Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I Love Technology

I Love Technology. Like Kip Dynamite said...

Pandora is a new website that creates a radio station based on providing them with the name of a favorite artist or song. They use the properties of that song to generate a playlist with similar properties. The properties are not simply far I've found a half a dozen bands I've never heard of with songs I like. Sweet. (Hat tip to the Door).

Keywords: Technology, Music

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Porn: Some Research Questions

Here are some possible research questions. Or maybe they would be more appropriately labeled as unexplained differences between Hollywood and the Porn industry.

1. Why does sex no longer sell in Hollywood, yet it sells better than ever - and it has become more explicit than ever - in the porn industry?

2. Why does the average Hollywood movie lose money, yet the average porn movie makes money? Are power laws at work in Porn as well?

3. Why did Hollywood produce 500 movies last year, yet the porn industry produced 10,000?

4. Why does Hollywood continually resist new technologies, while the Porn industry embraces them?

5. Stars are not valuable to Hollywood Profits, what are the value of Stars in the Porn industry?

6. What are the value of Awards in the Porn industry?

7. Hollywood makes too few G movies, are there any genres in Porn that are over/under produced?

8. Hollywood is currently typified by project by project contracts which are usually fixed fee plus participation for the talent, but used to be typified by long term contracts without participation. The Porn industry is typified by project by project (actually scene by scene) fixed fee contracts, with no participation. The Porn industry has recently moved a few actresses to a contract reminiscent of old Hollywood. Why?

9. Marketing does not pay in terms of profitability for Hollywood. Does marketing pay for Porn land? More specifically, do those box covers really need to look that professional?

10. There is evidence that Hollywood is over screened, is Adult entertainment under screened? I doubt it, but to what degree have zoning regulations changed the nature of Porn?

There are many more interesting questions that could be asked, but these are a few of the immediate ones swimming in my head.

Keywords: Porn and Research

Monday, November 21, 2005

Minimum Wage Debate

Some shameless self promotion. Here is the latest op-ed I wrote on Wal-Mart and it's call for an increase in the minimum wage. Here is the rebuttal by Keith.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Finally Some Sanity

Well at least one municipality appears poised to remove much it's regulation of adult businesses. At least one Councilman realizes the regulation of adult consensual activities costs the city money.

“We don't need a whole new Metro department to baby sit a few strip clubs,” said Metro Councilman Adam Dread.

Metro Councilman Dread has proposed a bill to repeal the current laws on sexually oriented businesses.

“They were written eight years ago, when we did have businesses that were really brothels. Since then they've all been wiped out. Now we just have legitimate strip clubs,” said Dread.

Keywords: Strippers, Regulation

Friday, November 11, 2005

Why Oh Why Are We Administered by These Idiots?

In a hat tip to Brad Delong's "Why Oh Why Are We Ruled By These Idiots?" blog updates, I want to start a "Why Oh Why Are We Administered by These Idiots?" column. The first entry is from our recently initiated Provost's Digest:

No Internal E-mail Day – November 30, 2005
Feeling the information overload? Wonder why there is still a phone in your office? Offices next to each other in your building? While email is an extraordinarily convenient way to communicate with individuals and groups (witness this digest!), it can occassionally be overwhelming. Provost Hitch invites you to join her, the deans, directors, and division heads in a voluntary e-mail free day on November 30, 2005 . Exceptions to this “No Internal Email Day” include essential emails, emails to students, and emails to people outside UW–L. Otherwise, faculty and staff are invited to step back into an email-free past for just one day and rediscover other modes of interaction and face-to-face communication!

I wonder how many meetings they had in order to come up with this idea? I'm torn about what to do in response. Should I organize a campaign to phone the provost? Should we all show up at her office asking to talk to her? The funny thing is that most of the exceptions are email I would use, what I think she is saying to faculty is, "please don't email me".

I'm going to push for a no talking day.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Strippers and Short Men

A recent paper entitled, Love, careers, and heights in France, 2001 makes me worried I might never marry.

Short men are less likely to be married or live in a permanent relationship than their taller counterparts. This pattern is not due to their social status. While blue-collar workers are shorter on average than managers, the effects of height on finding a mate are similar in the two social groups. Being tall is also economically advantageous for men. With identical educational attainment levels, tall men have better careers than short men as they are given greater supervisory responsibilities. In making a commitment, some women might take height into account as an anticipated indicator of future resources of the household. Choice of partner is also influenced by social norms – i.e., partners should be physically well-matched – which is more difficult for shorter men.

