Saturday, December 12, 2009

Commenting shift 

A quick, rare Saturday post. Haloscan, which has been my commenting software almost as long ago as I had this blog, is being retired after being bought by JS-Kit. Their new software, for a very reasonable price, is called Echo. It's not quite as high-tech as some commenting software I've seen, but it's pretty full-featured and at the price (just $9.95 for us Haloscan converts) just wonderful. The pages will turn over to Echo from Haloscan, and hopefully all the comments will be retained even on the oldest posts.

BTW, I'm also trying out the beta of Chrome for Mac, and this seems to work pretty well. Safari would have occasional hiccups with some of the script for Blogger, which was a drag. So far I rather like Chrome.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

A blessing to be busy 

Just one of those days when I can't get to blog, but partly because I was just having too much fun sneaking peeks at the WSJ live blog of the Bernanke confirmation hearing. I don't see it as having been rougher than other ones; the most hilarious part is that he is asked about fiscal policy repeatedly -- he at first doesn't answer, gets asked still, answers some, then at the end Sen. Corker criticizes him for speaking too much about fiscal policy.

There's no question in my mind that he'll be confirmed; I'd be long on a contract that paid for every vote for confirmation over 60.

In the meantime, please enjoy a profile of a very special woman in my life. My aunt was the one who didn't live in New England, who treated me with UCLA (NOT USC) gear as a kid, who let me stay at her house when I first moved to southern California and didn't have my dorm room secured yet so she potentially was stuck with nine boxes of my junk, and remains my LA home-away-from-home. She is probably my most liberal friend (in a family with dots all over the political spectrum) who takes a joke as well as she emails one. It is inspirational what she is doing at 78 years old; I hope I can keep up the family tradition of long lives and long careers. Or, to borrow a styling from Larry Miller, REMEMBER: IF YOU WALK OUT OF BED THIS MORNING AND LOOK IN THE MIRROR THINKING "I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL I'M 75 AND still WORKING???", YOU'VE WON THE GAME AND THANK GOD FOR GREAT GENES.

P.S. And I'll be walking out of bed and into a 6am studio for the KNSI Morning Show tomorrow, at least that's it for this week.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I should have known better 

I have to agree with Benjamin: "what a sad devolution". I knew posting this would lead to some trolling and counter-trolling, but the volume and vitriol are amazing. I'd invite those commenters to re-read this symposium from the Center for the American Experiment. A taste:
One explanation was offered by journalist Michael Barone at an American Experiment forum in 1998, when he argued that �politics more often splits Americans on cultural than on economic lines.� As a prime example, he pointed to abortion. Moral issues of this sort, he went on to say, �engage and mobilize people and keep them fighting.� This, in turn, �has led to a politics in which people defend their niches fiercely against people whom they know little. . . . In the process, we get fierce attacks on politicians. People feel justified because they believe the moral stakes are high.�
You folks write things to each other you could never say to one's face. I've met at least two of the vitriolic commenters, and they are not the people you think they are from the comments. Yet they persist in this behavior. Why? Is it just the impersonality of the web, or is it because we just have decided to have a meaner politics in this decade?

In passing, a very short answer to Eric: where would we stop if we started to call on every person who says a cross word about someone else to repent and turn away? Would it be fair for me to take some incendiary post on DKos and then demand that Sen. Clark denounce it because she posts a diary there? It's a false and illogical argument you make. It's a tired game that no thinking person would play. "I'll take that as a no," I can hear you saying. Yes, it is. What you decide to do with that no says much more about you than me.

Let's end on a humorous note. Call it your knucklehead declaration:

You may post only once in comments, and your only comment may be "I have been a turrible knucklehead." All other comments will be deleted.



Let Freedom Ring is five. Here's a comparison. When the internet first started its biggest use to me was for fantasy baseball. I've played with dozens of other enthusiasts since 1992, and a few of them have stuck as friends afterwards. I can count those on one hand. I stopped playing for one year in 2008, but went back to the one league where I knew and liked a couple of guys last year. My team was terrible, but it was nice to see them again.

I started blogging a little more than seven years ago. In that time I have befriended countless people, many of whom are now family friends. Few friendships have as high a place in my life as these, particularly those with NARN and with St. Cloud blogger Gary. Our homes are less than two miles apart yet it took the world wide web for us to meet.

