Friday, December 31, 2010

Rocky Balboa

Today I went for the last run of 2010, a casual 50-minute cruise from home out to Rock Creek Park, past the stables and Park Police headquarters, up past the old ford over Rock Creek (which my stepfather recalls crossing when he was a child living in DC) and back home via Military Road. I started slow and stiff but I warmed up and had a strong if not fast last 20 minutes. Had I thought when heading out it was the last of the year I might have tried something more momentous.

I'm supposed to add 3-4 days of strength training weekly for the next four or five weeks. I couldn't bring myself to head in to the gym (why are we members there again?), so I did some calisthenic-style leg exercises on the back porch and decided to finish with the walking lunge. The assignment is to hold a barbell over the head while striding and dipping the back knee more or less to the ground. With not a barbell in sight, I tried one of the summer wheels from my car that I have stacked against the fence. I can only imagine what a sight that presented for the neighbors. Rocky Balboa would be proud.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Not Watching Football

This is a great time of year, when I will not be watching football. A few notes about that:

1. There is no better time to ski than on Super Bowl Sunday. Lift lines are short, the snow is good and the lifties post the scores on the bulletin boards usually reserved for notices like "Joe Smith report to the first aid shack".
2. Sunday afternoons in winter are great times to run or to catch a Kennedy Center matinee.
3. None of the Redskins, the Big Red or the Bearcats are worth watching in any event. And I haven't yet become enamored with the Colts.
4. One day, while VAPping in Cincinnati, I picked up the paper (Enquirer) and saw the words "Who Dey" spread all over the front page. No joke. I understood it was a cheer of some local renown, but I couldn't believe that a paper that purports to report on important events devoted that much ink to the Bengals.
5. Once in high school I was driving to watch friends play baseball for the local high-school team. Dad made an off-hand remark to the effect of "one would think you'd want to play yourself, rather than watch others play." That made quite an impression.

Admittedly, there are many who hold contrary views. I'd love to hear them!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Antitrust Proceduralism

It's that time of day when after two cups of coffee I start having ideas that I will likely never bring to fruition. (It's also the time of day when I'm most vulnerable to suggestions that I take on new projects, when two symposium pieces and a paper in the course of the next six months sounds completely do-able. Spencer asks (post below) how to say "no"; my personal answer is, stay off the caffeine. I've been looking for a new year's resolution . . .)

But here's an idea on which I wonder if anybody has comments: Antitrust Proceduralism. I recently canvassed the surprisingly broad body of writing on schools of antitrust thought, including what are sometimes almost silly debates about whether the writer's forebears were more influential in the development of the law than were another writer's forebears. (My dad can beat up your dad!) I find myself thinking that none of the schools of economic thought are the leading candidates for greatest influence on the modern state of federal antitrust law. Rather, it is the antitrust proceduralists, led by none other than retired Justice David Souter. (To acknowledge two intellectual debts: Amy Wildermuth (Utah) wrote a short piece a few years back in the Northwestern Law Review's online journal, "Colloquy," comparing Twombly with another Souter procedural decision, and bemoaning his getting both wrong. When I read that, I thought instead of the Cal Dental/Twombly duo of opinions, in which the procedural rules the Court adopted, in both cases in opinions by Souter, arguably have a greater impact on antitrust enforcement than any substantive rule of law. My co-author and mentor Mark Anderson also influenced my thinking on Cal Dental.)

For example, consider the fury over Leegin (reversing Dr. Miles). What change in the law really has been wrought? With much respect to the furious, resale price maintenance has functionally been subject to the rule of reason, or even a rule of per se legality, since Colgate in 1919. All the Dr. Miles rule did was pad the pockets of capable corporate counsel, who advised clients in distribution agreements to insert the words "you must or else" instead of "would you please" in the paragraph of the agreement relating to retail pricing.

But Cal Dental takes an enormous class of agreements with a clear and direct impact on prices and output and subjects them to nearly the full rule of reason. The substantive legal standard is no different from what it used to be, but the ability of plaintiffs -- even the government -- to bring cases challenging advertising restrictions, no-competitive-bidding agreements, joint distributorships, certain kinds of information sharing agreements (other examples?) is dramatically curtailed vis-a-vis the world of the quick look. And little needs to be said about Twombly, a decision that many thoughtful antitrust proceduralists abhor. (I don't personally bemoan Twombly, but I may be the only one. Even the usual suspects on the anti-enforcement side tend to be quiet about the case, or applaud the result while saying it is badly reasoned.)

