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5.31.2006
  Ho, Hum...
Tom's Hardware has a very extensive overview of the new Windows Vista.

Wow, 10GB! There is absolutely no reason why I'd want to upgrade to this monstrosity. On second thought, they did spruce up minesweeper.
 
  I heart economists, part 2
I have always felt that, as a first approximation in handling questions relating to the lives and actions of larges masses of people, the approach which counts one man as one, and, on that assumption, asks which way lies the greatest happiness, is less likely to lead one astray than any of the absolute systems. I do not believe, and I never have believed, that in fact men are necessarily equal or should always be judged as such. But I do believe that, in most cases, political calculations which do not treat them as if they were equal are morally revolting.

--Lionel Robbins
 
5.29.2006
  The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


In memory of my Grandfathers. Their fight freed us to fight ours.
 
5.27.2006
  I heart economists
James Sensenbrenner (U.S. Representative): "It is offensive to me to think we have legislators who are considering selling US citizenship for $2,000."

Greg Mankiw (Harvard Economist): "Many economists would agree: $2,000 is well below the equilibrium price."
 
5.19.2006
  Whaaa?
The chances of me ever taking former secretary of Labor Robert Reich seriously has been severely diminished by his Coastal Theory:
Talking about coastal versus inland, there's an age-old political pattern that also bears mentioning... Places closest to oceans and big rivers flowing into oceans tend to be liberal. Places farthest from oceans and big rivers flowing into oceans are conservative... Why this pattern? Because since the dawn of civilization, water routes have carried people much more quickly and easily than overland routes. The result has been a mixing of ideas, nationalities, and new perspectives on coasts or along big rivers. Hence, inlanders are more parochial, and stay that way longer. They're often offended by what comes to them from the coasts and big rivers. When they're offended enough, they react.

Apparently Nazi Germany had no rivers, Japan isn't surrounded by ocean and Mao spent all of his time in the Gobi. Oh, and "red state" conservatives are parochial bumpkins who's ignorance drives their depraved ideology whereas the Truth has found itself understood only by the enlightened "blue state" liberals --- never mind the red state/blue state, NASCAR bumpkin vs. latte sophisticates nonsense is bogus.

Can someone explain why, after demonstrating the liberal/conservative dichotomy is meaningless in most political debate that occurs in Washington, Reich bothers to propose a "Coastal Theory" that attempts to explain the false dichotomy?
 
5.16.2006
  Amen
Using force to stop people from migrating is morally repugnant.
 
5.08.2006
  Mankiw, 1 - DeLong, 0
In response to a post at Professor Mankiw's blog, Professor DeLong makes an analogy for the federal budget deficit:
I, full professor Brad DeLong, am having lunch with lecturer Dariush Zahedi today. After lunch, I presume Dariush will say we should split the bill--$10 each. Suppose I say: "That isn't fair. Berkeley pays you less (a lot less: what we do to our lecturers is shameful) than it pays me. I should lay out more cash for this lunch. How about this: I put down $5 cash, you put down $0, and we put the balance on your credit card. That would be fairer, wouldn't it?"

Dariush would then be an unhappy camper. He would think--correctly--that I was mocking him.

But what if was an undisputed fact that all lecturers end up getting full professorships at Berkeley. On top of that, what if it was a fact that those young, former lecturers, now full professors always ended up making more money than the old professors like Professor Delong? Then no, Dariush wouldn't be an unhappy camper and Professor DeLong wouldn't be seen to be mocking him. That arrangement might make sense. You might even call it progressive.

I'm no fan of budget deficits, but actually, the analogy is just really bad. Rather than bringing light to the issue, it just elucidates the deep, irrational hate Professor Delong has towards anything remotely Bush-related and the clouded judgement that hate creates.
 
5.07.2006
  Amae
In response to Language Log's attempt at Whorf busting, Gavin throws down. (See American culture is obsessed with competition. I bet there's not a word in Japanese for competition. I know, I know, you'll find a listing in the dictionary, but...)
 
5.04.2006
  Spring boxes
Everything you ever wanted to know about building a spring box. Don't ask.
 
5.02.2006
  Rietz and "nearly infinite"
Professor Volokh objects to the use of the term "nearly infinite". A commenter says "It means that if you were given an infinite amount of x, rather than the finite but large amount of x that you already posses, there would be no appreciable impact on your results," and then goes on say that the difference between having an infinite amount of nuclear weapons and the number needed to blow up the word would be a good context for the phrase as "we only have one planet to destroy."

For some reason this reminded me of Rietz' paper on 'solving' the equity premium puzzle. Basically, he adds catastrophic states to his models which are very devastating yet very unlikely events. This band-aid to the CAPM seems to work and I think it can be explained by the commenters meaning of the phrase "nearly infinite". Economic agents have in the back of there mind a very, very bad event that is very unlikely, but economic agents only have one life to live (or destroy). They would be very adverse to that event occurring but may otherwise have little 'day to day' risk aversion.
 
  Anti-Americanism
A friend of mine wrote on anti-Americanism. My reply:
People will be violently anti-American no matter what policy America has. There is no such thing as a universally loved super-power. For example, there were riots in the streets of Europe in protest of American intervention in Kosovo to prevent the ethnic cleansing happening there. On the other hand, America was condemned for NOT intervening in Rwanda to prevent the genocide of the early 1990's. Separately, America was renounced for supporting dictators and despots like Saddam Hussein, then we're roundly and loudly criticized for doing something about him. At the same time, we're blamed for the situation in the North Korea and we're expected to police the world's nuclear arms trade (i.e. Iran).

Afghanistan is a poignant example. If there was ever a case of a brutal regime of despots oppressing its people, it would be Afghanistan under the Taliban. Those were bad guys. What's more, America had cause to declare war on the Taliban by any standards of War. That government aided and abetted in the murder of thousands of American citizens in what constituted an act of war against the United States. Yet, there were demonstrations again against American action. We inadvertently bombed civilians see, that was wrong. Never mind American citizens were murdered in cold blood. Because we're America and for no other reason, there's a moral equivalence drawn between murder and what can at most be called involuntary manslaughter.

In some sense, Japan has the same position in Asia as America has in the world. It's certainly the biggest economic powerhouse in the region. In the same way, Japan will be disliked by its neighbors no matter what Japan's policies may be. Think about the most recent controversy in China over Japan's text books. Text books. I mean really, how inane.

I think Japan and America each have enormous responsibilities in regards to the rest of the world. Morally, we need to help the less fortunate. Politically, we need to be on the side of the oppressed and economically we need to help people onto the path of economic growth. Along the way, we will be criticized and we have to be mindful to do the right thing, but we shouldn't be embarrassed by our position and power. As long as we use them for good, we'll do alright.
 
5.01.2006
  Voting with their feet
If the picture of American society drawn everyday by the European press is accurate, then we must believe that those tens of millions of immigrants from all parts of the world, and especially those who came from Europe between 1850 and 1924, were all deluded fools. Otherwise, why did they insist on staying in the American capitalist jungle with all its evils and not return to the lands of peace, plenty, and liberty they came from? Lost in a hellish cultural wasteland, why at least didn't they write to their families and relations basking in the paradises of Ukraine, Calabria and Greece warning them not to come to America?
-- Jean-Francois Revel
 
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