Monday, September 30, 2013

What, or When, Is the Law?

Suppose that the Tea Partiers in Congress prevail and government shutdown is averted by the defunding of Obamacare. And suppose it happens again in the next budget battle. Indeed, suppose Obamacare is to all extents and purposes permanently defunded. If that happens, would it remain legitimate to refer to the Affordable Care Act, duly enacted by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the President, as "the law of the land"? The budget battles will not have repealed or even amended the Act. But in what sense can it be said to have anything like the force of law?

Is this a simple instantiation of the traditional distinction between law on paper and the law in action? Or is it something more (or less) than that? Can a law that seeks to constrain or require action, but which is incapable of enforcement (for any reason), still be considered a law?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Monday 9/30 Colloquium at the Ostrom Workshop, Live-streamed

Derek Armitage of the University of Waterloo will be presenting his work on "Governance and the Problem of 'Fit' in Aquatic Ecosystems." The presentation will be live-streamed, here.

    Abstract: New governance approaches are required to navigate local to global scale social-ecological change, and to address a growing problem of "fit" (e.g., spatial, temporal) between biophysical systems and governance systems. Multi-level, collaborative and adaptive governance arrangements are emerging in response to this problem, although slowly and in a geographically patchy manner. Research in two aquatic systems — the Upper Mackenzie Basin, Northwest Territories and the Tam Giang Lagoon, Central Vietnam — will illustrate how we can approach the problem of fit by linking communities with regional and national-level actors, fostering the co-production of knowledge crucial to understanding and monitoring social-ecological change, and by shortening feedback loops between observations of abrupt change and policy response. These cases also show how emerging governance arrangements can lead to a novel reallocation of rights and responsibilities, and support opportunities for shared learning and adapting.

    Bio: Derek Armitage is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environment and Resource Studies at the University of Waterloo where he leads the Environmental Change and Governance Group (http://ecgg.uwaterloo.ca/). His research interests center on the human dimensions of environmental change and the formation of adaptive, multi-level governance systems. The problem of "fit" is a central interest — how governance systems and institutions can better match the dynamics of biophysical systems, with a primary focus on coastal/marine contexts. His publications have appeared in such journals as Frontiers in Ecology and the EnvironmentGlobal Environmental ChangeEcology and Society, and International Journal of the Commons. He is co-editor (with Fikret Berkes and Nancy Doubleday) of Adaptive Co-Management: Collaboration, Learning and Multi-Level Governance (UBC Press, 2007) and co-editor (with Ryan Plummer) of Adaptive Capacity and Environmental Governance(Springer-Velag, 2010). He has served as a consultant on a variety of projects for government agencies in Canada (Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, OMNR, Alberta Environment), the Global Environmental Facility (World Bank), ADB and IADB. He is a Senior Fellow, Earth Systems Governance project, and Adjunct Professor, Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba. Currently, he is acting as the Governance Working Group Leader for the Community Conservation Research Network (http://www.communityconservation.net/) and the Partnership for Canada-Caribbean Climate Change Adaptation (http://parca.uwaterloo.ca/).

A Simplistic Account of the Pending Government Shutdown

Over at the Marginal Revolution (here), the very smart Tyler Cowen offers a "simple" positive-political account of the looming government shutdown, focused on the perceived calculus of the GOP. But I think his analysis is too simple. 

Start with his glib conclusion: "Recent events are simply public choice theory in simply public choice theory in action." If we assume there are no irrational actors in politics (an assumption some will consider heroic), then public choice theory explains both everything and nothing. That is to say, if all political interactions are explained by public choice theory, then the explanation itself becomes trite.

On a more substantive note, Cowen pretends that the GOP is a single actor with a single motivation. The evidence suggests otherwise. Political parties are never as monolithic as they might appear, and in current circumstances, the US Republican Party appears on the verge of civil war. If news reports are to be believed, a majority of Republican senators and legislators do not want the federal budget held hostage to Obamacare; and the real problem resides in a relatively small minority of the Party in the House, who are making their own calculations not based on national opinion polls, but based on re-election prospects in congressional districts that have been gerrymandered in a way that rewards extremism. In other words, they do not have to worry about political challenges from the other party, but only challenges from more extreme elements in their own party primaries.

As I have noted before, gerrymandering is the joint responsibility of both parties (operating according to Public Choice theory), and has led to the perverse situation where instead of voters electing public officials, the public officials get to pick their voters. 

Thus, assuming Cowen's general assessment of the political calculus is correct, the question becomes, for which Republican senators and representatives is it correct. None of the facts of the current situation in Congress warrant the broad presumption that the entire Republican caucus in both House and Senate believes the conflict will be good for the party as a whole (although it could be that). 

Be Honest, Did You Pick Rui Costa To Win?

Who picked Rui Costa to win today's Men's Elite World Championship in Florence?

