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By TheophileEscargot (Sun Jul 13, 2008 at 05:29:34 AM EST) Reading, Me, MLP (all tags)
What I'm Reading: "The Nutmeg of Consolation", "the Hanging Garden", "Last Argument Of Kings". Me. Web. Question.

Poll: is eating cheating?

What I'm Reading
Latest Aubrey/Maturin was the The Nutmeg of Consolation by Patrick O'Brian. Starting off shipwrecked off Java, they make their way though various misadventures to Sydney, Australia. Has a grim but fascinating depiction of life in the new convict colony. Does have a few touches of humour though, such as when the ship's rats find their way into Maturin's supply of coca leaves.

Another good installment in the series.

What I'm Reading 2
Latest Rebus mystery was The Hanging Garden by Ian Rankin. Number 9 in the series: Rebus is reluctantly staying sober while his family and friends are once more dragged in. The plot strained credibility a bit, but that might just be my ignorance. Seemed a bit unlikely that the Yakuza and Serbian gangster would be trying to get street-level control of crime in Edinburgh. Still a pretty solid entry.

What I'm Reading 3
Seems to be nothing but series' at the moment. Last Argument Of Kings by Joe Abercrombie is the final volume in the First Law fantasy trilogy. Very good conclusion, tying almost all the loose ends. Abercrombie's good at sustaining the action throughout: he doesn't fall into the trap of leaving it all for the end, so some plotlines are resolved fairly early on.

This trilogy's definitely worth looking out for if you want some quality entertainment. Not superbly original, but the plot is well handled, the tension set up well. The characters are almost Dickensian in being larger than life but still fascinating.

Went to the LHusi drinks on Friday. I think I'm going to abandon the Eating is Cheating rule: have no recollection of getting home at all.

Not From the Vaults
I haven't been able to find this at all, but ages ago someone posted a Statute of Limitation on how long you're allowed to whine about it after a relationship breaks up. Anyone remember it? Was it one week for every two months of relationship or something like that?

Fun lovin' cowcakes?

News of the Unsurprising: Motoring cheaper, drivers angrier.

Rejected Wii games


Via Stumbling and mumbling an interesting study on crime and deterrence. By studying crimes just before and just after the age of adult sentencing, you can see whether harsher sentences deter crime.

Can transparency help the resource curse?

Inside the Apple Tax

If politicians courted the economist vote (marginalrevolution)

Classic essay: Economics of a POW camp.

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Sand and Nutmeg | 13 comments (13 topical, 0 hidden)
It's too bad they don't fully look at their data by infinitera (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Jul 13, 2008 at 12:50:28 PM EST
According to that crime paper, crime happens because the benefits of crime outweigh the costs. It then proceeds to discuss why the benefits are so high and cannot be changed, so the costs should be addressed in the most efficient way - higher chance of getting caught, rather than punitive measures which are already highly discounted and do not make a linear impact:
If potential offenders value their future significantly less than their present welfare, then the same increase in sentence lengths from 3 to 6 years will have a much more modest impact than it would if they were patient.

But the same data also shows that the reason crime benefits outweigh the costs (regardless of what they are) is because of the discounting of future welfare. The State can totally affect how much people value their future, it just chooses not to.

Which is a very inconsistent thing to leave off-limits, given the constant intervention of the State in failing businesses (e.g. mortgage crisis). A failing business is a "grave" economic risk and can't be allowed because of the impact it would have on the health of the system. But "failing" people who are discounting their future welfare, when taken in aggregate, are more crucial and more directly linked to the State's raison d'être. Just because private organizations are easier to identify and easier to measure the 'impact' of, does not mean that the impact of individual citizens is of no consequence or cannot affect the social order. Nor is the are any reason to believe organizations of being more responsible than citizens. However, since we have always been biased in the favor of those with property (and more of it), laws and norms see helping people as fool-hardy and socialist. But people (at least in currently-existing society) are for-profit too, like the paper says. And in aggregate, both idealogically and economically speaking, make more sense for the State to care about.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

Not necessarily by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun Jul 13, 2008 at 09:15:55 PM EST
The State can totally affect how much people value their future, it just chooses not to.
One of the key findings of neuroeconomics is that people discount future values more than is rational. In particular, the limbic system seems to overpower the analytic system of other parts of the brain.

