(Note: all of the posts to this blog to date are reposted in this single post.)
After two and a half years of camping out at Freakonomics.com, after more than 1,300 posts and many thousands of reader comments, this blog is moving. From now on, we will reside here at NYTimes.com. If you are a new reader, welcome. If you are an old reader, know that you can still get here via our old URL, www.freakonomics.com. Whoever you are, thanks for stopping by. Starting now, there is also a separate — and revivified — website for our book, replete with excerpts, FAQ’s, reviews, and a gallery of international covers.
We are excited and flattered to be migrating to the Times — especially because I used to work as an editor and writer at the Times Magazine, and also because Freakonomics began as a Magazine profile I wrote about Levitt. For the past two years, we have also been writing a regular column for the Magazine, which is now freely available here. But don’t worry about homer-ism; because we are housed in the Opinion section, we can still poke fun at the Times when warranted, and we can still say nice things about blood rivals like the Wall Street Journal.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know that we recently brought in a site editor, Melissa Lafsky, who’s been doing a great job. She makes sure all ourr typoes get fixxed, and helps curate the sort of content that makes sense for a blog like ours: reader-generated Q&A’s like this one and this one and this one, and Freakonomics Quorum discussions like this one about saving the African rhino.
You will see a number of other new features in the right column of the blog, including (finally!) a proper (sort of) blogroll, a streamlined “FREAK-est Links,” the old “Naked Self-Promotion” box, a new feature called “Stuff We Weren’t Paid to Endorse,” and even a video player, “FREAK-TV.” (Take a look at the inaugural video to see Levitt explain the value of blogging.) And yes, we will still be giving stuff away.
Hopefully you will find most of the changes for the better. If not, I am sure you will let us know: your suggestions and ideas are always welcome, via the contact information in the “About the Authors” box at top right. For those of you who read this blog via RSS, you will find that there is no longer a full feed, but rather a partial feed.
The good news is that you no longer have to register with Wordpress to comment, a barrier that many of you disliked.
The bad news is that you have to conduct yourself in a relatively civil manner, according to these Times guidelines, and that all comments will be moderated.
Transgression of these guidelines is punishable by death, or by having your comment discarded, whichever comes first.
For the next several hours, while this blog undergoes some rehabilitation — no, not that kind of rehabilitation; we are fine, thanks — comments will be shut down. If all goes well, this condition won’t last past nightfall (in New York)..
The 2005 Hurricane season was the most active and destructive in recorded history. The devastation from hurricanes like Katrina, Rita, and Wilma was powerful evidence that man-made global warming had triggered an onslaught of unforeseen consequences — at least, that was the way the media tended to portray it. Maybe I am wrong, but I think the current focus on global warming in this country would be much weaker had those hurricanes not hit landfall, or had they hit Mexico instead of the U.S.
The scientific community, however, never argued a strong link between global warming and hurricanes. Read more …
We got an e-mail the other day from a certain Sara in Chicago. She had a question about the virtual world Second Life, but it could be asked of many pursuits, virtual and otherwise. (Even though I’ve never visited Second Life, I have been thinking about this issue lately since I have become a gold farmer for my own kids, on Webkinz — although frankly, they are better than me at earning KinzCash.)
I like Sara’s question because, on some dimensions, the answer/s may seen obvious Read more …
If all goes as planned, I will be appearing on Good Morning America tomorrow (Wed., 8/8 — lucky in China!) at about 8:30 a.m. EDT to talk about this very blog, and to announce a fairly significant change.
Hope to see you there.
As one result of this change, comments on the blog will be temporarily suspended today, starting in early afternoon. Comments will return in short order.
We recently solicited your questions about street gangs for Sudhir Venkatesh, the then-grad student we wrote about in Freakonomics who is now a professor of sociology at Columbia. His answers are, IMHO, fascinating. Your questions were really good, too; thanks. Venkatesh will publish a book, Gang Leader for a Day, in early 2008.
Q: Do you think the HBO series The Wire gives an accurate portrayal of gang life? It is clear from the show (if it is as real as it seems) that traditional policing strategies are very ineffective.
A: I am a huge fan of The Wire. I actually watched Season Two with a group of high ranking gang leaders/drug dealers in Chicago, who desperately wished that the series producers would make a separate show about Chicago! Read more …
A few months ago, I attended yet another blasé Knicks game at Madison Square Garden. This time, at least something good came of it. I met a guy named Weber Hsu, one of two young Merrill Lynch employees who left finance to start a yo-yo company, Yo-Yo Nation. Read more …
I grew up just a few miles from the bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis. We were a family that was terrified of heights. At least once a month, my father would mention how he thought a bridge over the Mississippi was going to collapse. We would be calling him Nostradamus today, except that his doomsday prediction was about a different bridge (the old Lake Street Bridge, for those who know the Twin Cities). In fact, when officials tried to demolish the Lake Street Bridge to make way for a new one, the first round of explosives proved inadequate — they had to bring in a second round to bring it down. So that bridge proved sturdy, despite my father’s premonitions.