The rain lashed route seemed perfect for the kind of hard men who regularly fight out the Spring Classics. But, it seemed, Cancellara, Gilbert, and Sagan marked each other out of the race.

Vincenzo Nibali did not win, but deserves kudos for giving his all to win on home soil. He hit the deck hard on the third-to-last lap around the finishing circuit, but not only managed to bridge back up to the peloton but made the final selection of four riders over the penultimate climb of the day. In that group, he was isolated against two Spanish riders, Valverde and Rodriguez, and the Portugese Rui Costa, who refused to help Nibali cover the inevitable attacks by Rodriguez. If Nibali didn't chase him down, Rodriguez would have won off the front. If Nibali continue to cover his attacks, he would have nothing left for a final sprint against Valverde. Eventually, with just a kilometer left, Nibali just let Rodriguez go, and it was at that point that Rui Costa finally went, first bridging up to Rodriguez, then beating him in a head-up sprint. Nibali either didn't have enough energy left or was too disgusted to contend for the bronze medal against Valverde.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

What I've Been Listening To Lately

Almost exclusively Umphrey's McGee. A true musician's band.

Swansea City 1 - Arsenal 2

I didn't get home from this morning's bike ride until the first half was nearly over. The game was scoreless, but I did see the play where Giroud should have put Arsenal on top with nearly the final kick of the half.

In the second half, Arsenal dominated possession until they led 2-0 on goals from winger Serge Gnaby (from Ramsey) and the unstoppable Aaron Ramsey (from Giroud). Gnaby was deputizing again for the injured Theo Walcott. From what I saw in the second half, Gnaby looks like the real deal. He doesn't have Theo's blazing speed, but he plays hard and with confidence, touch, and good vision. He also helps out on defense, which is a weakness of Theo's game. I'm not suggesting (yet) that Gnaby should be first choice ahead of Walcott, but he's going to give both Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain some real competition for the right-side winger position. Ramsey's goal (Arsenal's second) came on a beautifully worked play, after another long spell of possession.

After that, Arsenal seemed to take the foot off the accelerator, and started playing defense - always a dangerous proposition for the Gunners. The consequence was that Arsenal once again failed to keep a clean sheet and had to work awfully hard in the final part of the game to prevent the Swans from scoring an equalizer. Still, all's well that end's well, and Arsenal are back top of the table, now two points ahead of Spurs who only managed a draw today at home to Chelsea. More surprisingly, reigning champs Man U languish in 12th place, having lost for the third time already this season to West Brom. Also, Man City lost away to Aston Villa, which puts them in 5th place, a full five points behind the Gunners. It's early days yet, but one thing's for sure: the Premiership championship this year is wide open; and the Gunners have a team that, while thin at certain positions, can compete.

Saturday Ride

After not getting up to Indy to ride with the old group for the entire summer, I've now made it up two weeks in a row. Today's ride was an official Team Treachery & Deceit ride, but without any treachery or deceit. The 51-mile ride was called to average between 18 and 20 mph, and we averaged 19. Anytime the speed inched up above 23 mph, the call went out to moderate the pace.

I was surprised only a dozen riders (including a strong cohort of 4 or 5 women) showed up given the glorious fall weather. When the ride started, it was about 58 degrees. By the time we sagged at the gas station in Lebanon, on the way back, everyone had stripped off arm warmers, vests, and knee warmers, as the temperature rose into the mid-70s. Humidity was low, and the wind, while certainly a factor, wasn't blowing as hard as it often does this time of year.

On the ride back in from Lebanon, Bob Brooks and Brian Murphy deserve special credit by giving the entire group a strong pull for about 10 miles, into a pretty stiff south wind (of about 9 mph). They kept the speed a constant 22 mph, which made it very easy on all of us riding in their slipstreams. After they finally pulled off the front, the pulls got a lot shorter and the speeds a lot more variable.

Overall, I was pleased to be able to stick with the group without much trouble. All of the hills down here around B-town make it pretty easy to ride the flats up around Indy, especially when I'm mostly riding at the back of the group (although I did take a couple of legitimate pulls today). I wouldn't kid myself about sticking with the bigger Nebo Ridge group, when they ride hard; but I don't really care about that any more.

Friday, September 27, 2013

EPA Regulations of New Coal-fired Power Plants

I've been dilatory in blogging about EPA's newly proposed regulations that would, in effect, force all new coal-fired power plants (but not power plants burning natural gas) to install moderately expensive carbon-capture-and-sequestration (CCS) technologies. Frankly, I haven't yet found the time to read through the entire proposed rule (here) or its Regulatory Impact Statement (here). But you can read an concise fact sheet about the new rule, here.

