Archive for November, 2006

Embrace the public domain

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

Peter Saint-André published his promised essay Who’s Afraid of the Public Domain?. It’s fairly short and covers a fair amount of ground. I highly recommend it. Two of my favorite paragraphs:

Yet the public domain is nothing to fear. The works of Homer, Sophocles, Confucius, Plato, Aristotle, Dante, Shakespeare, Galileo, Newton, Bach, Beethoven, and other creative giants are all in the public domain. Their works are revered, not reviled. Sure, the fact that the Fifth Symphony is in the public domain enabled Chuck Berry to write “Roll Over Beethoven”; but far from defiling Beethoven’s good name, Berry’s song indicates the level of respect that we still have for Beethoven’s works. I bet you’d love it for your works to be similarly known and respected two hundred years from now (what creative individual wouldn’t?).

Because of that corporate influence over the copyright laws (at least in America), you face a choice: accept that your works will never pass into the public domain, or willingly place them there. You can place your works into the public domain immediately (as I have done) or specify in your will that your works shall pass into the public domain upon your death. I find it simpler to place my works in the public domain as soon as I publish them, but only you can decide the best course of action for your own works.

I would add that if you don’t make an effort to free your works, they will disappear, and your creative legacy with them.

One item of fear, uncertainty and doubt spread about the public domain (that would have been out of scope for Saint-André’s essay to address) is that it may not be possible legally to affirmatively place a work into the public domain (see Wikipedia:Granting work into the public domain for some discussion), especially outside the U.S. jurisdiction.

I believe wikipedians attempt to work around this with statements like the one currently in Template:Userpd (emphasis added):

I, the author, hereby agree to waive all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in all content contributed by me, the user, and immediately place any and all contributions by me into the public domain; I grant anyone the right to use my work for any purpose, without any conditions, to be changed or destroyed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to the creator.

Or one of many specialized “public domain or release all rights legally possible” templates like this one:

This image really is in the Public domain as its author has released it into the public domain. If this is not possible, the author grants anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.

I have no idea what a court would make of these, but presumably someone has or will inform the Wikipedia community if they are bogus.

If you aren’t ready to fully embrace the public domain, Creative Commons offers several gradations of partial measures (as well as a form to help you dedicate work to the public domain).

Check out all of Saint-André’s posts about the public domain and digg his essay.

Iraq withdrawal and civilian casualties

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

I don’t follow Iraq closely, but recent headlines seem to indicate a turn for the worse and that withdrawal of U.S. troops is now on the table.

It should not have been difficult to predict that invasion would turn out badly, but politicians make the same mistakes (less charitably–tell the same lies) repeatedly, in particular when it comes to war (one reason why).

Among all the tragedies of the Iraq war, a small one is that there was no set of conditional prediction markets to consensus check (an analogue of “fact check”?) likely outcomes. An arbitrary expert can always be countered with another arbitrary expert. The nice thing about prediction markets here is that they converge to a single consensus probability (or set of interlinked probabilities for a set of claims) given the possibility of arbitrage. Faced with a market that says what a politician wants to do will probably have ill effects, the politician can ignore the consensus, but can’t counter it will an equivalent, as can be done with any expert.

So should the U.S. withdraw its military from Iraq? Unfortunately I do not know of a conditional market set up to guess the impact. Iraq-related markets I found:

Unfortunately all of these are play money markets and all only concern U.S. troops. What about Iraqi civil war or economic performance? Fortunately we can use one of these markets as an input for a conditional market that attempts to guess the impact of withdrawal on Iraq. I used the second, as it maps directly to a probability, unlike the first, and is not deemed to be an incredibly long shot, unlike the third.

The Iraqi Body Count currently says a lower bound of 47,781 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the invasion. I assume if that lower bound moves to 100,000 or greater by the end of 2007, a civil war has occurred or is in progress.

So I set up Iraq withdrawal and civilian casualties on Inkling, with four stocks:

  • USLEAV07 true AND >= 100k IBC EOY 2007
  • USLEAV07 true AND < 100k IBC EOY 2007
  • USLEAV07 false AND >= 100k IBC EOY 2007
  • USLEAV07 false AND < 100k IBC EOY 2007

I set the intial price of the first two at 12 each and the second two at 38 each, reflecting the 24 percent chance of substantial troop reduction given by Newsfutures traders and a 50/50 chance of civil war (I don’t know of a probability source for the latter). In theory prices should move to whatever traders think the probabilities actually are regardless of their initial settings.

