Clearing out my closet, part I


There is a large number of posts I started writing that never made it to this blog, either because I lost interest mid-way, or discovered I didn't really have anything interesting to say, or simply never found the time to complete. I'm clearing out my draft posts, so here are some snippets:

The Economics of Orgasm: "This paper models love-making as a signaling game. In the act of love-making, man and woman send each other possibly deceptive signals about their true state of ecstasy. Each has a prior belief about the other's state of ecstasy. These prior beliefs are associated with the other's sexual response capacity..."

Or if that is not enough for you: "In this paper, love is formally defined as a mixture of altruism and possessiveness. Love is shown to alter the man and the woman's payoff functions in a way that increases the equilibrium probability of faking, but more so for the woman than for the man."

And some of the results: 72 percent of women admit to having faked it in their current or most recent relationship, for men the number is 26 percent; you are more likely to fake an orgasm if you are in love; and the more education you have, the more likely you are to fake orgasm.

The politics of Eurovision: What the academic literature has to say about bloc-voting in the annual European kitsch-fest.

The meaning of Fu*k: I covered most of what I had to say on the topic here.

Organ donation: Politics and statistics on the go: BBC News has the story, which is where the funny statistics and inferences lie. Here's the politics:

Everyone should be seen as a potential organ donor on their death unless they expressly request not to be, England's chief medical officer says. Sir Liam Donaldson wants a system of "presumed consent" to be introduced in England to tackle organ shortages.

The Tories opposed the move, saying it would be better to increase the number of people on the donation register. Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: "The state does not own our bodies or have a right to take organs after death."

I found the arguments to be plain silly. First of all, a dead person owns nothing - so this is really an issue about the rights of the family vs the rights of society as a whole. And secondly, this has nothing to do with 'who owns the dead person's body': you can always say you do not want to donate your organs when you die. The whole point is simply to set the default action for people who are indifferent either way in such a way so as to maximise societal welfare; a system of 'presumed consent' where it is easy to remove your name from the register constitutes a clear Pareto improvement. Such arrangements are naturally, and uncontroversially, already in place regarding all the other assets of a dead person: if someone owns a house and there are no designated heirs or family, we do not burn the house down: ownership passes on to the state (that is all of us!)

The death of the telecoms industry: The marginal cost of communicating over long (and not-so-long) distances has been falling continuously since the invention of the phone; in fact, it is converging to zero. With relatively limited scope for improving 'quality' and with regulators bound to stamp out anti-competitive practices in the (very) long run, telecommunications will soon become a normal-profits affair. Why in so-one lamenting the imminent loss of Vodafone and the other telecoms giants?

Africans are saving a higher percentage of their incomes than Americans are (so much for the "poverty trap" of being "too poor to save" endlessly repeated in aid reports). This is William Easterly, and what a sensational statement to make; shame it's completely meaningless.

Comment on Monster: At the start of the movie, Aileen (Charlize Theron), a prostitute, is contemplating suicide after performing oral sex on a client; however, she ends up postponing taking her life because it would have meant she had 'sucked this guy for free'. While it would seem like there's something to be said about the irrelevance of sunk costs here, I believe that Aileen's decision can still be shown to be rational using a plausible utility function and budget constraint.

The Internation Herald Tribune commits the lump of labour fallacy: Unemployment is high among non- university graduates, as well. Prolonging employment for older workers would make this predicament worse, possibly with volatile consequences. Beware of French bearing policy advice.

If any readers are interested in seeing any of the above topics covered in more detail, just post a comment or email me and I'll be happy to oblige.

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous Says:

    On donation, regarding your point on inheritance of (non-organ) assets in cases where an inheritee hasn't been specified, I think in most cases there are default family recipients rather than the state receiving unallocated estates. Before you ask, I don't know how that works for individuals with no family.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I'd like to see the Monster post drawn up fully. Still just sounds like a sunk cost to me (and irrationality on the part of an ugly prostitute).

    Whilst on the subject of Monster, why is it that any time someone makes themselves less attractive for a movie they always get widespread acclaim? If they'd just found someone ugly to play the part instead of Charlize Theron under lots of make-up, Hollywood could have saved themselves an Oscar to give to someone pretending to be handicapped (the other sure-fire Oscar winner).

  3. datacharmer Says:

    There are default family recipients indeed; it is in the absence of any family that the assets' ownership passes on to the state. You are right I may have confused the issue a bit; my point was that this is really an issue about the rights of family vis-a-vis those of society, and the dead person really does not come into it at all. Furthermore, in the case of organ donation when the deceased has not explicitly expressed a preference one way or another, society would benefit immensely by the introduction of a system of presumed consent.


    You have a point on the subject of the Oscars; I will cover this as well as Monster soon.

  4. Anonymous Says:

     

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