Sorry for the endless test pattern …

I have been having a most interesting time, and seem to have hampered my neurons [but not to the point of not being able to spell neuron, strange spell checker who prefers neurone, ed.] terribly, with the kind assistance of Pfizer. My experience with Lyrica has been a life saving killer over the past oh so many years … hmmnn … but now two weeks have passed and it is a week since I last barfed … the worst seems to be over with the withdrawal but my brain feels like there is a storm inside it and I think my hippocampus is angry with me! I feel like an idiot in many ways, and will write up the whole experience once my brain cools. When you are sick and no one knows why a lot of weird stuff can happen.

But …

The cottage beckons for Easter, we have found a home for the boat here in Ottawa at the Nepean Sailing Club, on the hard as they say, and one way or another the sun is going to shine, at least metaphorically! We still have to go and actually get the boat but it is all beginning to gel …

I hope to be more myself next week as even my camera begins to tempt me … but the thought of leaving the house alone still gives me the willies so something must change first and I am giving myself the benefit of the doubt and not rushing anything.

Oh and rabbits, rabbits, rabbits! Happy April 1st!

Posted in RANDOM | 68 Comments

And you thought the Shipping News was a depressing book, by a depressed nit-wit …

who had barely visited Newfoundland, and had the temerity to completely misrepresent the people, painting them with her own misery. But no. The depressing shipping news brought to you by this not very depressed nit-wit features the very frozen Great Lakes. While apparently last year’s ice is not to be beaten, this year’s is giving it a run for its money, if ice had money, which thankfully it doesn’t.

Here is the recent satellite shot from NOAA. Or not. They seem to be having troubles with their website, which is a good thing, because I am full of misinformation this morning. Apparently there was more ice coverage on the Great Lakes on March 3rd 2015 than on the previous year’s March 3rd. But I am pretty sure it is neck and neck now, or neck and bottle-neck if you are a ship hoping to get to Lake Superior, which thankfully you are not.

So here is how Lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario looked on March 3rd:


Statistically speaking, apparently there was 88.3% ice coverage compared to 86%, in 2014.

That’s a whole lot of ice, but what that doesn’t show is that the water appears warmer this year … or I am unable to read the maps, which is a distinct possibility, hope springing eternally, leading to eternally hoping for spring!

A weekly Wednesday update … served iced, with a side of warm wishes.

Posted in LIFE | 12 Comments

Leaning on Russ Roberts, but a monetary constitution is an interesting idea

I feel like the old me, advocating for some system of sounder money, but there can be no doubt that a government monopoly on currency is fraught with dangers, and the current system of rewarding some and not others as the response to fiscal and monetary crises has been a shocking example of cronyism and favouritism.  The discussion is wide ranging, and covers a justification of rules, as hoping to get a “good” head of the Fed is of course not only subjective, but they behave oddly once installed, with political pressures of immense weight being thrown on their academic shoulders. A set of rules governing the creation and management of a currency would at least lend a Hayekian consistency to monetary policy that would allow people to plan towards a more predictable future.

Lawrence H. White of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the possibility of a monetary constitution. Based on a new book,Renewing the Search for a Monetary Constitution, White explores different constitutional constraints that might be put on the government’s role in money and monetary policy. Topics discussed include cryptocurrencies, the gold standard, the Taylor Rule, the performance of the Fed, free banking, and private currency.

Lawrence H. White on Monetary Constitutions

And have a wonderful Wednesday unless you have made other plans …


Posted in ECONOMICS | 31 Comments

You could feel a giant sucking sound and fine, blame the third year of a drought …

Water, water, nowhere
and not a drop to drink …

You could feel a giant sucking sound and fine, blame the third year of a drought but all those showers and dishwashers and hotels doing laundry and too green golf courses in a desert … madness! I already knew that Las Vegas was a nightmare born of the Hoover Dam’s cheap electricity, but I hadn’t really considered where they got the water from. Or how much those asshats use. I thought there was some sort of water source but it turns out the palm trees were imported back in the early nineteen hundreds to trick people into thinking it was an oasis.

