Sunday, May 12, 2002

Life and Blog Update

As some of you know, I have been threatening to move to New York for a few months now. Well, it turns out these were not idle threats. A new job and life will soon begin for me in the big city.

The last few weeks have been filled with negotiations, apartment searches and the like. So, as some of you may have noticed, I have been neglecting my blog. And given the nature of my new job, it is probably not wise for me to blog quite so publicly any more.

It is my hope to begin blogging again under a psuedonym once my life settles down in the next month or so. I will let some of you know when I start up again.

I do hope to maintain contact with the New York blogging community and I am already looking forward to the next NYC blog bash. In fact, I have some fun ideas for the next blog fest (which I will share with Asparagirl, Orchid and Lane McFadden at some point).

Saturday, April 27, 2002

New Blog in Town

Any blog whose very first post links to me has got to be good!

Check out Just One Minute. Are bloggers cat people or dog people? Go and see what the Minuteman thinks.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

The IPO Game Debate Rages On!

Mindles Dreck and I have been having on ongoing debate on whether a theoretical IPO game is a good or a bad one for a player to play. To understand the game, read this, and my comments.

Mindles latest reply including the results of a simulation are here. I commented:

I will definitely play around with the spreadsheet.

By the way, I hope you don't take my debate as a sign that I do not enjoy your site. I do very much enjoy it and think very highly of your thoughts.

In the spirit of good fun, I continue to argue that you haven't really addressed my arbitrage argument. I still say I could sell off this exposure for more than $10,000.

To say that some game has a positive expectation, and yet is a foolish game to play due to the skewed distribution of results is to implicitly argue (I think) for a diminishing marginal utility of money/risk averse set of beliefs. But, to be somewhat redundant, people empirically are risk seeking when dealing with small sums of money.

We may both be right in a sense. People may be fools to play this game (perhaps you might even convince me of that), but as you concede it would be less foolish than playing the lottery and therefore it is a possible arbitrage opportunity.

Incidentally, it also seems implicit from your argument that if the house has a limit to how large a loss they can sustain, say $10,000,000, it makes more sense for a person to play. An interesting result...

But taking a closer look at the results, I think I am understating my case! The original Paulos game was for one year. In Mindles' simulation he says: After 50 weeks, 97 players are out, but one of the remaining 3 has a balance of $41 million (gulp). .

Calling 50 weeks a "year" (he didn't give results specifically for week 52), this simulation would have given (at least) a 41 to 1 return for my side!

Ok, no gloating. Mindles does make a valuable point. And if one was not allowed to sell off any of one's exposure, it is less clear to me after seeing the simulation results that it would be a good idea for most investors. Still, I would play.

Update: Tom Maguire says we are all right! (scroll down to read his comment).

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Massachusetts Libertarians file suit against the Campaign Finance legislation

Carla Howell and Michael Cloud released the following statement yesterday:

Yesterday, we filed a Federal lawsuit to strike down Federal Campaign Finance Laws. We are plaintiffs in an extraordinary lawsuit which will probably be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

We are challenging the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. This is the consolidated McCain-Feingold and Shays-Meehan campaign finance bill recently passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Our lawsuit also challenges the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, which established the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and its regulations.

If our case is successful, government power will be pushed back and individual freedom will be advanced.

If our case is successful, Big Government will be weakened and the Constitution will be strengthened.

Thank you for your support. We hope you are as pleased as we are about this extraordinary opportunity.

To receive their periodic email updates:
To SUBSCRIBE, mail to: (no
message or subject is needed)

The current email also explains why the media has been such a big supporter of campaign finance reform legislation--they benefit greatly from it. This is a point that has been made on several occasions by Instapundit and others.

Go subscribe!

An Australian sports journalist says US athletes are treated like cattle

As a sports journalist and anchor for SBS television in Australia, I have been amazed, year after year, at the prehistoric "man as trade-able labour" stance of the NBA teams, players and big wigs towards each year's draft. On the other side of the earth we take a great deal of interest in the queerness of this ancient ritual. It is odd, and I believe, rather insulting to the free choice and will of these otherwise exemplary examples of the potential excellence of the human species, that anyone, let alone the players themselves, would buy into being "traded". A bovine creature at a regional stock auction would receive only a little less respect for the particular grazing pasture in which they'd prefer to spend their pre-abatoir days.
So, many thanks for investigating this archaic, sacrificial rite. I will stay tuned for your no-doubt, incisive and insightful suggestions for an alternative.
Kind Regards,
Miss Mieke Buchan

