Monday 4 May 2009

Morning roundup

  • Denis will be all over this one: Birds Raised In Complete Isolation Evolve 'Normal' Species Song Over Generations.

  • Elsevier erodes its reputational capital HT: Slashdot

  • Patri Friedman points us to Stringham and Hummel on the importance of libertarian evangelicalism. Of course, if preferences can change for the better, they can also change for the worse; neither democracy nor libertarian anarchy are robust to meddlesome preferences.

  • I wasn't terribly excited about the prospects for National's budget cutting consultants. Until I saw who they were: Murray Horn and Graham Scott. They're exactly the right people for the job. Excellent.

  • Phil Ascroft points me to a wonderful take-down in the New Zealand Law Journal of New Zealand's move to prohibit the party pill BZP: Kevin Dawkins (2008) The Great BZP Hoax, New Zealand Law J., 6(July). Available via Lexis-Nexis. Peer review of the studies on which the ban was based found them wholly insufficient, but prohibition was what the Minister wanted, and so prohibition was what the Minister got.

  • New Yorker on Orszag
    He [Jon Stewart] asked Orszag why the government didn’t just bail out borrowers who have defaulted. “The problem is, if you just focussed on the people who defaulted you create this huge incentive to default,” Orszag replied. Stewart looked at Orszag with an astonished grin. Before Stewart could finish pointing out that the government is creating an equally huge incentive by bailing out the financial firms Orszag realized that he had been backed into a corner: “Yeah, none of this is perfect!”
    Stewart responded with high-pitched laughter, seeming to suggest that if Obama’s budget director doesn’t know the answer to these questions we are all doomed.

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