Wednesday, March 30, 2005


A lesson from Sweden's private SS accounts

Richard Taler has done some research on the Swedish privatization of Social Security. Even though it strongly suggests that large groups can have a hard time finding an optimal solution (so-called collective rationality), it does not suggest that Bush's plan to privatize the U.S. Social Security will be for the worse.

And what did I do with my private account in this roulette, you may ask? Oh, I put everything on red. All my money went to Russian capital funds. (Risky, I know, but then again I am young, and I plan to switch as soon as the return rate goes below 80 percent...) During the past two years, my capital has increased by over 400 percent. (The U.S. capital funds (mainly Morgan Stanley) have not even been able to give back what you put in...)

Which leads us to the column by Robert Barro in the latest issue of Business Week. The problem with private accounts is that they create a juxtaposition where government creates institutional frameworks that will make it profitable for people (like myself) to take risks, but endanger the common welfare aspects of the entire program. (Hence, this is a classic collective action dilemma.) Tyler Cowen agrees with Barro - partial privatization is probably not a good idea at all. But then again, a fully socialized program migh even be worse.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


The Games We Play

Ever wondered about the strategy in that old Fischer-Spassky game or whether the Scandinavian defense can win out on a standard Ruy Lopez opening? Well, look no more - this page has all the moves recorded!
It's game theory at its best. What else is there to say?

Monday, March 21, 2005


No kiss and tell at Playgirl

In the press there are the big ones; NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, and... of course Playgirl.

Even though the female clone of the Playboy brand has never really met the standards of old playboy - back in the days when you could read chronicles by Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, Alex Haley and interviews with Ayn Rand among the pages of less than dressed females - Playgirl at least has appealed to the politically correct gender-equality senses of its audience.

But there are some things you shouldn't speak about, not even in Playgirl. Editor-in-chief Michele Zipp, told Drudge report about her political views:
“Siding with the GOP when you live in the bluest state around is almost like
wearing a Boston Red Sox jersey at a New York Yankees’ home game,” says Zipp in
the April issue of PLAYGIRL. ”I cannot tell you how many times a person assumed
I voted for John Kerry in 2004. Most of the time, I don’t have the heart to tell
them, or the energy to discuss my reasons for going red this election year. But
this is Playgirl magazine so it’s about time I was the one who bared what’s
underneath.”How could a member of the media who produces adult entertainment for women possibly side with conservatives from the red states? Zipp spells it out.
“Those on the right are presumed to be all about power and greed – two really
sexy traits in the bedroom. They want it, they want it now, and they’ll do
anything to get it. And I’m not talking about some pansy-assed victory, I’m
talking about full on jackpot, satisfaction for all.” “The Democrats of the
Sixties were all about making love and not war while a war-loving Republican is
a man who would fight, bleed, sacrifice, and die for his country. Could you
imagine what that very same man would do for his wife in the bedroom?” asks

She was told to "zipp it"
This opened up for wide eyes in the established press and some comments from bloggers.
It also led to the firing of Zipp:

"After your coverage of my article about coming out and voting Republican,
I did receive many letters of support from fellow Republican voters, but it was
not without repercussions. Criticism from the liberal left ensued. A few days
after the onslaught of liberal backlash, I was released from my duties at
Playgirl magazine. "After underlings expressed their disinterest of working for
an outed Republican editor, I have a strong suspicion that my position was no
longer valued by Playgirl executives. I also received a phone call from a
leading official from Playgirl magazine, in which he stated with a laugh, "I
wouldn't have hired you if I knew you were a Republican."I just wanted to let
you know of the fear the liberal left has about a woman with power possessing
Republican views."

Thursday, March 17, 2005


"Anchor Away"

Jeremy Kahn gives Dan Rather his last rites in the The New Republic (as of Monday 14, webonly edition, subscribers only):

"Beyond being awkward and strange, Rather was described as a narcissistic
reporter who made himself the center of every story. Even Walter Cronkite, CBS's
beloved anchor emeritus, joined the anti-Rather chorus, telling The New Yorker's
Auletta that he worried about Rather's 'showboating.' Cronkite also revealed
that he had long ceased to watch Rather, preferring NBC's former anchor Tom
Brokaw instead. Then he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that Bob Schieffer should have
replaced Rather long ago. Ouch."

