Two eggs, one basket

Phil Jones doesn’t update it enough, but one of my favorite blogs is Platform Wars. Nowadays, two high profile platform wars are being fought in the living room:

  • Microsoft XBOX 360 v. Sony PlayStation 3
  • HD-DVD v. Sony BluRay

Sony’s PlayStation is behind the XBOX, partially because of the high price of inculding a BluRay disc palyer (the XBOX onl plays regular DVDs, though an HD-DVD add-in is available). However, the same thing that turns the PlayStation into an expensive game machine also means that, for those that buy it, it’s also a free BluRay machine: This has allowed Blu-Ray purchases double HD-DVD disc buys.

As The Economist says:

Why, then, have Blu-ray discs lately been outselling HD DVD versions by two to one? Because Sony cannily included a Blu-ray player in its latest video-game console, PlayStation 3. And while PS3 has not met expectations of selling 6m consoles in America, some 1.4m have nevertheless been snapped up since their launch last November. Market researchers reckon that most—90% by some reckoning—of Blu-ray discs are played on PS3 consoles.

If Sony’s big gamble pays off, including a BluRay player into the PlayStation will allow them to win the war against HD-DVD, and then (as all PlayStations will double as Blu-Ray players) allow them to seamlessly publish games in Blu-Ray format while Microsoft scrambles to think of something new. If it doesn’t work, however, Sony will be left with a uselessly expensive console on top of a re-run of the beta-max fiasco.

Interesting times!

The End of Private Insurance

Remember my praise of Rudy Giuliani’s federally-based health care plan, especially in contrast to John Edwards and Barack Obama’s backwords company-centered plan?

Giuliani is not just on the side of the angels, he’s on the side of history. At it becomes cheaper and cheaper to sequence a person’s genome, we will either face a situation where insurance companies only provide insurance to people they know will be healthy or, atlernatively, only people who believe they will be sick will buy insurance. (In other words, just like now, or worse.)

The solution, however it comes, will have to be risk-pooling at a national level. Giualini’s plan starts us down that road. Edwards and Obama, by contrast, offer only a tired repeat of the old industrial state.

Life after Systems Administration

Hughes, J. (2007). South Africa’s rising wave of crime. Christian Science Monitor. August 24, 2007. Available online: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0824/p09s01-coop.html.

The Christian Science monitor is optimistic, to say the least:

It is now 13 years since South Africa turned its back on the oppressive era of apartheid and, in a remarkably peaceful transition, embraced democracy. Much has been accomplished as blacks and whites sculpt a new, multiracial nation. But the warning in the Sowetan’s boardroom is a reminder that democracy must be nurtured to flourish.

Besides “democracy,” the fall of the Nationalist government brought hope on one front: the Nationalists ran their economies along welfareist-socialist lines, and a shock therapy program by the new rulers (of the African National Congress) might jump-start the economy.

Instead, solid economic growth is accompanied with an increasingly violent society and ethnic cleansing against the most educated demographics within the country. And of coures,


courtesy hdr.undp.org

As can be seen in the chart above, South Africa’s human development index under the Nationalist government was essentially that of a Latin American or Caribbean state. Since the African National Congress has taken over, South Africa’s human development has fallen below Latin America’s, below East Asia’s, below the Arab states’, nearing South Asia’s, and is steadily regressing to the mean for sub-Saharan Africa.

Generally, two factors are behind Gappishness — having your country be one of the worst in the world. One is economic system. The other is the average intelligence of the population that runs the state. The easiest states to bring up are those with bad economic systems but high general intelligence, such as those of East Asia. The hardest countries to bring up are those that suffer from both bad institutions and low general intelligence.

The worst parts of the Gap will not shrink themselves. Pretending they will confines a billion people to misery, terror, and death. Shrinking the Gap requires a long term, institutional commitment by the Core.

The Core’s last attempt has failed everhwere or is failing everywhere in Africa. The European states were too weak and too self-destructive to complete their mission. Hopefully, the next wave of Systems Administration will be luckier.