Makes Babbit seem more and more horrendous as a warning … a terrible novel but what it reveals of the attempt to build everywhere and have cities compete for business, as they do to this day with ludicrous special tax breaks and subsidized infrastructure. Always whining that without breaking zoning they can’t make a profit … and without cheap water it turns out people won’t use enough to make it profitable for the massive water authorities to sell because they rely on bulk to pay for the cost of infrastructure. While they literally drain lakes. And wouldn’t Russ Roberts sense my parched experience, and explain the full horror, just yesterday:

David Zetland on Water

EconTalk Episode with David Zetland

Hosted by Russ Roberts

David Zetland of Leiden University College in the Netherlands and author of Living with Water Scarcity talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of water management. Issues covered include the sustainability of water supplies, the affordability of water for the poor, the incentives water companies face, and the management of water systems in the poorest countries. Also discussed are the diamond and water paradox, campaigns to reduce water usage, and the role of prices in managing a water system.

And it all starts with a talk about California … where there are too many middle men having meetings, I am willing to bet, as all those authorities hold membership meetings and stay in hotels, using up precious resources while lecturing the rest of us, but not really meaning it. Who are these people? Babbits?

But sequing through Babbit to more cheerful atmospherical observations, my hubby spotted a rabbit, or as he really did say, a bunny, on our front walk the other evening. I think that is a much better indicator of spring than some crabby groundhog hauled out so cheesy politicians can have their ears bitten, on camera. But kudos to the snacking groundhog, and to our brave bunny, who took one heck of a winter on the chin. The more people behave like people, the more I enjoy the rest of the animal kingdom.

Somehow in our family we inherited a weird superstition that if you said rabbits as the very first word you spoke on the first day of the month you would have a lucky month. And here we have had an actually sighting! So rabbits to you all [all? hahahah, ed.] as we say around here to spread the karma, and in closing let me share a terrible pun/joke of my dad’s, about a rabbit who after a cold shower turned to his buddy and said: “I just washed my thing and I can’t do a hare with it!”

Have a tremendous Tuesday, and go bite your mayor on the ear!

Posted in ECONOMICS, LIFE, RANDOM | 34 Comments

One can be excused from thinking the fix is in, when the fix is in …

Here’s a frustrating topic dear to our hearts, and seems to tell the story of how the Americans took advantage of the carnage of World War Two to make their dollar the only equivalent to gold and created a ‘new world order’ of banking and reparations payments. A clear and historical account of the “Battle of Bretton Woods”:

Benn Steil of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Bretton Woods, the conference that resulted in the IMF, the World Bank, and the post-war international monetary system. Topics discussed include America and Britain’s conflicting interests during and after World War II, the relative instability of the post-war system, and the personalities and egos of the individuals at Bretton Woods, including John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White.

Benn Steil on the Battle of Bretton Woods

It is enough to make a groan woman weep!

But wouldn’t luck pan out [speaking of gold!] and when I went to fetch the link to the above podcast I found that today’s offering promises to be a treat, and without having listened, but with well-founded faith in my favourite guest, Mike Munger, here is an antidote to history in an apparent double dose of Mungers discussing behavioural economics, in the context of group decision making re constitutions and voting and the difficulties of majority rule making:

Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book (co-authored with Kevin Munger), Choosing in Groups. Munger lays out the challenges of group decision-making and the challenges of agreeing on constitutions or voting rules for group decision-making. The conversation highlights some of the challenges of majority rule and uses the Lewis and Clark expedition as an example.

Michael Munger on Choosing in Groups

Both go well with morning tea, or when insomnia strikes … and who can resist a free university education? Actually, I think the answer to that question is fairly depressing, but many thanks to Professor Roberts for making these stellar podcasts.

I remember my eldest brother once talking about shouting from mountain top to mountain top, describing trying to communicate ideas with the world in the days of print, with basically only newspapers and books and institutions out of the reach of many. And while the internet makes the broadcasting easy, the audience is hard to locate. I no longer remember what led me to these podcasts but I am much the richer, intellectually, for them. Sometimes the ideas can seem simple once explained, but things like why people preferred no ice to expensive ice when there was no power for refrigeration in Raleigh help one make sense of the peculiar world we share with others.

So let me tea this one up [speaking of groan, ed.] for your listening pleasure, and I hope you enjoy this particular day in this peculiar world.

Posted in ECONOMICS | 49 Comments

And here I am again …

somewhat visually awestruck and mentally overwhelmed by impressions.

