Posts tagged ‘Georgia’

Even an Influential Chart Can Be A Graphics Fail

Presumably most of you have seen this chart frm a study that says that not only do Americans not know where the Ukraine is, but that desire for US intervention there is correlated with such knowledge or lack thereof (the less people understand where it is, the more they support intervention).

click to enlarge

I find the study results both depressing and unsurprising, so I won't comment on them per se.   Though I suppose if you confuse the Ukraine with the Yukon (as a number of respondents seem to), interventionism might make more sense.  My only question is:  where were such studies of domain knowledge vs. policy recommendations in the health care or minimum wage debate?

However much impact this chart has had, though, it is still a graphics fail in my mind.  Why?  Because the author attempts to portray a second variable by the dot color.  But the variable he or she chooses to portray is the distance of the point from the correct location (red being more correct, blue less).  But that is easy to see without the variation in color.  It is redundant information.

A much better chart would have been to color code each dot with that respondent's Ukraine prescription, from blue = intervention to red = non-intervention.  This way the chart would have supported the full findings of the study (link between geographical knowledge and policy prescription) rather than just one aspect (quality of geographic knowledge).

Update:  If so many people got the Ukraine and the Yukon confused, God help us if the next Russian crisis is in Georgia.

We Are All Lukewarmers Now

Matt Ridley has another very good editorial in the WSJ that again does a great job of outlining what I think of as the core skeptic position.  Read the whole thing, but a few excerpts:

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will shortly publish the second part of its latest report, on the likely impact of climate change. Government representatives are meeting with scientists in Japan to sex up—sorry, rewrite—a summary of the scientists' accounts of storms, droughts and diseases to come. But the actual report, known as AR5-WGII, is less frightening than its predecessor seven years ago.

The 2007 report was riddled with errors about Himalayan glaciers, the Amazon rain forest, African agriculture, water shortages and other matters, all of which erred in the direction of alarm. This led to a critical appraisal of the report-writing process from a council of national science academies, some of whose recommendations were simply ignored.

Others, however, hit home. According to leaks, this time the full report is much more cautious and vague about worsening cyclones, changes in rainfall, climate-change refugees, and the overall cost of global warming.

It puts the overall cost at less than 2% of GDP for a 2.5 degrees Centigrade (or 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature increase during this century. This is vastly less than the much heralded prediction of Lord Stern, who said climate change would cost 5%-20% of world GDP in his influential 2006 report for the British government.

It is certainly a strange branch of science where major reports omit a conclusion because that conclusion is not what they wanted to see

The IPCC's September 2013 report abandoned any attempt to estimate the most likely "sensitivity" of the climate to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The explanation, buried in a technical summary not published until January, is that "estimates derived from observed climate change tend to best fit the observed surface and ocean warming for [sensitivity] values in the lower part of the likely range." Translation: The data suggest we probably face less warming than the models indicate, but we would rather not say so.

Readers of this site will recognize this statement

None of this contradicts basic physics. Doubling carbon dioxide cannot on its own generate more than about 1.1C (2F) of warming, however long it takes. All the putative warming above that level would come from amplifying factors, chiefly related to water vapor and clouds. The net effect of these factors is the subject of contentious debate.

I have reluctantly accepted the lukewarmer title, though I think it is a bit lame.

In climate science, the real debate has never been between "deniers" and the rest, but between "lukewarmers," who think man-made climate change is real but fairly harmless, and those who think the future is alarming. Scientists like Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Richard Lindzen of MIT have moved steadily toward lukewarm views in recent years.

When I make presentations, I like to start with the following (because it gets everyone's attention):  "Yes, I am a denier.  But to say 'denier', implies that one is denying some specific proposition.  What is that proposition?  It can't be 'global warming' because propositions need verbs, otherwise it is like saying one denies weather.  I don't deny that the world has warmed over the last century.  I don't deny that natural factors play a role in this (though many alarmists seem to).  I don't even deny that man has contributed incrementally to this warming.  What I deny is the catastrophe.  Specifically, I deny that man's CO2 will warm the Earth enough to create a catastrophe.  I define "catastrophe" as an outcome where the costs of immediately reducing CO2 output with the associated loss in economic growth would be substantially less than the cost of future adaption and abatement. "

Schools Increasingly Constitution-Free Zones

Reason rightly highlights this story about a kid in Georgia facing 10 years in jail because his school found his fishing tackle box in his car and in it was, gasp, his fishing knife.

But what the local news story fails to make a point about is the absurdly low bar school officials have to clear to search student's cars.

Williams, a senior at Allatoona High School, became the subject of a warrantless search after a fellow student told a campus police officer that he or she saw smoke rising from Williams’ car in the student parking lot and it smelled like marijuana. An assistant principal searched the car and did not find any marijuana but did find a pocket knife in the center console, enough to get Williams suspended for 10 days and possibly expelled, while facing felony criminal charges.

Smoke was rising from the car?  Really?  Like Spiccoli's van in Fast Times for Ridgemont High?  I am sure glad this kind of administrative lawlessness was not allowed when I was in school.  I wouldn't be surprised if the original student report to the school wasn't a pure fabrication out of spite against this student.

Can We Please End the Drug War Now

Recently small town Grantville, Georgia police chief Doug Jordan flew out to meet with our very own Sheriff Joe.

Following their meeting, Jordan expressed his hopes to establish Grantville’s own drug team. He also planned to have some of his officers travel to Arizona for training.

Seriously?  A dedicated drug team?  Grantville has a population of 3,096 in 2011.  Here it is in all its metropolitan glory:

grantville

 

Next, they will be wanting a tank.

Film Production -- The Strangely Favored Industry

My son and I were watching a TV show and at the end there was a blurb about it being made in Georgia.  I said to him "I guarantee that "filmed in Georgia" translates to "subsidized by Georgia."  He did not believe me, and could not understand why anyone would subsidize film production.  After all, we can argue about whether any government subsidized jobs make sense or just cannibalize investment in other areas, but film jobs are the most temporary and fleeting of all jobs.

Turns out I was right (I followed a web link from the credits):

Georgia production incentives provide up to 30% of your Georgia production expenditures in transferable tax credits.

The program is available for qualifying projects, including feature films, television series, commercials, music videos, animation and game development. With one of the industry’s most competitive production incentive programs, the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office can help you dramatically cut production costs without sacrificing quality.

Highlights from the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act include the following:

  • 20% across the board, transferable flat tax credit with a minimum of $500,000 spent on qualified production and post production expenditures within Georgia
  • Additional 10% tax credit if a production company includes an imbedded Georgia promotional logo in the qualified feature film, TV series, music video or video game project
  • Provides same tax credits to all instate and out-of-state labor working in Georgia, plus standard fringes qualify
  • No limits or caps on Georgia spend; no sunset clause
  • For commercials and music videos, a production company may group multiple projects together to meet the $500,000 minimum spend on qualified expenditures

This is just insane.  WTF is the state doing subsidizing 30% of the cost of making commercials?  What could possibly justify this, except that this is a sexy business and it gives politicians a chance to rub shoulders with film people?   Why are Georgia business people taxed in order to hand money film producers?   What makes film production a "good" industry and, say, campgrounds a bad one?

Well, I suppose it could be argued that filming in Georgia would help advertise Georgia by showing scenes filmed on location in the state.  Except that the show we were watching was Archer, an animated series about spies based in New York City.  Not one second of the TV show has ever shown or ever will show a live image of Georgia, and I am almost all the way through the second season and not one location in the state of Georgia has been mentioned  (though they might have mentioned the one in Asia).

 

Electric Vehicle Welfare Queen

No, we are not talking today about Elon Musk (though the name fits) but about this electric car buyer profiled in the WSJ:

Bronson Beisel, 46, says he was looking last fall for an alternative to driving his gas-guzzling Ford Expedition sport utility around suburban Atlanta, when he saw a discounted lease offer for an all-electric Nissan Leaf. With $1,000 down, Mr. Beisel says he got a two-year lease for total out-of-pocket payments of $7,009, a deal that reflects a $7,500 federal tax credit.

