Friday, January 31, 2014

Two Birthdays Worth Noting

Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub, turns 83 today. cbssports.com has chosen the occasion to display Ernie's minor league scouting report here. Even if no one else is optimistic about the Cubs prospects for the coming season, Ernie will be.

Today is also the birthday of my great friend Kevin Kelly, who lost a battle with liver cancer a few years ago. I met Kevin when I was 15 (he was a few years older), and we started a band together. He was a great, very lyrical guitarist, and an even better person.

The January Transfer Window Has Just Closed

Arsene Wenger doesn't like the January transfer window, and demonstrated it by refusing to use it to improve his club.

Despite a lot of rumors about a done deal for the young German midfield phenom Julian Draxler, Arsenal settled for 31-year-old Swedish midfielder Kim Kallstrom on loan from Spartak Moscow. This is not the kind of move that will boost Arsenal's hopes of winning the Premier League, but merely a stop-gap measure for the raft of injuries (and a red card in the case Flamini) Arsenal have suffered in the center of midfield. Once Ramsey and Wilshire are healthy again, it's hard to imagine Kallstrom will get much playing time.

Still, at least Wenger plugged the gap in midfield. The same cannot be said for the forward line, where Arsenal have been thin all season, and are just one injury to Olivier Giroud from being rendered toothless. Perhaps talented strikers were simply unavailable this time around, but I find the lack of help upfront more disappointing the failure to pull the trigger on Draxler.

UPDATE: The player Arsenal just signed on loan, Kim Kallstrom, has an injury that will keep him out of action for at least several weeks. And Arsenal apparently knew it when they signed him. Given that Arsenal's other injured midfielders could be back from injury before the the guy who was signed to fill in during their absence. A deeply perplexing move. I wonder what Wenger's explanation will be, if ever he offers one.

Crazy Ideas from Great Political Thinkers

A poll for any readers who are professional or amateur political theorists: Which idea was crazier, David Hume's "Council of Losers" or John Stuart Mill's "Council of Legislators"?

It's Just a Rumor

I can find no legitimate source to validate the rumor (which I am starting) that the Utah ape, which has correctly predicted the last six Super Bowl champions (see here), has been invited to testify before a Senate Committee on the validity of climate sensitivity models.

The office of Senator Inhofe (R-OK) will only confirm that they consider the ape more intelligent, and his methods more reliable, than the overwhelming majority of climate scientists who the Senator believes are co-conspirators in the "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."

Tough to Explain My Reading Behavior

I'm greatly enjoying the new Richard Powers novel Orfeo, which I received last week; but oddly I find myself more often picking up the Bach biography I received the same day, when I'm looking for a relaxing read before bed. I seem to be opting for the historical composer, of whose life I already know a great deal, over the fictional composer, of whom I am just learning (and despite our shared reverence of Mahler).

Perhaps I'm just in a more non-fiction-oriented mood these days. Or, perhaps Gardiner's bio of Bach is just so compelling that it takes precedence even over my favorite living novelist, writing on musical themes in a vein similar to my favorite ever novelist, Thomas Mann.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Required Viewing for Social Scientists Studying Climate Change

The website of the American Economics Association (AEAweb) has webcasts of a couple of panels from this year's annual meetings, which should be of great interest to social scientists studying climate change.

Discounting for the Long Run
Presiding: Nicholas Stern
Declining Discount Rates Maureen Cropper; Mark C. Freeman; Ben Groom; William A. Pizer
Discounting and Growth Christian Gollier
Fat Tails and the Social Cost of Carbon Martin Weitzman
On Not Revisiting Official Discount Rates: Institutional Inertia and the Social Cost of Carbon Cass Sunstein
Discussants: Kenneth Arrow
View Webcast

Climate Change Policy after Kyoto
Presiding: Nicholas Stern
Tax Policy Issues in Designing a Carbon Tax Eric Toder; Donald Marron
How Effective are U.S. Renewable Energy Subsidies in Cutting Greenhouse Gases? Brian Murray; John Reilly; Maureen Cropper; Francisco de la Chesnaye
International Aspects of Taxing Carbon Charles McLure
The Costs and Consequences of Clean Air Act Regulation of CO2 from Power Plants Dallas Burtraw; Joshua Linn; Karen Palmer; Anthony Paul
Discussants: Gilbert Metcalf
View Webcast

One observation: On a discounting panel full of star-power, Christian Gollier's presentation really stood out. He is perhaps the most insightful scholar working today on the problem of social discounting.