Were it not for my blogging I wouldn't be in NARN, and were it not for LFR Gary and I would not have met; my life would be poorer without those friendships. It's one of many gifts this place gives you.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Two questions 

Both of a personal nature:
  1. I'm off radio this weekend to take a long-planned trip with my brother. His birthday is Sunday and he's a big Steelers fan, so I'm meeting up with him in Pittsburgh with tickets for Sunday's game versus the Bengals, with first place in the AFC North at stake. Eat your heart out, Morrissey! Questions are on transportation and food. We don't want to rent a car in case we imbibe a little more than usual at the game. ("in case??" -- ed.) How do we get there, what do we eat and where should we enjoy the evening's Patriots-Colts tilt?*
  2. Is it time to get off Blogger? I still have to use the Classic version, widget-less, because this blog is so damn old. I keep wanting to tweak the sidebar and start pushing content from the radio show there; I also want a feed of just economics posts that can go to the KYCR page. There's no money for this to buy a fancy solution, pretty much DIY. So what to do?
* -- I won't blog from the game, but I expect to tweet a bit.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009


Pepper, our cat of the last nine years, age unknown because he was a stray that insisted on coming into our lives (he was a senior when he got here, we're quite sure), left this world for better last night. He has suffered kidney failure for the last year. Got off our bed, went to a corner of the house, laid down and didn't get up.

Thanks for stopping in, boy.

Pepper is on the left in this picture. Sparkler and, of course, Buttercup remain with us.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Where we fit 

I found this paper "Blogometrics" interesting, and being a vain sort I wanted to see where I would have fit in on that paper's tables. My Publish or Perish run gives me 10.44 cites/year (282 total), which sets me at 27 years of work -- I actually got my PhD in 1986, so that method ranks me down a bit relative to what I think it should. That puts me in the mid-40s on the Blogometrics list. Sitting just behind Don Boudreaux would be quite an honor, so I'm a little miffed the authors ignored this blog. But this has never been a pure economics blog and in fact for its first two years I did very little.

On Table 2, we'd be at 25th, with 416 average daily page views for August. Seems about right.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Send your complaints to Blogger 

Sorry for no posting yesterday. �There were posts there, but Google provides about as much support for Blogger as wet tissue paper. �By the time you read this, there should be posts below.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

To buy or not to buy? 

That is the question:


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008 

Christmastime around here is always a little hectic. �Academia impinges for those of us on the semester system, with finals coming the week before; my grades are due Friday, but thankfully I got through grading Tuesday afternoon. �That meant Christmas Eve shopping, which found me out by the mall at 9am wondering if I had outsmarted the crowds or if the last day of holiday shopping would disappoint the shopkeepers.

Janet mentioned the snow and cold; it was -4 when we got back to the car after church last night. �Another bit of hecticness -- Mrs. S is not a regular pianist anywhere, so she was at a different church playing on Christmas Eve. �(She could have worked tomorrow morning too, but begged off.) �So Littlest and I sat among friends and some folks we don't often see, some with small kids. �You feel bad for them because they are sure their kids are ruining it for the rest of us. �Our pastor has small kids, so he seems not to mind the noise. �The one who had, um, 'diaper issues' might have put a small dent in the festivities, but it's a joyous time, and the candlelight during Silent Night is as much a highlight as dinner or gifts. �Indeed, the only thing I missed was finding time to sing The Messiah with a chorus this year. �(If you know of one next year with room for a baritone who can bat from either side of the four-part register, drop a line.) �

Our day today is simple -- we take a Jewish friend to breakfast (it's a tradition; we pray for a year a Chinese restaurant here has Christmas dim sum), then presents are opened, phone calls, and finally dinner with Mrs. S's family. �#1 is now engaged and already lost to his fiancee's family, alas, so that dinner happened earlier this week.

Posting from me will be kind of light next week. �I'll be in tomorrow as we release the new Quarterly Business Report. I fear we're going to harsh your post-Christmas buzz. �If you're up early doing the bargain-hunting here in St. Cloud, please tune in to KNSI 6-8am as I give Don Lyons a little time off. �Then I'm meeting up with my siblings and parents this weekend; the first week of January is, as always, the American Economic Association meetings. �(Yes, recruiting again, amazingly.) I'll be for the most part on the road the next ten days, with a luggage change in the middle on New Year's Eve (and another stint on Don's show.) �I'll check in as time and internet connections permit. �

Meanwhile, from Littlest (now a budding 5'6" hoopster in high school), Mrs. S from whatever church or chorale she's playing for -- I've no idea how she keeps it straight -- and our three pets -- Buttercup the dog, Pepper and our newest, Sparkler -- a Merry Christmas to you and your family. �We hope your candles are lit by the spirit of the season.

We'll let the pets do a star turn.

