Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Fun Exercise on Tacit Collusion

I handed two students mock price displays ranging from $3.50 to $4.50 in $0.25 increments and asked them to pretend to be rival gas station proprietors.  We ran through about 20 iterations.  Each time one student priced first; the second responded; and the first could respond in turn.  They took turns going first (and thereby being the last to set a price for that iteration.)

The first time prices matched at about $4.00.  The second time the first mover (who is also the last mover) undercut.  The third time the other student, in this iteration the first mover, undercut back.  I may have polluted this as an experiment by explaining that this was precisely the definition of disciplining conduct.  Every time after that -- for 17 more iterations -- the prices ended up matching.  They were not always at the top price (I had one student who was an altruistic seller) but they most certainly were not competing prices down to $3.50, the lowest available.

There are surely flaws in this as an experiment, but as a class exercise before discussing Theater Enterprises and Twombly it was much fun.  (I forgot to trot out the example of abnormally slow packs in distance track races -- e.g., the 5000 at the 1972 Olympics -- as another example of the same thing.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's the Economy Stupid . . .

Well, the Dow is back up over 14,000.  There are a bunch of megadeals, including megamergers in the pipeline.  Bernanke is reiterating his commitment to quantitative easing.  Meanwhile, the sequester looms, and Europe is uneasy.  So, the question I pose for the group is, what does this mean for law schools.  For the last couple of years there has been persistent moaning about how the legal market has fundamentally changed, that the entry level market is going to remain eternally depressed, that law school is a bad economic bet, and so on.

I'd like to put aside the conversation about the intrinsic value of a legal education for a moment, other than to assert that (1) law school is valuable; and (2) there are lots of things that law schools could do to make it more useful and more valuable, virtually none of which are being fruitfully discussed at the moment, at least in the blogosphere.

Instead, I'd like to ask whether we are nearing the end of the winter of our discontents.  Law school applications lag the economy.  Once a recovery is established, it starts to show up as deals (see above).  The firms then get busy, absorb internal slack capacity, and only then do they go to the market for new folks.  I have to believe that the combination of low interest rates, money sitting on the sidelines, and increasing deal volume is beginning to show up in the firms.  I'm beginning to get inquiries from lawyers I know about the existence of fourth year associates who are, "ready to make a move?"  That seems like a first sign.  It's also a symptom.  There, are, of course, no third and fourth year associates to be had, because four years ago firms were not hiring anybody.  Hopefully this will be good news for the underemployed lawyers who are still out there.  I suspect, for a variety of reasons, it's not.

On the other hand, I do think this is good news for current third year law students who are on the market now, and who will be on the market in the Fall.  I think it's great news for current first and second year law students, who will be applying for jobs in the Fall.

This, of course, won't show up as law school applications this year, or probably even next.  The word won't filter out to the marketplace that law students are getting good jobs again until about two years from now . . .  And, since law school is a four year bet, from application to graduation, who knows what things will look like in 2018?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Online Ed

I am intent on adding online courses to my pedagogical quiver.  It is hard to do.  I spent two hours today hearing about the support opportunities available on campus, which are impressive (though I usually find campus support targets other disciplines better than it does legal education).  Trial by fire starting next week:  both my classes will meet via Google Hangout for four sessions.  I did that once last fall, and the kind way to describe it was "disaster."

Any experience with this?  What technologies have worked and not worked?  How do people accomplish the interactive parts of class?


Here's a proposal for some demand-side collective action from the Faculty Lounge.  Will it take?  Should it?

Productive Co-Bloggers

Every so often a publisher sends me one of those books geared to the student audience that I hide in my cabinet because I'm sort of embarrassed at how helpful I find it to be in my teaching.  Today I received Ferriell & Janger, Understanding Bankruptcy (Lexis, 3d ed., 2013).  I've already enjoyed the first chapter on "General Principles."

How do you all do so much and still keep up with your running?!

