Archive for the 'Snark' Category

Innumeracy Watch

Did Stanford university surgeons fail first grade arithmetic? Or do they just assume the rest of us did?

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Non-Hansonian Prediction Markets

Having a baby? Want to predict its gender? offers just the product:

Does it work? Well, check out the distribution of customer reviews:

A delighted hat tip to our reader Mark Westling of, who remarks that

The most interesting comments are along the lines of “It was wrong so I only gave it three stars”.

and then goes on to propose a business model:

Offer baby sex prediction over the web, charge $75 (so consumers know it’s good), and offer a full refund if you’re wrong (upon review of relevant documents).

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Unclear on the Concept

Mike Rizzo at The Unbroken Window reports spotting these two bumper stickers next to each other — on the same car.

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Kidney Failure

So Alvin Roth wins the Nobel Prize for, among other things, figuring out the best way to allocate kidneys subject to the constraint that you’re too damned dumb to use the price system.

Next up: A Nobel prize in medicine for figuring out the best way to prolong your life while repeatedly shooting yourself in the head.

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Rush to Judgment

rushRush Limbaugh is under fire for responding in trademark fashion to the congressional testimony of Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, who wants you to pay for her contraception. If the rest of us are to share in the costs of Ms. Fluke’s sex life, says Rush, we should also share in the benefits, via the magic of online video. For this, Rush is accused of denying Ms. Fluke her due respect.

But while Ms. Fluke herself deserves the same basic respect we owe to any human being, her position — which is what’s at issue here — deserves none whatseover. It deserves only to be ridiculed, mocked and jeered. To treat it with respect would be a travesty. I expect there are respectable arguments for subsidizing contraception (though I am skeptical that there are arguments sufficiently respectable to win me over), but Ms. Fluke made no such argument. All she said, in effect, was that she and others want contraception and they don’t want to pay for it.

To his credit, Rush stepped in to provide the requisite mockery. To his far greater credit, he did so with a spot-on analogy: If I can reasonably be required to pay for someone else’s sex life (absent any argument about externalities or other market failures), then I can reasonably demand to share in the benefits. His dense and humorless critics notwithstanding, I am 99% sure that Rush doesn’t actually advocate mandatory on-line sex videos. What he advocates is logical consistency and an appreciation for ethical symmetry. So do I. Color me jealous for not having thought of this analogy myself.

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What Is the Title Of This Post?

I am filling out an online recommendation form for a student who is applying to graduate school at Berkeley. One of the questions is: “Rate the applicant in comparison to others you have known in a similar capacity.” My choices are:

(This is an actual screen capture from the actual form.)

Unless I select one of the options, I am unable to submit the form.

I find myself at a loss for snarky words. What ought to have been the title of this post?

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Note to Continental Airlines

Your inability to construct a functional website does not fill me with confidence about your ability to fly me across the Atlantic Ocean.

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