You'll be as excited to learn as I was that the UN has declared 2013 to be the International Year of the Quinoa.
Via: the Economist
Who was my favorite student this term?
6 years ago
A long pondered but only lately realized blog about economics, politics, evaluation, econometrics, academia, college football and whatever else comes to mind.
Almost from the beginning, Seinfeld has forsworn graphic language in his bits, dismissing it as a crutch.I don't mind cursing and smut, but it is not elegant and, as usually applied in stand-up comedy, not very clever.
What are your reading habits? Paper or electronic? Do you take notes? Do you snack while you read?I agree that Parliament of Whores is the best of P.J's books, though Holidays in Hell and Republican Party Reptile are not far behind. The collection of writings about cars was fun too.
Behold the book with its brilliant, nonlinear search engine called flipping-through-the-pages. A Kindle returns us to the inconvenience of the scroll except with batteries and electronic glitches. It’s as handy as bringing Homer along to recite the “Iliad” while playing a lyre. I dog-ear all my books, underline passages and scribble “Huh?” and “How true!” in the margins. The only fit snack while reading is the olive in a martini.
I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing. Does it exalt dunderheads, cowards, trimmers, frauds, cads? Then the pain of seeing them go up is balanced and obliterated by the joy of seeing them come down. Is it inordinately wasteful, extravagant, dishonest? Then so is every other form of government: all alike are enemies to laborious and virtuous men. Is rascality at the very heart of it? Well, we have borne that rascality since 1776, and continue to survive. In the long run, it may turn out that rascality is necessary to human government, and even to civilization itself - that civilization, at bottom, is nothing but a colossal swindle. I do not know: I report only that when the suckers are running well the spectacle is infinitely exhilarating. But I am, it may be, a somewhat malicious man: my sympathies, when it comes to suckers, tend to be coy. What I can't make out is how any man can believe in democracy who feels for and with them, and is pained when they are debauched and made a show of. How can any man be a democrat who is sincerely a democrat?And so it shall be again this Tuesday, regardless of whether the demopublicans or the republicrats get to shovel my tax dollars in the direction of their friends for the next four years.
"Butter” alternates between looking down its nose at Midwestern passions and cooing over smugly liberal values."Needless to say, this played well with the Ann Arbor audience last night at the Michigan Theater. There was even a bit of misplaced applause at the end. Still, it is well-acted enough, and funny enough at times, that I am glad to have seen it.
If, from beyond the grave, Betty Friedan were to review the Facebook habits of the over-30 set, I am afraid she would be very disappointed in us. By this I mean specifically the trend of women using photographs of their children instead of themselves as the main picture on their Facebook profiles. You click on a friend’s name and what comes into focus is not a photograph of her face, but a sleeping blond four-year-old, or a sun-hatted toddler running on the beach. Here, harmlessly embedded in one of our favourite methods of procrastination, is a potent symbol for the new century. Where have all of these women gone? What, some earnest future historian may very well ask, do all of these babies on our Facebook pages say about “the construction of women’s identity” at this particular moment in time?
Many of these women work. Many of them are in book clubs. Many of them are involved in causes, or have interests that take them out of the house. But this is how they choose to represent themselves. The choice may seem trivial, but the whole idea behind Facebook is to create a social persona, an image of who you are projected into hundreds of bedrooms and cafés and offices across the country. Why would that image be of someone else, however closely bound they are to your life, genetically and otherwise? The choice seems to constitute a retreat to an older form of identity, to a time when fresh-scrubbed Vassar girls were losing their minds amidst vacuum cleaners and sandboxes. Which is not to say that I don’t understand the temptation to put a photograph of your beautiful child on Facebook, because I do. After all, it frees you of the burden of looking halfway decent for a picture, and of the whole excruciating business of being yourself. Your three-year-old likes being in front of the camera. But still.
A very closely related problem turns on the merits of using performance measures to proxy for rigorous impact estimates. Since these measures were first conceived during the CETA program, attempts to refine them so they actually “work” have amounted to the workforce development field's equivalent of the quest for the Holy Grail. Like its predecessor quest, so far this effort has been futile. There is no convincing evidence that using performance measures as a proxy is a good idea and lots of evidence against it. As explained by Burt Barnow in his chapter here, “Lessons from the WIA Performance Measures,” workforce performance measures do not correlate well with program impacts. That really should not be a surprise, because coming up with reliable performance measures requires that we be able to confidently and consistently solve the evaluation problem.Though nominally aimed at the Europeans, there is much that US policymakers could learn from the book as well. They could also learn from the Europeans (at least some of them) about how to increase the quality of non-experimental program evaluations via better administrative data.
The company has even begun research into its efficacy, and the early results are striking. After one of Marturano’s seven-week courses, 83 per cent of participants said they were “taking time each day to optimise my personal productivity” – up from 23 per cent before the course. Eighty-two per cent said they now make time to eliminate tasks with limited productivity value – up from 32 per cent before the course. And among senior executives who took the course, 80 per cent reported a positive change in their ability to make better decisions, while 89 per cent said they became better listeners.Smith, Whalley and Wilcox mock these sorts of questions and provide evidence from an active labor market program that they do not correlate with impacts estimated in more compelling econometric ways.
Other companies have found that such programmes can generate both health benefits and cost savings. Aetna, partnering with Duke University School of Medicine, found that one hour of yoga a week decreased stress levels in employees by a third, reducing healthcare costs by an average of $2,000 a year.The main problem with this, of course, is that we do not learn the methods the companies used to find this amazing reductions in health care costs. Did they do random assignment? Did they compare participants to non-participants without controls? Did they compare participant health costs before and after the program? Two of those methods typically yield rubbish, one does not. The second problem with this is that the estimate does not really pass the smell test. Employees are large corporations do not have high average health care costs. If they did, in most cases they would not be working. For this group, a $2000 impact would be really large, so large, I suspect, as to be implausible.
"... I was not a good fit with Merrill's very conservative culture. I felt as if I'd decided to intern with a mathematically gifted baboon tribe, and I'm sure they were just as puzzled by me."Probably I like it because it was from Merrill that I learned not to have a broker.
The United States circa 2012 is one of the most productive economies of all time, arguably the most productive if you take into account size and diversification (rules out Norway, etc.). Internationally speaking, in the richest and most productive global economy of all time, which is our most competitive sector?
Hollywood? Maybe, but it could well be higher education. Students from all over the world want to go to U.S. higher education. If we had nicer immigration authorities, this advantage would be all the more pronounced.
In other words, I work in what is perhaps the most competitive and successful sector in the most competitive and successful economy of all time.
And yet what I see around me is a total, total mess. And I believe my school to be considerably above average in terms of how well it is run.Indeed.