Monday, March 31, 2014

IPCC Working Group II Publishes Section of AR5 on Socio-Economic Impacts of Climate Chnage

The full WGII report is here. The Summary for Policymakers is here. Before reading through the Summary, I had read that the respected climate economist Richard J.S. Tol had resigned from Working Group II because the final report, in his view, was too "alarmist" about threats to food security (see, e.g., here).

Having now glanced through the main findings in the Summary, I agree with Tol that the Working Group might not have taken sufficient account of adaptability in agriculture. But overall the report seems consistent with the Working Group I's latest assessment of the physical science basis of climate change. And, as someone who has been following the science and social-science of climate change for some time (without participating at all in the UN or IPCC processes), I did not find Working Group II's report unduly alarmist. That said, I have not yet had time to read the full report as carefully as I would like.

Putting Clean Coal to the Test

Finally, the world's first two commercial-scale coal-fired power plants with full carbon capture and sequestration technology (CCS) will begin operating this year. National Geographic has the story here. CCS is a critical "bridging" technology," which can dramatically reduce carbon emissions (as well as emissions of toxic air pollutants) from power plants, while the world awaits the development of scalable, reliable (for base power supply) and affordable low- or non-carbon fuel sources. It will be most interesting to see how much carbon is removed and effectively sequestered, and at what cost.

New Neighbor Stops By to Say Hi

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Arsenal 1 - Man City 1

Based on previous games against other top-four clubs, and Arsenal's recent (poor) record against Man City, I expected Arsenal to lose this game at home by at least three or four goals to one. How much credit, if any, do the Gunners and Arsene Wenger deserve for a draw?

The importance of the contest was underscored by Chelsea's defeat, earlier in the day, away to Crystal Palace, which created an opportunity for Man City to draw even on points with the League leaders (with two games in hand), or for Arsenal to pull back to within three points of the League lead (although we Arsenal fans have already pretty much reconciled ourselves to not winning the League trophy this season).

Man City took the lead in the 20th minute on a goal by the in-form David Silva. Once again, Arsenal had to chase a game against a side with a lethal counterattack. To their credit, the Gunners responded almost immediately, but Flamini was ruled offside when he slid in toward the six-yard box to bounce a Podolski cross into the net. That turned out to be the only clear-cut chance Arsenal created in the first half. But at least they kept the deficit at one heading into the halftime break.

I don't know whether Wenger did, or needed to, say anything to the team during the break; everyone must have known the importance of getting three points, no matter how strong the opposition. In any case, Arsenal continue to come at the Man City defense, and eventually found the opening to create the equalizer, which Flamini scored in the 53d minute from a cross to the center-top of the box by Podolski. Arsenal should perhaps have had a second a minute later, when Sagna crossed a ball right across the top of the six yard box that no one touched; unfortunately, no one was breaking in on goal to get the vital touch. Nevertheless, with more than a half hour still to play, the game was level, and Arsenal seemed to be in the ascendancy.

About ten minutes later, both teams created good opportunities. First, Man City missed an opportunity when Szczesny came out to claim a cross but missed it; the ball bounded across the end line off of Mertesacker, but Arsenal were awarded a goal kick. Then, Arsenal had a similar opportunity in the Man City penalty area, but Podolski's good shot from the left channel was well saved by Joe Hart. After that, Man City started to put more pressure on Arsenal's defense, creating a couple of set pieces from dangerous areas, but they were unable to convert them into clear goal-scoring opportunities.

Both teams created decent chances as the second half wore on, but couldn't quite get through the other's defense to get the winning goal. In the final ten minutes of the match, City seemed to tire a bit; or perhaps Arsenal were just more motivated to chase all three points. In any case, Arsenal were pressing for the winning goal into stoppage time. But none was forthcoming. The game ended in a draw. A moral victory for the Gunners? If so, what's a moral victory worth?

An Excellent Friday

It started with judging a moot court for a class of very bright and smart fifth graders, and ended with two terrific Sweet Sixteen games at Lucas Oil Stadium, sitting almost as close to the court as the photographers. In between, I attended a panel at the annual conference of SPEA PhD students, and a really fun and interesting lunch talk by University of Wisconsin Professor Susan Webb Yackee, who is researching lobbyists' influence on the President's Office of Management and Budget.

I'm not a huge college basketball fan, and sitting through two games in one evening is not normally my idea of a night out; but the atmosphere, especially for the second game between Kentucky and Louisville was electric. I didn't get home until 2 am, but it was an excellent day all things considered.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I'm Probably Not the Right Person to Ask About Religious Liberty for Corporations

Today, the Court heard oral arguments in a case brought by two corporations, arguing that they should be exempt on religious grounds from the Affordable Care Act's requirement that they provide health insurance to employees that includes contraceptive care. You can get a decent background understanding about the case here.

From my point of view, this case shouldn't even be before the court. And religious liberty shouldn't extend any farther than prohibiting the government from enacting laws that discriminate on the basis of religious belief (or disbelief). Among other things, this means that churches should not be exempt from property taxes or other taxes that apply equally to every other property owner. And they should have to abide by all duly enacted laws that do not tend to "establish" one church (or one set of churches) over another (or others).

We should never have even gotten to the point where we are considering ruling a law unconstitutional because of the religious convictions (however sincere) of some corporation's owners (obviously, corporations cannot themselves have religious beliefs or convictions - that is another respect in which corporations definitely are not people).

