Hugh Hewitt’s “outing”:http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/28/opinion/28hewitt.html?ex=1288152000&en=53aee2bcf6872884&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss for the New York Times today is very funny.

bq. The right’s embrace in the Miers nomination of tactics previously exclusive to the left – exaggeration, invective, anonymous sources, an unbroken stream of new charges, television advertisements paid for by secret sources – will make it immeasurably harder to denounce and deflect such assaults when the Democrats make them the next time around.

Ghosts and teddy bears

by Eszter Hargittai on October 28, 2005

In the spirit of Halloween here are two games for your weekend amusement. (Warning: both come with audio on.)

Time Sink!

  • Dark and Stormy Night starring ghost Jinx – very basic, but still cute and fun (and should be especially enjoyable for kids)
  • Transylmania – vampire with a teddy bear, very cute

[thanks]

Newspeak, how are ya

by Henry on October 28, 2005

When your essay uses Orwell’s “complaints”:http://www.resort.com/~prime8/Orwell/patee.html on the decline of the English language to defend this:

bq. “The dictionary was my response to the market need to educate journalists and students about economic jargon that seemed very frightening to them,” Ms. Vainiene said in a phone interview. “It explains the concepts in simple words. But also”–and this is crucial–“explains them correctly.” The book notes, for example, that “social ‘justice’ is always related to the unjust redistribution of wealth, and ‘fair competition’ is almost always related to unfair government intervention in the economy.” In other words, Ms. Vainiene is trying to educate but also to eradicate the misleading and contradictory doublespeak that infects much economic language, especially as it is used in Europe.

either you’re trying to be a very funny fellow altogether, or you’re writing for the “Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Page”:http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110007466. Or both, perhaps (I may be wrong, but I find it difficult to imagine that even the most debased of hacks couldn’t be aware of the ironies here).

(via “Best of Both Worlds”:http://bestofbothworlds.blogspot.com/2005_10_01_bestofbothworlds_archive.html#113051697458821043)

Stockpiling medicines

by Henry on October 28, 2005

Jamie Love has an FT op-ed with an “interesting suggestion”:http://news.ft.com/cms/s/162f47ce-4713-11da-b8e5-00000e2511c8.html (behind paywall) about solving the incentive problems for anti-flu drugs and similar.

bq. The proposal is to permit governments to acquire medicines freely for stockpiles from generic suppliers, on the condition that if the medicines were used to treat people, the patent owner would receive royalties. This makes it much cheaper to acquire the stockpiles, but also increases the value of the ­patented invention, as long as there is some probability that the emergency use will occur. The price of medicines is related to their expected benefit. But this assumes a nearly 100 per cent probability that someone will actually use them. In the case of stockpiles, on the other hand, there is often a fairly low probability of use. Indeed, the lower the risk of the emergency, the lower the expected benefit of the stockpile. As long as the prices for the medicines are above marginal costs and the ­patent owner insists on a price related to the price of the drug when used, stockpiles will be small. But if governments could freely obtain stockpiles at marginal costs, with only a liability to remunerate the patent owner in the event of use, the incentives to match costs and benefits will be far more efficient.

bq. The amount of royalties to pay in such a system should be generous for higher income countries and much smaller for countries with poor populations. As noted, this works best when the medicine has a parallel commercial market for non-emergency uses. For those drugs that would only have a market in the case of an emergency, such as an anthrax or small pox vaccine, the liability rule could also be used, but in combination with other incentives, such as the medical innovation prize fund approach now being considered in the US, which provides for large cash rewards for developers of new drugs.

I can’t see any very obvious problems with this suggestion – it seems to provide an excellent means of addressing short term crises while solving the problem of long term incentives. Any disagreement?

(slight revisions following comments).