Monday, September 22, 2014

Golden Goose Award festivities and video on the simultaneous ascending auction design by McAfee, Milgrom and Wilson

The awards ceremony was on Thursday in Washington.
Bob and Mary Wilson go to Washington (photo by Peter Cramton)

Here's the 2014 Golden Goose Award video: the first segment, three and a half minutes, is devoted to the work of Preston McAfee, Paul Milgrom and Bob Wilson on the simultaneous ascending auction for spectrum.

The 2014 Golden Goose Awards from DOCUinc on Vimeo.

Here's my earlier post.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Onion proposes a school choice lottery

The Onion notices that school choice is a high stakes game: New Charter School Lottery System Gives Each Applicant White Pill, Enrolls Whoever Left Standing

"Introducing key changes to the lottery system that governs the admissions process, the New York City Charter School Center notified potential students this week that openings will now be filled by randomly distributing white pills to applicants and enrolling those left standing.

"In place of the existing electronic lottery system conducted in the spring, education officials explained that applicants would receive identical white pills, among them a small number of innocuous placebos corresponding to the amount of open spots, and then wait approximately 30 minutes to determine the survivors and new charter school enrollees."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Same sex marriage still widely regarded as repugnant in Egypt, and a little less so in China

Two prohibited same sex marriages, one in Egypt and one in China (in the British embassy there) draw very different reactions.

The BBC has the story from Egypt.

Arrests over Egypt 'gay wedding'

The Egyptian authorities have arrested seven men accused of appearing in a video apparently showing a gay wedding.
The video, showing a group of men celebrating on a Nile river boat, was widely shared on social media.
The men could face charges of inciting debauchery and spreading images that violate public decency.
Homosexuality is not explicitly outlawed in Egypt, but gay men are periodically accused of charges such as scorning religion or debauchery.
Gay rights around the world
Map showing anti-gay laws around the world
(The link goes to an interactive version of the above map, where you can mouse-over to see the sometimes chilling state of affairs in far flung places.)

The Telegraph has the story from China

British diplomat's gay marriage draws attention in China

Gay marriage at residence of British ambassador to Beijing goes viral on Chinese internet

"A British diplomat has become a gay icon in China after marrying his American partner on the lawn of the ambassador's residence in Beijing.
"Gay unions are not legal in China, where the government adopts a "three nots" approach to homosexuality: not approved, not disapproved, not promoted."

Friday, September 19, 2014

Diverse approaches to surrogacy in the U.S.

The NY Times has an interesting survey about the divided state of the union regarding surrogacy, with different approaches among states in the U.S.: Surrogates and Couples Face a Maze of Laws, State by State

"While surrogacy is far more accepted in the United States than in most countries, and increasing rapidly (more than 2,000 babies will be born through it here this year), it remains, like abortion, a polarizing and charged issue. There is nothing resembling a national consensus on how to handle it and no federal law, leaving the states free to do as they wish.

"Seventeen states have laws permitting surrogacy, but they vary greatly in both breadth and restrictions. In 21 states, there is neither a law nor a published case regarding surrogacy, according to Diane Hinson, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who specializes in assisted reproduction. In five states, surrogacy contracts are void and unenforceable, and in Washington, D.C., where new legislation has been proposed, surrogacy carries criminal penalties. Seven states have at least one court opinion upholding some form of surrogacy.

"California has the most permissive law, allowing anyone to hire a woman to carry a baby and the birth certificate to carry the names of the intended parents. As a result, California has a booming surrogacy industry, attracting clients from around the world.
"Many states are now considering certain limits and trying to find middle ground.

“My sense of the big picture is that we’re moving toward laws like the one in Illinois, which accepts that the demand for surrogacy isn’t going away but recognizes the hazards and adds regulations and protections,” said Joanna L. Grossman, a family law professor at the Hofstra University law school.

"The Illinois law requires medical and psychological screenings for all parties before a contract is signed and stipulates that surrogates be at least 21, have given birth at least once before and be represented by an independent lawyer, paid for by the intended parents.

"The law allows only gestational surrogacy, in which an embryo is placed in the surrogate’s uterus, not the traditional kind, in which the surrogate provides the egg. In addition, it requires that the embryo created in a petri dish must have either an egg or a sperm from one of the intended parents.

“That eliminates some of the concerns about designer babies,” Professor Grossman said.

Lawmakers in New York, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere are considering measures to allow surrogacy.

"But not all states are moving in that direction. In Kansas, for example, there was a hearing in January on proposed legislation that would have imposed a $10,000 fine, or a year in prison, on those entering into a surrogacy contract. The proposal was shelved after a hearing that was packed with supporters of surrogacy, including women who had been surrogates and parents who brought their children through surrogacy, arguing passionately for the benefits.
"The Louisiana bill, like some others, would only have allowed “altruistic” surrogacy, in which the surrogate, usually carrying a baby for a friend or relative, receives no compensation beyond the reimbursement of expenses."

