Daily Archives: 09/30/2012

The Libyan Consulate

Clearly this a tragic situation.

If Romney and other conservatives ultimately think that it is critical ultimately that we use force against some one in the Mid-East, at the least I think we should  try to make that response surgical and focused on those responsible.

The previous administration, or at least parts of it, I think basically believed that it was important to ‘show the Muslim world who was boss’ after the 9/11 of 2001.  To do so:  start and win a war against a Mid-Eastern country.  I’m not sure it mattered who, as long as we showed we were strong and not to be trifled with. 

Hence we attacked a nation nominally to disarm it of weapons it proved not to even have.  To a lot of those most critical of the Obama administration, I don’t think this mattered, we showed we were not to be messed with; the Muslims hate us and we need to show them they still have to fear us, and by God we did; or so the Bush administration hoped.  I’d  characterize that response as blunt with abundant collateral damage to innocent by standers that may have spawned a new generation of terrorists.

In fact, 9 years later, it isn’t clear to me that we’ve cowed our enemies and potential enemies given this tragic incident.  So has Obama’s charm offensive failed or the earlier attempt to intimidate the entire mid-east? 

I’m inclined to think this is at least partially blow-back from our use of force rather than failure by the Obama administration.  In the end we likely shouldn’t let this go unanswered, but I hope we at least make the response focused on bringing the actual perpetrators to justice, not just punishing Muslims and the Mid-East in general.  Whatever we do, I don’t think it should be an act in the emotions of the moment, or that exaggerates what force can accomplish.

"[W]hen libertarians reacted to moral dilemmas and in other tests, they displayed less emotion…"

It must be the Vulcan DNA.

“… less empathy and less disgust than either conservatives or liberals.”

They appeared to use “cold” calculation to reach utilitarian conclusions about whether (for instance) to save lives by sacrificing fewer lives. They reached correct, rather than intuitive, answers to math and logic problems, and they enjoyed “effortful and thoughtful cognitive tasks” more than others do.

The researchers found that libertarians had the most “masculine” psychological profile, while liberals had the most feminine, and these results held up even when they examined each gender separately, which “may explain why libertarianism appeals to men more than women.”


“[W]hen libertarians reacted to moral dilemmas and in other tests, they displayed less emotion…”
noreply@blogger.com (Ann Althouse)
Sun, 30 Sep 2012 02:48:00 GMT

WordPress’s evolution as a web publishing platform

Sent to you by Bruce via Google Reader:

WordPress’s evolution as a web publishing platform

via Digitopoly by Joshua Gans on 9/30/12

WordPress powers this blog. That isn’t surprising as WordPress began with the goal of providing a powerful and, indeed, free blogging platform. To be sure, it earns money from premium services but, compared with its predecessors, WordPress is an open platform that gave users and developers the power to slash, hack and design.

But now WordPress has evolved beyond just blogging. According to Forbes:

Today WordPress powers one of every 6 websites on the Internet, nearly 60 million in all, with 100,000 more popping up each day. Those run through its cloud-hosted service, which lets anybody create a free website online, attract 330 million visitors who view 3.4 billion pages every month.

Thus, WordPress now has incredible scale.

To give you an idea of how important WordPress has become let me recount personal experience over recent time. Regular readers may have noticed that I have a new book coming out next week. That meant it was time to update my personal and book sites from their old Parentonomics focus. After all, I was competing for attention with both JK Rowling and Stephen Colbert, so I needed some spiffy web presence.

Previously, I had used Apple’s iWeb for this purpose. It was dead easy but it suffered from two problems. First, it was tied to the computer so I couldn’t update it on the fly. Second, it was no longer supported by Apple and so would continue to fall behind. So I reviewed a bunch of other options including SquareSpace and Weebly and others like them. Each had advantages but, in each case, there was some annoying feature lacking. Reluctantly, I was forced back to iWeb because it was just easy to do and still allowed a website that was satisfactory.

I was going to continue down that path when I read the Forbes article and it occurred to me that I, like those in the articles, should stop viewing WordPress as just about blogging. Now I had just finished creating a new website — Contribution Economy — that was part blog but mostly other stuff for our research project on the Economics of Knowledge Contribution and Distribution. I was pleased with how that came out. Thus, I realised that I could use WordPress to similarly power my personal and book sites.

To be sure, WordPress is harder to use than iWeb but once you have designed things and set stuff up, it is really easy to manage after that. So, world, I present to you the new Joshua Gans site, my research site and book sites for Parentonomics, Core Economics for Managers and the new book. Some are more interesting than others but that is because I was going for simplicity with some of them. The point is that WordPress allowed me to give the sites a consistent backbone as well as look and feel. In many respects, it is another big datapoint that open platforms can evolve in unexpected and important ways.

[And yes, much of the point of this post was to announce those new sites!]

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