Assorted Wednesday links

1. New blog from the research department of the IADB (much but not all is in Spanish).

2. Feline average is over.  But there is a counter here.

3. NPR favorite albums of the year list.

4. Lingerie RCT, safe for work, sort of.

5. How a car door should sound.

6. What a Harvard Business School professor orders from a Sichuan restaurant.  For all the fuss, he could have chosen better dishes (only the fish was a good selection), nor did the items as a whole have proper balance.

7. The now-full Cato forum on reviving economic growth.  Videos of the panels are here.


4. "But not all companies are as specific and methodical as Adore Me when it comes to each element of a photo." Or, not all companies are as willing to share their methods with Fast Company in exchange for the publicity.

I think both statements are true. For instance Land's End often sells a shirt or jacket in several different colors. But they don't take a different picture for each color - as you mouse over from color to color it's the same picture, just photoshopped red, then blue, then black. It's always struck me as amateur.


Insufficiently unsafe for work.

#6: It seems like Mr. Edelman himself lacks proper balance. Small wonder his takeout orders would, too.

2. You and Vox buried the lede here. Gwynneth Paltrow makes more than Scarlett Johansson and Angellina Jolie? I would actually like an explainer on how that works. It can't be her popularity with the public or her ability to deliver a picture. Look at this:

Vs this underwhelming result.

So maybe she works more than Angelina Jolie, but I suspect the latter brings in more punters.


Iron Man movies? She didn't have to do much, and played a character who wasn't annoying.

And Robert Downey -- as he does -- carried everyone along in his wake.

I really don't understand why the only metal subgenre that the indie/hipster set seems to like is doom metal. And even then I wonder if they actually enjoy it.

Pig Destroyer, Converge, and Deafheaven have all gotten hipster love from Pitchfork. And remember when "American black metal" like Wolves in the Throne Room and Liturgy was all the rage? I suspect Pallbearer's cross-over appeal has a lot to do with their Ozzy-ish vocals, easy to follow rhythms, and the absence of screaming.

Deafhaven and Liturgy I remember (and one of those bands is actually good). It's just strange to see a random metal band or subgenre get popular with that crowd compared with what is usually lauded by regular metal listeners.

I know nothing about this kind of "music."

what does TC have against dry hot chicken? that's what order item #2 looks like to me ... surely as good as the braised fish.

Come on, the whole order was shameful.

I'm with Edelman. I would never do what he did but I suspect the world is better place because crazy people hold others accountable for little things at a high cost to themselves. This confuses economists who think people are utility functions. Also, TCs line about balance was obviously trolling since Edelman wasn't buying the meal for TC and I seriously doubt TC actually thinks people should share his tastes in Chinese food.

We need Angus to weigh in on best music of the year. The man has excellent taste in eunuch rock

"How the Perfect Car Door Sound Is Made"?

Why engineer the door to sound "just so" when you could just design it to close quietly (perhaps with a tinny little sound) and then cover up its actual sound with a satisfying, solid-sounding "CRUMP!" from the car stereo's speakers?

After all, the buyer's decision isn't being made on whether the door IS solid, only on whether it SOUNDS solid.

So make it sound solid already. But do so as inexpensively as possible.

Kindof like high heels make girls more attractive (article from a few days ago). Put a nice sound on the same car door, and it becomes a more desirable vehicle. I think the article conveys that you subconsciously want to hear that reassuring sound from the car door, not a simulation from the car speakers.

The format of #4 is horrible. It requires you to click to the next page to get every new sentence in the article. Obviously a cheap way to maximize "pageviews" but incredibly irritating.

#6: I read the article. The HBS Prof. comes across as a weapons-grade jerk. (Got the same impression from from his photo.) Maybe they can use this as a case study.

Earth to Mr. Edelman: opportunity cost of time?

In theory, I support him not rolling over, because some scammers just do this kind of tiny bill-padding everywhere, and refunding-when-caught isn't a good deterrent. So we need some people to do the economically-irrational things.

In practice, he completely blew it.

The last email from him is when he really went off the rails, although the triple-damages demand was silly as well

Both links in #2 are saying the same thing. How is one countering the other?

On, vox updated their article. But I think it said this even yesterday. This is a problem with queueing up posts to appear later in time.

