Assorted links

by on August 19, 2014 at 12:05 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. David Zetland’s economics of water book is now free.

2. How Ira Glass works.

3. Did Medicare Advantage get better?  And where is “the pizza belt”?  Is this the most important theory about pizza?  I agree with the claims in that article.

4. Claims about deception detection.

5. Should robots have diverse personalities?

6. Which are the most correlated web searches with hard and easy lives?

7. More on RCT debates: is there a gold standard?

J August 19, 2014 at 12:21 pm

#1: This book seems very much like your standard “water scarcity is increasing because it is, for political reasons, underpriced and used as a commons” type of book. Is there more to it than that?

David Zetland August 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm

@J — well it’s free to download, so you can probably answer your question by looking at it :)

…but to answer your question, I separate out different waters (environment, agricultural, urban, wastewater, etc.) and go over the different ways they are mismanaged and different solutions. Part I deals with commodity water that can be priced or marketed. Part II deals with the social water that MUST be managed in a political process. I doubt that you’ve seen all these dimensions in one place. I haven’t, which is why I wrote the book. (Some of these discussions are even new to environmental/resource economists, because I go beyond economic orthodoxy.)

J August 19, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Now I feel like kind of a dick for being so blase about it. I’m sorry. The Internet has given me a bad case of get-to-the-point-itis that I am struggling to shake off.

I was also sort of proxy-venting my frustration at the crop of articles about how almonds are bad for the environment because they’re so water-intensitve, like this one: which is just a way of saying “price water and pumping rights!!” but channeling it into more liberal-sounding outrage about “the environment.”

David Zetland August 19, 2014 at 1:54 pm

There’s a lot of crap out there (“just do this to fix everything”) on water. In the case of CA ag, markets for water would push it FROM cotton/rice/wheat/corn (even in Cali!) and TO almonds, grapes and tomatoes. Or they wouldn’t. It’s not really important what crops get grown as much as letting prices work.

J August 19, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Why do you say that? Wouldn’t a higher price for water push farmers to grow less water-intensive crops?

David Zetland August 20, 2014 at 2:21 am

Less “water profitable” crops…

Dave Barnes August 19, 2014 at 12:33 pm

I love Medicare Advantage.
Kaiser all the way.
My [completely unexpected] colon cancer treatment was first rate.
$100/month seems reasonable.

J. Otto Pohl August 19, 2014 at 12:41 pm

I was wondering if you could do an article on countries that have gotten rid of their currencies and adopted the US Dollar like Ecuador and how this might be a solution to Ghana’s current currency problems.

Brian Donohue August 19, 2014 at 1:02 pm

#3b is a joke. From the comments: “Not to say I haven’t loved some NY pizza, but the soggy crust where you have to fold it in half and eat it like a taco is just gross gummy bread with tomato sauce on it.”

Peldrigal August 20, 2014 at 10:35 pm

Authentic Neapolitan pizza is actually supposed to be thin enough to be folded and eaten like a taco. All non-southerner italians that I know dislike it.

Jonathan August 19, 2014 at 1:21 pm

4: The researchers would seem to contradict the evidence presented, among other places, in
that the Reid technique is well-known for eliciting false confessions. Perhaps there’s a difference between actually getting someone to confess and deciding they are lying. But if anything, you’d expect that result to go the other way….

Hadur August 19, 2014 at 2:19 pm

As somebody who has lived in both Boston and DC, I strongly agree that if we have a “pizza belt”, those two cities should rightfully be excluded from it.

Doug August 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm

New York has more great pizza places than anywhere else, but it also has more really really bad pizza places than anywhere else. There is no way your chance of getting a good slice at a random pizza place in NY is above 50%.

Urstoff August 19, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Pizza purists are worse than BBQ purists.

Sigivald August 19, 2014 at 4:18 pm


(“I am glad you think the Margherita is the best pizza ever and the only good ones are in Naples.

Now shove off and give me my proper American pepperoni pie.”)

Alexei Sadeski August 19, 2014 at 2:46 pm

The pizza belt is in Italy.

Albigensian August 19, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Many Medicare Advantage policies require an additional premium from the policyholder and so, if you are a strict “medical care is a right!” egalitarian, you might disapprove of permitting some to buy better coverage than others.

Although I suppose you could make the same argument against “Medigap” policies. In any case, I’d think putting a floor under what one may have would be more politically palatable than putting a ceiling on what one may consume.

Finally, Medicare Advantage provides a yardstick against which one may measure the cost-effectiveness of standard Medicare, which should have value in itself.

Oakchair August 19, 2014 at 7:34 pm

And oddly enough Medicare advantage still costs more and the most recent studies found it did not improve health outcomes and in fact and lower health outcomes in some cases 38% lower.

FXKLM August 19, 2014 at 3:20 pm

#6: Interesting that Hal Varian mentions “iphone” as a search that might be a distinguishing feature of the wealthy using data from a later time period. I would have thought a Google employee would be more in favor of Android.

Willitts August 20, 2014 at 11:07 am

Apple is a cult.

Steve August 19, 2014 at 8:18 pm

#4. The “International Communications Association?” Are they like the general semantics folks?

Willitts August 19, 2014 at 9:10 pm

3. Foodies are such snobs. :)

IMHO, New York pizza is by far the best, and their pizza belt methodology is pretty accurate. But to dismiss Chicago pizza out of hand is just obnoxious.

If we agreed that deep dish pizza must be called something other than pizza, could we forego this tribal chest thumping?

Chicago Deep is a good meal. Our thin crust pizza isn’t like NY, but it has its own merits. We dont have to settle for chain restaurants. I’ve never set foot in Pizzeria Uno or Dua.

As much as I loathe San Francisco, I’ve had some pretty good NY style pizza there. This is not to say that it stands a 50/50 chance of fielding a good slice.

Pizza in Germany was very pleasant and unusual. I loved their hamburger pizzas and pizza with white asparagus and sunny side egg.

MM August 20, 2014 at 1:31 pm

I thought the Boston Globe article painfully sidestepped the question of computer “consciousness” and seemed almost insecure in its stating of how humans and computers will always be different.

Mike August 20, 2014 at 1:41 pm

The link is not here for this article.

Is this the most important theory about pizza? I agree with the claims in that article. – See more at:

Flocccina August 28, 2014 at 9:46 am

Indeed: Beyond the Greater Pizza Belt Area is a wasteland. In most parts of California, for example, the chance that a randomly-chosen pizzeria will produce adequate-to-good slices of pizza is close to one in eight; in Los Angeles it is lower than one in ten. Here, there is bad pizza—in the vast wilderness, in الربع الخالي‎. We do not speak of it.[3][4]

I could not agree more.

Flocccina August 28, 2014 at 10:11 am

BTW to me it seems that USAers not of Italian decent think that adding more cheese always makes a better pizza. To me that ends up as a mess. My favorite Pizza from back in Providence RI (I hear they also have it in parts of NY state) is the Italian bakery pizza which has no mozzarella just maybe a little parmesan cheese. BTW my friends here in Florida like the pizza belt pizza better when they get a chance to try it so it seems that it is not just what you got accustomed to in your youth which is very interesting.
I will say though that pizza and food in general is getting better in parts of the USA outside of pizza belt. My theory is that the better pizza it is due to all the culinary school grads and better other food in due to that and immigrants making into all corners of the USA.

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