"Now, I'll accept that much of what Rather's critics have said is true.
(Although I don't believe Rather was guilty of liberal bias, I won't defend his
Memogate decisions, and his occasionally self-pitying attempts to portray
himself as some sort of martyr are pathetic and unseemly. So too was his claim
to the BBC that compared the chilling effect Bush's war on terror was having on
the news media with the 'necklacing' of political dissidents in South Africa.)"

"Did Rather put himself at the center of his stories? Yes. Was he stiff and
uptight? Much of the time. Was he sometimes sentimental and often downright
bizarre? Absolutely. And all of these things made him by far the most enjoyable
network anchor to watch. If you wanted stoicism and predictability, tune in
Jennings or Brokaw. But if you delighted in the frisson of watching someone who
might at any moment completely lose it in front of millions of viewers on live
television, then Dan was your man."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


I'm white. I'm male. I blog. Try to live with it.

After Larry Summers faced his peers at Harvard who gave him a non-vote of confidence the criticism against blogs has become the new hot topic. Kerry has spoken out against the blogosphere (which, in some weird way according to Kerry's somewhat skewed logic, was able to pollute the public discourse of mainstream media - who for some other reason that he doesn't explain didn't do the muckracking it used to). Not that Kerry seemed very pleased about muckracking when focused on him and his Vietnam records... I guess we have to conclude that, according to Kerry's statement, muckracking is only good when it targets Republicans.
I have to hand it to him. When it comes to being a poor loser, nobody does it better than Kerry.

In the same manner as with Larry Summers on Harvard, white males are being targeted. They dominate the blog community. They are only referring to other male authors. They are elitist and so forth... I never stop being amazed by the lack of logic from some Ivy League scholars, like this female blogger - Debbie Weil. She is proud of being an old Harvard alumni. Her kids go to Harvard. Well, I guess it's true then - money may get you into Harvard, but it can't really buy you a brain.

Jeff Jarvis provides some great punchlines to the overtly politically correct academics out there, like Newsweek's Steven Levy :

"First, what's wrong with being a white male? I'm white and male. Not much I can
do about it. Not much I want to do about it. I'm sure as hell not going to
apologize for it. I'm white. I'm male. I blog. You got a problem with that?
Second, I hate to break the news to you, Steven but... you're white
and male, too! And you sit there in a Big Big-Media Job that is not held by
someone unwhite and unmale. Should you ask why that is? Should you feel guilty?
Should you quit? Should someone ask these questions of you?
Third, anyone can blog. Anyone. If you're not white or not male or not American or not powerful or not rich or not anything, you can still blog. This is not like Big Media, where there's a gate to keep and a ceiling to hit. This is a wide-open medium where
anyone can blog."

The last paragraph is essential in a democracy. Anyone can blog. Whenever modern democracies face the problem of widening gaps between the voters and the elected offials, it opens up for gatekeeping and principal-agent problems (i.e. it is hard for electors to get first-hand information from public officials which leads to the heavy emphasis on media conglomerates and their information advantage). The blogs have turned this relationship around. Mainstream media now face the same kind of scrutiny only they had the power to enforce before.
The true "public" interest, if there ever was one, is of course ultimately better served by a transparent and diverse blogging community than with a single white male columnist in Newsweek.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Why not Kinky? It's a spiritual thing.

Yes, it is true - Kinky Friedman is in fact running for governor in the Lonestar Star. He describes his campaign as only he can: "It's a spiritual thing."

Read his spiritual (errhm..well) campaign call: Why the hell not?

On his blog you can follow his daily posts on the country song theme They ain't makin' Jews like Jesus anymore.

How can anybody not take this guy seriously? ;) He might just be for Texas what Jesse Ventura was for Minnesota. Or Arnold for California.

