Tuesday, April 30, 2013

On the new / old economics building at Chicago

An interview with the architect from the University of Chicago Magazine.

The best bit:
Q. What's it like to work with economists?
A. Absolutely delightful.
Well, of course. And note that these are not just any economists, but Chicago economists!

Congratulations to Robert Axelrod ...

... on winning the 2013 Johan Skytte Prize in political science. Axelrod is on the faculty of the Ford School at Michigan.

Axelrod, among many other things, wrote the famous book The Evolution of Cooperation, which was once (and perhaps still is) a staple of undergraduate reading lists for the engaging introduction it provides to behavior choice in iterated prisoner's dilemmas. I read it at some point in my own undergraduate days.

I Am Watching You

The Atlantic describes a very cool study at the University of Newcastle in the UK wherein pictures of watching eyes deterred bike thefts.

That is cool enough, but the researchers also checked to see what happened to bike thefts at racks where they did not put the eyes. Put into econ-speak, they went looking for general equilibrium effects. Turns out the eyes displace bike theft to other racks but do not result in a net decrease in bike thefts on campus.

Assorted links

1. Thought question: what is just compensation for being trapped for a half hour on "It's a Small World"?

2. How to make the porn industry move elsewhere.

3. From Hustler editor to criminal lawyer. I particularly liked this bit: "Because the magazine’s readers are primarily interested in the pictorials, we could write about whatever interested us."

4. The Guardian on the Hastings pier fire. I saw the remains, from a distance, when I was in Sussex a couple of weeks ago.

5. Where to go if you paid a bribe in India. They need some sort of spam filter ...

#3 via instapundit.

Rebecca Martinson makes her parents proud

Rebecca Martinson, former member of the Delta Gamma sorority at the University of Maryland, has realized her 15 minutes of fame by writing a nasty email to her (now) former sorority sisters so over the top that one of them was moved to circulate it on the internet.

The Daily Mail (of course) has thorough coverage; there is also this bit about a shout-out on the Daily Show from the student newspaper at Maryland and this bit from Gawker.

Thought question: what is the effect of this episode on Rebecca's discounted lifetime earnings?

Hat tips: Charlie Brown and Jess Goldberg

Trade Adjustment Assistance Act evaluation released

The Department of Labor's evaluation of the services and benefits provided under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act has finally been released.

I don't want to take away the fun of reading it, but if you want to form a prior about the findings, the following information might be relevant:

1. The report was released about nine months after the policy debate around reauthorizing the act.

2. The report was released at 5 PM on the Friday before the inauguration and Martin Luther King day.

3. The abstract on the DOL website says nothing about the sign of the findings.

Full disclosure: I consulted on the evaluation.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Economics Moment of Zen #8

"Misbehavioral Economics"

- Charlie Brown

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Paperless tickets

The WSJ details state legislative battles over proposed bans on non-transferable ("paperless") tickets to events. What I am missing, and what it would have been useful for the WSJ to talk about, is the market failure that justifies intervention in this market. Seems to me that promoters should be free to offer whatever type of ticket they want so long as the particular bundle of rights being transferred is clear to both buyers and sellers.

Movie: Trance

Trance is great fun with mystery, hypnotism, art, exotic choreography and, best of all, British accents. Who could ask for more in a movie.

The NYT provides a "good but not great" review. I liked it a bit better than they did.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Assorted links

1. Truly, the French will strike over anything.

2. Watch out for Mormon statisticians with samurai swords.

3. Reese Witherspoon misbehaving.

4. Mark Steyn on Margaret Thatcher.

5. Reason's Cathy Young is always at her best on gender issues. Here she addresses Obama's shocking decision to refer to a female human as attractive.

Hat tip on #1 to Charlie Brown. #2 via instapundit.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Movie: The Gatekeepers

The Gatekeepers is a riveting documentary that consists of nothing more than interviews with six former directors of the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet interspersed with archival footage. I learned a lot, and was impressed, if not convinced, by all six.

A.O. Scott at the NYT liked it too.

Highly recommended.

Assorted links

1. The Economist on what women want ...

2. Political scientists misbehaving on airplanes.

3. Banning bikini baristas in exotic Shelton Washington because, you know, women should be treated like children and not allowed to make their own employment choices.

4. Planning your digital afterlife on google.

5. Some reasonable thoughts on the chain CPI. It is one (very small) step on the way to a serious retirement system.

Larry Summers on Austerity

Larry's review of the new book Austerity from the FT.

Marv Harshman, RIP

The Seattle Times has a nice piece on former University of Washington basketball coach Marv Harshman. He was the coach during my student days at Washington.

Nick Gillespie of Reason on the Colbert Report

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Assorted links

1. Places to go where you will not be bothered by other tourists.

2. Way too much time on their hands: Excel role-playing game edition.

3. State freedom ratings from the Mercatus Center at George Mason.

4. This video from last year's skit night remains oddly compelling.

5. "Don't face the future alone"

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Hat tip: Alexandra van Sweringen on Facebook; the picture is from the Libertarian Party.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Is Justin Bieber turning into Michael Jackson?

The Daily Mail lays out the case.

Hat tip: Charlie Brown

NCAA Men's Basketball Championship: Louisville 82, Michigan 76

It was a great run, and the championship was fun to watch, but in the end there was a reason that Louisville was the overall #1 seed.

Be interesting to see how many of the players stick around for another try.

Addendum: a really fine story about what the Michigan locker room was like after the game.

Hat tip on the addendum: ASAK

Small differences that matter

Remarks on differences between the US and Canada.

Hat tip: Jackie Smith

Margaret Thatcher, RIP

Thatcher was one of the heroes of the liberal revival of the last quarter of the 20th century.

A detailed obituary from the Economist and a thoughtful piece from Megan McArdle on what she did, and did not, accomplish.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013

A case for gay marriage

Hey, it's April 1!

Some content to celebrate the day.

Hat tip: Elizabeth Smith