Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Looking for More Volunteer Voices

A number of people have kindly recorded for me quotes for my audiobook of Future Imperfect, but there are still a fair number to be done. I could do all of them myself but would rather  have voices that better fit the speakers. 

 A list of the quotes that still need to be done is webbed.

The book is also webbed.
Voices I could use are:

William F. Buckley
H.L. Mencken
Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz
The King James Bible
A sexy female voice
A mild French accent
A mild Arabic accent
A mild Chinese accent
An Australian accent
Some random male and female voices.

Anyone more want to help? Ideally quotes should be recorded in .wav, but mp3 or anything else that most sound programs can read — I use Sound Studio, Audacity, and Switch — is fine. You can email them to me at ddfr@daviddfriedman.com.

Thanks to everyone who responded to my previous post on this. Special thanks to Tim Worstall, who is the reason I no longer need any more English accents.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Looking for Volunteer Voices

I am in the process of converting my book Future Imperfect into an audiobook. It has embedded quotes from a wide variety of sources and it occurred to me that, instead of reading all of them myself, I should get each read in a voice different from mine and more suitable to the person I am quoting. The voices I need are:

Chinese accent (for "May you live in interesting times")
English accent (Arthur Clarke, George Orwell, Samuel Johnson)
New York accent, possibly Queens (Richard Feynman)
Sophisticated East Coast accent (William F. Buckley)
Russian accent (Manny from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress — other accents for him are possible — and a KGB agent from "The President's Analyst")
Mark Twain accent (recordings probably exist)
H.L.Mencken accent (a recording of an interview exists)
Female Cornell administrator
Female scientist (a different female voice from the preceding)
Girl's voice — Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz
Sexy woman's voice
French accent
Arabic accent
Shakespearean actor (Hamlet)

There are a number of other quotes that just need a clearly understandable voice that isn't mine.

It may be a crazy idea, and I may give up and do all the quotes myself, but I thought that the magic of the internet and the open source approach to doing it might work.

Most of the accents should be mild — I want all of the quotes to be easily understandable.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

My European Speaking Trip

I will be giving a series of talks in Europe, from March 3rd through March 15th. Some are open to anyone who wants to come, others you should check with the sponsoring group. They are:
Oxford, Brasenose College, March 3rd,

Law Without the State: Past, Present and Future
Open to the public

London, Adam Smith Institute, March 4th

Legal Systems Very Different from Ours
Open to the public, but first RSVP to events@adamsmith.org 

London, Institute for Economic Affairs, March 5th, lunch.  

The Problem with Externality Arguments: Climate and Population.
Not open to the general public, but you may be able to get an invitation. Email or message me.

Madrid, March 7, 5:45 P.M., Feud Law

This is part of LibertyCon, put on by European Students for Liberty, and I believe is only open to those attending.

Santiago de Compostella, March 10th, 7P.M.  Market Anarchy

Salón de Grados Fac. Ciencias Politicas
Open to the public

Lisbon, March 11th, Liberal Policy - cause or solution to Market Failures? with two other panelists

Instituto de Estudos Políticos / Universidade Católica Portuguesa
Open to the public

Ljubljana, March 12th, 5 P.M.,
Market Failure: An Argument for and Against Government
University of Ljubljana School of Business and Economics (Kardeljeva ploščad 17, Ljubljana)
Open to the public 

Prague, March 15th, 5 P.M.

Legal Systems Very Different from Ours
Open to the public

I cancelled the last two talks on account of the Coronavirus and flew home on the 13th. If I had not cancelled, the Ljubljana talk would have been live streamed with no audience actually present and I probably would not have been able to get to Prague, due to the travel ban imposed, I think, just before I was scheduled to fly there. 

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Brothers is Out

My third novel has just been published. It is available on Amazon as both a paperback and a kindle. The cover is by Anna Krupitsky.

Brothers is the sequel to Salamander, my second novel, unrelated to Harald, my first. The setting is about fifty years after Olver, that world's equivalent to Newton, took the first large steps towards converting magery from a craft to a science. 

For those who have read Salamander ...  . The book starts with Eirick, the thirteen year old son of Lord Iolen, stranded in Forstmark at the court of its ruler by his father's death. 

He is, as Mari later comments, a much nicer person than his father.

