Monday, June 21, 2010

On how to run useful lab experiments: Why you shouldn't call a Southerner an asshole:

Why you shouldn't call a Southerner an asshole:: "

Three experiments examined how norms characteristic of a “culture of honor” manifest themselves in the cognitions, emotions, behaviors, and physiological reactions of southern White males. Participants were University of Michigan students who grew up in the North or South. In 3 experiments, they were insulted by a confederate who bumped into the participant and called him an “asshole.” Compared with northerners—who were relatively unaffected by the insult—southerners were (a) more likely to think their masculine reputation was threatened, (b) more upset (as shown by a rise in cortisol levels), (c) more physiologically primed for aggression (as shown by a rise in testosterone levels), (d) more cognitively primed for aggression, and (e) more likely to engage in aggressive and dominant behavior. Findings highlight the insult–aggression cycle in cultures of honor, in which insults diminish a man's reputation and he tries to restore his status by aggressive or violent behavior.

Source: 'Insult, Aggression, and the Southern Culture of Honor: An 'Experimental Ethnography'' from Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Volume 70(5).May 1996.945–960

Friday, June 11, 2010

North Korea

It's hard to get a grip on what's happening in North Korea. The NYT had a great piece yesterday and a picture that says it all:

Also, a nice video report from the BBC here

One striking feature is the belief in an outsider plot organized by the US and South Korea. From the NYT piece

At least two of those interviewed in China hewed to the official propaganda line that North Korea was a victim of die-hard enemies, its impoverishment a Western plot, its survival threatened by the United States, South Korea and Japan.
South Korea’s charge that North Korea sank one of its warships, the Cheonan, in March was just part of the plot, the party official’s wife said.
“That’s why we have weapons to protect ourselves,”

Also, it seems like a substantial part of the population is employed by the state on paper, but they  don't actually do any work for it. They pay the company to make sure they are reported present so that they don't get caught by the state.

On paper, he said, a Chongjin state construction company employs him. But the company has few supplies and no cash to pay its employees. So like more than a third of the workers, the worker said, he pays roughly $5 a month to sign in as an employee on the company’s daily log — and then toil elsewhere.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Blogger-Reader link tests

The last posts were mostly links from Google Reader to Blogger. I am trying this for now, so I am not commenting on the shared links, but I will later on. I promise

Hungary like the wolf

Hungary like the wolf: "

THE sovereign debt crisis has a new potential casualty with the new government of Hungary raising the possibility of default. The adminstration may be following the classic path of an incoming chief executive - blame all your problems on the previous management - but needs to learn some market-handling skills. Don't even mention the word default. It is a bit like hesitating when your spouse asks if you're having an affair; your subsequent guilt tends to be assumed. As it is, Hungary can expect to pay more to borrow.

Hungary was expected to have a budget deficit of 4.5% of GDP this year (figures from the Economist Intelligence Unit); that seems to have jumped to 7% on the new government's numbers. According to the OECD, its gross debt-to-GDP ratio is around 90%, the level at which Reinhart and Rogoff argue tends to generate problems. (The country already had one bailout, in 2008.) It is not in the euro zone and its currency, the forint, has been falling since March. Its current account is roughly in balance. Inflation is running at almost 6%, unemployment is in double digits and GDP is forecast to show a small decline this year.

Credit default swaps on Hungarian debt jumped 83 basis points to 393bp, according to CMA Datavision (by way of comparison, Portugal is around 376 and Greece 787). The economy is small (around $150 billion on World Bank figures) but even a small European country defaulting would not be good for sentiment at the moment.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Caught in the oil

Caught in the oil: "
A short entry - AP Photographer Charlie Riedel just filed the following images of seabirds caught in the oil slick on a beach on Louisiana's East Grand Terre Island. As BP engineers continue their efforts to cap the underwater flow of oil, landfall is becoming more frequent, and the effects more evident. (8 photos total)

A bird is mired in oil on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast on Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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Louisiana - Oil spill - BP - United States - Bird"

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Minority Report

Interesting Ted Talk...

Because Pharmaceutical Doping became boring

Some story is going on about Fabian Cancellara(Triple world time trial champion)'s use of motors in his bike. The two video examples are quite awesome, when you have the motor story in the back of your head. Anyway, Cancellara, of course, refuted the accusations(e.g. here). All this seem to be pretty absurd, but if it's true, it would be quite funny.

Here is the video:

Nice picture

Usually, I don't like those kind of easy pictures, but I don't know why I liked this one

Via Daily What: