Thursday, December 31, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Sunday, December 06, 2009
- The culture of Old Europe (aka, new European Union...), via Gabi Istrate; I've also promised him I would carefully look at/comment on this: the promise is still there, the time-- not yet... :-).
- I am very curious how big this can/will get. After all, a whole Nobel might be at stake (I confess: I never really liked Gore, on any dimension; I still think he is submediocre or worse; however, I thought/still think that some of the climate guys/gals who won within the IPCC were more than decent...). This is not so much about scepticism (of any kind/degree), but first and foremost about scientific honesty. Seemingly a very rare quality today.
- The current world chess champ was in Romania some days ago, but nobody within the national mass media seems to have noticed. Of course not, they are all busy with one of the most pathetic presidential elections ever; they always manage to keep themselves busy with the least important things.
- Only reinforces one point Easterly (and a minority of others) has been stressing all the time; this is how development should be done: help them to help themselves.
- The underrated Economist: A.C. Pigou.
- "[s]urely the biggest police action we have ever had in Danish history" or one of the rare occasions when I am glad that I am not closer to Copenhagen...
Friday, December 04, 2009
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Here’s an imagined dialogue between the two sides on Randomized Evaluation (RE) based on this book:
FOR: Amazing RE power lets us identify causal effect of project treatment on the treated.
AGAINST: Congrats on finding the effect on a few hundred people under particular circumstances, too bad it doesn’t apply anywhere else.
FOR: No problem, we can replicate RE to make sure effect applies elsewhere.
AGAINST: Like that’s going to happen. Since when is there any academic incentive to replicate already published results? And how do you ever know when you have enough replications of the right kind? You can’t EVER make a generic “X works” statement for any development intervention X. Why don’t you try some theory about why things work?
FOR: We are now moving in the direction of using RE to test theory about why people behave the way they do.
AGAINST: I think we might be converging on that one. But your advertising has not yet got the message, like the JPAL ad on “best buys on the Millennium Development Goals.”
FOR: Well, at least it’s better than your crappy macro regressions that never resolve what causes what, and where even the correlations are suspect because of data mining.
AGAINST: OK, you drew some blood with that one. But you are not so holy on data mining either, because you can pick and choose after the research is finished whatever sub-samples give you results, and there is also publication bias that shows positive results but not zero results.
FOR: OK we admit we shouldn’t do that, and we should enter all REs into a registry including those with no results.
AGAINST: Good luck with that. By the way, even if do you show something “works,” is that enough to get it adopted by politicians and implemented by bureaucrats?
FOR: But voters will want to support politicians who do things that work based on rigorous evidence.
AGAINST: Now you seem naïve about voters as well as politicians. Please be clear: do RE-guided economists know something the local people do not know, or do they have different values on what is good for them? What about tacit knowledge that cannot be tested by RE? Why has RE hardly ever been used for policymaking in developed countries?
FOR: You can take as many potshots as you want, at the end we are producing solid evidence that convinces many people involved in aid.
AGAINST: Well, at least we agree on the on the much larger question of what is not respectable evidence, namely, most of what is currently relied on in development policy discussions. Compared to the evidence-free majority, what unites us is larger than what divides us.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
- The top 100 global thinkers, according to Foreign Policy. With the usual caveats: some should clearly not be there, others are missing (even from the first 5 positions, say...) etc. Highly subjective, but well, a top...
- Terry Tao makes a nice and concise exposition of some of the most beautiful parts at the intersection of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (oh, nostalgia...), including quick reviews of classical and quantum mechanics.
- The way forward for art: private funding with the right incentives for donors/funders. I think this ought to work also for universities, including public European ones... which are notoriously bad at this task, as we all know (with the important caveat that, especially in these European universities, the persons in charge of alumni networks and the like should really be the brains and not the (sub)mediocrities-- which seems to be the default in a lot of such places, even beyond the obvious fact that these are typically people with more /a lot more spare time; perhaps they/we should understand/decide that this is too important a job to leave to those with time to "spare" on it...-- only the brains can attract other brains and...their money).