The Hangover: Arsenal 2 - Swansea City - 2

Swansea scored in the 11th minute, against the run of play, and Arsenal were left to chase the game. Chase it and chase it they did, with loads of possession, but hardly ever threatening Swansea's goal.

As the game wore on after halftime, Arsenal fans were left wondering whether the hangover following Chelsea's demolition job on Saturday was going to leave so much scar tissue that the Gunners might not even qualify for next year's Champions' League. After all, today's match against Swansea at home was supposed to be Arsenal's easy one, between Chelsea and Man City, followed by a trip to Everton.

Arsenal were still chasing the game in the 73d minute, when almost out of nothing they scored the equalizer on a goal by Podolski from a cross by Gibbs. A minute later, Podolski turned provider, crossing a ball into the box for Olivier Giroud to slot home. All of a sudden, after producing almost no real chances throughout the match, Arsenal were leading with just a quarter of an hour remaining.

With both Arteta and Flamini on the pitch, Arsenal seemed secure enough on defense. But no one-goal lead is ever really safe. And Arsenal gave up a soft one in the 90th minute. Four or five Arsenal players were chasing the ball around the outside of the box, which opened up the center channel for Leon Britton to run in to. Szczesny came out to block his shot, but it rebounded in off of Flamini.

Today's match was not about the race for the Premiership Title - that horse has left the barn. This was about rebuilding confidence (especially on home turf) heading into another spate of tough matches. For that purpose, Arsenal needed all three points. They got just one.

The FA Cup is still there for the taking, but with Arsenal's confidence at low ebb and the manager seemingly out of ideas, the task is more daunting that it might appear, given the quality (on paper) of the opponents.

Indiana Abolishes Common Core. Next in Line: Public Schools?

Indiana has become the first state to abandon the "common core," a program developed by state education superintendents working with state governors, that seeks to set a national standard for achievement in grades K-12 (see here). I confess I have mixed feelings about this move.

On the one hand, I am no fan of national education standards or, especially, standardized testing, which virtually forces teachers to "teach to the test." On the other hand, the attack on the "common core" in Indiana was led by the Tea Party (see here), and I can't imagine agreeing with the Tea Party on any education policy. If we allow the Tea Party to determine our educational priorities, the entire system of public education, which is deeply flawed but still vital to the American experiment in democracy, would soon be dismantled, and everyone would be home-schooled with the Bible as the only science text.

Rumsfeld Insists He Could Do Better than Obama on Afghanistan

According to the Washington Post (here), Rumsfeld reportedly told Fox News (who else?) that a "trained ape" could have done better than Obama in securing a "status of forces" agreement with Afghanistan.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Financial Economics Analysis of Arsenal's "Extreme Negative Performance"

The Stumbling and Mumbling Blog (here) applies financial economics theory to Arsenal's unusual level of tail risk (when they're bad, they're all really bad) and recommends that the Gunners need to sign players with "negative betaness," so that, instead of all 11 players stinking up the pitch, the team has at least a couple players who play well when others are playing below par.

How about a manager with "negative betaness"?

Some Really Interesting Working Papers at SSRN

All of these I've downloaded just in the past couple of days. I hope to be able to read all of them before the end of business today. I'm particularly enamored of the Qiao paper, which raises some really interesting issues about the bottom-up (vs. top-down) creation of property rights. More than that, Qiao presents evidence for bottom-up creation of functional property rights even when the de jure legal systems prohibits it.

Shitong Qiao, "Small Property, Big Market: A Focal Point Explanation." Abstract: Based on one year of fieldwork, this article presents a real estate market without legal titles to challenge formal property rights as a precondition for markets. In Shenzhen, the iconic city of China’s market economy, more than half of the buildings are developed and transferred against the law. These illegal buildings are called small properties because their property rights are "smaller" (weaker) than legal properties. This article models the formation and operation of the small-property market as coordination games, and demonstrates that a focal point of rural land development and transfer coordinates players’ expectations to converge on the same equilibrium.

Hanoch Dagan & Tsilly Dagan, "Facilitating the Commons Inside Out." Abstract: Commons property is a true challenge to the law, especially in a legal context that respects individual mobility, which is key to freedom and autonomy. While a tragedy of the commons is not inevitable, the sustainability – let alone flourishing – of the commons is far from obvious either. But the rewards of the latter trajectory are critical: a successful commons property can generate significant economic benefits, due to its intrinsic advantages of economies of scale, risk-spreading, specialization, and synergy. These benefits multiply in the context of social commons property regimes that function as the loci and engines of meaningful interpersonal relationships; indeed, they at times even become constitutive elements of commoners’ identities. This Essay explores examples of governance mechanisms for the collective management of resources as well as tax tools for collective production that can support the success of these social commons property regimes. These legal devices, which set (respectively) the internal rules of the game and provide external incentives, both counter the potentially destructive dynamics of the commons property and help preserve the noncommodified aspects of its owners’ community.

[I confess I don't understand the title, but the discussion of how standard co-ownership institutions, as well as tax policy, might be used effectively to facilitate the success of larger common property regimes, without depriving co-owners of the important right of exit, is fascinating. I hope a longer and deeper analysis will be forthcoming (which is something I don't often say about law articles).] 

