Monday, October 31, 2011

80s Movie Line for Halloween

Got to see Ghostbusters on the big screen Saturday night. It is still one of the funniest movies ever made. Here is a classic line I'll use to wish you a happy Halloween.

Ray: "Listen! Do you smell that?"

Office Space

More people work at desks doing clerical types of things than at any other type of profession.

So why is Office Space the only great movie that has been made about the subject of working in an office job? Maybe The Office has been filling people's entertainment needs around office jobs for the past few years, but I have to think that an era beyond fax machines and TPS reports has plenty of new material for another great movie. Office Space 2????

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Where the Money Went

The chart below provides a nice, tidy summation of income inequality in this country. It shows how different people's household incomes would have been if income distribution would have stayed the same since 1979. All the money, that the middle class and poor would gained wasn't lost in the ether. It was added to the income of the top 1%. This is a pretty good reason for people to be out asking the 1% what's up...

Via Kevin Drum.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mainstream Media Bias

Not much time today, as I am heading back to day 3 of my civic duty. But I wanted to pass this chart along from the Pew Research Center (via Kevin Drum), showing just how beat up all the Republican candidates are getting by the mainstream media. Must be nice to be Saint Obama and have 9% of the press fawning all over you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Prom Disaster

Three restaurants at Crown Center are closing including the revolving Skies. Apparently, the wealthy have decided that nice views and motion sickness are not for the proletariat as Skies will become a "Sheraton Preferred Guest Lounge." Amorous Juniors and Seniors all over the metro will have to find new ways to impress their dates this spring. Gentlemen, the Cheesecake Factory is not the answer!

Chart of the Day

This chart via Kevin Drum shows Wall Street salaries versus other New York private industry salaries. Obviously they are worth this much since the market tells us so. Good thing we have the market, otherwise we might have wondered how the group who drove the economy into the ditch ended up being "worth" so much more than the rest of us.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Big 12 Basketball

So the Big 12 could still fall apart. I acknowledge that, but I would like to dream of what could happen if it doesn't. If the league can get its act together and everyone can get along, I love the possibility of what we could have here.

First off, let me say that I don't care about college football at all. Until college football championships have more integrity than WWE belts, I just won't get too wrapped up in it. I do, however, care about college basketball. And a great basketball league is what the Big 12 can become (and really a good football league as well).

All we need to do is add Louisville and Cincinnati or Memphis. If that happens, and Missouri stays, then all that really happened after all this turmoil is that we traded Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas A&M for Louisville, TCU, and Cincy/Memphis. In basketball terms, that is a huge upgrade. This makes us a much better basketball league. Average RPI from the last 5 years tells the story (thought to be fair playing in the Big East improves Louisville and CIncy's RPIs). Anyway, here they are:

Average RPIs over the past 5 years:

A&M - 27
Nebraska - 102
Colorado - 164

Memphis - 20
Louisville - 21
Cincy - 97
TCU - 188

Of course, averaging produces slightly skewed numbers since a 230 hurts you much more than a 4 helps you. So for comparison, over the same time period KU's average is 6 (despite two #1s) and MU's is 61. Looking at it another way here are the number of NCAA Tourney wins  for each group over the past 5 years:

A&M - 5
Nebraska - 0
Colorado - 0

Memphis - 9
Louisville - 7
Cincy - 1
TCU - 0

There just really is no way around the fact that this league gets MUCH better with the addition of Louisville and either Memphis or Cincinnati. I, for one, would love the idea of a Big 12 tourney round of 8 with Kansas vs. Oklahoma, Louisville vs. Oklahoma State, Texas vs. Memphis, and Missouri vs. K-State. That is an incredible lineup of games!

Get it together Big 12. I live in KC, and I need good basketball to happen here. Now get out there and do it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


In sports make-believe world, Kansas City would have one of eight teams in a rogue NBA substitute league where the players pick their own squads...

And Kansas City is a no-brainer as the fifth team: It has a state-of-the-art NBA arena, and it's also on suicide watch right now with the Chiefs and Royals. Nobody needs this league more than Kansas City. You're right, Seattle needs it more. My bad.
In this hypothetical league, we get a starting five of Derrick Rose, Amare Stoudemire, Al Horford, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen.

In the real sports world, we are probably losing the only major basketball event in the city sometime in the near future. The real world sucks.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Inequality Hurts Economies

A new study points again to the idea that inequality isn't just bad for the poor, it is bad for everyone.

"Countries where income was more equally distributed tended to have longer growth spells," says economist Andrew Berg, whose study appears in the current issue of Finance & Development, the quarterly magazine of the International Monetary Fund. Comparing six major economic variables across the world's economies, Berg found that equality of incomes was the most important factor in preventing a major downturn. 
So how important is equality? According to the study, making an economy's income distribution 10 percent more equitable prolongs its typical growth spell by 50 percent.
The graph below shows the examined factors, and the effect each has on growth.

Of course, we have a nice long study going on this subject here in the U.S.A. It's the middle of the 20th century versus the last 30 years. It shows the same thing. People do better when society is more equal.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Good News!

Most of my sources seem to be bringing me a steady stream of news that makes me more pessimistic about humanity. So it is nice to stumble across someone who has something good to say about mankind.

Modern homicide rates in Europe—one of the few regions where records are trustworthy enough to permit such comparisons--are 10 to 50 times lower than in the Middle Ages. Murder rates fell by two orders of magnitude in the northeast United States between 1625 and 1900. The past few centuries have also seen precipitous drops in state-sanctioned violence. That includes corporal punishment (from cutting off the hands of thieves to whipping students) and capital punishment, especially combined with torture (drawing and quartering, burning at the stake). Slavery and despotism (which allows tyrants to kill and torture on a whim) prevail only on the margins; 800 years ago they were the rule. As for war, Pinker presents evidence that it killed on average about 20 percent of the population of pre-state societies in the Old and New Worlds, a casualty rate higher than that of the most war-torn modern states.
It seems for all of our problems, we are at least killing one another at much decreased rate. Way to go humanity.

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