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
- Sharing information in scientific research: yes/no/when. Interesting, but the analysis here is applicable only in the context of some sciences (arguably, not most). Moreover, sharing by means of co-authorship is discussed at best indirectly (if one is willing to expand on their repeated interaction game thread...). But my major "disagreement" has to do with their upshot: my conjecture is that know-how sharing is, ceteris paribus, over all disciplines, U-shaped in the degree of competition (and, since I also believe that, overall, very high competition dominates very low competition equilibria, you already know what my prior of the ideal is). Remains however an open empirical question for now.
- We are what we ate: Tony Judt's culinary autobiography. Reminds me that (fortunately) I have only got to know top Indian restaurants in London (in general, Londonese Indian cuisine is probably, up to now, my favourite in the world; though surely there is a variance): a lot must have changed.
- David Brooks on "the other education": concise and well written. I usually call this second education "exposure". The vast majority of people I've met hardly had any.
- Cheaptalk on the election process of Econometric Society Fellows. Not extremely surprising or, for that matter, singular within Economics; after all, they almost forgot Hurwicz for the Nobel Prize..., for largely the same reason: most of the people who used to propose and lobby for him died at some point... I think Ely is right: focus on the young people-- at least that would be an attempt to solve the problem for the future... And yes, for potential candidates why wouldn't you just look to the Econometrica editions (Lones Smith's suggestion in the comments)...
- Music critic review: mode d'emploi, by John Adams.
- Philip Greenspun on universities and economic growth; via Razvan, on Ad Astra. First impression: he writes much and he misunderstands a lot; particularly the Economics of it all (no, he is not qualified to understand what is clear and what is controversial in Clark's book, to give but one example). Also, doesn't seem to realize (not sure whether qualifying this as voluntary misrepresentation would be better or worse...) the difference between statistical and anectodal evidence. And, in general, he doesn't seem to have decided whether his target is to make people incensed at or interested in what he has to say. BUT, although he errs nearly everywhere else, I agree that a. much change is needed in the way teaching in most universities is done nowadays (see also the 3rd bullet point here on opinions on the value of college education & all that jazz); b. he has some very decent ideas there (others had/have them too) and c. these changes would not cost too much, with the benefit very likely to outweigh that cost. (Probably) Inadvertently, Greenspun is actually arguing for a "Japanese approach" (which the Japanese apply to both teaching and on-the-job training): give a rather broad ("customer-based", if you want some context) training, be able to/ focus on study/work in teams, always help the new/junior ones etc. etc. There is however a known problem with the (standard) Japanese perspective to (life-long) education that I am not sure Greenspun is aware of... Simply put, you really do not want to give no/wrong incentives at the very top of the ability distribution.
- One of the two prediction markets on the 2009 Romanian Presidential Election is now closed and cashed-out (the other one is also "closed", but waiting for the final results on Dec 6th), as the official First Round results of that election are out. Several participants won (virtual) money (yours truly included), but the congratulations go to Dan, as he is the one who won the most (a fortune!). Which means that he is obviously going to pay for the (very good: e.g. the French on this list?) wine, with the occasion of our next meeting :-).
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
- Acemoglu on how nations can get rich: "Fix incentives and you will fix poverty. And if you wish to fix institutions, you have to fix governments"
- Blogossary. With some definitions completely redundant.
- Carlsen is finally right where he should be. For now in Blitz.
- Diploma mills and degree mills. Romania has plenty, Denmark at least one very famous case (though Wikipedia is too slow for that).
- Caballero on sudden financial arrest. I don't agree with everything: the moral hazard is not merely fuzzy reasoning in the context.
- What's up with all the vampire hype: Tyler Cowen's answers. If you want the perspective of a vampire on why vampires are popular, you can meet me in private.
- Very little time left for you to trade Romanian Potential President stock. You have to act NOW! :-)
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Irving Berlin and Cole Porter were two of the great experimental songwriters of the Golden Era. They aimed to create songs that were clear and universal. Their ability to do this improved throughout much of their careers, as their skill in using language to create simple and poignant images improved with experience, and their greatest achievements came in their 40s and 50s. During the 1960s, Bob Dylan and the team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney created a conceptual revolution in popular music. Their goal was to express their own ideas and emotions in novel ways. Their creativity declined with age, as increasing experience produced habits of thought that destroyed their ability to formulate radical new departures from existing practices, so their most innovative contributions appeared early in their careers.
