Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Marginal Revolution links to a fantastic article by George Mason University economists Pete Boettke and Alex Tabarrok (also an MR contributor) explaining how GMU basketball and GMU economics follow a similar and deliberate strategy of innovation — one that has turned them into very successful underdogs.
[Update 3/30/06: The Post rides the wave.]
Monday, March 27, 2006
As I’ve said before, I prefer to avoid any possibility of conflict of interest by not discussing my employer on this blog, with one exception. Part of my role at work entails letting other bloggers know about our program deadlines so they can alert their readers if they so choose, and it would be somewhat remiss of me not to take my own advice. Thus, below I’ve included a plug for the free IHS Summer Seminar series.
Regardless of your political or ideological background, this is an opportunity that I can vouch for as a past participant and wholeheartedly endorse as a powerful intellectual exercise, not to mention a fun and rewarding experience. I’m happy to answer any questions about it.
IHS Summer Seminars
Looking for thoughtful discussions about freedom this summer? Apply for one of 13 free seminars hosted by the Institute for Humane Studies. Join students from around the world and listen to top faculty presentations on topics such as globalization, current issues, social change, art and culture, poverty, and more. In particular, we’ve designed two sets of seminars with conservatives or libertarians in mind:
Our Liberty & Society series—Ideas & Entrepreneurs and Markets, Law & Prosperity—starts with the basis that free markets and individual rights are the path to a better society, focusing on the interconnections between economics and political ideas and the worlds of government and law.; Ideas & Entrepreneurs expands to consider the factors that motivate entrepreneurship and the impact these pursuits have on society.
Advanced Studies in Freedom, our newest seminar, was created with classical liberal students and recent graduates in mind. Our most in-depth seminar, participants will spend a week thinking critically and intensively about libertarian philosophy. It’s perfect for students who are already well read and conversant in the ideas of liberty.
To hear about the seminar experience from past participants, select one of the following links to view a brief video:
Participation is free. Find out more and apply online at www.TheIHS.org/seminars. The deadline is March 31.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
You earned it. And here’s another take. Money quote:
In the middle of the on-court celebration was school president Dr. Alan Merten. He has center-court seats for home games and is probably one of the team’s biggest boosters. Merten acknowledged that while the university has had two Nobel Prize winners, the reality is that, at the presidential level, the Final Four can drive conversation.
I’d also like to welcome LSU and Florida to the Final Four. Yes, that’s 50% of the Final Four playing SEC basketball. Big 12? Nada. Big Ten? Zip. ACC? Zilch. Suck it, Big East.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Well, must-see if you’re into films with political messages, at least. After barely seeing a movie in the theater in the past ten months, I saw two last week that I’ll readily promote:
V for Vendetta, based on a graphic novel [read: long comic book], chronicles the plot of the masked man “V” to bring down a fascist British government by assasinating its leaders and destroying the Houses of Parliament. Definitely a good flick and well worth viewing on the big screen, though I disagree with some of my colleagues who feel that it paints limitations on government in a favorable light. I think it tries, but my opinion is more in line with Iain Murray’s review — the villains are portrayed as caricatures that thoughtful people won’t readily map onto reality, while the main character, for all his excellent and relevant quotes, will ultimately be remembered by the average viewer as a madman who blows up buildings with callous regard for what happens in the aftermath.
Thank You for Smoking will make less at the box office, but is in my opinion an amazing film and a much better social commentary. Based on the novel of the same name, this is a fictional account of tobacco lobbyist Nick Naylor’s life and the fight he wages against those who would paint Big Tobacco in a negative light. It’s hysterical, it’s thoughtful, and it stays brilliantly even-handed by making fun of all sides of the choice vs. health vs. whichever-lobbyist-wins debate. Perhaps a colleague of mine describes it best: “A clever fast-paced comedy that plays like they had a public choice scholar on staff. And Katie Holmes plays a hoe, which is cool.” I also enjoyed this Brooke Oberwetter review. [hat tip: Jason]
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Too bad for my former hometown of Peoria, IL — with a loss last night Bradley missed the chance to bring the NCAA championship trophy back to the middle of nowhere. [hat tip: Amy]
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Courtesy of my monthly Atlanta e-briefing from the good folks at the Economist:
A group of Georgia State University students has won national attention thanks to a five-minute film, ï¿½55: A Meditation on the Speed Limitï¿½. The students filmed each other driving the legal speed limit, 55mph, on Atlantaï¿½s Interstate 285, where traffic frequently averages 70mph. The resulting road rage and wall of traffic earned the film not only a student-film festivalï¿½s ï¿½Best Comedyï¿½ award, but also wider attention thanks to its availability on the internet. The filmmakers even appeared on National Public Radio and some television talk shows.