What I can say about the new rule at this point is that the cost-benefit analysis part of the Regulatory Impact Statement seems unusually skimpy and reaches the following rosy conclusion that does not seem very strongly supported by the analysis:
5.12 Summary of Costs, Benefits, and Energy Impacts
Under a wide range of electricity market conditions – including EPA’s baseline scenario as well as multiple sensitivity analyses – EPA projects that the industry will choose to construct new units that already meet these standards, regardless of this proposal. As a result, EPA anticipates that the proposed EGU New Source GHG Standards will result in negligible CO2 emission changes, energy impacts, benefits or costs for new units constructed by 2020. Likewise, the Agency does not anticipate any notable impacts on the price of electricity or energy supplies. Additionally, for the reasons described above, the proposed rule is not expected to raise any reliability concerns, since reserve margins will not be impacted and the rule does not impose any requirements on existing facilities.
The presumption that the energy industry will choose to deploy CCS technologies by 2020 regardless of this proposed rule strikes me as beyond presumptuous. And I say that as someone who strongly supports the need for substantial curbs on CO2 emissions from new as well as existing sources.

I also believe the DC Circuit could well overturn the rule on the issue of whether CCS technologies are "available." Little doubt exists that CCS works in theory, and the cost should not be unbearable either for electricity producers or for consumers (especially since most new plants are being built to burn natural gas, which would not require the installation of CCS technology). However, there has been little demonstration of CCS in practice, and a reviewing court could well conclude that the lack of demonstration projects indicates that CCS is not ready for industry-wide regulatory imposition. But it's worth bearing in mind, I wrongly predicted that the DC Circuit would overturn EPA's earlier "tailoring rule" for greenhouse gas emissions (see here).

IPCC Fifth Assessment Report

The first part on the scientific basis for climate change was released today. The three other parts will be released by mid-2014. I've only had a chance to glance through it so far. As expected, the lack of rising global mean temperatures over the past decade or so seems mostly due prevailing weather patterns (La Nina) and ocean uptake of carbon. The "Summary for Policymakers," here, is easy enough reading for any undergrad. The take-home point is that if the science of climate change met a "clear and convincing" evidence standard in the last assessment report (2007), it meets a tougher "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard in the new report. Note the phrase is "reasonable doubt," so climate deniers will not be deterred.

Why Hasn't James Clapper Been Indicted?

Today, members of a Senate panel "scolded" Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander for "deceiving" the American public about the scale and scope of federal data collection (see here). What I don't understand is why the Senate did not indict and arrest Clapper for lying in sworn congressional testimony earlier this year that the NSA was not collecting data on American phone calls and emails (see here). Shortly after Edward Snowden leaked classified information about the NSA's surveillance program, Clapper admitted that he had lied (see here).

James Clapper should be convicted of lying of Congress; it's an open and shut case (see here). But he hasn't been arrested or indicted; he hasn't even lost his job. It's outrageous.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Courage of His Convictions?

After holding the floor for 21 hours in a vain effort to prevent the Senate from passing a spending bill that included funding for Obamacare, Senator Ted Cruz voted with all 99 of his colleagues on a spending measure that would do exactly that. I have no idea what his political calculus is, and I'm not sure I want to know.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Live From the Ostrom Workshop

Monday colloquium presentations have been a staple of the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in here. If you are unable to watch live between noon and 1:30 on Monday, links to archived streams can be found by clicking through to the Colloquium Series page, here.
Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University since its founding in the early 1970s. Starting this week, the colloquium is being live-streamed for the benefit of Workshop Affiliated Faculty who live and teach outside Bloomington, and for anyone else interested in viewing presentations on the cutting edge of social science. The links to the Monday colloquium series are on the Workshop homepage,

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Simple Quiz About Cycling Effort and Training Efficiency

Which requires more effort: A 57-mile ride at 19.5 mph or a 27-mile ride at 16 mph?

The answer: It depends on whether you're riding alone or a group, along with factors such as terrain and wind.

Yesterday, Dr. Jim and I rode in a big group ride north of Indy. I didn't stay with the big group for the entire ride; I turned around (with the wind) early with four other guys. We ended up with 57 miles and an average speed of 19.4 mph in right at 3 hours of riding. My Training Stress Score (TSS - a measure of effort based on the product of ride duration x average power x a power-dependent intensity-weighting factor) for the ride was 110.

Today, Dr. Jim and I stayed closer to home and rode the Orchard route as a "recovery" ride. The word "recovery is in scare quotes because everyone knows that the terrain around B-town does not really provide for a truly easy ride. Even with the approximately 2000 feet of climbing on today's ride, we tried to take it relatively slow and easy. We averaged just 16 mph for the 27.5-mile ride, which lasted just under 90 minutes. My TSS for today's ride was 113. That's more total work in half the time.

