Patterico's Pontifications

8/30/2011

Don’t Fall for Daniel Hamermesh’s Trap

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 8:59 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

So on Sunday we had what has to be one of the most insipid editorials the New York Times has ever published, where UT economics professor Hamermesh writes a column that Ted Frank calls “self-parody.”

Hamermesh writes that people who are ugly face discrimination and therefore deserve legal protection from discrimination.  And there is much to be appalled with in what he writes.  For instance, there is the generalized “there oughta be a law” syndrome writ large.  I mean, yes, people make idiotic assumptions about people based on looks.  Studies show, for instance, that people rated as ugly were more likely to be misdiagnosed as retarded when they are merely learning disabled—and disquietingly, the same is more likely to happen to black children.  And how many times have people assumed that a pretty woman must be stupid or a lightweight.  Of course in at least one case I suspect that this is her secret weapon:

I’m not saying that there isn’t a problem, just that there is no good legal solution.  I mean what he proposes is that first a court must determine that a person is ugly and then decide if they were discriminated against based on that ugliness.  His proposal runs into the familiar problems of determining who counts as ugly, creating endless litigation on the threshold issue of whether a person, as a matter of law, is an ugly person.  But even if he did something more sane, like proposing a law that banned all discrimination based on physical attractiveness or the lack thereof—and not just ugliness—the fact is it would effectively make every single employment decision the subject of a very likely lawsuit.

Not to mention other offensive nuggets like this:

Ugliness could be protected generally in the United States by small extensions of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

It’s bad enough that people stereotype the disabled as ugly and the ugly as disabled, but this idiot would write that bigotry into the law.

But don’t get fooled by any of this.  Look again at the very first line of the editorial, before the first insipid word about the plight of the ugly is written:

Daniel S. Hamermesh, a professor of economics at the University of Texas, Austin, is the author of “[title deleted],” published this month.

Why did I delete the name of the book he is pimping?  Because that is what he is really fishing for.  He writes an insipid essay arguing for a dumb law, not because he ever expects any such thing to pass, but because it will draw attention to his book.

Mind you, that is just my opinion based on nothing but the essay itself, but that is my sincere belief.  He is not really trying to convince us of anything, but trying to create outrage on the theory that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

So don’t fall for it.  Ignore him.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Fast and Furious Claims a Pair of Scalps

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 8:22 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Via Fox News:

Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson has been reassigned to a lesser post in the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney for Arizona was also pushed out Tuesday as fallout from Operation Fast and Furious reached new heights.

Do read the whole thing, but watch what they do here (emphasis added):

U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke, one of the officials closely tied to Fast and Furious, is also a casualty in a shakeup tied to the botched gun-running program. Burke was on the hot seat last week with congressional investigators and, according to several sources, got physically sick during questioning and could not finish his session.

The purge of those responsible for the firearms trafficking scandal continued as new documents reveal a deeper involvement of federal agencies beyond ATF.

Ha-ha, very clever Mr. Lajeunesse!

It’s interesting that much of the press is getting “the vapors” at the thought that Rick Perry might be packing heat, but seems considerably less interested in the bad guys that were handed weapons by the United States government.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Rep. Andre Carson: Tea Party Congressmen want African-Americans to hang on a tree

Filed under: General — Karl @ 6:31 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Fourteen glorious months of “new tone” ahead of us, folks. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) is the Congressional Black Caucus Whip, also playing the “Jim Crow” card:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tG8x6X8xn3c

Lest anyone think The Blaze or Naked Emperor News “misleadingly edited” the video, Carson’s spox confirms he said it and stands by the comments.

In a world where the news media was not in the tank for the Democratic Party, someone like Jake Tapper, Mark Knoller or Ed Henry would ask Pres. Obama (and not WH flack Jay Carney) to condemn Carson’s remarks. After all, the establishment media insists that any Republican running for the presidency vouch for Obama’s religion, patriotism, etc. Moreover, Obama ran on the notion of bringing Americans together. He has condemned the coarseness of our political discourse. Indeed, his most recent weekend media message sought to rekindle the spirit of national unity the country felt after the 9/11 attacks. So when a member of Congress makes this sort of poisonous, race-baiting remark, the first black president ought to be able to muster the energy to flatly condemn it.

But he won’t be asked, let alone pressed for the condemnation.

–Karl

The Unexpectedly Index

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:12 am

[Posted by Karl]

ZeroHedge’s “Tyler Durden” understandably led with the depressing news that year-over-year real GDP growth now stands at 1.5%.  Apparently, since 1948, every time YoY real GDP has fallen below 2%, the economy has fallen into recession. Manufacturing is likely to look bad on Friday, too.

But the amusing-if-it-wasn’t-sad part of Durden’s report is an apparently unprecedented deterioration in global growth based on a proprietary realtime model I would rename the “Unexpectedly Index”:

Few pictures sum up this collapse in output better than the chart below which plots the three month change in the “Global Surprise Model” (GSM).  I created the GSM in the late 1990’s as a means of tracking how the most important (as measured by timeliness and market response) economic statistics were being reported relative to estimates.  Although Goldman, and later Citigroup, created comparable models in the early 2000’s, it remains a very useful tool for tracking the change in economic growth (2nd derivative) relative to consensus forecasts.
 
As shown, the current three month change is the largest in the history of the model.  In other words, the collapse in real-time economic data (such as ISM, German IFO, etc.) over the past three months is the sharpest of the last two decades for which data is available.

The accompanying chart at the link is not pretty.  I suppose the silver lining is learning Goldman and Citigroup take note of how badly their government-style economic forecasting models fail.  Admitting you have a problem is always the first step.  It is at least a step ahead of the Obama administration and the establishment media.  The establishment media seems more wedded to the idea of reporting “unexpectedly” bad economic news without ever reporting on the limits of macroeconomics as a science.  That phenomenon is probably related to the cult of experts to which most of the media and the Obama administration belong.  What results is a virtuous circle for progressives and a vicious cycle for everyone else.  To quote Arnold Kling:

[E]lected officials want results. They turn to experts who promise results. The experts cannot deliver. So the experts must ask for more power.

–Karl


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