There are two major problems with this experiment. First, a spike in violence may make troop reductions more (or less) likely, which makes it harder to divine the impact of troop reductions on violence.

Second, Inkling markets are sometimes at great variance with others or common sense, e.g., Hilary Clinton is given a 28 pecent chance of winning the 2008 Democratic nomination, others have her around 50 percent.

I surmise that there is something wrong with Inkling. That something could be just that it has no users. I set up this experiment on Inkling because it was trivial to do so, but I’d really like to see Tradesports/Intrade set up real money contracts along these lines.

Update: The first problem can be removed by ignoring deaths through April 2007. I will create a new market reflecting this…

Iraq withdrawal and civilian casualties (improved) is running with the following stocks:

  • USLEAV07 true AND IBC >= 40k May-Dec07
  • USLEAV07 true AND IBC < 40k May-Dec07
  • USLEAV07 false AND IBC >= 40k May-Dec07
  • USLEAV07 false AND IBC < 40k May-Dec07

Update 20061127: The improved market is now actually running, was previously held for admin approval.

Update 20061211: Followup posted at Midas Oracle.

Schoeck’s Envy

Friday, November 24th, 2006

What better way to celebrate than to ponder ? ‘s Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior (1969, German original 1966) makes the case that envy and envy avoidance are important determinants of human social behavior and that envy is greater when similarity is greater.

The envy Schoeck writes of is destructive. If I am jealous, I want to take what the other has. If I am envious, I want to destroy what the other has — the envied should be brought down to the envier’s level, at least. This desire for destruction is not bizarre if you adopt the mindset of a magic-filled and world, apparently the norm for most of history and pre-history, and perhaps for most people in the world, still.

In such a world a good harvest or successful hunt may only be obtained through black magic which ensures others will not succeed. Apparently the and analogues intended to ward off the effects of envy are ubiquituous in pre-inudstrial human cultures, as are condemnation of envy and envy avoidance strategies.

If we accept that envy is important and detrimental, what to do about it? Schoeck argues that removing the apparent causes of envy by making everyone (more) equal will not help. A high school teacher is more likely than a manual laborer to envy a university professor, as the teacher can see himself in the professor’s shoes. Envy, or at least envy avoidance in the form of leadership position avoidance, was apparently rampant in , the largest and most sustained effort to build societies based on everyone-is-absolutely-equal principles, according to Schoeck (forty years later, the current Wikipedia article says “While the kibbutzim lasted for several generations as utopian communities, most of today’s kibbutzim are scarcely different from the capitalist enterprises and regular towns to which the kibbutzim were originally supposed to be alternatives.”) Perhaps the furthest claim made against absolute material equality by Schoeck is this (p. 342):

[Complete levelling] overlooks the important function of material inequalities. The envious man is able to endure his neighbour’s superiority as regards looks, youthfulness, children, married happiness, only by envying the other’s income, house, car and travels. Material factors form a socially necessary barrier against envy, protecting the person from physical attack.

Some of the ways mentioned by Schoeck that societies have mitigated envy (apart from condemning it) include belief in fate or luck (which can account for different outcomes in place of invidious magic), belief in non-envious gods, religious endorsement of individual achievement (i.e., some forms of protestantism), and commercial intermediaries. Regarding the last, Schoeck says a buyer will always be envied by a seller in pre-industrial society. Mass production and intermediaries perform envy arbitrage (my made up term) and thus remove a dangerous element hindering the division of labor.

While Schoeck surveys lots of historical, anthropological, personal, and literary anecdotes in support of his claims, it all seems rather hodge-podge. Most egregiously missing is any kind of evolutionary perspective. Animal (pp. 91-97) and psychology (pp. 98-105) experiments are mentioned, but all address envy indirectly at best. I suspect some of the anthropology Schoeck cites will have been discredited in the intervening forty years as well. One example I consider suspect (I mainly include it for your entertainment; I found it hilariously over the top) is Schoeck’s description of Maori muru raids (p. 391):

A man with property worth looting by the community could be certain of muru, even if the rea culprit was one of his most distant relatives. (The same kind of thing was observable during European witch trials.) If a Maori had an accident by which he was temporarily incapacitated, he suffered muru. Basically, any deviation from the daily norm, any expression of individuality, even through an accident, was sufficient occasion for the community to set upon an individual and his personal property.

