Friday, October 24, 2014

Nominating a repugnant transaction

I use this blog to describe a lot of repugnant transactions, but I try not to pass judgement on them, since the nature of repugnant transactions is that some people want to engage in them and others think they shouldn't, and who am I to judge?

But this recent NY Times story almost tempted me to become judgmental. I think it was this picture that did it.

Here's the story, by Liz Alderman: Chefs Fight for Songbird. The Ortolan: A Tiny Bird as a French Cause Célèbre

"the ortolan, a tiny songbird that gourmands, including former President François Mitterrand, used to covet, consuming the head, bones and body in a single, steaming mouthful, while covering their faces with a white napkin to conceal the act.
Now, Mr. Guérard and three other celebrity chefs who hail from southwest France — Alain DucasseJean Coussau andAlain Dutournier — are trying to engineer a public comeback for the ortolan, an overhunted species that France banished from restaurant menus in 1999. If they get their way, the forbidden food will be legally offered to napkin-wearing diners at restaurants in Landes for one weekend a year 
Maybe there should be a special surcharge for anyone who gets to eat the last ortolan...

Feel free to suggest transactions that strike you as (possibly) repugnant...
(to get your creative juices flowing, here's a photo of a dog to go in Vietnam, sent to me by Bernhard von Stengel..

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Approximately school optimal student-truthful school matching via differential privacy

The paper below  by Kannan, Morgenster, Roth and Wu is being presented today at 12:15 at the Stanford computer science theory seminar (in Gates 4b).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blasphemy laws in Pakistan

Al Jazeera has the story on blasphemy as a capital crime in Pakistan:

Court rejects appeal of 50-year-old mother of five, found guilty of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in 2010
A Pakistani court has upheld the death sentence of a Christian woman whose 2010 conviction for blasphemy led to the assassination of two politicians who supported her, a defense lawyer said Friday.
Asia Bibi, a 50-year-old mother of five, had appealed before the Lahore High Court against the ruling, in which she was found guilty of insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad, but the court rejected her appeal Thursday, her lawyer said.
"We have the right to appeal in 30 days, and we will continue this legal battle by approaching the Supreme Court of Pakistan," Sardar Mushtaq said.
Bibi's case drew global criticism in 2011 when Pakistan's minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti and eastern Punjab governor Salman Taseer were killed for supporting her and opposing blasphemy laws. Taseer was killed in the capital Islamabad by one of his police guards after visiting Bibi in jail. Bhati was killed months later by the Pakistani Taliban, who called him an "infidel Christian."
Under Pakistani blasphemy laws, insulting the Quran or the Prophet Muhammad can be punished with life imprisonment or death. Experts say the laws often are exploited for personal gain.
Pakistan imposed a moratorium on executions in 2008 and has never executed anyone convicted of blasphemy. Instead, such cases usually linger on appeal.
Mushtaq said Bibi was arrested after Muslim women told a cleric in a village in the eastern Punjab province that she had made "derogatory remarks" about the prophet. He said the trouble began when the women objected to Bibi using their drinking glass because she was not a Muslim, setting off a heated verbal exchange.
"We have a strong case, and we will try our best to save her life," he told The Associated Press.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Recent articles on kidney exchange

On my reading list...

Kidney paired donation: principles, protocols and programs

  1. Kathryn J. Tinckam8,9
      1. Nephrol. Dial. Transplant.doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfu309
-Author Affiliations
  1. 1Department of NephrologyFremantle HospitalFremantle, WA, Australia
  2. 2School of Medicine and PharmacologyUniversity of Western AustraliaPerth, Australia
  3. 3Organ and Tissue AuthorityCanberraACT, Australia
  4. 4Department of Internal Medicine and TransplantationErasmus MC, University Medical CenterRotterdam, The Netherlands
  5. 5Dutch Transplant Foundation, Leiden, The Netherlands
  6. 6NHS Blood and TransplantNHSBristol, UK
  7. 7Department of NephrologySir Charles Gairdner HospitalPerth, Australia
  8. 8Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine and HLA Laboratory, Laboratory Medicine ProgramUniversity Health NetworkToronto, ON, Canada
  9. 9Canadian Blood ServicesOrgan Donation and Transplantation,Toronto, ON, Canada