The best alternative that I know of is the European football leagues in which players sign initially with any team they choose (though sometimes at a young age, the merits of which are argued here and here). And, in the wake of the Bosman ruling, they have significant control over who they play for throughout their career. This seems like much more "humane" treatment. I am anxious to hear, Mieke, how the system works in Australia--say, for example, in the Aussie Rules Football League.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Player rights in European Football (Soccer) explained by David Richardson

Players gained more control over their careers following the "Bosman Ruling", explained below:

Prior to the Bosman ruling, things worked as follows, in England (not the UK). A player signed a contract for a team, who are registered with the FA (Football Association). Football teams of all standards are registered with the FA, from the top flight to village teams. Once a player signs a contract with an FA registered team, the FA registration for that player, belonged to that team.

If the team did not want the player any more (for whatever reason) then a transfer fee was agreed between the team that wanted to get rid of the player, and the team that wanted to gain him. This transfer fee was to pay for the players' FA registration. The transfer fee was applicable even if the player was out of contract with his current team.

On the face of it, this appears to fit the description of a restrictive trade practice, but...

If the player wishes to leave his current team (particularly if his employment contract is finished) then he requests to be transfer listed (ie. available to other teams). Any other team that wants his services now has to agree a transfer fee with his existing team. Importantly, if no agreement is reached then, as long as the player wants to go to the new team, then the amount of the transfer fee is sent to arbitration, and the player *must* be allowed to move.

Whilst not perfect, this situation is much better than the draft (from the point of view of not allowing restrictive working practices).

However, the final part of the formula did not hold true in Belgium. Jean-Marc Bosman, a belgian midfielder (I believe) had finished his employment contract with his team, and wanted to move. However, the team that he wanted to leave could not agree terms with the team he wanted to move to. With no enforcement of arbitration, as in the english system, Bosman was stuck, and not allowed to leave his club. Similarly, he would not sign a contract with his existing club.

He therefore took the case to court, easily proving restraint of trade. As belgium is a part of the EU (European Union), all football (and other sports) leagues within the EU were forced to apply the Bosman rule, which is that a player may leave his existing club when his contract expires, with no transfer fee payable. However, if a player is under contract, but requests to leave, he must be transfer listed as explained above.

This is still not an ideal situation, but the players (and the players union) are a lot happier with it. The only real effect within English football has been to allow free transfers, and the idea of trading players a year before their contracts are up in order to gain some money from their investment.

Economics 101

Speaking of Jane Galt, go read her latest in a series of posts explaining economics concepts in fun and easy to understand ways! This time, two big ones: Nash Equilibrium and Coase Theorem.

China's economic statistics

The ever insightful Jane Galt highlights a story concerning the possibility that China has been fudging its economics numbers to show much higher economic growth than is actually occurring.

I think it is quite likely (nearly certain?) that this is indeed the case.

Motive: By reporting high economic growth numbers, China gives the impression to companies and investors throughout the world that they are the next great market and that they would be foolish to miss out on investment opportunities in their country. The high economic growth numbers reported may actually increase economic growth! It is a classic self-fulfilling prophecy. Certainly the "China's economy will be bigger than the U.S. in....", meme has been one that one who follows economics has heard many times. There are very real costs to the Chinese economy if this idea starts to be questioned.

Monday, April 22, 2002

Possible NBA draft collusion?

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle thinks something fishy might happen in the upcoming draft of potential Chinese superstar Yao Ming. Thanks to Colman Lynch for sending me this story.

A light-hearted but informative look at Canadian Immigration policies by Steve Sailer

A light-hearted but informative look at Canadian Immigration policies
by Steve Sailer

Please note: Scroll down the page slightly to the beginning of the UPI story. Canada has a formula to determine immigration eligibility.

Immigration auction: My response to the points raised by Paul Donnelly

First of all, I want to thank you for the information and analysis that you put into your email. This is obviously a subject for which you have both great knowledge and passion.

Regarding points 3 and 4, I agree with you that the lengthy waiting list for visas is a tragedy. If I were in charge of U.S. immigration policy, I would grant a much higher number of visas. However, given opposition of the Patrick Buchanan-esque wing of the right and the labor union wing of the left--and fears of terrorism which currently surround any discussion of immigration--it is unlikely that there will be any meaningful increase in the current number of visas granted.

