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March 2004

According to Felix Oberholzer (Harvard Business School) and Koleman Strumpf (UNC-CH), music downloads don't affect CD album sales. (Link is to 369K .pdf file.)

And this article claims that CD album sales in Australia are doing just fine.

UPDATE: But this paper, by a new Chicago Ph.D., suggests that piracy does have a statistically and economically significant effect on CD sales.

Looks like another battle of instruments. I'll need some time to try to sort the issues out.

I interrupt the serious discussion here at the Door for a bit of wholly unsubstantiated, sleazy gossip. Several of my colleagues here at NC State had not heard the rumor about Bill Clinton and a prominent, blonde, Canadian woman. To remedy their sad ignorance I present these references: here (with picture), here, and here. (And as I predicted, they were found in the first ten entries of a Google search for this entry: "Bill Clinton" Canadian blonde.)

Plain English Campaign's most hated cliches.

Their "Plain English Translations" has a lovely example:

Before High-quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process.

Children need good schools if they are to learn properly.

Wired's article, "The God Particle and the Grid," is fascinating.

It reminds us once again of the mutually reinforcing nature of science and techology. Physicists want to find the Higgs boson, aka the "God particle." To look for it, they must advance technology, specifically network computing. That more advanced computing will, in turn, probably make spectacular things possible. What things, you ask? Nobody yet knows. But one of the most optimistic sentences I've ever heard is this:

"People have a way of repurposing powerful technologies in surprising ways."

(They have already achieved a transmssion speed of 5.44 gigabits/second--that's the equivalent of a DVD every 7 seconds.)

Economists believe that, other things equal, people who earn more money have a higher opportunity cost of time. A reasonable inference, therefore, would be that higher income people would want to drive faster. (This is incomplete; higher income people could well have a higher demand for safety, offsetting the higher price of their time. But higher income could also correlate with better health and alertness, making it easier to drive faster. And there are other complications, but work with me here.) Much to the surprise of a Pemco Insurance spokesman, that seems to be the case. (Link via Fark.)

Lynne Kiesling asks an excellent question: since newspapers are so happy to run stories about "record" high gasolines prices--only in nominal terms, of course--why don't they run stories every quarter about "record" high incomes?? I second Lynne's "Grrr."