I’m glad that Eugene Volokh is so intrigued by extreme ironing, and it tickles me because the KP Spouse bought the Extreme Ironing 2005 Wall Calendar before Christmas. It’s a riot! Sadly for me, he took it to work.
Randall Parker at FuturePundit has a post about using nanoscale silica to release hydrogen from ammonia borane, and how that technology could lead to more feasible hydrogen storage for vehicles and other uses. This interesting finding is a result of research at Pacific Northwest National Lab.
Upper Class Twit of the Year. I can’t believe I forgot that in my list. Dang. Shooting tied-down game, taking the bras off of debutantes, waking the neighbors by slamming the door of your XKE Jag.
Actually, UCTotY is in a class by itself.
An offer for all students and recent graduates: The Institute for Humane Studies offers fantastic and free week-long seminars during the summer. Topics range from Environment & Society to Liberty, Art & Culture. I strongly encourage you to attend if you are looking for a week of brain candy, with great lectures, conversations and activities with faculty and other students from all over the world. Attending IHS seminars and teaching at them have been some of the most intellectually gratifying activities in which I have participated.
Application deadline is 31 March. Follow the link above to see seminar descriptions and apply online. You’ll be glad you did!
For what it’s worth, I’ll be teaching at the Foundations of Liberty seminar, 2-8 July, at Bryn Mawr.
Today’s word from A Word A Day is one of my favorites:
execrable (EK-si-kruh-buhl) adjective
[From Middle English, from Latin execrabilis (accursed), from execrari (to curse), from ex- + sacrare (to consecrate). Ultimately from Indo-European root sak- (to sanctify) that is also the source of other words such as saint, consecrate, and sacred.]
“They (The Patriots) were execrable, failing to record a first down in the first half.” Bob Ryan; They Stand Atop the Division, But Footing Seems Quite Shaky; Boston Globe; Dec 1, 1997.
“She persuades us to admire an execrable (‘lovable’, she says) woman who was doggedly, arrogantly and treacherously misguided.” Mosley’s final insult; Sunday Times (London, UK): Aug 24, 2003.
Russ Roberts was just on NPR with Barry Schwartz, the “choice is debilitating” Swarthmore psychologist. In his gentle, intellectual, nonconfrontational way, Russ spanked him. Russ’s arguments were a powerful combination of focus on the positive and focus on the core, essential point: individuals should always ask themselves “who gets to choose for me?” Although individuals do make mistakes, we develop meta-contexts to help us deal with choice (Russ mentioned indexed mutual funds) and make those tradeoffs.
Schwartz’s last comment was a classic: “The more important the decision is, the less markets should be used to make it.”
The NPR interviewer (can’t remember who it was) also did a nice job of asking the questions; he actually almost phrased the “don’t economists think that we make better decisions collectively through markets than any one individual can?” in a close-to-Hayekian way.
I’ll post the link to it when it’s up later today.
UDPATE: Here’s the link to the audio file. Thanks to Scott Johnson for leaving it in the comments.