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Kidney exchange at Google Zeitgeist 2014: 15 minute video

On Tuesday I spoke about kidney exchange at Google's Zeitgeist conference. I was the second to last speaker, right before President Clinton, who spoke last. There are subtitles for the hearing impaired.

And here is a very short introduction to that talk, a two minute video introduction of matching markets (basically the first two minutes of my talk, as far as I can see).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Surgical Grand Rounds at U of Cincinnati Hospital

I'll be giving two lectures today at the U of Cincinnati. Steve Woodle is there, one of the pioneers of kidney exchange.

Grand Rounds With Nobel Laureate Alvin Roth
Date:Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014
Time:9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Location:Surgical Amphitheater and Kresge Auditorium


Alvin Roth, PhD, co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics  in 2012 and a founder of the New England Program for Kidney Exchange, will give two presentations. His visit is hosted by the Department of Surgery, Division of Transplantation.

9 a.m.: J. Wesley Alexander Lecture, Surgical Grand Rounds, Surgical Amphitheatre, "Application of Market Design Principles for Kidney Exchange."

2:30 p.m.: UC College of Medicine Special Lecture, Kresge Auditorium, "Design of Markets for the National Residency Matching Program."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

John Van Huyck, 1956-2014

John and Patsy and their (then) two boys spent a memorable year visiting at Pittsburgh when Emilie and I were there. I teach his papers just about every year.

Here's the obituary: the link at the end leads to a page on which condolences and memories can be left.

July 17, 1956 – September 11, 2014

John Bronston Van Huyck, age 58, died in his home in College Station, TX, on September 11, 2014. The Funeral Service will be held at 11:00am on Thursday, September 18th, at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 603 Church Avenue, College Station, with Deacon Ted Baker presiding. A reception will follow immediately after in the parish activity center. John's remains will be laid to rest at the family farm in Virginia.

John was born in Aberdeen, MD, July 17, 1956, the son of Alfred and Mary Elizabeth Van Huyck. He lived for four years in India growing up, and traveled widely throughout his life, including biking across Europe and driving across the continental US. He dreamed of eventually sailing across the Mediterranean in a small boat with his friends and family, and enjoyed taking multiple trips to Europe with his sons, of which he had three from his marriage to Patsy Johnson. John graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor's degree, and went on to Brown University where he earned both a Masters and a Doctorate in economics.

He applied his talents to the study and teaching of economics as the Rex B. Grey professor at Texas A&M University. In this role, he was a scholar’s scholar and as such made contributions that changed the way economists look at the world. From the very beginning of his academic career, John produced influential works over a broad range of subjects. He began this work with contributions to the way the economy in general is understood and progressed to becoming one of the world’s premier figures in experimental economics and economic game theory.

John played a large part in the acceptance of experiments as a method to improve understanding of economic behavior and to predict the impact of events on the economy. He was instrumental in illustrating how people learn from events and how this learning contributes to stability in the complex economic world. John’s work in no small way contributed to the fundamental acceptance of experimental methods in economics, a branch that has produced several Nobel Laureates.

"Today, economists have absorbed so well what Van Huyck, [Raymond C.] Battalio and [Richard O.] Beil showed that we find it natural, but it was a big surprise when they published the first paper... He had three experiments... that helped economists understand why coordination is hard, even when it’s in everyone’s interest to coordinate. He showed it with a set of experiments using games in which even though everyone knew that everyone wanted to coordinate on a high number, the fear that someone else would slip up caused coordination to fail." (Alvin E. Roth, Nobel Laureate)

He was more than just an academic thinker. He was a true renaissance man. He was deeply interested in the relation between governmental actions, political behavior and the freedom of individuals to pursue their own independent interests. Any one of the many economists who had the privilege of interacting with John came away with a better understanding of the world around them.

Above all else, John loved being a father. He sometimes told the story of how he had wished for a son at a neighborhood wishing well, and was overjoyed to be given three. John served as a Cub Scout den leader for Pack 317, and his oldest two sons both achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He kept himself abreast of the advances in technology, taking advantage of new forms of media to create home video recordings of his family's life, and teaching his sons computer programming. John held himself to high standards in his work and his personal life, and strove to be a great man of virtue and character.

He is survived by his beloved sons, Carl Phillips, Don Ashfield and Bjorn Bennett Van Huyck; their mother, Patsy; his parents, Alfred and Betty Van Huyck; and his sister, Nancy Chockley, her husband, Frederick, and their children, Katherine and Wilson.

The family requests memorial contributions be made towards the funding of a scholarship in John's name at Texas A&M University. Please send contributions to Texas A&M Foundation in memory of John B. Van Huyck, Ph.D., 301 Coke Building, 4223 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-4223.

Please share memories and tributes to John at