As a resident of Georgia, Mr. Beisel is also eligible for a $5,000 subsidy from the state government. Now, he says, his out-of-pocket costs for 24 months in the Leaf are just over $2,000. Factor in the $200 a month he reckons he isn't paying for gasoline to fill up his hulking SUV, and Mr. Beisel says "suddenly the car puts $2,000 in my pocket."

Yes, he pays for electricity to charge the Leaf's 24-kilowatt-hour battery—but not much. "In March, I spent $14.94 to charge the car" and a bit less than that in April, he says. He also got an electric car-charging station installed at his house for no upfront cost.

"It's like a two-year test drive, free," he says.

I hope you all enjoy Mr. Beisel's smug pride a driving a car using your money.

In my next post, I am going to dive deeper in the operating cost numbers here.  By the article, Mr. Beisel has cut his monthly fuel costs from $200 to $14.94, a savings of over 90%.  If these numbers are real, why the hell do we have to subsidize these cars?  Well, while it turns out that while the Leaf is a nice efficient vehicle, these numbers are way off.  Stay tuned.

Classic Partisan Thinking

Kevin Drum writes

On the right, both climate change and questions about global limits on oil production have exited the realm of empirical debate and become full-blown fronts in the culture wars. You're required to mock them regardless of whether it makes any sense. And it's weird as hell. I mean, why would you disparage development of renewable energy? If humans are the ultimate creators, why not create innovative new sources of renewable energy instead of digging up every last fluid ounce of oil on the planet?

I am sure it is perfectly true that there are Conservatives who knee-jerk oppose every government renewable energy and recycling and green jobs idea that comes along without reference to the science.  But you know what, there are plenty of Liberals who knee-jerk support all these same things, again without any understanding of the underlying science.  Mr. Drum, for example, only recently came around to opposing corn ethanol, despite the fact that the weight of the science was against ethanol being any kind of environmental positive years and years ago.  In fact, not until it was no longer cool and caring to support ethanol (a moment I would set at when Rolling Stone wrote a fabulous ethanol expose) did Drum finally turn against it.  Is this science, or social signalling?   How many folks still run around touting electric cars without understanding what the marginal fuels are in the electricity grid, or without understanding the true well-to-wheels efficiency?  How many folks still run around touting wind power without understanding the huge percentage of this power that must be backed up with hot backup power fueled by fossil fuels?

Why is his almost blind support of renewable energy without any reference to science or the specifics of the technologies involved any saner than blind opposition?  If anything, blind opposition at least has the numbers on their side, given past performance of investments in all sorts of wonder-solutions to future energy production.

The reason there is a disconnect is because statists like Drum equate supporting government subsidies and interventions with supporting renewables.  Few people, even Conservatives, oppose renewables per se.  This is a straw man.  What they oppose are subsidies and government mandates for renewables.  Drum says he has almost limitless confidence in  man's ability to innovate.  I agree -- but I, unlike he apparently, have limitless confidence in man's ability to innovate absent government coercion.  It was not a government program that replaced whale oil as an illuminant right when we were approaching peak whale, it was the genius of John D. Rockefeller.  As fossil fuels get short, prices rise, and people naturally innovate on substitutes.  If Drum believes that private individuals are missing an opportunity, rather than root for government coercion, he should go take up the challenge.  He can be the Rockefeller of renewable energy.

Postscript:  By the way, it is absurd and disingenuous to equate opposition to what have been a series of boneheaded government investments in questionable ventures and technologies with some sort of a-scientific hatred of fossil fuel alternatives.  I have written for a decade that I long for the day, and expect it to be here within 20 years, that sheets of solar cells are cranked from factories like carpet out of Dalton, Georgia.

Government Prioritization Fail: Adding Staff When It Is Least Essential

Matt Welch has a good article here about a self-refuting NPR piece, which was obviously supposed to be a scare story about the loss of Sequestration money but turned out to be an illustration of just how stupid the sequestration panic was.  It's funny listening to the podcast of this episode as the NPR hosts desperately try to support the Administration position.

But one thing I thought was funny was this bit illustrating pre-sequester government staffing prioritization:

NPR's David Greene brings on Yvette Aehle, director of the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport in Albany, Georgia, to talk about the terrible danger that passengers will face now that Aehle's airport stands to lose its air traffic controllers:

AEHLE: Well, I don't really want to say anything is less safe. It's just a better opportunity for people to listen and to be heard and to understand where they are. And also, I'd like to point out that we don't have 24-hour tower coverage here currently. Those air traffic controllers are only directing traffic between 8 am to 8 pm seven days a week. And most of our heavy traffic is outside of those hours.

So the government chooses to staff the control tower only half the day.  But they choose to staff the tower during the 12 hours of lightest traffic, presumably because the employees wanted day jobs rather than night jobs.

As an aside, I will confess that my business of running public parks benefits from this.  The biggest management load on parks is obviously on weekends and in the evenings (in campgrounds).  Most employees of public agencies only work weekday days.  Its incredibly typical that public parks employees will take their vacations in July and August, by far the busiest months.  One advantage  (other than the obvious cost advantage) we have over public operations is that public agencies can't or won't ask their employees to work weekends and defer their vacations out of the summer time.  We are perfectly happy to hire people with very clear expectations that the job involves work on weekend and holidays.

I will give you my reminder of how to understand most government agencies:  Ignore the agency's stated purpose, and assume that it is being operated primarily for the benefit of its employees.  One will very often find that this simple heuristic is far better at explaining agency decisions than relying on the agency's mission statement  (this does not mean that there are not dedicated individuals in the agency truly, even selflessly, dedicated to the stated mission -- these two notions are not at all mutually exclusive.  Government agencies do not act badly because they are full of bad people, they act badly because their incentives cause good people to do stupid things).

Climate and Post-Modern Science

I have written before of my believe that climate has become the first post-modern science.  This time, I will yield the floor to Garth Paltridge to make the same point:

But the real worry with climate research is that it is on the very edge of what is called postmodern science. This is a counterpart of the relativist world of postmodern art and design. It is a much more dangerous beast, whose results are valid only in the context of society’s beliefs and where the very existence of scientific truth can be denied. Postmodern science envisages a sort of political nirvana in which scientific theory and results can be consciously and legitimately manipulated to suit either the dictates of political correctness or the policies of the government of the day.

There is little doubt that some players in the climate game – not a lot, but enough to have severely damaged the reputation of climate scientists in general – have stepped across the boundary into postmodern science. The Climategate scandal of 2009, wherein thousands of emails were leaked from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in England, showed that certain senior members of the research community were, and presumably still are, quite capable of deliberately selecting data in order to overstate the evidence for dangerous climate change. The emails showed as well that these senior members were quite happy to discuss ways and means of controlling the research journals so as to deny publication of any material that goes against the orthodox dogma. The ways and means included the sacking of recalcitrant editors.

Whatever the reason, it is indeed vastly more difficult to publish results in climate research journals if they run against the tide of politically correct opinion. Which is why most of the sceptic literature on the subject has been forced onto the web, and particularly onto web-logs devoted to the sceptic view of things. Which, in turn, is why the more fanatical of the believers in anthropogenic global warming insist that only peer-reviewed literature should be accepted as an indication of the real state of affairs. They argue that the sceptic web-logs should never be taken seriously by “real” scientists, and certainly should never be quoted. Which is a great pity. Some of the sceptics are extremely productive as far as critical analysis of climate science is concerned. Names like Judith Curry (chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta), Steve McIntyre (a Canadian geologist-statistician) and blogger Willis Eschenbach come to mind. These three in particular provide a balance and maturity in public discussion that puts many players in the global warming movement to shame, and as a consequence their outreach to the scientifically inclined general public is highly effective. Their output, together with that of other sceptics on the web, is fast becoming a practical and stringent substitute for peer review.

Update:  The IPCC does not seem to be on a path to building the credibility of climate science.  In their last report, the IPCC was rightly criticized for using "grey" literature as a source for their findings, against their own rules.  Grey literature encompasses about anything that is not published peer-reviewed literature, including, from the last report, sources that were essentially press releases from advocacy groups like the IPCC.  They even use a travel brochure as a source.