Media coverage of antitrust

I find antitrust in general antitrust is both underreported and badly reported in the main stream media, both on its own terms, and relative to other financial and legal issues.  I fully understand our area ranks below war and peace and national electoral policy in terms of newsworthiness but generally find the coverage kind of amateurish and episodic whether on cartel enforcement, unilateral conduct, or mergers. 

I am curious whether you agree and what can be done to improve coverage because without public awareness, competition policy will continue to slide to the fringes of national economic policy.

I also want to single out two examples of recent coverage, one good and one dreadful.   The New York Times book podcast from this Friday had a segment on the new complaint by independent book seller against Amazon and the e-book publishers accusing them of tying ebooks to the Kindle device, effectively foreclosing independent book stores from selling e-books through their own sites.  Trust me, you don't want to listen to this silly discussion.

However, NPR Planet Money has a great recent episode on Mavericks, Monopolies, and Beer on the INBev/Grupo Mondelo acquisition that I thought was terrific.  It explains in plain English the merger laws, market definition, the competitive fringe, mavericks, and coordinated effects.  I plan to assign it in my class and have posted about it on our Institute's Facebook page. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mid-east Marathon Peace

I read today in the Times that the Jerusalem Marathon raises hackles for running into the contested portion of that city.  Apparently there are repercussions threatened against the sponsor New Balance, and that last year's sponsor, Adidas, faced similar threats.

A. I would think a marathon -- and at 18,000 runners, a big one -- would be the ultimate peace gesture.  Can't we all just get along?
B.  Glad I wear Asics.  Others should be safe in their Kinvaras.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Request for Training Wisdom

Okay, so it's the home stretch.  I've logged two 20s.  This Sunday is three weeks out.  I'm a bit out of sync, in that I ran 20 last Saturday, so would usually run shorter next week and 20 the following.  On the other hand, the one time I ran 20 two weeks out from a marathon, it was a bad scene.

So, my current thinking is to do a last 20, and then start to taper.  I'm feeling pretty good, so the benefits of an extra 20 would seem to outweigh the risks.

Here's the puzzle.  The weather looks really lousy this weekend, cold and rainy both days.  Also, I'm signed up for a 4 miler on Saturday.  My plan was to run the 4 miler for fun, and then run long on Sunday.  But a 20 miler in 35 degree rain sounds really unpleasant.  What do folks think about racing the 4 miler, cross training on Sunday, and then running long Monday, when the weather is supposed to be nice?  I'm on sabbatical, so I can get away with it, I think.  What do y'all think?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Trail Running in the RRG

My contribution to tomorrow's law school charity auction is a day of trail running in Kentucky.  Trouble is, the winning bidder has to spend 3+ hours in the car with me, each way, and even then a day of trail running is fun for a fairly limited crowd.  On the upside, it at least promises to be fun for me!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chicago Marathon Registration Opens in an Hour

Okay, so I haven't picked a Fall Marathon.   I don't even know if after Rome, I'm going to want to run a Fall Marathon.  I've got a guaranteed admit to NYC in 2014, so I'm on my own for 2013.  Fellow Runningprofs, should we make a plan to visit Spencer this year?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

20 Miler Number 2

Okay, I have a training question for you all.  Today I ran my second 20 miler in preparation for Rome.  I did the first 13 miles with the SBRC, and the last 7 miles on my own.  This is the same approach I followed two weeks ago.  This time, the group was feeling frisky, so the pace was a good deal faster than I had intended for a long run.  The two loops I did with the group were at, or slightly faster than, marathon pace.  The last 7 were at my usual LSD pace.  On the whole, the run was a confidence builder.  I was able to go fast for a big chunk of the run, and didn't feel too bad at the end either.  I had a bit of a scare, when my right hamstring cramped on me at mile 10, but I was able to stretch it out, and it let go after a bit.