But more importantly, my proposal certainly does not harm the interests of those currently on the visa waiting list. No one wait would wait longer due to my proposal. In fact, for those fortunate enough to have money it is a way for them to avoid waiting the several years to reunite their families. My proposal is again for an additional 120,000 visas, not taking 120,000 visas away from those currently waiting. Even those without sufficient money to earn a visa through the auction would benefit if some ahead of them in line did choose to purchase a visa immediately. They would then move that much closer to getting a visa themselves.

In point six, you state: Congress didn't realize that if you have that kind of dough, you can just hire an immigration lawyer and find a cheaper way into the country. This makes the case for the immigration auction stronger than any point I made! Currently, a person with money can, in essence, buy a visa already. They just have to buy it by hiring a clever immigration lawyer. Society would be better off with that money being bid in the auction and the clever immigration lawyer using his time to do other productive activities. And the funds raised by the auction could be used to reduce taxes, pay down the debt or for some worthwhile government activity.

Paul, I think both our hearts are in the right place on this issue. My proposal is possibly a politically pragmatic way to allow more people into this country. People who are (tragically) literally dying to get here.

Immigration Auction: Reader Paul Donnelly responds

Feel free to post these 7 points:

1) The rule for American immigration (with exceptions) is that an individual American asks for each individual immigrant. That is, U.S. citizens invite their spouses, kids, parents and siblings; legal permanent residents for their spouses and kids. Those categories make up about 2/3's of all legal immigration.

2) There are now backlogs of roughly 1 million spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents and about 1 million and a half siblings of U.S. citizens. (It is one of the most telling shames about the current debate that nobody wants to admit how big these backlogs are, but they are central to the whole debate about legal/illegal: How long would you live in a different country than your wife and kids?)

3) The MINIMUM wait in these categories is 5-7 years for husbands and wives, moms, dads and little kids; and 10-15 years for siblings.

4) Since you propose to ADD 120,000 visas for auction, which of these would you consider to have a LOWER priority, than rich people who want to buy their way into America? Wives? Kids? Husbands? Siblings? Which would you consider to have a lesser claim to become a patriotic part of "We, the People" than some guy who can outbid him? The fact is, there are hundreds of thousands of wives of legal permanent residents -- married to legal immigrants, frequently mothers of U.S. citizens -- who are exiled or outlawed by current law. And you would put them BEHIND guys who would BUY their green cards?

5) In 1996, Congress refused to put a priority on the spouses and kids of legal permanent residents.

6) In 1990, Congress enacted the investor visa program, which basically provided that if you invest a million bucks (half a million in a pocket of poverty) and create ten jobs, you get a green card. Congress didn't realize that if you have that kind of dough, you can just hire an immigration lawyer and find a cheaper way into the country. The investor visa was a flop --even by INS standards.

7) In 1990 (when it passed the House), 1995 (when it was proposed by the Jordan Commission) and again in 1998-2000 (when I fought for it, for the third time), IT employers and the Beltway immigration groups flatly refused to consider a market-based approach to employment-based immigration (despite 2000 support for it by the likes of Linus Torvalds, Steve Wozniak and Esther Dyson), and has instead passionately backed a subsidy approach that severs immigration from citizenship, in the form of a guest worker model.

Wanna reconsider your auction proposal yet?

-Paul Donnelly

Feeling good in my new skin

Thanks to the advice of the wise and wonderful Sasha Castel, I have updated/improved the look of my page using Blogskins.

However, some of the banner and other info seems to have disappeared (for which I, not Sasha, am to blame!) I hope to have everything fixed soon.

Update: I am slowly, but surely, starting to figure things out.

Immigration auction???

The following ideas/questions are meant to stimulate discussion about US immigration policy. The questions do not necessarily reflect what I think a fair and principled immigration policy should be, but I am interested in what response these questions might get.

Imagine that the a law was passed that created an auction for 120,000 additional annual legal immigrants to the U.S. (in addition to those currently permitted by the system). People from all over the world were allowed to bid, with the top bidders awarded legal immigrant status (presuming they do not have a criminal record, etc.) In order to give people an additional incentive to bid high, imagine the top 10,000 bidders were allowed in immediately, the next 10,000 in one month's time, etc.