This time, to avoid this criticism, the IPCC is ... changing their rules to allow such grey literature citations.    I am pretty sure that this was NOT passed in order to get more material from Steve McIntyre's blog.  In related news, the IPCC also changed the makeup of its scientific panel, putting geographical and gender diversity over scientific qualifications as a criteria.  The quota for African climate scientists will, for example, be higher than that of North America.  See the whole story here.

Though this was all presented with pious words, my guess is that it was felt by the political leaders of the IPCC in the UN that the last report was not socialist or totalitarian enough and that more of such content was necessary.  We'll see.

Post-War Devastation

We associate photos like this one with the devastation of post-war Europe.

02394a.preview

In fact, this is a post-war photo, but it is of Charleston, South Carolina after the Civil War.   We seldom think of such scenes as being relevent to the US, but the South was at least as destroyed after the Civil War as Germany was after WWII.   Sherman's march to the sea in Georgia was famous for its devastation, but in their letters, many of Sherman's soldiers say they were particularly ferocious in South Carolina, the state that they most associated with the war and its start  (though much of the devastation in Charleston was self-inflicted, as a fire to burn the remaining cotton and keep it out of Yankee hands spread to the rest of the city).

Full sized image at Shorpy

Global Warming Alarmists Have Your Best Interests At Heart

Sent to me by a bunch of readers, from the Atlantic interview with Thomas Schelling:

I sometimes wish that we could have, over the next five or ten years, a lot of horrid things happening -- you know, like tornadoes in the Midwest and so forth -- that would get people very concerned about climate change. But I don't think that's going to happen.

This reminds me of a post from way back, when Kevin Drum wrote:

Seeking to shape legislation before Congress, three major energy trade
associations have shifted their stances and decided to back mandatory
federal curbs on carbon dioxide and other man-made emissions that could
accelerate climate change.

I responded:

Having some Washington lobbying organizations switch which side of this incredibly difficult trade off they support is not "good news."  Good news is finding out that this trade off may not be as stark as we think it is.  Good news is finding some new technology that reduces emissions and which private citizens are willing to adopt without government coercion (e.g. sheets of solar cells that can be run out of factories like carpet from Dalton, Georgia).  Or, good news is finding out that man's CO2 production has less of an effect on world climate than once thought.  Oddly enough, this latter category of good news, surely the best possible news we could get on the topic, is seldom treated as good news by global warming activists.  In fact, scientists with this message are called Holocaust deniers.

Postscript: It is particularly telling of a certain mindset that Schelling specifically wishes bad things to occur in the Midwest.   By most leftish standards, people in flyover country (except maybe Ohio since it is a key swing state) don't really count.

Fight Price Gouging

LOL, via Phil Miller:

Please join me in support for poor, beleaguered gas station owners, the victims of unconscionable price gouging by ruthless consumers who are taking advantage of market conditions to reduce their demand for gasoline,  riving down the price by nearly $2 per gallon over the last four months. Fortunately, governments are swinging into action. Georgia governor Sonny Perdue issued this statement:

"The financial crisis has disrupted the consumption of gasoline, which will have an effect on prices. However, we expect the prices that Georgian gasoline station owners receive at the pump to be in line with changes in consumers' incomes and the prices of substitutes and complements. We will not tolerate consumers taking advantage of Georgian business owners during a time of emergency."

Who the Hell Cares?

Apparently another interest group is claiming that Arizona is "missing out" on jobs in some critical growth industry, and therefore (wait for it) that industry must be subsidized to come to Arizona.

Arizona is getting its "clock cleaned" in the competition among
Western states to land solar-panel manufacturing companies within their
borders, according to the economic-development group that is losing the
fight.

At least nine companies that make solar equipment have passed up the
Valley of the Sun in the last year in favor of neighboring states,
according to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

From those nine projects alone, Arizona is missing out on more than 3,800 jobs, $2.3 billion in investment and $732 million in state and local revenues during the next decade, GPEC President and CEO Barry Broome said.

I am too tired to do my usual fact-checking on "incremental" state revenue numbers, but suffice it to say that $732 million in state and local tax revenues is a pipe dream.  There are three or four million people in Phoenix -- why is it we need the government to focus on someone employing 3,800 people?

The article's main "logic" is that our sunny climate should attract solar panel manufacturers.  Why?  I know they're customers may be here, but since most panels today come to Arizona from Japan or Germany, I don't think shipping costs are a big deal for panels.

The proposal is for a transferable income tax credit and property tax relief.  The author says the group is opposed to straight cash handouts, though.  Uh, OK.  And explain to me why a "transferable income tax credit" that the author says can be sold to other companies for cash is different than a cash handout?

I sometimes find it hard to identify the consistent element of what makes for a "desirable business"  (ie deserving of such subsidies) vs. one that is not so deserving.  The only consistent element I can find is that my business is always in the latter group, paying our taxes so that someone else's business and job can be subsidized.  It is for this reason that I generally barf when some group cries that they are not recieving equal proection (ala the 14th ammendment).  Take on tax and subsidy policy that takes from one group to fund another more politically connected group, and then talk to me about equal protection.

Postscript:  Here are the favored industries I can remember in the news of late in Arizona for getting special tax treatment:

Rock and Roll themed amusement park
Solar panel manufacturing
Neutriceutical production
New shopping mall parking lot
Spring training baseball parks

Readers are encouraged to add others in the comments.

Another Thought: I would dearly love to see a solar panel technology that can be rolled out of the factory cheaply in sheets like carpet out of Dalton, Georgia.  However, while I am increasingly convinced that someone is going to invent that technology soon, that technology will not be related to traditional silicon fabrication methods.  Therefore, nearly all of the plants that Arizona is desperately trying to subsidize to move here are likely using dead-end technologies, driven in part by bubble economics and subsidies that are not sustainable as the market grows (see ethanol).  Current silicon and germanium panels make no economic sense anywhere, and survive only due to massive (50% subsidies) and a desire to make a token green statement.

I am sure our local paper was cheerleading for ethanol plants in years past, and it is good we did not subsidize many here, because they are failing all over.  And I can't prove it, but I wouldn't be a bit surprised that one of the reasons our local semiconductor manufacturing operations have shrunk is because of this same effect, with subsidies attracting the least, not the most, viable enterprises.

CoyoteBlog Readers' Tournament Pick Count

I am a glutton for stats, so I always love to post this analysis.  Of the 125 brackets we have in the tournament, this is how many picked each team in each game  (teams in red are those already knocked out)

By the way, how about that buzzer-beater in overtime by Western Kentucky!

