Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Why Drinking Coffee Is Good For You

Reason #1: Antioxidants. Here's an article from physorg.com.

Coffee is by far the #1 source that Americans get their antioxidants from. Here's a quote from the article:
"Besides keeping you alert and awake, coffee has been linked to an increasing number of potential health benefits, including protection against liver and colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson's disease, according to some recently published studies. But there's also a downside: Java can make you jittery and cause stomach pains, while some studies have tied it to elevated blood pressure and heart rates. More research is needed, particularly human studies, to firmly establish its health benefits, Vinson says.
"One to two cups a day appear to be beneficial," he says. If you don't like coffee, consider drinking black tea, which is the second most consumed antioxidant source in the U.S. diet, Vinson says. Bananas, dry beans and corn placed third, fourth and fifth, respectively."

Here's an article from Science News Online. It says even decaf is great.

This is from WebMD and CBSNews.com. It quotes an as-of-yet unconfirmed 15-year study that coffee may help prevent heart disease in older women.

Mmmm... doesn't some BK Joe sound good right about now? I'll take it black, thank you.

Another book

Finished The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam yesterday. There's an audio copy in the Waco library.

It's the stories of Bill Belichick and his father Steve before him. It starts out boring but gets really interesting, particularly Steve Belichick's journey to coaching, and Bill's journey up the ranks. Plenty of good football history in this book, and interesting insights into the Belichick work ethic and also into his friends like Ernie Adams . I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Promotion

My parents and an aunt and uncle came to visit us this past weekend. That was great fun. They brought us the news from KY, my old car, and also our certficates of being made honorary Kentucky Colonels.

Pretty cool stuff. Presidents, senators, foreign dignitaries, actors, singers, comedians, business men/women, athletes, and now the Tapps in Waco. I was very surprised, humbled, and honored. I hope to be a good ambassador the state of Kentucky.

I also got to meet some very distant relatives I had never met before but who live in Texas. I got to play with my 4th cousin. That would be my mom's cousin's grandson.

I'll post some more pictures of our adventures this weekend from Crawford and College Station (Bush Sr.'s presidential library) soon.

School starts up for me again today.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Poser of the Week

Have you seen this man?


While I was waiting for Kelly Clarkson/Rascal Flatts, this guy jumps up and starts talking. I think he made fun of himself, everyone was staring at him like "Who the heck is this guy and how did a black man get into this building???" This from Wikipedia.org:

"Cowboy Troy began performing in 1989 and developed a style he calls 'hick-hop,' which blends various country, rock, rap and tejano influences. He often raps in Spanish as well as English."

Songs include "Bus Driver," "Tae Kwon Flo," and, my personal favorite, "I Play Chicken With the Train."

Dude has his own website with fan club "The Hick-Hop Federation." Congratulations, Cowboy Troy for being this blogs first ever Poser of the Week!*

*Cowboy Troy is in no way related to Troy Woodyard, original inventor of the Poser of the Week award. But, if Troy were black and had a cowboy hat this could probably be him. However, the management thinks that being black and/or wearing a cowboy hat would not help Troy get married by 2007.

Bad news for San Antonio

Congratulations go out to the Dallas Mavericks for ending playoff futility and knocking off the champion Spurs, thus proving yourselves kings of I-35. Granted, you blew a 3-1 series lead, ran the single worst play I've ever seen at the end of Game 6, and blew a 20 point lead in Game 7, but it's the W that counts. Dallas-Phoenix will go 7 games, and I guess I'll pull for the Mavs.

Another blow to San Antonio, and all of America, came when it was announced that Kelly Clarkson would sing at the Academy of Country Music Awards with Rascal Flatts tonight on CBS (Clarkson is from San Antonio).

While I'm not obsessed with Clarkson, I think she's the best pop artist in America, and about the only one I enjoy listening to. If she switches to country music, then I think America will suffer. I won't turn my radio dial to country just to listen to Clarkson. C'mon, there's already a Carrie Underwood. Please, Kelly, let's make this a one-time thing, okay?

IHOP

Today's posts are sponsored by the International House of Pancakes. There is no better place for breakfast than your local IHOP.
This morning I got their stuffed cinnamon apple french toast combo. It's a big, fluffy piece of french toast filled with a rich cinammon sauce, topped with warm frosting, powdered sugar, cinammon apples, and whipped cream on top. The combo also comes with 2 strips of bacon, hash browns, and 2 eggs for just $4.99. $4.99!!! Plus I got 20% off with my Baylor ID! That's what I'm talking about.

Here's a picture of their strawberry stuffed french toast.

I also like IHOP because when you order coffee they just put a big pot of it on your table so you can help yourself. That's right, I can drink the whole pot right then and there. Mmmm.