It has been reported on that Chinese would-be immigrants have paid as much as $60,000, endured great suffering, and risked death for the chance to live in the U.S. illegally. That would suggest, obviously, that much higher bids would likely be made in the proposed auction for legal status (I don't think 120,000 is so large a number relative to those who would seek to immigrate to the U.S. that the price would be lower than that currently payed to the snakeheads. I would think there would be demand from China alone for many more than 120,000 places.)

Assume, for the sake of argument, that the average price for each immigrant status is $100,000 (Would anyone bid $1 million--perhaps as a symbolic gesture?) That would raise $12 billion annually, which could be used in any number of worthy ways. (Feel free to argue that my average price estimate is way off, either too high or too low...)

Again, I am *not* arguing that adding this auction to our current immigration policy is an ideal solution. But isn't it better than our current policy absent the auction? Who loses from the addition of the auction (other than the snakeheads)? Would the fact that people from around the world are willing to bid such large sums for the right to live and work in the U.S. make Americans value their citizenship more highly?

Also note that I am not the first to suggest such an idea. I am not claiming this is a novel or brilliant idea, but I am just looking to stir the pot (the melting pot...) a little.

More feedback on socialist sports meme

Reader Tom Maguire writes:

As to the rest of your pro sports bit regarding "the standard argument in favor of the draft system", I am unimpressed. I would have thought that the free-market libertarian approach was to credit the participants in a market with rational self-interest. So whence your question "Does parity really make sports more popular?" I read a Sports Illustrated article about this back in the '80's, where the writer interviewed the baseball executives with, among others, the San Fran Giants. Their conclusion? How would I remember? But I do remember that there were people with these clubs whose full time job was to study this. My point is that the professional league executives, the owners, the agents, the union members, and the union reps are all deeply interested in separating the sports fan from his entertainment dollar and optimizing league revenue.

I would argue that the pro sports owners are rationally optimizing their profits, not league revenue. If they can use the idea of "parity" to increase their profits at the expense of players (who have reduced bargaining power due to the entry draft system), they would do so even at the expense of the total revenue. A bigger piece of a smaller pie might be the rational choice for the owners (after all, economic theory would suggest that economic profits would be zero to firms in a perfectly competitive market. If there were true and fair competition in sports, players would get paid their full marginal value and local governments would have less reason to "bribe" teams to locate/stay in their cities.)

It seems to me that the owners are playing a masterful PR game at the expense of players and taxpayers. The fact that a system such as the entry draft goes largely unquestioned (even seemingly among most libertarians!) is a testament to their skill in shaping this issue.

Tom Maguire writes further:

Pro sports is an interesting tussle between millionaires and multi-millionaires. College sports is an almost pure exploitation of football and basketball players, many of whom are poor and ethnic. There's your sound bite.

On this, I wholeheartedly agree. The NCAA is, in fact, a worse and more cynical exploiter of athletes. Perhaps if I had been watching the Final Four the day before posting instead of hearing about the NFL draft, I would have started with this point. In any case, Tom makes an excellent point. But please note that supporting free markets in sports solves this issue as well.

Sunday, April 21, 2002

The Socialism of American professional sports (continued..the feedback)

I have been extremely pleasantly surprised by the volume and quality of responses to my initial post on this subject. The most detailed (at least that I have read so far) was on Ribstone-Pippin. It makes many excellent points (including many I was planning to make in future posts myself!), so please go read it.

However, I will debate a number of the points raised. I quote:

I generally agree with Jon Wishnia's take on the situation, which is, in brief, that sports leagues rather than their constituent teams should be viewed as the appropriate entity to which the rules of a competitive marketplace should be applied. That is, the goal of each league is to beat out the other professional sports leagues (and all other competing entertainment sources) in providing the best product for consumers. Each league has, independently, decided that the best product results from a reasonable level of parity so that fans in small or poorer markets still have some reason to follow the game and fans from bigger markets do not get bored seeing the Yankees, for example, roll over every other team (o.k., bad example, but even they don't win every year). The leagues have, therefore, instituted various internal mechanisms which balance the interests of the players with those of the owners and fans, such as revenue-sharing (though not all leagues have this) and both entry and expansion drafts.

