An Old Man's Stories

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The 2003 Weblog Controversy: Homosexuals as Schoolteachers

  • See the emails and other raw material here.
  • Something like this happened to me once, in a smaller way. I was a faculty senate member, and in opening the meeting, the President, who was chairing, chose to deliver a little speech condemning me. Everyone was appalled, and wondered what I, sitting 20 feet away, would do, since they knew me well. I had to do something, but didn't know everything she'd be saying, till the end. So I shot up my hand, she recognized me, and I said, "May I have a written copy of your remarks?" She politely said yes. Someone else immediately raised their hand to ask about something innocuous like the new math requirement. After the meeting, one of the senate leadership came over to tell me the President was on her way out early because of assorted other goofiness, so I didn't have to make a fuss. And so it happened.

Statistician Sir David Cox

This has its own page.

The Water Moccasin

Here tell that story. Pictures too.

That evening, I started vomiting copiously. Diarrhea followed.

I had been poisoned. Not by the snake, though, but by small fish. Or, rather, by the microbes surrounding small fish.

Sword in the Stone dragon and microbe Merlin.

Democracy dies not from the snake but from the virus.

Chinese MIT

A China story. While I was visiting Harvard on sabbatical around 2001, someone (Alan Dershowitz?) was talking about visiting China. He told how he wanted to be modest, so wehn someone there asked him what university in AMerica he was with, he said, "Oh, my university is in Cambridge, Massachusetts." The Chinese person broke into a broad smile, and said, "Oh, yes, I know of it-- Massachusetts Institute Technology!" (He didn't know that I, a Yale man and MIT PhD, was in the room.)

Chinese Ostracism SEminar

My co-author presented our Ostracism paper at a Zoom Yale seminar around 2020, when Covid fear was at its height. It was also livestreamed to some non-Zoom Chinese zoomlike app which could handle more people. Something over 500 Chinese showed up, over 10 times the number we've ever presented a scholarly paper to. In doing petitions, also, I realized that China is a great source for millions of rational people to sign onto things.

J. Mark Ramseyer & Eric Rasmusen, "Ostracism in Japan." Groups ostracize members. Sometimes they do so to enforce welfare-maximizing norms, but other times ostracism reduces welfare. Japanese villages have long used ostracism as a tool for conformity, and the targets have sometimes sued in response. The cases that have reached the courts disproportionately involve welfare-reducing behavior by the community; for example, ostracism against targets who report corruption. The targets usually win the civil cases against ostracizers and prosecutors usually win the criminal cases. Yet the targets seem not to have sued for financial or injunctive relief, and the prosecutors seem not to have pushed for prison terms. Instead, they have used the courts for an informational end: to certify and publicize innocence. This end is of minor importance in normal litigation, but crucial for ostracism, as we explain using a formal model. We use case examples and the model to explore the factors that cause disputes to lead to ostracism and ostracisms to lead to litigation.


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Economics Seminars

I like the classic Chicago-style economics seminar for research presentation. I gave one once, at Chicago itself, where I think I spoke the third-greatest number of words, after John Lott and David Friedman. I was prepared, though, and knew I had the power of the overhead projector-- if I couldn't get a word in edgewise, I could at least put up a new slide and if it was more interesting than the comment from the audience, free market competition would give me the attention of the rest of the audience. Actually, the Chat feature in Zoom works like that nowadays.

  • The story of when Mark Zupan and I went to Chicago to present in the Stigler seminar. Stigler stories.
  • The time at UCLA where I fainted a couple of hours before I was to rpesent a paper I knew was in trouble. I went out from office to get a drink of water, fainted, fell down WHAM and banged my head, which needed a stitch. They called an ambulance and made me take it to a doctor. But I got out of giving the seminar!