We drove through mountains and desert:

IMG 8024 600x400  And here I am again …

and then drove the initially straight and then whacky southern coast of California, both metaphorically and geographically. From Julian, so American and apple pie that they proudly sponsored an unmanned drone, to Hippie Hill in San Francisco, where as long as you didn’t poop in public, everything seemed vaguely condoned:

IMG 6371 600x450  And here I am again …

None of it seems sustainable. But Hippie Hill sure felt like a better approach to tolerance, and even if one were a firm believer in American might making right, it doesn’t follow that you need to wrap yourself in a flag and hate potheads.

Sorry to suddenly be a downer, but the desert didn’t use to be a desert, excepting the high desert and the uniquely beautiful Joshua unfortunately wall to wall RV’s and no privacy despite the incredible vastness of it all Tree National Park, and you can feel it encroaching .. every new subdivision and mall world full of flushing toilets and washing dishes and North American fastidious showering … and the cars … we got to be HOVers, because there were 2 of us. Now for one, HOV is such a peculiar acronym that it must preclude half the population even understanding it. Not everyone speaks high occupancy vehicle decoding language, si señor, bon jour …. how about a graphic showing a head count? We seem to have a number on a car and also smarmly allow “green” vehicles, those electric cars powered by coal and nuclear as well as massive dams.

Screen Shot 2015 02 17 at 9 52 56 AM 1 600x453  And here I am again …

Apparently I am slagging Americans without full justification but according to the web I am not completely insane and we might have seen signs that just said HOV without a cute little graphic. And you also are moving to give special access to the rich and virtuous.


But lets skip over the accuracy part and stick with impressions. Much easier on the brain, and allows me to mention that when it was becoming clearly impossible to park anywhere near the beautiful Muir Woods, it being Valentine’s Day and free entry which we hadn’t remembered to notice, we turned back so kind hubby could drop me and my wounded leg at the entrance and drive for miles and then run back, while I started to explore. And while I took pictures of people on dates with their phones, he lucked out and found a close parking spot and noticed a VrtuCar parked illegally and getting a ticket. They actually had electric plug in parking spots with the handicapped spots, so why the more virtuous driver didn’t show off and displace the handicapped at the main entrance, but chose to park on some of the only remaining grass, will never be known. But it did remind me of a podcast about human behavioural economics and how people who bought and drove green cars would be more polluting in the rest of their lives than others. Like giving to United Way at the office …

Which brings me back to my HOV rant:

Because for two, it only takes 2 people to be counted as a HOVer and we could be on a four or five lane wide section of highway surrounded by LOVers. You could smell the ozone and it was only February. August must be insane. But where are all these single drivers going? Why aren’t there fewer cars with more people in them? Or what about designing worlds where people don’t live in house enclaves surrounded by highways leading to shopping enclaves and working enclaves? The entire automobile industry has been massively subsidized by the paving of North America. We started watching an almost good series on Netflix about how the states got their shapes, called How the States Got Their Shapes [it is online at the link [edit to add: maybe not but it is on Netflix] and it turns out it was a presidential grand idea to pave the states, odd numbers going north south and even numbers going east west. And here were we driving up highway 1, as much as possible. Taking advantage of what was a terrible idea, born of war time thinking when grandiose problems changed everything. It was the difficulty of getting troops across the country that started them all planning the grid and it is a sad fact we have to live with. It also turns out, according to the beginning of episode 4 or 5 [edit to add: it was episode 6, Living on the Edge] … sleep overtook us … that there are vast amounts of the west that the federal government owns, including most of Nevada. And Area 51 sounds like just a decoy …

And when it comes to where are all the trees, I married into ancestral guilt. Some of my hubby’s ancestors made a considerable amount of money logging the Georgian Bay in the late 1800’s and next door to the lovely little cottage that his parents still live in is a building we have always joking referred to as the bungalow, despite it being two stories tall. We actually stayed there for three days over Christmas many moons ago, the last year before the bungalow was sold out of the family, and it was unoccupied. My father-in-law pulled it off and much of the family made it. The family money has slowly dissipated, but the point still bears a family name, and one branch had a bundle in the 1920s and designed and build the 11 bedroom:

101 0140 600x400  And here I am again …

two living room, one upstairs:

101 0136 600x400  And here I am again …

and one downstairs, complete with a polar bear skin rug on the floor:

101 0134 600x400  And here I am again …

eight bathroom bungalow straight out of Gatsby.

