License plate politics

by Micah on August 5, 2003

I was in Washington, DC, over the weekend and noticed this license plate for the first time. Apparently, it came out a couple years ago and is now the “default”: (though optional) license plate for the District.


The story is that Clinton had this plate put on the presidential limousine just as he was leaving office, and Bush (who got only “9%”: of the vote in DC) had it promptly removed.

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Hayekian markets reconsidered

by Daniel on August 5, 2003

A week late and a couple of dollars short, here are my thoughts on the now defunct Policy Analysis Market. I’d note right up front that this “market” always looked suspicious to me; even when it was going, the website seemed to consist of precisely five flat, static HTML pages, and this for a website that was meant to be going live with active trading in October. Particularly since nobody seems to be at all clear on the details of what this market was meant to achieve (was it open to the general public? Only to specialists? Was it going to trade “assassination futures”? Or just derivatives on the EIU political stability indices?), let alone on its clearing arrangements, confidentiality clauses, etc, I rather suspect that the whole thing was disinformation from start to finish. That’s why I didn’t want to comment on it at the time.

However, I do want to comment on the fact that a number of bloggers analysed it in terms of Hayek’s concept of tacit knowledge and markets as information-creating social entities. Henry had an excellent first cut at trying to develop a more rigorous Hayekian analysis last week, but I’d like to take issue with some of his points and make a couple of my own about the characteristics of successful markets.

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by Chris Bertram on August 5, 2003

This particular bit of wood is off for a brief holiday in Ireland. Henry reported a while back that internet access isn’t great. So even if I wanted to, I probably couldn’t blog. With luck, I should meet up with Henry in Kerry somewhere – thereby doubling the number of Timberites I’ve encountered in “real life”.

Geras on Polanski

by Chris Bertram on August 5, 2003

A bit more online content from Imprints: Norman Geras’s reaction to Roman Polanski’s The Pianist. He concludes:

bq. The Holocaust and other calamitous experiences not only can be represented, they must be, whatever the difficulties. There will be those who err or fail in the way they do it. Others, though, will not, as The Pianist itself exemplifies. And if part of what is revealed in these efforts to represent the universe of pain and death is some surviving human value, so be it. Would the world be better without this, or for not being shown it? No, it would be then truly without hope, the hope that Polanski professes to have found in Szpilman’s story in spite of the enormity of the surrounding horror.

Academic fashions

by Henry Farrell on August 5, 2003

Via “Invisible Adjunct”:, I see that Bob at Unfogged has had a “smart idea”: -academic reality tv. His proposal – _Ph.D. Island_ – desperate Ph.D. students, with tenured faculty sitting in judgement, awarding one lucky candidate a half-way decent job in a half-way decent city.

It’s a nice concept – but I have an alternative proposal. I reckon that we male social scientists are in urgent need of a different sort of reality tv. All of us could do with some serious input from “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”: Academic lawyers have their “bow ties”:, b-school types have their Armani outfits. We have our badly fitting blue suits. Anyone who’s ever been to the APSA annual convention, and seen several thousand of these suits milling about a hotel lobby, checking out each other’s name badges, has glimpsed the very bowels of fashion hell. I’m not exempting my own dress sense by any means – I’m a classic exponent of the anonymous slacks, blue shirt and bland tie combo myself. We all need help: if there has ever been a profession that could do with a serious makeover from the fashionistas (whether they be gay or straight), we are it. TV producers – I’m waiting for your call.