Politics is fun - if he wins it will only show that old wrestlers, bodybuilders and folksy prank-singers might just be more in tune with voters than Ivy League scholars. It's called democracy, folks. Let's leave it at that.


Evaluating an election year

The Project for Excellence in Media (Columbia University) has published their survey/research papers on media outlets and their news frames from the last year.

See also: State of the News Media 2005.
State of the News Media 2004.
One interesting fact - the Kerry camp was indeed overtly praised by mainstream media networks and the national press, which is probably why Kerry loves mainstream media.

Monday, March 14, 2005


The War on Rather ... to be continued...

A media cycle, much like a product life cycle (See Philip Kotler for reference) doesn't die out just because the person which the story evolves around has decided to step down. This article explains why.

But this is not merely about being fair or approaching a story with a sound perspective: In the narrative minds of journalists, the drama can continue where the old person of interest turns into a MacGuffin.


The times they are a-changin'

This just in...
Former DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe Begins New Media Career? Set to Co-Host HANNITY/COLMES on FOXNEWS Tuesday

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


THK - time to 'ketch up'?

Not all paddles in the sea, the light is on but there's noone home, not all the chickens in the hen-house, not all the french fries on her plate... and so on...

There are a few sour grapes of wrath in the old Kerry camp, and now THK blames the Bush victory on election fraud.

And Europe reports (Swedish). No, we are not surprised.

Will somebody please tell that woman to wise up?
Oh? What was that...?
Merci, merci?
Ah, de rien.


Rather gone, but bias will remain

The people at the two blogs, and Boznell at The Media Research Center may have this day to gloat and celebrate. CBS News, on their side, can try to make their viewers believe that this whole Dan Rather-stepping-down event has nothing to do with the Memogate last September and focus on good ol' memories.

For Rather - the writing on the wall says it all: I Fought the Blog and the Blog Won!

For his adversaries is this maybe a battle won, but the war is far from over. And liberal bias is not something that will go away Dan Rather, just as it didn't go away with Bryant Gumbel.

The bottom line - institutions matter.


FEC's New Deal on regulation

Richard L. Hasen, professor who specializes in election law at Loyola Law School has written this article about FEC and the new deal on regulating communication.

(Hasen also writes the Election Law Blog.)


La Dolce Sgrena

Europe needs to have someone like John Gibson who can "Rush to Judgment".

I wonder if she will thank Berlusconi for paying for her - in cash. Or if she will have new faith in Italian security forces.

(Read also: One Dutch reporter reveals the nature of Sgrena's pathologic world view.)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Some women are just plain stupid

A few years ago, when I was an editorial-writer for the Swedish paper Smålandsposten, I dared to compare feminist movements with the Nazi ideology. Not to excaggerate. But as a theoretical thought experiment:
a) They both use dichotomy to explain society ("we against them" - arians-jews, men-women). b) Their analysis is built on conflict between the groups of interest (i.e. "jews are taking over the world and threatening the life of pure arians" - compare with "the patriarchal society , where men is the norm, is threatening the life of women".
c) The solution is to extinguish one norm-group and support another.

Feminists didn't take long to respond. I was called a maniac, a disgusting old-fashioned conservative. They argued that I hated women, despised true equality between sexes et cetera...

One professor in Political Science now says that conclusions, like the ones I raised, are right on target (article in Swedish).

Now, all feminists are not playing gender politics to the same extent, of course. But to show a political theory's inner logic, we will always have to try it out - in absurdum. Logical consequentialism is important - not only in philosophy.
So, if feminism is not in many theoretical ways just like the Nazi ideology, then explain how Sheila Jeffrey (author of The Lesbian Heresy, The Idea of Prostitution, The Spinster and her enemies) can advocate that heterosexual intercourse is the same as raping a woman. (And if Jeffrey is such an extreme, then why was she invited by the Swedish Social Democratic government to hold a speech at their equality conference?) Jeffrey further advocates abortion on any boy fetus, and argues that the feminist movement should eliminate women who have given birth to boys.

And why is Valerie Solana being hailed as a new inspirational figure with her violent SCUM Manifesto? (SCUM stands for "Society for Cutting Up Men" - men are parasites, and ought to be "exterminated").