The living room had/has enormous Rosewood beams that were shipped from California … I remember the story. The wallpaper had been hand-painted in France and only the 2nd last idiot owners finally took it all out because it was “so dark”. It was a plant motif, but full plants … magical and could have been cleaned. A player piano with its own nook with built in cubby holes for the music rolls.  You can see it to the right of the Christmas tree, which looks surreal in the space bellow the open staircase, with the wallpaper gently swaying:

100 0023 600x400  And here I am again …

There was a table on the porch with a tile mosaic of tiny flowers, imported from Italy:

101 0130 600x400  And here I am again …

But it was all just the natural wealth of a new continent fuelling madness, and the current owner is actually (or maybe the title has finally been stolen) the losingest driver on Nascar and is a …. He has an enormous grey cigarette boat, and after taking out the pool the previous owners installed, has finally put a pool back in.

It is too much. And I know we were part of the problem, taking flights and driving vehicles.   We kept thinking how beautiful the coast would be from the water, and today we are actually paying for the sailboat … next time maybe we can be less of the problem by being in the solution, if you get my drift.

But here am I, being part of the problem:

and so glad to be alive. Merci beaucoup and gracias, and truly, thanks for all the fish.

Posted in LIFE | 13 Comments

Photos from afar, and random thoughts …

We are up a mountain, at a campsite frequented by off-roaders, and I must say there is a gathering of good old boys and gals a few campsites away, and they are more American than the apple pie we ate today in a shop that proudly displayed the tail fin from an unmanned drone that flew in “Operation Freedom” in Afghanistan that they had sponsored. A business that proudly sponsored an unmanned drone. We have rarely felt so far from home. And here they are, one truck with two enormous American flags flying out the back, and another with the Confederate flag. I remember trying to convince people at the swamp that freedom meant freedom to be different, not freedom to be exactly like them. But I digress.

We went to Joshua Tree yesterday, and ended up driving on through – it is interesting to see, but it is in a desert, and they have only a handful of campsites that are all cheek by jowl – a vast open space but you must keep to the paths – and back to Thomas Mountain, where we had camped the first night, but at a turnout, not at the campsite we were aiming for, with the lovely name Tool Box Springs, which we did find last night. The actual name of this campsite is Bobcat Meadows, and it is the less serviced overflow from Corral Canyon. It is one of the few places apparently in California where off-roading is allowed, so we kind of knew what we were getting into.

We met a delightful young man in Long Beach before we rented the van and it really enforced the notion that we have been forced into polarized camps. No one can have a moderate opinion – pick an issue like abortion – you are for or against, can’t have a reasonable compromise – gun control – for or against, and declared a lunatic for wanting to limit the amount of automatic fire, for example, or range – drugs – just say no – a more idiotic campaign rarely springs to mind. Just say no to drugs – antibiotics, anti-psychotics, insulin … But when you talk to most people, you actual tend to find common ground. It is the news makers and politicians that create these polar opposites so they can get the people wrapped in whatever flag they are peddling.

And having said all that, here are some pictures to soothe the soul:

IMG 6213 600x450  Photos from afar, and random thoughts …IMG 6224 600x130  Photos from afar, and random thoughts …IMG 8022 600x400  Photos from afar, and random thoughts …IMG 8023 600x400  Photos from afar, and random thoughts …IMG 8026 600x400  Photos from afar, and random thoughts …

Hope to see you on the morrow, with very little sorrow …

Posted in LIFE, PHOTOS, RANDOM | 45 Comments

When is a tool evil?

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Well, sure, but guns make it a whole lot easier. So I will immediately compromise my argument by saying that while that statement holds logically, it doesn’t hold up in practice. But a hammer, for example, we would never ban just because it also makes a handy murder weapon if your mate insults your carpentry. A nail gun? With physical tools it seems to come down to how many people you could easily slay with your weapon of choice, and it is a world-wide custom to limit access to the truly dreadful weapons we have created. Except of course for our vaunted leaders – way to go handling that responsibility guys!