This is the abstract of David Galenson's new paper on the two creativity patterns in songwriting. Extremely interesting, very convincingly argued, and at the same time a crash course into the musical biographies of Berlin, Porter, Dylan, Lennon and McCartney. See also a previous entry on Galenson's research.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
- One of the reasons I just love reading Landsburg: he is acid and funny. Here's something that hopefully will open a longer exchange between him and Krugman: I really think Steve Landsburg is the proper counterpart to Paul Krugman in any debate (NB: Mankiw is great, but too serious and not engaging--understandably-- enough in the type of debate Krugman seems to love). And I tell you beforehand that I shall bet all my money on Landsburg :-). This for instance should be kept for posterity: "But sometimes I think Paul Krugman is out to top them all, by excelling in two activities that are not just disparate but diametrically opposed: economics (for which he was awarded a well-deserved Nobel Prize) and obliviousness to the lessons of economics (for which he’s been awarded a column at the New York Times)."
- Who should go to college and who should pay for it: with many specialist opinions (via MR). Signalling seems to be dominating as point of view, though I myself think that university also has a genuine positive effect (I agree that matters most for the students in the top of the ability distribution). Else, all might be boiling down in the limit to competition between cats with fraudulent diplomas (via boingboing, via MR).
- Kirman has been writing about these things for quite a while now (with high frequency recently), and almost always on such a revolted tone; these things are happening within Economics, for quite some years now, much of what he mentions is mainstream or closeby (think of social interactions and networks, herding behaviour in finance etc). Plus arguing for discarding these old and well known models (my belief is that most serious economists are very well aware of their limitations for each specific context), just for the sake of discarding them, is madness (who is ideologue here?...). I really don't think this is the way one should argue for different approaches. All my respect for Alan Kirman's scientific work, but with his (especially recent) comments he does seem to go/fall a long way in the direction of non-Economists misinterpreting Econ fundamentals (first bullet point), or, worse, of the several nonsense people writing now and then in The Guardian, e.g. here (6th bullet point) or here.
- The "10 simple rules for scientists" collection at PloS Computational Biology (via MR). Some are redundant, others are great; within the latter category, I think everybody should memorize the "10 simple rules for doing your best research, according to Hamming" (though ok..., rules 5 and 10 are very much location-specific :-)).
- La mémoire refoulée de la Roumanie-- le communisme reste "une abstraction".
- Tim Harford on the "Jamie Oliver Feed Me Beter" experiment in UK schools. Features recent econ research analysing effects of that experiment, by Michele Belot and Jonathan James; you can download a draft version here. The preliminary results suggest that good food has considerable positive effect on educational outcomes. Extrapolating: so stop telling me not to spend my money on Michelin-starred restaurants :-).
- The young Viking is on top of the world right now, according to the unofficial 14 Nov ELO ratings (though I am dissapointed he let Kramnik win the Tal Memorial this year, Carlsen tying for second with Ivanchuk). See also a (happy) Norwegian article on the matter(via Susan Polgar).
- I think "wine critics/commentators" should move-- what they should have done a long time ago-- to identify / classify wine quality ranges, rather than preserve the current practice of grading on a 1 -100 scale. In any case, the last paragraph in this article is the one to retain.
- Less then a week left before the Prediction Markets on the upcoming Romanian Presidentials close: don't waste the opportunity to trade your favourite Presidential stock! :-).