What school of thought drives these decisions? Maybe there's a little bit of Neo-Chicago in all this. Consistent with that idea, Mark and I described the application of the error-cost framework (while not adopting the Neo-Chicago label) in Twombly. I need to investigate further to see whether the same arguments underlie Cal Dental, but I don't think so. At least the false positive language was not employed there.

So would the argument hold? Does it need to be tested empirically first? Or perhaps this a no-duh proposition, which can be resolved by quoting Sir Henry Maine: "Substance is secreted in the interstices of procedure."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Indoor Bike Workout

Because it can't all be "Spinervals" DVDs. Pop in Pirates of the Caribbean. Get out of the saddle and work hard whenever there is sword-play. It gets rather intense toward the end!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Current Project

I owe a law review editor a paper tentatively titled "The Past and Future of Extraterritorial Antitrust." It involves a certain amount of updating ideas in this paper and this paper. Because both those papers dealt primarily with private claims, however, I need to work somewhat on the public enforcement questions.

A new formula for off-season productivity: get way, way behind. So far it's working for me.

New Paper

I've got "Neo-Behavioralism?" up on SSRN. In it I'm finally going public with a theory I've been playing with at least since several of us ran the Dublin marathon in 2009. I'm eager to hear thoughts (and grateful for those I've already received).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Being Flexible, Zen and Married Twenty Years

These are actually two different topics. We were scheduled to travel to Madrid and Barcelona on Monday, but had to reschedule because of the weather in London where we were connecting. Now we are leaving Friday for a slightly longer trip to Barcelona only (through New York). That's the flexible and zen part.

In the meantime, got further along on grading, caught up on movies (Black Swan, King's Speech and Tron: Legacy), and worked in three short outdoor runs which would have been longer if different pieces of the lakefront path didn't resemble frozen Arctic tundra.

Today is our twentieth anniversary and we are off to dinner at Graham Elliot which now hold, among its many honors, a one star Michelin rating. More more importantly, it is located in the space where in a prior restaurant incarnation we held the very first colloquium dinner in April 2001!

(although in fairness, zen and flexible help on the marriage front also!).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


My main winter training assignment is to spend 5 or so hours per week on the bike trainer. (I have some long-distance rides planned with my brother this year, on which I'll report when they move from theory to reality.) The bike trainer is harder than biking out-of-doors, because you can't coast. And because it's deadly dull. The one upside is the opportunity to cycle through my DVD collection.

Today between reading all the posts in the Truth on the Market behavioral economics symposium and incorporating some edits into a paper, I turned on Bicycle Dreams, with the volume full blast, and spent 90 minutes following the late great Jure Robic and a crew of normal people (at least when contrasted with Robic) from San Diego to Atlantic City. I can't recommend the movie enough -- and if you want to borrow it, let me know. This is the first time I've watched the documentary since Robic died this fall.

I'd enjoy joining a support crew and seeing RAAM first-hand. I'm not going to say I'd like to give the race a go myself, but one does think about it.

Google N-gram Viewer

I finally had the chance to play around with the new Google n-gram viewer. It lets you search a word, phrase, or name in the Google books database and then graphs for you over time the frequency of the word. Try antitrust. Try monopoly. Try your own name. Try your favorite book. It is an awesome resource, a wonderful time waster, and even a serious research tool for certain projects.

Not surprisingly, antitrust doesn't appear much before 1890 and peaks around 1980.

But monopoly appears from 1600 on with surprising peaks in years where I can't think of a cause off the top of my head. It eventually peaks around 1940.

