Friday, December 19, 2014

Roads and escalators in Japan: national versus regional equilibria

I presume that drivers drive on the left on roads throughout Japan, and so I wasn't surprised, in Tokyo, to find that pedestrians tend to keep to the left as well, and that on escalators, riders stay to the left to allow those in a hurry to pass on the right.

But in Osaka, the escalator equilibrium is reversed: on escalators one stays to the right to allow passing on the left. Roads and sidewalks seem to be as in Tokyo however.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Klein Lecture in Osaka, Dec 19 2014

I'll be speaking Friday in Osaka...

Prof. AlvinRoth
Nobel Prize in Economics
Title: The Economist as Engineer   
2014.12.19 (Fri.)
Open15:30 Start16:00
Conference Room C01-02, 8th Floor, TOWER-C, Knowledge Capital, Grand Front Osaka   MAP
*Lecture will be given in English

Time: 18:30
Venue: URGE (3rd Floor, Knowledge Capital, Grand Front Osaka)

Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research
6-1 Mihogaoka, Ibaraki, Osaka 567-0047 JAPAN

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Punishing puns in China

The Chinese government is reported to have taken steps to make puns repugnant. The Guardian has the story:

China bans wordplay in attempt at pun control
Officials say casual alteration of idioms risks nothing less than ‘cultural and linguistic chaos’, despite their common usage

"From online discussions to adverts, Chinese culture is full of puns. But the country’s print and broadcast watchdog has ruled that there is nothing funny about them.
It has banned wordplay on the grounds that it breaches the law on standard spoken and written Chinese, makes promoting cultural heritage harder and may mislead the public – especially children.
The casual alteration of idioms risks nothing less than “cultural and linguistic chaos”, it warns.
Chinese is perfectly suited to puns because it has so many homophones. Popular sayings and even customs, as well as jokes, rely on wordplay.

Programmes and adverts should strictly comply with the standard spelling and use of characters, words, phrases and idioms – and avoid changing the characters, phrasing and meanings, the order said.But the order from the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television says: “Radio and television authorities at all levels must tighten up their regulations and crack down on the irregular and inaccurate use of the Chinese language, especially the misuse of idioms.”
“Idioms are one of the great features of the Chinese language and contain profound cultural heritage and historical resources and great aesthetic, ideological and moral values,” it added.
“That’s the most ridiculous part of this: [wordplay] is so much part and parcel of Chinese heritage,” said David Moser, academic director for CET Chinese studies at Beijing Capital Normal University.
When couples marry, people will give them dates and peanuts – a reference to the wish Zaosheng guizi or “May you soon give birth to a son”. The word for dates is also zao and peanuts are huasheng.
The notice cites complaints from viewers, but the examples it gives appear utterly innocuous. In a tourism promotion campaign, tweaking the characters used in the phrase jin shan jin mei – perfection – has turned it into a slogan translated as “Shanxi, a land of splendours”. In another case, replacing a single character in ke bu rong huan has turned “brook no delay” into “coughing must not linger” for a medicine advert."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Organs and Inducements: Special Issue of Law and Contemporary Problems edited by Cook and Krawiec

Volume 772014Number 3

Organs and Inducements

Philip J. Cook & Kimberly D. Krawiec
Special Editors

A Primer on Kidney Transplantation: Anatomy of the Shortage
Six Decades of Organ Donation and the Challenges That Shifting the United States to a Market System Would Create Around the World
Regulating the Organ Market: Normative Foundations for Market Regulation
Perceptions of Efficacy, Morality, and Politics of Potential Cadaveric Organ-Transplantation Reforms
Philanthropically Funded Heroism Awards for Kidney Donors?
Reverse Transplant Tourism
Organs Without Borders? Allocating Transplant Organs, Foreigners, and the Importance of the Nation-State (?)
State Organ-Donation Incentives Under the National Organ Transplant Act
Designing a Compensated–Kidney Donation System
Altruism Exchanges and the Kidney Shortage
Reciprocal Altruism—the Impact of Resurrecting an Old Moral Imperative on the National Organ Donation Rate in Israel
Organ Quality as a Complicating Factor in Proposed Systems of Inducements for Organ Donation

Monday, December 15, 2014

Virginia Postrel on the new allocation rules for deceased donor kidneys

Virginia Postrel is skeptical about the new rules for allocating deceased donor kidneys, and thinks there is likely to be some good news (about slower-growing waiting lists) that will just be an artifact of removing some incentives to get on the list early.

