Econstudentlog

Kramnik and Anand takes first places at Amber

“As usual” – one might say – Anand dominated the rapid tournament and ended ahead of the rest. The world champion in turn dominated the blind part, just as Morozevich did last year, and as his rapid performance was also well above average Kramnik ended up a convincing combined tournament winner two points ahead of Anand:

Overall score
:
1. Kramnik: 15.5
2. Anand: 13.5
3. Ivanchuk: 13
4-5. Aronian, Svidler: 12
6-7. Gelfand, Morozevich: 11.5
8-9. Carlsen, Leko: 10.5
10. Radjabov: 9.0
11-12. Van Wely, Vallejo Pons: 6.5

Rapid:
1. Anand: 8.5
2-5. Carlsen, Ivanchuk, Kramnik, Leko: 6.5
6. Aronian: 6.0
7. Svidler: 5.5
8-9. Gelfand, Morozevich: 4.5
10-11. Radjabov, Vallejo Pons: 4.0
12. Van Wely: 3.5

Archived games, information, photos ect. to be found here.

March 30, 2007 Posted by | Chess | Leave a comment

Quote of the day

“On voting day, remember: Vote Early, Vote Often”

Found here, comment #23.

March 28, 2007 Posted by | quotes | Leave a comment

Youtube fun – simul. edition

HT: Susan Polgar.

March 26, 2007 Posted by | Chess | Leave a comment

Memorable quotes – religious edition

Some people badly need to be ill for their own sake

There is quite a lot of evidence anyway of God’s existence, and too much might not be good for us

Proof of God’s existence: “A plane crashed killing 143 passengers and crew. But one child survived with only their-degree burns. Therefore God exists.”

All three quotes are from Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion. The first two are credited Richard Swinburne, an Oxford theologian. The third is of unknown origin to me, as the link provided by Dawkins in the book is unfortunately broken (allthough I can guess that he became aware of it through this website).

Update:

I have renamed the post.

March 24, 2007 Posted by | religion | Leave a comment

Quote of the day

Can we reasonably infer that experts who do not reveal their disagreements have an unappealing track record, know less than they pretend, or treat the public like children?”

That is from Robin Hanson’s latest post. I wonder if he had any particular subject in mind when he wrote this?

March 23, 2007 Posted by | global warming, overcomingbias | Leave a comment

What I’ve been reading…

Last year I went to London for a week in August. The weather was wonderful and as my hotel was quite close to Hyde Park, I must admit that I spent more than one day just lying in the sun reading.

One of the things I intended on reading during my stay was “1914-1918, The History Of The First World War”, by David Stevenson. I had for some time wanted to get a closer look at The First World War, and Stevenson’s book was supposed to be a good place to start. Also, I knew the book could be bought at half price in the UK – books are very cheap in London – (it only cost £9.99, and shipping is always prohibitedly expensive), so I purchased it in The Imperial War Museum during my stay.

However, as I had already begun reading Jung Chang’s “Wild Swans” at that time, I just couldn’t put this book down (incidentally, my hotel was only about 6-700 yards from the Notting Hill Gate Station, which meant that during that week I probably wasn’t living more than a kilometer or two away from Chang’s home address) and a week later I had finished this and begun reading “Harvest of Sorrow”, by Robert Conquest, as well as “A briefer history of time”, by Stephen Hawking. The latter was a little bit of a disappointment, because I had already read the original Brief History and I found that not much new was added. Chang and Conquest are very much recommendable though.

So for the last six months, Stevenson have done nothing but increased my unread/read ratio of books, thus it has increased my risk of becoming a book hoarder. Now I’ve put an end to that – and a good thing too that I finally got around to reading it. The book is very well-documented, rich in details and requires only a minimum of, if any, background knowledge. The book consists of 500 pages that describes the war itself, and of a hundred pages describing the post-war situation and the developments leading up to the Second World War. The bibliography, notes and index are altogether almost 150 pages long. The book has quite a few very detailed maps as well, making the strategic aspects of the war relatively easy to understand for the laymen as well.