#1 thing worst thing about Kentucky is that there are no IHOPs there. If you look at the map you can see they're everywhere but KY. When I was growing up we either had to go to Cincy, Evansville, or Knoxville to enjoy the goodness. Yay for Waco which has not one, but two IHOPs.

Click here for more fun IHOP facts.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Arriba arriba!

Last Thursday, President Bush visited Yuma, Arizona to look at the border fortifications.

He didn't say much at the event, but he had the entire press corps line up for his favorite part: riding in the border patrol's dune buggy. Bush passed the press corps two times at high speed, all the while smiling and waving for the photo op. "Weeeeee!" he was alleged to have squealed.



"I think it helps to have the president out here, seeing the part of the area of the country that one time was overrun by people coming in here, and so I really want to thank you all for greeting me. Plus, I liked riding in the dune buggy."

"Supervisory agent Matthew Sutton told Bush that the sector had 25 surveillance cameras in 18 fixed locations and all can use infrared.'Were you able to see me riding that dune buggy?' Bush said.'Yeah, it looked like you were having a good time,' Sutton said.

Oddly enough, Bush's approval rating dropped from 39% to 36% over the weekend.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Gas prices

I thought I'd post this graphic from The Economist (an issue a couple weeks ago) for all to see. It's how much gasoline costs around the world. The dark blue is the actual price from a barrel of oil to a gas pump, the light blue is the taxes added to give you the final price consumers pay at the pump. You can see that we're not too bad off.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Books I've Read

Here are some of the latest books I've read/listened to in the past month:


I found this one on CD for $3. Paul Krugman is the NY Times economics writer, and writer of one of my textbooks this semester. He's a Bush-basher who brings up a few relevant criticisms but also some false predictions (this book was written during 2002). It starts out disappointing, and ends dissapointingly (with an off-track defense of hard-core Keynesian economics), and has a few interesting tidbits in between. If you are as paranoid about the vast "right-wing conspiracy" as Krugman is then you might like this book.


Just finished this one. Stossel is great and unique. Check out his website. He is from the opposite economic spectrum from Krugman, readily quoting Milton Friedman and Frederick Von Hayek. His book is about journalism, and so many of the myths we believe in because of bad journalism and good lawyers. Here are some of Stossel's "truths": Large amounts of vitamin C don't help fight off any diseases, silicone breast implants never were harmful, there's no such thing as a "crack baby," and cutting your salt intake won't help prevent heart disease. Those are all covered in just 10 pages in the book. This book is an eye-opening, mind-freeing must-read. You may not agree with him, but you'll have to know your facts well to disagree with Stossel. This book stirred long-dormant Libertarian feelings in my soul.


If you love Russia, or know someone who does, or have concern for someone who lives there then this book is for you. A great record of what's happened in the last 6 years under Putin. Things are getting worse and less free in Russia, not better. People who say "the verdict is still out on Putin," should probably read this book. In the past few years most "free" speech has been virtually outlawed, all TV media is now state-owned, oil and gas have been renationalized, the quagmire in Chechnya has continued, and all political parties and elections are now controlled by Putin and his party. My personal belief is that in 5-10 years you will no longer see Western missionaries allowed to live in Russia.

I found a good example of the censorship that the book talks about just yesterday. One of the websites that I used to frequent for information on Chechnya and to chat with Caucasus peoples was shut down. Kafkazcenter.com was housed in Sweden, where the Russian embassy allegedly convinced Swedish authorities to raid their offices and confiscate their servers for inciting terrorism. The site is very pro-Islam, and anti-Russian authority. You can find info on rebel attacks there that you won't see on any other news source. It's back up and running, for now, on Lithuanian servers.

Summer is good because it lets me catch up on reading.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Deal or No Deal

Did anyone see Deal or No Deal last night? It was a 2-hour marathon with cameos by Regis Philbin and Jay Leno. What I saw in the last hour was probably the saddest thing I've seen on TV in a long time.

A woman was on there whose husband (named Justin) was serving with the Marines in Iraq, she wanted to win for him (or so it seemed). She had mentioned that she wanted to get him a Harley so they could have "matching Harleys." The show surprised her with a live video link-up with the Sergeant and his unit in Falluja. He could give her advice on what to do. His parents were in the studio, telling him how much they loved him. Touching. (I was thinking "this has to be rigged, she's going to win big no matter what.")

At one point she still had $750,000 and $500,000 still on the board, along with some very low numbers. The bank offered her $99,000 and Jay Leno offered her a Harley (which the husband interestingly enough didn't seem too interested in). She refused and played on. No big deal.

