Friday, November 03, 2017

We Get Mail!

In the recent Econtalk podcast, I noted that I was ignorant of (among other things) the meaning of the "English Dance" Schiller refers to in his letter.

Russ and I got this email (name redacted):

Hello Gentlemen. 

Thanks for your continued efforts in spreading education through your podcasts. I am a listener of EconTalk. 

Recently Professor Munger you made a reference to Schiller and a dance form that he refered to. I asked my uncle, a Schiller and Goethe academic, for more information as you stated that your research hadn't turned up the specifics of the dance in question. 

Here is his response : 

"'Der englische Tanz” (sometimes “Anglaise") could mean several things back in Schiller’s day, but most usually indicated a contradance, in which couples form lines facing each other. Schiller considered such a dance a metaphor for an ideal of freedom, in which each individual moved freely, but at the same time did not intrude on the others’ movements. The whole had form and order (and beauty), while the individual practiced “rücksichtsvolle Selbstbestimmung'." (The last term one can translate as perhaps "thoughtful self-determination.")

So, folks:  Have a “rücksichtsvolle Selbstbestimmung" Friday!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

An Econ 101 Question.....

Why is it that soda cans are sold in boxes that look like this....

But beer is sold in boxes that look like this....

My guess:  Soda cans are usually sold warm, and it is convenient to be able to put the whole box into the fridge and have it cool quickly. For that, you want more surface area. Beer, on the other hand, is often sold cold. You then transport the container to somewhere where (if you are, for example, Ben Powell ) you drink the entire 12 pack while you shoot your deer rifle at the power lines from your back porch, sitting in your underwear on a lawn chair. That would mean that you want LESS surface area for the already cold-and-you-want-to-stay-cold beer than for the warm, want-to-cool-fast, and only one or two cans a day soda. The surface of the beer box is 325 square inches. The surface area of the soda box is 365 square inches. You want the soda to cool fast, and you want the beer to warm slowly. So, there is 12% more surface area on the soda box, just as you would expect if Powell's Law ("Hey! We ain't done drinkin', son. There's still beer left in the cardboard box!") is correct.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Monday's Child is Full of Links!

1.   7 Nihilistic Quotes That Only Brilliant, Misunderstood Young Males On The Internet Will Appreciate.

2. It's not so clear he DID know what he signed up for. Unless he signed up for random death and pointless violence, perpetrated by a state without any purpose or conscience.

3. By at least one measure, Trump actually is telling the truth about being the "DeRegul-Nator."

4.  Looking for something else, I came across Malcolm X's  1964 "Ballot or Bullet" speech. Don't know why I didn't already know it. I'll be using it in class now....

5.  I taught Chris Freiman everything he knew. Fortunately, he learned a lot more. An interesting discussion of "luck egalitarianism." And then there's his terrific book....

6.  The Angus/Mungowitz grad alma mater has decided to enter a sucking contest, on speech codes. And I have to admit that Wash U really does suck pretty hard.  Trying to be #1 at SOMETHING, perhaps?

7.  The problem:  We have produced so many artificial snowflakes.  The solution:  van Jones, with whom I agree on almost nothing, crushes this out of the park and into low-Earth orbit.  Brilliantly said, Mr. Jones. We should not pave the jungle for our young people.

8.  Was this Jeff Flake's equivalent to riding down the escalator?

9. The transaction costs economy and unintended consequences of policing Craig's List.

10. Should insurers manage the opioid epidemic? The "other" Dr. Michael Munger offers some views.

11.  National book publishing rates per million of population. The English-speaking countries are hard to interpret, because market is so big.  But Turkey is surprisingly highly ranked, given repression on most speech. And Denmark:  Wow. Pretty impressive.

12. Aussie report on productivity. Overall, not too bad. But multifactor productivity growth is essentially non-existent. That's not good. (Tomorrow 3.0, on the horizon?)

13.  Millenials feel entitled to use the word "entitled" without being ashamed of how entitled they feel.

14. Impeach-O-Meter: The jerk doesn't fall far from the jackass tree.

15. The corruption of the National Book Award.  Pretty powerful indictment.

16.  Blockchain, supply chain.

17.  You may recall the butter crisis in Norway. Which prompted this, one of the all time best videos to appear at KPC.  Epic. A plea from the heart. Etc.

Well, there's a new butter crisis.  And it's equally hilarious, in terms of the solutions proposed.

18. The U.S. is on the verge of its own "Cultural Revolution." On the obligation to speak up....

19.  Our attic has been living a lie. Almost verbatim the thesis of my new Cambridge book, in one pithy cartoon.  With thanks to the LMM.

20.  How smart do you have to be to be famous for being smart without ever having actually done anything?  Pretty smart, I'd say.  I did try to warn people about this classic type, though, right here, at #5.

21.  I often hear of people who are excoriated for "advising" dictators. The problem with that criticism is that growth usually produces democracy. So advising dictators how to grow the economy is corrosive to dictatorship (or maybe it is). (It's true that the U.S. government advised dictators on how to torture, but what do you expect from the state?) The oddest thing, though, is that for some reason telling outright lies in support of the Soviet regime was cause for Pulitzer prizes.

And the grande lagniappe: For Halloween tomorrow: 50 most excellent pun costumes.