Although some irate commuters have suggested jailing the speed-limit abiders, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation says the students did not block emergency vehicles and therefore did nothing wrong.
The film can be viewed here on Google Video.
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Monday, March 13, 2006
Oops, old pipes mean no running water for the afternoon. Funny, I thought that living in Virginia would help to insulate me from the well-known hazards of DC’s aged, ill-maintained utility system. Instead, it’s just another reminder that Arlington isn’t really Virginia.
[Update 3/13/06: Jacob kindly alerted me to the fact that, while Arlington gets no water at all, in Oslo the faucets pour beer.]
Saturday, March 11, 2006
On Thursday night I attended the AFF Roundtable sponsored monthly by America’s Future Foundation, a professional development organization for young conservatives and libertarians. This month’s event was entitled “What Does the Right Want with Its Women?”
In his introduction, Executive Director David Kirby noted that the possessive pronoun in the title was not an accident, but rather a nod to the frequency with which we typecast an entire political party’s view of gender roles — as if there were no liberal stay-at-home moms or career-focused conservative women.
Overall the roundtable was fun to watch, though I didn’t learn much I didn’t already know. I think I might have preferred to watch a dissenting viewpoint come in and present her case as well. Instead, the format put four conservative/libertarian perspectives on the table for an audience that was already largely sympathetic, and as a result there were no real head-turners. I did, however, jot down the few points that were intriguing or new to me:
Christina Hoff Sommers threw out a couple of terms I didn’t know, having never read taken a women’s studies course or read a feminist book of any kind: “equity feminism” vs “gender feminism”. She considers herself an equity feminist, favoring equality of opportunity but criticizing the emphasis on equality of result. In her opinion, the biggest problem with honest debates about the roles of women lie in a failure to approach such discussions with “civility, reason, and responsible association.”
Allison Kasic noted that women born in the late 70’s and 80’s grew up in a very different world than the women who were already adults at that time — a world full of equal rights watchdogs and gender balance as a point of emphasis. She considers it plausible that feminists who fought so hard for the acceptance of working women are now in disbelief that some women consider it empowering to choose to stay at home, and that these feminists often respond by accusing stay-at-home wives and mothers of falling victim to a “false consciousness”.
Carrie Lukas mentioned, among other things, the propensity for dissenters to accuse powerful conservative females like Condi Rice of being “token” minorities of the conservative cause. She contends that these accusations are extremely insulting and degrading to the integrity of these women and of the ability of qualified women to rise to the top of their professions, and that these types of accusations are among the consequences of the radical fringe of feminism becoming the new center. That said, she points out the reality that there are fewer conservative than liberal women and that percentage-wise fewer conservative women choose to work. This results in fewer women advancing to prominent positions to compete for “face time”, which naturally means that we’ll see the same faces in public more often but is not indicative of disproportionate “token” practices by any one party in particular.
I didn’t write any comments down for Richard Morrison, but that won’t stop me for acknowledging his bravery for being the only man and the only libertarian on the panel. (Bonus points for holding his own without offending the other panelists, as well.)
So anyway, it was nice to hear some entertaining and intellectually honest thoughts from women who face these situations. And, as any smart man would, I’m perfectly content to observe and report without putting a position on record :)
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Thanks to those of you who have expressed concern for my conspicuous absence from this blog recently. March is the busy month at work, and I’ve been spending what little spare time I have asleep in order to stay productive. I expect to be scarce for the next few weeks — my apologies.
Friday, March 3, 2006
Read what Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas S. Monaghan is trying to do. Interesting, no?
Now, here’s my question: if you personally buy an entire town, advertise clearly to the world that it will adhere to an extremely strict set of rules, and then sell pieces of it to voluntary consumers who must consent to the rules prior to purchase, are you still required to fulfill all of the legal and constitutional obligations that come down from on high?
I’m still stuck on the quote “the community has the right”. Ignoring for a moment the terrible misuse of the word “right”, the “community”, like the “state” or the “public”, is not an entity but simply the people within it. But Monaghan’s trying something different — he’s trying to administratively create a no-freedom zone with consentual entry and the ability to voluntarily exit.
So, once it’s populated with people, will that in fact meet this standard for a “community” entitled to all the “rights” afforded it by state and federal protections? Or can it be legally argued that this is no more than one gigantic private enterprise with customers who may or may not choose to make the exchange? Like I said, interesting…