The sad part came when the odds were no longer in her favor. $500,000 was still on the board, the bank was offering something like $120,000. Her husband said over the video link:
"Take the deal, honey!"

She said "Nah, I'm going to play one more round." Her husband looked nervous. The family members kept telling her "Listen to Justin, listen to Justin!"

She then asked him "Which briefcase should I choose?" He said: "Pick #12, honey."

Her family's advice: "Whatever Justin thinks is really what you should do."

But, she again refused to listen to him! "It's not 12, I know it! I pick #11!"
In case #11 was the $500,000. It was off the board. That meant that the next offer would only be $28,000, *poof!*. She had blown about $100,000 by refusing her husband's advice twice!

She seemed shocked, but not remorseful. She didn't even look at her husband, or say much of anything. He advised her to take the $28,000 and finally she did, hesitantly. "It's okay honey," he said.

But, as the show ended, he looked very sad and forlorn. It gave me chills and a lump in my throat.

If you've read the book "Jarhead," or saw the special on ABC news last week, you know that soldiers overseas often just assume that their spouses aren't being faithful. Relationships are strained by the long distance. This Marine's wife had a chance to show how much she loved him by listening to him, and at least picking the suitcase that he wanted her to (the odds were the same either way). Instead, she disrespected him in front of his unit and on national TV, and didn't seem to care.

He may be killed by an IED, or a sniper, or who knows what before he comes home. What if his last visual memory of his wife is of her disregarding his advice and not seeming to care? How does that make him feel? How should that make his wife feel to know that their last memory together was one in which she chose not to listen to him, and lost $100,000 because of it?

Saddest thing I've seen on television in a long time.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mr. Donut-head man

Anyone remember that scene from Wayne's World where an estranged Garth is sitting by himself at Mikita's playing with his food?
"Hey Mr. Donut-head man, who's tryin' to kill ya?"
"I don't know, but he better not!"

I thought of that scene when reading the paper yesterday. Here's more evidence that KY Attorney General Greg Stumbo is a chump.
The alleged hero of this article is former Kentucky governor and Democrat John Y. Brown, Jr.. He took sides with Dr. Fletcher, sees this as a totally overblown deal, and offered to mediate last year.

It also conjured this childhood memory:

When I was knee high to a grasshopper my dad took me to a political fundraiser for John Y. Brown at a horse farm when he was trying to re-claim to Governor's office (1987, I think it was). I remember the little riding ponies, the carnival atmosphere, and Brown making a speech. After he spoke, my dad excitedly took me down front where Brown was shaking hands. He wanted to get his autograph, but all we got was his handshake. Gov. Brown shook my hand and said "hi there!" I didn't really have a clue who the guy was at the time, but I remember thinking that I was meeting a celebrity and how cool that was.

Brown also started going to our church. He had a son named Lincoln who was my age, so we were in the same Sunday school class, albeit quite briefly (I think my dad was quite proud of this fact, I'm not sure why). His wife was Phyllis George, who had been a former Miss Kentucky, or Miss America, and used to work for ABC doing shows like Monday Night Football, kind of like a Melissa Stark. They left for another church, Porter doesn't handle celebrities well.

John Y. Brown later lost that election handily.

Kentucky instead elected Wallace Wilkinson, a college drop-out who seemed to be a self-made millionaire, but later ended up $400 million in debt. This somewhat uneducated man ironically launched one of the biggest overhauls of a state education system ever seen in America, quite unpopular. After he left office, he tried to get his wife to run for election, which was also an unpopular failure. (I actually didn't know he was dead until I read the above link).

So, a mixed bag of childhood memories circa 1987 for you.

You're all better off for having read this. :-)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Vacation

Okay, so I need to relax my brain a little bit and enjoy the few days I have away from school. I'm going to take a brief respite from blogging. That'll help me calm down and get less angry, and hopefully just savor good things for new posts.
I'll end today with some good news. My wife made a whole wheat pizza today that was awesome. Better than anything you could buy at the store, and whole wheat to boot.

Damion James apparently says that if he can't decide between Texas and Texas A&M, then he'll go visit Kentucky. I think he'll lean towards Texas, where they're practically begging for him. So much for that.

Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Friday, May 12, 2006

On the Fletcher Indictment

I was angry, nay, furious to check the national news today and see that headlines featured the indictment of Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher. Many in the media and blogosphere are talking of how huge and far-reaching this scandal is. I'm not reading many things outside of Kentucky, however, that have a clue what is going on or have followed this thing since last year.



Here's a useful timeline graphic.
Here's an article that helps explain some of the indictments. I think if you read this, you'll see that this was a very small matter blown WAY out of proportion.
And some of you'll quickly say, "Yes, Justin, but the law is the law..." So, Here's a good blog post written by someone I presume to be a lawyer, refuting the indictments point-by-point and showing the ridiculous nature of the charges.

