Archive for June 28th, 2009

The Most You Ever Lost on a Coin Toss: The Sense in Senseless Violence


“The only morality in a cruel world is chance. Unbiased. Unprejudiced. Fair.”

—Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight





Carla Jean: The coin don’t have no say. It’s just you.

Anton Chigurh: Well, I got here the same way the coin did.

No Country For Old Men





There has been a rash of coin-flipping killers in the movies recently—well, only two, but they are from two of the most important and memorable movies of the last decade.

Both titles are in IMDb’s ranking of the top 50 titles of this decade, with The Dark Knight in the top spot—granted the list is severely flawed (Up is No. 2 and Gran Torino is actually on the list), but it is a clear indication that these films had resonance.

The cultural importance of DK and NC is heightened even more when we consider the vacuum in culturally important movies over the last five years. On IMDb, which tends to be incredibly present-biased, most of this decade’s top films come from its first half. Even among the more recent ones, three are Pixar and six are foreign (not that these facts make the films bad or insignificant, just not the types of pictures that resonate with the culture at large), and I don’t think Star Trek or The Hangover will last long on the list. Continue reading

Thoughts on Creating Your Own Economy

Tyler Cowen refers us to his fascinating preview article of his upcoming book, Create Your Own Economy. In the article, he makes the following arguments:

  1. The economic concept of “production” has changed: More and more production is occurring internally, inside one’s mind, rather than in factories. The combination of one’s entries and work on different social networking tools (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace) results in production of internal “joy, emotion and suspense.” Accordingly, GDP tells us less about human well-being than it previously did.
  2. Since many of these productive web activities are free, they don’t generate jobs and appear to hurt the traditional economy. The fact that only 50 people work for Twitter is an example of this.
  3. Despite this, there is a bright side. Individuals get what Cowen calls a “human capital dividend” by reallocating time in the “free sector” and freeing former manufacturers and intermediaries to do more productive work.
  4. The other part of the “human capital dividend” is that people are A) becoming more socially connected with diverse groups of people and B) better able to keep track of long-term interests and stories because of the ease and low-cost of keeping track with the resources of the Internet. Rather than the Internet causing us to become increasingly impatient, it causes us to develop and maintain long-term interests and connections.

Continue reading