Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, RIP

"If this ain't nice what is"

That quote is one of the best antidotes I have found to the depressing conclusion that the world is populated by idiots. He used it in his commencement addresses. Go read all of them even the one he didn't write (the sunscreen speech) .


Thursday, April 05, 2007

You can't always get what you want

Scarcity - Economics Basics

You can't understand economics without believing in scarcity. It is the starting point for the whole allocation of resources question that underlies the discipline. If there was no scarcity then why bother worrying about how things get allocated? Since the whole premise of the study of economics is this denial of satiation, it has been termed the dismal science (Even though the history of that phrase shows that it was introduced in a different context, people intuitively understand the implication.) Malthus thought that we were doomed since populations increase geometrically while resources only increase arithmetically. This view has actually proven to be incorrect in a whole host of industries. On the other hand, the idea that there is scarcity in the world is one to keep in mind whenever you hear people wanting to throw money at a problem whether it be global warming, space exploration, services for the mentally ill, or art musuems. There are tradeoffs.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Online Gambling is More Efficient

If you like to gamble then online gambling is a better deal than your local bookie or travelling to a sportsbook. There is no doubt that the odds would likely end up better in online venues. So why did Congress ban online gambling in Fall, 2006. Hypocrisy may be the tribute vice pays to virtue, but Congresscritters take their tribute in campaign contributions from the domestic gambling industry. Well, the WTO's not too thrilled with the uneven playing field vis-a-vis domestic and international operators so the US lost in a case brought against it by Antigua and Barbados. Congress is going to probably come up with some kind of compromise, but this is a proverbial rock and hard place issue because I cannot imagine them loosening the rules on Internet gambling nor putting existing domestic off-track horse race operations out of business. If I had to guess, I would say they will loosen the rules, but trying to make it so difficult and limited as to make it unprofitable.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Supreme Court: Maybe there is something to this Global Warming Thing

The Supreme Court today suggested that the EPA ought to do some studies to figure out how what to do about greenhouse gasses instead of putting their fingers in their air and saying, "...nah, nah, nah, we can't hear you" to the scientists and policy makers who actually give a damn about improving people's lives. The irony of course is that the best insurance for future prosperity given the certainty that hydrocarbons as cheap energy will exhaust this century is renewable energy. Since renewable energy is carbon neutral, the issue is when not if. Since the science shows that sooner is better than later, the denialists are their own worst enemy.


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