The State can change the incentives that the analytic system would consider. But that doesn't help much if the analytic system is being overridden by the limbic system. In the case of violence that seems pretty likely.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
But that wasn't my point by infinitera (2.00 / 0) #7 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 05:51:24 AM EST
The discount rate is affected by present conditions impacting the value of future welfare; I'm not saying the State should work on incentives, I'm saying the State needs to work on present conditions that lead to the discounting.

Again, it's about stability. Not for investors of capital, but for people's investment into their own lives. Why bother if it sucks now, and will continue to suck - at least the payoff from crime is very high. Like the paper says: "large changes in the price of crime do not affect criminal behavior because the benefits of crime far exceed the costs."

One reason the benefits are so high is essentially having nothing to lose. That's the thing that has to be addressed systematically.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
Um by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 09:53:35 AM EST
The discount rate is affected by present conditions impacting the value of future welfare
This statement doesn't seem to make sense to me.

Let's suppose that a value of x dollars today is considered equivalent to y dollars at a point n years in the future. Assuming that the discount rate is constant r, this would mean: x = (r^n ) y

You seem to be suggesting that the discount rate r must be dependent on "present conditions" x. But we already have y as a variable in the equation. So that doesn't make sense unless y is somehow fixed, but there's nothing fixing it.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
When did the Times by jxg (4.00 / 1) #2 Sun Jul 13, 2008 at 02:38:02 PM EST
start using lazy Britishisms like "Nafta"?

Going down the sewer.

Could be worse by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #4 Sun Jul 13, 2008 at 09:19:14 PM EST
At least the New York Times doesn't have a "POST TO FARK" button...
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Consequences of crime etc. by Herring (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 12:45:02 AM EST
There was someone on the Today Programme last week talking about the penalties for knife carrying. Her point was that 99% of those carrying knives were doing so entirely for self defences, only 1% of the carriers intended to use them. Ignoring the shortage of data to back this up, it doesn't sound totally implausible. This implies that most of the people who the police catch carrying knives are "innocent" - or at least not looking actively to cause harm. It also leaves these people with a choice: are you more afraid of being stabbed because you can't defend yourself or of being arrested for carrying a knife?

All the stats may indicate that those carrying a weapon are more likely to be victims, but people are notoriously bad at risk. If people think that carrying a knife will make them safer, then they will. And taking them to see knife crime vicitims in hospital (another fuckwitted goverment idea) might not have the intended effect.

So, anyway, I suspect that whatever you do with the penalties for knife carrying, the fear of dying is probably stronger.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

Self defence. by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 07:24:53 AM EST
People who are carrying self defence against knives normally look a bit stupid.

Because they're wearing a stab proof vest.

That said, what kind of dork would wear a stab proof vest when they're out of a night?

[ Parent ]
a vest? by lm (2.00 / 0) #12 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 03:58:10 AM EST
My preferred defensive measure against knives is an armored codpiece.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
I've never seen. by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #13 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:26:21 AM EST
Any news reports of people getting their nuts cut off. Well, one.

[ Parent ]
People and risk... by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #6 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 01:59:45 AM EST
I'd recommend "The Black Swan" by Nicholas Taleb.  It has a really good chapter on why people are generally rubbish at risk management.

i'd thought by LilFlightTest (4.00 / 1) #10 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 02:06:13 PM EST
it was one week for every month.
if de-virgination results in me being able to birth hammerhead sharks, SIGN ME UP!!! --misslake
That was anonimouse. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #11 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 03:55:29 PM EST
Go back to January/February of this year to find it. Maybe March.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Sand and Nutmeg | 13 comments (13 topical, 0 hidden)