Why did I have a higher TSS on today's shorter, slower ride than on yesterday's longer, faster ride? Yesterday, I was sitting in the back of the group, protected from the wind and only expending significant effort after turns (when the elastic was stretched) and to avoid getting gapped when we rode against a tough crosswind. Today, with just Dr. Jim to keep me company, I had to work a lot harder, even though we were intentionally taking things easy.

The lesson here is pretty obvious: sitting at the back of large groups is a relatively inefficient way of improving your cycling fitness. If you want to get better faster (or even just maintain a certain level of fitness), you've got to stick your own nose into the wind. Your ride lengths and speeds may not sound as impressive, at first, but you'll get stronger faster.

That said, it's fun to occasionally jump into a big group ride. Just treat it as an "active recovery" day than a real workout (unless you spend a fair amount of time at the front, pulling into the wind).

Gunners Go Top: Arsenal 3 - Stoke City 1

At least for the time being, Arsenal sit atop the Premier League table (and will stay there if Tottenham don't beat Cardiff later today by more than two goals). It was a fairly workmanlike performance by the Gunners today; they did not dazzle, but they got the job done. Emblematic of that effort was Mesut Ozil, making his home debut for Arsenal. His passing and movement were not quite as sharp as in his earlier performances away from home, but he nevertheless assisted on each of Arsenal's three goals, all of which came off of set pieces. Ramsey, too, seemed a bit off the boil, but still scored Arsenal's first goal of the match. The defense were solid for most of the game, though Stoke frankly didn't create many good chances, despite having a good deal of possession in the second half. Mathieu Flamini was outstanding for the Gunners in his role as holding midfielder. His work rate was excellent, and he made several timely interventions in the defensive third. Eighteen-year-old Serge Gnaby made his first appearance in the starting line-up for Arsenal, as a late substitute for Theo Walcott, who picked up a slight injury in warm-ups. The young German gave a solid performance, showing strength in possession, and working back very well on defense. He even put in a decent shot on goal.

All in all, a solid performance from a team that looks increasingly likely to fulfill its manager's promise of really competing for silverware this season.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Who Says You Cant Go Home Again?

Dr. Jim and I drove up to Indy today for a big group ride that included several close friends of mine, who I haven't seen all summer (mainly because I haven't gotten up to Indy for any previous rides). The group rode from the Nebo Ridge Bike Shop in Zionsville up to Frankfort and back, a total of 80 miles. The pace was faster than advertised (as usual). I didn't mind so much riding into a headwind gusting up to 20 mph at an average speed of 20-23 mph; after all, I was in my usual position at the back of the group. But when we turned into a crosswind, keeping the pace was quite challenging.

Jim and I turned around at Kirklin, along with Bob Brooks and Brian Murphy, who hadn't planned to ride the entire route. The four of us only rode a total of 57 miles (at an average speed of 19.4 mph), but we also had a very nice lunch together at the local El Rodeo before Jim and I started the long drive back home.

It was great to see David, Larry, Scott (both Synder and Yates), big Frank, Phelgar, Sandy Raynor, and many other old friends and acquaintances. Unfortunately, as most of them were riding at the front, while I was sitting in at the back, we didn't have much time to catch up. Of course, we all missed Tim Wozniak, who is still out of action with a broken hip. But I'm sure I wasn't the only one thinking of him during the ride.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The amplituhedron

This could explain everything, literally. It's a new and relatively simple geometric structure that may lie at the heart of quantum physics. Read the story in Quanta Magazine (here).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Render on "Complexity in Property"

Meredith Render (Alabama Law) has posted "Complexity in Property" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This article illuminates the largely misunderstood relationship between complexity and the regulation of property interests. Specifically, the article presents the "complexity thesis" -- a novel explanatory account of the principle of numerus clausus. The principle of numerus clausus is an ancient common law rule which prohibits the customization of property interests. The complexity thesis holds that the primary function of numerus clausus is to prevent the proliferation of highly idiosyncratic property interests. In so doing, numerus clausus provides a bulkhead against the overwhelming complexity that would ensue if customized property interests were permitted. 
For the last fifteen years, numerus clausus has been the subject of a spirited colloquy in which property theorists of all methodological stripes have sought to unravel some of the mysteries that surround the principle. This article carefully engages several prominent explanatory accounts of numerus clausus, and demonstrates that while these competing accounts supply a number of important insights about the principle, the complexity thesis does a better job of accounting for all of the salient features of the principle without sacrificing coherence or consilience. 
Finally, the complexity thesis is especially instructive today, as the 2007 collapse of the housing market can largely be traced to a set of basic misapprehensions about the destructive power of complexity in the context of highly alienable interests. The complexity thesis demonstrates that standardization serves an essential epistemic function. Standardization makes it possible for us to better apprehend risk, and thereby avoid catastrophic miscalculations such as those that led to the housing collapse.
The article is very interesting and well-written. As someone who questions the basic property/contract distinction that is supposedly represented by the in rem-in personam distinction and the numerus clausus, I can't say I found Meredith's argument entirely persuasive. For example, she claims that credit default obligations (CDOs) (among other disastrously complex financial instruments) are mere contracts and "not property," but she doesn't provide any real arguments in support of that conclusion. In a general sense, CDO contracts are about allocating ownership (in a legitimate sense of that word) of risk. She even concedes that a CDO is both alienable and valuable. In addition, I assume (though she doesn't come right out and tell us) that CDOs are subject to exclusive possession, so that a legal action would lie for their misappropriation or expropriation. Thus, they look and act a lot like property. Merely calling them contracts does not mean property-based rights and obligations do not apply.

