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On his way to receive the Nobel, physicist Peter Higgs (of Higgs-Boson) was interviewed by the Grauniad. He said:
What should one make of this statement? Looking at Higgs’ description of his record at the time, it seems very clear that he would not have made it through the ranks now. Bad for Higgs. But is it bad for Science as some have concluded? The article suggests so. But, there is a gap in logic. It implies, for example, that were Newton to have succumbed to the plague, Calculus and the laws of motion would not be uncovered. This we know is false. The question of the best way to engineer a climate most conducive to research is not resolved by such reflections. It is not obvious that long periods of inactivity punctuated by bursts of magisterial insights is any better or worse than continued activity generating small insights that eventually cumulate into something larger.
Two public service announcements. The first about post-doc positions. The second about nominations for SIGecom dissertation awards.
Penn’s newly-launched Warren Center for Network and Data Sciences seeks nominations for 2014 Warren Postdoctoral Fellowships. Warren Fellow candidates should have research interests in the subjects supported by the center, which include but are not limited to network science (including the study of social, technological, economic, organizational and biological networks, as well as underlying foundational areas such as graph theory, game theory, mechanism design) and data science (including machine learning, statistics, data privacy and security). The ideal candidate will have a strongly interdisciplinary research agenda with a demonstrated track record, and would be nominated by faculty affiliates of the Warren Center in two or more Penn departments who will act as hosts, advisors and collaborators of the candidate.
Warren Postdoctoral Fellows will receive generous and competitive stipends and research support, and will participate in a vibrant and community of Warren Center faculty affiliates, postdocs and students. We expect to fund multiple Warren Fellows for the 2014-15 academic year. Fellowships are for a one-year period, extendable to two by mutual agreement.
SIGecom Doctoral Dissertation Award for dissertations defended in 2013. Nomination deadline end of February, 2014.
I think that today’s (Nov. 24, 2013) interim agreement in Geneva between the powers and Iran to “freeze” the advancement of Iran towards nuclear capability is another example of a culture-gap mutual mis-reading in bargaining – in particular the powers ascribing excess importance to the contracted-upon words as conveying their literal content, rather than viewing the meaning of the written agreement as only one thin layer of a complex and evolving communication and engagement between the parties.
At the same time, the agreement is in line with my suggestion here in the last paragraph of my post on Iran from two years ago:
- A potentially better strategy would be to encourage Iran to follow its own interest by transparently staying only on the brink of military nuclear capability, and at the same time to admit Iran as a de facto member of the “nuclear club”. If, then, Iran nevertheless prefers to curtail transparency and renounce international recognition of its power, it will not only suffer the consequences of undermining its own interests, but might ignite an escalatory pace in which it is likely to suffer much more.
This strategy has, of course, its pros and cons as any other classical brinkmanship.
The journal Econometrica is spelt as I just wrote. The journal Biometrika, however, has a `k’ in place of the letter `c’. Biometrika has it right, and Pearson its founder credits Edgeworth for this:
……like a good German he knew that the Greek `k’ is not a modern `c’, and, if any of you at any time wonder where the `k’ in Biometrika comes from, I will frankly confess that I stole it from Edgeworth. Whenever you see that `k’ call to mind dear old Edgeworth.
If there is a heaven, the creators of the Dos Equis adverts about the most interesting man in the world will go there. In idle moments, I cannot help but recall some of them:
his two cents are worth $37 and change.
Which prompts one to wonder about what the most interesting Economist in the World is like. So has someone else. Therefore, imagine, the music of the Dos Equis ad playing in the background and the velvet voice of William Lyman purring:
He is the life of seminars that he has never attended.
He once submitted a paper to Econometrica under a pseudonym just to see what rejection felt like.
Adam Smith quotes him.
He is the most interesting Economist in the world.
In the last decade journals adapted e-systems to control the review process of papers. Authors use them to submit papers, associate editors to select referees, referees to download the paper and to upload their reports, once again authors to view the reports, and editors to know what goes on in their journal.
Unfortunately most e-systems are pain in the XXX. Registering to the e-system requires one to provide, for security reasons, his mother’s maiden name, so that the administrator of the journal can call one’s bank and get through; submitting a paper takes ages instead of simply e-mailing it to the editor as things used to be in the good old days; submitting a referee report requires one to choose between accept/minor revision/major revision/reject, but what if I one’s recommendation is “I do not know what your journal looks for, I would reject from Econometrica and accept to JET”?
For years I used to send my referee reports through e-mails and ignore the e-systems. This was easy, since as a referee the editors need me. But I am also an Associate Editor in some journals, and there I tried to get along with the e-systems.
I survived in the world of e-systems until Elsevier decided to consolidate all the accounts that we, authors, referees, and editors, have on its various journals. I simply could not get through the consolidation process. I did not understand why I need to provide the password of every single account that I have, and it is not enough to provide only one. I did not understand why I need to provide a security question, as if I enter the US and the immigration office at JFK looks at me suspiciously. Frustrated, I informed Felix Kubler, the previous editor-in-chief of JME, where I was an associate editor, that I am out of the game, and that if he wants me to handle a paper, I will gladly receive it through the good old e-mail.
But sometimes I am an author, and then nobody needs my help. Nevertheless, since I cannot use Elsevier’s e-system, I cannot submit papers to any of its journals. One option is to ask one of my dear coauthors to do it. Though this solution is tempting I (and I suspect that they as well) find it a little unfair. Therefore, when I wanted to submit a paper to GEB, I asked Jennifer Byrd, the managing editor of the journal, to upload it for me, and lo and behold, she was glad to do it.
I call all of you who cannot cope with the e-systems to abandon them as well. I do not see why we need to use horrible software that makes our life difficult. If editors will see that enough of us revert to e-mail, they will move back to this simple method.
During last night’s NBA finals game, the announcer stated that Manu Ginobli has a better career winning percentage than the other members of the Spurs’ “Big Three” (Duncan, Parker, Ginobli.) This means, I presume, that the Spurs have won a higher percentage of games in which Ginobli plays than games in which Duncan plays, or games in which Parker plays. If so, this is a Really Stupid Statistic. I will leave the reason “as an exercise” and assume a commenter can explain why; if not, I’ll post tomorrow.
My colleague James Schummer was kind enough to point me to the following news item, which quotes George Lucas as predicting that one day a cinema ticket will cost $150. Mr. Lucas and (and Mr. Spielberg) believe that the movie industry will, over time, concentrate on big budget productions and these will cost more to see in the cinema. Indeed, one senior equity analyst at Morningstar is quoted as saying:
differentiated pricing according to the movie’s budget makes economic sense.
I think this is the sentence that caught my colleague’s eye.
He and I teach a class on pricing. In it we emphasize the simple point that fixed costs are irrelevant for deciding the price. If I could repeat this FACT in large friendly letters like the warning on the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I would. So, the idea that a movie’s budget should determine its price is not merely wrong but risible.