Let me give you non-Kentuckians some background here:

Before 2004, Democrats had held county and state-level posts in Kentucky firmly. Fletcher was the first Republican governor in Kentucky since 1971! That's a long time of entrenched one-party rule. In 2003, voters voted strong for GW Bush, and voted Republican in every state and local election for the first time ever. Everything from judges to the state Senate. One of the few Democrats that didn't get ousted was a guy named Greg Stumbo, who remained as Attorney General.

Stumbo quickly voiced his opposition to the governor, and became the clear front-runner to retake the Governor's office in 2007. He's the man leading this investigation, handing out the indictments. However, he doesn't feel that his gubernatorial aspirations create ANY conflict of interest for him in trying to get the governor to leave office.

I remember clearly in the 1980's and 90's, when Democrat governors from Eastern Kentucky were in office, that cronyism was well-known and considered to be a "good thing." Brereton Jones, and Paul Patton were lauded as heroes in the media because they gave crony jobs to local friends in East Kentucky. If you were from East KY and needed a job, they would give you one. "What great guys!" the media said. It was considered kind welfare. Well, now it's apparently illegal. Greg Stumbo is a hypocrite, and he knows it. The difference is back then it was all done with phone calls and handshakes, whereas now it's done with e-mails and text messages that can be subpoenaed.
Here's another objective post by a non-Kentuckian who is amazed that a state-level administration is actually being taken to court over cronyism: "And this is illegal? In Kentucky?"

We're talking middemeanors here, folks. A month in jail and/or a $500 fine.

A guy named Mike Duncan, a Democrat, worked in the Transportation Cabinet for less than 6 months. Apparently this guy liked to copy and keep every e-mail and document he could come across, which makes me question his work motives. He was fired during his 6-month probationary period, completely legal, and cried "foul," saying it was all because he didn't vote for Fletcher. That's partly how this all got started.

Apparently, some of those in high positions really did feel like they needed to keep Democrats out. One guy in the Trans. Cabinet named Tim Hazlette wrote that "As 'change agents' and 'missionaries' of the Governor, our task will not always be embraced by those around us." Nutballs. These guys called themselves "Apostles." They are all nutballs that exist in every government.

Fletcher maintains he never knew that these guys were nutballs calling themselves "Apostles" until he read it in the newspaper. Fletcher fired several people early on in the probe, admitting that "mistakes were made." But, because he has publicly professed innocence, and his internal investigation didn't turn up any serious wrongdoing, Stumbo has now charged him with "conspiracy to cover-up." Stumbo is using the law to create bogus conspiracy charges just because people have pleaded the 5th amendment, or told the media that they're innocent. That's just wrong.

Fletcher created a commission to track demographics of employees who were promoted, demoted, or fired. The commission would forward that data to his economic development office and try to fill job vacancies with qualified people. Seems simple right? Track what the needs are, make sure you don't hire too many Republicans, and fill vacancies with the most qualified people.
Well, that's actually something Fletcher and his cabinet are being indicted for. Apparently that gathering of information is itself illegal, according to Stumbo, because it can be used to hire only Republicans.


In fact, Fletcher didn't order the hiring, firing, or demotion of anyone. But, since he knew and appointed people who did, he's now considered a "co-conspirator."

Maybe Fletcher's big mistake was to pardon all of these guys before things really got rolling. He did fire some, but pardoned everyone but himself. If wrongdoing was done, and can be proven, he wants to show that the buck stops with him. That's the mark of a good leader.

No one has pointed out that plenty of people all over the state have been hired or promoted strictly on merit. The Transportation Cabinet may very well be the exception to the rule. Plenty of people have been fired, or should be fired, because they're filling useless positions created by previous Democrat governors for their friends/relatives. These people all want to cry "foul," and say it's because they are Democrats.

Kentucky is a poor state, that lags behind the nation in education, economic growth, poverty, etc. All this investigation will do is further cripple the legislature from passing anything meaningful, and last but not least, help Greg Stumbo make a political name for himself in his run for governor.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The NFL proves itself superior

I haven't watched an NBA game this entire season. This is the first year since probably 1986 (barring those years when I was overseas) that I haven't watched a complete game. I haven't really missed it much.

I have some of the same criticisms of the NBA that I do of MLB. Here's a good example: Mark Cuban, the Maverick's owner, writes this post for his blog and gets fined $200,000. All he was doing was making a few simple calculations and suggestions, which he'd already made to the league. He's got valid points about how the playoffs should be officiated.