[That was sarcasm, in case I have you confused already. [Setting a blistering pace, says ed.] just so I can tell you why he said that and get back to hammers for a moment. Once when I was thirteen or so we went to England and Scotland for a month and they had basically one television channel, which was showing Highland Games, and in particular, the hammer toss. One gentleman took his turn, undoubtedly an ancestor of Magnus von Magnusson

and threw this enormous hammer incredibly far, and the commentator said calmly that he had “set a blistering pace in the hammer toss” in a fabulous Scottish accent, and setting a blistering pace became a surprisingly humorous thing in our lives. That wasn’t much of a tangential story, but all worth it to meet Magnus von Magnusson, who also has a super excellent name, as if he had been born to be the world’s strongest man.]

But what about a tool that lets people disseminate information? Is there more harm in the ban than in letting her rip? History just can’t but be on the side of full-disclosure, and a massive dose of caveat emptor. One of the problems we always face when considering these kinds of issues is: can we trust the masses? Of course not, cries whoever is in charge. No way, say those who lose an election. Are you kidding, says me, just look at them! But we are the masses, and we tend to make very good rational choices when we have good information. And we can be trusted better than an elite to determine our own best interests, because we know our own situations better than anyone, somewhat prima facie.

But what about that throw-away clause about access to good information?

There was a sterile period for information transfer in the twentieth century as audiences got used to sitting passively through a filmed performance, or sat in front of a radio listening, or sat together glued to their nation’s Walter Cronkite, where in the past they could throw a handy tomato at a speaker they didn’t like. This made control of content incredibly easy for ruling authorities.  Part of what brought about the fall of the Soviet Union was their mistaken [or did they do it on purpose, making it an all time great scam?] distribution of shortwave radios so they could broadcast to the far reaches of their country. The German Nazi’s had used radios, but only longwave, with strict limits on their use printed right on the radios along with threats of imprisonment if misused. There is an excellent Econtalk podcast about this:

Bernstein on Communication, Power and the Masters of the Word

William Bernstein talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, Masters of the Word. Bernstein traces the history of language, writing, and communication and its impact on freedom. The discussion begins with the evolution of language and the written word and continues up through radio and the internet. A particular focus of the conversation is how tyrants use information technology to oppress their people but at the same time, technology can be used to liberate people from oppression.

The internet has changed the nature of communication in many ways, two of which come to mind. One, any idiot, myself included, can clutter the airwaves with their own brand of nonsense which has introduced competition that is blowing the cable and network television model out the window allowing consumer choice to start to be reflected in the products we are offered. And many people are choosing more information over more strictly pure entertainment. This has fragmented certain kinds of media domination. And two, the internet is interactive and allows a response from the audience.

Any tool can be used corruptly if you set your mind to it, and there was much objection from scribes and authority figures when the printing press appeared because it would basically lead to internet porn. But when it comes to getting information and ideas into the light it is best to let the bad ones appear too, so they can be identified and squashed, And we have to trust the masses to begin to be able to discern the wheat from the chaff. The smart phone revolution has put the power of the internet into the hands of many of the world’s poor. They won’t be ignorant for long, and the information they get is at least not censored by a controlling authority in most of the world. We have Google to contend with but I think I would rather deal with that kind of commercial oligarch than one who enforces his information control with jails and guns. Caveat emptor is common sense always, and never more so than when consuming information. But you mustn’t shoot the messenger, just the message.

245805 600x192  When is a tool evil?
I hope you have a satisfactory Saturday, and don’t freeze any body parts if you are feeling a little vortexed, polarly or otherwise.

Posted in LANGUAGE, RANDOM | 29 Comments

What happened to my outrage?

It is still there … my blinkers are unable to keep out the 24/7 streaming of imagery and strange activity that bombards us from all around. But long before I found that I had no allies in the sound government camp amongst the hard metal people and that they were revealing themselves as hard-right, Christian bigots to a large extent intent on hatred and preaching doom to their listeners, who profited neither in pocket nor in soul, I had also been coming to realise that the news and pundits depended on outrage and anger to peddle their wares. That people flock to bad news is just the way it is, but it is tragic that they will seek far and wide for that horror or injustice, not satisfied until something has made their blood boil that day. But how to continue to write and not take advantage of that inherent instinct and find things that anger me and write about those? Do you read editorials? Aren’t they always about something that one should be outraged about?

There was a standard opening to letters to the editor in The Times in London in the 1800’s, when it really was an extremely widely read publication and very indicative of its times [ha … ha, ed.], “I am shocked and appalled …,” and so they would get published of course. The letters that began, “I had a very solid day and appreciated the efforts of my neighbours …,” not so much. Indeed there was a book published called Shocked and Appalled about letters to the editor of The Globe and Mail, a Toronto daily.