The man whose wife committed adultery, the friends of a man who died, the father of a child that injured itself, the man who accidentally started a grass fire in a burial ground (even though no on had been buried there for a hundred years) are all examples–among innumerable others–of reasons on account of which an individual might lose his property, including his crops and his stores of food.

Did Dr. Seuss write this? A bit more:

In practice the institution of muru meant that no one could ever count on keeping any movable property, so that there could be no incentive to work for anything. No resistance was ever offered in case of a muru attack. This would not only have involved physical injury but, even worse, would have meant exclusion from taking part in any future muru attack. So it was better to submit to robbery by the community, in the hope of participating oneself in the next attack. The final result was that most movable property–a boat, for example–would circulate from one man to the next, and ultimately become public property.

So who was stupid enough to build the boat? Schoeck cites p. 87 of Eldon Best’s 1924 book The Maori, which is online, but doesn’t seem to say much more about muru than what Schoeck repeats above. A modern interpretation of muru seems to be here. A student paper on the Maori legal system largely citing this link is here, from the same Legal Systems Very Different From Ours class that produced an informative paper on the Aztec legal system I mentioned previously. I highly recommend checking out the site for that class or similar before assuming another culture’s institutions are so bizarre they could not serve a productive purpose.

Schoeck also claims in various places (e.g., p. 304) that society could not function without a modicum of envy, without which social controls would be impossible. On this topic he never moves beyond mere assertion and is not convincing. Innovation is another possible good outcome of envy, though Schoeck’s example is support of this seems rather lame (p. 403):

[T]he man in question may be a discontented, disregarded member of a primitive tribe who makes a show of being the first to be inoculated or treated by a Western doctor, in order to put his own medicine man’s nose out of joint. But his ‘courage,’ and the success of the treatment, induce other members of the tribe to follow his example, so that by degrees scientific medical care can be introduced. Thus, in this particular case (and disregarding certain side-effects), the envious man ‘who always sought to do harm’ had achieved something beneficial for his group.

A modern example may be one who works on free software in part to bring Bill Gates down; the former’s destructive urge is channeled into production.

I enjoyed reading Envy, and much of the enjoyment came not directly from the subject at hand, but from seeing the world through the eyes of a slightly different time period and culture. Some items I found interesting follow.

(p. 258) The Soviet Union had a seemingly low income tax (13 per cent) and high social stratification. Why bother with an income tax … presumably the state pays everyone? I know almost nothing about how communist economies actually functioned.

(p. 289)

[T]he young man who has hung around graduate school until he is twenty-six or twenty-eight to acquire his doctorate or M.A. in the (correct) belief that his college diploma was no longer of much significance is not really content to be a trainee in a bank of a business firm.

If there’s a trend at all, it’s older than I thought.

(pp. 330-332) The first Labour government in the UK produced a crisis of conscience in some of the new members of that government. They were dedicated to equality, but would be drawing high salaries in government. They got over it quickly.

(pp. 373)

In 1959, when the Soviet Union had already set its course unequivocally in the direction of private property and a consumer society

Was Schoeck amazingly prescient or engaging in wishful thinking? Was this conventional wisdom among sovietologists in the early 1960s, or would Schoeck have been considered crazy for this statement?

A biographical page included in the front of Envy contains this amazing sentence:

He was a student of medicine and psychology at the University of Munich from 1941 to 1945.

This sounds completely normal, until you consider the location and years. Schoeck would have been 19 in 1941. How did he escape the army? He looks able-bodied in a photograph. Someone I mentioned this to joked that perhaps Shoeck was so envied during this period for having avoided the Wehrmacht that he became obsessed with envy. What is the real story?

I found Envy interesting and Schoeck’s claims about the importance and nature of envy somewhat plausible, but the subject cries out for treatment by a modern social scientist with far more data, tools for data analysis, and evolutionary theory at hand. Perhaps Bryan Caplan will write such a book. I learned of Envy via one of Caplan’s posts.

Bias enumeration

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

Via Chris F. Masse, there’s a new blog you should subscribe to, Overcoming Bias. Robin Hanson is blogging there and I’m equally excited to see Hal Finney blogging as well. I previously called Finney a great signal-to-noise enhancer (search to find his thousands of excellent mailing list contributions).