I still watched a lot of college football and NFL games last year; the NFL still has the competitive edge. If you don't believe me, then believe The Economist, which had a nice article last week praising Paul Tagliabue and featuring some interesting facts.

The NFL has the edge on the NBA, MLB, and NHL in the following categories:

1. Highest revenue. The NFL has a higher inflow of money than any other sport.

2. No strikes since 1987.

3. Labor costs growing only 9% since 1990, compared to 12-16% growth in the other leagues.

4. The average team has a market value 3.9-4.4 times higher than team revenues. The other leagues don't approach that.

5. It's more popular than the other sports, whether you look at annual attendance, TV ratings, or opinion polls.

How did this happen? Well, teams share 70% of revenue with each other, and have a strict salary cap. A relatively weak union doesn't demand the big pay increases that the other leagues are faced with. Teams are now so evenly matched that anything can happen. Truly great teams like the Patriots gain attention by winning Super Bowls despite the parity with unselfish teamwork and voluntary salary cuts by players.

MLB, in contrast, just adds up 34% of every team's net local revenue and teams then pay or receive the difference between their figure and the league average. The Yankees generate $300 million in local revenue, while Kansas City generates just $50 million. The Yankees gave $76 million to the revenue-sharing pool, which still gives the Yankees quite a bit of bank.

George Steinbrenner (Yankees) and John Henry (Red Sox) are tired of sharing revenue, and want to eliminate the revenue-sharing agreements in the offseason. "I'd like to see everybody competing, but we're not a socialist state," said Steinbrenner. There is no salary cap, so the Yankees and Red Sox can sign whoever they want. Other owners, like Jerry Reinsdorf of the World Champion White Sox admit "The lower-revenue teams ...(still) do not have enough money to compete." Reinsdorf at least admits that the bigger teams are purposefully keeping the smaller teams down to keep their monopoly on talent.

MLB also doesn't have a salary cap. The players union likes that because it means guys like Alex Rodriguez can get $100 million contracts, which only about 5 teams can afford to pay. Whenever a lesser-market team develops a good player, the bigger teams quickly snatch him up.

We'll see what happens when the labor agreement expires this fall. Another strike? Maybe.

Regardless, real competitivity isn't going to come to baseball or hockey anytime soon. It's already come to the NFL, and fans are enjoying it much more than hockey, basketball, or baseball.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Rob the jewelry store and tell 'em make me a grill

Gold hit $700 today.

In honor of this, I would like to post the lyrics to Nelly's new song. It's clean, and I think it's hilarious even though I know it's a serious trend for kids to save up their allowance to buy gold teeth. I highlighted the lyrics that I think are the best.

Rob the jewelry store and tell em make me a grill.
Add da whole top diamond and the bottom rows gold.
[J.D.]
Yo we bout to start a epidemic wit dis one
Ya'll know what dis is...So So Def
[Nelly]
Got 30 down at the bottom, 30 mo at the top
All invisible set and little ice cube blocks
If I could call it a drink, call it a smile on da rocks
If I could call out a price, lets say I call out a lot
I got like platinum and white gold, traditional gold
I'm changin girllz errday, like Jay change clothes,
I might be grilled out nicely in my white tee (oh),
Or on South Beach in my wife beat.
V V and studded you can tell when they cut it
ya see my grandmama hate it, but my lil mama love it
cuz when I...
[Woman]
Open up ya mouth, ya grill gleamin (say what)
eyes stay low from da chiefin'
[Nelly]
I got a grill I call penny candy you know
what that means, it look like Now n Laters, gum drops, jelly beans
I wouldn't leave it for nothin only a crazy man would
so if you catch me in ya city, somewhere out in ya hood just say
[Chorus]
Smile fo me daddy
(What you lookin at)
Lemme see ya grill
(Let you see my what?)
Ya, ya grill ya, ya, ya grill
(Rob da jewelry store and tell em make me a grill she said)
Smile fo me daddy
(What you lookin at)
I want to see your grill
(You wanna see my what?)
Ya, ya grill ya, ya, ya grill