Any idea why so much monopoly action in the 17th and 18th century (besides the passage of statute of monopolies in Elizabethian times)?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Full Ironman

Late on Sunday afternoon when everyone else is watching something else, NBC ran a 2 hour slickly edited and produced show on the Kona ironman competition. Like every year, I am captivated by the insane physical accomplishment this represents. The special cuts between the leaders for the men and women and half a dozen human interest stories. This year the human interest stories included a guy who had been a convicted felon and addict and used training for the ironman to turn his life around, an elite woman athlete who had stress fractured her foot two weeks before and was walking the marathon portion with her foot in a boot cast, a 76 guy who was doing the race with his daughter, and a 66 year old grandmother who was grinding it out to try to finish before the end of the 17 hour deadline for "official" finishers. The leaders at superhuman paces, the heat rose, winners finished,the sun set, and the stragglers crossed the finish line with looks of triumph and near collapse. And eventually the 66 year old grand ma crossed the finish line with 48 seconds before the midnight deadline to receive a hug from the woman's champ who had returned to greet the last group of finishers. As they said in Jerry McGuire, they had me two hours earlier at "Hello, this is the 2010 Ironman World Championships..."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Math for Business Lawyers

Over a recent afternoon run I discussed with my colleague Peter a class I'd like to create and teach or co-teach: Math for Business Lawyers. I envision its being one credit, taught in a single 13-hour week just before the first week of class in the fall. It would be targeted to 2Ls, but of course open to any upper-level student. It would be strongly suggested for any student taking upper level business law electives who does not come from an accounting, finance, business, economics, math or science background.

The purposes are to avoid the necessity of my explaining how to calculate simple interest in Secured Transactions and Bankruptcy; to shorten the time required to calculate HHIs in Antitrust; to ensure that when I say "expected value" or "time value of money" the student knows what that means without explanation. Peter and I have also commiserated over "number-phobia," which is the glassed-over look when numbers go on the blackboard during class and pathetic efforts to respond to the simplest of questions requiring calculations on the exam. The course would qualify as a skills course, which would help to meet the increasingly onerous ABA requirements.

I'd love help compiling a top-10 list of things to cover. What basic math concepts do others see in their classes?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What I'm Writing

My semi-annual review of recent antitrust books is now available.

My updated overview of US consumer protection law to be published in the European Journal of Consumer Law will be available on-line when I get from Spain.

At some point, I have to finish up my revisions to Corporate Governance and Competition Policy for February submission and then its onto Social Networking and Competition Policy for a conference in the late spring.

Will someone please teach me how to say "no" every once and a while to interesting projects, conferences, and talks?

Back Home

It's the time of year when I move into my home office until the next semester starts. It's a tremendous feeling. I pack Patricia out the door with breakfast and lunch; make sure the cats have what they need; put the iPod in the dock; and re-populate my bookcase with books that I've had at the office. I move between the desk, which overlooks my little backyard with the cherry tree and anemic lawn, and the oh so comfortable mission-style recliner that I brought here in 2005 from Dad's house in Alaska. I sit in the chair when I want to read and not to write, and I don't mind dozing off for a few minutes every couple of hours. But the rest of this week, and perhaps the next, I'll be at the desk, grading exams. The cats will take up their positions in the two window-sills in front of me, protecting me from squirrels. I'll take a break at lunch and hang lights on the tree so when the daylight fades I can look out and enjoy the holiday glow.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12 runner teams. 2 Vans per team. 3 shifts per runner of 3-8 miles depending on terrain. Madison-Chicago. 200 miles. About 24 hours. In the words of Animal House, "This requires a stupid futile gesture on somebody's part. and we're just the guys to do it!" Who's in? Who else should we ask?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Photo

This just landed in my inbox. Somebody had this idea to cheer up runners at mile 34 of the JFK (at a rest stop cleverly named "Miracle at Mile 34")a few weeks ago. It certainly worked for me.

Some Exam Questions

Because it's time to retire this line of questions anyway, I'll post their latest iteration (without the answer options).

6. Demetrius, the world’s only ultrarunning groupie, hoped to borrow money to fly from Indianapolis to Leadville, Colorado, to observe the Leadville 100 ultramarathon. He approached Left Bank about a loan. Left Bank decided Demetrius was too great a credit risk and demanded security before it was willing to proceed. Demetrius offered Left Bank a security interest in his perfectly restored 1981 Colnago bicycle with a value of $2500. On June 21, Demetrius signed a promissory note and a security agreement. Left Bank filed a financing statement containing all necessary information that same day. If nothing else occurred, would Left Bank have a perfected security interest in the bicycle?