Monday, January 27, 2020

What I Have Been Up To

Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life is now available as an audiobook from Audible.com, read by me. The book is written for readers who would like to learn economics for the fun of it — economics understood not as the study of the economy but as a tool for understanding human behavior: crime, marriage, politics, and much else. Also available in print and as a kindle, both from Amazon.

I have produced two other audiobooks, The Machinery of Freedom (third edition) and Harald, my first novel, both also on Audible.com.

My third novel, Brothers, the sequel to Salamander, should be out shortly in print and kindle. 

My next audiobook project will probably be Future Imperfect.

I am not planning an audiobook of my most recent book, Legal Systems Very Different from Ours, anytime soon. But someone else is doing it, with my permission, as a series of podcasts.

Friday, November 22, 2019

How to do an audiobook of Hidden Order

As I mentioned in a recent post, I have now brought Hidden Order back into print. I am considering producing an audiobook of it, but there is a serious problem.

The problem is that the book contains more than forty figures. I could make the figures available on my web page or on a pdf included with the audiobook, but most people will not be sitting in front of a computer while they listen to the book. Viewing figures on a cell phone while driving down the highway, although not impossible, would be hazardous. So either they ignore the figures entirely and skip over passages that depend on them or they listen to parts of the book that don't have figures on their way to work and go over the parts that they have skipped sometime later when they have access to a computer or smart phone. Not impossible, but clumsy.

The alternative is to rewrite the book to eliminate everything that depends on the figures. That would not be impossible but it would be a rather different book, one that was no longer a substitute for a college class in economics. And it would be a lot of work.


I have been assuming that people who listen to audiobooks mostly do it in situations, such as driving, where looking at a picture on a computer screen is not a practical option. Is that true? Are there a substantial number of people who enjoy listening to an audiobook while sitting at home and could easily enough switch to looking at a figure while listening to the text that discusses it?

Perhaps I should forget about Hidden Order and do an audiobook of Legal Systems Very Different from Ours instead. No figures.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

WoW Economics

Now that the new edition of Hidden Order is out, I'm thinking about doing another nonfiction book. One intriguing possibility is a book using World of Warcraft to teach economics. For example ...

Consider the economics of the auction market. To first approximation—perfect competition, zero transaction costs—the price of crafted goods equals their production cost. If we ignore the player's time, that's the cost of the materials to make them.

That breaks down for a variety of reasons, all economic. Crafting and selling takes time, time when some players would rather be doing something else — although that doesn't matter if there are enough who enjoy the auction house game. The market for many crafted items has only a small number of sellers at one time, giving imperfect competition and the possibility of cartels. To craft an item you need the pattern, bought from a trainer or other NPC or on the auction house, possibly at a high price. To learn the pattern, you need sufficient skill. It looks like a product with a fixed cost and a constant marginal cost — except that materials may get more expensive if you want to buy more of them, which gives an upward sloping supply curve.

On the other hand ...  making things can give you skill. One would expect, and  sometimes observes, products that  consistently sell for less than their materials cost, the difference being the price players are willing to pay in order to skill up. 

For many, indeed most, goods the market is thin. One result is price changes over time, most obviously between low population and high population hours and days. Some of them are predictable, but to make money by arbitrage you need a predictable price difference that more than makes up for the 5% auction house cut.

As all of this suggests, the auction house itself, the most obviously economic part of the game, could be used to teach a lot of fairly sophisticated economics. But there is much more.

Consider the matter of forming two player teams to do quests or kill things for loot and experience. The optimal team is probably a paladin and a mage. Why? The mage is the highest dps class, the paladin is both a good healer and a tolerable tank, so the team benefits from division of labor. A druid is also both a healer and a tank but also a tolerably good dps, so a druid has less need of a mage companion than a paladin does and will be willing to offer less favorable terms. That gets us to an important insight of comparative advantage: You want to trade with people who are not only good at what you are bad at but bad at what you are good at.

For an entirely different insight ... Of the first three fire elementals you kill, farming them to make the money to buy your mount, two drop (very valuable) elemental fire. The next ten drop nothing. Obviously Blizzard's random number generator is broken, perhaps deliberately.

It probably isn't. Humans are equipped with very good pattern recognition software, good enough to find patterns that are not there. Which raises the question of whether the business cycle is really a cycle or a random walk made to appear cyclic by the same mechanism.

There are a few of the examples that have occurred to me. The purpose of this post is to invite readers who have played WoW to offer more.

Note: My examples are based on Classic WoW, since that is what I now play, having given up on the standard version of the game some time back.