My response: I have already made some points relating to this issue in my second post on this topic (below) before reading this argument. Again, it is far from clear to me that parity actually increases fan interest. I cited anecdotal evidence to the contrary below, and could further cite the examples of the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox which have no trouble selling tickets despite their failure to win a championship for shockingly long times (and during seasons in years past when the Cubs had some truly awful teams). And as my fine critic points out later in the post, college sports are extremely popular in the US despite (because of?) the inherent lack of parity. The David v. Goliath story lines in college sports (Penn basketball, for example) often are exactly what make college sports exciting.

It is my contention (not entirely clearly stated so far) that the "parity is good" argument may be nothing more than a smokescreen by the various league's team owners to reduce the bargaining power of newly entering players who would otherwise be free agents. If parity were truly the only consideration, then a drafted player should be able to sign with the team that drafted him or any team with a worse record than the drafting team. That would bring about parity much faster while causing less limitation on players freedom to choose where they live and their work conditions. (Yes, it would then stink to get drafted by the worst team--you still could only negotiate with one team--but most players would be at least somewhat better off.)

I quote:

I would add that if the players really feel that their rights are not being respected they can (1) go play somewhere else (Europe, Japan, Canada) or (2) start another league (each of the current Big Four professional leagues is the product of the combination of smaller leagues).

My response: On point 1, yes, it is true that players could play in another country, but there are obvious costs to them in doing so. Again, using the hypothetical example of a law student draft, you could argue that if the law students didn't like it they could practice in another country, or enter a different field, etc. Somehow I don't feel that argument would be taken lying down. Update: Perhaps Medical student would be a better example as one armed with a US medical degree could practice more easily internationally than a lawyer could given vastly differing legal codes. On point 2, at least in the case of baseball, there is a specific antitrust exemption in law that would make starting a competing league difficult, if not impossible. And teams in the other leagues have often received tremendous government subsidies in the form of stadiums, tax breaks and the like which would not likely be offered to a rival league--again making viable competition disadvantaged.

The rest of the Ribstone Pippin post concerning the structure of European football (soocer) and how it could be applied to the US is extremely well written. The example of a Yankees/Brooklyn Cyclones battle in the English FA Cup short series format would cause incredible excitement in sports land (much bigger even, I would argue, than the recent beginning of interleague play in baseball.) I am in nearly full agreement with all said in this section, including the unfortunate conclusion that while such a system could indeed be very interesting, there do exist perhaps insurmountable institutional barriers to its adoption. But then again, the Berlin Wall fell....

All for now, though I think its safe to say there is more to come! Thanks to all for the awesome feedback.

The Socialism of American professional sports (continued)

Below, I argued that pro sports drafts are a fundamental violation of free trade--one that people would find egregious in most (all?) other fields. I would like to now explore the standard argument in favor of the draft system and discuss its validity.

For those not familiar with how pro sports drafts are structured, there are generally many rounds in which each team (assuming they haven't traded their pick), is given the right to select a player (generally a recent college graduate or an athlete than has chosen to enter the draft before college graduation). The order of selection in each round is in reverse order to the results of the previous season--i.e. the team with the worst record is given the first choice in each round and the previous year's champion is given the last. In the NBA, this incentive to have the worse record proved so high in years when a potential superstar was going to be eligible to be drafted that teams would subtly (or not so subtly) lose games in order get the right to draft that player. In an effort to reduce this incentive to lose, the NBA initiated a lottery system where the worst team was most likely to get the first choice, but could given bad luck get as low as the fourth choice.

The "last shall be first," nature of the draft is justified by an appeal to the concept of "parity"--the idea that each team should have any equal chance of winning. It is argued that American sports fans demand that all teams have an equal chance of success and that no team has an unfair advantage due to, for example, a larger fan base. This also explains various "salary cap" structures in place that limit how much individual teams can spend on player salaries and schemes meant on "revenue sharing" in which teams with higher than average revenue will subsidize their less prosperous league mates.

The analogy to the progressive tax code and various income redistribution ideas are obvious.

Question: Does parity really make sports more popular?

I am sure this question could be attacked empirically (Megan, let's put that University of Chicago learnin' to some use!) But absent such a study I will suggest some anecdotal evidence to the contrary. People discussing the "glory days" of the various pro sports often refer back to eras of extreme lack of parity (the Yankees, Boston Celtics and Montreal Canadiens dynasties immediately pop into mind). Another anecdotal case suggesting parity is not critical is the English (and European leagues more generally) football (soccer) leagues. In the English League, team revenues and salary expenditures vary dramatically. Before a season begins, there are really only a handful of teams (Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and maybe Chelsea or Leeds) have any realistic chance of winning the regular season title. Yet English football has a higher intensity level of popularity in the UK (and throughout the world) than any sports league in the US. Even teams with no realistic title hopes have rabid and long enduring fans.