The main part of book, that on the war itself, with all it’s different angles and subjects, is very good. However, the last part of the book, the one with the post-war description, was a little bit of a disappointment. It is by far the weakest part of the book, and it could have been done better – especially when it comes to the developments in Russia. Stevenson correctly describes how Russia was “not part of the good company” until at least the mid-thirties, where France started to get really worried about Hitler’s intentions. He also describes a few of the reasons why France (and especially GB) preferred to look west rather than east for potential military aid. What he does not mention, is that the development towards legitimizing the Stalin regime could be considered quite paradoxal, as it would happen at a time where this very regime was arguably far worse and more repressive than the German counterpart, due to the mass killings of peasants in the Ukraine and Soviet Central Asia during the dekulakization in the early 30’es (costing as many (civilian) lives as the total number of war deads on the allied side during the Great War). The Soviet repression is simply not mentioned at all.

Conquest’s point (from The Harvest of Sorrow) that the terror-famine has been largely forgotten or neglected by historians, Stevenson’s work unfortunately is a good example of – and this omission is by far my biggest problem with the book. The Russian repression during the 30’es – both the dekulakization and the show trials later on – was a very important element in the fast German advance on the eastern front in -41 and -42, as well as an important diplomatic issue that made cooperation and coordination between France and Russia difficult – and arguably also cooperation between Stalin and Hitler easier. In short, it made a German-initiated war far more likely. Even if the mass killings didn’t deserve to be mentioned on their own merit, there were good reasons to include them in an analysis linking the First and Second World War together, as they could be considered a consequense of the Russian collapse and the resulting communist takeover that had direct and obvious consequenses wrt. the way the Second War developed.

March 20, 2007 Posted by | books, history | Leave a comment

Tyler Cowen on boycotts

Sometimes boycotts are motivated by the wish to hurt other people — the target of the boycott – rather than by desires to help some oppressed group. Or punishing a group’s critics may be the best way to help that group. Then boycotts make more instrumental sense, especially if the target of your hate has a declining MC curve, as would a movie star or music star with an easily reproducible product. There is less point in boycotting someone in a relatively competitive industry, who is earning little on selling extra units of the product.”

A boycott also might be preferable to sending money if your action has a snowball effect on the behavior of others, but that will not be the general case. In fact boycotts often give more publicity to the person or cause you are trying to oppose. “You opposing X” is not, in the eyes of the world, always a negative signal about X.

The rest is here.

Now, it’s been a little more than a year since the last time I bought Arla-milk in the supermarket. As for the first part of the quotation, I definitely belong to this category – my intentions with initiating the boycott were simply to hurt Arla’s business as much as possible. I don’t want to trade with people like them, and I don’t want them in the marketplace.

That said; when it comes to Cowen’s post two more things to consider:

1) I’d say most people don’t really care all that much if the personal boycott on net harms the company in question or not. Fair-trade goods, with the opposite signs attached, belong to this category as well. Boycotts and similar emotional stances in the marketplace are largely driven by emotions rather than rationality. By intentions rather than consequenses. Cowen can point out all the rationality-inspired consequentialist arguments against these ‘moral stances’ he wants, I will still feel good about not buying anything from those bastards – and what do I care if some non-observed transmission mechanism neutralizes the actual intended effect of my purchasing behaviour? My decision to boycott is already invisible when you look at the big picture – if Arla’s folks look at the data, my purchasing decisions will be indistinguishable from random noise anyway. Point is, if you already have chosen, or you are about to choose to boycott something, you are not likely to change your mind because of a consequentialist argument that pushes the marginal effect of the (potential) boycott a little ‘to the left or right’. So summarizing the rational economic pros and cons is not likely to change all that much out here in the real world. You might be able to use the analysis ex post to estimate how inefficient the boycotts are, but what would you do with the results?

2) Even so, boycotts are sometimes more effective than TC would have us believe because of omitted variables in the analysis. The alternative to not buying a product from a company with a large degree of market power is not necessarily not to buy anything at all. Cowen knows this, but he should have included this fact in the blogpost. If you buy the competitor’s products this hurts the monopolist two-fold: His own revenue goes down due to lower sales, and his margin shrinks due to increased competition.
I like to think that this is what I have been doing for the last year. If not – well, a) I like to know when I’m wrong about something of course, but b) I doubt I would regret the boycott even if the consequenses were different from what I had intended them to be.

