Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Cybill Shepard as you've never seen her before

...is here...

Sunday, September 26, 2004

What did our 1000 troops die for?

Brad DeLong answers:

The first 100 died (and the first 500 were maimed) to liberate Iraq from a dreadful tyrant who had no operational ties with Al Qaeda, no weapons of mass destruction, posed no threat to the U.S., and posed little threat to his neighbors.

The next 900 died (and the next 4500 were maimed) because:
  1. Cheney and Rumsfeld wanted to show that we could conquer, occupy, and control Iraq with a small force all by ourselves so that the Syrians and the Iranians would be scared of what we could do with the rest of our army.

  2. Nobody in the White House dared propose any change in policy when it became clear to everybody that Cheney and Rumsfeld were wrong.

Monday, September 20, 2004

"How come you never call me?"

Glen Whitman thinks many guys would be happiest with a 3-days-a-week girlfriend, which leads him to think about differing utility curves for human contact. For instance:
Say Ted would like to talk on the phone every two days, whereas Sheila would like to talk every day. You might think Sheila would call Ted about two-thirds of the time – but in fact, she will call him every time. If they talk on Monday, Ted plans to call on Wednesday; but then Sheila calls him Tuesday. His clock reset, Ted plans to call on Thursday. And then Sheila calls on Wednesday. Eventually, Sheila decides Ted doesn’t care about her, because he never calls.
Yup. Ditto for cleaning the kitchen and a thousand other tasks - the person with a lower messiness tolerance does most of the cleaning, and the person with a lower being-alone tolerance does most of the calling.

In GW's terminology, my own personal MU(A) [Marginal Utility of other Activities] is sufficiently high that I tend to let relationships drop when I have them, and rarely seek them out when I don't. I'd probably do fine with a 3-days-a-month girlfriend, though. Or perhaps not. I get a 95 - "very quirkyalone" on this test. If you're up there too, I highly recommend Party of One: A Loner's Manifesto.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Health care used to be too cheap?

Here's a great article on the history of government intervention in the medical market:
Today, we are constantly being told, the United States faces a health care crisis. Medical costs are too high, and health insurance is out of reach of the poor. The cause of this crisis is never made very clear, but the cure is obvious to nearly everybody: government must step in to solve the problem.

Eighty years ago, Americans were also told that their nation was facing a health care crisis. Then, however, the complaint was that medical costs were too low, and that health insurance was too accessible. But in that era, too, government stepped forward to solve the problem. And boy, did it solve it!

Read the whole thing. Thanks to Proximal Tubule for the link.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Down with Primitivism!

Murray Rothbard has a nice insight here that I wish had occurred to me back when I was taking Social Studies classes in junior high:
it is absolutely illegitimate [to] infer the history of pre-Western civilization from analysis of existing primitive tribes. Let us never forget that the existing primitive tribes are precisely the ones that didn’t progress—that remained in their primitive state. To infer from observing them that this is the way our ancestors behaved is nonsense—and apt to be the reverse of the truth, for our ancestors presumably behaved in ways which quickly advanced them beyond the primitive stage thousands of years ago. To scoff, therefore, at the idea that our ancestors among primitive tribes engaged in barter, then in monetary exchange, etc., on the basis of the magic and games indulged in by present-day primitives, is a blunder of the highest order.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Iraq's Riverbend is blogging again, with a few thoughts on 9/11 and the Michael Moore movie. I especially liked this bit:
September 11… he sat there, reading the paper. As he reached out for the cup in front of him for a sip of tea, he could vaguely hear the sound of an airplane overhead. It was a bright, fresh day and there was much he had to do… but the world suddenly went black- a colossal explosion and then crushed bones under the weight of concrete and iron… screams rose up around him… men, women and children… shards of glass sought out tender, unprotected skin … he thought of his family and tried to rise, but something inside of him was broken… there was a rising heat and the pungent smell of burning flesh mingled sickeningly with the smoke and the dust… and suddenly it was blackness.

9/11/01? New York? World Trade Center?


9/11/04. Falloojeh. An Iraqi home.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Placebos don't work

This comes up now and again but I didn't have a good link before: It turns out the placebo effect doesn't really work. Quote: "We found little evidence in general that placebos had powerful clinical effects."

Bonus link: Still obsessed with the Gore/Bush election? The New York Times lets you do your own recount!