More to come on this subject...I am only warming up!

The Socialism of American professional sports

I have a wealth of thoughts/questions on this subject.

I will start slow, with an observation that came to mind yesterday given the coverage awarded to the annual NFL draft. Imagine instead of athletes, the graduates of America's top law schools (or business schools, or med schools...) were entered into a draft where the top 30 law firms would select the highest rated graduates (based on such statistics as grades, LSAT scores, law review articles, etc.) for places on their "teams". Once drafted, the graduate would solely be able to negotiate with the firm that selected them (their only other option is threatening to sit out). They would have to move to the home city of the firm that selected them and practice whatever type of law they specialized in.

The very idea is, of course, ridiculous. So why is this acceptable in the case of professional sports?

Perhaps some would say, "Professional athletes make millions of dollars to play games. The fact that they do not have complete control over their career path is part of the life to which they have tacitly agreed."

Being one who values free trade and commerce (especially when it comes to people's personal labor choices), I do not accept that argument. First of all, not all athletes get paid huge salaries (certainly players selected in the later rounds of the draft still have lost valuable control over their lives for what are often very short and not hugely lucrative careers.) Secondly, cartels and other collusive argreements (such as the NFL draft) are wrong even when they harm wealthy people. And finally, as the late Robert Nozick wrote in Anarchy, State and Utopia, "A tacit agreement is not worth the paper its not written on."

More to come on this subject...any one who happens to read this and has background on the history of litigation concerning professional sports drafts and other labor practices please send me an email ( I will be doing some homework on this subject as well and will offer an alternative to the US system.

Update: The actual Nozick quote is: "The Social Contract is not worth the paper it's not written on." It seems I paraphrased.

Fight against the Fuzz

For an interesting (and better) explanation of how to apply Bayes Theorem to everyday events, check out a book called Fighting Fuzzy Thinking in Poker, Gaming and Life by David Sklansky. Sklansky, using Bayesian logic, argues that many things that appear to be coincidences really are not. He applies this logic to many situations, including the OJ Simpson trial.

It's a good thing Instapundit or Andrew Sullivan were not there!

I have been a fan of Megan McArdle's explanations of complicated economics ideas in simple and entertaining terms for some time now (I read her site BEFORE her Instapundit links! I found it through Patrick Ruffini's site. So I was looking forward to discussing a thought based on an insight from economics with her at the blogfest.

The thought concerned the recent plane crash into the Pirelli building in Milan. I said to a friend immediately upon hearing of the tragedy, that I thought it was extremely unlikely to have been an accident. My argument was using a concept called Bayes Theorem, which concerns conditional probability. Stated briefly and sloppily (I know Megan McArdle, and I am no Megan McArdle...), the conditional probability, given that a plane crashed into a building, that it happend to crash into the largest and most famous building in Northern Italy is extremely small. (note: yes, a plane is more likely to crash into a tall building, but there are thousands of somewhat less likely buildings.)

Little did I know when I made this argument, that almost the exact same point had already been made by James Miller on Econoblog! Note that Megan is one of the founding members of Econoblog...

Megan was kind enough not to reveal my seeming intellectual theft to the assembled bloggers. I could have become the Doris Kearns Goodwin of blogdom!

NYC Blogfest!

After a rather painful day of recovery yesterday, I am finally prepared to write my report on the NYC blogfest. I had a simply fantastic time. I wish to once again thank our wonderful co-hosts Asparagirl and Orchid. You are both brilliant, kind and overflowing with positive energy.

If I have any regrets about the blogfest, it is that I did not have a chance to meet everyone at the party. This is largely the fault of Amy and Martin Langfield. A more interesting, attractive and wise couple I have yet to meet. I met Amy and Martin early in the evening, and most of the next 2 (or was it 3..) hours were simply comsumed by an extremely wide range of fascinating topics--from British politics (and football), to US policies in Latin America (something Martin is eminently qualified to discuss), to the cult TV classic The Prisoner. And this is merely to scratch the surface. (Note: Not only do I blame these two amazing people for my failure to meet everyone, but I think it is safe to say much of my hangover was due to Amy's destructive influence...)