Pick counts for all PickHoops

Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6
East
1 North Carolina 123
16 PlayinWinner 2
1 North Carolina 117
8 Indiana 6
16 PlayinWinner 2
9 Arkansas 0
1 North Carolina 107
4 Washington St 7
5 Notre Dame 5
8 Indiana 4
13 Winthrop 1
16 PlayinWinner 1
9 Arkansas 0
12 George Mason 0
1 North Carolina 79
2 Tennessee 23
3 Louisville 15
5 Notre Dame 2
8 Indiana 2
6 Oklahoma 1
13 Winthrop 1
4 Washington St 1
16 PlayinWinner 1
15 American U. 0
10 South Alabama 0
7 Butler 0
14 Boise State 0
12 George Mason 0
11 St. Josephs 0
9 Arkansas 0
1 North Carolina 53
1 Kansas 27
2 Tennessee 13
3 Louisville 10
2 Georgetown 7
3 Wisconsin 5
5 Clemson 2
4 Vanderbilt 2
13 Winthrop 1
16 PlayinWinner 1
6 Oklahoma 1
5 Notre Dame 1
10 Davidson 1
7 Gonzaga 1
13 Siena 0
12 Villanova 0
14 CS Fullerton 0
15 Maryland-Balt. 0
11 Kansas St. 0
6 USC 0
15 American U. 0
4 Washington St 0
12 George Mason 0
9 Arkansas 0
8 Indiana 0
11 St. Josephs 0
14 Boise State 0
8 UNLV 0
16 Portland State 0
10 South Alabama 0
7 Butler 0
9 Kent State 0
1 North Carolina 32
1 UCLA 22
1 Kansas 20
1 Memphis 17
2 Texas 6
2 Tennessee 6
2 Georgetown 5
4 Pittsburgh 3
3 Louisville 3
2 Duke 3
3 Wisconsin 2
5 Clemson 1
16 PlayinWinner 1
3 Stanford 1
15 Belmont 1
4 Connecticut 1
10 Davidson 1
6 Marquette 0
10 St. Marys CA 0
13 Oral Roberts 0
7 Miami Fla. 0
11 Kentucky 0
14 Cornell 0
8 BYU 0
3 Xavier 0
11 Baylor 0
14 Georgia 0
7 West Virginia 0
10 Arizona 0
6 Purdue 0
13 San Diego 0
12 Temple 0
16 MississipValSt 0
9 Texas A&M 0
5 Drake 0
12 W. Kentucky 0
15 Austin Peay 0
15 Maryland-Balt. 0
14 Boise State 0
11 St. Josephs 0
7 Butler 0
10 South Alabama 0
15 American U. 0
6 Oklahoma 0
13 Winthrop 0
9 Arkansas 0
8 Indiana 0
5 Notre Dame 0
12 George Mason 0
4 Washington St 0
16 Portland State 0
8 UNLV 0
7 Gonzaga 0
14 CS Fullerton 0
16 TexasArlington 0
8 Mississippi St 0
9 Oregon 0
11 Kansas St. 0
6 USC 0
9 Kent State 0
12 Villanova 0
4 Vanderbilt 0
13 Siena 0
5 Michigan St. 0
8 Indiana 63
9 Arkansas 62
5 Notre Dame 89
12 George Mason 36
4 Washington St 59
5 Notre Dame 49
12 George Mason 12
13 Winthrop 5
4 Washington St 101
13 Winthrop 24
6 Oklahoma 72
11 St. Josephs 53
3 Louisville 96
6 Oklahoma 19
11 St. Josephs 6
14 Boise State 4
2 Tennessee 62
3 Louisville 44
7 Butler 8
6 Oklahoma 8
15 American U. 1
14 Boise State 1
10 South Alabama 1
11 St. Josephs 0
3 Louisville 117
14 Boise State 8
7 Butler 96
10 South Alabama 29
2 Tennessee 101
7 Butler 20
15 American U. 2
10 South Alabama 2
2 Tennessee 122
15 American U. 3
Midwest
1 Kansas 123
16 Portland State 2
1 Kansas 117
8 UNLV 3
9 Kent State 3
16 Portland State 2
1 Kansas 94
5 Clemson 15
4 Vanderbilt 10
8 UNLV 2
16 Portland State 2
13 Siena 1
12 Villanova 1
9 Kent State 0
1 Kansas 60
2 Georgetown 29
3 Wisconsin 13
5 Clemson 9
4 Vanderbilt 5
6 USC 3
7 Gonzaga 2
16 Portland State 2
8 UNLV 1
10 Davidson 1
15 Maryland-Balt. 0
13 Siena 0
9 Kent State 0
12 Villanova 0
11 Kansas St. 0
14 CS Fullerton 0
8 UNLV 65
9 Kent State 60
5 Clemson 90
12 Villanova 35
5 Clemson 58
4 Vanderbilt 51
12 Villanova 10
13 Siena 6
4 Vanderbilt 109
13 Siena 16
6 USC 74
11 Kansas St. 51
3 Wisconsin 76
6 USC 36
11 Kansas St. 11
14 CS Fullerton 2
2 Georgetown 65
3 Wisconsin 41
6 USC 10
7 Gonzaga 4
15 Maryland-Balt. 2
10 Davidson 2
11 Kansas St. 1
14 CS Fullerton 0
3 Wisconsin 120
14 CS Fullerton 5
7 Gonzaga 70
10 Davidson 55
2 Georgetown 106
10 Davidson 9
7 Gonzaga 8
15 Maryland-Balt. 2
2 Georgetown 123
15 Maryland-Balt. 2
South
1 Memphis 121
16 TexasArlington 4
1 Memphis 118
8 Mississippi St 3
16 TexasArlington 3
9 Oregon 1
1 Memphis 76
4 Pittsburgh 31
5 Michigan St. 15
16 TexasArlington 2
8 Mississippi St 1
13 Oral Roberts 0
9 Oregon 0
12 Temple 0
1 Memphis 46
2 Texas 46
3 Stanford 13
4 Pittsburgh 10
5 Michigan St. 5
11 Kentucky 2
16 TexasArlington 2
6 Marquette 1
10 St. Marys CA 0
15 Austin Peay 0
7 Miami Fla. 0
13 Oral Roberts 0
8 Mississippi St 0
9 Oregon 0
12 Temple 0
14 Cornell 0
1 UCLA 49
1 Memphis 28
2 Texas 22
2 Duke 12
4 Pittsburgh 4
3 Stanford 3
4 Connecticut 3
3 Xavier 1
16 MississipValSt 1
5 Michigan St. 1
15 Belmont 1
12 W. Kentucky 0
11 Baylor 0
7 West Virginia 0
10 Arizona 0
14 Georgia 0
5 Drake 0
6 Purdue 0
13 San Diego 0
15 Austin Peay 0
12 Temple 0
13 Oral Roberts 0
9 Oregon 0
8 Mississippi St 0
16 TexasArlington 0
6 Marquette 0
11 Kentucky 0
8 BYU 0
10 St. Marys CA 0
7 Miami Fla. 0
14 Cornell 0
9 Texas A&M 0
8 Mississippi St 64
9 Oregon 61
5 Michigan St. 89
12 Temple 36
4 Pittsburgh 82
5 Michigan St. 36
13 Oral Roberts 4
12 Temple 3
4 Pittsburgh 119
13 Oral Roberts 6
6 Marquette 79
11 Kentucky 46
3 Stanford 68
6 Marquette 41
11 Kentucky 14
14 Cornell 2
2 Texas 80
3 Stanford 25
6 Marquette 12
11 Kentucky 4
15 Austin Peay 2
7 Miami Fla. 2
14 Cornell 0
10 St. Marys CA 0
3 Stanford 118
14 Cornell 7
10 St. Marys CA 63
7 Miami Fla. 62
2 Texas 115
7 Miami Fla. 6
15 Austin Peay 3
10 St. Marys CA 1
2 Texas 122
15 Austin Peay 3
West
1 UCLA 123
16 MississipValSt 2
1 UCLA 120
8 BYU 2
16 MississipValSt 2
9 Texas A&M 1
1 UCLA 101
4 Connecticut 13
5 Drake 8
13 San Diego 1
9 Texas A&M 1
16 MississipValSt 1
8 BYU 0
12 W. Kentucky 0
1 UCLA 68
2 Duke 27
3 Xavier 12
4 Connecticut 8
5 Drake 3
14 Georgia 1
6 Purdue 1
11 Baylor 1
10 Arizona 1
16 MississipValSt 1
15 Belmont 1
7 West Virginia 1
13 San Diego 0
8 BYU 0
9 Texas A&M 0
12 W. Kentucky 0
9 Texas A&M 79
8 BYU 46
5 Drake 97
12 W. Kentucky 28
4 Connecticut 67
5 Drake 50
13 San Diego 6
12 W. Kentucky 2
4 Connecticut 117
13 San Diego 8
6 Purdue 79
11 Baylor 46
3 Xavier 82
6 Purdue 20
14 Georgia 14
11 Baylor 9
2 Duke 66
3 Xavier 40
7 West Virginia 10
15 Belmont 2
10 Arizona 2
14 Georgia 2
11 Baylor 2
6 Purdue 1
3 Xavier 105
14 Georgia 20
7 West Virginia 78
10 Arizona 47
2 Duke 98
7 West Virginia 18
10 Arizona 7
15 Belmont 2
2 Duke 122
15 Belmont 3

Solar Cells in Sheets From Dalton, Georgia

Every 2-3 years I do the math on solar cells for my home.  I live in a house with a large flat roof and in one of the top 10 cities in the world for solar potential, so it seems to make sense in theory.  Unfortunately, even with large government / power company subsidies, the math never works as an investment.

The problem for me is not efficiency - I have enough flat space on my roof for a lot of cells - but cost.  We need a solar technology that can be rolled out of the factory like carpet from Dalton, Georgia.  To this end, this looks promising.

