Thursday, October 30, 2014


This is not an easy semester.  Little time for blogging, but here's a quick note...

1. Jean Tirole was awarded the Nobel in Economics.  I mostly know Tirole from the masterful Game Theory he co-authored with Drew Fudenberg, the primary text I used in preparing for my field exam in game theory during my Ph.D. program at NYU.  I've read a little of his other work, but not much.  Just a good technical economist, in my view.  I'm unsurprised Kirzner didn't receive the award, but just having him identified as a frontrunner is a great thing.

2. Sweden recognized the State of Palestine.  In my opinion, it's time for Israel to bite the bullet and recognize a Palestinian state as well... and then give it 24 hours to start rooting out the terrorist groups in its territory, starting with Hamas, or face a declaration of all out war.  As far as I can tell, all of the main Palestinian political players, including Mahmoud Abbas and his PA, are exterminationists, willing to perpetrate a final solution should they get a chance.  I also think we're entering a world where this is becoming increasingly politically correct.  This morning I heard a BBC interviewer challenge an Israeli official who was talking about the the attempted assassination of Rabbi Yehuda Glick, saying "but isn't it the case that Israelis have been giving serious provocation" and then explaining that the "serious provocation" is suggesting that Jews should should be able to go to Temple Mount.  Cynical as I am, even I was shocked -- the BBC World News bunch is as PC as they come.  The freedom of any other racial, religious, or ethnic group to move about would never be challenged, I think. But it appears Jews -- especially Israeli Jews -- are becoming international pariahs, at least in Europe and parts of the United States (e.g. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue).  No wonder Caroline Glick thinks it's time for Israel to say to hell with it and bomb Iran.  I don't know if she's right militarily, but it makes a kind of sense.  By appeasing Palestinian exterminationists and getting tough with Israel, Europe and Obama make war increasingly likely, not peace.

3. I think one must be insane to think that unrestricted travel from countries undergoing ebola epidemics is acceptable.  I cannot find it now, but the dean of a medical school in Pennsylvania recently had an op-ed in WaPo pointing out that anyone in West Africa who has been exposed to ebola ought to be doing all they can to get to the United States, where the disease is not a nearly-certain death sentence, and that for this reason we ought to be limiting travel.  But no.  President-who-would-be-king Obama assures us that completely unrestricted travel is necessary to fight the disease, and that health care workers who return to the U.S. after treating ebola patients need not be treated differently than anyone else... just before his Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, announced quarantine for all U.S. troops who have been sent to sent Ebola.  I'm particularly irked by nurse Kaci Hickox, who courageously went to Sierra Leone to treat ebola patients, and now -- having exposed herself to the deadly disease -- self-righteously thinks she ought to be able to possibly expose everyone else.  To hell with her.  The stupid bastard Craig Spencer M.D. did the same thing and now people who had contact with him are being monitored and at least one business closed as a result.  Spencer ought to be prosecuted for what he's done, not hailed as a hero.

But these are what Heinlein called "the Crazy Years."  You can even find libertarians suggesting there's no real problem in having people with ebola travel freely and mingle with the general public, but mandatory quarantine, that's utterly unthinkable and unacceptable and is no different from establishing internment camps.  Good grief.  (Note my three responses in the comments, and that so far while Tucker has responded he refuses to deal with any serious questions at all.)


I will have both a Le Grizz report and part two of my nuclear weapon piece up... soon, I hope.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

"Another one in the bucket"

That's how RD Pat Caffrey described my 14th finish at Le Grizz.  This was my slowest finish to date, and also the wettest, with multiple rainstorms, some pretty darned hard, plus several hellacious hailstorms.  But a finish is a finish, so it was a good if difficult day.

Report to follow.

Friday, October 10, 2014

the Peace Prize

I'm pleasantly surprised by the announcement of this year's Nobel Peace prize.  First, it is going to actual human beings, and second, the winners really seem genuinely deserving.  Both Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai have campaigned against systematic oppression and exploitation of fairly helpless people, both at great personal risk.  It's nice that Alfred Nobel's wishes are being fulfilled for a change.