I hope and expect the Langfield's and I will become very close friends in the days to come. If they were the only people I met, I would still consider it a fantastic evening. But wait there's more!

I had the pleasure of meeting Megan McArdle, who more than lived up to my high expectations for brilliance and charm that had been built up by her fine site. See the next post for a somewhat funny anecdote regarding a discussion I had with Megan.

I also had the supreme joy of meeting Sasha Castel. Her site proclaims her love and knowledge of opera music. But who would have guessed she had such a wealth of knowledge about 80's music? I consider my 80's music knowledge to be excellent (yes, I know this is nothing of which to be particularly proud), but Sasha put me in my place by correcting an erroneous statement I made regarding Duran Duran's "Seven and the Ragged Tiger" album! (You would have to know me to know how shocking this is.) Unfortunately, I had a few too many post-Langfeld beers in me to have any meaningful discussion with Sasha, but it would be my hope that our paths with cross once again in the future.

I also had the chance to meet Raghu Ramachandran, who was also also clearly a man of great intelligence and charm, as well as an all too brief encounter with Lane McFadden. Orchid says that Lane will be organizing the next NYC blogfest. If so, I will do my very best to attend.

My friend Jenny Schuessler (with friend of her own) also made an appearance. Though she too was then drawn into conversation with Martin Langfield. Someday soon we will actaully have to have a real conversation Jenny.

Ok, time to end this post. Thanks again Orchid and Asparagirl!

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Hello World

After months of procrastination, here (finally) begins my Blog. There are several reasons why today is the day that I have finally overcome my lazy nature. The most pressing of which is the upcoming big apple blog bash. I came across the invite on asparagirl's page. Though all are invited, I would feel somewhat guilty attending said blogfest without an actual blog of my own. Plus this will give me a chance to pre-introduce myself to some of the other attendees who may have a chance to read this before Friday evening.

I was introduced to the world of blogs through Virginia Postrel's fine site. I am not sure how I stumbled upon her site, but I had read The Future and Its Enemies some months before and truly enjoyed it (I am on nearly all issues, a dynamist). Virginia then led to Instapundit, and the rest (as they say) is history. Now I have a 6 blog a day (or more...) habit. But I could stop anytime. Really.

Asparagirl is a recent addition to my blogging addiction. I look forward to meeting her as well as her co-host Orchid Friday. I also eagerly anticipate meeting the undeniably brilliant Megan McArdle. Being a fellow econ geek (see below), I appreciate her Herculean efforts to explain economic concepts in simple to digest (as well as highly amusing) terms. I am waiting anxiously for her promised post on the Coase Theorem (ahh, the joys of fully defined property rights!)

My Political Views
Recently, VodkaPundit labeled Virginia Postrel a "Sensible Shoes' Libertarian", as opposed to the overly rigid Combat Boot Libertarians or the too "Republicanesque" Golf Shoe Libertarians. That is as good a label as any for me as well, I suppose. I am libertarian in spirit, but often willing to sacrifice *some* principle to pragmatic reality. Being a former debater, I am all too familiar with the slippery slope arguments that can result from my current views (also, I am a "reformed" Combat Boot Libertarian, so at times in the past I've made such arguments. Ugghh.)

Some Personal Info
I don't intend this site to be as much about me as about ideas, but given my impending attendance at NYC blogfest, I will share some info on myself. I am 32 years old and currently live in Chicago (I am in NYC this week for both business and pleasure). I am a '91 graduate from Harvard in Economics, where I focused on Microeconomics and Game Theory. I am 6 foot 2, fairly athletic (5 time marathon runner) but currently lugging around about 15 pounds of winter laziness around with me. But as Jon Lovitz in the role of "Middle Aged Man" said on Saturday Night Live, "I got the Abdominizer..I'm working on it!" I am also bald (to see why read this). I should not be the hardest person to locate at the party!

I will be joined at the party by my lovely and talented friend, Jennifer Schuessler. She can use the word "marmoreally" in a sentence. Can you? (Ok, I will admit I had to look it up...)

Ok, time to end my first post and go for a run (those 15 pounds are not going away by themselves!)

Ross Nordeen points out that it was in fact Mike Myers, not Jon Lovitz that played the role of Middle Aged Man. A major factual error on my very first post. The horror! But I am delighted to receive my first reader correction.