(Had a whole top diamonds and da bottom rows gold)
[Paul Wall]
What it do baby
Its da ice man paul wall
I got my mouth lookin somethin like a disco ball
I got da diamonds and da ice all hand set
I might cause a cold front if i take a deep breath
My teeth gleaming like im chewin on aluminum foil
Smilin showin off my diamonds sippin on some potin oil
I put my money where my mouth is and bought a grill
20 carrots 30 stacks let em know im so fo real
My motivation is them 30 pointers V VS the furniture my mouth
piece simply symbolize success
I got da wrist wear and neck wear dats captivatin
But its my smile dats got these on-lookers spectatin
My mouth piece simply certified a total package
Open up my mouth and you see mo carrots than a salad
My teeth are mind blowin givin everybody chillz
Call me George foreman cuz im sellin everybody grillz
[Gipp]
Gipp got dem yellows, got dem purples, got dem reds
Lights gon hit ya and make you woozie in ya head
You can catch me in my 2 short drop
Mouth got colors like a fruit loop box
[Ali]
Dis what it do when da lou
Ice grill country grammar
Where da hustlas move bricks
and da gangsta's bang hamma's
Where i got em you can spot them
On da top in da bottom
Gotta bill in my mouth like im Hillary Rodham
[Gipp]
I ain't dissin no body but lets bring it to da lite
Gip was da first wit my mouth bright white
Yeah deez hos can't focus cuz they eyesight blurry
Tippin on some 4's you can see my mouth jewelry
[Ali]
I got four different sets its a fabolous thang
1 white, 1 yellow, like fabolous chain
and da otha set is same got my name in da mold
(Had a whole top diamonds and da bottom rows gold)
[Chorus]
[Woman]
Boy how you getcha grill that way and
How much did you pay
Every time i see you
Tha first thing im gon say hey.....
[Chorus]

Right-to-Work Revisited (again...maybe for the last time)

This is my 4th post on Right-to-Work (RTW) laws. Last week, I finished my econometrics project looking at the effect of RTW laws labor force participation in 18 different states over a period of 45 years (1960-2004). (several "union shop" non-RTW states were used as controls). For those of you who have no clue what an RTW law is, click here to find out more.

My results reinforced the observation of reverse causality, and concluded that the effects of RTW laws are ambiguous on labor force participation. States which pass RTW laws are primarily agrarian, and thus have low labor force participation in the first place (more people prefer to farm than work in factories).

Labor force participation in every state has increased steadily, along with population, as states industrialize and earn less income from farming. RTW laws don't really seem to affect much.

My regression actually showed that RTW laws have a -0.5% impact on labor participation in any given year, a # that doesn't make sense. I concluded that all I was picking up was the fact that RTW states are agrarian to begin with, and RTW has no effect on that.

Robert Tannenwald, a Fed economist, once warned us all that the evidence of economic effects that RTW laws have on states is "elusive."

However, sitting in the lab this morning, I started to play around with my regression again. I found that if I lag my RTW law variable by 20 years, to measure the long-term economic impact of the law, I find a statistically significant positive correlation between RTW and labor force participation. By this measure, one could surmise that passing an RTW law would result in a +1.7% increase in labor force participation after 20 years. Very interesting.

20 years appears to be the magic number. If I try 25 years, the effect goes away. 10 years gives me a not-quite-significant and barely positive effect. I guess the market adjusts over time, so that the benefits reaped after 20 years aren't very significant.

(note: my labor force participation variable here is a proxy due to data limitations. It's #of people that industries report on their payrolls divided by adult population).
A 1.7% increase means that if your state has 5,000,000 people in its adult population, then over the course of 20 years you'll have 85,000 more people working in industry than you would have had otherwise.

Since 20 years is the only magic number, and it's significant at the 5% level, I'll stick with my original conclusions that the effects of RTW laws on labor force participation are ambiguous.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Kentucky Pride

Watching the TV on Saturday was even better than being back in Kentucky. It's not that I necessarily miss KY, but it is home, and there are some really good parts about it. (Comparatively, this week's issue of The Economist, read by people worldwide, called Waco a "dreary" place). I think the thing that sums Kentucky up best is the Derby. I got teary eyed the whole 2 hours of watching Derby coverage.


Is there anything prettier than the rolling hillsides and bluegrass horse farms? Is there anything prettier than seeing the millions of roses on Derby Day?

I enjoy seeing all of these hollywood celebs, singers, athletes, millionaires, and billionaires who are all enjoying life in Kentucky, if just for a day or so. Tom Brady was there for the fourth time, and he said it was a whole lot like a Super Bowl with all of the intensity and importance. There are more athletes and celebrities together at the Derby than any other event. More politicians, congressmen, governors from so many states together than at any other event.

Yum Brands, the official sponsor, owns KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silvers, and A & W. I loved their commercials that reminded us that KFC stands for "Kentucky Fried Chicken," and that KFC is the #1 restaurant in China, opening a new restaurant there every day.

And what native Kentuckian doesn't get teary-eyed when at the beginning of the race we stand and sing, not the national anthem, but "My Old Kentucky Home"?

I enjoyed seeing Barbaro running away against the most stacked competition in years. He was born and bred in KY. I really enjoyed seeing Bluegrass Cat come in second against the odds.

