Only in Austin

Austin takes its reputation as a live music mecca seriously, with a series of these "musician loading and unloading" zones painted into the streets downtown.

So simple it just might work!

Marginal Revolution: Paying for Performance

Everything else has been tried, usually expensively and ineffectively, to improve performance in the worst urban schools. So why not just cut out the middlemen and directly pay cash to students who demonstrate academic improvement? Initial results are said to be encouraging.

Presidential predictions: going out on a limb

If you look at the last batch of polls, showing Bush with a slim lead nationwide (and vanishingly slim leads in key battleground states), and then factor in a often-seen tilt towards the challenger in final polling, you could predict a Kerry victory in tomorrow's election.

If you take the polls literally, factor in an often-seen tendency to favor an experienced incumbent when faced with external threats, or trust other indicators (like betting markets or econometric models), you could predict a Bush victory in tomorrow's election.

But if you think the election mess of 2000 opened a national karmic rift that must be closed, you can join me in predicting that both Kerry and Bush win tomorrow: Bush narrowly winning the popular vote, Kerry narrowly winning the electoral college.

Lefty populists who've been criticizing the electoral college will suddenly discover its sublime wisdom.

Gloating by Kerry supporters and Bush-bashers abroad will be moderated.

Bush will have won exactly one popular vote, and served exactly one term -- just not the term corresponding to his popular vote victory.

The United States would get the usefully divided government that keeps costly federal adventures, at home and abroad, in check.

The imbalance introduced in 2000 will have been corrected, the Republic reinvigorated. Everybody wins!

You heard it here first. (Just don't make me lay money on such a unique outcome.)