Erol Akcay, Joan Roughgarden, James Fearon, John Ferejohn, Barry Weingast, el al. (sic?), Biological Institutions: The Political Science of Animal Cooperation Abstract: Social evolution is one of the most rapidly developing areas in evolutionary biology. A main theme is the emergence of cooperation among organisms, including the factors that impede cooperation. Although animal societies seem to have no formal institutions, such as courts or legislatures, we argue that biology presents many examples where an interaction can properly be thought of as an informal institution, meaning there are evolved norms and structure to the interaction that enable parties to reach mutually beneficial outcomes. These informal institutions are embedded in the natural history of the interaction, in factors such as where and when parties interact, how long and how close they stay together, and so on. Institutional theory thus widens the scope of behavioral ecology by considering not only why animals evolve to choose the strategies they choose, but also asking both why it is that they find themselves in those particular interaction setups and how these particular interactions can be sustained. Institutions frequently enable interacting parties avoid inefficient outcomes and support efficient exchange among agents with conflicting interests.

The main thesis of this paper is that the organization of many biological interactions can properly be understood as institutions that enable mutually beneficial outcomes to be achieved relative to an unstructured interaction. To do this, institutions resolve or regulate the conflicts of interests among parties. The way conflicts of interests affect the outcome depends on the structure of the interaction, which can create problems of commitment, coordination and private information. Institutional theory focuses on how to address each of these issues, typically focusing on the development of social norms, rules, and other constraints on individual behaviors. We illustrate our thesis with examples from cooperative breed and genes as within-body-mechanism-design.

Wojciech Sadurski, "Defending Public Reason." Abstract: The ideal of public reason has been criticized on the basis that it is, under available interpretations of the ideal, either “too thin” or “too thick”, and also that it creates perverse incentives for insincerity in public life. In the first part of the paper I consider, and rebut, the core case against Public Reason, as advanced by Ronald Dworkin and Jeremy Waldron. Against the charge that it is a toothless ideal (that it is “too thin”) which would eliminate nearly nothing from public discourse, I argue that this objection is tenable only if we adopt an implausibly subjectivist conception of reasonableness used in tandem with the ideal of public reason. Against the charge that it would lead to a drastic erosion of public discourse (hence, that it is “too thick”), I argue that this disregards a distinction between generalized public discourse and advocacy of laws which are to actually become legislation, broadly speaking. I also argue that the stricture of public reason rests on the same type of restrictions on public arguments which we adopt as legitimate in many spheres of argument and justification anyway. In the second part of the paper I argue, against the argument that the ideal of public reason is detrimental to the principle of candour in public, that one should not confuse “strategic” choice of argument, triggered by the concern for efficiency of persuasion or by the principle of respect to the audience, with deception and insincerity.

Jeremy Waldron, "Isaiah Berlin's Neglect of Enlightenment Constitutionalism." Abstract: One of the most important achievements of the Enlightenment is what I shall call Enlightenment constitutionalism. It transformed our political thinking out of all recognition; it left, as its legacy, not just the repudiation of monarchy and nobility in France in the 1790s but the unprecedented achievement of the framing, ratification, and establishment of the Constitution of the United States. It comprised the work of Diderot, Kant, Locke, Madison, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Sieyes, and Voltaire. It established the idea of a constitution as an intricate mechanism designed to house the untidiness and pluralism of human politics.

Yet Isaiah Berlin, supposedly one of our greatest interpreters of the Enlightenment, said almost nothing about it. The paper develops this claim and it speculates as to why this might be so. Certainly one result of Berlin's sidelining of Enlightenment constitutionalism is to lend spurious credibility to his well-known claim that Enlightenment social design was perfectionist, monastic, and potentially totalitarian. By ignoring Enlightenment constitutionalism, Berlin implicitly directed us away from precisely the body of work that might have refuted this view of Enlightenment social design.

In addition to those new papers, Jonathan Israel's new tome, Revolutionary Ideas: An Intellectual History of the French Revolution from The Rights of Man to Robespierre (Princeton 2014) just showed up my doorstep this past Friday. Like his past books on the enlightenment, which focus on the role radical thinkers have played in the history of the modern era, the new book is massive at nearly 900 pages long. Nevertheless, I'm sure I'll enjoy and learn a lot from his historical analysis, as well as his penchant to pick interpretive fights with scholars inclined to give less credit to the more radical thinkers of the times.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Chelsea 6 - Arsenal 0

The less said about this debacle the better. Arsenal have no excuses. They simply lack the mental fortitude to compete on the road against the best teams in the Premier League. The combined scores of their games away to the three teams above them in the League Table (Chelsea, Man City, and Liverpool): 17-3. Utter embarrassment.

Still, the FA Cup remains there for the winning. The Gunners will not have to face any of the top teams to win that piece of silverware this season. Their biggest obstacle will be their own mental fragility in big games.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson Doesn't Notice George Clooney Trying to Get Into His "Cosmos" Spaceship

Apparently, despite all the work I have to do over Spring Break, I have too much free time on my hands.

It Doesn't Get Better than Umphrey's McGee Live for Free

The concert recording was made last night in Aspen. And because of technical problems uploading it to their normal site for subscribers, the band put the whole thing on YouTube for all of us to enjoy.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Bloomington Sacrilege

I'd trade every Asian restaurant in town for a single P.F. Chang's.

