Ubiquitous and Cheap

February 26, 2008

One of the nuggets from this Freakonomics interview of Google chief economist Hal Varian.

Q: Your job sounds extremely interesting. What jobs would you recommend to a young person with an interest, and maybe a bachelors degree, in economics?

A: If you are looking for a career where your services will be in high demand, you should find something where you provide a scarce, complementary service to something that is getting ubiquitous and cheap. So what’s getting ubiquitous and cheap? Data. And what is complementary to data? Analysis. So my recommendation is to take lots of courses about how to manipulate and analyze data: databases, machine learning, econometrics, statistics, visualization, and so on.

I’m lucky in that I have valuable skills that I greatly enjoy. I’ve never actively considered optimizing my career choices to accommodate any broader social trends. Luckily, my interests have usually pointed me in directions that seem to match up well with social trends.

Freakonomics might be the only blog that I follow that has partial feeds. Their interview series is routinely good.


What’s a honeytrapper?

February 21, 2008

A private detective engaging your spouse in conversation to test their devotion. Here’s the story. Via Marginal Revolution.


All that you wish you knew about bankruptcy reform

February 21, 2008

There is also substantial evidence–good, solid research, not awful surveys–that easy bankruptcy is one of the hidden strengths of the American economy.

Megan McArdle on bankruptcies.


Obama is a paradox

February 18, 2008

Mr Obama is a paradox, as yet unresolved. His plan and his votes in the Senate show that he is a liberal, not a centrist. And he is no wavering or accidental liberal. His ideas are of a piece. He sees – or convinces people that he sees – a bigger picture. And yet this leftist visionary is pragmatic, non-ideological and accommodating of dissent. More than that, in fact, he seems keen to listen to and learn from those who disagree with him. What a strange and beguiling combination this is.

the whole thing is worth a read.


Grassroots for Obama

February 18, 2008

An here-to-fore untold part of the campaign:

If you want to understand how Barack Obama has been so successful thus far in his bid for the Democratic nomination you could do a lot worse than walk into the Alamobama office in Suite 106 at 301 Broadway, a stone’s throw from the Alamo in downtown San Antonio, Texas. It’s a hive of activity with a dozen or so people hard at work, communicating via a network of more than 600 active volunteers.

It has computers, sofas and desks, everything you would expect in a modern office and is decorated with some striking Obama graphics. The thing that sets it apart from a regular campaign office is that not a penny has been spent on it from campaign funds – everything (including the office itself) has been donated. And all the staff are volunteers, part of a group set up more than a year ago but which now forms the basis of Obama’s presidential bid in one of the biggest cities in Texas. So how did this happen?

read the rest here. On a side note, it sort of makes you wonder how effective campaign finance reform would be. More accurately, it makes me wonder.


Unintended Carbon Consequences

February 14, 2008

Here is an interesting article on Biofuels. It turns out they don’t reduce carbon emissions as much as we thought. If we had a carbon tax, a product’s emissions would be reflected in the price.


Yes, we can.

February 12, 2008

If you haven’t seen the video, you must watch it. Even if you have, you should watch it again.

Considering my feelings toward Clinton has given me greater understanding of what my liberal friends felt toward Bush. When I talk to people who talk about politics a lot, most of them don’t think Clinton would fare that much worse than Obama in the general election. They are wrong. Clinton will lose the general election, if nominated and Obama will win it. They don’t understand how broad his appeal is. They don’t understand how much he disheartens conservatives. They don’t understand how right he was to compare himself to Reagan. He is what a politician should be. His message is what a politician’s message should be.

Speaking about Reagan, he said “[Reagan] tapped into what people were already feeling. We want clarity. We want optimism.” Here’s the video. Anyway, on account of the fact that the Democratic election is more in doubt than the Republican, I’m going to vote for Obama tomorrow. I want to see what he would do in Washington. It wouldn’t be nearly as much as his supporters hope for or believe, but it would be so much more than his detractors think. He defies categorization (though he is truly a Democrat). As Clive Crook says, he is a once-in-a-generation candidate. Every time I watch the Yes, we can video, I get chills up my spine. At first I thought it was just cold. You should read the artist’s inspiration on the left side.

Update: If the dipdive link doesn’t work above, here is the lower quality youtube.