Afternoon delight

by Ted on April 22, 2004

Isn’t she lovely
Isn’t she wonderful
Isn’t she precious
Less than one minute old
I never thought through love we’d be
Making one as lovely as she
But isn’t she lovely, made from love

Congratulations, John and Belle!

Powers of prognostication

by Henry Farrell on April 22, 2004

I’ve been reading Anthony Grafton’s “Cardano’s Cosmos: The Worlds and Works of a Renaissance Astronomer”: which is a lot of fun. Grafton has a lively writing style, well exemplifed by the following (unfair but funny) dig at the dismal science.

bq. At the most abstract level, astrologers ancient and early modern carried out the tasks that twentieth-century society assigns to the economist. Like the economist, the astrologer tried to bring the chaotic phenomena of everyday life into order by fitting them to sharply defined quantitative models. Like the economist, the astrologer insisted, when teaching and writing for professional peers, that astrology had only a limited ability to predict the future. … Like the economist, the astrologer proved willing in practice, when powerful clients demanded it, to predict individual outcomes anyhow. Like the economist, the astrologer generally found that the events did not match the prediction; and like the economist, the astrologer normally received as a reward for this confirmation of the powers of his art a better job and a higher salary.

Lifeboat Ethics

by Jon Mandle on April 22, 2004

In my intro class I’m teaching Garrett Hardin’s famous 1974 article, “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor.” I hadn’t appreciated quite how horrible it is. It’s not (just) that I disagree with his conclusions – I teach material I disagree with all the time. It’s the incredibly weak arguments and the snide innuendos.

[click to continue…]


by Ted on April 22, 2004

At 10:31 Central time, here’s the top news on the top news websites:

MSNBC: Trains Crash, Explode
CBS News: Heavy Toll In N. Korea Train Crash
FOX News: Report: Thousands Hurt, Killed in N. Korea Crash
CNN: Michael Jackson indicted
ABC: Michael Jackson facing trial

The stories on the crash are reporting as many as 3000 dead or injured. Meanwhile, CNN and ABC have the story in sidebars. These are not good priorities, my friend.

UPDATE: At 10:55, Michael Jackson is still the top story at both CNN and ABC.
UPDATE: 11:25. CNN’s top story is now the crash, while ABC’s is still Michael Jackson.

Iowa Electronic Markets quiz

by Daniel on April 22, 2004

I’m working on a piece on the Iowa Electronic Markets in my copious spare time at the moment. Just as a warm-up, here’s a few questions for finance mavens.

1. In the 1996 Presidential vote-share market, after the candidates have been nominated and adopted, what should the sum of the values of the CL|DOLE(Clinton vote share given Dole as opponent) plus V.DOLE (Dole vote share) contracts be?

2. What percentage return would you have made in the 2000 winner-takes-all market by buying the BUSH contract at the point when DEM was at its peak and holding to maturity?

3. You hold a porfolio in the current 2004 Presidential vote-share market long BU|KERR but short BU|CLINT. If George Bush were to announce tomorrow that he had decided to withdraw from the race, what would be your profit or loss?

Answers below the fold. Historical price and prospectus data available on the IEM website.

[click to continue…]

John Maynard Smith

by Chris Bertram on April 22, 2004

John Maynard Smith, pioneer of the application of game theory to evolutionary biology, has died. There are obituaries in the “Times”:,,60-1082979,00.html , “Guardian”:,3604,1200211,00.html and “Telegraph”: .