Hey Pitchfork, you know what? 

Time to do some housecleaning. Ryan Schreiber's wunderkind Marc Hogan in particular.
Hey, guys, you know what?

------ ---- is pretty much the vanguard of the avant-garde: a Bladerunner-snazzy digital billboard beckoning toward a brave, new, post-emotional future. Sure, the canny Irish artiste may have fooled a lot of people into thinking his ostensible watered-down coffeehouse troubadour shtick was boring enough to win a Shortlist Prize, but a few of us know better. Maybe you're saying I'm full of shit: maybe you can't actually hear the new sound of the 21st century because you're still so busy half-listening to the first 30 seconds of the latest "leaked" indie album, breathlessly registering your online approval in comment boxes between ritual visits to goatse.cx.

He goes on to explicate non-denial denials and non-apology apologies.

By the way, he's talking about Damien Rice.

[Update: Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so]



One Giant Hat Tip to Greg Mankiw 

1. Why I ended up (temporarily) in Chicago in the first place.

2. Why I am in a doctoral program.

3. Why the minimum wage is more symbolic than substantive.

4. Why I (marginally) liked the Bush tax cuts (or, why in the long run, deficits will owe more to increased spending than lower taxes).

5. Why I like rich people.

[Of course, all links owed to this guy]



Scalia: still "a favorite face on liberal dart boards?" 

From this week's New York Times Magazine, Scott Turow exposes the oft-overlooked liberal face of Justice Antonin Scalia:
Justice Scalia’s flamethrowing rhetoric and his hostility to whole chapters of 20th-century jurisprudence have made him a conservative icon and a favorite face on liberal dart boards. The justice has declared that the Constitution not only creates no right to abortion but does not even protect private adult sexual conduct....and made it clear that he would like to do away with Miranda warnings.

Less noted, however, is the fact that Justice Scalia, especially in the last decade, has frequently taken an expansive view of the Bill of Rights....Despite his fevered support for capital punishment, Scalia also joined a court majority in holding that the Constitution requires a death sentence to be decided by a jury, rather than by a judge, effectively setting aside every capital sentence still on direct appeal in five states.
In college, Scalia always struck me as the most consistent jurist on the court; apparently I'm not the only one. More recently, Justice Thomas' dissent in Gonzalez v. Raich has made him look pretty dreamy, if inconsistent (see section A, para. 4, last two sentences for instance and tell me it doesn't make you swoon).

[HT: Volokh Conspiracy]

Also from VC: On the heels of Arthur Brooks' Who Really Cares, Jim Lindgren asks: are those who favor income redistribution more likely to be racist?



Who has the right of way at an intersection with no stop signs? 

In many of my debates with sympathetic, right-leaning friends, they often like to reduce my position to something along the lines of: "if it were up to you, we wouldn't even have stop signs."

Notwithstanding that my position is a bit more nuanced than that (I am, after all, no anarchist), several cities in Europe are doing away with all traffic signs. How do we suppose this will work? To the typical American vistor it appears European drivers already essentialy operate without regard to existing signs (red lights, stop signs, and especially lane dividers).

According to the article, it seems there is some preliminary evidence that it has reduced accidents. It's strange the article makes no reference to two important concepts in economics that would lend creedence to this experiment.

1. While many important rules are codified explicitly in law and communicated through things like traffic signs, the vast majority of the "laws" we live by are norms and customs that develop over time through an unconscious social process. Friedrich Hayek called it "spontaneous order." In a given system, whether it is traffic, stock traders at the NYSE, or your workplace, rules may be set up by some governing institution, but ultimately these rules can never address the vast permutations of interactions and circumstances. Depending on the nature of the interactions, ths will lead to two general outcomes (that are not mutually exclusive):

a.) People will operate within the rules insofar as they exist, and develop a system that addresses the remainder.

b.) If the cost of doing so is sufficiently low, or is outweighed by the benefit, people will disregard the rules and develop their own substitutes.

Both of these outcomes are propogated by an ongoing transmission among participants, resulting in an equilibrium that is neither intended or designed by any one of them. The degree to which each exists depends on how the system is set up. Most of us can relate to a system of semi-legal driving conventions understood by locals in your area. For instance in Atlanta, it is common knowledge that two cars will turn left after the light has turned red. Among other things, this is probably a function of how well enforced the formal rules are.

This is true too in something like sports. Where every action of participants is carefully and consistently scrutinized, the rules are fairly strictly adhered to. But even here, players develop their own efficient knowledge of rules to follow and which ones to break (the rare enforcement of the 3-second rule in basketball for example). For a stark counterfactual, imagine the last pickup game of basketball you've seen or played, where a general understanding of the rules is implicit without them ever being itemized.