L to R: �Pepper, Sparkler, and Buttercup.
And here they are with us:

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Friday, September 12, 2008

At least we're friendly 

I finally got around to checking the Econolog bloglist of other economics blogs. No major surprises there, nor surprising that this blog finished 57th in terms of incoming links from other economics blogs. We're not purely economics, so those that are will finish ahead of us. I've always thought that, because the readership here is majority not from economists, the role of this blog qua economics would be to link to interesting things I find elsewhere. All the blogs on the "friendliest" list are doing pretty much what I want to do, so that's a good sign.

But who is that guy on their summary page of me? It's not me. I haven't had hair that wavy in thirty years.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fourth and inches 

So close...

...The page proofs are dropped in the mailbox.

...There's one more day of radio: �KNSI 6-8am (call-in line is 320-251-1990) and then an hour with Fausta's BTR show at 9am. �Been a while since doing some BTR, should be good.

And then, we celebrate the end of a five-year project to get that book to a publisher, get writers, and get the thing done. �How? �Golf, a cigar, some Scotch. �Rinse and repeat. �

See you in the morning.

(And yes, we're doing NARN Saturday. �Most fun day of the week.)

From Janet: Congratulations!!!! Well done, King!

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nothing from me until tomorrow night 

I'm on the very last legs of correcting page proofs for the book, and I need another day to finish the project. Too bad, I have stuff I'd like to post but no time right now. Back tomorrow night with any luck.

(P.S. I'll have something to say about 9/11 while on the air tomorrow, probably close to 7am.)


Friday, August 08, 2008


Light posting today, as I'm in New England this weekend for my father's 80th birthday today. I'll have some stories later tonight or Saturday morning.

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mobile feed available 

A reminder for people here at the convention who want to read this blog on their mobile phones. It's doable easily if you have an RSS reader on your phone. Use Google to find one for your model of phone, as many programs are specific to their phones. Here's the Atom feed if you want to use that. As an alternative, I've set up a quick-and-dirty site on Winksite here. Click and save this on your mobile phones if you want a feed. That should be mobi compliant.

BTW, other bloggers here and blogging include Chad, Kevin, AAA, Marty (new site) and of course Michael. If I hear others I'll put them here.

UPDATE: The Uptake has posted a video report.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Supporting one blogger 

Surgery does weird things to you; you become emotional at unexpected moments; bursts of energy are wills o the wisp; many visitors come that you cannot really respond to as you want to. So anyway, to second Janet below, yes, thanks for everything, from readers I did not know I had until this week. I own my intestines again. I'm still at the hospital and will now go take a walk, which is how I get better. A few steps at a time. But I expect to go home over the weekend. Extra sutures and drains were removed about two hours ago, I'm a bit sore from that but this will pass in a few hours, I'm confident. Next week being finals week, I have some room to coast for a bit.

An orderly just asked if I wanted water with ice. In any normal circumstance I would have said thanks but that I'd get it myself. Try to be very polite, but self-reliant. One lesson I learned this week is how to accept kindness with gratitude, without feelings of obligation or shame. Not sure I knew this before. I haven't given up individualism by any stretch, but our humanity needs an opportunity to express its care for other individuals, and to know that to give people that opportunity to do it, person-to-person, is part of what makes us feel our own.

I apologize to not linking back to posts from Michael, Gary, Leo, Ed, Andy and others. I cannot get through the BlogNetNews reader for Minnesota, not enough energy. But I deeply appreciate every one. I have never felt so supported.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New SCSU blog 

Not affiliated with the Scholars, but Matt Barton, who teaches ENGL 432/532, Writing on the Web, has students writing a political blog. Greetings to Mr. Barton's students!

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Speaking, and media 

Program notes for the week:
As usual, busy and probably light blogging. But the book would be shipped if not for one page of references somebody didn't turn in yet. So light is at the end of the tunnel...

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Friday, February 29, 2008

A random thought, then off to editing 

Ob: absolutely nothing, I was reading something on a discussion list and wanted to find a quote from the Big Lebowski to respond. The quote page on IMDb seems to me to be the whole damn script, but out of order. And I lost twenty minutes laughing through it. If you ask me for favorite movie ever, that's in the family photo.

OK, the last paper for the book has arrived, and I'm off to finish editing, followed by Littlest's last game of her grade school basketball career. Lileks does this all the time, so why can't I?