Tyler Cowen Applies Game Theory to Crimea

Here in the New York Times. The analysis of how the conflict reached this point is excellent, but it does not much help in strategizing a resolution.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tottenham 0 -Arsenal 1

After falling out of the Champion's League in midweek, Arsenal faced an always testy derby match at North-London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. This match is always a big one on the schedule, but it's importance this time around was underscored by Arsenal's need to keep pace with Liverpool and take advantage of Chelsea's stumble at Hull City. A victory would keep the Gunners even on points with Liverpool, just four points behind the League-leaders. A loss would pull Tottenham to within three points of Arsenal, creating an undesirable battle for the fourth and final Champion's League spot for next season.

Arsenal's rash of midfield injuries, with Ozil, Ramsey, and Wilshire all sidelined, made the challenge even greater for the Gunners. Despite those injuries, Arsenal could boast a midfield line-up at least the equal of Tottenham's, including the in-form Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla and Thomas Rosicky, and Lukas Podolski, along with Mikel Arteta in a more defensive role. Wenger's seemingly prescient January signing of Kim Kallstrom provided further depth on the bench along with the impressive German youngster Serge Gnabry. If Arsenal could afford some injuries in midfield this year, that is definitely not the case in the defense. Fortunately, Kieran Gibbs passed a fitness test and was available to start, ensuring that Arsenal would have a complete set of regular starters at the back.

Arsenal got off to a dream start, thanks to a rocket of a strike by Thomas Rosicky in the second minute. Rosicky received a lay-off from Oxlade-Chamberlain near the top right corner of the penalty box and blasted the ball across the goal keeper and into to the far corner of the net. After that, Tottenham upped their intensity, and Arsenal seemed content to allow Spurs more of the possession, playing with 10 men on their own side of the field, looking for counter-attacking possibilities. It almost worked a treat in the 15th minute, when Oxlade-Chamberlain broke in alone on goal from the halfway line, but made a hash of his attempt to chip it passed the goalkeeper. Gunners should have been up 2-0, and their fans were left wondering whether that miss would prove significant.

Throughout the balance of the first half, the Spurs attacked hard, but always looked fragile on defense. They created a few good chances for themselves, but gave up as many at the other end. Still, Arsenal led by only one goal as the half came to a close, and Tottenham were getting the ball in and around the Arsenal penalty area far too easily and often.

At the start of the second half, it seemed that Arsenal goalie Wojciech Szczesny was trying single-handedly to put Tottenham back in the match. On two occasions within a minute, Szczesny flailed at balls into his area, and had to be bailed-out by goal-saving blocks by his defenders. Tottenham really should have scored, but definitely were growing in confidence that they would score eventually - especially if Szczesny did not get his head into the match. As the announcers said, "they're getting closre and closer."

For a long while, nearly all the traffic was in one direction - toward the Arsenal goal. But virtually everytime a Tottenham player launched a pass into Arsenal's penalty area looking for Adebayor, it seemed the big German defender Per Mertesacker was positioned perfectly to head the ball back out of the area. Throughout the second half, Mertesacker seemed the most poised and commanding player on Arsenal's side. The big man was a giant. I lost count of how many times he headed the ball today - it must have been well into double-figures. So effective was Mertesacker inside the Arsenal penalty area that Adebayor started coming out of the box to receive the ball in a position to instead run at Mertesacker.

As the half wore on, Arsene Wenger sensed that his team were defending more desperately, and inserted Mathieu Flamini into the match in place of the goal-scorer Thomas Rosicky to add a bit more backbone. Ten minutes after that, Wenger brought in another defender Nacho Monreal to replace attacking midfielder Lukas Podolski. Without question, Wenger had decided he was going to try to win the game 1-0. But it was almost 2-0 right after that, as Mertesacker nearly scored off of a set piece. It was against the run of play, but if not for an excellent save by Hugo Lloris, Arsenal would have killed off the match. Ten minutes more went by, and Wenger inserted yet another defender, Thomas Vermaelen. So, Arsenal finished the match with a very unusual back five, supported by two defensive midfielders. Despite that, Adebayor still forced a good save out of Szczesny in the final minutes of regular time.

When the four minutes of stoppage time were finally at the end, it was 1-nil to the Arsenal. It was not a particularly comfortable or stylish win for the Gunners; but it rarely is in a derby match against Spurs. The only thing that mattered was that Arsenal collected all three points on offer and effectively rejoined the race for the Premier League title.

Man of the match:

Saturday, March 15, 2014

First Orchard RIde of the Year

A beautiful day for the first real outdoor ride of the new year, with temps in the low-50s and a 9 mph breeze from the West. Dr. Jim and I rode one of our standard circuits, the Orchard Route; so I was able to get a decent read on just how much form I lost during the winter.

After training consistently through the end of 2013, January and February were terrible, thanks a combination of bad weather, a hernia, surgery to repair that hernia, and most recently the flu. For much of the ride today, I felt like I was starting from scratch. My average speed for the 27.5 miles (including just over 2000 feet total climbing) was only 15.5 mph, with normalized power of only 187 watts, an average heart rate of 157, and a training stress score of 83. But after comparing it with some older data, I'm about a month ahead of my fitness on exactly the same ride last year. Most importantly, it was good to be back on the road (even if many of those roads were more potholes than pavement).