The Vox article seems to have been updated to agree with the HuffPo article.

#6: I've seen the same kinds of billing errors from one of the Chinese restaurants in my area.

#6) I agree with Edelman on the principle, but he was a jerk and likely got the law wrong.

It's been a while since I lived in MA, but I thought Massachusetts allowed consumers to recover compensation for discovering overcharging, specifically at supermarkets. By giving this enforcement power to the citizens, enough of them are willing to hop through hoops to collect their $1 reward or whatever that the stores stay honest, and not "accidentally" forget to update their menus and charge normal price to the few who do notice and complain.

It doesn't look like Edelman was using that law, though.

This is appears to be an apology from Prof. Edelman himself, found on

"Many people have seen my emails with Ran Duan of Sichuan Garden restaurant in Brookline.

Having reflected on my interaction with Ran, including what I said and how I said it, it’s clear that I was very much out of line. I aspire to act with great respect and humility in dealing with others, no matter what the situation. Clearly I failed to do so. I am sorry, and I intend to do better in the future.

I have reached out to Ran and will apologize to him personally as well."

Came across as a total jerk, but he apologized so its time to give him the benefit of the doubt and drop it.

His complaint has been great for the business because most people think his complaint was over the top, but then they realized the business was nearby and tried it out and seem to like the food and service.

A Harvard JD wrong about anything? That's unpossible!

6: a real loser, and not surprising given his so-called profession.

#6 reminds me of the saying that in academia the debates are so heated because the stakes are so small, or something like that.

At his consulting rate, how much has it cost him to go all Harvard Law over this small businessman?

Nothing on the no great stagnation: torture or the decreed average-is-here for British porn? I'm disappointed.

#6 It is weird. Read about Edelman in the afternoon. Saw him in a TV doco about Facebook in the evening.

#6: I used to live a few blocks from that restaurant's location, and would walk by it on my way to and from the Brookline Village T stop. But it was a different Chinese restaurant then; I rarely ate there but they would sell a dozen frozen "Peking raviolis" in a bag to go, so I'd often buy a bag on my way home.

#3: I stopped reading at the second album on the list, the one by the queen of socially conscious Chilean hip-hop who "raps about indigenous pride over Andean flutes." That is the perfect NPR music recommendation.

She's good. I don't understand Spanish, but lyrics are mostly irrelevant if the music is good.

The 'innovation' Cato speakers are surprisingly light on patents, review of each article below. Of the 51 papers only two speak of patents in any meaningful way: No Easy Answers By Peter Van Doren and Doctors and Drugs: Promoting Growth and Equality through Free Trade By Dean Baker.

Anecodote: a couple of decades ago I brought to market an invention that is in nearly every American household today. The *first* thing the person did was ask for and get a patent. Anecodote but telling.

Economists...pfft. Historians and social scientists masquarading as physicists and versed in statistical methods and mathematical modeling. No real world experience. Backwards looking and hence promoting 'cheaper is always better'. Most believe in zero profits, like the Marxists.


CNTRL + F + "patent" yields no hits on these articles:

Raise Tuition at State Universities to Boost Long-Term Economic Growth By Ben Wildavsky

Expand Opportunity to Boost Growth By Scott Winship

Move to a Progressive Consumption Tax By Alan D. Viard

Embracing a Culture of Permissionless Innovation By Adam Thierer (NO MENTION OF PATENTS! one mention of patents in notes, as a quote from somebody else.)

More Bang for the Buck: A Surprisingly Cost-Effective Way to Boost Growth By Scott Sumner (no mention of patents, no surprise. BTW Scott, as I pointed out the other day, a 100+ year old man anticipated your targeting NGDP idea over 80 years ago, not that authorship matters in our plagaristic society).

Getting back to Work By Michael R. Strain (from the ironically named American Enterprise room for patents at AEI. Strains credibility.)

Two Ideas to Boost Long-Term Growth By Dane Stangler (her two big ideas: "Immigration" (no surprise) and "Teacher Licensing and Preparation" (woman's ideal))

Economic Growth in the Age of Diminishing Labor By Karl Smith (demographics is destiny is Karl's big insight...woo hoo)

Money, Economic Growth, and the Fed By George Selgin (I hear this man used to be a goldbug but has turned to the Dark Side and embraced Scott Sumner...not that there's anything wrong with that, shows a flexibilty in mind).