The quote, you ask? It was about nihilists. And until this guy changes the spelling of his URL, he's blackballed from the Northern Alliance. I type the wrong one every time.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Congratulations to the Captain: I'm still the Fifth Beatle 

You would never know it, but two blogs of the Northern Alliance joined at the same time; the last to join was Captain's Quarters in December 2003. But one less will remain after next month.
Beginning on March 1, I will begin working for Michelle Malkin, a friend, mentor, and writer I have long admired. She has offered me a position as writer at Hot Air, and my blogging will appear exclusively there.

That means that I will close out Captain�s Quarters sometime in March. This saddens me, as it has become my ever-ready home and because of the terrific community it has generated. I hope that the CapQ community comes with me to Hot Air, and Hot Air will have open registration today for 12 hours in order to allow CapQ commenters to join me at my new digs.

Nobody who meets Ed ever dislikes the guy; nobody who reads his blog can doubt he's one of the hardest workers in blogging. The friendship between Malkin and Ed goes back a good ways and the move will make Hot Air one of the leading sites for political commentary on the internet for a long time. I know we've had some top blogs retired because of writer fatigue in the past, but has any been subject to a buyout before? (I assume his new compensation plan from Malkin includes a lifetime supply of Notre Dame football jerseys.)

Worth noting: In his 12/03 post accepting NA entrance (NARN was still four months away) Ed said:
I don't listen to a lot of talk radio because I find that a great deal of it is shrill and annoying, and even when people don't make a habit of screaming into a microphone, they still tend to get childish and demeaning.
And Al Franken wasn't even on the air yet! Ed's keeping his archives up indefinitely.

I had to go back and look at the formation of the Alliance while thinking a few minutes about this. Originally considered to be Lileks, PowerLine and Fraters Libertas (now known as Act One, or the Opening Act, or Top Billing, or whatever in our radio lives), we added Mitch and myself in May 2003 before Ed. One guy now runs the blog of a newspaper, another group is giving away $25k for a book prize, and Ed is off to Hot Air.

I guess my life as Pete Best continues. Mitch, Chad and Brian? Your comments invited.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

My secret and not so secret life 

While the rest of the Minnesota blogosphere was watching the MN House Transportation debate in either gleeful fascination (tax consumers) or horror (tax producers), I was hunkered down with a presentation to do last night at the Kelly Inn for the Economic Education Winter Institute's Economic Outlook. It's the 12th year we've done it, the fourth for me. The local newspaper report leads with my remarks. I notice at the time of this writing that the article drew over 200 comments. I don't have time to read them -- I'll explain more in a minute. But state economist Tom Stinson was also on the panel, and the paper's reports of his remarks bear noting:

Some of the big factors that are causing the decline are in the housing industry and the credit market, Stinson said.

New housing starts have been the lowest since World War II and have declined 25 percent during the last year.

"We're not making a dent in the (housing) inventory," Stinson said. "We have an 11-month inventory, we would like to have a four-month inventory."

Senior loan officers also are tightening standards of all types of credit in the commercial and home markets, Stinson said.

The state's diversified economy hasn't allowed it to become recession-proof, he said.

"Minnesota is going to have another slow year," Stinson said.

While his and my definition of slow might be different, notice that he DID use the word "slow". Slow could mean slow growth. As I said last night, the growth rate of jobs in Minnesota has to expand enough to absorb new workers. Tom Gillaspy, the state demographer, reminded the audience that this is the year the first of the Baby Boom generation turns 62. It's therefore not clear whether this will slow expansion of the labor force. This and 2009 represent also the last of the boomlet of students graduating high school. Nonetheless, it can easily turn out that Minnesota grows at a very sluggish rate rather than slumps (declining state GDP), and this would lower revenues somewhat below forecast as well as see a rise in unemployment. I don't think Stinson rules that possibility out, and after reading that I conclude his and my forecasts are closer together than I had previously thought. (I'm probably still a little more optimistic than Tom, but that's a pretty normal state of affairs.) We'll have to wait for the forecast on Thursday for more precise figures, but that's my read of what he was saying.

While I would have liked to have stuck around more last night and then discussed the transportation transit tax bill today, I went to my secret life today. I am confessing to being a basketball junkie, particularly when it is Littlest at play. Her school plays in a tournament in New Ulm each February, and this is her last year in the school so our last tournament. I suppose I could have had someone drive her down but I would not miss this for the world. Watching 10-14 year olds from very small schools -- hers has less than thirty students for K-8 -- play co-ed is pretty neat. Watching your Littlest chug up and down the floor with a huge smile on her face, one that does not vary if her team is up 10 or down 20, and seeing it on all the other kids too, is a world I will miss escaping into as she heads to high school next year. She will try to continue playing for her next school -- she can score and she's a ferocious defender, though probably has to move from point guard now -- but I don't think HS will be the same. We were within two with two minutes to go but lost by six today and out of the championship. Momentary sadness, then the kids realized they were here for the rest of the day to play around and have another game tomorrow, and the usual frantic buzzing of tweens and teens resumed.