Anyway, I have two questions.  The first is about the wisdom of hard long runs.  I've always thought the goal was to work on speed and turnover during the short to middle length runs, and just work on staving off glycogen depletion during the longer runs.  Is there value to going harder for longer? Or is the result more likely to be injury?  The second question is about how to organize a hard long run?  Today, two of us were running long.  C_ arrived at the start having already run 6 miles nice and easy.  She then drove the pace during the group phase of the run.  I did it the other way around, with the easier part at the back end.   Any thoughts on which is better?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Our Route in Rome

How sick is this?  We begin at the Coliseum and the finish line is the Roman Forum.  Sadly, I will be finishing somewhere between the Basicila of Saint Paul (mile 5) and the Basilica of St Peter (mile 10). 

The packet pick up is at Palazzo dei Congressi at the Piazza J.F.Kennedy, 1 - 00144 Roma.  Its open 10AM-8PM March 14-16.  Not exactly sure where that is but looks like a substantial taxi ride on Google maps although the marathon web site has subway directions if we are feeling lucky. Let's coordinate if possible.

It looks like we get a teeshirt and backpack among other goodies.

Both humble and loveable

Today we mourn the passing of William Watts Biggers, the co-creator of the popular “Underdog’’ cartoon from the 1960s about a caped superhero and his shoeshine-boy alter ego.  For those of you with more stringent parents or who grew up outside the United States, Underdog was a humble but loveable shoe shine boy with a super energy pill in a secret compartment of a ring which transformed him into the unstoppable Underdog.  As a shoeshine boy he was in love with Sweet Polly Purebred, who sadly had eyes only for Underdog himself.  (Does this sound at all familiar?).  Possibly the greatest episode was where Underdog battled the evil Overcat who sought world domination and the virtue of Sweet Polly Purebred.  If you have any fond memories of this, or are at all curious, check out various clips on You Tube.  But avoid at all costs the live action movie version from a couple of years ago.  As far as I can tell, no one has actually seen it but the trailers look horrible.  Some childhood memories should remain sacred.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013


We may have picked an interesting date for the Antitrust Marathon.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Big Wild Ride Youtube Video

On the one hand, I should be embarrassed that I'm featured relatively prominently in a video about a ride that I dropped out of less than 10% of the way through.

But on the other hand, hats off to whoever put this together.  Apart from their choice of the opening and closing interview (and I really did ask that they lose the footage of me!), the video does get me jazzed about my plans for July 21-25 of this year.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Many Words for Snow

"Rob McKenna had two hundred and thirty-one different types of rain entered in his little book, and he didn't like any of them. 
"Since he had left Denmark the previous afternoon, he had been through types 33 (light pricking drizzle which made the roads slippery), 39 (heavy spotting), 47 to 51 (vertical light drizzle through to sharply slanting light to moderate drizzle freshening), 87 and 88 (two finely distinguished varieties of vertical torrential downpour), 100 (postdownpour squalling, cold), all the sea-storm types between 192 and 213 at once, 123, 124, 126, 127  (mild and intermediate cold gusting, regular and syncopated cab-drumming), 11 (breezy droplets), and now his least favorite of all, 17."

           Douglas Adams -- So Long and Thanks for All The Fish

So, this afternoon I went out for my post Nemo run.  I'm visiting my parents on Martha's Vineyard, so I waited until 2:30 to be sure that the roads had been plowed.  The peculiar joy of running in or after a big snow fall is the variety of surfaces.  On the way to the road, I had to break trail through a foot of fresh snow.  Then on State Road, there was brown slush, white packed snow, wet road, slippery slush and a bit of ice.  I turned onto Music Street, and then Middle Road, where the surface was glorious packed and sanded snow. It was hard, even, and, because of the sand, the traction was good.  I kept stopping to take pictures with my I-phone as the sun broke through the clouds.  Then I turned left down Meeting House Road, a downhill dirt road.  That was a challenge.  The surface varied from hard pack, to frozen mud, to the stuff skiers call death cookies (large pieces of chopped ice).  It was fun to run on, so long as you watched where you were going.  Then back onto State Road for a couple of miles of slippery slush.  What a great run!!  Much better than getting caught out in the rain.