I helped my father do research for an exciting book about the question of whether it truly was better to marry or burn, or as the Victorians were debating it, marriage or celibacy, that generated a fascinating series of letters to the editor of the Times, so I read a lot of letters to the editor. I still remember one that basically said, when poverty comes in the door, love flies out the window.

The letters were very revealing because people had widely different ideas about how much money you needed as income in order to afford to marry – class revealed and so many assumptions. Pure gold for the social historian. And then it gets funny – I went to see if I could find a link to dad’s book but couldn’t quite remember the title, and stumbled across what really shouldn’t exist, or should be even less visited than this inane blog, a subcategory, Best Selling Letters to the editor Books, which does indeed list dad’s book. Best cellar indeed. It ages well. I assume all Letters to the Editor Books are on there. The one about The Globe is, although it doesn’t have an attractive picture of the cover, unlike my pop’s. But I am digressing into the pleasant instead of explaining why I am digressing into the pleasant.

I don’t want to write about shocking and appalling things, and somehow want this blog to be a break from that for me as well as for you … an escape into the personal and the philosophical … a look at the deeper academic aspects of a question without being hopelessly polemical – a coffee shop on the cyber street of information.

roz chast man walks by coffee shop titled coffee and a kick in the pants new yorker cartoon 600x450  What happened to my outrage?

Or maybe a tea shoppe …  pets and pet peeve’s allowed, but you have to breathe deeply and take off those shoes. That is how I am trying to treat my own cranium after all and it would seem a disservice to not extend the same courtesy to all and sundry. Especially sundry.

Dang I wish I wrote that on Sunday … but have a sundry Friday or an all Friday, whichever you would prefer. The tea is on the house.

Posted in I AM FINALLY AWAKE, LIFE | 73 Comments

It’s funny how ideas can have a moment … or how did Nassim Taleb manage to worry about what we were just worrying about, i.e., what to worry about?

It is here in the comments on the last thread, and then just this morning a headline flashed past me, Fitch: Greek Election Uncertainty Raises Banks’ Liquidity Risks, as I checked on the current status of the U.S. dollar, and I remembered a previous me who would have tried to read those tea leaves. And when I went to the article, I realised that it was actually helping to raise said uncertainty, and was of course about what might happen, as waiting for actual events seems passé in news circles these days. Which got me discussing this question of what should one worry about with Mikey.

And then I started making Insanely good oxtail stew, because life is prosaic. But eventually I sat down on the couch with a cup of tea and remembered that it was Monday and there would be a new EconTalk podcast. And so there was [free of course to subscribe to on iTunes, if you want to be an eager nerd, ed.]. And wouldn’t it turn out that the discussion is really about what to worry about, and fat tails and thin tails and islands and ecosystems.

I think Nassim would have us worry about the consequences of the responses to the financial crisis and hence perhaps Greece, as he seems to include financial contagion as something that can have a globally disastrous fat tail … but I would also have to say that I did not follow all that was said as it is really a verbalization of a mathematical concept about risk analysis, which takes a bit of faith for the mediaevally trained. It ends on an interesting note as Nassim gets on an anti-GMO rant which one can’t help but be sympathetic to. It doesn’t really help in the ‘think globally, act locally’ meme but only because it doesn’t provide solutions, which wasn’t the goal of the underlying paper. My feeling about these podcasts that are much above my pay scale is that they rub off on one, helping to add a deep thinker’s, or two’s, or in this case quite a few’s, insights into the mishmash that wallows about in one’s cranium.

Like sleeping in a Holiday Inn Express, you just wake up feeling smarter!

Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Precautionary Principle and Genetically Modified Organisms

EconTalk Episode with Nassim Nicholas Taleb
hosted Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Antifragile, Black Swan, and Fooled by Randomness, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a recent co-authored paper on the risks of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the use of the Precautionary Principle. Taleb contrasts harm with ruin and explains how the differences imply different rules of behavior when dealing with the risk of each. Taleb argues that when considering the riskiness of GMOs, the right understanding of statistics is more valuable than expertise in biology or genetics. The central issue that pervades the conversation is how to cope with a small non-negligible risk of catastrophe.

What me worry?

Posted in ECONOMICS, LIFE | 29 Comments