Finney posted a quiz based on Tetlock’s Expert Political Judgement, of which I have a still unread copy. I scored +30 in the “fox” direction — I chose the “hedgehog” answers for #3 (for some definitions of “parsiminous” and “politics”, I thought initially, but “closer than many think” is the key), #11, and #12. Apparently Tetlock says foxes make more accurate predictions, though I note one of the later chapters of his book is “The Hedgehogs Strike Back” and Hanson calls the quiz “kind of doofy.”

For awhile I’ve also meant to recommend excellent thinker Nick Szabo’s blog. His law of the dominant paradigm seems apropos to the topic of overcoming bias:

Given opposing opinions with equal evidence in their favor, the less popular opinion is more likely to be correct.

Also see his underappreciated ideas post of a few days ago. I commented on one of Szabo’s posts and will blog about others in the fullness of time.

Zune vs. Turntable

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Out of morbid curiosity I was looking at how is (not) selling (#56 in Amazon electronics, beneath 13 iPod models, 4 other mp3 players, and at least one iPod accessory).

At #47 I noticed a turntable (something you play vinyl records on) with USB out. I didn’t know such a thing existed, but if I didn’t want to avoid collecting more junk, I’d buy one right now.

My only question is why anyone is buying a Zune given reviews so bad they’re hard to read or watch.

Disclaimer: I’m no fan of Apple.

Update 20061127: In the Chicago Sun-Times Avoid the loony Zune, another painful review via Tim Lee. In the meatime, the best-selling Zune model as fallen to #75 at Amazon electronics, but the Ion iTTUSB Turntable with USB Record has fallen to #116. Zune turns the table on this ferocious competitor!

GPL Java

Monday, November 13th, 2006

Sun announced today that it is releasing all of the critical pieces of the Java platform under the GPL. This is fantastic news, as a huge number of important and exciting projects are built on the Java platform and now they can be completely free as in free software. Read Tim Bray on the announcement and lots more blog commentary via Tailrank.

This should have happened years ago but as of yesterday it happened sooner than I expected. I set up a play money prediction market on Inkling (the first of two) asking whether Java would be open sourced by the end of this year. The price slowly declined from 60 in May to 20 in late October, then spiked to 70, with a last trade at 81.76 this morning.

I judged the contract at 100, but probably shouldn’t have — much of the code won’t be released until early next year. Oops. Good thing Inkling markets are play money and zero oversight, or Chris F. Masse would rightly castigate me.

Parking revenue directions

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

September 8 I heard about a Donald Shoup lecture at UC Berkeley via Boing Boing. I’ve previously mentioned Shoup’s The High Cost of Free Parking.

The classroom was at about double capacity, due either to the unexpected Boing Boing mention or underplanning, ironically.

Shoup claimed, very credibly, that requirements to build massive amounts of parking with any development are based on fantasy, resulting in acres of parking lots in suburban areas and buildings incorporating several stories of parking in dense areas, both mostly unused (but not noticably — people park on the lowest level available, so they never see the top level of empty spaces with almost no oil stains), ugly, and expensive.

Street parking on the other hand is underpriced and as a result in high demand even when ample off-street parking is available. Shoup pointed out many surveys that show a substantial fraction of traffic in dense business districts consists of people cruising for free parking, directly resulting in a mind boggling amount of unnecessary gas consumption, pollution, and stress.

Businesses generally oppose increasing street parking fees, fearing this will drive customers away. Shoup’s answer to this, and the strategy that makes his recommendations politically pragmatic (they were already pragmatic in every other way), is that any increased parking fees must go directly into maintenance, upgrades, and security for the immediate impacted district. He claimed that used this strategy 20 years ago and has since transformed from a decripit district filled with boarded up businesses to a lively pedestrian-friendly district filled with high-end shopping.

The single flaw in Shoup’s presentation was an over-reliance on the Old Pasadena example, which apparently occurred spontaneously. Shoup is actively promoting his ideas now. Apparently he was in the bay area to talk to officials, who are implementing his recommendations for their downtown under the guidance of one of his former students. Redwood City is currently one of the least desirable locales in the Peninsula/Silicon Valley area; it will be interesting to see whether that changes.