End Corporate Debt Bias — and Expand School Choice By Reihan Salam (oh my, quite an eclectic little mix of disparate ideas from our ernest wide-eyed little friend...)

Apprenticeships, and Lots of Them By Jonathan Rauch (heck I did not even have to check for the keyword patents, I assume this Tutonic loving simpleton has no room for patents in his medieval backward looking worldview...but let me check...NOPE, just as I thought)

Shoring up the Middle Class By Don Peck

Curtailing Subsidies for Health Insurance By Jeffrey Miron

Rolling Back Regulatory Complexity By Megan McArdle (what? patents are not regulations Megan?)

Bigger, Cleaner, and More Efficient: A Carbon-Corporate Tax Swap By Donald B. Marron

High-Skill Immigration and Visionary Investments By Jim Manzi (no mention of patents, compare with the same themed author Alex Nowrasteh below)

Hacking the Regulatory State By Michael Mandel (thankfully, and surprisingly, neither Mandel nor McArdle make the (false) connection between getting a patent and 'more regulation'. I guess they know a few things about patent law or are just completely ignorant and it never occurred to them to make a connection).

Two Relatively Painless Ways to Boost Growth By Robert E. Litan (Fact: TFP--a painless way to boost growth-- increased in 1982 and has gone slightly upwards every since, from a decade long flat line in the 1970s, when Ronald Reagan created the CAFC in 1982, a pro-patent court. It's a fact. Coincidence? Maybe. But it's a fact that could be noted.)

Our Guild-Ridden Labor Market By Morris M. Kleiner (Psst, talk to J. Rauch, he likes guilds it seems)

Unleashing Innovation By Derek Khanna (!! OMG. This is enough to make my head patent mentions... spittle is foaming out of my mouth right now...)

Preparing Students for the World of Work By Andrew Kelly (a world where inventors have assigned their inventions to their employer on their first day, and get nothing if they invent something on the job, pace, weakly, Japan's Article 35 and Germany's labor law protections. Then people wonder why employees are mindless, rent-seeking cubicle zombies with zero creativity. People respond to incentives, and if there's no incentive to inventing, they won't respond unless they simply love inventing for its own sake. Duh.)

More and Better Foreign Direct Investment By Daniel J. Ikenson

Growth and Taxes By Peter Howitt

Radically Simplify Law By Philip K. Howard (let me guess Mr. Howard; you're not a lawyer? No, you are: OK you're qualified to speak on this topic. What a unexpected pleasant surprise.)

Structural Reforms to Reduce Debt and Restore Growth By Douglas Holtz-Eakin (ah yes, the old bug-a-boo that debt crowds out growth. No evidence for this thesis except at very high levels, but GM Rogoff might disagree).

Decision Markets as Meta-Policy By Robin Hanson (oh my, meta-policy, that sounds fancy)

The Specter of “Secular Stagnation” and Appropriate Policy Responses By Jagadeesh Gokhale

Land Use Restrictions and Other Barriers to Growth By Edward Glaeser (build it--more land--and they will come. Interesting but they would have to come from India and China, since Americans are largely dumbed-down these days).

How Land-Use Restrictions Block Growth By Ryan Avent (talk to Glaeser first before coming up with another such paper?)

Toward Faster, More Inclusive Growth By William A. Galston (not a single word--nada--on patents. He mentions everything but patents.)

Get the fiscal house in order By William G. Gale

An Urban Agenda for Economic Growth By Richard Florida

Reforming Regulation By Susan E. Dudley (talk to Mandel and McArdle upstream. This is a gnat--pronouced with a hard 'g'-- on the but of the American economy. By contrast, weak patents are the elephant in the room.)

Incentive Pay for Congress By Eli Dourado (good idea amigo. But pace crony government in Singapore, where such incentive pay sort of exists).

Three Waves of the Magic Wand By J. Bradford DeLong (targeting NGDP, better teacher pay, and more immigration will lead the US to the Magic Kingdom)

Steps toward the “Good Economy” By Bowman Cutter (ironically, also mentions "magic wands". Did he speak to DeLong or is this a buzz phrase from Krugman's column? Fashion is fashion in economics, gotta keep up.)