Old, Sick and Need a Kidney? Good Luck

"Within a few years, new rules about allocating kidneys, which went into effect last week, could shrink the waiting list. But this apparent improvement will be an illusion -- an artifact of the incentives the new rules create, not genuine progress. Changing who gets priority for scarce kidneys will help some patients and hurt others, and it might squeeze out a few more total years of healthy living for the lucky recipients. But a different process for managing the existing supply of kidneys won’t make a serious difference for the skyrocketing number of patients who need transplants.
In the past, how long you’d been on the waiting list was the main factor that determined how close you were to getting a compatible kidney. (Some blood types are harder to match than others, so someone with less compatible type O blood would wait longer than someone with type A.) The longer you waited, the further you moved up the list. The clock started when your transplant center did the necessary tests and listed you as a transplant candidate.
The old system hurt those patients, most of whom were black, who had spent years on dialysis before they got referred for transplants, whether because of medical factors, insufficient health insurance or complacent nephrologists. (About a third of the patients, about 35,000 people, currently on the waiting list are black.) The new system instead starts the clock when a patient goes on dialysis.
“In the previous system, it would make sense to list somebody even if they weren’t quite ready to get a transplant, so they could accrue waiting time,” Benjamin E. Hippen, a transplant nephrologist at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, explained in an interview. Now, since they won’t have a shot at a kidney for years, there’s no reason to put them on the waiting list so soon. “It’s going to look like the overall list has shrunk,” he predicted, “when really it’s just a strategic move by the transplant center.”
While arguably fairer, counting dialysis years creates much more uncertainty. Every time a new patient is added, that person’s dialysis history rejiggers the list. It’s like waiting for an airline upgrade: If you’re a lowly gold status member, you may start out at the head of the line, only to end up in coach as platinum and executive platinum travelers put in their requests and push you down the queue. In this case, there’s a lot more at stake than more legroom and better meals."
“The people who lose in all this are going to be the people who are a little older, who are diabetic and who don’t have a lot of years of waiting time -- which is most patients,” said Hippen, a critic of the new system. “That sort of describes the average new patient.”

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Yotel: hotel rooms to match the new airline leg room

It's a good thing we're all getting smaller...

Tiny Hotel Rooms Follow High Land Prices in Yotel Growth

"...Yotel, a minimalist hotel brand whose signature feature is tiny rooms, or “cabins,” of about 175 square feet (16 square meters). That means Synapse can fit 202 revenue-producing rooms into a building that would accommodate just 94 were it a standard hotel, he said.

“People in the industry in San Francisco thought we were crazy until they figured out that we were fitting in two times the amount of keys,” said Palmer, who bought the property with Yotel’s largest shareholder in April and expects to open the hotel in 2017.

"Yotel is finding that its small rooms are a big selling point as it seeks to expand globally. With land costs soaring in cities such as New York, San Francisco and London, the company is pitching itself to developers as a revenue-maximizing solution for small and odd-sized lots.

“You can unlock the potential from sites in an area where you don’t know what to do,” Chief Executive Officer Hubert Viriot, who’s based in Dubai and took the helm of London-based Yotel in May, said in an interview. “We fit pretty much everywhere.”

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Herve Moulin at The Adam Smith Business School of the University of Glasgow

The University of Glasgow highlights the work of Herve Moulin:
Economists as Social Engineers: Professor Hervé Moulin, Donald J Robertson Chair in Economics at the University of Glasgow, explains mechanism design.

HervĂ© Moulin graduated in 1971 from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, and received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the Universite de Paris in 1975. Before joining the University of Glasgow as a Professor (Donald J Robertson Chair) of Economics, he has taught at the Ecole Nationale de Ia Statistique et Administration Economique in Paris, University of Paris at Dauphine, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Duke University, and Rice University. His research has been supported in part by seven grants from the National Science Foundation  (USA). He has written five books and over 100 peer-reviewed articles.