Addendum 20061114: The same day I made this post No Parking: Condos Leave Out Cars appeared in the NYT, citing Shoup, with examples of mandatory parking requirements:

Houston’s code requires a minimum of 1.33 parking spaces for a one-bedroom and 2 spaces for a three-bedroom. Downtown Los Angeles mandates 2.25 parking spaces per unit, regardless of size.

Electability predictions

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

On rare occasions interrupting an activity to check feed subscriptions saves time, e.g., when the activity is writing a blog post on electability implied by prediction market contracts for nomination and election, and a post by David Schneider-Joseph on Nominatibility and Electability shows up that says most of what I wanted to say:

The fact that, in the real world, 2008.PRES.GIULIANI divided by 2008.GOP.NOM.GIULIANI happens to equal 72.2 simply means that, in those scenarios where Giuliani actually ends up being nominated, his electability averages 72.2. But his abstract electability, given the hypothetical scenario in which the Republican Party nominated him without considering other candidates, is not necessarily the same.

This far out one should not read too much into electability implied by prediction market price ratios, but they’ll be interesting to follow anyway, and on primary election or caucus days, and the eve of nomination even moreso, a power-hungry partisan would do well to pay heed (at that point scenarios where candidate A versus B gets nominated differ little excepting that candidate A or B gets nominated).

Of course I’d really like to see a party that nominates the candidate whose nomination is predicted to best further outcomes preferred by the party — platform as a utility function — nomination by . If a party’s preferred policies are not predicted to lead to a party’s preferred outcomes, a futarchist nominating process could lead to the nomination of the candidate most likely to lose!

CR related questions

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

Several people have asked me roughly the same questions after noticing me in last week’s NYT article on . I am not a physician, nutritionist, or even particularly knowledgeable amateur. In other words, I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Common questions with my answers follow anyway.

I don’t think I can restrict calories, what can I do to stay healthy?

You can still try to optimize your nutrition (the ON in CRON). Eat more vegetables, fewer grains, and cut out sugar to the maximum extent possible. You’ll probably end up eating fewer calories unintentionally.

I am extremely active, e.g., I run marathons. How can I do CR?

You’ll probably have to cut back. You need to consume lots of calories to perform at the highest levels in many sports and to participate in endurance sports. Kenton Mullins is a well known example in the CR community. From a news story in 2004:

The 37-year-old former body builder went from 4000 to 2000 calories a day. And to conserve energy, he surfs four hours a week instead of his usual 20.

Note, he still surfs.

If you do run marathons or similar and you want to stay healthy you may want to reconsider irrespective of CR. Read Art de Vany’s endurance training: death, injury and risk archives. De Vany, who is also skeptical about CR, gave an interesting presentation at CR IV that I may eventually summarize.

I don’t think I can restrict calories, should I take supplements?

I’d say “not yet.” Resveratol supplements are still expensive and of uncertain quality and effect. I agree with the view of Fight Aging:

The gold standard for science to back a form of metabolic manipulation is the research supporting the practice of calorie restriction. It is an open question to whether some shared mechanisms mean that calorie restriction mimetics like resveratrol can piggy-back on this wealth of data to a lower risk. But why take that risk? If you’re healthy and young, why risk the use of a compound with comparatively little data behind it versus a lifestyle practice with a great deal of data behind it? Equally, why dive in now versus waiting for more information?

The scientific world is littered with biochemicals that performed wonderfully in mice and then fell by the wayside in humans. The medical and supplement world is littered with poor or varied formulations of chemicals that have little to do with the forms used to obtain well-known laboratory results. There are many slips between the lab and your body; many are very hard or even impossible for folk like you or I to detect ourselves, but each passing year will reduce their number in any given case.

Pills (broadly speaking) are the future of life extension and health in general, but I don’t think their cost/benefit/risk calculus yet justifies using them as an important component of one’s health strategy.

I do take a daily multivitamin and calcium, but only to insure against missing some nutrients. I used to take lots of vitamins but decided it was a waste of time and money. I look forward to the day when effective interventions do exist.

The disgusting Mr. Linksvayer

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

It’s been mildly amusing watching reactions in the blogosphere to yesterday’s NYT article on calorie restrction that used me as an example.

A “beauty editor” says:

He’s practically emaciated (6 feet tall and 135 lbs) but he looks like he’s 16!

Both wild overstatements, though this reminds me — is there an age guessing site on the web, a la ?