This just in for International Women's Day: Some women are just plain stupid.


The Greatest Story You'll Never Read in Europe

"Always trust an Italian Communist - Never trust American Aggressors"
In Europe the focus is on Giuliana Sgrena, their viewpoints mirrored in CBS's Way of formulating the episode: "Italian journalist [...] disputes that troops gave her convoy a warning to stop at a checkpoint". The culpability is obviously on the U.S. troops. Sgrenas credibility seems to be taken for granted, on CBS as in the morning news broadcasts I watched earlier.

Another story, vividly reported in Europe, that supposedly has "shocked" Americans - a new torture scandal (the evidences in the story are to a large extent circumstantial, no real torture is in fact reported, and even the NY Times didn't spend too much time on it, instead letting Reuters do the footwork: Ramadi Madness. CBS, btw, is too much focused on glorifying Rather to even play the story at all...)

Why Bush was right all along
This about mayhem and horror. Are there any good news from the Middle East? Yes, but with the exception of two UK papers, Europe is not reporting. Here is one of them - The Independent: Was Bush right after all?
In the Washington Post, they are obviously impressed with Bush's strong stand about policies and committment in the Middle East. Even the critics on the editorial staff of the NY Times open up for some good remarks ('Mideast Climate Changes') for Bush:
“The Bush administration is entitled to claim a healthy share of the credit for
many of these advances.”

In The Times, Gerald Baker is spinning a theme that I am currently working on myself for a Swedish news sight: "What have the Americans ever done for us? Liberated 50 million people..."
Time Magazine's Michael Duffy writes about the historical impact of the Bush administration and the possible Bush legacy in the Mideast: When History Turns A Corner.

From an Arabic point of view, Fareed Zakaria writes in Newsweek about What Bush Got Right
(and, hence, "What Europe Left Out" (the modus operandi here is “Left”)). The resiliance and the U.S. effort has in fact proven itself to be successful, and a large part of this success is because of policy positionings - not to believe in the Palestinian-pan-arabic propaganda – because there is no such aliance, other than as a marketing device for terrorist. And no, no European post-modernist discourse analyst will ever try to "deconstruct" such a Palestinian scheme.

Yes, it is great when news organisations can report about bad intelligence gathering (torture and activities that are otherwise violating the Geneva convention). But ... as always... it is fascinating to see which stories are being reported. And who is the most credible news source.


Another CNN showdown

Giuliana Sgrena is the next big case in which big media outlets face bloggers. And they do have an impact. (Last time CNN was involved, Eason Jordan had to go.) This time it's blogger/journalist Michelle Malkin who points out obvious fallacies in the Italian journalist shooting story. Instapundit has followed up on CNN's reporting. And CNN has changed its story. Now, there are no longer any reports that says that the car Sgrena was riding in came at the control post in a slow speed. This is now reported in Sgrena's own words with the ironical capture "My truth" .


Liberal PACs attack FactCheck (again)

FactCheck is starting to get into close contact with few liberal PAC's now. MoveOn has attacked them (see earlier posts: 1, 2) after their claims had been analyzed and found to be not true. Now another liberal PAC, Campaign for America's Future, has received criticism in this paper, from the policy research institute The Annenberg Center at University of Pennsylvania.
They use the same counter-attack measures as many other organisations - they try to create convincing rebuttals. Which of course only provokes FactCheck to prove them wrong once more. (Getting beaten once is bad. Getting beaten twice and humiliated at the same time is just plain stupid.)

Two problems here - Nobody knows what the F-CK CFAF is. Everybody knows what is, after being the big name of a Cheney mishap during the Vice Presidential Debate 2004. And second - a rebuttal is only efficient if the credibility of your opponent can be questioned. So what's the strategy, you might ask? Quite possibly to lower the credibility of FactCheck over time by issuing a number of rebuttals from many liberal PACs.
It will probably be hard for The Annenberg Center too keep answering all their leftist critics and this is just what the Dem-PACs want - in a world where news travels fast, voters forget just as fast and any rebuttal is as good as the next one it will be hard for any policy science watchdog center to keep up with campaign tactics from partisan groups. Truth is in fact, if we allow ourselves to play spinnng-Einstein with politics, just relative.