My Spring Break Reading List

Filling some gaps with older works, supplemented with new fun books.

Ronald Coase and Ning Wang, How China Became Capitalist (Palgrave Macmillan 2012). So far, seems more Wang than Coase, but I'm only about half-way through. In any case, a good historical introduction to China's economic transformation after Mao. 

John H. Miller and Scott E. Page, Complex Adaptive Systems: An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life (Princeton 2007). A wonderfully accessible introduction to computational modeling for social scientists.

Gerald Gaus, The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom and Morality in a Diverse and Bounded World (Cambridge 2011). Gaus seeks to rest a moral theory of liberalism based on game theory, social psychology, and social choice. Gaus, like all of my favorite philosophers and political theorists, takes heterogeneity and disagreement seriously.

Bruce Ackerman, The Civil Rights Revolution (Harvard Belknap 2013). The third volume in Ackerman's highly influential series, We the People

Lynn H. Nicholas, The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War (Vintage 1994). The only really good thing about the otherwise disappointing film, Monuments Men, was that it motivated me to read this book. So far, the book has not disappointed at all. It's hard to imagine that any fictional account could compare with the actual history.

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away (Pantheon 2014). Following up on her terrific novel, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God (Vintage 2011), this new work of quasi-fiction by the MacArthur "Genius Grant" recipient asks the question, what if Plato showed up in the 21st century and embarked on a multi-city tour, including interviews with cable news networks? The author's goal is to explore the relevance, not just of Plato, but all of traditional philosophy in the modern world.  

END-OF-BREAK UPDATE: As usual, my reading list was unrealistically long. I'm only halfway through Plato at the Googleplex (which is wonderful, by the way, for both it's fiction and it's take on Plato's philosophy), and just started Bruce Ackerman's The Civil Rights Revolution. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Digging Deeper"

A pre-print edition of my new article with Graham Epstein and Mike McGinnis, "Digging Deeper into Hardin's Pasture: The Complex Institutional Structure of the 'Tragedy of the Commons'" is now available on-line from the Journal of Institutional Economics (here). You'll need a personal or institutional subscription to download the full article, unless you're a member of the World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research (WINIR), in which case you have complimentary access to the journal via the account tab.

Once the print issue of the journal is available, I hope to be able to post an ungated copy of the article on my IU Digital Repository page (here).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"Oh, The Drugs You'll Do"

That is not the title of the new children's book Keith Richards is writing (see here).

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Arsenal Go Down Fighting: Bayern Munich 1 - Arsenal 1 (Bayern win 3-1 on aggregate)

It's no easy task to come to the Allianz Arena and leave with a draw, let alone a victory. Arsenal need to score two goals and give up none to send the match to extra time. After Bayern scored in the second half, Arsenal needed to score three unanswered goals to win on aggregate. To their credit, they pulled one back, but the mountain was too far to climb.  Arsenal's Champion's League campaign is over for this year. That was always likely to be the case after going down 2-0 to Bayern in the first leg at home. Most importantly, Arsenal played hard enough and well enough to earn a draw in Munich, which will not hurt their confidence as they proceed to battle for the Premiership title and the FA Cup. 

I missed most of the first half of the match because I was teaching. I saw most of the final 15 minutes of that half, but left with 5 minutes to go so as to get home in time for the second half. It motivated me to ride as hard as I could to get home in time. I didn't quite make the kick off, but I may have set a personal best for time riding home from the law school.

All the goals came in the second half. First, Bastian Schweinsteiger scored for Bayern. He ran all the way from the center of the pitch right into the middle of the penalty area. Neither Cazorla nor Podolski tracked his run, and he was wide open. No way he was going to miss from there. Arsenal responded quickly however. Podolski took a pass on the left wing, appeared to overplay the ball, but regained it with a bit of the old argy bargy with Pillipp Lahm. Lahm and the crowd were sure Podolski had committed a foul, but the ref was pretty consistent throughout the match letting that kind of contact go for both teams. Once Podolski had reclaimed the ball from Lahm, he still had plenty of work to do. The angle was acute, and goalie Neuer had the near post covered - or so he thought. Podolski's shot combined venom with precision, traveling just over Neuer's right (inside) shoulder and into the far back corner of the net.

Bayern had a chance to put the match and the tie to bed, when the ref called a pretty soft penalty on Bacary Sagna in favor of Arjen Robben, who had been diving all over Arsenal's final third all afternoon. Fabianski came to the rescue with an excellent save, and Arsenal were still in the match. But they were only able to sustain pressure on Bayern's defense one or two more times before the clock ran out.

All in all, Arsenal did themselves proud on the day. From what I saw of the match, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the most dangerous looking player on the pitch. That must be good news for the Gunners and for England.

Commuting by Bike, Finally

I rode into school for the first time all year yesterday, and will do the same today. Tomorrow, it's supposed to snow. It is only March after all.

Monday, March 10, 2014

This is Genius!

