Archive for Economy

SuperFreakonomics

Posted in Book Reviews, Commentary, Economy with tags , , on October 3, 2009 by Bradley Hall

SFlarge

I saw Steven Levitt give a lecture about what would be in the next book in the Freakonomics series at the University of North Florida last October. I had no idea it would be nearly a year before that book, SuperFreakonomics.

After the lecture I tried to approach Mr. Levitt and say something like, “That was a great lecture, would you mind autographing my copy of Freakonomics?” But instead, what I said was more of a mumble followed by him autographing my book. He commented that he’d never seen a large print edition before. In the middle of my mumbling, I must have told him my name, as on the inside cover it now reads, “To Bradley, Enjoy; Steven Levitt”

Enjoy what, I don’t know. I enjoyed Freakonomics, his lecture, and knew I would enjoy the sequel as well.

The only part of his lecture I can recall concerned Allie, a prostitute who made $500 per hour and only worked 15 hours per week. Ostensibly, she enjoyed her work. She’s currently going to college to be an economist.

I loved the original Freakonomics years ago and was devoutly looking forward to this installment with bated breath.

Is it worth the wait?

Yes.

Once you’re past the first few pages it doesn’t feel like a sequel. It feels like the next chapter of Freakonomics and progresses from there. I particularly enjoyed the sections on drunk driving vs. drunk walking and the “pollution problem” that plagued New York City at the turn of the 20th century. Of course, a story about a group of capuchin monkeys had me and everyone I read it to rolling in the aisles with laughter.

That’s not to say this is a funny book, it’s quite serious in its subject matter, it’s just that some of the results Mr. Levitt and co. find are so ridiculous that you HAVE to laugh at the outcome.

Even if you’re not an economist (some would say, especially if you’re not an economist) you will love this book. It typically takes me a week to read a book of this size, yet, even with a job, I somehow managed to finish it off in less than a single day. That’s 256 pages of book tackled in mere hours.

SuperFreakonomics at Harper Collins website.

China bans gold farming

Posted in Government, Piracy with tags , , , , on June 30, 2009 by Bradley Hall

Gold, gil, republic credits, whatever the currency is in your Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, odds are you’ve come across gold farmers.

Gold farmers are typically those characters who have a “board smash” name like “XXyyzzz” and do nothing but fish, or fight rare monsters, or something else that generates a ton of in-game currency. These people then sell the gold they obtain via their playing to other players. Of course, people often sell their gold to the gold farmers as well.

In ever MMO I’ve ever played, this was against the terms of service as it made the game unfair to those who did not have buckets of real world money to use to buy in-game money so they could purchase things like the Lizard Harness Set +1.

The majority of the farmers are in Asia, mostly Korea. However, according to Information Week, China has banned gold farming.

“Since 2007, virtual money trading has drawn official attention, with the government demanding tighter controls as such trading became an avenue for gambling and illicit trade.

Under the new rules, using virtual money for gambling will be punished by public security authorities, and minors may not buy virtual money.

The Ministry of Culture also vowed to step up supervision on money laundering via virtual credits and other illegal online activities.” – From the press release issued by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

Information week article

Ministry of Commerce press release.

Copyright Filtering

Posted in Commentary, Intellectual Property, music with tags , , , , , , on February 10, 2009 by Bradley Hall

From Public Knowledge:

Hollywood’s lobbyists are running all over the Hill to sneak in a copyright filtering provision into the stimulus package. The amendment allow ISPs to “deter” child pornography and copyright infringement through network management techniques. The amendment is very, very controversial for a couple of reasons:

1. First, infringement can’t be found through “network management” techniques. There are legal uses for copyrighted works even without permission of the owner.

2. Second, it would require Internet companies to examine every bit of information everyone puts on the Web in order to find those allegedly infringing works, without a hint of probable cause. That would be a massive invasion of privacy, done at the request of one industry, violating the rights of everyone who is online.

(my words now below)

If this were to go through, it would be a grave miscarriage of justice. I understand that illegally downloading and sharing music and movies isn’t good for the economy, but treating everyone like a criminal and blindly going through everyone’s data is not the answer.

The Public Knowledge website has more information on who to fax and email to have this clause removed.

Public Knowledge Site.

It’s hard to live on half a million

Posted in Commentary, Economy, Government with tags , , on February 9, 2009 by Bradley Hall

Obama recently stated that he wanted to curb salaries of executives of receiving federal bailout money to a maximum of $500,000.

Of course, everyone balked. Bankers said it as too low, the general public said it was too high.

The New York Times recently released an article on the 6th detailing how a New York banker could use the $500,000 in an attempt to live their former lifestyle.

They’d have to take their kids out of private school, do without their driver and their trainer, among other things.

NYT article.

Rumble in Davos

Posted in Economy, Government with tags , on January 28, 2009 by Bradley Hall

Vladimir Putin, former president of the Russian Federation and current Russian Prime Minister delivered a speech at the opening of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

After the speech, he asked if anyone had questions. Michael Dell, of Dell Computer fame, asked Mr. Putin if there was any way he could help expand IT in Russia.

Putin, obviously offended, said “We are not invalids.” He went on to talk about how Russian scientists are renowned for their software, not their hardware. When I read that, Tetris was all I could think of.

Link to full article on CNN.

Electronic Gaming Monthly: An Obituary

Posted in Commentary, Economy with tags , on January 6, 2009 by Bradley Hall

While this doesn’t have much to do with cyberlaw and such on the surface is the fact that Electronic Gaming Monthly is no more. Long the standard bearer in US video game journalism, EGM was a force to be reckoned with for most of its 20 year run.

EGM was founded by Steve Harris in 1989 and the magazine quickly became one of the top selling magazines for video game information. EGM was a magazine for all systems, and all levels of players and readers.

Competitors came and went, each offering something different in addition to video game news and reviews, each one disappeared.

When the Internet started gaining momentum in the late 1990s and early 2000s, EGM was still there, struggling, but there. Videogame-centric websites started popping up offering tips, reviews, and such for free. EGM’s empire began to crumble.

In 2003, Ziff Davis (former owners of EGM) launched 1up.com as an online supplement to the magazine. This could be seen as the beginning of the end of EGM.

Today, Ziff Davis sold 1up.com to the Hearst Corporation, and since most of EGMs content derived from that website, Ziff Davis saw fit to cease publication of Electronic Gaming Monthly.

EGM leaves behind scores of saddened fans.

Full story on Kotaku.

…and I feel fine

Posted in Commentary, Economy with tags , on January 4, 2009 by Bradley Hall

Yesterday in the New York Times, Michael Lewis and David Einhorn wrote an Op-Ed entitled “The End of the Financial World as We Know It.”

They talk about how most of the economists in the world were taught in the US and that several companies knew of Madoff before he was exposed as running the largest Ponzi scheme ever. Some of the people who worked to expose him knew of his scheme years before he was finally exposed.

“Rather than expose financial risk, [large investment banks] systematically disguised it.”

I’m reading this article and I can’t believe some of the practices that have been going on in Wall Street. From the looks of things, the SEC fell asleep at the wheel sometime after 1988.

NYT Op-Ed