7. Assume the facts of Question 6, above. On July 2 (same year), Demetrius’ ex-wife, who left him because she was tired of being an “ultrarunning widow” (you think watching football for a couple of hours on Sunday is tough on a relationship?), sued for past-due alimony. Because Demetrius was in Leadville, she got a default judgment, petitioned for and was awarded a writ of execution, and took it to the sheriff. Learning of this, Left Bank declared Demetrius in default and repossessed the bicycle. (Demetrius, sitting beside a trail somewhere in the Rockies cheering every 45 minutes when a runner staggered by, had no idea what was going on.) When the sheriff entered the bank and declared that he was levying on the bicycle pursuant to the writ of execution, is Left Bank in a position to keep the collateral (even if it has to take additional steps)?

19. Recall Question 6, above, and assume Left Bank’s interest attached to the bicycle and Left Bank perfected. Left Bank decided to proceed against the collateral when Demetrius predictably defaulted. (Legend has it Demetrius absconded to Copper Canyon, State of Chiapas, MX, to live in a mud hut and run full time.) It turns out the president of Left Bank was a huge Italian cycling fan and was dying to get his hands on the Colnago. Knowing that, the loan officer decided his best career move was to keep the bicycle in satisfaction of the loan. The amount owing on David’s obligation to the bank was $750 and the bicycle was worth about $2500. What possible impediment(s) exist to Left Bank’s keeping the bicycle in satisfaction of the loan?

What I'm Reading

Tim Wu, The Master Switch (2010). This is one of the best books on competition policy writ large I have read in ages. Wu traces the rise and fall of information networks and empires from the telegraph to the internet and all things Bell, Hollywood, and RCA in between. It focuses on the key examples in our century when monopoly power is swept away by gales of creative destruction and more importantly when it isn't (usually where buttressed by government barriers or where the monopolist/cartel can contain or destroy the emerging disruptive technology. The Master Switch is focused on the future of the internet and the debate over net neutrality but it has lessons about regulatory policy, the importance of antitrust beyond just price competition, the relationship between market structure and control of cultural and informational content, the need for access and interconnection in a networked age, and much more. As they say, if you read competition policy book this holiday season, make this the one!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Greatest Holiday Gift

Last week, my daughter announced that she was beginning to train to run a 5K race in the spring. Then she announced that she had run a 7:52 mile on the treadmill in our building and was shooting for a 7 minute mile before the end of winter. A dream come true if I am not left in the dust when we eventually run together.

The Running Market

I'm waiting for Michael Lewis to write a book on the market dynamics of the sport of running. It fascinates me to see the sport mature, as it gains visibility, (1) encouraging athletes who otherwise would toil in the trenches in more visible sports or not compete at all to make the switch and become runners, and (2) it gains breadth, encouraging those who are modestly competitive at (e.g.) the marathon to move to (e.g.) the wild frontier of ultrarunning, where they can win races. (The same happens in running-to-triathlon: if you were a modestly competitive collegiate runner, you will be very competitive in nearly any big-city triathlon.) It's athletic arbitrage, kind of like when Herschel Walker took up bobsledding or roller-blader Shani Davis took up speed-skating, both going from superb athletes to Olympians. I also understand that it is (1) cyclical, although I'm too young fully to appreciate the last running boom of the 1970s and early 1980s,* and (2) correlated strongly to economic downturns, strengthening the premise that the boom is a question of arbitraging the opportunities the sport presents (if I can't work, may as well get in shape!).

On the other hand, why Michael Lewis? Maybe I'll post this as an SSRN abstract and reserve the topic for the first runningprofs monograph.

*I'm not really too young. Maybe in another post I'll describe the years running with Dad, starting at age 6 and extending until the old man became uncool.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rules for Winter Running

Okay, they are more guidelines ala Ghostbusters.

1) Don't be Stupid. Temperatures below 10-12 wind chill are actually dangerous. So are sheets of ice. That's why they invented indoor gyms, indoor tracks, ellipitical machines, treadmills, and cross-training.

2) Take advantage of any half-way decent day. Get out there. You never know when the next decent day will come.

