Archive for May, 2006


Friday, May 26th, 2006

I’ve been saying for awhile that San Francisco ought to be “Sanhattan” referencing of course Manhattan and the SF parochials who use Manhattanization as a pejorative. I finally searched for the term while writing about free parking and was slightly disappointed to find that an area of Santiago, Chile is already known as . Unless there has been an incredible amount of building since I visited that city in 1998 (loved it) I find it hard to justify the name.

Anyhow, I welcome plans to build the tallest building on the U.S. west coast in San Francisco, and lots of them. Manhattanization is boring. Turn the whole of San Francisco into . Too bad Hong Francisco or San Kong don’t flow like Sanhattan.

See cosmopolitan, think cosmopolitan

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

Brad Templeton has an excellent immigration rant. Following an anecdote about immigrant entrepreneurialism:

Being anti-immigrant reminds me of racism, to use an inflamatory term. Racism is the belief that the broad circumstances of a person’s ancestry affect their worth as a person, and should affect their rights in society. Anti-immigrant nationalism is actually stronger. I was born 20 miles from the U.S. border, to parents also born there (though they were born to immigrant parents from Europe.) What moral code says that those like me deserve less of such fundamental rights as the ability to work, freedom to travel, freedom to live on my land, or to vote for those that will govern us? How can a few miles difference in birthplace morally command such a difference?


Bryan Caplan has some interesting evidence that “[d]irect observation of immigrants leads to more reasonable beliefs about the effects of immigration” — people in states with more immigrants view immigration more positively, even under the assumption that all immigrants view immigration positively.

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

I’ve mentioned a couple times in passing.

Ben Adida has been doing an awesome job leading the standards effort the last year and a half, which will pay off handsomely over the next six months. A few days ago he launched, the place to watch for interoperable web metadata tools, examples, and news.

New world depopulation

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

A researcher seems to have pretty good evidence that much of the post-conquest depopulation of Mexico was due not to smallpox and other old-world diseases, but . This does not mean “maybe the Spaniards get off the hook.” It probably makes them more culpable:

[Acuña-Soto] also thinks he may have solved one of the other great mysteries of cocolitzli—namely, why it hit the Aztecs hard but left the Spanish largely unaffected.

Hemorrhagic viruses affect human populations that are already stressed, Acuña-Soto says. “The natives were poor and probably near starvation and living in unsanitary conditions where the rats would congregate. They also worked in the fields, where they’d be exposed to the rat droppings. The Spanish made up the upper classes.”

There is a tiny hint that hemorrhagic fever could have played a role in the depopulation of the Americas post-1491 but before substantial European contact (my extrapolation and emphasis):

The evidence from the Douglas firs shows that during the 16th century central Mexico not only lacked rain but also suffered the most severe and sustained drought in 500 years, one that encompassed nearly the entire continent.

(Acuña-Soto thinks hemorrhagic fever outbreaks are related to conditions immediately following severe drought.)

Via Tyler Cowen.

Buckingham markets

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

Via Chris F. Masse, who does not provide a permanent link to his “external link” post, The Journal of Prediction Markets is launching late this year with several usual suspects on the editorial board. I used Inkling’s make your own market feature to create a play market in whether the journal will be Open Access:

Pays if the Journal of Prediction Markets is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals before 2008/01/01.

See the Wikipedia article for background on Open Access.

Just for kicks — as an insider decision, this is probably not a good subject for a prediction market.

I noted with interest that the journal is to be published by the , the publishing arm of apparently the only university in the UK jurisdiction not funded by the state. Although it is small I am surprised I had not heard of this university previously due to its free market connections or in the Economist, which loves to write about the sorry state of British higher education and the even sorrier state of higher education on the European continent.

Should I take this opportunity to ask Mr. Masse (who is entirely above insinuation, a better person than I) about French universities?

Addendum 20060523: Masse thinks I’m crazy for creating a market on Inkling. He doesn’t like Inkling because they removed one of their founders from their site (irrelevant, Masse-ive overreaction) and believes that liquidity is the most important attribute of an exchange, implied corollaries being that it is dumb to start a new exchange in an area where one already exists and it is dumb to allow user-created markets, both of which will lead to diffuse, thinly-traded markets. I think the field is far too young to say that a newcomer cannot topple existing exchanges even if they are natural monopolies (We’ve discussed this before) or that large numbers of niche (and thus thinly traded) claims will not prove valuable.

Why has Masse not created a market at Inkling? Is his consultancy page correct?

Each player in the field only sees his/her little part of it —I have to have the complete, global, situational, long-term, overview outlook perspective.

Is he overconfident in his negative assessment of Inkling or merely falling behind in his research?

Amnesty for Citizenists

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

Richard Posner compares immigrant amnesty to tax amesty. His excellent point is that amnesty is a conventional policy tool and should not be despised.

However, Posner is not nearly cynical enough about the motives of thosse who complain that amnesty “rewards criminals.”

The Americans who for one reason or another are most concerned about illegal immigration are not much or maybe at all concerned about legal immigration, and so converting illegal to legal immigrants should be regarded by them as a highly beneficial step.

Hardly. Today’s most “concerned” are just as fond of citing IQ studies and “national culture” as the racialists who shut down legal immigration a century ago. They are the ones in need of .

Posner’s final paragraph is also excellent:

The solution is for Mexico and the other poor countries from which illegal immigrants come to become rich. As soon as per capita income in a country reaches about a third of the American level, immigration from that country dries up. Emigration is very costly emotionally as well as financially, given language and other barriers to a smooth transition to a new country, and so is frequent only when there are enormous wealth disparities between one’s homeland and a rich country like the United States. The more one worries about illegal immigrants, the more one should favor policies designed to bring about greater global income equality.

The New Golf?

Friday, May 19th, 2006

Now I know why I don’t play .

Bore me with a spoon golf club level bazillion sword of power networking.

Not that I begrudge anyone else’s fun. Enjoy!

Open Letter on Apartheid

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

I agree with Alex Tabarrok’s pragmatic Open Letter on Immigration and hope it gains wide support — as it appears it already has amongst the top econobloggers.

My thoughts match those of Michael Giberson:

We should find a policy solution that readily accomodates the personal pursuit of freedom and opportunity, and which does not restricts the ability of persons to pursue freedom and opportunity based upon where on this planet they happened to have been born. Lucky for me, the consensus view of economists is that what I think of as the right thing to do for moral reasons is also likely to be, on net, a benefit to society overall. Actually, lucky for us that the right thing to do is the good thing. Lucky for all of us.

I’ll go further and suggest the letter that people ought to be signing on with is the Manifesto for the Abolition of International Apartheid.

Slow opinion day?

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

The SF Chronicle’s lead editorial today warns that “we” (I assume they mean organizations in the U.S. jurisdiction) need to hurry up and adopt :

For consumers, the costs include opportunities for better connections and possibilities of savvier technology. For businesses, it’s the opportunity to stay competitive. If they want to continue serving new markets abroad, especially in Asia, then they had better get on board and start pushing for IPv6 capability. If our servers aren’t running the protocol, then businesses don’t have any way to serve populations that are.

Doesn’t sound that compelling to me but I guess an oversimplified technology editorial that almost nobody will understand is an improvement over irrelevant carping about the sanctity of bread and circuses.

Media Trends

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

Bo Cowgill notes that more people search for ‘blog’ and variants than “new york times” and variants. I suspect a more relevant comparison is between ‘blog’ and ‘newspaper’. The former’s slow rise looks faster than the latter’s very slow decline.

TV and radio still rule.