2. The Tullock effect -- this is actually implied in the article but never articulated as such. This effect says that people have a given risk preference and that no one can ever fully reduce someone's risk without that person making some compensating behavioral changes. For instance, there is evidence that people who drive safer cars tend to drive faster. Or that seatbelt laws have increased average speeds. Without stop and yield signs, people will not have an implied safety rule in place to protect them so instead they will compensate by being safer drivers.



Emory University's Meal Plan 

Concerts my school has been kind enough to host for free since I've been here:

--John Legend (Fall 05)
--Guster* (Spring 06)
--Common* (Spring 06)
--Reel Big Fish (Fall 06)
--Jurassic 5* (Fall 06)

*concerts I've attended

Number of performers who made reference to Adult Swim: 2



Slide 1: Get rid of the PowerPoint presentation 

Tuesday's Wall Street Journal has a piece about the scourge of PowerPoint in corporate culture (subscription req'd). Everything therein, of course, could apply just as easily to academia.
PowerPoint presentations are like corporate karaoke. "For the most part, it's tough to listen to," he says. "We all applaud each other even though we know how bad it stinks."


And then there were none 

"Belmont to be first U.S. city to ban all smoking."

Reductio creep at its finest. I'm speechless. I need a cigarette...but first I will need to draw the shades, turn out the lights, and hide under my bed.

[HT: Drudge Report]



What's an organ donation worth? 

Well, we'll never really know unless we allow for legal compensation for donors. Alex Tabarrok here provides a good overview of the current organ shortage and a sensible case for using incentives to mitigate the problem.

Eugene Volokh has a forthcoming paper in the Harvard Law Review on the topic here. In it, he uses hypothetical analogous cases of women in different circumstances:

1. Alice is seven months pregnant, and the pregnancy threatens her life.

2. Katherine's house is broken into and she needs to defend herself through force.

3. Ellen is terminally ill and wants to try experimental drugs that are approved for use.

4. Olivia is dying of kidney failure and wants to pay someone to donate a kidney.

Direct from the paper:
My claim is that all four cases involve the exercise of a person's presumptive right to self-defense - lethal self-defense in Katherine's case, and what I call medical self-defense in the others.

This is a constitutional right: Roe and Casey secure not just a pre-viability right to abortion as reproductive choice, but also a separate post-viability right to abortion as medical self-defense when pregnancy threatens a woman's life. And given that Alice has such a right to defend herself by getting an abortion, Ellen and Olivia should have the same right to defend themselves through other medical procedures. It can't be that a woman has a constitutional right to protect her life using medical procedures, but only when doing so kills a viable fetus.
In other words, all four should be constitutionally protected but only two of them are.

Eugene has also posted a string of less formal descriptions of the problems of "medical self-defense" and organ payments which have prompted some spirited commenting (see here).



Is Lil Wayne the best rapper alive? 

Exhibit A.

"AZ murders Jay over this beat. The Game murders Jay over this beat. Wayne does not murder Jay over this beat. Without one nasty word, Wayne slices Jay's head clean off over this beat. Then he grinds him through a wood chipper. Then he collects the chunks and smashes them with a two ton Acme anvil. Then he pours lava over what's left...."

You get the idea.



A Stern Talking To 

Bjorn Lomborg takes apart the 700-page climate change report, commissioned by the U.K. government, also known as the Stern Report.



Frank Zappa on Crossfire

"I love when you spank me." --Frank Zappa



Great Success! 

It's true, Borat is a viable candidate for funniest movie ever. Nary do I remember laughing so consistently for so long.



From the Economist's Desk 

[From the The NBER Digest October 2006]

--"The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting"
"The introduction of Fox News had a small but statistically significant effect on the vote share in Presidential elections between 1996 and 2000...Our estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 8 percent of its viewers to vote Republican. "
--"Partisan Impacts on the Economy: Evidence from Prediction Markets and Close Elections"
"In 2000, 2004, and over the entire 1880-2004 period, a Republican victory raised equity values by about 2 percent. On the other hand, since the Reagan Administration, Republican victories also have raised interest rates on government bonds by about 0.12 percent."
A Healthy Economy Can Break Your Heart"
"A single percentage point reduction in unemployment increases predicted deaths from heart attack by about 1.3 percent."
--"The Long-Term Effects of a Generous Income Support Program: Unemployment Insurance in New Brunswick and Maine"
"A 10 percent UI-induced increase in the income associated with working for less than half a year raises the number of persons working less than a half year by about 10 percent."


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