A chef in Austin, Texas has concocted a chocolate-chip cookie shot "glass" filled with milk. See here.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mill on Representative Government

My reading group (called "The Council of Losers" after one of Hume's more provocative recommendations for government) is just finishing John Stuart Mill's Considerations on Representative Government [1861]. I cannot for the life of me understand why I never came across it earlier in my scholarly career. Perhaps I am mistaken, but it seems to me an immensely important book (especially for its era) that has been substantially undervalued among Mill's many important works. It combines theoretical and structural aspects of political thought in almost equal measure. If I taught a basic course in representative government (or even political theory) I would at the very least have my students read Chapter 6 "On the Infirmities and Dangers to which Representative Government is Liable," if not the entire book.

Christian Gollier on the Economics of Discounting

In recent years, the French economist Christian Gollier has been doing some of the most important and influential work on the economics of social discounting. His recent book, Pricing the Planet's Future: The Economics of Discounting in an Uncertain World (Princeton 2013), is unquestionably the clearest and most convincing technical treatment I have read on the issue; and I can't even pretend to comprehend all of the equations. I only wish Gollier would craft a less technical tome that policy makers could comprehend.

A Definition of "Coasian Bargaining" I Can Live With

I'm currently reading Jack Knight and James Johnson's excellent book, The Priority of Democracy: Political Consequences of Pragmatism (Princeton 2011). I confess to some skepticism when I saw that, in Chapter 3 on "The Appeal of Decentralization," they included a section on "Coasian Bargaining." However, they are the first authors to define that term, if only implicitly, in a way I found at all useful: a "Coasian bargain" is a bargain that occurs in the world of the "Coase theorem" to move entitlements to more highly valued uses. In contrast to most definition of "Coasian bargaining," Knight and Johnson's has the twin advantages of (a) successfully distinguishing "Coasian bargaining" from simple "bargaining," as simple bargaining in the real world always takes place in the presence of transaction costs and (b) avoiding the pernicious implication that "Coasian bargains" imply that the "Coase theorem" has any empirical relevance, that is, that it has anything to tell us about real world allocations of entitlements.

I'm not convinced that the authors get the normative implications of Coase's work quite right. They parrot Posner's misleading interpretation of Coase that the key to maximizing the social product is to structure institutions so as to minimize transaction costs. There is some truth in that normative takeaway from Coase, but it is not the whole truth because, in contrast to Posner's interpretation, Coase was quite clear that we could never even approximate the world of the "Coase theorem," which was simply Coase's restatement of the standard neoclassical assumptions, according to which institutions, including legal rules allocating entitlements to resources, are irrelevant to ultimate economic outcomes.

Nevertheless, if scholars would, following Knight and Johnson, consistently use the phrase "Coasian bargaining" to mean only the bargains that would occur in the mythical world of the "Coase theorem," I would not object to the term. The problem is, many scholars use the phrase to describe deals made in the real world of positive transaction costs to avoid or resolve disputes over entitlements. Such uses fail, in my view, to distinguish "Coasian bargains" from bargains simpliciter. All bargains in the real world of positive transaction costs either avert or resolve potential or actual conflicts over entitlements. Thus, all bargains are "Coasian bargains." So, "Coasian bargains" = bargains, and the modifier "Coasian" adds nothing.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Question No One in Bloomington Wanted to Have to Ask

Can IU win the NIT?

FA Cup: Arsenal 4 - Everton 1

After a very busy week, I didn't realize Arsenal had a early start this morning, so I slept through it. Just saw the highlights. I was an important win for the Gunners to get them back on track, including an important goal from Ozil to get him back on track, and a gorgeous final goal created on a sweeping counter-attack.

Arsenal move on to the FA Cup semi-finals. Given that, it may not be such a bad thing that they are up against the ropes in the Champion's League, trailing Bayern Munich 2-0 (on two away goals) with a trip to Munich coming up. It could be that Arsenal's prospects of winning either the FA Cup or (more doutfully) the Premiership would be marginally improved by having a two or more fewer games to play in European competition. All we Gooners really want are one good piece of silverware this year; anything beyond that is too much to hope for.

UPDATE: Arsenal weekend got better on Sunday, when Wigan beat Man City. The Gunners will face them, rather than their League title rivals, at Wembley in the FA Cup semifinals. The winner of that match will then face off against either Hull City or Sheffield United in the Cup final. Of that foursome, Arsenal must be the clear favorite. Hopefully, that will not generate a sense of complacency around the Emirates. Arsenal need to approach the semis and, hopefully, the finals, as the hungry outsiders they have been for the last eight years.

Friday, March 7, 2014

An Article I Didn't Expect to Read in The Financial Times

Here. I won't go into the less attractive aspects of the author's recommendation that the US should become, in effect, a giant military base. Suffice it to say, I imagine Plato would have loved his suggestion.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

More Bad News for Arsenal

Jack Wilshire suffered a hairline to his left foot during England's 1-0 victory over Denmark yesterday, according to ESPN Soccernet (here). He is out for an estimated six weeks. Although he has had a rough season, Wilshire is an integral part of the Gunner's line-up and he will be sorely missed. Fortunately, word is that Aaron Ramsey is back from injury just in time to help compensate for Wilshire's absence. Let's hope that Ramsey's quickly recaptures his early season form, despite the long lay-off.

