Blog Home: Home


Science validates old Beavis and Butt-head observation about women

Astute observers of female nature
beavis and butt-head
SEATTLE, Washington -

From an old Beavis and Butt-head episode:
Butt-head: Whoa! This song's about like, some chick doing it with like, some other chick's boyfriend.

Beavis: Yeah! That's pretty harsh.

Butt-head: Yeah. So like, this chick will only do yo if you like, already have a girlfriend...?

Beavis: Yeah, yeah! A lot of chicks are like that. They don't wanna go out with you unless you already have a girlfriend...but like, you can't get a girlfriend because you don't have a it's like...struss-frating.
Science chimes in:
Men and women in the study were asked to describe their ideal romantic partner and were told they would be computer-matched with a like-minded student. Researchers told half of the participants that the person with whom they were matched was single. They told the other participants that their “match” was currently in a romantic relationship. Participants then answered a series of questions on how interested they would be in pursuing a relationship with their match.

Surprisingly [not so surprisingly - jeff], single women were much more interested in pursuing a relationship with a committed man than with a single man.

Specifically, when researchers described the man as single, 59 percent of single women were interested in pursuing him. However, when they described the exact same man as being in a committed relationship, 90 percent of the women were interested.

Men did not show this preference, and neither did women who were already in a relationship.

Research found at Overcoming Bias. B&B transcript from WikiQuote


Football Lock of the Week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Record: 4-7

This week: Carolina Panthers (+3) @ NY Jets

UPDATE: The descent continues.... Jets win, Jets win... now 4-8. Last pick of season coming next weekend.


The cupcakes of Austin, Texas

SEATTLE, Washington - I've been sampling so many cupcakes lately, I'm running out of things to say, but anyway here's the results of visiting a few shops in Austin.

I had never been to Austin and was expecting a roughly Boise-sized city, but it's bigger - the city itself has about 750K residents, significantly more than Seattle, albeit in a footprint about double the size of Seattle's. I passed through several Seattle-esque livable neighborhoods. I was intrigued, but I'd probably be a whole lot less intrigued in the hot summer - my years in Seattle have made me dislike day-to-day life under air conditioning.

My first cupcake visit was not in a hip neighborhood, but in the outer reaches of Austin's sprawl, at Cupprimo. A small place (with a weird, closet-sized room in the back with a couple chairs and a whiteboard, in case you want to hold a corporate event there) that was presided over by the owner or someone doing a good impersonation of a shop owner. Below are the Elvis cupcake (chocolate, peanut butter, banana) and a mini strawberry cupcake. The Elvis cupcake seems to appear everywhere I go except Seattle. These were probably the 2nd best cupcakes on the trip.

My next stop was Sweetish Hill. This cupcake is barely worth mentioning - this is a full-service bakery with a broad selection of stuff, and the cupcake was a refrigerated, undistinguished brick.

Next up was the Hey Cupcake! trailer on (in?) South Congress. Austin has metal trailers serving all sorts of stuff, from tacos to crepes. They offer a feature called the "whipper snapper", where the cupcake of your choice is injected with whipped cream to order. This is the "Michael Jackson" cake, chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting, with the whipped cream:

I think this cupcake had good cake, it had the fundamentals, but there were some issues. One, I guess due to sitting in a metal trailer in Texas, even in November, the cupcake was a bit warmer than you want one to be with cream cheese frosting. Second, while I like the temperature contrast of cool whipped cream, the injection created grave instability with the structure of the cupcake - the top was practically blasted off. Ultimately the whipped cream is a gimmick, unnecessary with an A-list cupcake.

Last on the trip was Sugar Mama's Bakeshop. A small place with an appealing selection. On the dreaded refrigeration issue, they put their cream-cheese-frosted cakes in refrigeration, but not the buttercream ones. I had the lemon (buttercream) cupcake:

Good stuff, in fact I went back here on Monday to fly some of their product back to Seattle, but... CLOSED Mondays.


Football Lock of the Week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Record: 4-6

This week: Indiana Hoosiers (+2.5) vs. Purdue

UPDATE: Uh oh, Purdue wins 38-21, dropping me to 4-7 and guaranteeing me a losing season after three winning seasons. All the other dogs I liked came through. Sheesh.


Knowledge at your fingertips (if your fingers are 100,000 miles long)

Knowledge so weighty, it has a gravitational pull
(alt text)
VICTORIA, Texas - I was reading an article from a late-1950s issue of Life magazine on microfiche and stumbled upon this ad (click image for full size), another dark reminder of the horrible days before the internet. This was the way things used to be - a massive stack of books, originating in Europe of course, stretching a good bit of the way to the Moon.

If you're looking for something to occupy your time one idle afternoon, head to the library and read the ads in an old magazine on microfiche. Just sitting in front of one of those reading contraptions gives you a veneer of intellectualism, if you want such a thing, and some of the ads are real howlers today. (Assuming you don't mind reading in photo-negative, I inverted the pic above).

Really, can someone not grab all these fiches, scan 'em, and just post them somewhere? And, while you're at it, do it with all the books too. But, oh then, we'd have no need for these big libraries, and where would the indigents hang out all day? Never mind.


