A Potpourri of Interesting Things to Read

Lynne Kiesling

I am playing a little hooky this weekend and going skiing through Monday. In the interim, here are some thought-provoking reads:

This Technology Review article on technological change in small-scale coal gasification that could be done on-site, in the home.

Michael Dell is back in the news today, after taking back the CEO position of his eponymous company. He also recently proposed giving Dell customers an opportunity to choose to donate for tree planting to offset the carbon footprint of the new computer they are buying. Clever.

I’m shocked, shocked to hear that Archer Daniels Midland’s (ethanol rent-seekers to the world) quarterly profits rose 20% last quarter. Thanks to Russ Roberts for the link, and the ever-important reference to ADM as the chief bootlegger in Bruce Yandle’s bootleggers-and-baptists bandits model of rent seeking. Relatedly, in response to Arnold Kling’s question of whether any economists support ethanol subsidies, given that the political gamut of opposition to them runs from Paul Krugman to Jerry Taylor: I know of no economist who supports them. I do not. The only people I know who do support them believe that such subsidies induce technological change, and that such industrial policy is net-net socially beneficial.

Cathy Young’s Reason article on fan fiction is an interesting and informative read, although she does not explore the most important economic issue in fan fiction: where does copyright protection begin and end when it comes to characters that authors create? Should J. K. Rowling prevent/be able to prevent fanfic authors from using Harry Potter in their work?

Arnold Kling has a proposed list of foundational libertarian principles, which he offers for comment in the same way that the volunteer organizations that govern the Internet do. Tyler Cowen offers his comments. I will ponder them and may offer my comments upon my return.

Wonderful French chef Joel Robouchon is opening a restaurant in Chicago. I salivate just thinking about it; one of the best meals I’ve ever had was at one of his bistros (not even the three-star Michelin restaurant) in Paris in 1998. He totally rocks.

Right now Chicago is in the throes of enduring a painful upgrade to the CTA elevated tracks on the north side, including the closure of several stops to build new platforms that are long enough for longer trains and ADA compliant. The CTA is botching several dimensions of project management, leading to a diminution of the sympathy one might have in the face of such a daunting civil engineering task. This week’s Time Out Chicago has a series of feature stories on the El and the CTA, touching on several of these issues. Note in particular that they interview transportation experts, including my engineering colleague Joe Schofer.

Outta here! Have a great weekend.

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