Saturday, November 14, 2009
First, I think this is a very welcome, very open interview (several questions/comments are just great, congrats to the interviewers!) and it is extremely interesting to see the opinion of this great mathematician (inter alia, Fields Medalist in 1982) on a wide range of topics. The pros: I completely agree with Connes's view on the distinct (ir)relevance of String Theory for Mathematics and respectively, Physics. I also like his (humorous) detachment from being considered the guru of NCG (of which unfortunately I know currently epsilon, albeit once I was almost sure this is what I wanted to do...) and from the tendency of always looking for / looking up to the one mastermind, in general, in any (sub)discipline. So no more on those, read for yourselves in the transcript of the interview. What I don't quite agree with is summarized below:
- resources (money) in research are not important (Connes's context has to do with the large interest/funding in Bio-Mathematics; he actually says "nothing", which I take as far stronger than "not important":-)): to the extent that it shapes incentives, I think it is actually very important. Intrinsic motivation is (the most) relevant, but it is not everything. The marginal (very able-- let us simplify) scientist can be moved into one direction or another by means of designing proper (or improper; but then again, who is to decide what is proper/improper in the context: I think we ought to take the view that lots of money is being thrown in one direction, because there is a lot of interest in that particular direction) extrinsic rewards. That being said, I personally (also) think there are a lot more interesting things in/to Maths than Biomaths :-).
- the European academic system is better than the US one. Hmmm, this is an endless debate and, as always, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Inter alia, it goes back to whether you need/want tenure or not in the academe (see for instance such a debate I've earlier linked to, especially within Economics) and to what goals you expect researchers to meet. And this also goes beyond one or another discipline, although it is perhaps interesting to discuss it indeed in the light of fundamental Mathematics, given its very abstract nature. Now, Connes believes that a system such as the French CNRS (which possibly is in the process of changing since 2005, when this interview took place) is perfect for mathematicians working on extremely complicated issues, that take years and years and years, since they are insulated from being subjected to those "n publications" requirement per year and in general from the eternal harassment of frequently showing how you compare to your peers, something specific to the top US institutions (Connes dismisses that the US places are ultimately inherently better in producing top scientists, because they get all the top European people-- not (entirely) true and to a great extent working eventually against his thesis, e.g. need to justify preferences of those very high European achievers for the US places, but let us not get also into that). The potential problem (sacrifice), as acknowledged by Connes, is the cost of such a practice, given that a lot of people might end up not producing anything and that the vast majority of them will be very far from getting Fields Medals or similar recognition among their peers... I say that the main problem is who bears that cost, namely the taxpayers here; and the public (not all of them having the same goals as Connes or as the specific, minority, group of the scientists, in general) is justified in knowing and assessing (whenever it so pleases) where its money is going and what precisely it pays for (if the funding is private, all this discussion has a completely different flavour-- remark that the US top academic places are privately funded, while all European examples Connes mentiones are public institutions; in my view, this again tips the balance towards the US academia). Related, but extremely surprising, Connes seems to be nostalgic after the Soviet Union academic system, but I think he deeply confuses things-- anyway, let us just say for the sake of this brief post that, fortunately, France was never quite like the Soviet Union, despite its tendency to lean extreme left, particularly within its academe... As for the claim that the Soviets would have been far ahead US and everybody else, if their system remained in place, I guess we'll never know (though I have opposite priors). And I think it is better we don't... So I am rather dissapointed that one of my idols in Mathematics has/had (this was '05) such, hmm: uninformed, views. But then again, I've always thought Economics (Not Politics. Politics is just a surface, not relevant in the long run, ultimately all boils down to Economics-- really!) is far less intuitive than Mathematics or Theoretical Physics :-).
I am sure one can go on and on, but I trust the main ideas are all outlined above (read also between the lines).
Friday, November 13, 2009
So the loud cough, most likely completely unconscious, is a way of saying “I can’t handle this, folks. You all may be crowding round Mahler’s deathbed for one final intimate confession. You may be letting Debussy whisper opium secrets into your ear. Perhaps you like being ravished by Takemitsu’s lush penumbras. BUT I AM OUTTA HERE!"
Excellent!-- I don't think anyone could have written this better than Adams.
PS. Unfortunately, I think there are even more types of concerto coughers. For instance the person who just cannot stop coughing-- desperately wants to, but simply cannot-- somebody who should have stayed at home, or even better, in a hospital. Provided s/he does not die before, s/he is usually gone after the break...
Thursday, November 12, 2009
- On the poetic prehistory of development economics: a very interesting post by Adam Martin on Easterly's Aid Watchers blog.
