Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
A not-so-dismal look at the “science” of economics: “the world’s first and only stand-up economist” Yoram Bauman reviews the weirdest and most wonderful papers ever published in economics journals… Consider, e.g.,
“Japan’s Phillips Curve looks like Japan” (2008) by Gregor Smith
Smith’s webpage used to link to a version of the paper with this note: “The title is also the abstract and, frankly, most of the text.”
Japan’s Phillips Curve is shown in the right-hand panel of Figure 1. The data are monthly from January 1980 to August 2005.
For ease of viewing, the left-hand panel of Figure 1 rotates the Phillips Curve around the vertical axis so that minus the unemployment rate now is on the horizontal axis. Clearly visible are the islands of Hokkaido and Honshu, though it is somewhat difficult to separately distinguish the southern islands of Kyushu and Shikoku. The Noto-Hanto Penninsula is evident to the north of the southern end of the main island of Honshu. Tokyo Bay is also visible. The data point to the far left in Figure 1 is the island of Fukue-Jima.
Ten others– including Bauman’s own hysterical take-down of Gregory Mankiw and “On the efficiency of AC/DC? Bon Scott versus Brian Johnson,” featured here in pre-blog times– at “Top 11 Funniest Papers in the History of Economics.”
* Nikita Khrushchev (widely attributed)
As we search for one-armed economists, we might spare a thought for Charles Darrow; he died on this date in 1967. It was Darrow who took a Quaker game that inveighed against acquisitiveness and turned it into the monopoly that is Monopoly.
* Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 2, Scene 2
As we appreciate alphabetization, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that a jealous Robert Frost heckled Archibald MacLeish a a reading of the latter’s poetry at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Middlebury, Vt. Bill Peschel recounts:
The gathering was held at Treman Cottage, and Frost was among the attendees, sitting in the back. It was a time when Hitler was on the ascendant, and the United States was divided between warning against the rise of Fascism in Germany and Italy, and those who didn’t want to intervene in another European war. MacLeish was anti-Fascist, and Frost despised MacLeish’s support of Roosevelt.
That night, as MacLeish read from his poetry, Frost began heckling him. “Archie’s poems all have the sametune,” he said in a whisper that could be heard. When MacLeish read the single-sentence poem, “You, Andrew Marvell,” smoke could be smelled. Frost had accidentally, on purpose, set fire to some papers and was beating them out and waving away the smoke.
Most people accepted the story of the accident, and the reading eventually concluded. MacLeish was still the center of attention, and he was asked to read from one of his plays. But Frost was not done with him. As [Wallace] Stegner wrote:
“His comments from the floor, at first friendly and wisecracking, became steadily harsher and more barbed. He interrupted, he commented, he took exception. What began as the ordinary give and take of literary conversation turned into a clear intention of frustrating and humiliating Archie MacLeish, and the situation became increasingly painful to those who comprehended it”.Even Bernard DeVoto, a scholar and friend of Frost, had enough, calling out, “For God’s sake, Robert, let him read!” Frost ignored him, but shortly thereafter, on some pretext, “said something savage,” and left.
Afterwards, Frost’s defenders tried to kick sand over the events. One friend wrote only of “unfounded allusions” and “behavior not proven by fact.” There were people there who didn’t even notice what Stegner saw that night. But baiting MacLeish had caused a permanent rift between DeVoto and Frost. At the end of the conference, when they met and shook hands, DeVoto told him, “You’re a good poet, Robert, but you’re a bad man.”
Lyla Hogan (favorite food: “good ice cream in a hard cone”) reviews the French Laundry, which Anthony Bourdain has called “the best restaurant in the world, period.” (It won that title officially in 2003 and 2004 and is still the #1 restaurant in California and #3 in the country.) Lyla is the youngest person ever to eat a full tasting menu in the storied dining room.
Given the widespread and well-earned prestige of the restaurant, it’s not difficult to find countless multiple-syllable reviews from professional critics. Bold Italic demonstrates that there is no purer critique than the facial expressions of a teeny tiny child.
