Monthly Archives: September 2010

Rush’s Rambling – from Prometheus Unbound

From Prometheus Unbound:

During a recently televised NFL football game in the United States, a company ran a 20 second Spanish language ad. In response, one of Rush Limbaugh’s listeners called his radio show to sound the Paul Revere patriot alarm about it (“The Mexicans are coming! The Mexicans are coming!”). The call had its Iago-like effect. El Rushbo got seriously wound up:

I ought to do a monologue about this. I think this is symptomatic of a whole bunch of things that are happening on our culture, the feminization of our culture. I see it in male, liberal sportswriters. I see how they’ve been feminized. I see how they have been feminist-ized. Our culture is more concerned with not offending our enemies today. We have a culture, if somebody attacks us, a growing percentage of our country wants to ask, “What did we do to cause this? It’s our fault.” Somehow they’ve been told and they’ve bought into the notion that America is hated deservedly. So this Spanish stuff that you see in this ad, this is just an outgrowth of America thinking it’s guilty of being so big and such a superpower that we have to reach out, we have to be nice to the people that we’ve oppressed or made angry. That’s one of the ways Obama got where he is, and I think it’s facilitating the total degradation of what used to be the American culture, because there was a distinct American culture. It’s under assault now from within.

It is amazing the kind of floating association that went from bilingualism, to feminism, to Muslim terrorism as internal threats. Maybe its the aging population. I’m old enough to have noted how the world you grow up in is steadily “going away”. You either accept it (and it is uncomfortable), you ignore it, or you become a wacked out reactionary. Rush seems to have taken the last course.

It’s uncomfortable that today, most people don’t remember where they were when President Kennedy was shot (they mostly weren’t alive afterall), and most people did when I was twenty. You bend with things or you breakdown.


If we want benefits for the US from immigration how about this:

1. Gain control of the boarders (no small task); and

2. Have an auction each year for a limited number of “rights” to become new citizens. I would favor granting at least a small number of rights to be allocated by a lottery or other random means as well.

It would tend to allowed the most industries to enter the country. The revenues could be used a number of purposes, offset some of the debt.

Some immigrants may be a burden, but the right immigrants would contribute to the economy (many US Noble prize winners are immigrants), offset our aging population that will strain our healthcare and retirement programs, and maybe even buy up some of our surplus housing stock that is one of a number of drags on our economy.

It would be a kind of conservative alternative to cap n’ trade as a way to raise revenue and reduce a problem: immigration, especially low-income immigrants.

I mean this as a real idea, in case you’re not sure. Though I think promoting “justice” is something this country shouldn’t forget about. If that makes me a bleeding heart so be it. The number of immigration rights auctioned versus granted randomly applicants would depend on our collective decision on “justice” versus benefits for the US alone. I’d still want some justice.

Tea Party: Old Whine in New Bottles | Mother Jones

too many observers mistakenly react to the tea party as if it’s brand new, an organic and spontaneous response to something unique in the current political climate. But it’s not. It’s not a response to the recession or to health care reform or to some kind of spectacular new liberal overreach. It’s what happens whenever a Democrat takes over the White House. When FDR was in office in the 1930s, conservative zealotry coalesced in the Liberty League. When JFK won the presidency in the ’60s, the John Birch Society flourished. When Bill Clinton ended the Reagan Revolution in the ’90s, talk radio erupted with the conspiracy theories of the Arkansas Project. And today, with Barack Obama in the Oval Office, it’s the tea party’s turn.

via Tea Party: Old Whine in New Bottles | Mother Jones.

A calibrated Cook gives Dems the edge in Nov, sez Sandy

Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

via A calibrated Cook gives Dems the edge in Nov, sez Sandy.

Public Goods/Pharma’s Research

Having read the Matt Ridley’s the Rational Optimist, one thing I noted was that he emphasizes that progress comes from learning and ideas can be shared easily.  When I tell you how to use a new way to make arrows, I haven’t lost the ability to do so.

In other words ideas are public goods, they can be consumed with out rivalry.  My having it doesn’t mean you can’t.  That would seem to suggest that generating new ideas creates more benefits than those to the thinker.  So is there enough incentive for private creation of ideas, for reasearch?