A second observation: I agree with Kenneth Arrow and Maureen Cropper's comments implying that Cass Sunstein overstated the inertia in the Executive Branch's ability to take action based on new data and analyses. As he himself noted, the federal government was able to update its own estimate of the social cost of carbon (SCC) between 2010 to 2013. There's no reason to believe that we're stuck with OMB's current 7% discount rate. No doubt inertia is a problem, but it is far from disabling.

A third and final observation: In question time on the discounting panel, when the camera pulled back to show the audience, attendance appeared surprisingly sparse for such a star-studded panel on such an important topic.

I learned about these webcasts from the Environmental Economics Blog.

Interesting New Article on Economics of Climate Change Impacts

From The Economist, here.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ostrom Memorial Award Winners

Congratulations to my Workshop colleagues Graham Epstein, Jessica Vogt, Sarah Mincey, Michael Cox, Burney Fischer for winning the second annual "Ostrom Memorial Award for Most Innovative Paper of the Year" published in the International Journal of the Commons (IJC). Their paper was selected out of all the papers published in last year's volume of the journal based on four criteria: (1) theoretically innovation; (2) methodological innovation; (3) societal relevance; and (4) wide applicability. The award is chosen by the members of the IJC's editorial board.

Conference at BYU Law School on the Global Commons

I greatly enjoyed the conference this weekend at BYU in Provo, Utah. Brigham Daniels and his students did a great job organizing the conference. All of the presentations were first-class, and it was great to catch up with some old friends I hadn't seen in a while, especially Buzz Thompson, Jim Salzman, Carol Rose, Lee Fennell and (current BYU Dean) Jim Rasband. I also enjoyed getting to know better Eric Freyfogle and Marcelynne Burke, and especially some of the young up-and-coming scholars writing about commons issues, including in addition to Brigham, Hannah Wiseman, Jonathan Rosenbloom, Black Hudson, and Zack Bray.

I presented my paper (co-authored with Mike McGinnis and Graham Epstein), on "Digging Deeper into Hardin's Pasture: The Complex Institutional Structure of the 'Tragedy of the Commons,'" which can be downloaded from SSRN (here). That paper will not appear in the symposium issue of the BYU Law Review, stemming from the conference; however, I might have another paper to include in that issue; or I might write for the issue a short set of reflections on Elinor Ostrom's importance for legal, and especially property, scholarship (the conference was dedicated in her honor).

For those who have never been to BYU or Provo, here's a photo taken from the law school:
























The conference included dinner trips to, respectively, Sundance and Park City. On the way to Park City, we stopped briefly at Bridal Veil falls, where I snapped the photo to the left.

Later this morning, I'm taking the train into Salt Lake City to grab lunch with a couple more old friends, Robin and Don Craig, before catching a late-afternoon flight back to Indy.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is Europe Tightening or Weakening Its Climate Policies?

That's the question raised by competing headings from The Guardian and The New York Times. 

Here's The Guardian's headine "EU to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030".

And here's how the New York Times characterizes the same story: "Europe, Facing Economic Pain, May Ease Climate Rules".

Obviously, the two headlines suggest very quite different perspectives on the climate policy decision taken by the European Commission (EC) this week. I haven't yet had a chance to take a look at the precise language of the EC Communication in which the policy decision was announced. When I do get the chance to read the entire document (as well as its regulatory impact analysis), I'll be able to adjudge whether The Guardian the NYT or both are right. It's entirely possible that the EU is tightening and weakening different elements of its climate rules at the same time. It's also possible that the EU is trying to generally weaken the rules while creating the impression that it's strengthening them.

Here's the actual EU press release. The complete EC Communication on climate and energy policy 2020-2030 can be read here.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Pernicious Side of Formal Modeling in the Social Sciences

An interesting case study of the misuse (bordering on the ridiculous) of mathematics in (supposed) support of "positive psychology," here in The Guardian. The implications run through many, if not all, of the social sciences, in which formalization has a been a major trend for many decades.

Math can obfuscate and mislead as well as shed light. If often lures researchers to raise research questions "where the light is better" - the questions most easily answered using the available modeling tools. In some cases, formal modeling seems to result in articles that are virtually (if not actually) circular in their argumentation.