Kidney exchange: Further utilization of donors via listed exchange

College of Administrative Science and Economics, Koç University, Sarıyer, İstanbul, 34450, Turkey


There is a set of incompatible patient–donor pairs and these pairs are matched pairwise. A match between two pairs corresponds to a paired kidney donation, where pairs exchange donated kidneys, or a paired listed exchange, where the first donor donates a kidney to the deceased donor wait-list, the first patient receives the kidney of the second donor, and the second patient receives a priority on the wait-list. We characterize the set of exchanges with the maximum number of transplants from the set of pairs. This characterization generalizes the well-known Gallai–Edmonds Decomposition Theorem.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Conference today on Economic Incentives for Gender Parity

I'll be a guest today at a conference that SIEPR is hosting for the Forum of Young Global Leaders, Economic Incentives for Gender Parity.

I plan to speak briefly about some of the difficulties that confront two-career couples in navigating the job market, and how those have evolved in the last half century.

Here's the morning agenda; I understand that there are also breakout sessions in the afternoon.

9am  Keynote Address:
  • Al Roth, Nobel Prize Recipient in Economic Sciences
  • Leila Janah, Founder and CEO, Samasource

9:30am  Panel 1: The Future of Philanthropy through a Gender Lens
Leader: Kate Roberts, Co-Founder The Women’s Investment Network and SVP PSI
Jocelyn Wyatt, Co-Lead and Executive Director of
  • Pam Scott, Philanthropist and Founder of The Curious Company
  • Rebecca Van Dyke, CMO of Facebook
  • Patricia Devereux, Executive Director, The Mastercard Foundation
  • Jenn Alcorn, Private Donor Engagement for The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
10:30am Panel 2: Women in Technology and Social Entrepreneurship
Leader: Soulaima Gourani, 40 under 40, Rising Star and Talent 2014, Top 100 Talent Europe, YGL
  • Telle Whitney, President and CEO, Anita Borg Institute, Fast Company's list of Most Influential Women in Technology in 2011
  • Leila Janah, CEO Samasource, Entrepreneur's 7 most powerful people to watch in 2014, Forbe's 30 under 30, YGL
  • Vivek Wadhwa, Distinguished author and journalist, Time’s list of the Top 40 Most Influential Minds in Tech

11:15am Panel 3: Women and Leadership in Global Organizations
Leader: Analisa Balares, CEO of Womensphere, Chair of Womensphere Foundation, YGL
  • Susan Athey, Former Chief Economist, Microsoft, John Bates Clark Medal recipient
  • Sonita Lontoh – Head of Marketing, Trilliant; Chairman, Indonesian Diaspora Foundation
  • Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, CEO, Global Fund for Women; Board Member, CARE
  • Rajiv Pant, Chief Technology Officer, The New York Times; YGL
  • Lila Ibrahim, President, Coursera; Founder & CEO, Team4Tech; YGL

12:00pm Panel 4: Women and Entrepreneurship
Leader: Deborah Kan, Executive Producer Wall Street Journal, YGL

  • Ben Rattray, Founder and CEO,, Time Magazine's list of 100 most influential people
  • Shaherose Charania, Founder and CEO, Women 2.0 and Founder Labs; CEOWorld Magazine's list of Most Influential Women in Tech to Follow on Twitter 
  • Danae Ringelmann, Founder and Chief Development Officer at Indiegogo; Top 50 Most Influential Women in Technology by Fast Company
  • Miriam Rivera, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel for Minerva; Stanford Board of Trustees; Top 10 Corporate Attorneys in the United States by Corporate Counsel Magazine in 2005; Top 100 Women of Influence in Silicon Valley by Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal in 2011
  • Randi Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media; Editor-in-chief of Dot Complicated; Former Director of Market Development and Spokeswoman for Facebook 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Near Feasible Stable Matchings with Complementarities, by Nguyen and Vohra

Here's an interesting new paper on couples in matching markets. When couples are present, the set of stable matchings may be empty, but a "small" perturbation of the problem that increases the capacities of some employers and decreases the capacity of others, restores the existence of stable matchings.  (I haven't yet fully absorbed this, e.g. its impact on overall employment...)

Near Feasible Stable Matchings with Complementarities
Thanh Nguyen and Rakesh Vohra

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sign spotted: Don't take your organs to heaven

Sign spotted in the emergency room by a colleague...