A simple inspection of and you can't help but notice men tend to be shorter than average and women taller than average. Previous studies find that women prefer taller men, usually by about 4 inches or so. Making the now defunct marriage of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman an exception. Its pretty easy to understand this problem, if you picture two normal distributions with different means of about 5'9" for men and 5'4" for women. The distribution for women is shifted left by about 5 inches. So the upper tail of the male distribution can potentially match with the entire distribution of females, whereas the lower tail of the male distribution can only match with the distribution of females to its left, and left by about 4 inches, a much smaller proportion and therefore a much smaller number of potential matches.

So what does this mean for my research on strippers? Well, if one believes that men go to strip clubs to consume intimacy, intimacy they can't get from a relationship then it is likely that a disproportionate number of these men are shorter than average. Since taller men tend to be in a relationship, and at least some of them are presumably happy, then you would expect fewer of them to go to strip clubs. So why the hell do strippers wear those ridiculous boots?

I heard they think it makes them look thinner.

Anyhow, I suppose this goes for the consumers of porn as well.

Keywords: Height, Porn, Strippers

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sex on the Margin and Porn

Over at the Marginal Revolution, they have an excellent post on Sex on the Margin. It covers how people respond to the changing price of sex. As the intro suggests, raise the price of sex with women, then men will have sex with other men, as is the case in prison. I've shamelessly copied the post below, but I want to make one point before I turn over the microphone. One the post does not discuss the quantity dimension, nor does it discuss close substitutes such as masturbation. It seems to me that my research on porn and strippers intersects with this research. AIDS raised the cost of both homosexual male sex and heterosexual sex, thereby increasing the amount of homosexual female sex and reducing the amount of heterosexual sex and homosexual male sex. Thus one can partially explain the rise of porn - a complement to masturbation which is itself an imperfect substitute for sex - as a result of the increased price of sex due to AIDS.

Sexual preferences are primarily biological in origin. But sexual choice is about preferences and constraints. Raise the price of sex with women and more men will choose to have sex with other men - that's what happens in prisons.

In a remarkable paper, Andrew Francis (a graduate student at the University of Chicago) examines how AIDS has changed sexual choice. With admirable precision, Francis lays out the price of sex: is thousands of times more likely that a male would get HIV having sex with a man than having sex with a woman. In terms of AIDS-related mortality, the expected cost of having unprotected sex once with a man is almost $2000, while the expected cost of having unprotected sex once with a woman is less than a dollar.

Thus AIDS changes the price of sex, do we observe changes in choice? Francis wants to be careful about causality so he uses a clever instrumental variables approach. He reasons that knowledge of AIDS and thus responsiveness to price is correlated with knowing someone who has AIDS and that knowing someone who has AIDS is exogeneous to other factors influencing sexuality. Unfortunately, it appears that he only has information on whether a relative has AIDS and genetic factors mean exogeneity is unlikely to hold. In fact, we would probably expect that simply knowing someone with AIDS is positively correlated with being homosexual (especially in 1992 when the survey was taken).

Indeed, Francis finds, as expected, that women who have a relative with AIDS are more likely to be engage in homosexual acts and identify as being homosexual. But Francis finds that men who have a relative with AIDS are significantly less likely to:

...have had sex with a man during the last sexual event...have had a male sexual partner in the last year... say they are sexually attracted to men...rate having sex with someone of the same gender as appealing...[or] think of themselves as homosexual or bisexual.

The tendency to greater homosexuality among women and less among men is exactly what the economic theory predicts given how AIDS affects the price of sex. Genetic and social factors will have greater difficulty resolving this bifurcation so I think Francis has the upper-hand on the argument, although there may be counter-arguments based on the gay-uncle theory).

Importantly, note also that Francis finds that not only is sexual choice malleable, as the prison story I opened with suggests, but so are sexual desire and identity. At least on the margin! (A point that non-economists are likely to miss.)

Keywords: Porn, AIDS, Sex

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Non-Debate

Looks like Ron Jeremy (aka the hedgehog), recently debated a feminist, Susan Cole on Pornography. It sounded interesting, until I noticed it was part of Wolfman Productions, the producers of the Heads vs. Feds debate. Its so unfortunate that this choreographed puppet show nonsense passes for debate. I was so very disappointed. I thought I wrote a post on my disappointment, but can't seem to find it. Maybe, like so many other posts, I never actually finished it.

BLS New Tool

For what its worth, the BLS has a new tool. The Location Quotient Calculator:

The new calculator generates location quotients, a measure that is familiar to regional labor economists as a way to readily compare the industrial activity levels among different areas of the country. In general, location quotients are ratios that compare the concentration of a resource or activity, such as employment, in a defined area to that of a larger area or base. For example, location quotients can be used to compare State employment by industry to that of the nation; or employment in a city, county, metropolitan statistical area (MSA), or other defined geographic sub-area to that in the State. The new BLS location quotient calculator uses a timely data source that is especially rich in comprehensive industry and area detail – BLS's Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW).

Keywords: Economic Development