The Tyranny of Data

I started to write this as a comment to Matt's last post, but that thread is going in a different direction.  I am beginning to question the increasing role played by data in my training.  It plays into the natural OCD of runners, and may not be entirely healthy.

I started running in 1977 with a watch and a pair of running shoes.  I didn't keep a training log.  I just got up in the morning and ran.  I used my advanced math skills to compare my times.   I don't think I bought a running watch until 1997.  Then, at least during races, I could track my splits.  The watch held multiple runs, and since I was mostly doing the same routes, I could compare pace.  It was time only, until 2004, when I bought a heart rate monitor.  That was the beginning of the end, I think.   All of a sudden I could monitor comparative fitness levels, pace v. heart rate, workout zones.  I still didn't keep a log, though.  It was all pretty impressionistic.  Then, Christmas 2009, the Garmin . . .  No run was complete without uploading it to Garmin connect, looking at the splits, comparing with similar runs. . .   I now know that my heart rate average in the Brooklyn Marathon was 6 bpm slower than in the NYC Marathon the year before (and most of my recent marathons), even though I ran 13 minutes faster.  That's really interesting.  Why? weight? stride? training?  Help!!

Okay, I'm not getting rid of the data technology any time soon.  But it does exacerbate the relentless self comparison that goes along with endurance sports.  I now run with both a Garmin on my wrist and Nike+ on my phone.  I'm sure there is a reason I do this.  I'm not sure what it is.  The need to record miles leads to workout creep.  The need to do particular types of workouts interferes with runs with friends.  The lunatic part of it was driven home a month or so ago, when I forgot to toss the Garmin into my suitcase (or maybe it was just the charger).  My first thought was that I couldn't run because I wouldn't have data . . .  Okay, I got over it and went for a run anyway, and it was lovely, but since when is the watch/GPS/hrm equal to the running shoes in importance?

It seems there's only one appropriately OCD response to the tyranny of data.  I must force myself to run free of recording device at least once per week . . .

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Who Owns Your Running Data?

This is my first post to the ultra-niche blog of antitrust professors/runners. Thanks for having me!

I started running in March last year when I borrowed someone else's ipod nano and went for a jog in Menlo Park, California. I went running because I was just visiting and had no gym work out in. I took the nano to listen to music. But the experience of having the nano tell me every kilometer that passed and give me my run stats at the end got me hooked.

Running with data is way more fun than just running! Using a website like Nikeplus to track your data over time is even more fun.

But my frustration with the nano - it kept ending my runs early when I drenched it with sweat - led to me to want to edit the data. Nike does not let you do this. They don't even let you merge two runs together. This led me to a very cool site that takes your nikeplus data and gives you some different data visualizations and lets you manually add and edit runs.

Smashrun have worked out how to get your data from the Nike website, but they are still working on Garmin. I now use a Garmin GPS watch to track my runs and calibrate my iPod nano at the end of each run. (I find that the nano is only accurate +/- 5%) I don't use the Garmin website much because the interface is not great and they don't analyze the data in ways I find interesting.

Some observations

Nike and Garmin obviously want obviously want to lock their users into their platforms as a means of giving you more reason to buy their gadgets and not to switch every time something better comes along.

Nikeplus is mostly a great website, but Smashrun is better in many ways. To compete with Nike as a data platform Smashrun needs access to the my data. But when I say 'my data' is that legally accurate? Do I really own my data to the extent that I have the right to port it somewhere else.

In the course of writing the post I have probably violated the "Platform Use Restrictions" of Nike's Terms of Service because my "User Generated Content" is inextricably linked with their IP. I am confident that Nike won't mind, but given that some U.S. prosecutors interoperate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as being violated by a TOS violation, maybe I should think twice.

