Taking the subway?

by Eszter Hargittai on May 24, 2004

You better have a good reason.. and be able to produce identification as well. [Via IP.]

All gone to look for America …

by Daniel on May 24, 2004

From Instapundit

And here’s a question: Freedom of the press, as it exists today (and didn’t exist, really, until the 1960s) is unlikely to survive if a majority — or even a large and angry minority — of Americans comes to conclude that the press is untrustworthy and unpatriotic. How far are we from that point?

And over at USS Clueless:

When I’ve read news reports lately about some kinds of obnoxious protests, I have mused to myself, “Perhaps it’s time to issue shoot-to-kill orders to security guards.” Perhaps if some people who made grandstanding protests ended up dead, it might cause others to start really thinking about the consequences of their behavior.

There used to be a shining city on a hill … what the hell happened to it? I’m pretty sure that there might be some “consequences” in allowing the United States of America to become the sort of place where newspapers are censored and demonstrators are shot dead for being “obnoxious”. I think I’d be prepared to pay quite a high price to avoid finding out what they were.

Update Should probably make it clear that den Beste steps back from the brink of actually recommending that protestors be shot. But it’s not obvious he’d object over much if they started doing it.


by Eszter Hargittai on May 24, 2004

Remember our discussion of the Erdõs number and the eBay bid that followed? The Chronicle is on the story, sort of. There is not one word about humor in that whole piece.. or that it all started out with a light-hearted discussion on blogs. Talk about taking a story out of context. I realize Bill may have posted the bid in all seriousness, but I think a better coverage would have included a mention of how it all came about, which is perfectly clear from his initial post. One interesting point gets no mention in the piece: John’s suggestion that offering co-authorship for free and no labor may be an even better deal for those with a high Erdõs number. (He meant it as a joke! I better add that again before John gets accused of wanting to undercut the system.) I guess in the context of The Chronicle piece that’s less scandelous.. and thus not worthy of coverage. I think I’ll go read The Onion now. [Thanks to my friend Gabriel for pointing me to The Chronicle piece.]

UPDATE: Read about Bill Tozier’s reactions here. Also, to clarify, the article does say in the beginning “The auction began as a bit of fun,” but if you read the whole piece, that part is soon forgotten.

Copenhagen Con ?

by John Q on May 24, 2004

I’ve written a couple of posts critical of the Copenhagen Consensus exercise being run by Bjorn Lomborg”s Environmental Assessment Institute and The Economist. The stated objective is to take a range of problems facing developing countries, and get an expert panel to form a consensus on which ones should be given the highest priority. This is a reasonable-sounding idea, and the process has produced some useful contributions in the form of papers by experts arguing the importance of particular problems.

There are however, two big difficulties.

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Mr Money, meet Ms. Mouth

by Daniel on May 24, 2004

We’ve had more than a few things to say about the Iowa Electronic Markets over the life of Crooked Timber. In particular, John and myself have defended the view that these markets do not appear to offer marginal information above and beyond published opinion polls.

Some would say that this is fighting talk, and that if we really thought this, we ought to be trying to make some money out of it. So here goes …

Big thanks to Nasi Lemak for sharing a dataset of historical poll data with me. I have used that data to construct and backtest a trading system for the IEM Kerry vote-share contract (KERR) which uses only published poll data and generates favourable backtesting over the last four months. The equity curve for this system so far is below the fold; I plan to use it to trade the IEM vote-share market over the rest of the campaign.

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Another one for the pile

by Kieran Healy on May 24, 2004

My pile of Books to Read grew considerably over the past two months (though not as much as my pile of books to “not read”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/001011.html). Robert C. Allen’s “Farm to Factory: A Reinterpretation of the Soviet Industrial Revolution”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0691006962/kieranhealysw-20/ref=nosim/ sounds interesting, though I’m not likely to get to it. It makes the argument that, comparatively, the Russian economy was very successful from the late 1920s to the early 1970s. The gray world of ’70s Communism wasn’t exactly “Big Rock Candy Mountain”:http://ingeb.org/songs/onasumme.html, but economically it was in the same league as second-tier capitalist countries like those on the European semi-periphery. Considering that Russia was barely post-feudal when the Soviets arrived, this is (to coin a phrase) a big leap forward — at least comparable to the growth-rates of many of the advanced capitalist democracies, and much better than almost all other “developing” countries over the same period.

The book seems like a strong effort to separate the question of economic growth from the political dimensions of Soviet failure. Allen argues that Stalin’s brutal collectivization schemes didn’t do much for growth rates and that most of the benefits of mid-century growth were squandered by bad decisions from the Kremlin gerontocracy. I’ll wait for a full book report from “Brad DeLong”:http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/.