- They cannot be blamed for defending/arguing what's in their best interest (click on the British flag in the upper right corner to get to the article in English, if you do not see it immediately through the link above); however, in my opinion, their general case is overstated: most of the translation services as hitherto understood are redundant. There is still a case (and a premium) for translation services from/to Arabic, Mandarin, Japanese & the like, but certainly not for European to European languages, and certainly not in countries from Scandinavia or Benelux...
- Top 100 best films of the decade (?). To be honest, I have seen to date only one film from their top 10. But I did see quite a few from the range 10-20 and, if this hierarchy makes any sense, I ought to definitely see anything that beats the movies at positions 16, 20 or 21, which are all in my very own all-time top 26. Quite impressive is also that Romanian director Cristi Mungiu's film "4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile" is number 14 in this ranking (this movie is in my priority to-see list). See also my earlier entry on The December Children.
- Did you forget about the Romanian '09 Presidential Election Prediction Markets?! Participate: it's fun!
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Grazie, Elena-- it is indeed high time I was reminded of Tenco's superb voice and style.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
- "Famous economists" easy quiz. In fact too easy, as presented, because you can see the questions before you start the clock. So, in order to seriously test yourselves, just start the clock and then read the questions (you have 3 minutes in total). Took me 1 min and 14 seconds to answer all questions correctly, because I needed three trials for one of them-- yes, yes, I admit I have not read at all that book :-). Cowen claims it took him only 49 seconds. By the way, in case you didn't know of it, here's a great resource on the history of economic thought.
- The Levitt vs. Heckman leitmotive (actually the rest of that Univ of Chicago Magazine article is more interesting; in general, I think people put too many resources into this sort of personalized academic fights). Earlier on the same topic (3rd bullet point). See also an essay on the economics-made-for-fun genre, kind of vague / unfocused, but some parts are well worth your time (such as the beginning summary of the books in this econ-made-for-fun area)
- The three (only?!) habits of highly irritating management gurus: very well written, welcome article from the Economist. We love it!
- A nice recap post of Terry Tao on the "no self-defeating object" argument in mathematical proofs.
- Kahn has an interesting argument, but I find him overly pessimistic. I also think Cowen is somewhat out of touch with what is really going on with academic Economics. Very briefly, here's what I think: nothing is amiss with the current direction of research in Economics (as long as these ideas/ forecasts do not turn into self-fulfilling prophecies...)
- Best US cities for classical music, in '09. Worldwide, I would place London, Amsterdam and Vienna somewhere in top 5. Not sure about Tokyo yet, since I was for too little there (and still have to put my impressions on paper... well, blog).
- Pure selection of 100% go-getters, if you ask me.
- Don't forget about the Prediction Markets on the Romanian 2009 Presidential Elections-- some seem to be making already (fictitious) fortunes there! :-)
Friday, November 06, 2009
PS. The hilarious thing is that some would like to add even more journals that nobody reads/cites to these two categories.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Sign up and trade!
PS1. Hope I didn't make any mistakes; I put these up in less than 5 minutes :-).
PS2. Although you might really not share this opinion, I 'conjecture' that, if the outcome is not clear in the first election round, the future President will eventually be the first round's runner-up. Wanna trade against that? See above :-).
Monday, November 02, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
- EMH: it really ain't dead. (via Mankiw)
- the NAJ Ain't a Journal of Economics. I can't understand why I find about it only now, this looks extremely interesting (via cheaptalk).
- Landsburg is blogging. And he's got a couple of great posts already. Here's one of them, on Dawkins, and the origins of complexity.
- Cancer progress might be completely different than known so far.
- Polygamy preferred from any angle. Reminds me of Becker's arguments a while ago (2nd bullet point)-- by the way, they now made a book of the Becker-Posner blogposts.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Continue reading this brief masterpiece by Bill Easterly.
I recently helped one of my single male graduate students in his search for a spouse.
First, I suggested he conduct a randomized controlled trial of potential mates to identify the one with the best benefit/cost ratio. Unfortunately, all the women randomly selected for the study refused assignment to either the treatment or control groups, using language that does not usually enter academic discourse.