I enjoyed seeing Tom Hammond do the coverage. He lives in Lexington. And Lexingtonian Kenny Rice interviewing Brady, Peyton Manning, Jewel, and several other celebs.

I enjoyed seeing our governor, a good guy, present the trophy to the winner, and point out that Kentucky is a great state.


It was like Saturday was Kentucky Pride day. Not every state gets 1 day a year as a sort of national holiday. I'm proud to be from a state that has its own day.
"...We will sing one song for my old Kentucky home; for my old Kentucky home far away."

Monday, May 08, 2006

My Wife is the Greatest

This post is dedicated to my devoted wife. The following is a list of reasons why.

1. She's great, really great.

2. She's very beautiful. A world-class beauty that I live with.

3. On Friday she surprised me with tickets to the airshow in Temple. I hadn't been to an airshow since I was a kid. It was good to see the aerial acrobatics, the firework show, and all of the old planes. Good times.

4. She's a wonderful cook. I have yet to eat a meal of hers that I'm like "Um... didn't like that so much." That's because all of her meals are gourmet.

5. She puts up with my putting her in harm's way. We were the only people we knew in all of the Waco area who weren't under a blanket in their bathtub when the tornado hit. I was like "I don't think it's a big deal. They probably just blew the sirens because they didn't blow them last time." I didn't know that the tornado was directly overhead, and that it was ripping the roof off neighboring apartment buildings.

6. She writes me encouraging emails.

7. She prayed hard for me during finals.

8. She's working so that I can study.

9. She's smarter than me. Her IQ is probably higher than anyone I know.

10. She has a great smile. That's important!

11. She's a great gardener. Her little rose bush that I bought her for Valentine's Day is starting to bloom. She nursed it back to health herself.

I love her very much. I'm finished with finals, and it's all because of her that I'm still standing!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Riding the Storm Out

So, 2 finals down and 1 to go on Monday. I'm in the library on a Saturday morning to chip away at it. Most of the traffic lights and neighborhoods I drove through to get here were without power after last night's storm.

The Weather Channel says that a tornado hit downtown Waco last night. I think around 1-2:00 I started hearing hail, and could see downed branches outside. The power went out, and this was followed by the tornado sirens. That's always just sort of an eerie feeling. The lightning in Texas is just much more intense than what we had in KY. Sitting in your room, it's almost like you have a fire in your fireplace and are watching it constantly flicker on your wall. That's what the lightning looked like last night, as if the whole sky was ablaze with a white fire, and relatively little thunder.
Apparently we're going to get more storms today.

Okay, maybe tomorrow I'll post about the Kentucky Derby, and how it's a great event with something for everyone. In Kentucky the off-season for basketball is officially the Derby. Tradition, elegance, power, pride, thousands of drunk college kids in the infield who never actually see the race, hollywood celebrities, Arab sheikhs, mint juleps, huge horses and tiny jockeys, Derby parties at peoples' houses, and millions of dollars lost in a minute. I hope everyone watches and enjoys as this is the best Kentucky has to offer.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

good news

I'm studying for finals, so no heavy posts until after Monday. But, checking the news I saw this little piece and am quite pleased. Looks like Kentucky is going to beat out Baylor and Texas for this Big 12 prospect. 6'8" 235 from Nagadoches, TX. If we can't keep our own recruits on campus, we might as well go and steal someone else's.

Yeah, a top-25 forward probably going to UK. That's strong to definitely strong. If he came to Baylor, then you'd have a nucleus in Waco for a Final 4.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Book of the Month

So, I've finished reading "Wild at Heart" by John Eldredge. This has probably been the most significant read in the last year. I think I avoided reading it for years because "everyone else is reading it," or I immediately prejudged what the book was about and rejected it.
Boy, was I wrong.
I went with a friend of mine to a retreat this past weekend that was based on this book. Us and 40 other guys from our church dealing with what this book talks about. It was a great, freeing weekend.



Every man should read this book. It does a good job of showing us The Question us guys subconciously ask of ourselves, and of others, and how by looking for an answer from anyone but God is what leads us into insecurity, pornography, and fear.

The book spends a great deal of time talking about The Pose. It seems every man has an image that he projects, or a self-defense mechanism. Often, its his reclusion, or quick-witted humor, or his over-driven workaholism.

It also talks in-depth about The Wound. Every man asks The Question, usually of his father, and either gets the wrong answer or no answer. Every man has Wounds that affect his behavior, and help him develop his Pose. This book talks about dealing with those wounds, and moving forward to become the men of Freedom that God made us to be in Christ.
(On a side note, this book offers some great hypotheses on why men fall into sexual temptation and the emergence of homosexuality).