Monday, March 07, 2005


People who write about me...

I just found out that my Bachelor thesis (see post below) from 1998 is now being posted on the net by bloggers in Sweden. Here is one example - dibbuk - according to himself "a somewhat right-wing child of the 70ies who believes in invisible hands and spontaneous order".


I See Dumb People

It's Monday, and living in Europe in the beginning of March can make you so tired. International Women's Day is coming up. Not that it changes anything about how the media behaves in Sweden.
For some reason the only news capture available to Swedish journalists is the feminist perspective - with every story they report they are bending themselves backwards to show some angle in which women are used or abused - even when that perspective does only exist in the journalists' imagination.
One Swedish professor in neurobiology, Germund Hesslow, wrote an article (Swedish) about his research on differences between the sexes, and how this may have an impact on society: the bottom line being that quotas and government interventions in society only backfires on the women which the leading feminists here in Europe say that they want to help. He is now the most despised man in the country.

The second most popular woman in Sweden (after the Queen), on the other hand, was announced in a recent survey: Gudrun Schyman (ta-da!) is famous for number of scandals. She is a former member of the Stalinist Left Fraction, an alcoholic who has been the darling of the media for so long, in 1995 she stormed in to a press meeting with then Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson and, highly intoxicated, asked if he or "anybody in the room could show that they were real men". (This story was not reported in any paper or tv-station.) After that incident she has been accused of sexually harrasing other celebrities. Täppas Fogelberg eventually went public in Swedish Public Radio (P4) and told his audience how Schyman had been touching him at a private party, trying to seduce him while she was in a drunken haze. After that she has been convicted of tax fraud, illegal use of public funds (in her job as an MP), while having jobs on the side of her official job as a party leader of the former Communist Party (Now the Left Party) by making soft porn movies.
She is now the hottest candidate to lead a new Feminist Party that is about to be organized in Sweden and which, according to a recent poll might get as much as 36 percent in a nationwide election. (Honestly... is there no scandal out there that can finish her political career?) What is there to say? Gudrun, thanks for the memories. Now please go away.


How is it possible for leftists to withstand media scrutiny in Sweden? you might ask yourself. Well, it is seemingly not a disadvantage to be a woman, as the case with Schyman clearly shows. Especially if you are on the left side of the political scene. There is more evidence that points out this medialised romantic relationship with the left.

Sweden, is some kind of nutty-aunt case in otherwise mainstream-nutty Europe. I wrote my Bachelor thesis about Bamse, (in Swedish) the most popular children cartoon in Sweden (subscription is possible - it arrives on a monthly basis). Bamse is made for children (age 3-9). He is a communist and advocates socialism - yes, to kids!
There are more books and magazines like this to be found in the dysfunctional homes of Sweden. As the Stockholm Spectator reports: in the 70ies, books about princes and princesses were thrown out from libraries. And new, more politically correct, books were being written. The books were used regularly in the playschools of that era. One of them was about a little Chinese girl. She told a little Swedish girl all about the Red Army. Here’s what Swedish playschool kids got to read:

“Our Red Army had many enemies: landlords and other rich people who didn’t want
to share… But we got a leader whose name is Mao. He has taught to understand
that everybody must share equally. We admire Mao for this!”

Another book showed that there is no difference between boys and girls. A third shows mummy as a carpenter on her way to work, while daddy, wearing his flowery apron, stays at home to mind the children. (This was back in the days when it was still possible for one of the family to be at home.)


Watching over the watchers:
The people on this blog - they watch Fox - so you don't have to... (ROTFL)

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Goodwin's Law and Senator Byrd

Robert Byrd (D-WV) has spoken out against the ideas from Bush-supporters and Republicans in the Senate to end the filibuster. In his inflammatory speech he compared Republicans with Nazis who tried to limit democrativ institutions. This has of course opened up for criticism from both Jewish and Republican groups. And - as Ken Mehlman puts it - it is interesting to discuss allegations with references to Nazi Germany, especially when they are made by a former card-carrying member of the KKK.

