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Can you imagine Pakistan as…?

Just listen to this and while you do, knowing this was recorded in a studio in Pakistan, by Pakistani’s try to jive that with “they hate us because…” and all that comment suggests.    Dave Brubeck’s Take Five

Here is the video about the orchestra. They actually work with Abbey Road Studio. 1500 concerts, 17 albums from the Pakistan studio.  They talk about the great jazz artist traveling the world “to physically promote American culture”.  

Being that jazz, the true American art form,  is part of their culture, are we not bombing a part of our self?  Is such a performance not a testament to the benefit of cultural exchange via the arts to ours and the worlds economy?   Now, think of Bush and Cheney and try to jive the image with this performance.  Even jazz couldn’t do it.

I put this one in my favorites folder at youtube.  Hat tip on this performance to Real Economics.

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A Dramatic Reading of My Novel

Most of time when I write something, I sign it. A piece in the first Great American Baseball Stat Book. The first three editions of a book called Interest Rate Trends and Comparisons put out by the bank at which I worked in the late 1980s.* Review pieces in various publications. A piece in Institutional Investor last year on the opportunities for clean water and sewage investment in Emerging Market countries. Blog posts, such as this one.

There are two exceptions to this. I reviewed for several years for Publishers Weekly, back in the days when they paid better and protected anonymity by fiat. So while I claim to have been the first person to use “fuck” or “cunnilingus” in a PW review, I can’t be certain that’s so—and, more relevantly, no one else can be certain it was me.

The other is a collaborative novel entitled Atlanta Nights, whose sole author credit is Travis Tea. You may have heard of it. While I did write one chapter of it (Chapter 16; by the way, I did not play midfield for Hull in the 1960s, no matter how Wikipedia links), you’ll find no attribution of that in the book itself. (Nor did any of the other authors take credit; it was a charity work. How the Google book deal will handle such work is left as an exercise.)

I like the book, and am very happy to have had a small part in its development. But I certainly didn’t expect that someone (“manwithoutabody”) would do a Dramatic Reading of, apparently, the entire book, and post same on YouTube.

My wife’s chapter is below, for your enjoyment. Or, possibly, use in the next Eschaton/Sadly No video battle.

cross-posted from skippy, the bush kangaroo

*I believe I may be listed as “Research Associate” in the 1986 edition.

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What Dubner and Levitt couldn’t do in four years…

Brad DeLong does in less than a weekend. He is as enchanted as Robert was*:

My personal favorite is a giant parasol 18,000 miles in diameter at L1 to absorb and then reradiate a chunk of sunlight in other bands.

but notes the reality as well:

But I have never been able to find anyone here at Berkeley who (a) knows what they are talking about, and (b) agrees with Levitt and Dubner that we know that Al Gore efficiency-and-conservation solutions are much less cost-effective than Mt. Pinatubo geoengineering solutions in dealing with global warming.

And summarizes accurately:

[Dubner and Levitt] then failed to do their intellectual due diligence about what they were told [at Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures].

Followed by twenty (20) edits for the first half of the chapter.

First, the climate scientists called b*llsh*t. Now, the economists are coming out—and the song remains the same.

It’s becoming more and more obvious why the first book described John Lott as “an economist” and Paul Krugman as a “Bush critic and NYT columnist.”

*Didn’t everyone already read a simpler version of idea in Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradise. And wasn’t that enough of a cautionary tale on how complicated the reality is likely to be?

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PSA: D-Squared Rivals Quiggin

I recently mentioned D-Squared’s four-part review (evisceration?) of Freakonomics.

I had forgotten he wasn’t finished.

Part Five is now posted. And the conceit of the pieces—”that there is something terribly, horribly wrong with the state of modern economics”—that dates back to 2003(!) is all the more validated.

John Quiggin should include all five parts as an Appendix to his forthcoming Zombie Economics book. Just sayin’.

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Norman Borlaug, Michael Jackson, and the Invisible Hand

by cactus

Norman Borlaug, Michael Jackson, and the Invisible Hand

When Adam Smith described the concept of laissez-faire capitalism, he argued that it was not just efficient but moral. As long as everyone acted in their own self-interest and the government did not interfere, the Invisible Hand would guide market forces toward the best possible outcome for society. Its generally accepted that this doesn’t always work in the presence of externalities; someone (i.e., government) has to be there to ensure that people don’t exercise their right to swing their fist beyond the start of other people’s noses.

But there is another problem which seems to be less highly recognized, namely that the whole concept of the Invisible Hand itself is bull$#^&. As an example, I’m writing this a few minutes after reading about the death of Norman Borlaug. He was a Nobel Laureate who developed disease-resistant and fast growing crops. Depending on who you ask, his work saved the lives of somewhere between a quarter of a billion and a billion people. So far. If we don’t all die in some sort of cataclysm in the next fifteen minutes, that number will only grow.

Now consider another person recently deceased – Michael Jackson. I believe Jackson was finally buried some time last week. Aside from being known the world over, Jackson was very wealthy, despite his clear incompetence with money. He probably made at least one dollar for every life saved by Norman Borlaug, so far. Norman Borlaug, on the other hand, to the best of my knowledge, did not. Furthermore, this discrepancy in income is very, very, very hard to attribute to government interference.

Which means, there are two possible alternatives:

1. Michael Jackson did more positive things for the world than Norman Borlaug.
2. Michael Jackson did less positive things for the world than Norman Borlaug.

There is no third option. None. Now, I think very, very few people, even die-hard Michael Jackson fans, when presented with numbers like “a quarter of a billion lives saved so far” would agree with option 1. Which leaves option 2. And if option 2, then the Invisible Hand is bull$#^&. Which means capitalism doesn’t work or is immoral. That does not imply any other philosophical system would work better, mind you, but trusting the market to do its thing provides perverse results.
by cactus

UPDATE by Ken:

I mentioned this in comments, but I think it’s worth embedding here, too, as context for Norman Borlaug:

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