Most Americans vote against their self-interest

I found this graph, by Andrew Gellman, quite interesting:

No, not the obvious thing -- that rich people vote republican and poor people vote for Democrats (he considers only whites, so it's not about race).

No, the thing I am surprised by is how pervasively Americans vote against their self-interest.

Only the undereducated show no impact of the news that they read and the circles they run around in.  If they are poor, they vote for democrats but if they are rich, they vote for Republicans.  In other words, they vote their self-interest quite logically.

People with some education (high school graduates and BS degree holders) start off with much higher levels of voting for Republicans.  Even when poor, they vote for Republicans (against their self-interest: this is the thesis of the famous book "What's wrong with Kansas?"). This must be an impact of the cultural war.  Simply put, these people believe Democrats look down upon them and so they feel more comfortable with the simple truths told by the right-wing echo chamber.

Meanwhile, people with graduate degrees, even if they are rich, vote against their self-interest, voting for higher taxes and voting for the government to give their money away to the poor (surely, they could that themselves?). Again, the reason is not hard to see.  An anti-science party that disparages education at every turn is hard to side with even if it would be better for your wallet.

Milton Freedman's advice

Via Tyler Cowen: one of the great "what-if's" is ... what if Nehru in 1955 had listened to the advice of Milton Freedman than to the advice of liberal economists?

Freedman suggested that the Indian government should stop trying to control the economy and instead invest in education and the creation of a free market.  Of course, Friedman was right (as was one lone dissenter on the Indian government's panel of 22 economists), but their advice was ignored.  Conventional advice gave us a "Hindu rate of growth" for the next 40 years.

India in a week?

People sometimes ask me if they can see India in a week or two. I tell them, "no, just pick one city and see its region well."  This has been my operating philosophy in travel -- when we go to Europe, for example, we visit just one part of one country. The continent-wide tours that take you to 20 cities in 20 days is something I can not fathom.

But this reporter had an assignment and he had to fulfill it. So you get crazy suggestions like:
While every guidebook instructs visitors to start out by seeing the lanes of Old Delhi, the Mughal sites like the Red Fort and the colossal mosque known as Jama Masjid, I gave up on the noise and crowds and filth of Old Delhi long ago.  
Seriously? Visit Delhi and not visit Chandni Chowk, not eat at Karim's? Why bother visiting Delhi then? On the other hand, someone did wisen him up to Mehrauli (which you'd already know about if you read my blog).

Having said that, though, no one ever takes my advice. They cram everything -- from the Taj Mahal to the Himalayas to Mahabalipuram all in one hectic fortnight and at the end of it, they remember nothing and have experienced even less.

A different tribe of geek

I'm at a radar aeroecology workshop (a relatively new research interest for me).  There be biologists here. 

One of them has a pair of binoculars around his neck. 

I think it plays the same part as a pocket protector plays in some circles. Or that a web-enabled backyard weather instrument plays in others.

Other web companies should be this good

I went to to look at all my Google accounts and see what kind of information is leaking out. Answer: nothing.

I don't see what all the hullabaloo about the "new" Google privacy thing is about. If anything, Google has improved the way they handle privacy concerns. It's all quite transparent.

The only thing I objected to was that I found that I was unable to delete my iGoogle setting -- I'd tried it at some point and Google has kept a record of it.  But that's more aesthetic than anything private.

If only other web companies were this good and transparent. Kudos to Google for doing this.

The grammar police

I was helping the daughter with her homework when I took a quick moment to dash off an email.  She caught a glimpse of what I'd typed.

"You should have proofread that," she scolded.

"Why?," I asked, "what was wrong?"

She started counting off on her fingers:
  1. You should start a sentence with a capital letter.
  2. You should start a letter off with Dear So-and-So.
  3. You should end the letter with Love or Yours something.
  4. You should use punctuation.
  5. You should use your full name.
"Don't you know all this?," she finally asked, in exasperation, "even I do, and I am only in second grade."