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#5. Related to the IP debate that joins those two articles: if the copyrights encouraged by Disney had existed in Dickens' time, Disney might never have been able to make many of its profitable films in the first place.

#2. Guy in the front: Buffet?

Very similar to this poster: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_ubGM9H4odUA/S-i6yb8KxEI/AAAAAAAAAR8/5CnV8ox2GVY/s400/obama+zionist.jpg .

Similar in that they are both well executed propaganda style posters with vilification as a key intent/impact.

Yeah real similar, one is an actual photo of a group of real people in real time with a hilariously cutting caption, the other is a collage of dozens of photos in very different contexts used to belabor something obvious and not really indicated by the pics jumbled together.

Man, once again the right shows its humorlessness. And I'm no lefty.

Yes I am completely convinced that you are no lefty.

In a rightward leaning place, a moderate is considered a lefty. This moderate doesn't care what 'Neo' thinks.

Well I am on the left and I think this Obama picture is spot on. Obama and Clinton are traitors to the left with their triangulating, wishy-washing ways.

I'm puzzled by "belabor something obvious," as well as the partisan-sounding critiques that follow. The collage includes O'Bama, Clinton x 2, Lieberman, G.W. Bush, Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Alan Greenspan ... there's nothing partisan about it.

Your comment made me go back and look again and you're correct, the collage is not 'partisan', it's a commentary about how politicians like Obama (and frankly all of 'em) run promising 'change' and the whole political establishment just yuks it up because nothing really ever changes. That's not a bad insight, although it's kind of obvious.

But I stick to my comment about the funny. The photo and caption are LOL funny. The collage isn't.

You're kidding, right? That pic was from about 30 years ago.

Did Buffet have brown hair 30 years ago? Is it ridiculous to believe he would hang around with republicans? He was alive 30 years ago, surely. Ok, not Buffet. Dick Cheney?

I'm not kidding.

Re #5: I wonder if all of Dickens' novels first came out in serial form in a newspaper before they were books; and if not, I wonder if those that were serialized before publication sold better or worse as books.

Additionally, I wonder if the very popular 19th Century books-of-the-month-type clubs that provided many thousands of copies of popular books of the day to the literate classes are reflected in these figures.

Another perspective on missing movie money from file downloading is to look at it from a bandwidth perspective.

Netflix is currently using about twice the bandwidth that bittorrent does to move movies around. Netflix has revenue of less than 1 billion$.

Obviously, old and new movies are imperfect substitutes. However, for industry's much higher than 500 million $ estimations of IP loss to be correct, you have to make some bizarre arguments. Maybe pirating a movie is a radically better experience than netflixing a movie? Maybe you argue that the audience that pirates is dramatically MORE likely to spend money on movies than those who use netflix...

Anyway from this point of view, it's unsurprising bittorrent has a negligible impact on US movie revenue. It has a greater effect overseas because they lack convenient, legal means of downloading and purchasing movies, and for months often have no option but to wait for months. Generally when you see widespread violation of the law, either businesses are failing to serve a market well or the laws are unfair.

#1 I like the idea of classifying humor styles and cultures by the degree of ambiguity about whether we are trying to be funny or serious. Could it be that some cultures need to warn others that "from now one we are joking until we back to talking seriously" more than others? The people I tend to find funny are those that one can never know for sure whether they are trying to be serious or funny. It adds playfulness to serious conversations. But I do realize that such a style is more difficult in multicultural environments, where the norms are not clear. Hope this comment makes sense.

The dinner for one phenomenon is hard to understand. Having married into Germany, I find it ok-funny, but every time I watch it I think "really?".

When I first met my (German) wife, she talked about Dinner for One. I've still not seen it, myself, but I have seen German comedies in my time (I enjoyed Go Trabi Go). I've able to manage the occasional German pun, but my jokes in English can greatly amuse her.

I think one of the things that make Dinner for One amusing for Germans as well is just how British the whole thing seems. I encountered a similar effect when my wife showed a preference for Wallace & Gromit's "A Grand Day Out" over "The Wrong Trousers." The whole idea of having a picnic and tea on the moon, as well as the very concept of the moon being made of cheese, she found hilarious. I'd say that these days, though, her sense of humor is much more like any other American's--although less violent.

But I'll tell you this much, there's no more beautiful sound on this planet than my wife's unbridled laughter.

Living in Germany for a year taught me that humor is indeed largely culturally based.

I don't quite get the Dinner for One thing either--it's OK but nothing special. On the other hand, every German student of mine thinks that the Chevy Chase vacation movies are the funniest things ever. They have a thing for slapstick.

Loriot was quite good; he mixed intellectuality with slapstick and light self-mockery in a very powerful way--look up 'loriot wild pug' on Youtube. Self-mockery here is kind of rare.

3. Who cares?

What?! How dare you! Noah Smith is great

I CARE, TED! You hurt my feelings!! T_T

(cries in corner)

LOL. Congratulations!

Hey! Don't let them push you around here. None of these Asian crying faces either - you have to crush these Marginal Revolutionaries. You're 1000000 times the economists Tyler Cowen ever will be!

You’re 1000000 times the economists Tyler Cowen ever will be!

Hah. You have quite a touching faith in my prowess as an economists. ^_^

Oh - you don't really have to be that great to become that much better then Cowen

Ah, the old issue of German humour! What I took from the article and the debate is that the chief difference seems to be situational; Brits put a lot of deadpan jokes into most conversations, Germans don't integrate their humour as much into all spheres of life. Obviously, the differences of language make for a somewhat different humour, but that can be overstated; Heinrich Heine, Wilhelm Busch, Kurt Tucholsky, Christian Morgenstern and many others were and are masters of humour that compares well with their English counterparts. To take a more contemporary example, Terry Pratchett seems to translate well and is selling A LOT of books in German, so the humour of one language does seems to be able to cross the linguistic divide to quite an extent

#3. Noah says that there is a market incentive to sort yourself into a particular "slot" in economics to make it easy for departments to hire and place PhDs. How true is this?

Additionally, how does this incentive skew research in economics? Are there mechanisms for correcting this slotting bias?

After 2 years in Germany, my favourite comedian in any language is Rainald Grebe. You have to know German, though. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj7Y8ooZwBA , or find das Robinson-Crusoe-Konzert.

#1, German humor: This must be the worst Guardian piece I've ever read, just peddling very old stereotypes rooted in misunderstandings. The reader's comments are much more relevant.

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