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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ellsberg, Cowen, Meth and My Lai

Our conference is winding down, so I guess I can get back to blogging without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else :-)

One of the pleasures of travel in the pre-internet era was being disconnected from world events. I fondly recall poring over the Herald Tribune in cafes as the preferred method for getting the news. During this trip I've only scanned the news and blogs in a cursory fashion, but I did listen to a fair number of podcasts while on planes, a ferry, and falling asleep near lapping waves. Below are some recommendations.

Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers) interview. In the interview Ellsberg compares Afghanistan to Vietnam; I don't know enough to judge whether the analogy is reasonable. I recommend this biography, which also covers his early history as an academic, working on game theory and decision theory. Ellsberg wrote this influential 1957 paper discussing the difference between Knightian (unmeasurable) uncertainty and (measurable) risk while a Junior Fellow at Harvard. These comments by Nobelist Thomas Schelling, who was something of a mentor to Ellsberg, are fascinating.

Interview with Tyler Cowen on Econtalk, about his recent book Create Your Own Economy. Buddhists vs autists?

Interview with Nick Reding, author of Methland: the Death and Life of an American Small Town, about methamphetamines and their impact on a small Iowa town.

The My Lai tapes (BBC documentary). Part 2. Sad but true.

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