On the other hand, one of the prime advantages of mathematical modeling, also illustrated by the case discussed in The Guardian, is that bad math is relatively easy to debunk, at least for those who are mathematically sophisticated (a category that sadly excludes me). Bad arguments using conventional (non-mathematical) language, where terms may be poorly defined, are often more difficult to expose.

Unfortunately, for that reason many strong articles that do not rely on formal models are simply not acceptable to journal editors. In other words, an unwarranted presumption exists that non-formalized arguments are bad and formalized arguments are good. My view always has been that such presumptions should be abandoned; both formal and informal arguments can and should be assessed on their own merits. The plain fact that Ronald Coase's famous 1960 article on "The Problem of Social Cost" could not be published today in any leading economics journal, simply because it lacks a formalized argument, is evidence enough that the presumption favoring formalization has gone too far.

Agnar Sandmo presents a fairly balanced view of the dangers and advantages of formalization (in economics) in his book Economics Evolving: A History of Economic Thought (Princeton 2011), pp. 447-50.

Off to Utah

I'm heading to Provo, Utah immediately after class today for a conference at BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School on "The Global Commons," which has been organized in honor of my late friend and colleague Elinor Ostrom. I won't be the only Ostrom Workshopper at the conference: Marco Janssen a institutional analyst and modeler from ASU will be on my same panel. In fact, this is the third conference in the last year at which Marco and I have been paired as co-panelists. The last time was a plenary panel in honor of Lin at INSIE in Florence. Before that, we were on a panel together at the annual meeting of the Association for Law, Property, and Society (ALPS) in Minneapolis. I wonder whether we'll also be co-panelists at "WOW5" (the fifth periodic Workshop on the Ostrom Workshop) at IU this coming June.

Other conference participants include Carol Rose, Lee Fennell, Jim Salzman, Buzz Thompson and Eric Freyfogle. It should be lots of fun, and a great learning opportunity (at least for me). More information about the conference, including the program, can be read here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Two Exciting (and Musical) Literary Events

Richard Powers' brand new novel, Orfeo arrived in my mailbox today. Powers is my favorite fiction writer and, I would predict, a future Nobel laureate (not that that's the ultimate test of literary merit). Several reviews already have appeared (e.g.,those who haven't been here, here, here, and here). I probably won't bother posting my own review. Even if I were less biased than I am, it's safe to assume it would simply be a rave. I don't know how many so-called MacArthur "Genius" Grant recipients really are geniuses. But Richard Powers is one.

I also received, in the same package, John Elliot Gardiner's highly lauded (see, e.g., here) musicological biography, Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven (Knopf 2013). I'm excited to see how Gardiner's book compares (or not) to Christoph Wolff's magisterial, Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician (Norton 2000 - can it already be 13 years old?).




RIP: Claudio Abbado (1933-2014)

The Washington Post has a nice obituary here.

Abbado was one of the truly great conductors of our time. Known mainly for opera - he served as Music Director at La Scala and Vienna (at different times, of course) - he was also a wonderful symphonic conductor, especially of Mahler. His recording of Mahler's Fourth Symphony (from 1978) with the Vienna Philharmonic and Frederica von Stade remains my favorite. The Adagio (Third Movement) is gorgeous and heart-rending.

I think I only saw Abbado conduct in person once or twice; my mind is a bit hazy about the programs (though, given my preferences, it was likely Mahler on both occasions). He was not among the flashiest of conductors, but he evoked from his orchestras consistently great performances; and that, after all, is the mark of the true maestro.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

With Friends Like Fellow Atheists, Who Needs Enemies?

Having written several posts about atheism v. religious conviction over the past few years, this is the first time I've been attacked in response. Until today. Ironically, I have been attacked for not being a sufficiently atheistic atheist. 

Yesterday, I posted a brief, spur of the moment piece basically praising Jerry Coyne's recent article debunking "the best arguments in support of God's existence" (here). Today (here), Jerry Coyne rakes me over the coals for not agreeing with him enough. He takes me to task for several apparent heresies or logical flaws. He is quite correct about one, and a bit muddled (to use his own preferred term) about the others (I would be inclined to forgive him for misinterpreting some of what I was trying to say, if he had displayed any inclination to interpret it with a more generous spirit).   

