J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was sometimes faulted by literary critics for caricaturing the evil orcs as uniformly bad. All of them were as unpleasant to look as they were deadly to encounter. There is not a single good orc or even a reformed orc in the trilogy.
Just a few days ago, India was in a relaxed, almost languid, state of mind. In a land normally beset by every imaginable hazard, the worst threat on the national horizon appeared to be nothing more than a “love jihad”, the squirming, wriggling brainchild of Hindu chauvinist agitators who rail against an imagined mass-seduction of Hindu women by predatory Muslim men (the aim being to marry and convert these women to Islam, and then to produce offspring with such ferocity that India’s 800 million-strong Hindu majority would, one day, be outnumbered by Muslims).
Paul Pfleiderer, C.O.G. Miller Distinguished Professor of Finance at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his recent paper critiquing what Pfleiderer calls "Chameleon Models," economic models that are thought to explain the real world with little analysis of the accuracy of their assumptions. Also discussed are Akerlof's market for lemons model, Friedman's idea that assumptions do not have to be reasonable as long as the model predicts what happens in the real world, and the dangers of leaping from a model's results to making policy recommendations.
Nightmares of abduction and confinement disrupted my sleep the night before I left for Afghanistan. It was Dec. 1, 1991, and I was working on a freelance piece for The Los Angeles Times Magazine, flying into Kabul from Uzbekistan on a Soviet military transport on my birthday.
Like many people, I mourn the loss of Joan Rivers. In the last year or so, my wife and I have gotten into watching Fashion Police and enjoying, except for her over-the-top comments, many of Joan's great, obviously prepared, catty lines.
Turkey is the most crucial country in President Barack Obama’s proposed NATO coalition against the Islamic State, but it’s also the least willing. As the only NATO member in the region, as well as a known entry point for foreign fighters going to Syria, Turkey wields a disproportionate amount of power when it comes to fighting the Islamic State, or the militant group formerly known as ISIS. But because of Turkey’s own vulnerable political situation, experts believe the Muslim country will play a mostly passive role.