Gateway

by John Holbo on September 3, 2013

Frederik Pohl, RIP. A nice write-up from Annalee Newitz, at i09. [UPDATE: Henry’s memorial post went up while I was writing this one!]

A personal story. I read my first Pohl book, Gateway [amazon], in 1978. I was 11. Wikipedia will spoil the plot for you, if you’re into that sort of stuff. [click to continue…]

Frederik Pohl Has Died

by Henry on September 3, 2013

Via “Kevin Drum”:http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/09/fred-pohl-dies-93 who has a good appreciation. Like Coase, he was intellectually active (and “blogging”:http://www.thewaythefutureblogs.com/) up to his death at the age of 93. As everyone says, _The Space Merchants_ is just wonderful – politically lively (I believe Pohl was a Trotskyist at the time), and very, very funny. _Gladiator-At-Law_, his other collaboration with Kornbluth, gets less attention, but is also excellent. Many of his short stories are also very fine, and have much to say about economics and politics – “The Midas Plague,” for example, is a lovely illustration of themes explored in more rarified prose by both Veblen and J.K. Galbraith. His satire of advertising and politics, “The Tunnel Under the World,” which is its own thing, but also foreshadows Dick’s generalized paranoia, is “available for free online”:http://www.gutenberg.org/files/31979/31979-h/31979-h.htm. If you haven’t read it, you should.

Ronald Coase has died

by Henry on September 3, 2013

Via “Tyler Cowen”:http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2013/09/ronald-coase-has-passed-away.html. I met him briefly once, at the third meeting of the International Society for the New Institutional Economics, where he gave the “keynote address”:http://www.coase.org/coasespeech.htm. His address was followed by the usual kind of discussion, in which various prominent institutional economists asked self-serving ‘questions’ that were obviously crafted to magnify their role, or further their own specific agenda. Coase, who was then in his late eighties, did a wonderful job of deflating them in a fashion that combined acerbity and politeness. His contribution to economics is sometimes misunderstood. He repeatedly “deplored”:http://coase.org/coaseinterview.htm the way in which the Coase ‘theorem’ had been taken up in the literature – economists had focused on the model in which bargaining would resolve social problems perfectly well in a world without transaction costs, while ignoring his actual point (that such a frictionless environment did not, and never would exist). Obviously, his politics weren’t my politics, nor the politics of anyone else here at Crooked Timber – he’s still worth reading. That he remained so intellectually active – into his 11th decade! – is extraordinary.