Smashrun is probably not contractually bound by Nike's TOS (quite a debatable point), but some courts might think that it is. Smashrun might be deemed to be in violation of the Nike TOS which provide that "You agree not to use any data mining, robots, scraping or similar data gathering methods." (I might have also violated the TOS that reads "Keep your username/password secure and do not allow anyone else to use your username/password to access the Platform.")

In the wake of the prosecution and subsequent suicide of Aaron Swartz, Representative Zoe Lofgren has drafted a bill that would exclude terms of service violations from the 1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and from the wire fraud statute. This reform is long overdue.

As a matter of consumer protection, if not competition law, data the right of users to have third parties liberate their data aught to be the norm. Then we could have device competition between Nike and Garmin and data platform between Nike, Garmin, Smashrun and host of new entrants.

Spiritu duo di Roma

Loved the first film from Chicago, and bought that dvd.    Here is the Roma trailer

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Running Club Movie Night

Yesterday the student running club delayed its afternoon run until after the faculty meeting, my former colleague P__ (now at Butler's business school) trekked over, and at least one alumnus joined us as well.  We left the law school with 4 of us heading out for a medium loop and 3 of us heading straight across town, where we gathered at my condo for pizza, beer, and a viewing of Fire on the Track, yet another Steve Prefontaine movie (which improves dramatically in my estimation on seeing that it was produced two years before the two Hollywood versions).  After seeing Without Limits and Pre, I'm pretty oversaturated on Pre footage and adulation; this documentary had the nice twist of Ian Stewart (5000m bronze in Munich when Pre was fourth) being quoted as saying something like "What Steve didn't understand, when he told me he was going to run the last mile in four minutes, was that I could do that too, and so could 5 or 6 other guys in Europe."  Stewart quite famously ran down Prefontaine in the back-stretch to take the bronze.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hubris and Comeuppance

About this time of year I find that I can roll out 8 or 9 miles without too much discomfort and I cease to fear the long runs.  This mindset works if I stick to a smart work-rest-work-rest schedule.  This week I got behind and didn't get started on my harder days until Friday.  After two hard runs Friday and Saturday and some hours on the bike trainer as well, I got absolutely pulverized on today's long run.

Boston Garb

One thing the kind folks at Boston Athletic Association, with help from Adidas, have figured out is how to roll out marathon information and updates in order to keep you hooked and spending money year-round.  An example:  you get the glossy marathon magazine from one year's race just a week prior to the start of registration for the next year.  Who can resist?

About this time of year, when it would be easy to fall into the winter training doldrums, Adidas puts the new Boston garb up for sale.  The $100 running jacket is the signature Boston souvenir.  I jumped on it in 2011, thinking "this may be my only trip to this race!"  I bought the horrible orange one last year because I was convinced it would be my shot at a sub-3:00 race.  And this year?  Well, by now it is a tradition.  I can just see myself 40 years from now showing off my collection of Boston jackets to yawning teenagers at a grand-nephew's high school cross country barbecue.

At least this year they returned to some traditional coloring and stuck with the embroidery on the logo.  And if the purpose is to keep you excited, it works:  I'm pretty charged about my planned 16-mile loop around Northwest DC.  Heading out in 15.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

20 Miler #1

Slogged through 20 miles today.  Did the first 13 with the a friend and former student.  We ran with the South Brooklyn Runners, and that kept the pace honest on a cold and clear day.  First we did a loop of Prospect Park, circled back to the start, picked up more runners and then ran through Brooklyn Bridge Park, DUMBO, Fort Greene and back to Carroll Gardens.  From there on, I was on my own.  I did a short loop of Prospect Park, and ran home.   The last bit was nothing to write home about, but got it done.  Tomorrow I'm signed up to run a 4 mile race in Central Park.  That will be interesting. . . .