[TotH to @nextdraft]
* Tom Robbins, Still Life With Woodpecker
As we obsess about wine pairings, we might send birthday greetings to Macaulay Carson Culkin; he was born on this date in 1980. Like Lyla, Culkin began his career when he was four years old, appearing in New York theater productions. He made his feature film debut alongside Burt Lancaster in 1988’s Rocket Gibraltar; then In 1989 appeared in the John Hughes comedy Uncle Buck with John Candy. But Culkin would skyrocket to fame as Kevin McCallister in Hughes’ 1990 blockbuster Home Alone. He went on to start in the Home Alone sequels, then in 1991 became the first child star to earn $1 million for a film role in My Girl. At the height of his fame, he was regarded as the most successful child actor since Shirley Temple– indeed, Culkin ranks number two on VH1’s list of the “100 Greatest Kid-Stars” and E!’s list of the “50 Greatest Child Stars.”
The Moscow Times is reporting that Bulgarian pranksters are repainting Soviet-era monuments so that the Soviet military heroes depicted are recast as American Superheroes:
Russia is demanding that Bulgaria try harder to prevent vandalism of Soviet monuments, after yet another monument to Soviet troops in Sofia was spray-painted, ITAR-Tass reported.
The Russian Embassy in Bulgaria has issued a note demanding that its former Soviet-era ally clean up the monument in Sofia’s Lozenets district, identify and punish those responsible, and take “exhaustive measures” to prevent similar attacks in the future, the news agency reported Monday.
The monument was sprayed with red paint on the eve of the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s celebration of its 123rd anniversary, the Sofia-based Novinite news agency reported.
The vandalism was the latest in a series of similar recent incidents in Bulgaria — each drawing angry criticism from Moscow…
[continues at Moscow Times]
As we dream of empire, we might send enforceable birthday greetings to Allen Pinkerton; he was born on this date in 1819. After migrating from Scotland, Pinkerton landed a job as Chicago’s first police detective; then, partnering with a Chicago attorney, founded the North-Western Police Agency, which later became Pinkerton & Co, and finally Pinkerton National Detective Agency (still in existence today as Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations). Pinkerton provided a range of services, but was especially involved solving railway robberies. After his death in 1884, his firm became deeply involved as agents– Pinkerton men, or “Pinks,” served as spies and enforcers– for employers resisting the development of the labor movement in the U.S.and Canada. Pinkerton and his firm were so famous that “Pinkerton” became slang for “private detective”– and given their strike-busting activities, for authorities that sided with management in labor disputes. Indeed, it has been suggested that “fink” is a derivation of “Pink.”
Seinfeld caps + Kanye West lyrics: SeinYeWest
* Hans Christian Andersen (in translation)
As we do the mash, we might recall that it was on this date in 410 that Rome was sacked by the Barbarian Visigoths, led by Alaric. Rome was no longer the capital of the Western Roman Empire (it had moved to Mediolanum and then to Ravenna); but it remained the Empire’s spiritual and cultural center. And it had not fallen to an enemy in almost 800 years (the Gauls sacked Rome in 387 BCE). As St. Jerome, living in Bethlehem at the time, wrote: “The City which had taken the whole world was itself taken.”
Not sure where this is from, but feel that tingle in the back of your head? That’s the feeling of your mind blowing up.
As we dwell on duality, we might recall that it was on this date in 1920 that Mary Roberts Reinhart’s The Bat opened at the Morosco Theatre in New York.
Reinhart, often called “the American Agatha Christie,” invented the “Had-I-But-Known” school of mystery writing; and while she never actually seems to have written it, is widely-credited with the phrase “the butler did it.” The Bat was one of her successes: it ran for over two years, was revived twice, novelized (see below), filmed three times… and perhaps as importantly, was cited (in one of its film adaptations) by Bob Kane as an inspiration for his creation, Batman.