I only am escaped to tell thee …

by Henry on February 8, 2007

From the acknowledgements page of Christopher Howard’s _The Hidden Welfare State: Tax Expenditures and Social Policy in the United States_ (“Powells”:http://www.powells.com/s?kw=christopher%20howard%20hidden%20welfare%20state&PID=29956 has cheap hardbacks).

No one in his right mind would choose to study and write about tax expenditures (better known as tax loopholes) knowing in advance that it entailed a ten year commitment. Investigating the ins and outs of the byzantine U.S. tax code is simply not its own reward, which is why many people pay lawyers and accountants good money to do it for them. If someone were going to study tax expenditures for longer than a day or two, he or she would need to come upon the topic by accident. Over time, that someone might develop a curious affection for tax expenditures, much as one does for a stray dog or cat that keeps hanging around the house. Even then, one would have to remind oneself constantly that studying tax expenditures was not the ultimate goal, but a means of saying something interesting about a larger issue, like U.S. social policy. At least that has been my experience.

Jumping the Shark

by Henry on February 8, 2007

I just took a cab to work, trying in vain to get to an interesting talk before it started, and got stuck in traffic. While stranded in a traffic jam somewhere around Connecticut and L I was somewhat bemused to see a whopping big advertisement on the back of the bus in front of me for The Hill‘s Pundit Blog. I tried to get a photo with my phone, but screwed it up. It made me feel pretty weird; it’s a very different blogosphere to the one that I started off in (I suspect the disconnect for the real old-timers is even bigger).

Is it … atomic? Very atomic, sir.

by John Holbo on February 8, 2007

My archiving post got good results. If you want to cite a webpage (in an academic paper, say) and you want to do your best to ensure that the URL you provide will live – even if the page you link goes away – best practices would seem to be: submit the page to WebCite. It’s easy! I tried it. Also, if the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive knows about your page, that’s probably good enough as well. It’s interesting: neither of these archives really has extensive search capabilities. You wouldn’t use them to find something. But stuff is kept there. By contrast, google is for finding, but not for keeping.

Also, it turns out the Internet Archive has a great vintage trailer for one of my all time favorite films: The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T!

Models of Bloggers

by Kieran Healy on February 8, 2007

“Henry”:https://crookedtimber.org/2007/02/07/ip-law-and-bird-flu/ remarks that “my mental model of Tyler [Cowen] often sit[s] on my shoulder while I blog, making polite and well reasoned libertarian criticisms of my arguments.” This follows on from Tyler’s “own advice”:http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2006/09/the_phantom_me.html to his grad students:

bq. You have a model of me, a pretty good one, and you know what I will object to and what will delight me. The Phantom Tyler Cowen objects, in your head, before the real Tyler Cowen has much of a chance. That is why the real Tyler Cowen is sometimes so silent.

_My_ mental model of Tyler Cowen says, “This sounds like a rationalization to me.” Meanwhile, “Brad DeLong asks”:http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2007/02/is_henry_farrel.html,

bq. Is Henry Farrell especially sane or especially insane?

for having a model of Tyler sitting on his shoulder making comments. My mental model of Brad DeLong says to my mental model of Tyler Cowen, “Why oh why are we ruled by this idiot?” My mental model of Eugene Volokh says, “This is much worth reading.” But my mental model of Orin Kerr replies, “My sense is that this is much ado about nothing.” My mental model of Bitch, Ph.D begins to object that she is not a brain on a stick before realizing that, being a mental model, in fact she is. Uniquely, my mental model of Dan Drezner has his own mental model of himself, which he refers to as “Ed.” Finally, my model of Cosma Shalizi has the unusual property of being smarter than I am. This ought to be impossible, but of course _I_ can’t understand its explanation of how this could be the case.