In the blog-world and the altnet-world, there's Goodwin's Law and Formosa's Law. (In Sweden, there's a recent similar example of what has been labeled Lex Alicio.) And it should be applied more often IRL.

Hence; Bush-Byrd: 1-0.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


"Bleeding" Liberal Arts at Harvard?

Yes, social studies and humanities all over the world have fostered a relationship to intellectual studies that is far from intelligent. They have become the nursery for posturing, liberal dogma, or sentimental appeals to evidence of things not seen.
Larry Summers (see my earlier post), the economist-turned-president of Harvard University, started a clean-up mission and met his adverseries among faculty and students at the prestigious university who are more interested in keeping up the appearances. (Read Alex Tabarrok's analysis of the criticism from Robinson's and other politically correct commentators. And while you're at it - see also Gary Becker's argument in the case as well as Posner's post.)

Summers get well-deserved back-up from The Economist which points out that the debate on Summers role at Harvard predates his speech on women: "Reading the transcript…one begins to wonder what kind of examination of female scientists would not offend some people. "

Stephen Metcalf has a great post on Slate where he also points out the virtue of economists:

"[...] economists detest consensus. Consensus is boring. Economists live to
congratulate themselves on their own brusque candor, by which everyone else's
cherished assumptions are revealed to be total bunk. They are bulls in search of
fine bone china."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


The wonderful future of Ph.D. Candidates

Marginal Revolution has a sweet entry on why it is great to be a Ph.D. Candidate.

But I have to admit - some things on their list scare me.


Reading list - New Institutional Economics

Yep, just like the heading says - a nice little collection of New Instituional Economics papers and books.


Libertarian Lonelyhearts?

Jacueline Passey is providing a helpful service to all lonely libertarian males - she is working on a list of libertarian female bloggers.
Well, jokes aside - Passey's list shows something very important - that the blogging community is more diverse than any ordinary stereotype lets us presume.

I frequently read the Dynamist Blog as well as Flying Hedgehogs. Both are written by females. Not that I think it matters. But they provide insightful remarks, good arguments and interesting reflections. And that matters. And when they also turn up on the libertarian part of the ideological spectrum you just have to consider it a bonus.


Docudramas - reality news/fiction

Rod Carveth has written a thoughtful column on the nature of pack-hunts and media docu-dramas. This in particular is about Amy Fisher - "The Long Island Lolita". There are, according to Carveth, two different cases of docudramas:

"The first is the historical docudrama, a fictionalized retelling of a period of
history, such as Patton: The Final Days. These telefilms benefit from the
perspective of time passage: Much has been written and much is known about the
events that have happened.
The second category of docudrama I call the "headline"' docudrama. These telefilms are based on events that have occurred much closer to their airing, usually within five years. [...]"
They usually follow two different plots:

"The first plot revolves around tales of adversity, where the principals display
courage and persistence and achieve some form of triumph. [...] The second basic
plot centers on tales of crime, often involving either greed or lust (or both).
Most often, the crimes are murders or sexually related assaults. In the end,
justice prevails, and the criminals are held responsible for their crimes.
Examples of this type of docudrama are Good Night, Sweet Wife: A Murder in
Boston (about the Charles Stuart murder case) and Murder in New Hampshire (about
the Pamela Smart murder case). One of the primary selling points of these
docudramas is that they are "based on fact" or "based on real-life events."

Important to notice is that the validation of a story, the "truthfulness", is up for public scrutiny of the kind that has more with genereal trends in the public opinion than mere facts.

Carveths writings on the case, especially concerning Amy Fisher is of course even more interesting now, when we see that the story lives on - now where Mrs. Fisher is taken into the arms of TV-guru Oprah Winfrey and has published "her side of the story", aka the rebuttal of earlier docudramas that went with the story of her alleged lover Joey Buttafuoco. And of course there's a book deal - Fisher's book If I Knew Then.

depeche mode tour 2005/2006