Moreover, it is a category mistake to say that some thing is or is not property. Things aren't property. Property denotes sets of rights and duties applicable to things (including intangible things). So, even if CDOs are not themselves property, there may be - and I would suggest are - property rights in CDOs (just as their are property rights in pollution emissions allowances even though Congress has explicitly disclaimed that such allowances constitute property, see here, p. 291).

If I am right that CDOs are an object of property (rights and duties that are good against not only the contracting parties but many people, perhaps everyone in the world, who is not a party to the contract), then the numerous clausus and its simple and presumably exclusive set of property categories really cannot be said to have saved us from undesirable complexity in legal relationships. To the contrary, if the rights and obligations appertaining to CDOs are in the nature of property, it just goes to show that the numerus clausus has lost whatever (contested) significance it ever had in the law of property (as if that loss of significance were not already clear enough from the rise of the law of trusts).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Medema on Coase

Steve Medema has a fine remembrance of Coase and his work at Vox (here). I especially how Medema exposes the contradiction of those who (1) observe that Coase opposed "blackboard" economics, while (2) suggesting that his primary contribution was the so-called "Coase theorem." As Medema notes, " the ‘Coase theorem’... is in many respects the height of ‘blackboard economics....’" In fact, it was merely Coase's restatement of the basic assumptions of the neoclassical economic theory (including the usually unstated assumption of zero transaction costs), which Coase sought to displace with his new institutional approach, based on the existence of ubiquitous and often quite high transaction costs.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Challenges of Interdisciplinary Scholarship: The Joint Appointment

In their 2010 book Working Together, my fellow Workshoppers Amy Poteete, Marco Janssen, and Lin Ostrom discussed at length the difficulties of breaking down academic "silos" to enable true interdisciplinary cooperation. For as much as colleges and universities love to talk about interdisciplinarity these days, actually walking the walk remains an uphill battle.

Aside from well-understood obstacles such as departmental budget lines, course staffing concerns, different research agendas and methodological preferences, and preferred publication outlets (which have their own anti-interdisciplinary biases), special problems confront individual scholars (like me) with fully joint appointments, even assuming that one has a primary home in a certain department. I, for example, hold joint appointments in Law and in Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). Each of those departments pays half of my base salary, and my course load is evenly split between them. Law is my primary home, which means it is my sole reporting line - the only place where I am supposed to have service (e.g., committee) requirements. As a practical matter, however, in order to feel like a fully integrated member of SPEA, it is necessary for me to do more there than simply teach my classes there. I feel compelled to attend at least some of their (numerous) faculty meetings and scholarly presentations,  and to pull my weight on faculty candidate interviews, PhD student supervision, and even some committee work. In addition to SPEA and the law school, I also serve, entirely by choice, in a leadership position in the Ostrom Workshop, which actually imposes more administrative burdens on my time than the Law School and SPEA combined, especially given the colloquia, working group meetings, etc. that occur on a weekly basis in the Workshop. And, just to top things off, I'm now an adjunct faculty member in Political Science, which creates a few more self-imposed obligations to participate at least to a minimal extent in the life of that department.

My weekly calendar now is simply a catalogue of meetings and presentations, several of which conflict with others. Even with teaching only one course this semester, I have scant time for work on my own research projects, which currently number above a half-dozen. I cannot really complain about this situation because, as an interdisciplinary scholar, I have chosen it for myself. But it creates a conundrum because ultimately I do need to get my work done, even as I'm trying to fit in with my colleagues across campus. I'm not sure a satisfactory remedy exists for this situation. It may simply be that a commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship entails a commitment to be way too busy. Lin Ostrom clearly did not conceive of being too busy as a problem. I do.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Ozil Era Has Begun: Sunderland 1 - Arsenal 3

It often takes foreign players several matches (or longer) to get used to the pace and press of the Premier League. It took Mesut Ozil approximately 12 minutes to reach his comfort level, as he took down a long, over-the-shoulder pass with a deft touch, glanced to his right, and played an inch-perfect cross to the in-form Olivier Giroud, who once again made a difficult shot look easy as he beat the keeper at the near corner from about 17-yards out. That was the first of what are sure to be many assists for Arsenal's new quarterback. In fact, Ozil should have (and would have) had at least two more assists had Theo Walcott managed to put away at least one or two of the four excellent scoring chances that fell to his feet (and head) in the first-half alone. Given that Arsenal had a full 70% of possession in the first half, the 1-0 halftime score line flattered Sunderland and created a sense of unease for Arsenal fans.