Search for Significance was a great book/study that really helped/influenced me a lot. It was, however, gender neutral. Wild at Heart is like Search but written for men. If you're a woman who wants to understand your man, this book is a good place to start.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Football blues

All of you folks who complain about the state of your football program compared to your rivals, I’ve got one for you. If you wanted more proof that Kentucky was the worst team in the SEC last year, even worse than Vandy, look no further than the NFL draft.

Louisville had 4 players selected in the NFL draft.
Vandy had 1 (Jay Cutler).
Kentucky had NONE.

Louisville’s 4 players are more than Kentucky has had in the past 3 seasons!

In 2003, DeWayne Robertson was selected in the 1st round by the Jets. He may end up being the greatest UK player of the Hal Mumme-Guy Morriss era.

There are I-AA schools that put more guys into the NFL than Kentucky does. If you went to NFL.com and looked at the draft prospects, you didn’t find any Kentucky players. You did find some for Hofstra, Monmouth, Samford, and Tarleton State, however. That’s sad.

Maybe this year things will turn around. Baylor had 1 guy drafted this season, and the team is looking fit to kick some tail this season with its revamped offense. Kentucky might can turn it around, too (but without the revamped offense). Is a 5-win season a turnaround?

A little bit of sugar...

So, apparently Baylor's network has decided not to let me upload any more pictures to this site. I guess I'll have to do that from home. What's a blog without pictures?

This one is for my wife, who I promised I would find some articles about America's quota barriers on sugar, thus making it more expensive. On cue, Greg Mankiw has a post today with sugar links.

A good story summing up the situation comes from Reuters. Americans paid roughly 23.5 cents per pound for sugar in 2004. The world price was 10.9 cents. Domestic suppliers can't keep up with the demand of candy makers, so many of these candy companies have had to move outside the U.S. to avoid the quotas.

Why should you care?

1. We're all getting fatter and getting diabetes. This is because the sugar quotas force companies to turn to lower-cost refined carbohydrates like high fructose corn syrup.
Babe, here is the best link I've found on this phenomenon. A good read.

2. We're all paying more for gas
Ethanol can be derived from sugar cane. Brazil has gotten pretty good at this, and have flex fuel tanks and cars running on ethanol, moreso than the U.S.. They would love to ship us cheap sugar and ethanol, but we won't buy it. That's right, we subsidize the American producers and keep the cheaper foreign ethanol out. I've heard that tariff amounts to about 50 cents on the gallon.

3. Carribean and African countries are getting poorer. I don't weep for poor American farmers who are heavily subsidized.

I'm going to add my own little insight on this. We had a guest speaker here last week who told us that only Brazil and Zimbabwe are producing sugar at a cost less than the market price (that means that only these 2 countries have profitable sugar industries). Much of that is because of complex distortions by the EU. So, the world price of sugar is greatly depressed and distorted. By eliminating EU and U.S. quotas/subsidies price will rise and demand for foreign goods will increase. This will help a lot of these impoverished sugar-producing countries produce at profit.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Rating NFL Quarterbacks

I was gone on a retreat all weekend, I'll write about that later. I also don't feel like writing about "May Day." So, let's talk about quarterbacks.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal ran an article publishing results of what appears to be an econometric study of NFL quarterbacks. The author analyzed the college and pro stats of every NFL quarterback from 1998-2004 to determine if there was a correlation between certain stats in college and how a QB did in the pro's.

The WSJ's model predicts that Matt Leinart will have the most success of this year's QB's.

They focused on Yards-Per-Attempt (YPA) of QB's and found an interesting correlation:
Players whose YPA's dramatically increased in their final college season did much worse in the NFL.

"Of the five QBs whose yards per attempt improved by 1.6 or more in their senior year, three turned out to be duds in the pros (Mr. Leaf, Mr. Smith and Cade McNown), one has been a modest success (Brian Griese) and one can be graded as incomplete at best (Philip Rivers)."

The Manning brothers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Donovan McNabb had a consistent YPA all through college, with little or no increase in their senior seasons.

So, the model predicts that QB's with consistent YAP's throughout college are more likely to have success and higher QB ratings in the NFL.

Of this year's group, Matt Leinert had a very small increase in his YPA, and his YPA was high every year.
Jay Cutler's saw his YPA decrease in his senior year (so did Donovan Mcnabb and Marc Bulger).

"The numbers aren't so encouraging for Mr. Young. GMs should worry less about his unusual throwing motion and more about his hefty Senior Blip of 1.69. And his 2.6 TD/Int ratio is worse than that of Kyle Boller, who has struggled with the Baltimore Ravens."

Statistics and regression analysis are powerful things.