With the “gold standard” methods unavailable, I next recommended an econometric regression approach. He looked for data on a large sample of married women on various inputs (intelligence, beauty, education, family background, did they take a bath every day), as well as on output: marital happiness. Then he ran an econometric regression of output on inputs. Finally, he gathered data on available single women on all the characteristics in the econometric study. He made an out-of-sample prediction of predicted marital happiness. He visited the lucky woman who had the best predicted value in the entire singles sample, explained to her how he calculated her nuptial fitness, and suggested they get married. She called the police.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
- An interesting debate in the latest issue of Capitalism and Society on the current status of Economics and other Social Sciences, worth reading especially for the two comments to the leading article on the theme. Unfortunately, Jon Elster, in his "Excessive Ambitions", otherwise a welcome (and relatively informed) outsider's critique, does not manage to rise up to his declared ambitions of debunking the status quo / portraying "the persistence in the economic profession and elsewhere of these useless or harmful models", and eventually falls easy prey to his commenters: Pierre-André Chiappori (who, very elegantly, but unmistakenly, tackles most of the points raised by Elster in his criticism of economic theory and testing its predictions) and respectively, David Hendry (who virtually destroys Elster's line of reasoning and conclusions on empirical modelling in Economics). To add up to that, beyond the many (surprising!) fallacies that Elster commits in his scientific criticism (not even half of them acknowledged, e.g. his sole reliance on third-party sources in the discussion of the criticism to the empirics is somewhat revealed, however the very selected sample of those sources --strategy common also to his earlier sections-- does not seem at all problematic to the author), what strikes me throughout his text is his often bringing up the lack of "humility" of economists (e.g., "The competence of economists may not be in question, but their humility is"), although in reading his piece I was rather intrigued by Elster's own absence of humility whatsoever in his strongly opinionated, though insufficiently argued, assessment... I was really hoping for something more serious.
- Solving the public-goods free rider problem using neuronal measures of economic value. Looks super interesting!
- "[D]oes conspicuous consumption fall and efficiency increase in a society in which income is conspicuous?" or some of the potentially positive implications (research-wise only...) of Norway's recent crazy move to make public all tax records of its (tax-paying) residents...
- Even Robert Parker can make a total mess of himself when it comes to wine blind tasting (via cheaptalk). And a short review of a new wine book by somebody who really doesn't like Parker (thanks to Fred for the link).
- "Wellicht komt er ooit een nieuw paradigma dat voor de economische wetenschap net zo revolutionair zal zijn als kwantummechanica is geweest voor de natuurkunde. Tot die tijd is het beter om te blijven schipperen met de kapstokken die we hebben in plaats van alles jassen op één grote hoop te gooien." door Wouter den Haan, op MeJudice
- Norman Manea on Herta Muller's Literature Nobel. Though ultimately there isn't much in there about her Nobel..., which might actually be the whole idea of that post.
- Brinkmann, Ehrman and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Very interesting, all news to me.
- Is shouting the new spanking? Hopefully not.
- I generally agree, though, for instance, Econophysicists seem to have a hard time both on the Economics and on the Physics academic/ publishing market. Not that I wonder much why that is the case, but others may...
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
- Eric Maskin on the financial crisis (Mankiw, Cheaptalk and MR link to this interview, among others). Maskin is one of the smartest persons alive, so this is mandatory-- a must read in particular for those who'd like to crucify all economic theorists :-). I would also link however to a very interesting blogpost by Harald Uhlig, on VoxEU (a summary of his recent NBER working paper): he really extends the Diamond and Dybvig (1983) bank run model that Maskin starts with, such that it incorporates the stylized facts specific to the current financial crisis. Uhlig also makes very clear that this is just one way to view things and in fact that insolvency rather than illiquidity might have been the main culprit: "It is possible that the appropriate perspective is one of insolvency rather than illiquidity, and future research will hopefully sort this out."
