A blogged dialogue? Or a dialogic blog?
Nobel laureate Gary Becker and judicial polymath Richard Posner have set up a joint blog in which they will have one posting a week arguing about a significant issue. I’ve been reading and admiring Posner’s stuff for years. This is a really interesting idea. Here’s how they introduce the concept:
“Blogging is a major new social, political, and economic phenomenon. It is a fresh and striking exemplification of Friedrich Hayek’s thesis that knowledge is widely distributed among people and that the challenge to society is to create mechanisms for pooling that knowledge. The powerful mechanism that was the focus of Hayek[base ‘]s work, as as of economists generally, is the price system (the market). The newest mechanism is the ‘blogosphere.’ There are 4 million blogs. The internet enables the instantaneous pooling (and hence correction, refinement, and amplification) of the ideas and opinions, facts and images, reportage and scholarship, generated by bloggers.
We have decided to start a blog that will explore current issues of economics, law, and policy in a dialogic format. Initially we will be posting just once a week, on Mondays. In time we may post more frequently.”
If you can’t beat ’em, buy them
Alan Murray has a terrific column in the Wall Street Journal about the way the Computer and Communications Industry Association has been bought off by Microsoft.
The article begins…
“Ed Black, the head of a struggling computer trade group, spent a decade on a quixotic quest to slay mighty Microsoft for its antitrust abuses. “A rapacious monopoly,” he called it. The company’s behavior is “consistently, constantly illegal.” It “steamrollers companies” and “crushes the few who will not bend to their will.” When the government settled its antitrust case against Microsoft in 2001, Mr. Black said it was “selling out consumers, competition, and all those who want a vibrant, innovative high-tech industry contributing strength to our economy.”
Well … never mind. Microsoft is still every bit the monopolist it was a decade ago. But Mr. Black is a changed man. He will personally pocket millions of dollars as part of a nearly $25 million settlement he negotiated between Microsoft and his trade group, the Computer and Communications Industry Association. In return, he will abandon his antitrust efforts against the company.
It’s as if Ralph Nader had been bought off by General Motors. And everybody ends up happy.”
And it concludes…
“The Microsoft saga serves as a reminder of an important truth: Capitalists, for the most part, don’t care much for capitalism. Their goal is to make money. And if they can do it without messy competition, so much the better. As long as it keeps its monopoly, Microsoft can afford to share the wealth with its onetime rivals. For Microsoft, those fines and payments add up to less than a year’s profit from the operating system. For the others, it’s easier to take Microsoft’s money than fight.”
How to win at roulettte
Bring some kit to the casino. Specifically a laser scanner inside a mobile phone linked to a computer. The scanner measures the speed of the roulette ball as the croupier releases it, identifies where it falls and measures the declining orbit of the wheel. The data is beamed to the microcomputer, which runs through thousands of possible outcomes to forecast which section numbers the ball will land on. These data are flashed on to the screen of the phone just before the wheel makes its third spin, by which time all bets must be placed. Having thus reduced the odds of winning from 37-1 to 6-1, you then place bets on all six numbers in the section where the ball is predicted to end up. Then pocket your winnings. And it’s all perfectly legal. See the Times story of the trio who won £1.3 million in the Ritz casino on London using the above method.