Clearchannel says, Clock a Cyclist

by Kieran Healy on November 1, 2003

Kevin Drum is annoyed at the fun-loving DJs of Clear Channel, who recently encouraged drivers to assault cyclists in various humorous ways. But really, Kevin — DJs don’t kill people, you know. Bicycles do. In fact, along the same lines as David Bernstein recently argued, one of the many little-known benefits of Lochner vs New York was the major reduction it brought about in deaths due to bicycles under the control of reckless 12-year-olds who were not working 14 hour days in Manhattan garment factories.

Update: Eric Muller defends Bernstein from further criticism from an angry Nathan Newman.

Being occupied

by Chris Bertram on November 1, 2003

I very much hope that the US (and British) occupation of Iraq is a success, that peace will soon prevail, that a stable civilian administration is soon installed, that democratic institutions take root and that the Iraqi people enjoy a prosperous and uneventful future. That said, I’ve long thought that when people in or supportive of the Bush administration point to the experience of postwar Germany as suggestive of what can be achieved, there is some rather desperate flailing around for historical parallels going on. Good then to see some reflections on this from someone with a degree of historical, political and sociological insight who actually experienced the allied occupation of Germany: namely, “Ralf Dahrendorf”: .

Gambling with the devil

by Chris Bertram on November 1, 2003

Here’s a nice puzzle, which I was told about over dinner last night. I’m not sure who devised it, though there’s “a reference in a paper by Roy Sorensen”: :

bq. You are in hell and facing an eternity of torment, but the devil offers you a way out, which you can take _once and only once_ at any time from now on. Today, if you ask him to, the devil will toss a fair coin once and if it comes up heads you are free (but if tails then you face eternal torment with no possibility of reprieve). You don’t have to play today, though, because tomorrow the devil will make the deal slightly more favourable to you (and you know this): he’ll toss the coin twice but just one head will free you. The day after, the offer will improve further: 3 tosses with just one head needed. And so on (4 tosses, 5 tosses, ….1000 tosses …) for the rest of time if needed. So, given that the devil will give you better odds on every day after this one, but that you want to escape from hell some time, when should accept his offer?

It’s like the King

by Kieran Healy on November 1, 2003

This is really Brian’s department, but a report that the world’s oldest person has passed away at the age of 116 leads me to ask whether it is, in fact, analytically possible for the world’s oldest person to die.

This in turn reminds me of a story that the late Dick Jeffrey once told me. While sitting on a bus in London in the early ’70s, he overheard two pensioners complaining about the newfangled decimal currency. They both agreed that change and progress were good things. But they thought it would have been better if instead of rushing to introduce the new money right away the Government had waited until all the old people had died.

New urbanism and crime

by Chris Bertram on November 1, 2003

I “promised”: to come back to the new urbanism and crime issue. But as it happens, David Sucher — more knowledgeable than I — “has done a pretty good job”: of responding to the alarmist and misleading “Operation Scorpion report”: . And don’t miss the comments to his post, especially from Matthew Hardy of the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture & Urbanism (“INTBAU”: ).

Great Googly Moogly

by Kieran Healy on November 1, 2003

The Economist reports that Google is planning to go public next spring. “All told, 75% of referrals to websites now originate from Google’s algorithms. That,” the story says, “is power.” But how to make money from it? Meanwhile, The New York Times says that Microsoft might like to buy Google, or alternatively bump it out of the way. As the story in the _Economist_ notes, “Microsoft smells blood. It is currently working on its own search algorithm, which it hopes to make public early next year, around the probable time of Google’s share listing.”

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