- Of course Oliver Hart should have won this year's Nobel as well (and Bengt Holmstrom). I cannot but agree with Aghion here, as I made clear in my prediction for the Econ Nobel within the last 3 years... Returning to Elinor Ostrom, there are by now many reactions. Most of them seem to be as confused /skeptical as I was after the release of the results, e.g. Ely, Baliga, Levitt (I disagree with Levitt's "suspicion" that most young economists also did not hear about Williamson), to some extent even Cowen ("I was delighted to hear of Ostrom winning (which I had not expected) but frankly it makes the omission of Gordon Tullock all the more glaring" ) or Krugman ("I wasn’t familiar with Ostrom’s work"); nevertheless Economists who work /worked in public choice and related (the tragedy of the commons, in particular) seem delighted with the choice, e.g. Spence, Glaeser, Romer, Smith, Tabarrok, Gächter (the latter cited in this Science short article on the Econ Nobels). The conclusion of all this (once again) is that I really have to read Ostrom's main works sometime in the near future (meanwhile I also found out that apparently she's got at least one article in a mainstream Economics journal)-- and to accept that yes, to a great extent, we are all very ignorant.
- Bucharest in 1961 . Plus photos from all UNESCO World Heritage sites in Romania (both via RomAlien)
- An analysis of journal submission strategies. I didn't have the time to follow in detail their analysis, but the conclusion is sensible:
"The journal submission process is a controversial and stressful part of academia. There are many dimensions of uncertainty, and bad decisions could greatly delay publication of important results and harm one's career. This paper provides new evidence that, on the whole, the advice supplied to young faculty members by veterans of academia is correct. Authors largely have an incentive to submit first to the best journals and then subsequently, wortk their way down a schedule of journals. The exceptions to this simple rule occur when authors are particularly impatient or risk-averse.
We also note, however, that the efficiency of the system may be improved by a system in which journals reduce time lags, perhaps through incentive-based rewards for faster reviewing by referees, and increase submission fees. This system reduces the impact of time-lags on impatient or risk averse authors and more efficiently rations submissions to journals- higher reward journals will get more submissions of high-quality papers and fewer submissions of low-quality papers. This also streamlines the publication process, shortening the time during which important results are sitting on a desk, waiting for publication. "
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
From tomorrow till Sunday I'll be attending the Conference on "Structural Models of the Labor Market and Policy Analysis" at Sandbjerg, inter alia meeting once again several friends/ co-authors/ mentors. Ex ante, the program looks great, notwithstanding my non-presenter role this time (unlike the analogous conference last November, in London). Here's more on the Sandbjerg Manor, a close-to-ideal conference location (some say this place is "too dark"... well, duh... we are in Denmark; moreover, I am from Transylvania: darkness is good for my kind).
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
3. "You lie to two people in your life; your partner and the police. Everyone else gets the truth."
Hmm... he might still turn into an Economist :-).
Monday, October 05, 2009
- The Nobel Ig prizes this year. My favourite is the Literature one: "Ireland's police service for writing and presenting more than fifty traffic tickets to the most frequent driving offender in the country — Prawo Jazdy — whose name in Polish means 'Driving License'". Almost as good as the Nigerian Literature Ig winners a while ago. At the same time, the Economics Ig for '09 is somewhat forced; the whole Icelandic population should have gotten it: as we know, they were all into banking until rather recently.
- Christopher Caldwell in the Financial Times with the best piece on the Polanski saga as yet. Everybody else is awfully subjective.
- Guardian's list of where to find the best foods in the world. Room for disagreement, but still worth checking out. Unfortunately, I have recently missed the Barcelona and Tokyo places from the list... Plus a nice exposition of the contemporary American cuisine's highs.
- Somebody stop the Viking... ! More. He drew Leko and (again) Topalov in the latest two games, but he is still two points ahead. Let's hope this partnership with Kasparov (5th bullet point) works out and Carlsen stops losing the end games after dominating for most part all recent major tournaments...
- Goolsbee might indeed be the funniest economist alive, via Greg Mankiw. Of course, this was not unexpected: he'd already excelled on the (in)famous Colbert Report.