Kissinger on the Ukraine

Surprisingly cogent and sensible. See here in the Washington Post.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Bright Side of a Miserably Cold Winter

Not only has it contributed a new phrase, "polar vortex," to our conventional lexicon, the frigid winter of 2013/14 has "decimated" populations of some of North America's most troubling invasive species, including the gypsy moth and the emerald ash borer beetle. Gwynn Guilford has the story at Quartz, here. Unfortunately, the news isn't all good. According to the author, "[t]he same extreme weather that may be causing polar vortexes is also making winters warmer on average—and that’s letting these insects live further and further north, making increasing swaths of the US hospitable to invasive species, which cause $143 billion in economic losses in the US each year."

Monday, March 3, 2014

New EPA Regulations of Mobile Source Emissions of Sulfur Dioxide

All the information, including fact sheets on the new regulations, the complete rule, and a draft Regulatory Impact Analysis can be downloaded at EPA's website (here). Oil companies are already complaining about the cost, but auto makers (at least according to a report in the New York Times) are displaying admirable equanimity about the rule (see here). Among other things, the new sulfur rules should enable more stringent regulations of other mobile source pollutants by improving the operation of catalytic converters. EPA estimates the benefits of the new rule (in 2030) to exceed its costs by at least 5-to-1.

Two Books I Just Read

Paul Aligica's Institutional Diversity and Political Economy: The Ostroms and Beyond (Oxford 2014) follows up on the author's 2009 book with Peter Boetkke, Challenging Institutional Analysis and Development: The Bloomington School (Routledge). The earlier book was in the nature of a primer on the Ostroms' analytical approach to institutional analysis - including interviews with both of them. Aligica's new book is about the philosophical roots, ongoing research agenda, and challenging implications for social of the "Bloomington School of Political Economy" that the Ostroms developed along with their Workshop colleagues. Needless to say, from a Workshop point of view, the book is a must read. But even for those who are not Workshoppers, Paul's book is a treasure trove of ideas, connections, and insights into the "Ostromian" way of thinking about complex social and combined social-ecological problems. My only substantive nit to pick about the book is that Paul tries to tie the Ostroms more closely to Friedrich von Hayek than seems plausible. In my view, their notion of collective action and "self-governance" may bear a family resemblance to Hayek's notion of "spontaneous organization," but very little about Ostromian "self-governance" is at all "spontaneous." The Ostroms had more in common with the German Ordo-liberals than the Austrian Libertarian tradition. My only other complaint has nothing to do with anything Paul wrote, but concerns the poor copy-editing by the publisher; the book is riddled, start to finish, with typographical errors.

Rebecca Solnit's highly touted A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster (Penguin 2010) was intriguing, but ultimately disappointing. She makes a (too) simple argument that social and ecological crises do not lead to social panic, but actually bring people together to engage in social welfare-enhancing collective action. I actually believe that, as well as the strong assertion that "elite panic" is a more prevalent consequence of catastrophes than "public panic." The author provides lots of interesting tales to support her arguments, ranging from the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, to Hurricane Katrina, and 9/11. But I had a constant nagging suspicion that I wasn't reading full stories, but only parts that served the author's narrative. Moreover, in telling about vigilante groups after Hurricane Katrina, she did not portray them as engaging in collective action to create their own paradise, nor as artifacts of the kind of "public panics" she discounts throughout the rest of the book. She never stopped to think about why those private citizens engaged in socially-destructive collective action, while others engaged in socially-useful collective action. By the same token, having acknowledged the generally positive role played by government authorities in the aftermath of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, she never contemplates the more nuanced questions about how, when, and why government authorities might respond appropriately in light of social-ecological crises.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Horrible Winter for Cycling Has Been a Good Winter for Drumming

In November and December, I was able to make it up to Indy two or three times each week for indoor cycle training at Brooks Integrative Training. But the weather has been so awful since the start of January that I've only been able to get up there on occasion. Add in a pair of hernias that required surgery and, most recently, a bout of the flu and it's fair to say that it's been a miserable winter for cycling.

For that reason, and because I more or less suddenly developed an interest in getting back to it, I started banging on the drums again seriously for the first time since I started law school in the first half of the 1980s. After purchasing a few select parts and accessories, I've got both of my vintage Gretsch sets up and sounding great (even if the drummer is not very good), including my Progressive Jazz (round badge) set from around 1970 and my Broadcaster II rock set from the later '70s. I've paired the jazz set with vintage Zildjian cymbals, including a 22" heavy ride, an 18" sizzle (with rivets all the way round), and 13" hi-hats. The rock set is paired with vintage Paiste 2002 (black labels), including a 20" medium ride, 18" and 16" crashes, and 14" hi-hats. I just recently bought a cute little 10" splash cymbal (also a Paiste 2002, but a newer red label).

Here's a view of the entire music room:

You can see that both sets of drums are white. The jazz set, when I first got it, was Aqua Satin Flame (as on the right), which was pretty psychedelic. Sometime around 1980, I had Gretsch recover them (and change out the tom-mounting hardware) to match the other set.

Here are close-ups of each set:

I enjoy playing both sets, but I have to say that the old round badge Gretsch jazz drums just sound so sweet. I've also bought several new practice pads for home and office, so I can get in some practice on rudiments, whenever I take a break from reading, writing, and class preps.

I imagine that when warmer weather finally arrives, cycling will take up most of my spare time, and the drums will get less attention. But I do hope to keep at it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Is Alan Pardew the Woody Hayes of Real Football?