Ridley seems to not see this as a concern and argues government research doesn’t contribute much as I recall.  Is that true?

One area to consider is drug research discussed below.  One question I had on the graph is if citations are the best indicator of contribution.  I suspect private money would be a bigger share of the funds than of the citations, thought that might not be an indication of the amount of output for all our benefit.

The Incidental Economist (Posts)

via Pharma’s Research.

Kevin Drum has a piece up discussing Megan McArdle citing Derick Rowe:

Via Megan McArdle, Derek Lowe blogs today about an entire field of pharmaceutical research revolving around PPAR ligands that pretty much went nowhere and cost drug companies a bundle:

Allow me to rant for a bit, because I saw yet another argument the other day that the big drug companies don’t do any research, no, it’s all done at universities with public funds, at which point Big Pharma just swoops in and makes off with the swag. You know the stuff. Well, I would absolutely love to have the people who hold that view explain the PPAR story to me. I really would. The drug industry poured a huge amount of time and money into both basic and applied research in that area, and they did it for years. No one has to take my word for it — ask any of the academic leaders in the field if GSK or Merck, to name just two companies, managed to make any contributions.

….Honestly, I don’t understand where these they-don’t-do-any-research folks get off. Look at the patent filings. Look at the open literature. Where on earth do you think all those molecules come from, all those research programs to fill up all those servers? There are whole scientific journals that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for a steady stream of failed research projects. Where’s it all coming from?


Anyway, I do think, as Kevin says, that the relative contributions of public and private sources aren’t necessarily appropriate given the sums of profit involved.  I could counter Derek’s anecdote, but prefer to use some data.

In 2001, Darren Zinner published a study in Health Affairs that addressed this very question.  Here’s what he did in plain English.  He looked at all clinical patent applications in 1998, and carefully examined all the scientific research cited in those applications.  It’s important to remember that this would include all research, not just those for approved drugs, so it even includes the research for drugs not getting to market.  He then classified where that research was done.  Here’s what he found:

Funding 1

The majority of research cited in patent applications was done in academic centers.  Some more was done in other non-profit or government research centers.  Only 15% of the research was done by industry.  That’s not a very compelling argument for the indispensable contribution of industry to research.

What is the “cost” of locally grown food? Answer: High

In the Rational Optimist I noted that enthusiasm for locally grown food was questioned.  That makes sense given the power of trade to make us better off.  Some specifics below.

Managerial Econ

via What is the “cost” of locally grown food?.

Eight dollars for a dozen eggs, and $3.90 for a pound of peaches, if you can get them:

Getting fruits and vegetables only from local farms necessarily limits variety—few


are available everywhere all the time—and it doesn’t come cheap. Economies of scale

apply even to produce.

Urbanization makes possible variety and low prices.  It also eliminates what Stewart Brand (video below) calls that “poverty trap” and “ecological disaster” of subsistence farming.

The Non-Profit Bias

Modeled Behavior

via The Non-Profit Bias.

Is science reliable? – The Imaginary Cabal – The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Consider what the Limbaugh/Morano crowd is saying about climate: not only that that the world’s scientists and scientific institutions are systematically wrong, but that they are purposefully perpetrating a deception. Virtually all the world’s governments, scientific academies, and media are either in on it or duped by it. The only ones who have pierced the veil and seen the truth are American movement conservatives, the ones who found death panels in the healthcare bill.

It’s a species of theater, repeated so often people have become inured, but if you take it seriously it’s an extraordinary charge. For one thing, if it’s true that the world’s scientists are capable of deception and collusion on this scale, a lot more than climate change is in doubt. These same institutions have told us what we know about health and disease, species and ecosystems, energy and biochemistry. If they are corrupt, we have to consider whether any of the knowledge they’ve generated is trustworthy. We could be operating our medical facilities, economies, and technologies on faulty theories. We might not know anything! Here we are hip-deep in postmodernism and it came from the right, not the left academics they hate.

The Imaginary Cabal – The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan.

Emmie Lou

Emmie Lou

Originally uploaded by Boered

Who couldn’t love this!

PGE’s Logo by my Daughter when she was 8 or 9