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I\'m Not A Utilitarian, But I Play One On TV

I missed out on the whole IUC debate here at Catallarchy, and it looks like most of the stuff I would have wanted to say has already been said by others.

The title of this post is blatently plagiarized from the title David Schmidtz gave to one of his rejoinders in the March 2006 edition of Cato Unbound, "When Does Inequality Matter?" Read more »

Darwin Ate My Homework

David Brooks had an interesting op-ed in Sunday's New York Times and republished in my local paper's op-ed section. I'd love to link to it directly, but the New York Times has apparently decided to hide a good chunk of their content from anyone who isn't a paying subscriber. So, instead, here's a link to the "Pearl Jam Message Pit," the only search engine result I could find that includes the full text of the article. For those too lazy to read the article there, here is the jist of it: Read more »

Up In Smoke

John Lopez over at No Treason writes, Read more »

I, For One, Welcome Our New Left-Libertarian Overlords

Pace Jonathan, I am emphatically for political alliances/snogfests between libertarians and lefties (though I do make some notable exceptions for rightwing snogfests involving Heritage intern coordinators who look like Daphne Blake). Read more »

Friends Don\'t Let Friends Trade Value For Value?

In the course of a discussion regarding whether or not a large gaming community should officially sanction trading between its members, I noticed something curious that is in no way exclusive to this particular community. Many people seem to believe that when a friend sells something to another friend, it is somehow preferable, or more "friendly," if the seller sells the good for less than market value. Read more »

Cato Unbound

The new issue of Cato Unbound is out: Read more »

Efficiency: Positive or Normative?

Rad Geek asks an important and interesting question in a comment thread below: is efficiency a positive or normative term?

Let's first define our terms. Efficiency, according to economist Paul Heyne, is Read more »

Taking Games Seriously

David Sirlin is an interesting guy. A professional game designer, Sirlin writes short, witty essays on game design and high-level competitive play. Sirlin prefers and writes about an unusual style of play, a style that shouldn't really be called play at all; it isn't relaxing and the process itself isn't always fun. Sirlin plays games to win them, period. Read more »

Re: Suicidal Externalities

If there's one thing I learned this past summer from Will Wilkinson and Glen Whitman, it's that at the very first mention of externalities, think Ronald Coase. Read more »

Fill In The Blank Out

John T. Kennedy has revived the morality debate we seem to have every few months, and since I'm called out by name as a representative of the opposing side, I figure I might as well jump back in. Read more »

Game Riddles

While on the subject of riddles, here are two economic puzzles about video games that have me perplexed:

Why is there a shortage of Xbox 360s?

Neither the Slate article nor the Volokh discussion thread fully satisfy me. Tim Harford dismisses the obvious answer: Read more »

Relpats is the starting point for a multi-part online riddle. The author is apparently a 16-year-old computer geek, and his identity has become intertwined with the riddle itself.

Each page contains clues for solving the next, and answers are submitted by adding a new directory to the url. So page two will look like while page three will look like and so on. Read more »

Idiot Anti-Wal-Mart Filmmaker Gets pWN3D!

John Tierney provides the pwnage.

[Hat tip via The Balko]

The film, ''Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price,'' focuses on H & H Hardware, a family-owned business in this small town in northeastern Ohio. Its anguished owner explains that he needs a loan to survive, but complains that the bank has refused him because Wal-Mart's pending arrival has depressed the value of his property. [...]

Serenity: Joss Whedon\'s Diatribe Against Consequentialism

While I'm on the topic of Kant, this seems like as good a time as any to give my long overdue review of Serenity.

Enough has been said on this blog in praise of Firefly, and I don't really have anything interesting to say further about that. It's a good movie. Go see it. There, finished.

There's a line in the self-referential Stephen King movie, Secret Window, that nicely describes what's wrong with Serenity.

You know, the only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story, the ending. And this one is very good. This one's perfect.

Well, that's overstating it. The ending to a story doesn't have to be perfect. And Secret Window's ending certainly wasn't. But the ending does have to be decent. Believable. That's the only thing that matters. The ending is fragile. You can screw up anywhere else in the story, but if you screw up the ending, that's what everyone remembers, and it leaves the audience with a sense of lacking, a bad taste in our collective mouths - a bad taste especially pronounced if the rest of the story was really good. Like a frustrating case of blue balls, the worst thing you can do as a writer is screw up the ending of an otherwise decent movie and leave the audience wanting...something, anything, different than what you've given them.

And so it is with Serenity. The television series was not known for cheerful cheesiness or happy endings or sudden changes of heart. And the movie itself was willing to kill off two major characters. So why did Whedon think it would be a good idea to have The Operative realize the error of his ways at the last possible instant, just in time to help save the day? Read more »