That unease was validated when Sunderland scored an early goal on a penalty in the second half. It took some time for the Gunners to regroup, but eventually they retook the lead on the first of two excellent goals by the ever-improving Aaron Ramsey. After Ramsey's first, Sunderland were unlucky not to retie the match, when replays showed that a shot by Josey Altidore crossed the line before being kicked away. Apparently, referee Martin Atkinson blew the whistle early for a foul against Altidore before he broke free to put the shot on target. Not long after that, Ramsey scored his second and the game was effectively over.

Arsenal's midfield looked formidable today, with the new boy Ozil working very well with both Wilshire and Ramsey, and Flamini playing the role of defensive midfielder nearly to perfection. On the hand, Arsenal's defense looked far from convincing, especially in the second half, when Sunderland created several good scoring opportunities. Arsenal's only truly poor performer on the day was Theo Walcott, who not only spurned several good scoring opportunities but also wasted a couple free kicks and corners.I don't know if it's a matter of low confidence, lack of concentration, or just Theo's old inconsistency coming back to haunt him, but Arsenal need more from their speedy winger.

Congratulations to Chris Horner

The 41(nearly 42)-year-old  American rider for Team RadioShack sewed up the Vuelta a Espana today with a second-place finish on a very exciting finish atop the Angliru, one of the world's toughest climbs. Having started the day with only a 3 second advantage over Vincenzo Nibali in the General Classification, Horner withstood everything Nibali could throw at him on the final climb before finally riding away from his opponent in the final kilometers to stretch his lead to a 37 seconds going into tomorrow's final procession into Madrid, which will be contested only by the sprinters. This must be the greatest victory of Horner's career, and especially satisfying following the spate of serious injuries he suffered the past few seasons. Truly am amazing performance

An Illustration of Puck-Handling Skills from Patrick Kane (Very Impressive)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In Uncharted Territory

Three full weeks into the new semester and I still haven't fallen behind schedule in Climate Law & Policy. That is a new record.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Excellent Panel Discussion of the Snowden Affair and US National (In)Security

The IU Maurer Law School hosted the panel last week. Each of the presentations is worth a close listen. The presenters were excellent (although, as they are my colleagues, I might be a bit biased).

For Whom To Root After Jens Retires?

Everyone loves Jens Voigt because of his toughness, his sense of humor, his crazy attacks, the way he makes himself and everyone else suffer, when he turns the screw at the front of the peloton, and did I mention his crazy attacks? But Jens is planning to retire after next year, just before he turns 43. Hopefully, between now and then, he'll give us a lot more to cheer about. But it doesn't solve the biggest problem we have: To whom should we transfer our allegiance after the great man retires? Obviously, no rider can fill Jens' shoes. No other rider has a website dedicated to his famous sayings and famous sayings about him (see here, and keep refreshing).

Having acknowledged Jens' uniqueness, allow me to humbly suggest Adam Hansen, the Aussie rider for Lotto-Belisol (who just happens to be in today's stage of the Vuelta). Earlier this year, he won a stage of the Giro in a similar breakaway. But here's really all you need to know about Hansen: next week, when the Vuelta ends, he will have successfully ridden seven grand tours in a row: all three this year, all three last year, and the Vuelta the year before. Talk about a grueling program of racing. Talk about a truly super domestique. Truly a strong man of the peloton.

BTW, does anyone happen to know the record for consecutive completions of grand tours?

The Complexities of Leszek Kolakowski

John Connelly provides a nuanced, in-depth portrait in The Nation, here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

What Do You Mean By "The Government"?

Vincent Ostrom used to ask that question all the time to Workshop speakers who made assertions about something "the government" did, failed to do, believed, asserted, etc.