First, he complains that I confuse a normative argument with a positive or ontological one. He is correct about this. Having a desire for some god(s) to exist is certainly not evidence that some god(s) exist. I should have conceded that I was not really focusing on the supposed "best arguments for the existence of" some super-natural being. I was extending beyond the focus of Coyne's article. 

Coyne next misinterprets (though probably not intentionally) my reference to "feeble agnosticism" in contrast to what he calls a "fairly robust agnosticism." What I meant was that any form of agnosticism, as compared with atheism, is a feeble position to take, even if it is the only one that an inductive or abductive science can truly warrant. It is, after all, quite reasonable to believe that things do not exist for which no positive evidence can be mustered. To simply suspend judgment in the absence of all evidence is not particularly meritorious. 

Coyne also attributes to me a claim I did not make, and to which I do not subscribe: that atheism is a form of theism. I did write that "atheism, like any form of theism, is a matter not just of science but of belief." I was trying to say that theism and atheism are alike in terms of going beyond science to belief. I certainly did not mean to aver that atheism itself is a form of theism. I can see how he might have read it that way; but that's certainly not the only feasible interpretation and not my intended interpretation; he might have at least given me the benefit of the doubt (he is a great doubter, isn't he?). 

But, really, this parsing of arguments is both scholastic and quite sad. To suffer such a harsh, hypercritical, unfriendly, and ungenerous reading and rebuke from someone with whom I am in widespread agreement saddens me and reduces him. Grateful though I am for the C+ , I fear that the courage of his convictions have left Mr. Coyne unable to distinguish friends from enemies. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Jerry Coyne Says the Best Arguments for God's Existence Are Flimsy

Here. And I agree with him.

But I think he misses two of the best (but also flawed) arguments for the existence of some god(s):

(1) many people are comforted by a belief that some god (or other) exists, which obviously has no bearing on whether or not some god(s) exist(s) but is a valid normative (that is, non-empirical, non-positive) argument that some god(s) should exist;

(2) the absence of data does not warrant a conclusion that no god(s) exist(s), anymore that the failure to observe black swans warrants the conclusion that black swans do not exist. Thus, atheism, like any form of theism, is a matter not just of science but belief.* However, as Bertrand Russell argued about the celestial teapot, the burden of proof should rest on those who would posit the ontological existence of beings (natural or supernatural) about which we have no data. This goes for the mind (as opposed to the brain) and the soul, as well as the god(s).*

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*The only scientifically pure position would be a feeble agnosticism. Atheism, including my own, requires an affirmative (scientifically unprovable) claim that no god(s) exist(s).

*By the way, the oft-made argument that it is impossible to prove a negative is inaccurate. In fact, it would not require a trained scientist to prove quite easily that I have not buttered my toast this morning simply by examining the toast just before its consumption.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Proposed Solution to the "Washington Redskins" Name Problem

Let's face it, the name is an ethnic slur, pure and simple. But I think I've come up with a solution that would allow the team to keep the same name but without the slur, simply by changing some imagery. Meet the new logo for the Washington Redskins:

























The Washington Redskins could be (to paraphrase Stephen Colbert) "the fightin' potaters."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I Didn't Realize John Stuart Mill Knew About the Tea Party

From Representative Government [1861], p. 23 of the Batoche Books edition (here):
How, again, can government, or any joint concern, be carried on in a tolerable manner by people so envious that, if one among them seems likely to succeed in anything, those who ought to cooperate with him form a tacit combination to make him fail?

Anti-Environmental Electric Coops

Today, I received a postcard from my electric coop, South Central Indiana REMC, urging me to go to this website in order to send EPA a message in opposition to its proposed greenhouse gas regulations, which the postcard and website both misleadingly aver could "significantly raise" my monthly electric bill.

I went to the website to check it out. It's run by a national association of electric coops all of which are part of an effort to undermine EPA's new, and needed, greenhouse gas regulations. The warning they sound is hollow. EPA's current spate of regulations would not significantly increase electric bills. In the first place, the only current regulatory proposal on power plants would regulate emissions only from new power plants; it has no effect at all on emissions from existing power plants. So, the cost of electricity will only go up if your utility intends to build a new power plant.

Moreover, the regs would only apply to new power plants that would burn coal, instead of natural gas. But no utility has been building coal-fired plants in recent years because coal is more expensive than natural gas. And natural gas plants would meet the proposed regulations without doing anything to curtail emissions.