Yes, the Norwegians could not help themselves and had to introduce some nonsensical political correctness, emphasizing that they had picked a Hindu and Muslim to share the prize, as if religion, race, etc. is an important criterion, instead of actual accomplishments -- but these are, so far as I can tell, two really good and courageous people who indeed have real accomplishments -- even if it is mostly just standing up publicly against bad guys.  So -- for a change -- good on the committee.  And congratulations to Ms. Yousafzai and Mr. Satyarthi.

And who knows, maybe a joint prize really will help reduce Pakistani-Indian hostility at the margin.  I hope so.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Nobel Predictions...

The Nobel Peace Prize and Nobel Economics Prize (the "Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel" for those uppity people who insist it's not a "real" Nobel Prize) will be announced within the next week.  Both of these are of interest to "us" at Unforeseen Contingencies.  Here's our wish list and a prediction or two.

1. Economics.  Thompson Reuters Sciencewatch has placed Israel Kirzner on its short list for the prize in economics for his work on entrepreneurship.  If the prize is to be awarded for making genuinely insightful and valuable breakthroughs then Kirzner certainly deserves it.  His work has been unfortunately ignored by much of the profession, even though it directly addresses many issues that seem puzzles when one is limited to accepted mainstream theory.  Sciencewatch puts a Kirzner-Baumol prize as one of three likely outcomes, and "we" at UC would welcome that also because entrepreneurship deserves a great deal more attention in economics, because Baumol is also a deserving candidate, and this would be an NYU sweep of the prize.  (Yours truly wrote his doctoral dissertation at NYU with Dr. Kirzner as advisor.)  If "we" were selecting the prize winners, Kirzner-Baumol would win.

Alas, our prediction is otherwise.  I have no real insight on what might happen, but I would guess that if Baumol wins the prize it will be for other things, such as his cost-disease theory.  So I will go out on a limb and predict Baumol as a lone winner.

2. The Peace Prize.  This one is usually good for a laugh, at least of late.  The U.N. Climate Committee?  The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons? Barack Obama?  The E.U.?   Good grief!  Even The Onion couldn't match this.  In predicting this one, picking almost anyone or anything at random seems a reasonable strategy here, although one wonders if genuinely deserving candidates shouldn't be eliminated from the pool.  If there were any justice to this prize, this would be a good year for the committee to strip past prizes from undeserving candidates, beginning with the E.U. for its greed, cowardice, and plain treachery in abandoning Ukrainians and appeasing Putin as he wages war on Ukraine and imposes tyranny at home.  There's "European values" for you.  But given that the prize must be awarded, Unforeseen Contingencies would award it to the protesters of Euromaidan (especially the "Heavenly Hundred") and the volunteer brigades who are fighting the Russian Army in eastern Ukraine.  They are doing more for peace and freedom than anyone else in Europe.  The IDF is a close second.

But given the track record of the committee, I predict another wild card winner.  I suggested ISIS as a possible candidate in one of my classes (what better way to whimper "please don't hurt us" than to award them a Peace Prize?)  One of my students (thanks James!) suggested Vladimir Putin as an even more likely candidate, which strikes me as very much in keeping with past picks such as Yassir Arafat.  Hence Unforeseen Contingencies predicts ISIS, or Putin, or a shared prize between them.

And the winners are...

Update & Le Grizz 2014

Quick note -- I've been overwhelmed with an unusual workload (some of it seems better described as 'make-work' load) of late.  I will complete part 2 of "Inevitability" and resume regular blogging at some point (and maybe re-do the ramble in part 1!)

Meanwhile, as always, early October brings several events of special interest here.  First, there's the 33rd running of the Le Grizz 50 Mile Ultramarathon, on Saturday, 11 October 2014.  Your less-than-faithful blogger will be there, attempting his 14th completion of the race.  Race Director Pat Caffrey, a Montana ultrarunning and mountaineering legend, has announced his retirement.  While he has found team to take over direction of the race, this will likely be the last running on the traditional course along the west shore of Hungry Horse Reservoir, hence it is being billed as "The Last Le Grizz."  I'll be posting a report or two from the race, hopefully with pictures.

The next few days will also bring the announcements of the Nobel Prizes for Peace and Economics.  Frankly, Leon Walras was correct that contributions to economics are contributions to peace, but we have to make do with the present system.  I will post my Nobel predictions here and also provide commentary on the actual announcements.  Stay tuned.

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