Woody Hayes was a great football coach at Ohio State University, who had a habit of brutalizing his own players, but is infamous for punching a player from an opposing team. Alan Pardew is the manager of Newcastle United (formerly at Stoke), who is mostly famous for instilling in his players a thuggish defensive mentality. That is, until today, when he took matters into his own hands by head-butting Hull City player David Meyler, while Meyler was trying to retrieve a ball on the sideline. At the time, Newcastle were winning 3-1. I wish I could show you a photo, but you understand about copyright rules. You can, however, find a clear photo of the event on Google Images. ESPN Soccernet has the full story, here.

I wouldn't be surprised if the FA relegates Pardew to the stands, or even bans him from the stadium, for the remaining 10 matches of the season.

UPDATE: I did finally manage to find an open-access photograph of the headbutt:

Stoke City 1 - Arsenal 0

Playing at Stoke is always an adventure for the Gunners. They have not won in their last three visits to The Britannia Stadium, with a loss and two draws. Although they often don't come away from Stoke with many points, they do often come away with substantial injuries, as Stoke is one of those teams that not only play hard but have a tendency to make dangerous tackles. Last season, Stoke came last on the Premier League's "fair play" table (see here). Gunners fans still recall Ryan Shawcross's horror tackle on Aaron Ramsey a few years ago that sidelined the young midfielder for more than a year and threatened his entire career. So far this season, Stoke are again league leaders in yellow cards.

Not surprisingly, given the history of this match, Arsene Wenger introduced a starting line-up with a little extra steel in it Rosicky (a.k.a., the Energizer Bunny) and Podolski (in place of the fit again Mesut Ozil) on the wings supporting Giroud. Of course, Jack Wilshire is always ready to mix things up. And Santi Cazorla was in the line-up to add a necessary touch of creativity. But the absence of Flamini from such a physical match was puzzling (not that Arteta played poorly).

As expected, the Stoke defense pressed high up the pitch and hard. And it wasn't long before the bad tackles began to pile up. Glenn Whelan's slide with a raised boot into the leg of Olivier Giroud was only the most obvious example. Neither side was able to get a strong offensive flow going during the first half. Few really good chances were created, at least until the last five minutes of the half. Perhaps the best opporunity fell to Stoke, when Shawcross found an on-rushing Glenn Whelan at the top of the box. Whelan hit it first time and forced Szczesny to make a strong arm save. Only a minute later, Arsenal had their best chance of the half, when Santi Cazorla force the Stoke goalie into a save, though he might have had a better option passing to a wide open Lukas Podolski on the wing. The first half ended scoreless.

The second half began with both sides probing for early scoring opportunities. It seemed as if a goal would come from somewhere before too long, Stoke's Peter Crouch really should have scored off a beautiful free kick from Ryan Shawcross. The ball was perfectly placed for an easy header into the back of the net, but Crouch inexplicably tried to take the ball down with his foot. Later, in the 66th minute, Arsenal were let off the hook again, after a corner kick pinballed around the Arsenal penalty area before being knocked over the end line by a Stoke player.

Generally speaking, it's not a good policy for teams at the bottom of the table to let a top side like Arsenal off the hook. Had Stoke gone up 1-0, they might well have been able to hunker down on defense and protect the lead. As it was, the game was still scoreless, with less than half an hour to go.

It was at that point in the match that Arsene Wenger decided to insert Mesut Ozil into the match, replacing Lukas Podolski. Ten minutes late, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on for Thomas Rosicky, who, as usual, had run his legs off. Oxlade-Chamberlain had bearly stepped on to the field, when Arsenal gave up a soft penalty. Laurent Koscielny clearly blocked a pass at the edge of the box with a needlessly raised hand - a very bad place to give up a penalty, as Stoke was not in a dangerous scoring position. In any case, it was a penalty, and Jonathan Walters converted it. Stoke were up 1-0. And Arsenal had it all to do against a very tough defensive team.

The game announcer said, "Someone needs to step forward for Arsenal," and Mesut Ozil might have been on his mind. Arsene Wenger apparently thought he meant young Yaya Sanogo, who came on to replace the ineffective Jack Wilshire. Arsenal were now playing with two out-and-out strikers, an unusual sight, trying to salvage at least a point in the last ten minutes of the match.

In the 83d minute, Mesut Ozil came close to tying the game on a strong shot from the left flank that went just wide of the far post. But Begavic might have had it covered, if it had come inside the post. A couple of minutes later, Arsenal had a free kick from just outside the penalty area right in the middle of the field. Carzorla tapped the ball to Arteta, whose shot could not evade Stoke's fast charging wall.

Arsenal kept pressing, as Stoke's defense dropped farther and farther back, content to await a chance to counterattack for a second goal to put the game away. As it turned out, they did not need the second goal. In the final 90 seconds of stoppage time, Arsenal created their best chance of the game. A long, perfectly weighted pass found Oxlade-Chamberlain steaming down the right wing. He took the ball and squared it perfectly to an unmarked Sanogo in the box, who couldn't even force the goalie into a save. In American football, he would have scored three points for a field goal right through the uprights. And that was that.

None of the other big teams have been able to win at the Britannia Stadium so far this season. Chelsea and Man U both lost there; and Man City mustered only a draw. But Arsenal will take scant consolation from that fact, or from the fact that they played damn hard. Given their very tough fixture schedule on the run-in to the end of the season, they simply could not afford to drop 3 points in this fixture.