Only if the price of natural gas goes up, compared to coal, will utilities start building new coal-fired plants again; and if that happens, then the regulations will have some bite, forcing power plants to design in carbon capture and sequestration technology, which could well be expensive and add to consumers' utility bills. From a basic economic point of view, consumers should pay more for the coal-based electricity they consume because of its higher social cost. The notion that consumers should not have to bear any of the costs of the carbon their demand produces is economic nonsense.

My recommendation for anyone who receives a postcard like the one I received from my electric coop is not to ignore it but to go to the website (action.coop) as they recommend, but replace the default language calling on EPA to reconsider its regulatory proposal with a message of strong support for EPA's initial, very modest, efforts to start regulating carbon emissions to mitigate climate change.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Most Interesting Sentence I Read Today

From Angus Deaton, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 2013), p. 101:
That India today has higher life expectancy than Scotland in 1945 - in spite of a per capita income that Britain achieved as early as 1860 - is a testament to the power of knowledge to short-circuit history.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Aston Villa 1 - Arsenal 2

Arsenal reclaimed top spot in the Premier League earlier today with a 2-1 victory away at Aston Villa, a team which has fallen on hard times this season (after starting brightly with a win at the Emirates Stadium). It was a less-than-thrilling match. Arsenal had virtually all of the possession during the first half, but had only two shots on goal. Those shots occurred within a single minute, and both resulted in goals. First, Jack Wilshire scored, almost casually, from the top of the box after a rare (in this match) display of Arsenal's usually incisive passing in the final third. He seemed simply to pass the ball into the far corner of the net from 12 yards out. Then, a minute later Jack Wilshire stole the ball at midfield and found Giroud in the box with an over-the-top pass down the left channel. Giroud beat two defenders with his two touches before putting the ball past the keeper from about 7 yards out.

After that, Arsenal seemed, once again, to take the collective foot off of the accelerator; and they had a hard time getting back in top gear after Villa cut the lead in half in the middle of the second half. Fortunately, Villa never looked likely to score the tying goal (in fact, they didn't look likely to score the first, which was the result of a bad Arsenal pass in the defensive half of the field).


A win is a win, as they say. But Arsenal are going to have to play better for longer spells to hold off strong title challenges from Man City and Chelsea. In particular, they're going to need stronger, more committed performances from the likes of Mesut Ozil, who in contrast to Olivier Giroud did not seem match-sharp after a bit of a layoff for a shoulder injury.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"The Law & Economics Approach to Property"

That's the title of a new paper I've posted on SSRN (here). Here is the abstract:
This short paper, written for a symposium issue of the Property Law Review on "Research Methods in Property Law," provides a concise introduction to the ways in which property rights (and duties) structure economic relations and, in turn, are influenced by economic considerations. Among the topics covered are: (a) property as a functional "institution" that not only facilitates exchange but also supports resource conservation (via the right to exclude); (b) Coasian comparative institutional analysis as a research method based on transaction costs; (c) property conflicts as joint- or social-cost problems; (d) the law and economics of property remedies; and (e) the under-explored variety and complexity of property regimes. The paper concludes with the obvious point (but one often ignored by legal scholars) that a thorough understanding of property law (including public and common property, as well as private property) requires attention to the vital economic functions it serves in virtually all societies.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

I Hope No One Turned Off the Game at Halftime

Kudos to the Colts. A comeback like that takes as much mental fortitude as it does physical execution. It also takes a fair amount of Luck.

Arsenal 2 - Spurs 0 (FA Cup)

Arsenal looked quick, bright, and aggressive from the start of today's 3d round FA Cup match against North London rivals Tottenham. The Gunners' passing and movement were excellent throughout, in what had to be one of their best all-around matches of the season. With a dearth of strikers to choose from, Arsenal started with the combination of Theo Walcott and Serge Gnabry upfront. Walcott really has been rounding into excellent form since his return from injury, and his pace gave Spurs trouble until he injured himself late in the game  (more on that shortly). And Gnabry, who is just back from injury himself, continues to be a revelation for the Gunners; his speed, technical ability on the ball, and vision for the right pass make him a multi-threat player. Indeed, he set up Arsenal's first goal, when he broke free to the center edge of the box, and fed a perfectly weighted ball putting Santi Cazorla in on goal. Cazorla blasted it unerringly first time into the far corner of the net with his left foot.