In his 2006 book, Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (and How We the People Can Correct It), University of Texas Law Professor Sanford Levinson makes Vincent's point quite neatly with an anecdote from a trip he took to China:
During the week that I was there, the Congress, by joint resolution, had condemned the oppression by China of the people of Tibet. But the official spokesman for the U.S. Department of State had announced that the United States treats events in Tibet as an internal matter for the People's Republic of China, and therefore the United States had no comment on what was happening there. A Chinese scholar was justifiably confused and asked me, "What is the position of your government?" My reply was that the  United States did not have a government in the sense that his question suggested. Her Majesty, the Queen of England, might have "a government" whose policies on any given issue are instantly identifiable. We in the United States, on the other hand, have distinctly separated institutions [I would call them institutionally-created organizations] that on occasion sharply contend with one another to make declarations in the name of the United States. In this instance, Congress had one policy, the president another.
I've been enjoying Levinson's book; I am in wide agreement with his complaints about aspects of the US Constitution. But he hasn't really made the normative argument for how democratic the Constitution should be; nor has he convinced me that a constitutional convention would yield a product that is anything like what he (or I) would envision, or even a product that is marginally better than the current version.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Most Ridiculous Claim I Read Today

From Mark Worrell at ESPN FC (here):
It is Lampard's remarkable prowess in front of goal that settles many a lively debate about who the greatest player of the Premier League generation really is. Manchester United fans may champion the credentials of players like Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. Liverpool fans would tout Steven Gerrard. Arsenal would claim Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, while Newcastle point to Alan Shearer. All of them fantastic talents, but none of them, in the final analysis, come close to Super Frank. 
Among the seven players named in the above paragraph, Lampard , who is a great player to be sure, comes in a solid seventh.

Colts Beat Raiders, But Haven't Solved Last Year's Problems

In the first half, it looked like the Colts would roll to an easy victory, behind Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, and an improved running game. But even before the half ended, old bad habits began creeping in. The offensive line broke down; Luck was sacked five times and hit or harassed many others. The running game bogged down in the second half. And the Colts defense seemed mystified by Raider quarterback Aaron Pryor, who had an outstanding debut, except for a couple of crucial errors. The Colts beefed-up defensive line kept the Raider's running backs in check, but the slippery QB ran rampant, and Colts couldn't figure out how to solve it. It almost cost them the game, and would have but for Luck's ability, so often in evidence last season, to rally the troops for a 4th quarter comeback, which he capped off with a 12-yard touchdown dash.

If the Colts don't solve their pass protection problems, it's going to be another long, bruising season for Luck. Hopefully, they won't run into too many more quarterbacks like Pryor, who looks to have all the makings of a terrific pro, once he gets the rookie mistakes out of his system.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ackerman vs. Obama on Legal Education

Yale Law and Political Science Professor Bruce Ackerman has an op-ed in today's Washington Post (here) which raises several good objections to President Obama's claim that two years of law school are sufficient.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Among the Worst Ideas Ever

The Telegraph "boils down" classic books to 140 characters (here). Why on earth would anyone want to do such a thing? Next, I suppose, they'll be "boiling down" a Rembrandt to 140 brush strokes, and a  Beethoven symphony to 140 notes.

On the plus side, they did get my attention, which is not so easy for supposed journalism outlets to do anymore.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Great Loss: Ronald Coase Has Passed Away at 102

Over at Legal Theory blog (here), Larry Solum is reporting that Ronald Coase has passed away. Coase was among the most important economists of the twentieth century; he laid the foundations for the modern field of Law & Economics; and he was co-founder with fellow Nobel laureate Douglass North of the International Society for New Institutional Economics. Although still widely misunderstood among both economists and legal scholars, the importance of his work on the crucial role institutions (including formal laws) play in structuring economic activity in the real world of positive transaction costs will endure. The brilliance of his thinking and lucidity of his writing ensures that Coase will continue to be read by scholars from various fields long after most other economists of the twentieth century are forgotten.

Wenger Does Business

Leaving it late as usual, Arsene Wenger may have pulled off the coup of the entire transfer season, bringing creative midfielder Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid to the Emirates Stadium for a record fee. Arguably, the position is not one of Arsenal's greatest current needs, but given Ozil's stature, this is a massive shot in the arm for the Gunners.

In addition to Ozil, Arsenal have brought in on season-long loan goalkeeper Emilio Viviano from Palermo. Long a target of Wenger's, Viviano will push current number one goalie Wojciech Szczesny for the starting position.

Arsenal failed, however, to secure Demba Ba on a similar loan from Chelsea, where Ba is surplus to Jose Marinho's requirements. But Chelsea understandly simply did not want to loan the player to a league rival. This is particularly disappointing for Gunners fans as Arsenal really do need another striker to complement the impressive Olivier Giroud up front, especially now that Lukas Podolski is out with injury for a couple months.

Arsenal could also use another central defender - perhaps the thinnest position at the club. But with the deadline one a couple of hours away, I've seen no reports of a possible move (which doesn't mean it can't happen).