But what, if anything, can we learn from the recent bridge collapse? Read more …
On August 6th, 1941, the U.S. government imposed a nightly curfew on gas stations to reduce fuel use in anticipation of entering World War II. By the way, oil sold at the time for an inflation-adjusted $12.75 a barrel.
Who will give up Barry Bonds’s 756th home run?
The first person who correctly identifies the pitcher who winds up surrendering Bonds’s record-breaker will get a signed copy of Freakonomics.
One guess per comment, please.
And a related question: for all the talk about not wanting to be the pitcher who gives up Bonds’s 756th, would it really be such a terrible thing? Read more …
Organ donation is heading from a bogus reality show to the big screen: An A.P. article reports that Paris Hilton has landed a role in the movie Repo! The Genetic Opera, a so-called “horror rock” musical that’s “set in a plague-ravaged future where people can purchase new organs on the installment plan from a corporation called Geneco.” Hilton will play the “fame-seeking daughter of Geneco’s owner,” played by Paul Sorvino. Read more …
Not long ago, we took our kids to Hershey Park in Hershey, Pa. We stayed at the Hershey Lodge, which is an official Hershey Park hotel.
My 5-year-old daughter, Anya, had heard from a schoolmate that Hershey Lodge gave away free Hershey bars — big ones — whenever you wanted and as many as you wanted. My wife and I were pretty sure that this was 5-year-old wishful gossip — but, lo and behold, we were handed four candy bars when we checked in, and when Anya went back to the registration desk five minutes later and asked for another couple of candy bars, they obliged.
As you can imagine, acquiring free candy bars soon became the favorite and most common activity of our stay. Read more …
Yesterday I wrote a nondescript post on books that knock God.
It got more than 100 comments in a day — about as many as we have ever gotten on any post where we weren’t giving something away.
Now I know who buys these books: the same people who read this blog.
A few days ago, we solicited your questions for hedge fund manager Neil Barsky. As always, your questions were terrific, and so are Barsky’s answers, below.
One thing that surprised me, however, is that nobody asked Barsky, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, what he thinks about Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of the Journal (and the rest of Dow Jones). This is probably a good indicator that journalists care a lot about the business of journalism — look at the thousands of column inches the Times and the Journal itself have devoted to the deal — but that nobody else really does.
Anyway, since I cared, I asked Barsky, and you’ll find his reply at the end of this hedge-fund Q&A. Read more …
On August 3, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell succeeded in making the world’s first coherent telephone call. Little did he know that, less than 150 years later, more than a billion people worldwide would be surfing the Internet on phone lines and broadband.
Via the Chicago Sun-Times: A University of Chicago and Yale-New Haven Hospital survey of 1,260 doctors found that those who considered themselves atheist or agnostic were just as likely to provide care for patients with little or no health insurance than those who were religious — a departure from studies finding that religious people are more charitable towards the poor. Though with religion currently taking hits in the publishing world, perhaps belief in God isn’t what it used to be. Read more …
A little more than a year ago I blogged about how every third book had the word “bullshit” in its title. Happily, that trend faded. I could only find two books on Amazon released in the last year with “bullshit” in the title.
Now, it seems that going after God is the hip thing to do. Daniel Dennett started the stampede with Breaking the Spell. Richard Dawkins followed with the best-seller The God Delusion. Then came God the Failed Hypothesis by Victor Stanger and God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens. Read more …
Tyler Cowen is giving away 15 copies of his new book, with a clever twist: you have to write in to Tyler on his Marginal Revolution blog and explain why you want his book, and why you want it for free.
Hurry! As I type this, Tyler already has 55 comments in one hour.
While he is a generous man, Tyler is also no dummy: sending out all those books to his lucky readers will also surely raise his book’s Amazon ranking. FWIW, here’s an earlier glance at his book.
There’s a new news aggregator in town, called Newser.com, and from the quick look I gave it this morning, it immediately looks like one of the best I’ve seen. It summarizes the major news stories in a good paragraph or two, then provides prominent links to the major newspapers and wire services that did the original reporting, which makes the aggregating feel less parasitic and more … well … aggregating. Here, on PaidContent.org, is a brief story behind the Newser creators.
(Hat tip: Jim Romenesko.)