“Fa sempre così con i camerieri. Sa, è un comunista. Gran parte dei giornalisti del Twopence lo sono: vengono dall’università, non so se mi spiego. Pappenhacker sostiene che quando ci si mostra indulgenti con un proletario si porta acqua al mulino del sistema capitalistico. È molto intelligente, certo, ma si rende alquanto impopolare.”—Evelyn Waugh, L’inviato speciale
“Da quando a Milano abbiamo scoperto la ricchezza dei nostri Navigli, in farmacia non andiamo più. Infatti: il Seveso è ricchissimo di Lasonil, il Molgora di Somatoline, la Martesana di Scabbianil (farmaco contro la scabbia, anzi a favore), l’Olona di Bronchenolo. Ogni corso d’acqua è ricchissimo di medicine, e ognuno ha una sua specialità, come le terme. Dispiace per le 500 farmacie comunali, però c’è crisi e ognuno si arrangia come può. Anche perché a sbattere dentro i miei 200 euro al giorno alla macchinetta del videopoker io non rinuncio.”—Innamorato Fisso del 29 marzo 2011
“Quando legge, l’accidioso sbadiglia molto, si lascia andare facilmente al sonno, si stropiccia gli occhi, si stiracchia e, distogliendo lo sguardo dal libro, fissa la parete e, di nuovo, rimessosi a leggere un po’, ripetendo la fine delle parole, si affatica inutilmente, conta i fogli, calcola i quaternioni, disprezza le lettere e gli ornamenti e infine, chiuso il libro, lo pone sotto la testa e cade in un sonno non molto profondo, e infatti, di lì a poco, la fame gli risveglia l’anima con le sue preoccupazioni.”—Evagrio Pontico, Gli otto spiriti della malvagità [via tabaccheria]
It is a noble and exclusively human proclivity, the desire to persevere, the will to stay the course – studies show lower animals and children do not commit this fallacy. Wasps and worms, rats and raccoons, toddlers and tikes, they do not care how much they’ve invested or how much goes to waste. They can only see potential future gains. As an adult human being, you have the gift of reflection and regret. You can predict a future place where you must admit your efforts were in vain, your losses permanent, and when you accept the truth it is going to hurt.
The insurers’ vision is better for competition; providers strive to reduce prices for clients who are less likely to make claims. More sophisticated analysis (“granular” is the buzz word) also allows poor risks to buy insurance, albeit at a high price. But it is obvious that granularity will now be subject to ever stricter limits, and insurers must adapt to a new way of doing business. Henceforth, insurance will be less a private and voluntary arrangement and more an instrument of social policy. There are risks, as US mortgage-lending showed, in making private companies agents for social policy. But the industry is nevertheless best advised to adjust to the new demands – and remember that less competition plus a government imprimatur can be great for profits.
I’m afraid that I cannot recommend the submission ‘Euthyphro, or On piety’ for publication in the Athenian Journal of the Pursuit of Wisdom. I come to this view despite the fact that there are lots of things to like about the submission. For example, there is a neat point here about the possible difficulties in relating ‘what is pious’ to ‘what the gods love’. However, even here at its best the submission is ultimately disappointing. Having raised an interesting question we find only a short and inconclusive discussion before the author moves on to something else. And that is the most important failing of the piece in its current form: no conclusion or positive thesis is advanced at all. This is most infuriating and I imagine your subscribers will find it very frustrating. After all, any philosophical thought worth taking seriously requires the assertion of, preferably, a very striking and surprising positive thesis from a clear standpoint of dogmatic authority. The present submission, on the other hand, neither claims support from divine revelation nor asserts as we would expect at the outset of the submission that every other discussion of this subject is woefully misguided. Indeed, the author makes no personal assertion whatsoever and seems perversely excited at the thought of hiding his (I assume it is a male author) own views. Indeed, I can see no reason whatsoever for the unnecessary self-indulgence involved in concocting a conversation, at least one of whose participants is a well-known and controversial figure. Such a confusion of real figures and disguised authorship cannot fail to generate all manner of interpretative difficulties for your readers that seem to me to serve no useful purpose whatsoever. If the author would agree to recast his submission in a more usual form (some hundreds of lines of nice direct hexameter poetry perhaps) then he would at least remove some of this unfortunate confusion. But even then it is not clear to me whether the author has any positive view of his own to offer. And until he does he should leave aside this kind of modern literary indulgence.
The booming piracy industry is a neat metaphor for our globalised economy. Just about everything you need to know about how money is made and lost is encapsulated in the daily battles between cargo captains and the pirate skiffs in the Somali basin.
“Il primo furto l’ho fatto in quinta elementare. Ciulai una biro Parker al figlio del bidello. Lui dalla delusione si ritirò dagli studi e andò nell’edilizia. Iniziò come manovale, adesso è uno dei primi dieci costruttori di villaggi turistici al mondo. Ieri l’ho visto alla festa dei settant’anni. Mi ha regalato una Parker d’oro incastonata di diamanti (come valore siamo sui 200.000 dollari). Mi fa: “Se non mi ciulavi la biro andavo avanti negli studi e adesso sarei come te: un barbone”. A quel punto mi sono offeso. Sono andato alla Pinetina (ritiro dell’Inter) e ho regalato la biro a Julio Cesar.”—Innamorato Fisso del 16 marzo 2011
“Ma occorre innanzitutto riconoscere qual è il criterio del bene. Questo criterio non può essere che la verità, la giustizia, e, in secondo luogo, l’utilità pubblica. La democrazia, il potere della maggioranza, non sono un bene. Sono dei mezzi in vista del bene, stimati a torto o a ragione efficaci. Se la repubblica di Weimar, invece che Hitler, avesse deciso per le vie più rigorosamente parlamentari e legali di mettere gli ebrei nei campi di concentramento e di torturarli raffinatamente fino alla morte, le torture non avrebbero per questo un atomo di legittimità in più di quanto non ne abbiano attualmente. E una cosa simile non è affatto inconcepibile. Solo ciò che è giusto è legittimo. Il crimine e la menzogna non lo sono in nessun caso.”—Simone Weil, Nota sulla soppressione dei partiti politici [via Paolo Nori]
For a decade, economists have been fascinated by the phenomenon of open source software (OSS). OSS is marked by free access to the software and its source code. It is developed in a public, collaborative manner by thousands of non-paid volunteers as well as profit seeking firms. Today, OSS is well established in the ICT sector and represents a new intellectual property paradigm. This paper provides an introduction into the topic OSS versus closed source software (CSS, also called ‘proprietary’ software). After a brief history of OSS and CSS, the differences between the open and the closed source principles and the basic logic of OSS business models are explained. Next, the paper presents what economists know about the OSS phenomena, i.e. gives an overview of the motives of the (non-paid) OSS developers, the institutions of OSS, the effects of OSS on competition, the incentives and role of firms, and finally of open source principle beyond software.
The goal of the Music Manuscripts Online project has been to create and to provide online access to high-quality images and descriptions of music manuscripts owned by The Morgan Library & Museum. Since the project began in 2007, more than 900 manuscripts containing approximately 42,000 pages have been digitized and described. These include works by J. S. Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Fauré, Haydn, Liszt, Mahler, Massenet, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Puccini, Schubert, and Schumann, among many others.
Here’s the idea: You have a burger place that you like. You’d like to tell other people who like burgers about this burger place you like. You post it on BurgerMap. When enough people post enough burger joints, no one will ever be more than 10 minutes away from one of the best burgers they’ve ever had, ever again.
Howard Buffett is remembered for his highly libertarian stance, having maintained a friendship with Murray Rothbard for a number of years. […] A vocal critic of the Truman Doctrine and the Korean War, […] in addition to non-interventionism overseas, Howard Buffett strongly supported the gold standard because be believed it would limit the ability of government to inflate the money supply and spend beyond its means. His son Warren Buffett is not an advocate of the gold standard.
“What good does it do a black youth to know that an employer must pay him $2.00 an hour if the fact that he must be paid that amount is what keeps him from getting a job?”—Paul Samuelson [via David Henderson]
That’s the truth of it. Nobody knows what makes one book a bestseller. Publishers and agents like to pretend they do, but if they did, they would only publish best sellers, and they don’t. I guess what I’m saying is that just because I sell a million books self-publishing, it doesn’t mean everybody will. In fact, more people will sell less than 100 copies of their books self-publishing than will sell 10,000 books. I don’t mean that to be mean, and just because a book doesn’t sell well doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. It’s just the nature of the business. Self-publishing and traditional publishing really aren’t that different. One is easier to get into but harder to maintain. But neither come with guarantees. Some books will sell, some won’t.
She gets to keep 70% of her book sales; and she sells around 100,000 copies per month. Welcome to the new era, the one that scares traditional publishers to death and will make the world better for writers and readers alike. Congratulations to Amazon for making it possible.
“Toth, lo sventratore di donne, racconta ai nipotini nelle sere d’inverno, vicino al grande camino, le sue meravigliose gesta: “Nella Guiana eravamo sorvegliati da cento secondini. Come fuggire? Mi venne un lampo di genio: un pomeriggio che tutti eravamo nell’immenso cortile centrale mi misi a camminare all’indietro verso il cancello. Le guardie credettero così che io stessi entrando. Invece uscivo.””—Cesare Zavattini [via Paolo Nori]
What is economic activity? In standard macroeconomics, economic activity consists of spending. Certainly that is how we measure economic activity, using national income accounts. However, I propose looking at economic activity as patterns of sustainable specialization and trade (PSST).
“Labor unions like to portray collective bargaining as a basic civil liberty, akin to the freedoms of speech, press, assembly and religion. For a teachers union, collective bargaining means that suppliers of teacher services to all public school systems in a state—or even across states—can collude with regard to acceptable wages, benefits and working conditions. An analogy for business would be for all providers of airline transportation to assemble to fix ticket prices, capacity and so on. From this perspective, collective bargaining on a broad scale is more similar to an antitrust violation than to a civil liberty.”—Robert Barro
For how long have we cared about poverty? Tracing the number of references to the word “poverty” in books published since 1700, this column shows that there was marked increase between 1740 and 1790, culminating in a “Poverty Enlightenment”. Attention then faded through the 19th and 20th centuries, leaving room for the second Poverty Enlightenment in 1960 – and interest in poverty still rising.