UPDATE: The reactions to Ozil's signing are uniformly enthusiastic, although a few sources are questioning whether the Gunners really needed another creative midfielder. Others claims that this is Arsenal's most important signing since Dennis Bergkamp (the greatest number 10 in Arsenal's history). Indeed, the two players share a classy and nuanced touch, along with the ability to perfectly weight their passes. But beyond common playing styles, Ozil's signing is similar to Bergkamp's in the signal it sends to the footballing world: Arsenal are not content to become a feeder team for the richest clubs in the world; it can still attract the world's very best footballers, and it is now, finally willing to spend big money to do so. There is no question that even though no striker was signed today Ozil's presence at the Emirates will be a big attraction for strikers next summer. If your job is to score goals, your prime concern is a play-maker who can put you in a position to do that. No one has provided more assists over the past few seasons in any of the major leagues than Ozil. What striker wouldn't have wanted to play with Dennis Bergkamp? What striker today wouldn't want to play with Mesut Ozil?

ONE FINAL NOTE: Ironically, Ozil would not have been available for the Gunners had Tottenham not sold Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. It was that deal that left Ozil out of the picture in Madrid. So, now Bale is gone from Tottenham, and Arsenal have spent approximately half as much money to buy an arguably better player. I always knew that the Spurs wanted to help the Gunners - their goaless performance at the Emirates this past weekend is just the latest example - but selling Bale so that Arsenal could sign one of the best midfielders in the game is almost too generous. I said "almost."

Lots of Miles After Week Off

Having taken a rest week off the bike, I got back to cycling yesterday and today. On Sunday, Dr. Jim and I didn't go far, just the Forest Route from my house, but we rode it fairly hard, averaging 17.3 mph for the 25-mile ride, including the climb up Beanblossom. Today, we went for endurance over pace, riding a 42-mile route to the south and west of Bloomington from his house on the southeast side of town. Lots of fun rollers on the first part of the ride, and Popcorn Road out of Harrodsburg was great. Lots of climbing on the way back into town. After we got back to Jim's house, I pretty much soft pedaled my way back home, barely getting up the north side of Griffy Lake. I totaled just under a metric century at 61.6 miles. All in all, a solid weekend of riding after a week off the bike.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

One Nil To The Arsenal: Arsenal 1 - Tottenham 0

A victory for stinginess over free-spending? In four games this season (in all competitions) Tottenham, with its collection of new, expensive talent have scored three goals, all on penalty kicks. Arsenal's Oliver Giroud has scored more than that (4) on his own.

It was his first half goal, at the end of a flowing move and a fine cross from Walcott, that gave Arsenal the three points in today's derby. Giroud flicked Walcott's cross almost casually with the outside of his left boot at the near post from six yards out. It was not an easy shot, but Giroud made it look easy.

Arsenal carried the 1-0 lead into the dressing room at halftime, thanks in part to a very solid defensive display. Arsenal's back four, supported well by midfielders working back, mostly prevented Tottenham from creating scoring chances with well-timed tackles. Szczesny was required to make only two tough-ish saves in the entire half.

But the first-half was not free of bad news as Jack Wilshire had to be substituted in the final minutes of the first half because he was not feeling well; at least he wasn't injured. The newly signed former Invincible (from Arsenal's 2004-5 unbeaten Championship squad) Mathieu Flamini took his place. Flamini, who was surplus to requirements at AC Milan this season, is a legitimate holding midfielder, a position where Arsenal definitely have needed help. If he has anything left at this point in his career, his signing will prove valuable (even if Wenger didn't have to spend a single pound to get him).

The second half started with a bit less fire and flow than the first, but as time wore on Tottenham had to commit more men to attack in an effort to get back in the match, and Arsenal started looking for opportunities on the counter. Arsenal's defense retained a good shape and the midfielders kept tracking back in the support, so that Tottenham found it difficult to create any really good chances. On a couple of occasions, Arsenal's counterattack sprung into life, but each time the final pass didn't quite find its target.

In the 76th minute, Arsenal suffered its first real defensive lapse, and Tottenham may consider themselves unlucky not to have scored, despite a fine save by Szczesny of one deflected shot. The ball was pinballing around the Arsenal area, and the Gunners were lucky that it didn't wind up in the back of their net. A few minutes later, Arsenal probably should have scored at the other end. After that, it was just a matter of Arsenal absorbing Tottenham's frenzied pressure in the five minutes of stoppage time. That the Gunners withstood the pressure is a very good sign, and must give the defense confidence.

Just in case Arsene Wenger wants to take this game as evidence that Arsenal are prepared to challenge for the title with their current squad, here's a list of the substitutes on the bench to remind him that his team lack depth in quality: Fabianski; Sagna (who came on as a second-half stoppage-time substitute though , like Wilshire, he was suffering from illness that prevented him from starting the match); Monreal (who came on as a second-half substitute); Flamini (who came on as a first-half substitute); Gnabry; Gedion Zelalem; and Sanogo. If Arsenal are to compete for silverware this season (or any season), it's not enough to have a strong starting 11 (which they do); they must have strength and quality in depth (which they don't). It will have not gone unnoticed by Arsenal fans in the stands that on a couple of occasions towards the end of the match, Ramsey and Gibbs were both seen to be grabbing their hamstrings.