The Victim Sweepstakes

I probably shouldn't, but I must admit that I am being hugely entertained by the calculus of guilt and victimization in the Democratic Party as supporters of the white woman and the black guy vie to claim the title of being the most put down by "the man."  I can just see the voter in Berkeley yesterday nearly imploding with stress as she tried to figure out whether it was less PC to vote against a black or a woman.  Anyway, MaxedOutMamma is also having fun with the whole thing, and is surprised to find out that "If Hillary doesn't win
tonight it will obviously be proof that the old WASP boys club [of Georgia!] has
conquered using a black guy with the middle name of Hussein."  Yes sir, I remember that time when Georgia went so far as to secede from the union to keep women in bondage....

Supply and Demand, But Not In Water

Thanks to a reader comes this article from the NY Times that yet again discusses a water shortage and possible government action without once mentioning the word "price."  If water prices floated like gas prices, we wouldn't have to discuss things like these:

Within two weeks, Carol Couch, director of the Georgia Environmental
Protection Division, is expected to send Gov. Sonny Perdue
recommendations on tightening water restrictions, which may include
mandatory cutbacks on commercial and industrial users.

If that
happens, experts at the National Drought Mitigation Center said, it
would be the first time a major metropolitan area in the United States
had been forced to take such drastic action to save its water supply.

But of course politicians love being responsible for resource allocation through command-and-control government, because it creates winners and losers and both will then donate to the next election cycle.  Atlanta already has fairly expensive water, but a quick 50% rate hike about 3 months ago would have likely obviated this shortage while also providing the municipality with additional funds to develop new sources.

I wrote a lot more about water scarcity and the price mechanism, including the observation that Phoenix ridiculously has some of the lowest water prices in the country, here.

postscript: One of the media tricks to make things look worse and panicky is to present asymmetric charts.  For example, the NY Times presents this drought map:
2007droughtgraphic

All you see is what one presumes to be normal in white and then a lot of drought.  But in fact, this chart is truncated.  It omits all the data for areas that are wetter than usual.  Here is the chart for September form the NOAA with both over and under precipitation over the past 12 months:

Spi12_200709_pg

Whoa, that shows a different picture, huh?  Basically, about as much stuff is wetter than normal as drier than normal.  Which is exactly what one might expect in any period.  And by the way, if you look at the last five years, the US is pretty freaking wet:

Usnmx20070960monpctpcppg

The Pepsi Challenge

Many of us remember the old Pepsi challenge commercials, where blind taste tests vs. Coke showed people preferring Pepsi.  One of the interesting results of these commercials was that Pepsi gained market share, but Coke did not lose it -- much of the Pepsi market share gain came from other brands.  In essence, the commercials established in consumer's minds that the cola choice was Coke or Pepsi, and so it did as much for Coke as it did Pepsi.

So now take this experience to anti-smoking commercials.  It turns out that they may backfire:

The more anti-smoking ads middle schoolers see, the more likely they are to smoke, according to a study in the August issue of Communication Research.
Hye-Jin Paek, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia's
College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Albert Gunther, a
professor of life sciences communication at the University of
Wisconsin at Madison, analyzed data from surveys that asked middle
school students about their exposure to anti-smoking messages and their
intention to smoke:

They found that, overall, the
more the students were exposed to anti-smoking messages, the more
inclined they were to smoke. The exception"”where exposure to
anti-smoking ads correlated with a reduced intention to smoke"”occurred
among students who said their friends were influenced by anti-smoking
messages.

In the context of other advertising research, such as the old Coke/Pepsi campaign, this is not surprising.  It is even less surprising for this type of ad, where a certain amount of anti-authoritarian response can be expected.  In fact, I have seen a number of ads that use this anti-authoritarian streak and distrust of the government as a feature.  Ads that say "The government doesn't want you to know about X" or "What the oil companies don't want you to know."

I wonder when the first member of the plaintiff's bar will initiate a lawsuit against the tobacco companies for promoting teenage smoking by running... anti-smoking ads.

I Wish I Was in the Land of ... Subsidy

John Sugg at Reason has a review of corporate relocation subsidies down South, and the picture is not pretty:

Jurisdictions across the nation offer such inducements, which
include tax abatement, land acquisition, construction subsidies,
training subsidies, and outright cash grants. Nationally, relocation
incentives total about $50 billion a year, according to the WHR Group,
SIRVA, and other relo­cation consultants. (Such consultants often
collect as much as 30 percent of the grants they negotiate for the
businesses.)...

It's hard to get a precise total of the dollars
involved, but almost every major business relocation in the South is
accompanied by a cornucopia of publicly funded grants, despite ample
evidence that the subsidies have little impact on corporate site
selection. Other regions of the nation, especially ones experiencing
protracted economic downturns, are increasingly emulating the South.
The politicians involved rarely consider broader tax and regulatory
changes that would make their states more attractive to all businesses,
outside and homegrown....

Trendy businesses"”particularly technology firms"”have the greatest
leverage in demanding government subsidies. In February, for example,
biofuel manufacturer Range Fuels, based on lit­tle more than its word
that it could deliver a economically competitive product, was offered
$6 million in state cash, a 97-acre tract in central Georgia, and a set
of tax abatements. At best, the company will employ 70 people.

He's got tons of examples, so you should read it all, but this one sounded just like something out of Wisconsin in Atlas Shrugged:

One business that benefited from such subsidies was the Real Silk
Hosiery factory, which opened in Durant, Mississippi, in the late
1930s. Real Silk rented its factory from a state agency for $5 a year,
enjoyed tax incentives, and had public agencies train its employees and
even build their homes. The Durant plant was shuttered in the mid-'50s.
Like many other Southern industrial facilities abandoned by owners
seeking better deals elsewhere, it closed before the industrial revenue
bonds were paid off. Writing in Time in 1998, reporters Donald Bartlett
and James Steele noted that Mississippi "was the poorest state in the
nation when its corporate-welfare program began in 1936."¦62 years and
hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars in economic incentives
later, it remains dead last in per capita income."

In the past, I have observed that the "game" of competitive relocation subsidies between local authorities is very similar to a prisoner's dilemma game.  In the prisoner's dilemma, two prisoners are given a choice: To confess and rat out their partner or to stay silent.  If both stay silent, they get 10 years each in jail.  If one rats out the other, but the other stays silent, the talker gets 5 years and the silent one gets 30 years.  If they both talk, then they both get 20 years.  In this game, each person has the incentive to talk, since for any set of actions of their partner, they are better off talking than not talking.  The irony is that when they both inevitably talk, they end up worse off than if they had stayed silent.

I see the relocation subsidy game as very similar, replacing "state official" for prisoner and "subsidize" for "talk."  Quoting from myself:

In a libertarian world where politicians all just say no to
subsidizing businesses, then businesses would end up reasonably evenly
distributed across the country (due to labor markets, distribution
requirements, etc.) and taxpayers would not be paying any subsidies.
However, because politicians fear that their community will lose if
they don't play the subsidy game like everyone else (the equivalent of
staying silent while your partner is ratting you out in prison) what we
end up with is still having businesses reasonably evenly distributed
across the country, but with massive subsidies in place.

To see this clearer, lets take the example of Major League Baseball
(MLB).  We all know that cities and states have been massively
subsidizing new baseball stadiums for billionaire team owners.  Lets
for a minute say this never happened - that somehow, the mayors of the
50 largest cities got together in 1960 and made a no-stadium-subsidy
pledge.  First, would MLB still exist?  Sure!  Teams like the Giants
have proven that baseball can work financially in a private park, and
baseball thrived for years with private parks.  OK, would baseball be
in the same cities?  Well, without subsidies, baseball would be in the
largest cities, like New York and LA and Chicago, which is exactly
where they are now.  The odd city here or there might be different,
e.g. Tampa Bay might never have gotten a team, but that would in
retrospect have been a good thing.

The net effect in baseball is the same as it is in every other
industry:  Relocation subsidies, when everyone is playing the game, do
nothing to substantially affect the location of jobs and businesses,
but rather just transfer taxpayer money to business owners and workers.