A “fitness journalist” writes:

“Holy shit! That guy looks like he’s about to drop over dead!” You might guess that he has some kind of muscle-wasting disease. I know the angle of the photo isn’t flattering to a tall, long-limbed man, but perhaps the fact he’s sitting is appropriate. Honestly, he doesn’t look strong enough to stand.

And others like this. Yes, I can stand up, and so much more!

I did not realize how many bloggers copy and paste entire articles and call it a post. There are lots of them, not counting obvious spam blogs.

On the other side, CR blogger Mary Robinson has a reasonable critique:

I did not like Linksayer’s meals as an example. They are nice enough, but reinforce the stereotype that CR food is weird food. The text made it sound like he does not eat the same thing at all as the pictured food – he seems to eat a pretty normal regimen. So why show fermented soy for breakfast? My Fiber One and vegetable juice would have been less weird. Some yogurt and an orange would have been even better. I would like to have seen some fish in there for one meal. Maybe chicken at the other.

With a little more forethought I might have tried to prepare more mainstream meals. In my little bubble world, natto is normal. Regarding yogurt, fish, and chicken, I don’t eat them. I emphasized to the reporter many times that most people attempting CR are not vegan. If I had anything re-impressed on me from this article, it is that only a tiny bit of information can be squeezed into a news article.

The most satisfying blog commentary comes from Karen DeCoster:

Here is a photo of the disgusting Mr. Linksvayer:

He’s more frail than blown glass, has a very stooped posture, and his body parts are not in proportion. In fact, upon seeing him, you immediately notice that he has taken on the physical appearance of one who suffers from mental retardation – which is typical for malnourished adults.

2,100 calories? That average day does not even approach 2,100 calories – you can do the math. This man is eating between 500-900 calories per day, that is, on the days that he does not starve himself fast.

I can see where DeCoster might get those numbers from the pictures, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, they leave out dessert and multiple servings of lunch and dinner.

But more than enough about me. DeCoster’s main argument:

First, a restricted calorie diet eats up gobs of human muscle, reduces metabolism, kills energy, destroys hair and skin and nails, numbs brain function, and depletes necessary nutrition to dangerously low levels. Only these pro-starvation crackpots would possibly claim that people on these nutbag diets can still get adequate vitamins, minerals, and overall nutrition. They claim that breaking down your body is, in essence, really “building it up” for the long run. Then, of course, we come to the call for government intervention in the aging process:

There would be some truth to this if one were to sharply restrict calories on a standard amurrican diet, or worse. This is just malnutrition. There’s a reason “we” (people practicing CR) do CRAN (CR with Adequate Nutrition) and aim for CRON (with Optimal Nutrition). In fact CR people get far more vitamins and minerals than the average person. As for destruction of hair, nails, brain, etc., nothing could be further from the truth. Aging breaks down the body. CR doesn’t build anyting up, it slows down the destruction, not least by nearly eliminating risk for major killers and disabilities like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and alzheimer’s.

My suggestion to DeCoster is to do a bit of research and to follow Fight Aging for awhile. She’ll even appreciate that blog’s general skepticism of the usefulness of government funding, for example:

While in general I’m all for raising public awareness of any plasticity of the human lifespan, we’ve all seen the objections to the Longevity Dividend; it is unambitious and slow, setting the bar so low that the target gains will probably happen anyway. It is the sort of lowest common denominator big tent approach that gets politicians to spend tax dollars on inefficient ways forward while ignoring the real possibilities of doing far better.

I am particularly amused that DeCoster wrote on I used to have a love/hate relationship with this and its sister site, Trenchant and extreme anti-war and anti-government commentary, including against intellectual protectionism. But the occasional Christian apologia, pro-apartheid writers, and general nuts really put me off. Then there’s the despicable Hoppe. Fortunately I am able to no longer care. There are many substitutes on the topics those sites were good on, and I am mostly convinced by Bryan Caplan on Austrian economics that the school does not just appear to be an ignorable backwater, it is. Part of Caplan’s conclusion reminds me yet again of the perils of meta:

Neoclassical economists go too far by purging meta-economics almost entirely, but there is certainly a reason to be suspicious of scholars who talk about economics without ever doing it.

To bring this ramble to a close, doing CR is definitely not meta.

Update 20061102: Cool, Reason too, with attitude and not much information. Others, at least check out the and learn how to use the NYT link generator before posting. You’ll look a bit less stupid.