- Writing from Schiphol, after almost 11 hours return flight from Tokyo. Detailed impressions in due time. Now boarding again.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
- Architecture-wise, the Old Town is a combination of Brasov+ Cluj + Sighisoara centres (Transylvanian cities), including a mirror image of the Taylor's Bastion from Cluj (despite my guide's insistence that Tallinn is the only city with a Bastion in its very centre). Much better preserved, though. In a nutshell, a most modern medieval town. Plus a seaside. Lovely, lovely (we wouldn't want it off the UNESCO World Heritage list, oh no)!
- Free wireless everywhere in the city. No kidding. I think it was in a single spot in the Old Town where my Ipod could not trace any free network. Admirable!
- Power to the youth: Estonian newspapers are being sold by kids; the Government minister who addressed the EALE '09 audience was in his early thirties (possibly reason why he apologised a zillion times for having to leave as soon as done with his talk...); a/the Central Bank governor (gave the shortest and smartest address I have ever heard from EALE organizers/hosts/sponsors... ) was in his early forties etc. Something other countries in Eastern Europe should learn from?...
- Egoist was absolutely fantastic. And, well... egoistic... from all points of view (ex post non-egoistic complaints/regrets/remorses from real Swedes and Taiwanese were obviously ignored :-)...). Anyhow, the Foie Gras Escoffier was the second best I ever had, while the Estonian Elk Noisette paired with a 2006 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-de-Pape (which some believe to outrank even the legendary 2005 version!) was sheer perfection. A total bargain at that price!
- And, of course, once more congrats to Juanna for winning this year's YLE EALE prize. Wishing at the same time that she stayed a pure "egoist". Potential others seem to complain all the time :-).
PS. And yeah..., there've been already two weeks since I am back: had to fight off a stubborn Estonian flu acquired under the most unclear circumstances.
Monday, September 21, 2009
- A summary of the debate "What's wrong with macroeconomics?" The debate goes on.
- Terry Tao's presentation of Perelman's solution to Poincaré's conjecture. There are chances you still won't understand much, but this is way better than attempting to directly digest Perelman's original articles :-).
- Here's Paul Graham's rule of thumb for recognizing (publishing) winners and losers: "When you see something that's taking advantage of new technology to give people something they want that they couldn't have before, you're probably looking at a winner. And when you see something that's merely reacting to new technology in an attempt to preserve some existing source of revenue, you're probably looking at a loser" . He's also got an entertaining piece on the cheeseburger of essay forms.
- "So long as you use a knife there's some love left" or a(nother) glimpse at Norman Mailer's life & oeuvre. Controversy might be his nickname, but Mailer is one embarassing omission of the Literature Nobel Prize Commitee.
- "The paradox is this: it's best to engage with your opponents' strongest arguments--but your view of what their strongest arguments are is not necessarily their view." This quote (valuable on its own) is from a must-read post of Gelman on (strategic) citation practices.
Monday, September 07, 2009
WHEN you leave Szamos Ujvár, the road passes straight over a plain, with little or nothing to relieve the monotony. A Hungarian village or two, a nobleman's mansion with the surrounding farm-buildings,-that is all, until the tall spire and the various towers of Klausenburg rise before you. The town takes you by surprise, entering it from the north; the main street is broad, with many stately buildings in it, and the square with the Catholic church in the centre, seems to belong to a larger town than Klausenburg really is. Though it has but 25,000 inhabitants, which is less than the population of Kronstadt, its general appearance makes it seem the more considerable town of the two. The capital of the Barzenland is neat and compact, the houses are none of them high; and owing to its position among the hills, which gives it such enviable beauty, there is no possibility of broad streets and an open square in the centre of the town, as is the case in Klausenburg. Here there is plenty of room and to spare, and it would seem as if the Saxon founders-liking spacious dwellings, and needing them probably for their families and servants--had determined to make use of it.
All the old buildings are essentially German in their architecture and arrangements. The ironwork before the windows, the balconies, railings, the spouts for the water running from the gutters of the roof,-each bears its own unmistakable impress; the hand and skill of the German handicraftsman is everywhere to be recognized. Those first settlers were evidently well to do in the world,-comfortable citizens, who, if they did not care for luxury, valued at its full a good substantial dwelling, giving evidence that its possessor was also a man of substance.