Tottnenham created their fair share of chances as well, but not nearly as many as Arsenal, who could well have gone up by more than 1-0 at halftime. But Arsenal had to wait until the middle of the second half to put the game to rest, when the evergreen Thomas Rosicky committed a fine act of larceny, stealing the ball off the foot of Spurs defender Danny Rose at the halfway line before sprinting towards the goal and finally chipping it in over the sprawling Hugo Lloris. At that point, the match seem done and dusted.

Arsenal had to play the last 15 minutes of the match (including stoppage time) with only 10 men after Theo Walcott twisted his left knee and had to leave the match. With the Gunners defending in numbers, Spurs weren't able to create many chances even with the man advantage. It was a complete team performance by the Gunners. Every player worked hard, played with speed, and performed well. There's something about a North London derby that brings out the best in Arsenal players.

Arsene Wenger will be concerned with yet another injury to his already depleted strike force. Giroud is nearly back from his ankle injury, but Bendtner will be out for weeks; and now there will be doubts about Walcott's fitness. Hopefully, Podolski will regain his form quickly, now that he's back from injury. Gnabry seems fit and able. And Oxlade-Chamberlain should be back soon from a long injury layoff. But Arsenal still need more help upfront. Wenger already has dismissed rumors tying Arsenal to Fulham's talented but tempermental striker Dimitar Berbatov. But long-time Wenger target Diego Costa is unlikely to be available before next summer. Wenger has not quite promised to make a signing during the January transfer window, but it seems more than likely that he will.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Violation of the Most Sacred Norm in Cycling

It has been announced that Team Belkin will be riding Bianchi Oltre XR.2 frames this coming season, but with Shimano components. The cycling gods will be outraged at the mixture of a classic Italian frame and Japanese components. Bianchis (of all bikes) should only ever be ridden with Campagnolo components.

The recently folded Dutch squad Vacansoleil also rode Bianchis with Shimano drive trains, and look what happened to them!

The World's Largest Gonads

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has signed up as a candidate for reelection (see here). Gotta love the man who (a) admits to drunken stupors, (b) admits to using crack, and (c) has "zero tolerance" for illicit drug use. Who would dare to bet against him winning?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Arsenal 2 - Cardiff City 0

This game was a must win, not just to keep Arsenal on top of the Premiership as the new year begins, but also for team confidence. With the number of wounded warriors piling up, including the Gunners' top two scoreres, Giroud and Ramsey, the source of goals was a concern. Lukas Podolski started up front as central striker, flanked by Theo Walcott, whose form has been improving week by week since his return from injury, and Santi Cazorla. Once again, I didn't get to see much of the first half because I was driving up to Indy. But I was able to watch the end of the first half and the entire second half on my cell phone (while warming up for indoor bike training). It sounds like I didn't miss much in a first half that others have described as turgid. The London weather, once again, appeared dismal; and I was concerned that the game might turn out in a nil-nil draw, like Arsenal-Chelsea last week.

Arsenal had the lion's share of possession in the second half, and mounted a number of serious attacks. Per Mertesacker, in particular, had two good opportunities to score on headers from corner kicks. He'll be disappointed not to have scored at least one of them. Finally, in the waning minutes, Niklas Bendtner following up on a shot that was parried to the side by the Cardiff goalie. He blasted the rebound into the top of the net, just before stepping on a defender's foot and spraining his ankle. Word is that Bendtner will be out for weeks, rather than days. Already thin at striker, even with Giroud and Bendtner, Arsenal are now left with only Podolski and Walcott capable of leading the line (and I use the word "capable" with some trepidation). With the January transfer window now open, Wenger might well be forced to make a move, despite his traditional reluctance to change the squad in mid-season.

Arsenal scored a second goal in stoppage time to put the game to bed, and it was a more typical Arsenal work of art. Starting by the right sideline, Sagna got the ball to Rosicky, who played into Wilshire in the center, about 35 yards out. Wilshire played a gorgeous first-time pass, flicking the ball with the outside of his left boot, to Walcott, who was cutting into the box. Wilshire pass was inch-perfect, beating the defender and leaving Walcott one-on-one against the goalie. Seeing the goalkeeper starting to sprawl in front of him, Walcott simply chipped the shot over him and into the net. A really pretty goal.

Let's hope there are more goals like it in weeks to come. The way Chelsea, and especially Man City, are playing, Arsenal are going to need goals, goals, and more goals to stay on top of the League.

2014

Happy New Year, everyone.