Puzzle Art

The beautiful jigsaw puzzles featured in the video below are inspired by the formation of agates, a colorful banded stone, and are available for purchase here. Each particular puzzle is unique, emerging from a computer simulation designed to create random variations in the overall shape and in the individual pieces of each puzzle. Hat tip: @pickover.

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Cowen’s Capitalist Manifesto

Via SSRN, I have posted my review of Tyler Cowen’s beautiful love letter to big business here. The abstract of my review is below:

“In 1848, two obscure German philosophers, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, published a revolutionary pamphlet called ‘The Manifesto of the Communist Party.’ The Communist Manifesto, destined to become one of the most influential works of political philosophy of all time, began with these famous words: ‘A spectre is haunting Europe–the spectre of communism….’ Now, almost two centuries later, someone has finally chased down this haunting and seductive spectre and attempted to bottle her up for good. That someone is Tyler Cowen. In brief, Cowen has just published a kind of ‘Capitalist Manifesto,’ one that is even more intoxicating and liberating than Marx and Engel’s original screed. Far from the source of all things evil, Cowen explains why big business should be praised.”

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Team Joe or Team Carole?

Update (June 20): As of noon today, almost 60% of the class has participated in the survey. “Team Joe” has garnered 134 votes, while “Team Carole” has obtained 93 votes! The remaining nine votes are abstentions.

prior probability

To relieve some of the stress and anxiety of finals, I have just posted to the homepage of my “tiger law” survey course the following fun survey question: Now that the semester is almost over, are you “Team Joe” or “Team Carole”?

FYI: I will describe the final project in my next post and announce the results of our end-of-semester survey over the weekend.

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The color of money

In addition to green, various shades of grey, yellow, and blue are also quite popular! As a token of my appreciation, I am bringing this beautiful “visual guide to banknotes around the world” by Salman Haqqi to your attention. Among other things, this compendious report contains a visualization of 157 national currencies–from the Afghan Afghani to the Zambian Kwacha–featuring the dominant color of each currency’s £20 banknote or its equivalent. Below is a fragment from Mr Haqqi’s comprehensive compendium of colors:

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In addition, check out the following excerpts from Mr Haqqi’s beautiful report, summarizing his findings:

Our analysis revealed the most common colour used on banknotes is in fact green, with currencies including the aforementioned US Dollar, as well as the Swedish Krona and Uruguayan Peso all featuring various shades.

When it comes to the famous people featured on banknotes, their occupations vary greatly depending on the currency and value of note they appear on. However, our analysis of 1,383 banknotes featuring a person revealed 547 political figures, 320 royals and 153 writers. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, Queen Elizabeth II is the most popular figure on banknotes, having featured on 45 different note designs across 11 countries.)

Kudos to Mr Haqqi and his staff. (Hat tip: The Amazing Tyler Cowen.)

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Defund the legislatures?

Via Arnold Kling: “From a liberty-coercion perspective, [the slogan ‘defund the police’ is] a misdirected effort. Excess coercion comes from unnecessary laws and unaccountable enforcement. For libertarians, reform would start with having fewer laws. Those who enforce the laws should be accountable for acting within the law themselves.” I could not agree more!

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PSA: Let’s make Juneteenth a national holiday

What is “Juneteenth”? Via Kottke, here is a helpful introduction. According to Wikipedia, citing this excellent essay by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Juneteenth originally began as an unofficial commemoration of a military order (issued on 19 June 1865 by Union General Gordon Granger) proclaiming that all enslaved persons in the State of Texas were now free. In other words, Juneteenth could also be called Freedom Day! Whatever its origins, let’s make Juneteenth a national holiday. (Postscript: My colleague and friend Alex Tabarrok agrees! For my part, I would be more than happy to give up Labor Day or Columbus Day in exchange for Freedom Day!)

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Postcards from Orlando

This gallery contains 6 photos.

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The NBA snitch hotline is a terrible idea

As you may have heard by now, the NBA recently released a 113-page manual in anticipation of the resumption of the 2019-20 season. (Check out this summary of the manual by Ben Cohen for The Wall Street Journal.) The manual contains a whole host of health and safety protocols that basketball players (and coaches, I presume) must follow when the season resumes in Orlando, Florida next month. Among other things, the NBA is setting up a “snitch hotline” to allow anyone to anonymously report a player or coach who is breaking the guidelines. So, who will be the first player to call the new NBA snitch hotline? According to my fellow Gaucho Jim Rome (both of us went to UCSB in the 80s), it will be Chris Paul–check out Rome’s “hot take” below:

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Source: jimrome.com

In all seriousness, this anonymous snitch hotline is a terrible idea. Instead of building trust, the mere existence of this hotline will erode it. If I were the NBA Commissioner, I would allow each team to decide for itself how it will enforce the health and safety rules. After all, the possibility of losing an infected player for two weeks should be a sufficient incentive for each team to follow the guidelines. In any case, I don’t expect a player to “snitch” on a fellow player–even a player on a competing team, let alone a teammate–but what about hotel staff, NBA employees, and other potential officious intermeddlers? 

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Tiger King Map

The closing credits of the popular Netflix docuseries “Tiger King” states that there are between 5,000 to 10,000 privately-owned tigers in the United States. But where do all of those privately-owned captive tigers live? Check out the screenshot below from “Tiger King” purporting to show the distribution of big cat owners and private roadside zoos in the United States. Two questions, however, leap out at me from a simple inspection of this map. One is, why are there so many big cat owners in the State of Florida? The other question is, how many tigers are represented by each of the red headpins on the map? That is, it would be nice if the size of each pinhead were proportional to the number of tigers housed in that location.

A screenshot of a big cat exhibtor map seen in “Tiger King.”Postscript: Earlier this week, my teaching assistants and I had the honor of speaking via Zoom with Harold Baskin, the advisory board chairman of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. Mr Baskin gave generously of his time, patiently answering all of our questions. Among many other things, we discussed The Big Cat Public Safety Act. This bill (H.R. 1380), which is currently pending before the Congress, would prohibit the private ownership of big cats. One of the reasons animal rights groups like PETA, the WWF, and Big Cat Rescue support this bill is because of the large number of roadside zoos across the U.S. housing big cats. 

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The End

Throughout my six-week survey course in business law I have asked my students to complete a wide variety of assignments. By way of example, first they had to watch “Tiger King” during Week 1 of the course and write up a short essay (500 words) describing the most salient ethical or legal issues in the docuseries. In addition, students were assigned a series of open-book quizzes, short discussion posts, and peer reviews during Week 2 through Week 5 of the course (one quiz, one discussion post, and one peer review per module, per week).

Now, for the last week of the course (Week 6), I have a assigned a comprehensive Final Project (see details below). In place of a final exam, I prefer to assign a take-home research report–the ominous sounding “Final Project”–because, as I explain further below, I want my students to start thinking about their career prospects, and I also want them to see the “big picture” of law and ethics instead of cramming for an exam. In summary, the Final Project is the last graded assignment of the course and is worth 1/3 of one’s final grade. (The weekly quizzes and discussion posts, combined, are worth the other 2/3 of one’s grade.) The report itself consists of eight parts, and each part is equally weighted as follows: Continue reading

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