News reports you may have missed on history books you may have read – April 1

I’ve accumulated a few news articles over the last few years that expound on different books you may have read.  If you know the underlying titles (even if you have seen their screenplay adaptations), you are probably aware that for some unknown reason, the staff in bookstores usually misfile the books in the fiction section instead of history, where they belong.

Also a few other news reports you may have missed.

James Bond is an alcoholic with life expectancy of 56.

12-12-13USA Today – Yes, Mr. Bond, we expect you to die — from booze. In addition to his expected demise any day now, hand tremors from the cumulative effect of booze would have long since devastated his marksmanship.

How much gold was liberated from Smaug’s cave?

11-6-13 Wired – Does Smaug Have Enough Gold. An estimate of the amount of gold held in the lair of the dragon Smaug, based on the screenplay adaptation of the historical treatise of Middle Earth, Hobbit.


About 260,000 kilograms.  More gold than has been mined on earth since 1880. I calculate that would be about $130 billion at current prices.

Next question, for the economists: What would be impact on the economy of Middle Earth from releasing all that gold at once?

Are Hobbits Human?

12-31-13 Matthew YglesiasAre Hobbits Human? – We define species as those creatures that can interbred. Horses and donkeys are separate species since their offspring are sterile mules. Mr. Yglesias evaluates comments about Lord of the Rings, an exhaustive history of Middle Earth, which lists two fertile human-elf relationships and some half-orcs.

So. Can Hobbits and humans interbreed? Does that make Hobbits the same species as Homo sapiens?

Weight and density of Captain America’s shield

3/20/14 – Wired – How Much Does Captain America’s Shield Weigh? – Based on the how much it pushes him back when his shield hits him when thrown by Winter Soldier, it weighs……47 pounds. It has a density between iron and titanium. Prof. Rhett Allain shows the formulas he uses and shows his work, so you can backstop his math. Remember – 47 pounds.

Economics of re-ensouling vampires

7/22/14 Washington Post / Volokh Conspiracy – The ethics and economics of vampire re-ensoulment – The question is regarding the ethics of re-ensouling vampires instead of killing them. Don’t know the answer to that.

The other question is about the economics. Won’t they deplete the earth of resources, especially human blood, since they live forever?

The answer to that is obviously no to the most casual observer.

The patently obvious foolishness of Malthusians, in every variation ever seen, is reproven ten times over for every time it appears. The concept of comparative advantage, particularly something that has been alive a long time and will live much longer would have economic skills that would improve the economy and expand trade, thus increasing world-wide wealth tremendously.

Other news

In other news on April 1 you may have missed:

4/1/14 – Seth Godin – Maximizing the value of worry: Snowden’s new project – Mr. Godin is pleased to announce Ed Snowden has received $15M of startup funding for, an app that will combine all public and private information about you to calculate which uncontrollable events that won’t happen upon which you should really be focusing your worry effort. The algorithms promise to make your worry time much more productive.

4/1/14 – Greg Mankiw’s Blog – Announcement – The prof at Harvard is first to announce that the economics departments at Harvard and MIT are merging. This pilot project, if successful, could eventually lead to a merger of all Harvard and MIT programs.

4/1/14 – Economist – Comparing apples with oranges – Since countering economic arguments you don’t like often involves claiming there is a comparison of apples to oranges, the staff at The Economist decided to track the popularity of apples and oranges over the years.

4/1/15 – William Easterly and Laura Freschi at Aidwatch – UN Revealed to be Gigantic 66-year-old Hoax – In reaction to the hoax being revealed, the U.S. ambassador to the UN is quoted as saying

“Who would really believe that there is this magical agency that would, like, be responsible for solving all the problems in the whole world?  That nobody else can solve? Or even wants to?”

The small portions of the UN building that aren’t luxury condos and restaurants were found to contain banks of 1960s era mainframes which are still used to generate the massive number of massive reports spinning out of the UN at a massive rate.

An ancient legacy program still runs a program

which every 15 years reiterates and reaffirms in stirring language the International Goals made 15 years earlier.

A technician was quoted as saying all the programs could be run on one current laptop but they didn’t make the transition, fearing they would get caught hauling the mainframes out of the building.

Update:  I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes, but then if you know me, you are already aware of that. The Easterly news scoop was actually published on 4/1/11. I’m merely four years late in catching on.

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