Monthly Archives: December 2015

Donald Trump Game Theorist

Kevin Drum’s latest rumination on Donald Trump reveals “an odd quirk in Trump’s personality”:

He seems to have an ironclad rule against ever attacking someone first. Even Vladimir Putin. Putin says nice things about Trump, so Trump has to say nice things back. Opposing candidates who don’t attack him are “great guys.” But if you attack first, then he has to fire off a nuclear retaliation. There’s an odd kind of chivalry at work here, and I suppose it also provides people with a motivation to leave him alone.

Actually, this is one of the few things that isn’t odd about Trump. Social scientist and game theorists will recognize this ‘quirk’ immediately as the ‘tit for tat’ strategy that Robert Axelrod famously showed was the winning strategy for multiple iterations of the Prisoner’s Dilemma in his book The Evolution of Cooperation.

It seems sensible to think of most political mud-slinging as being suitable to modeling as a Prisoner’s Dilemma game: both sides sling dirt, both sides lose. (There are rare exceptions, such as when Nixon got Johnston to attack him, thus cementing Nixon’s role as the front runner for the 1968 GOP nomination, but those are rare.)

So at least when it comes to invective, Trump appears to be a natural game theorist.

Posted in 2016 Election | Comments Off on Donald Trump Game Theorist

Miami Pop Music 2015

The Miami New Times 15 Best Miami Songs of 2015 were all new to me. Alas, I can only recommend #6, LunchMoney Lewis, “Bills”.

Part of my disconnect with the rest of the New Times list could be down to my failings: I don’t have much patience for techno, and my tastes in rap are somewhat classic. People more into contemporary rap may find several things to like on the New Times list. I wanted to like #10. Poorgrrrl, “Super Rude (co-prod. by ILLA, feat. Jenee),” just for the energy, and especially thought I ought to like #13. Virgo, “ISS” which is sort of similar to things I actually do like … but I didn’t.

One smothered cheer for #15 on the list, Basside, “QLCL (Birthday Sex and Cheap Champagne)”. It’s crude, rude, and shot like a high school project, but the New Times review of it as “the most Miami thing we’ve ever seen” is less far off the mark than one might wish.

At this rate I may have to revise my estimation of Pitbull.

(More LunchMoney Lewis: Mama & WhipIt; WhipIt is the most hit-like but also the blandest.)

Posted in Kultcha | Comments Off on Miami Pop Music 2015


The HTTP 451 Error Code for Censorship Is Now an Internet Standard.

I believe this action of the IETF is consistent with the claims I made in my article Toward a Critical Theory of Cyberspace, 116 Harv. L. Rev. 749 (2003).

Posted in Law: Internet Law, Writings | Comments Off on Kewl

Florida is the Battleground State

2000px-Electoral_map.svgThe Electoral College Challenge by by Martin Longman at Political Animal paints Florida as key to the next election.

Guess that means a lot of very repetitive TV ads. Good thing I never watch live TV and can fast forward through them all.

Posted in 2016 Election | 8 Comments


Chicago data supports effectiveness of predictive policing. But maybe not how you expect:

[T]he number of complaints an officer receives in a certain year predicts whether and how many complaints he or she will have in the following year.1 Over multiple years, the signal becomes even stronger. Officers with a baseline history of one or two complaints in 2011-13 have a 30 percent to 37 percent chance of receiving a complaint in the following two years.2 But repeaters — those with 15 or 20 incidents in the first part of the data set — are almost certain to have a complaint against them in 2014-15.

… Even after controlling for neighborhood, however, individual officers with more complaints in 2011-13 remained more likely to have complaints filed against them in 2014-15.

… [C]omplaints were not only predictive of the number and type of future complaints — they also forecast whether the department would determine misconduct. Officers with 10 or more complaints in early years of the data set were about six times more likely to have a complaint from the last two years sustained against them.

… For all the complexity of policing, there is a clear signal in the data of who the bad actors are and, to a lesser extent, whether they are going to commit misconduct.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Law: Criminal Law | Comments Off on Foreseeable

There is Water in the Glass

Looking at the information about the climate change agreement coming out of Paris two things seem to emerge: First, this is a more meaningful deal than ever before, and more meaningful than one would have expected two weeks ago. Second, this is not enough to stop global warming, not enough to ensure that we don’t reach the tipping point where the ice caps shrink even faster than they are already doing, not enough to ensure that coastal cities — not least Miami!– will be safe from rising sea levels. The deal may (and if adhered to, likely does) improve the odds some, but since we’re not sure what the odds are, we can’t be sure how much they are improved; it could be a lot, it could be quite little.

So I can’t say the global climate change action glass is half full. But there is water in the glass.

Update: Informed Comment, Paris COP21 will only slow Climate Change: Here’s What’s going to happen to you and your children explains why, even as one recognizes this is progress, it’s still not enough progress. Among other things, however much water there is in the glass, there’s not going to be enough in the ice caps…

Posted in Global Warming | Comments Off on There is Water in the Glass