I conclude with this from Sugg's piece:

Holladay, who has headed state economic development agencies in
Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina, remembers a conversation with
Zell Miller, then governor of Georgia, at a National Governors
Conference in the '90s. "The topic of subsidies came up," he recalls.
"Zell asked me, "˜Is there any way to end this foolishness?' I answered,
"˜The only way I know is to not elect any more governors.'"‰"

I Can Fix the Water "Shortage" in Five Minutes

Apparently the next "crisis" is that America is running out of water.  This is mostly an issue in the west, where growth is high and fresh water is rarer than in the east.  Here is one example of the brewing panic:

The growing human population is creating cities where desert or scrub
land used to be. Rainfall always has been and always will be in short
supply. Only so much water can be diverted from rivers to satisfy the
water needs of these desert dwellers. The aquifers are being drained.
Soon there will be demands to divert water from large inland lakes like the Great Lakes which would put those bodies of water in peril.

Oh my god, I can see it now - fish flopping on the muddy exposed bottom of Lake Michigan.

Look, the problem is not lack of water.  The problem is lack of market sanity.  Water in the west is regulated and sold in a hodge-podge of complex arrangements and negotiations.   The whole system is too complex to describe here, but at least one general conclusion can be safely drawn about the whole system:  Water is under-priced.   

For reference, lets look at my home city.  If building cities in the desert is the new evil, then I live in that great Satan called Phoenix.  And while my electricity charges are enough to get my attention (higher efficiency AC: check; compact fluorescent bulbs: check; solar: still too expensive), my water bill seldom grabs my focus.   

And now I know why.  Check out this analysis, conducted apparently by the city of Austin but which I found on the Portland Water Bureau's web site:

City Monthly cost for water service of 8,500 gallons
Memphis, Tennessee $14.16
Phoenix, Arizona $16.27
Charlotte, North Carolina $17.52
Dallas, Texas $20.04
Austin, Texas $23.15
Portland, Oregon $23.44
Louisville, Kentucky $23.47
Houston, Texas $26.49
Milwaukee, Wisconsin $27.86
East Bay MUD, Oakland, California $31.13
Atlanta, Georgia $33.60
San Diego, California $37.52
Seattle, Washington $39.75

Can you believe it?  We here in Phoenix, out in the middle of the largest desert on the continent, during a multi-year drought (yes you can still have a drought in the desert), while everyone laments that Lake Powell and other reservoirs are getting sucked dry, Phoenix has one of the lowest water prices of any city in the country.  Can you get over the irony of Seattle having some of the highest priced water in the country and Phoenix the lowest?

And you know what - I have not seen a single article in any of our local media that has once mentioned this fact.  Look here -- the articles blame global warming and lack of conservation and development and too many lawns and not enough low-flow faucets and talk about the need for government rationing, but never once mention PRICE.  We have the scarcest water in the country and one of the lowest prices for water.  Talk about ignoring the elephant in the room.  I should have just labeled this post "Duh!"

And these are the consumer water prices.  The situation actually gets worse when you look at agriculture.  In most of the southwest, farmers get water prices subsidized below the rates paid by ordinary consumers.  When you combine these water subsidies with massive subsidies already rich groups get for growing crops in the desert from farm programs, you get an enormous distorted incentive to grow water-hungry crops that are totally inappropriate for the desert.

So here is my five minute plan:  We may be a ways away from creating an actual market in water, but in the mean time, the quasi-governmental agencies providing it need to raise the prices (to everyone) up to a level that demand matches supply.  More conservation will occur, and marginal commercial, residential, and agricultural development will disappear.  If the price goes high enough, someone may even go out and find a new, innovative source of water for the area. 

Unfortunately, this is just too dang easy, and, from reading recent articles in the media, not even in the menu of options being considered.  Government bureaucrats are much more comfortable with rationing and limitations on development, because it gives them more power and creates a new set of winners and losers who will donate more to future political campaigns.

Update: Daniel Mitchell at Cato has similar thoughts, based on water shortages in Florida of all places:

So here we are, in the spring of 2007, with rain below
average, with a low lake level, little else in the way of reservoirs,
and a water shortage. What is the response? Well, a rational response
might be to price a scarce commodity such that people will use it only
as they need it, and not frivolously. "¦Instead, we get the response of
the local commissars. So, not allowing the market to work, and not
allowing prices to provide signals to the participants, they have
decided to run our lives for us.

"¦I live at an odd numbered address. That means that if I want to
water my lawn, I can only do it on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday
mornings, from four to eight AM. I can water my plants with a hose on
the same days, but only between five and seven PM. My neighbors across
the street, and behind my house on the next block, get Sunday, Tuesday
and Thursday.

"¦Over thirty years ago, in the first OPEC oil embargo, the
government, rather than allowing prices to rise to account for the
reduced supply, told people when they could purchase gas based on the
parity of their license plate "” even one day, odd the next. My
recollection was that this did nothing to alleviate the shortage "” the
lines remained. The problem was only solved when Nixon-era price
controls on oil were lifted, the market was allowed to work, and oil
prices eventually (and it didn't take all that long) fell to historical
lows.

"¦[H]ere's a radical concept. How about pricing the commodity to the
market? Maybe, if people had to pay more for water to water their lawn,
they'd use less of it? Yes, I know that it's hard to believe, but there
really are some people out there who buy less of something if the price
is higher.

Update #2: The more I think of it, the more this situation really ticks me off.  In their general pandering and populism, politicians are afraid to raise water prices, fearing the decision would be criticized.  So, they keep prices artificially low, knowing that this low price is causing reservoirs and aquifers to be pumped faster than their replacement rate.  Then, as the reservoirs go dry, the politicians blame us, the consumers, for being too profligate with water and call for ... wait for it ... more power for themselves, the ones whose spinelessness is the root cause of the problem, to allocate and ration water and development.

Summarizing The Brackets

Here is the pick distributions for out 91 brackets.  The number to the right of the schools name is the number of players who picked that team to win that round/game:

Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6
Midwest
1 Florida 91
16 Jackson State 0
1 Florida 88
8 Arizona 2
9 Purdue 1
16 Jackson State 0
1 Florida 76
4 Maryland 12
5 Butler 3
13 Davidson 0
12 Old Dominion 0
9 Purdue 0
16 Jackson State 0
8 Arizona 0
1 Florida 52
2 Wisconsin 20
3 Oregon 12
4 Maryland 6
6 Notre Dame 1
7 UNLV 0
15 Tex A&M CC 0
10 Georgia Tech 0
14 Miami Ohio 0
13 Davidson 0
8 Arizona 0
16 Jackson State 0
9 Purdue 0
5 Butler 0
12 Old Dominion 0
11 Winthrop 0
1 Florida 29
1 Kansas 21
2 UCLA 20
2 Wisconsin 9
6 Duke 3
3 Oregon 3
3 Pittsburgh 3
4 Maryland 2
7 Indiana 1
12 Illinois 0
4 S. Illinois 0
5 Virginia Tech 0
11 VCU 0
15 Weber St. 0
10 Gonzaga 0
14 Wright State 0
9 Villanova 0
13 Holy Cross 0
15 Tex A&M CC 0
5 Butler 0
12 Old Dominion 0
9 Purdue 0
8 Arizona 0
16 Jackson State 0
13 Davidson 0
6 Notre Dame 0
10 Georgia Tech 0
16 PlayinWinner 0
7 UNLV 0
14 Miami Ohio 0
11 Winthrop 0
8 Kentucky 0
1 Florida 17
1 Ohio St. 16
1 North Carolina 11
2 Georgetown 9
1 Kansas 8
2 Wisconsin 7
2 UCLA 6
3 Texas A&M 6
2 Memphis 5
3 Pittsburgh 2
4 Texas 2
3 Oregon 1
6 Louisville 1
7 Boston College 0
12 Arkansas 0
10 Texas Tech 0
14 Oral Roberts 0
11 George Wash. 0
13 New Mexico St. 0
3 Washington St 0
6 Vanderbilt 0
8 BYU 0
14 Pennsylvania 0
11 Stanford 0
7 Nevada 0
10 Creighton 0
15 North Texas 0
13 Albany, NY 0
4 Virginia 0
5 USC 0
16 CentralConnct 0
9 Xavier 0
5 Tennessee 0
12 Long Beach St 0
15 Belmont 0
15 Weber St. 0
11 Winthrop 0
6 Notre Dame 0
14 Miami Ohio 0
7 UNLV 0
15 Tex A&M CC 0
10 Georgia Tech 0
13 Davidson 0
4 Maryland 0
8 Arizona 0
16 Jackson State 0
9 Purdue 0
5 Butler 0
12 Old Dominion 0
16 PlayinWinner 0
8 Kentucky 0
7 Indiana 0
14 Wright State 0
10 Gonzaga 0
16 E. Kentucky 0
8 Marquette 0
11 VCU 0
6 Duke 0
5 Virginia Tech 0
9 Villanova 0
12 Illinois 0
4 S. Illinois 0
13 Holy Cross 0
9 Michigan St. 0
8 Arizona 49
9 Purdue 42
5 Butler 55
12 Old Dominion 36
4 Maryland 59
5 Butler 21
12 Old Dominion 7
13 Davidson 4
4 Maryland 78
13 Davidson 13
6 Notre Dame 49
11 Winthrop 42
3 Oregon 62
6 Notre Dame 15
11 Winthrop 13
14 Miami Ohio 1
2 Wisconsin 40
3 Oregon 38
6 Notre Dame 6
7 UNLV 3
10 Georgia Tech 2
11 Winthrop 1
15 Tex A&M CC 1
14 Miami Ohio 0
3 Oregon 87
14 Miami Ohio 4
10 Georgia Tech 54
7 UNLV 37
2 Wisconsin 75
7 UNLV 9
10 Georgia Tech 6
15 Tex A&M CC 1
2 Wisconsin 90
15 Tex A&M CC 1
West
1 Kansas 91
16 PlayinWinner 0
1 Kansas 82
9 Villanova 8
8 Kentucky 1
16 PlayinWinner 0
1 Kansas 70
4 S. Illinois 10
5 Virginia Tech 5
9 Villanova 4
8 Kentucky 1
12 Illinois 1
13 Holy Cross 0
16 PlayinWinner 0
2 UCLA 40
1 Kansas 32
3 Pittsburgh 10
6 Duke 3
4 S. Illinois 3
7 Indiana 1
12 Illinois 1
9 Villanova 1
15 Weber St. 0
10 Gonzaga 0
14 Wright State 0
13 Holy Cross 0
16 PlayinWinner 0
8 Kentucky 0
5 Virginia Tech 0
11 VCU 0
9 Villanova 64
8 Kentucky 27
5 Virginia Tech 69
12 Illinois 22
4 S. Illinois 46
5 Virginia Tech 34
12 Illinois 9
13 Holy Cross 2
4 S. Illinois 78
13 Holy Cross 13
6 Duke 60
11 VCU 31
3 Pittsburgh 57
6 Duke 25
11 VCU 7
14 Wright State 2
2 UCLA 59
3 Pittsburgh 19
6 Duke 6
7 Indiana 4
10 Gonzaga 2
11 VCU 1
15 Weber St. 0
14 Wright State 0
3 Pittsburgh 83
14 Wright State 8
10 Gonzaga 56
7 Indiana 35
2 UCLA 81
7 Indiana 6
10 Gonzaga 4
15 Weber St. 0
2 UCLA 90
15 Weber St. 1
East
1 North Carolina 91
16 E. Kentucky 0
1 North Carolina 84
9 Michigan St. 6
8 Marquette 1
16 E. Kentucky 0
1 North Carolina 44
4 Texas 42
5 USC 4
8 Marquette 1
13 New Mexico St. 0
9 Michigan St. 0
16 E. Kentucky 0
12 Arkansas 0
2 Georgetown 38
1 North Carolina 25
4 Texas 17
3 Washington St 6
7 Boston College 2
5 USC 1
10 Texas Tech 1
8 Marquette 1
14 Oral Roberts 0
15 Belmont 0
13 New Mexico St. 0
16 E. Kentucky 0
9 Michigan St. 0
12 Arkansas 0
6 Vanderbilt 0
11 George Wash. 0
1 Ohio St. 25
2 Georgetown 22
1 North Carolina 14
3 Texas A&M 13
4 Texas 8
2 Memphis 5
3 Washington St 2
6 Louisville 1
8 Marquette 1
4 Virginia 0
12 Long Beach St 0
5 Tennessee 0
11 Stanford 0
10 Creighton 0
15 North Texas 0
7 Nevada 0
14 Pennsylvania 0
9 Xavier 0
13 Albany, NY 0
15 Belmont 0
12 Arkansas 0
13 New Mexico St. 0
5 USC 0
9 Michigan St. 0
16 E. Kentucky 0
6 Vanderbilt 0
11 George Wash. 0
16 CentralConnct 0
10 Texas Tech 0
7 Boston College 0
14 Oral Roberts 0
8 BYU 0
9 Michigan St. 52
8 Marquette 39
5 USC 57
12 Arkansas 34
4 Texas 70
5 USC 14
12 Arkansas 5
13 New Mexico St. 2
4 Texas 86
13 New Mexico St. 5
6 Vanderbilt 55
11 George Wash. 36
3 Washington St 44
6 Vanderbilt 27
11 George Wash. 11
14 Oral Roberts 9
2 Georgetown 69
3 Washington St 15
10 Texas Tech 4
7 Boston College 3
15 Belmont 0
14 Oral Roberts 0
11 George Wash. 0
6 Vanderbilt 0
3 Washington St 67
14 Oral Roberts 24
10 Texas Tech 49
7 Boston College 42
2 Georgetown 80
10 Texas Tech 6
7 Boston College 5
15 Belmont 0
2 Georgetown 90
15 Belmont 1
South
1 Ohio St. 91
16 CentralConnct 0
1 Ohio St. 90
9 Xavier 1
16 CentralConnct 0
8 BYU 0
1 Ohio St. 79
5 Tennessee 6
4 Virginia 5
9 Xavier 1
13 Albany, NY 0
16 CentralConnct 0
12 Long Beach St 0
8 BYU 0
1 Ohio St. 41
3 Texas A&M 27
2 Memphis 15
6 Louisville 4
5 Tennessee 2
4 Virginia 1
9 Xavier 1
7 Nevada 0
10 Creighton 0
15 North Texas 0
14 Pennsylvania 0
13 Albany, NY 0
16 CentralConnct 0
8 BYU 0
12 Long Beach St 0
11 Stanford 0
9 Xavier 63
8 BYU 28
5 Tennessee 68
12 Long Beach St 23
5 Tennessee 42
4 Virginia 39
12 Long Beach St 7
13 Albany, NY 3
4 Virginia 76
13 Albany, NY 15
6 Louisville 64
11 Stanford 27
3 Texas A&M 61
6 Louisville 24
11 Stanford 4
14 Pennsylvania 2
3 Texas A&M 45
2 Memphis 27
6 Louisville 14
11 Stanford 2
7 Nevada 2
10 Creighton 1
15 North Texas 0
14 Pennsylvania 0
3 Texas A&M 85
14 Pennsylvania 6
10 Creighton 46
7 Nevada 45
2 Memphis 68
7 Nevada 15
10 Creighton 8
15 North Texas 0
2 Memphis 89
15 North Texas 2

Global Warming "Good News"

Regular readers will know I am skeptical that anthropomorphic global warming and its effects will be as bad as generally predicted.  However, if I can work around this bias, I would like to cast the issue as neutrally as I can:  Man-made CO2 will likely cause the world to warm some, and the negative effects of this for man are likely higher than the positive effects.  Under some assumptions, these net negative effects of man-made warming could be astronomical in cost, while under other assumptions they will be less so.  Against this variable outcome, efforts to substantially reduce CO2 production world wide and prevent further increases of atmospheric CO2 concentrations will carry a staggering cost, both in dollars and the inevitable social effects of locking developing countries into poverty they are just now escaping (not to mention loss of individual liberty from more government controls).

The political choice we therefore face is daunting:  Do we pay an incredibly high price to abate an environmental change that may or may not be more costly than the cure?  Reasonable people disagree on this, and I recognize that I may fall in the minority on which side I currently stand on (I think both warming and its abatement costs are overblown, mainly because I have a Julian-Simonesque confidence in man's adaptability and innovation).

