October 26th, 2002


Schelling references....

Notes to myself:

Thomas Schelling, _Choice and Consequences_, especially the first
essay, where he tells you why the market is such a good thing ... and
then explains how to justify intervention in terms that require appeal
to religious belief to disprove. :-) His _Strategy of Conflict_ is
an acknowledged classic, and _Micromotives and Macrobehavior_ I
thought was insightful when I last read it.

FSP, critical mass, and tipping points...

[[Note for bibliographic reference: Melberg, Hans O. (1998), Searching for the surprising and reliable truths: A review of Schelling, www.geocities.com/hmelberg/papers/980618.htm]

"...Close to my where I live there is a sub-way and when it arrives people simply cross the road without regard for the traffic. However, when people do not come in groups from the sub-way, they often wait before they dare cross the road. This suggests that there is a "critical mass" that is needed before the pedestrians dare to stop the traffic. The "critical mass" model can be used to describe a number of other phenomena. Of course, an atomic explosion fits a critical mass model (there has to be enough uranium so that the neutron released as a result of radioactivity decay, collides to produce more than one new neutron). Similarly smoking in non-smoking sections can be a critical mass phenomenon; One lone smoker breaking the rules may not be enough to induce the other smokers, but if many people smoke in the non-smoking section most smokers will probably disregard the rules. Lastly, a demonstration against an authoritarian government is a critical mass event. One demonstrator is not going to topple the government, a large number of demonstrators may. In all these examples there is a non-linearity. The event is "switched" on at some point, not gradually.

Two sub-models under the general class of "critical mass" are lemon models and tipping models. Lemon models exist when one person known more than the other, and as a result the market may either fail to exist of be inefficient in aggregate. Examples include the market for used cars, insurance and bank-loans. Tipping models describe, roughly, a situation in which people will do something if their neighbor also does the same think. Examples include people who are willing to stay in a neighborhood only if they expect that a certain percentage of people of the same ethnic background there; people who will join a demonstration only if enough other people do; or people who will only learn a new language if they think other people also will do so (David D. Laitin has written a book in which this kind of language tipping model is central to predict whether the Russians in Kazakhstan and Lativa will start to speak the native language or continue to speak Russian. See Identity in Formation, Columbia University Press, 1998)...."

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Dr. Vadim Volkov

Associate Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Sociology

The European University at St. Petersburg


12 weeks, Spring semester 2002

To receive 8 credits students are required to submit one mid-term and one final essay, about 3000 words each. Mid-term essay deadline - Friday, 29th of March; final -Friday, 24th of May.

# Coercion and political power. The state of nature and the civil state. The nature of protection racket. The monopoly of legitimate violence and state formation. Private protection; protection as public good.

# The neoinstitutional approach to markets and government. Property rights, transaction costs, and types of enforcement. The economic analysis of the state. Enforcement, taxation and economic growth.

# Complicated state formation and its consequences. Sicily as a classical case of private protection. Studies and explanatory models of the Sicilian mafia.

# Theories of organized crime and debates over its nature. The mafia (Cosa Nostra) and gangsters in the USA.

# Other types of mafia-like networks: Yakudza, the Triads, Camorra. Local and universal features of organized crime.

# The mafia as a work of art. Watching the movie Godfather I and discussing it in the context of the mafia studies.

# Watching Godfather II and discussing it in the context of the mafia studies.

# The Soviet-time shadow economy and organized crime. Definitions and structure of the shadow economy. The society of vory-v-zakone (thieves-in-law), its evolution, functions, and structure.

# The market reforms after 1987 and the emergence of private entrepreneurs. The demand for protection and enforcement. The economy and culture of protection racket in the 1980s. The formation of organized criminal groups.

# Violent entrepreneurship in Russia in the 1990s. The market of private protection and dispute settlement. Major criminal groups and their evolution. Violent entrepreneurs and their practices. Criminal jargon and subculture.

# The covert fragmentation of the Russian state. Private protection companies and their functions at the emerging markets. The evolution of the state coercive agencies.

# Debates over the Russian mafia. The transition to the market in the weak state and its possible outcomes. Arguments for and against the strong state. Russia's internal security dilemmas and scenarios of state consolidation. Putin's dilemma.

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Bubba Ho-Tep : Bruce Campbell vs the Mummy

Bubba Ho-Tep

Bubba Ho-Tep
The Revolution Review
© Peggy Hailey

Some B-movies started out to be A-movies and missed. Others tried just a little too hard and overdid something, like campy humor. But every once in a while, a group of talented individuals sets out to make a B-movie and gets everything just right: action, thrills, humor, and a good story, well-told. Bubba Ho-Tep gets it just right.

Based on a novella by Joe R. Lansdale, Bubba Ho-Tep is the story of a 68 year-old Elvis, living out his days in a nursing home in East Texas. No one in the nursing home has much to live for, so no one looks askance when the residents start dying. No one, that is, but one of the residents, an elderly black man who fully believes that he's JFK. Jack is believes that a mummy is stalking the home and feeding on the souls of its residents. He manages to convince Elvis that the mummy is real, and they set out to destroy the mummy.

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