Football Lock of the Week


Record: 3-6

This week: Nevada (-7) vs. Fresno State

UPDATE: Nevada SMOKES Fresno, 52-14. Record: 4-6.


We should see a lot more advertising like this

SEATTLE, Washington - I snapped a pic of this billboard (with dramatic sunset lighting) in Las Vegas last month, and was going to write about it but forgot:

Notice something unusual about this billboard? It's promoting the price of a medical procedure. Considering that about 16% of GDP goes to health care, we should be seeing stuff like this constantly.

Think about billboards (and other advertising) related to other large sectors - restaurants/food, hotels, consumer electronics, real estate, etc. - we are hammered relentlessly with the value proposition. Here's what you get, here's what it costs.

How many medical procedures do you even know the price of? All I could think of was laser eye surgery, because (at least at first, maybe it's different now) it hasn't been covered by health insurance. So they have to pitch it to you - here's what you get, here's what it costs. You've probably heard those radio commercials with the lifeless monotone of Tiger Woods telling you how great his laser eye surgery was.

The fundamental reason for this, of course, is that you don't pay directly for most of these things, your health insurance company does.

I was reminded of this sign when reading Reason's interview with Steve Forbes. Forbes mentions laser eye surgery, and he also provides the example of cosmetic surgery:

But we see from Lasik what happens when you get a real market. It costs a third less than it did 10 years ago. Cosmetic surgery hasn’t had inflation, like you have in the rest of health care, even though demand has increased sixfold in the last 15 years and even though there have been enormous technological innovations. Why? Because you pay for it.
Amazing, eh? If you have people paying for something out of their pocket, and with a competitive marketplace from which to buy it from, costs keep coming down and innovation continues briskly.

Think about automobiles: if you do the inflation-adjustment math, their cost today isn't much different than in prior decades, but today's cars are vastly superior machines to those of yesteryear.

So a fundamental problem with cost control in health care is that people don't pay directly for things; a third party pays, a third party you're usually tied to through your employer. The goal for health providers simply becomes satisfying a bureaucratic beast:
And you don’t get the kind of productivity you get everywhere else. We use phones and emails for everything now. Do you do consultation with your physician or nurse by phone or email? Rarely. Or hospitals giving warranties, like you have everywhere else, where if they don’t scope your knee right, you go back and don’t have to pay for it again. Why wouldn’t that be their dime? Because it’s not real competition. They know you’re not writing the checks, so therefore they don’t have to please you; they just have to make sure they get a bureaucratic insurance company to approve it.
(You know what I do see a lot of advertising for? Health insurance companies.)

Imagine if a third party (or even worse, the government) was responsible for buying your car and buying your gas? Or, for that matter, your food? It would be a debacle. Health insurance is tied up into every little medical transaction for one simple reason: Employer-provided health benefits were given beneficial tax treatment sixty or so years ago. This situation survives today. Employers will funnel money into anything that gets preferential tax treatment.

This situation needs to be eliminated. In my opinion, preferential tax treatment for health care should be eliminated. Both Forbes and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey (who caused endless hysteria in the granola-sphere with his health care op-ed) call for allowing individuals to receive health tax deductions similar to what employers get. (I suspect Forbes, at least, would also support simply eliminating the tax benefit altogether.)

So here's the simple health care recipe: (1) you eliminate preferential tax treatment for health care (2) employers, upon seeing this, stop offering health insurance. Every last penny they currently pay to health insurers goes right into your paycheck (3) You go out and buy insurance, which for most people would consist of a catastrophic plan, plus paying for more routine stuff out-of-pocket.

(Step 2 would be an effective tax increase; there should be a counterbalancing drop in income-tax rates to compensate).

Hope that's simple enough. Of course politicians are not going to pursue this, as it gives them less control, not more control.

And would Dr Athari be able to handle all the business?

p.s.: Read that whole Reason interview. Where the hell was that Steve Forbes in 1996 when he was running for office? It's amazing the things you can say when you don't have to cater to absurd interest groups and dance around "cultural" issues.

UPDATE: Right on cue, Arnold Kling points out a seven pundit commentary in the New York Times on "how to control health care costs". Some of it reads like parody - one of the pieces, with a straight face, is headlined "Be More Like Medicare".

Kling notes that his proposal has no chance of happening, and that the other six have no chance of actually reducing costs.

Only four of the seven pundits even bother to mention "patients", obviously thinking they can't possibly play a role in reducing the amount of money spent on health care. I feel like getting the email addresses of some of these characters and sending them my picture of Dr Athari's billboard.


One clue that the golf tournament you're watching is in China

SEATTLE, Washington - It wasn't as big of a moment as Phil Mickelson whacking his ball into a garbage can on the 71st hole of the 2006 U.S. Open, but it was probably dirtier. Tiger Woods hit his ball into a garbage-riddled canal in the final round of the HSBC Champions in Shanghai:

[Woods] looked out of sorts from the start, missing birdie putts of 4 feet and 10 feet, then taking double bogey on the par-3 fourth when he hit into a canal left of the green where residents on the other side routinely dump their garbage.


Football Lock of the Week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Record: 3-5

This week: Oklahoma (-4.5) @ Nebraska

UPDATE: A Keystone-Kops performance by the superior OK team resulted in a 10-3 loss. Record: 3-6