Janet is kind enough to sit in for me tomorrow on Final Word, and I will not hear the show as her next game -- the last they will play here -- is at 3:15 for a consolation prize. If they win there'll be a small trophy, but regardless there'll be pictures and memories. And for a weekend, not a care about the soft economy or your silly transit ripoff.

I've just been called to pizza.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Media alert 

I am venturing onto Blog Talk Radio again, but not with Ed. Jazz Shaw of Middle Earth Journal and a denizen of Ed's chat room on Heading Right has invited me to Mid Stream Radio at noon CT today. I was supposed to be there Monday but life intervenes while you're waiting for the next thing to do. Your usual economics and politics mix is on tap and now that we have New Hampshire to digest it should be a good half-hour or so.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

The benefits of econoblogging 

There has been a good bit of chat around the economics blogosphere about whether the best economics blogs are in danger of dying off because the opportunity costs of blogging are too high. My short answer is: High relative to what?

Blogging is of course subject to the MB=MC rule, and undoubtedly the best economists are busy. But the benefits to them from blogging might be greater. Tyler Cowen pointed out earlier this year that blogging is a form of self-experimentation:
Blogging makes us more oriented toward an intellectual bottom line, more interested in the directly empirical, more tolerant of human differences, more analytical in the course of daily life, more interested in people who are interesting, and less patient with Continental philosophy.
I'm sure that last point was humor, but the rest is certainly true. A drawback for me in some ways is that in writing my book now, I'm more direct, shorter, and less willing to let a part of my writing wander on a tangent. It's true also in teaching -- I get more done.

Am I more tolerant? I don't really know about that, but I think I can express my differences with others better than I did when I started this five-plus years ago. I find I read more, have more interesting conversations with others, and have met some great economists and non-economists through this blog. As Dani Rodrik found out, you have no idea who's reading until they either leave you a comment or, more often, tell you in person later on. (We think of them as separate worlds; at least in the world of MOB blogging, it's not. I know now dozens of Minnesota bloggers I'd've never met before, and some of them are friends in the real rather than online world.)

Because I read more now, I think research is improved too.

Now without a doubt, the Mankiws and Rodriks and Cowens of the world do not need blogs to be known; they are not really adding to their audiences. I am, because I teach at Flyover State. (Note: I say 'teach at', not 'am a professor at'; therein lies a huge difference in how we see our jobs.) I get the high-opportunity-cost thing -- as you've probably noticed, my output here is down because the book is already past deadline and not ready to ship yet (so why are you writing this? --ed.). But you cannot evaluate the costs in isolation.

Blogging of course isn't for everyone, and perhaps because some of the now-big names weren't here three years ago there will be a shake-out; many startups die, in restaurants and blogs. But you learn the benefits, and your blog evolves. Take a look at my archives and you'll see this is a far different place than when it started. I've even thought of a name change to reflect that, though the brand capital in Scholars is high enough to make that a problem I have to think about. Whatever we call it, it's both more costly and more rewarding for me now than when I started.

UPDATE: See this also by Bill Polley. I worry about the lemons problem only insofar as one thinks econoblogging is about spreading the word of what's on the cutting edge of economics research or the policy debates. I have never concerned myself with the former, and as to the latter, I'm not terribly convinced that the best policy analysis comes from the economists with the longest c.v.'s. Again, that might be about where I'm from and what I do, a personal bias. Your call, not mine, whether I'm a lemon. Arnold Kling most certainly is not.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Blogs and levy votes 

The Times runs a headline story today on the use of a blog and a wiki to drum up discussion and action on the Sauk Rapids-Rice school levy vote. I'm quoted a few times in this story. I don't know how many views these pages get -- the blog has a counter indicating less than 4000 hits, which would be about eight days on my site (check sitemeters to the right). The billboard in the story caught my eye as I drove down the highway yesterday morning after a meeting north of Sauk Rapids; it is very hard to read that sign driving 65 mph, so the news coverage probably gave the anonymous blogger more publicity than he could have expected.

Many blogs will cover levy campaigns and take sides, but doing so with a new blog is to me likely to be less effective than coverage on an existing blog. More of them, I suspect, are like this, created by the affected school teachers.

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