3) Layer Up. Ignore everything about dressing for 20 degrees above the actual temperature. Double up on everything.

4) Plan your route. Unless you wear a hydration belt figure out when you can get water and find bathrooms for the really long runs. In Chicago, that either means running south to take advantage of the one water fountain on year round on the path by the nature museum plus the various fountains and bathrooms inside the buildings in the zoo or sticking to the streets where you can drop into friendly Starbucks and pancake houses as needed.

5) Watch your footing. See where other runners are pitty patting their way around or through icy or slushy patches and follow their lead. Stick to sidewalks where people have shoveled and/or deiced. Its okay to be slow in the winter.

6) Enjoy. Its a winter wonderland. Plus (at least in Chicago by the lake) lots of ducks, geese and other birds who seemingly have forgotten how to migrate.

7) Don't forget the nap. Nothing is finer than that warm and fuzzy feeling after you come indoors after exerting yourself outside in the cold.

All that said, I do envy bay area and UK runners who can train for marathons and anything else they want all year round. For me, winter is about maintaining a base so I can begin training for real in March.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cold Running

No, not "Cool Runnings," the John Candy movie about bobsledders. Cold.

Went to drop off the car at the shop yesterday and thought I'd fit in my run by jogging home. When I got out of the car the thermometer said 10 degrees. I stopped at Starbucks for a warmup on the way home.

That afternoon my colleague Peter suggested a run from the office. I don't pass up those opportunities; Peter is a very serious runner and I learn much, as well as getting a good workout. It was 17 degrees.

This morning I had to go back for the car! So another 35 minutes, this time at 13 degrees. I made it without hitting Starbucks.

It must be like this, or worse, where the other contributors are?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Race Expo Fashion

There's a scene in one of the various bad-boy fraternity house movies (read: Animal House knockoffs) -- this one called "Politically Correct University" -- in which the cool fraternity brother says to the fraternity dufus, "What's this? You're wearing the shirt of the band you're going to see? Don't be that guy."

I'm always embarrassed to catch myself sorting through the t-shirts to decide what to wear to a race expo, but I do it nonetheless. Do I wear the shirt from last year's running of this race? The shirt from another race -- maybe a higher profile one? If I had one, would I wear my "Boston Marathon" t-shirt? How about wearing _any_ marathon t-shirt when signing up for a 10K?

And for the rest of the wardrobe: there are those who show up in full running regalia -- spandex and running shoes. There are those who come in the classic outdoorsy dress -- Birkenstocks and rag wool. Then there is the team gear, of which there are three primary types: local road running club (e.g., DC Road Runners, Annapolis Striders). semi-elite or elite club (e.g., Oregon Track Club), and national team.

I have a few personal rules: no shirts from longer races; no shirts from last year's running of this race. (If I ever repeated a race more than two years later, I'd be OK with an older shirt.) No running garb, except for the worn-out shoes that have become walking shoes. I'm not a member of a team, but I could see wearing a runningprofs shirt if I had one. My current favorite is a blue shirt from the Bulldog 5K, run every May in Chevy Chase, DC. The shirt has a picture of a bulldog wearing running shoes on the front.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I'm trying to work out a new year's resolution regarding a running program. I still need the race-specific training and all -- the older I get, the more important the track workouts -- but what I've always shortchanged is the daily training, what Quenton Cassidy called "the trial of miles."

But also, being no Quenton Cassidy, my legs won't take 10 miles a day. Neither will my writing, and neither will my wife. I'm thinking of a daily -- 7 days a week -- 4 to 5 mile run. I mean every day including the day before a marathon. I'd like it to become as easy and comfortable as is my walk to and from the office.

What do you think? Is this silly?

The Perfect Break from Grading

Here is where I will be next Sunday.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Festival of Lights

Tonight is the first night of Hannukah. Its one of the few "we win" holidays as opposed to we get massacred, exiled and sold into slavery holidays. That alone makes it one of my favorites let alone the theoretical possibility of eight nights of presents, pretty candles and religiously sanctioned gambling.

So fellow bloggers please hold off on buying running related books for the next few days and look for a small Hannukah present at your offices shortly from the Hannukah helpers at Running Prof Blog.