March 13, 2007 Posted by | economics, personal | 4 Comments

Rewriting history

Megan, apparently now also blogging at instapundit, made me aware of this. Creepy…

An excerpt:

One of the great benefits of experimental research is that, in principle, we can repeat the experiment and generate a fresh set of data. While this is impossible for many questions in social science, at a minimum one would hope that we could replicate our original results using the same dataset. As many students in Gov 2001 can tell you, however, social science often fails to clear even that low bar.

Of course, even this type of replication is impossible if someone else has changed the dataset since the original analysis was conducted. But that would never happen, right?

Guess again…

March 12, 2007 Posted by | econometrics | Leave a comment

Nürnberginterviewene

Jeg færdiggjorde for nyligt Goldensohn/Gellately’s værk, og synes den fortjener et par ord med på vejen.

Bogen er en samling af interviews med anklagede og vidner fra Nürnbergprocessen foretaget af psykiateren Leon Goldensohn, redigeret af historikeren Robert Gellately og oversat af Lars Rosenkvist. Der er en del kilde- og metodemæssige problemer med bogen, både for så vidt angår den overordnede fremgangsmåde, strukturen samt dokumentation, men det er ikke dem jeg vil bruge tiden på her, og der henvises i stedet til denne gennemgang (et eller andet med linkene skaber problemer lige nu, så jeg har prøvet at fjerne de øvrige og placere linket til denne post nederst. Kritikken er at finde i 3. og 2. nederste spalte i linket), hvor hovedparten af disse problemer er skitseret.

Bogen er fascinerende læsning, og den illustrerer på glimrende vis hvilke mekanismer, de anklagede benyttede sig af for at undslippe skylden og det personlige ansvar. Moralsk stillingtagen og konfrontation, kombineret med løgn, manipulation og efterrationalisering, er gennemgående temaer i de mange interviews. Det bliver hen ad vejen klart, at de fleste af de anklagede selv i løbet af krigen har tumlet med det moralske fundament som lå til grund for deres handlinger, og på et principielt plan har været i tvivl om rigtigheden af deres egne gerninger – men at de har ignoreret den lille stemme inde i deres hoved, som sagde at det her er forkert, og at de stadig forsøger at holde stemmen væk, selvom det bliver sværere og sværere foreholdt konsekvenserne af deres passivitet og eftergivenhed. Hovedparten af Hitlers håndlangere var, bliver man efter at have læst bogen overbevist om, simpelthen svage individer, som gennem en blanding af opportunisme, fatalisme, eftergivenhed og frygt simpelthen ikke formåede at sige fra.

Hvor grænsen mellem løgn og sandhed går når det kommer til de svar, de interviewede leverer, er ikke altid klart ud fra bogen, bl.a. fordi notematerialet er mangelfuldt (
Alt i alt: 3,5 Uncle Sams ud af 5.

Linket: http://www.historie-online.dk/nyt/bogfeature/nuernberg.htm

March 8, 2007 Posted by | bøger | Leave a comment

Morelia-Linares 2007 (2)

The position after round 8:

1-2. Carlsen/Anand: 5
3. Ivanchuk: 4,5
4-5. Aronian/Svidler: 4
6-7. Topalov/Leko: 3,5
8. Morozevich: 2,5

As can be seen, little more than halfway through the tournament Carlsen is still in the lead, although now together with Anand with a 5/8 score. Mig didn’t see that one coming. Well, neither did I, but I certainly had higher hopes for him than Mig did. Many to-be strong GM’s have been notoriously underestimated during their teen-age years throughout history, and with a present rating of 2690, probably now about to cross the 2700-mark, Carlsen actually already is a very strong player, no matter what his age. Also, as this is a tournament, not a match, age and experience are less important factors than original and aggressive play in order to win.

Everything is still very open, the tournament is after all only just a little more than half way through – both Ivanchuk and Aronian or perhaps Svidler could end up first, however I think it is unlikely that Leko or Topalov will make it to the top. Topalov seems to me like he might have lost some self confidence after the WC-mess, how else does one for example explain his resignation in round 5?

As those who followed the previous link would have noticed: Henrik Carlsen, Magnus’ father, has a blog of his own. I’m not that big a fan of Carlsen, but I imagine those who are could somehow consider this the chess-fan-equivalent of the tabloids…

March 3, 2007 Posted by | Chess, random stuff | Leave a comment

   

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