Against this backdrop, we have Kevin Drum declaring "More good news on the global warming front:"

Seeking to shape legislation before Congress, three major energy trade
associations have shifted their stances and decided to back mandatory
federal curbs on carbon dioxide and other man-made emissions that could
accelerate climate change.

Here is my news flash:  Having some Washington lobbying organizations switch which side of this incredibly difficult trade off they support is not "good news."  Good news is finding out that this trade off may not be as stark as we think it is.  Good news is finding some new technology that reduces emissions and which private citizens are willing to adopt without government coercion (e.g. sheets of solar cells that can be run out of factories like carpet from Dalton, Georgia).  Or, good news is finding out that man's CO2 production has less of an effect on world climate than once thought.  Oddly enough, this latter category of good news, surely the best possible news we could get on the topic, is seldom treated as good news by global warming activists.  In fact, scientists with this message are called Holocaust deniers.  I wonder why?

Update: LOL

Find the Deep Pockets

In my new novel, one of the elements of humor is added by a fictional law firm that has no sense of right and wrong but a very finely tuned sense for who has deep pockets.  Early readers of the book have accused me of exaggerating reality.  In fact, all the humorous cases in the book are based on real analogs.  Just check out this one via Overlawyered:

Katoria Lee refused a carjacker's command to surrender her car-keys in 2001, so
he shot her in the back. This, a Georgia state court jury decided, was the fault
of Wal-Mart, who owned the parking lot where the shooting occurred. Eric Deown
Riggins, 22, was caught within minutes, and is serving a 15-year sentence in
state prison for the crime.

Universities Becoming Their Own Country (and a repressive one at that)

Both based on outside pressure (mostly from torts) and internal desire, universities are rapidly modeling themselves into mini-governments, really mini-super-nanny-states.  FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, observes of a recent gathering of University attorneys:

At one panel I attended, San Francisco lawyer Zachary Hutton explained
Williams v. Board of Regents, a recent case in which a University of
Georgia student alleged having been raped by two student-athletes while a third
student watched. The police charged the athletes with rape, and the university
decided not to conduct its own investigation until the criminal case was
resolved.
That turned out to be a mistake. The plaintiff then sued the university for
sexual harassment, and the 11th Circuit held this year that the university could
be liable because, by waiting to conduct an independent investigation until the
criminal case was resolved, it had exhibited deliberate indifference to the
alleged rape. "The court emphasized," Mr. Hutton told the college lawyers, "that
the pending criminal trial . . . did not affect the university's ability to
institute its own proceedings, and the criminal charges would not have prevented
future attacks while the charges were pending."
There are excellent reasons for the university not to conduct its own
investigation. For one thing, instead of police detectives and professional
prosecutors conducting the investigation, you are likely to get Campus Public
Safety and the Associate Dean for Student Affairs. How having inexperienced
college administrators and college safety officers conduct a rape investigation
is likely to benefit either the victim or the accused is beyond me. The
potential for violating the Fifth Amendment, damaging evidence, and coming to
wildly inaccurate conclusions is immense, and if any of these things were to
happen, the university would risk botching an important criminal case. Rape is a
serious crime; victims and the accused deserve better than college justice.

In some ways, this was even more illuminating of the drive to mini-nanny-statehood:

The most entertaining discussion I heard at the lawyers' convention
centered on what to do about facebook.com and myspace.com--how to prevent
slander, harassment and rumor-mongering on these online communities popular with
undergrads.
What these attorneys were talking about is wholesale regulation of online
speech. Slander is, of course, a tort, and engaging in slander or libel can get
a person sued. It's hard to see how or why a college should be involved in this,
though. If I libel someone online, it's the business of those affected, not the
college. As for harassment, one of its main characteristics is that the person
being harassed finds the harassing behavior hard to avoid. Unless the "harasser"
is hacking into the victim's MySpace page, it's hard to see how going to a
"harassing" website isn't completely avoidable. As for "rumor-mongering," horror
of horrors! Regulating that on a college campus will mean tripling the number of
administrators (and probably tuition), but I suppose no expense is too large to
make sure that everyone stays comfortable.

College campuses were probably among the first and most vociferous critics of GWB's various domestic surveillance programs.  Its interesting to see that while opposing such programs at the national level, they are crafting far more far-reaching speech monitoring and restriction programs on their own campuses:

The room was evenly divided: Some lawyers recommended ignoring the students' Web
sites unless something offensive was brought to administrators' attention, while
others suggested taking aggressive action....

By my calculations, if half the lawyers thought that "offensive" speech that is
reported should be punished, and half the lawyers thought that administrators
should spend their time cruising the websites and proactively stamping out
"offensive" speech, that leaves ZERO lawyers who believed that perhaps merely
"offensive" speech should be protected, as the First Amendment (at public
schools), or respect for fundamental freedoms (at all schools), requires.

Time to Thaw Relations With Cuba

First, a couple of disclaimers:  The human rights situation in Cuba still sucks, and Castro still is a reprehensible leader.

That all being said, its time to try a different policy vis a vis Cuba.  While the strict embargo of all things and all people back and forth to Cuba may well have been appropriate in the 1960's to make sure Cuba and the world understood our displeasure with Castro, its not working for us now.  Forty-five or so years later, nothing has really changed in Cuba.  Heck, that's more years than the Cold War with Russia lasted.  And, since the economic blockade has become pretty much unilateral, with the US about the only country in the world still observing it, its hard to see Castro throwing up the white flag any time soon.

The US has made its point -- we think Castro is a brutal totalitarian.  Castro has made his point -- Cuba is not going to fall based on US economic pressure.  Its time to try engagement.  This does not mean that the US sanction the human rights situation in Cuba.  It does mean that we acknowledge that engagement with western ideas through trade and commerce have done more to liberalize countries like China, India, and southeast Asia than any other policy we have tried.

Fareed Zakaria has a nice article in the International Edition of Newsweek advocating just this approach, not just in Cuba, but all over the world:

For almost five decades the United States has
put in place a series of costly policies designed to force Cuba to
dismantle its communist system. These policies have failed totally.
Contrast this with Vietnam, also communist, where Washington has
adopted a different approach, normalizing relations with its former
enemy. While Vietnam remains a Leninist regime in many ways, it has
opened up its society, and the government has loosened its grip on
power, certainly far more than that of Fidel Castro. For the average
person in Libya or Vietnam, American policy has improved his or her
life and life chances. For the average person in Iran or Cuba, U.S.
policy has produced decades of isolation and economic hardship.

Don't
get me wrong. I think the regimes in Tehran and Havana are ugly and
deserve to pass into the night. But do our policies actually make that
more likely? Washington has a simple solution to most governments it
doesn't like: isolate them, slap sanctions on them and wait for their
downfall....

Critics could argue that I'm forgetting the many surprising places
where regimes have fallen and freedom has been given a chance to
flourish. Who would have predicted that Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan
would see so much change in the past year and a half? But these
examples only prove my point. The United States had no "regime change"
policy toward any of these countries, and it had relations with all of
them. In fact, these relationships helped push the regimes to change
and emboldened civil-society groups.

Ah, you might say, but these regimes were not truly evil. Well, what
about Mao's China at the height of the Cultural Revolution? Nixon and
Kissinger opened relations with what was arguably the most brutal
regime in the world at the time. And as a consequence of that opening,
China today is far more free"”economically and socially"”than it has ever
been. If we were trying to help the Chinese people, would isolation
have been a better policy?

For years I think we feared to normalize relations with Cuba because we were afraid of looking weak;  however, today, after kicking regimes out of Afghanistan and Iraq and threatening four or five others, I am not sure this is a concern.  Besides, we are normalizing relations with Vietnam, who we actually fought a war against and who are at least as bad at human rights as Cuba. 

I fear that what may be preventing a new policy with Cuba is the electoral college.  Or, more specifically, the crucial status of Florida as a tightly-contested presidential election swing state and the perception (reality?) that there is a large high-profile Cuban population in Florida that opposes normalization, at least as long as Castro can still fog a mirror.