The Primacy of Foreign Policy By Tyler Cowen (to be fair, there is a paragraph about innovation, just no mention of patents)

To Grow Our Economy, Start with Paid Leave By Heather Boushey (what? like the French? Ok.)

Home (Healthcare) Economics By Philip Auerswald

Entrepreneurship Is the Key to Growth By David B. Audretsch (but patents are not the key?)

CNTRL + F + "patent" yields a few hits on these articles:

Reforming Corporate Taxation By Eric Toder (token one word mention)

Restrain Regressive Rent-Seeking By Steven Teles (1 mention, surprising given the title)

No Easy Answers By Peter Van Doren November 2014 (nice mention in 7 places, key one below, nice blurb which argues we should be experimenting with more and better patent protection rather than assuming wrongly, like AlexT and his stupid napkin Laffer curve, that it is bad)
Innovation is a component of our measured ignorance. Is policy optimally encouraging innovation? Burk argues that our system of intellectual property is premised on the belief that the social cost of the market power created by patents is less than the benefits created by the inventions that result. But there is surprisingly little data to support or refute this belief (Burk 2012). Bell and Parchomovsky (2014) propose to end the one-size-fits-all patent monopoly and its accompanying economic distortions (excessively high prices and reduced output) with a menu of options that would charge inventers more for longer patents with greater rights to sue infringers and less for shorter patents and fewer rights. Their basic insight is that we charge too little now for the monopoly rights we grant and thus have too much intellectual property.

Taxes, Patents, and Money: Three Proposals By Ramesh Ponnuru (OH MY GEE!!! His big insight is actually not that bad: eliminate patent protection for computer code (since it's been abused) and go back to just copyright protection for code. What he does not realize is that there's a doctrine of "non-literal copyright protection", popular in copyright-happy New York state, that gives a kind-of patent protection to software, recall the 'look and feel' doctrine of software lawsuits, and he probably doesn't realize abolishing software patents will encourage this kind of copyright litigation)

Fighting the Crony Capitalist Alliance By James Pethokoukis (Greek surnamed business reporter and sometime AlexT ally "But U.S. copyright and patent laws have evolved into cronyist protection of the revenue streams of powerful incumbent companies that hampers innovation and entrepreneurship." says the man who never worked an honest day in his rent-seeking life, lol)

Boost Highly Skilled Immigration by Alex Nowrasteh (makes his case by highlighting this fact, very wisely: "Skilled immigrants currently prove to be very innovative if patents are used as a proxy measurement for innovation.")

Tax Cuts for Innovators Are a Good Economic Investment By Enrico Moretti (Wise man: "Although patents in theory protect intellectual property, in practice innovative companies that invest in research appropriate just some of the benefits of their efforts. This is an unavoidable feature of the way innovation is created today and the speed at which new ideas and new knowledge spread in the high tech industry." --an argument for stronger, better patents.)

Sidestep the FCC and the FDA -By Arnold Kling (Interesting. "We could broaden the patent system to allow protocols and new uses for drugs to be patented. However, the objective of policy should be to increase the amount of knowledge in the public domain, a goal which is not served by a thicket of patents. Broadening the patent system would serve to reward patent lawyers rather than researchers." Well then Dr. Arnold Kling, why not make it a rule that such broadened patents cannot be enforced by private attorneys to enrich themselves, but only through state attorney generals or private attorney generals that agree to return the money to the inventor or society, and only keep their reasonable (and court approved) expenses? Done all the time in the law. Simple solution so patent attorneys do not presonally profit. Never occured to you huh? Yeah thought so genius.)

Forgetting How to Grow By Tim Kane (1 mention: "We live in a country where it pays, literally, not to work, where occupational licensing has run amok, where patents are a thicket,.." Patents are easy to figure out, most engineers are pretty cool with them. Patent trolls are also overrated. It's like a business worrying about slip and falls on their premises. An annoyance and cost of doing business, nothing more.)

Invest in Smarter Government By Lee Drutman (mentions patent trolls as a bug-a-boo)

Doctors and Drugs: Promoting Growth and Equality through Free Trade By Dean Baker (good paper, though I disagree with some of it, on how more innovation could result from a different form of incentive than the current patent system. At least the author recognizes that people respond to incentives.)

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