployment, divorce, drug use) they look exactly like dropouts.

The study made clear that “non-cognitive skills” like persistence, planning and self-control can be more important than intelligence in the long run.

File under “Talent only gets you so far; hard work gets you everywhere.” Via Are people with GED’s more like high-school graduates or high-school dropouts? | Barking Up The Wrong Tree.

12 year old girl shoots home intruder

Kendra, a sixth-grader at Calera Elementary, called her mother about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday to say a man was ringing the doorbell and banging on the door, St. Clair said.

“She said he was continuously ringing the doorbell and when no one answered he opened the screen door and started banging on the door,” St. Clair said. “She told me she didn’t know where he had gone after that.”

St. Clair told her daughter to get her .40-caliber Glock pistol and go into the bathroom closet, which has reinforced locks on the door.

“She heard him break into the back door,” St. Clair said. “He knew someone was in there because she was watching TV and had paused it.”

According to the 911 recording, the intruder was inside the house for about six minutes while Kendra was told by the dispatcher to stay on the phone and keep it on speaker.

“The bathroom light switch makes a noise when you turn it on and Kendra heard it,” St. Clair said.

As Kendra saw the door knob turn slowly, she fired the gun, her mother said.

Jones was hit in the chest, Undersheriff Ken Golden said.

Jones ran out of the house and was chased down by Bryan County officers, he said.

He was taken by helicopter to a Plano, Texas, hospital to be treated before he was taken into custody, Golden said.

A 12 year old girl *with a pistol* can knock down a big aggressive man. Without the pistol, she’s a victim. Via Durant girl, 12, talks about shooting home intruder | NewsOK.com.

Study: Rigorous Diet And Exercise Does Not Reduce Heart Attacks In Diabetics

The study randomly assigned 5,145 overweight or obese people with Type 2 diabetes to either a rigorous diet and exercise regimen or to sessions in which they got general health information. The diet involved 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day for those weighing less than 250 pounds and 1,500 to 1,800 calories a day for those weighing more. The exercise program was at least 175 minutes a week of moderate exercise.

But 11 years after the study began, researchers concluded it was futile to continue — the two groups had nearly identical rates of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths.

Looks like it was caloric-restriction diet. Maybe the next study should put them on a high-fat high-protein low-carb diet and see what happens. Via Diabetes Study Ends Early With a Surprising Result – NYTimes.com.

The only people who call gay Republicans “faggots” are those on political left

Neither Jim nor any conservative blogger, in person, in text, in e-mail or any other form of communication, has ever called me a “faggot.”  In fact, the only people who seem to be directing that slur at gay conservatives sit on the political left.

via GayPatriot » Only people who call gay Republicans “faggots” sit on political left.