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Gone In a Flash

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USB flash drives are one of the great inventions of our times. Who wants to carry around a floppy disk that while not so floppy had limited capacity. USB are easy to use and highly convenient. However, after loading a bunch of data for my discertation on one at school that took a few hours, I can no longer locate my USB drive. I can only blame myself since this the fourth one I've had over the past few years. I guess I'm just a sucker for them.

On another note about the data I'm working with, check out this description of how political parties are classified. From the Database of Political Institutions:

Right (R); Left (L); Center (C); Not applicable (0)

Our sources had little detail on party platforms and agendas with respect to economic policy. Therefore, to identify party orientation with respect to economic policy, we used the following criteria:

1) In the Handbooks, we first considered the party name, and used the following rules:

Right: for parties that are defined as conservative, Christian democratic, or right-wing.

Left: for parties that are defined as communist, socialist, social democratic, or left-wing.

Center: for parties that are defined as centrist or when party position can best be described as centrist (e.g. party advocates strengthening private enterprise in a social-liberal context). Not described as centrist if competing factions “average out” to a centrist position (e.g. a party of “right-wing Muslims and Beijing-oriented Marxists”).

0: for all those cases which do not fit into the above-mentioned category (i.e. party’s platform does not focus on economic issues, or there are competing wings).

Blank: for those cases where orientation is unknown.

2) If the orientation of a party was not immediately obvious from its name or description in the handbooks, we consulted the website: This site provides one-word descriptions of party orientation which could be fit into the above framework. Cross-checks on parties listed in both sources showed a high degree of agreement. As this source provided no historical information, we assumed that party location on the left - right spectrum remained unchanged over time, and we recorded this party orientation for all years.

Terms on the website such as “liberal”, “progressive”, “authoritarian” or “xenophobic” were dealt with in the following way: For “liberal” we went with the European definition (right), since the website is based in Europe. We classified “progressive”, “authoritarian”, “xenophobic” as “0” (none of the above) unless we had additional information that allowed us to position the party on the left - right - spectrum (see 2).

UPDATE (KB): Bob, I feel your pain, and suggest getting one of these to hang around your neck:


Sure, it would even make a supermodel look like a dork, but most of us working in sensitive environments must wear a cow-bell ID anyway. I guess it all comes down to the marginal amount of dorkiness involved

Reputation Effects in Driving

I'm not sure what overall effect it might have, since the punishment mechanism seems a bit nonexistant -- save for being able to send a postcard indicating the recipient has been "wired" -- but if you run across a bad driver and have chance to record the license plate, try feeding it to PlateWire. In their own words:

PlateWire is a public repository and electronic forum of drivers by drivers. Using a drivers license plate, commuters can communicate their thoughts and feelings in regards to driving on today's roadways. Report and flag bad drivers, award good drivers, and even flirt with cute drivers.

Ok, so that last bit strikes me as a bit cloying (and ripe with potential for abuse), but I like the idea of a user-generated driving quality database. While the level of frustration (rage? of each driver is completely subjective, it might help to know not only where the most frustrating drivers are, but where you would find the most frustrated ones as well.

Pretty Pictures

I'm pretty sure Bred DeLong never called me the stupidest person on earth like he has others (or whatever he refers to people whom he disagrees with). I am pretty sure he would though if he only knew me. With that in mind, I have decided to post graphs of data because being a literal imbecile makes it difficult for me to understand anything unless it's presented as a pretty picture. I was reading this so I thought I would mention some of the tidbits it contains. Here's the first:


A proposal to make Sunni Arabs happy

Two Princeton professors Shivaji Sondhi and Michael Cook, have a guest column at Econbrowser on a suggestion to improve the stake of the Sunnis in Iraq;

“The problem from the start has been the stake of the Sunni Arabs. This was entirely predictable, as no minority used to a disproportionate share of power gives up this privilege easily-- the relative deprivation simply excites too many fears. One only has to look at nearby Lebanon for an example…

To this end we propose that the United States make a financial commitment to Iraq which takes the form of ensuring that its Sunni provinces get oil revenues proportional to their share of the population over the next decade or possibly more. Initially, it should take the form of simply funneling an amount equal to the Sunni share directly to these provinces. This would at the same time increase the size of the national pie, which would help to appease the Shia and the Kurds, and might also reduce the tension over Kirkuk. In later years the commitment would transition into an insurance policy.

What would be a rough upper bound on such a commitment? To date Iraq has produced a maximum of 3.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil. This was back in 1979, and the country hasn't actually produced more than 3.5 million bpd since 1990. It is quite unlikely that either figure will be exceeded anytime soon. Taking the 1979 figure and a profit of $50 per barrel, we are talking about revenues of approximately $67 billion a year. Of this we may estimate the share of the Sunni majority provinces at about 20 per cent, or $14 billion. Today their share of the 2 million bpd production is closer to $7 billion."


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