Friday, May 30, 2014

Movie: Maleficent

Disney redoes (and rewrites) the sleeping beauty story with a focus on Anglea Jolie as the witch who casts the curse.

The NYT review is a bit overwrought, but captures the spirit well. I liked this line:
The exquisite attention to detail in both the makeup and costume is routine in major productions like this one, of course, but the mixture of Old Hollywood glamour and contemporary fetishwear doesn’t just turn Maleficent into a pleasurable spectacle, it also serves a character who embodies both the past and the future.
Recommended if you have kids. There are some scary bits, but nothing our six-year-old couldn't handle; she pronounced the movie among her favorites when it was done.

More on Performance Network

From the Ann Arbor news, details on a meeting of former Performance Network staff and performers.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The State News on the minimum wage

My 15 minutes of fame in East Lansing were used up by this article in the MSU student newspaper.

The student reporter did a pretty good job of capturing my thoughts. The one exception is that I tried to emphasize that what leads businesses to substitute customer effort and/or capital for labor is changes in relative prices more broadly. The minimum wage is just one source of those. Part of the reason for recent changes, such as replacing counter people at fast-food restaurants with screens and self-checkout at drug stores, is presumably more about reductions in the cost of the capital involved rather than movements in wages levels.

I was impressed with the thoughtfulness of the business owners interviewed for the article as well. I wonder how many she sampled to get these responses.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Luhrmann on cultural differences in sleep

This NYT op-ed (?) is a bit of a teaser for Luhrmann's research.

Her book When God Talks Back, which is an ethnography (sorta) by a linguistic anthropologist of a Christian sect (the Vineyard church) that places a strong emphasis on communicating with God, is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. That book, which I highly recommend, considers in more detail some of the same themes raised in the op-ed, such as how people perceive things that should not happen, such as hearing the voices of beings not physically present.

Luhrmann is high on my list of people it would be really fun to have a long lunch with.

Hat tip on the op-ed and the book: Jessica Lowen.

Monday, May 26, 2014

An IZA manifesto on open European labor markets

They did not ask me to sign (after all, I am not a European) but I agree with much of what they have to say.

I also agree with the implicit concern over the political revitalization of nativism in Europe. Time to hit the history books for many it seems.

The Hook-Up Truck

Who says innovation is dead?

I especially liked this line:
The intention was a participatory performance art project with an intrinsic statement regarding the commodification of, attitudes toward, and media representation of SEX
If only we had jargon like that in economics.

Via instapundit.

Who cares for sick children?

This struck me as a pretty clever idea (and demonstrates once again what you can learn with really excellent administrative data, which the Swedes have and we Americans do not):

Can you stay at home today? The relationship between economic dependence, parents’ occupation and care leave for sick children

This is one of only a few studies on the division of care leave for sick children between parents in Sweden and the first to attempt to examine the importance of differences in parents’ work characteristics. The study uses register data for parents with children born in 1999-2002 to analyse two aspects of working life that may influence how parents divide care leave between them: The parents’ relative wages and differences in their occupations. First, the results show that a father’s share of care leave increases as the mother’s economic dependence decreases. This suggests that decisions about care leave are influenced by bargaining power gained through relative economic resources. Second, the resources of couples where both partners work in the same occupation are more equal than the resources of other couples. Their wages are more similar, and they also divide care leave more equally than couples where the partners work in different occupations. However, the fact that couples who work in the same occupation tend to share more equally does not seem to be explained by similarities in the partners’ work characteristics or by relatively low economic dependence of women, but instead may be explained by unmeasured, stable characteristics. Gender egalitarianism and greater possibilities for women in terms of career and wages are put forward as possible characteristics for couples working in the same occupation that may influence the way they divide care leave.

Full working paper here.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014

Blog request: explaining north / south difference in the US to someone not from here

So one of my undergrads from mainland China is off to do a master's degree at Virginia next year. I was trying to come up with a suggestion of something that he could read that would make sense to him of how and why the south is different from the north but found myself without much in the way of ideas.

Suggestions from readers, either via the comments or by email (which I will then summarize and post) are very welcome.

Assorted links

1. The world according to Americans.

2. A truly excellent paper title.

3. An update on the life of Tom Lehrer. Best line: "What's wrong with graduate school as a career?"

4. A 1950s Tokyo bathhouse (surprisingly SFW)

5. A snarky commencement address on the theme of closed-mindedness.

Hat tip on #1 to Lisa Gribowski and on #2 to ASAK. #3 via MR and #4 and #5 via instapundit.

Odd goings-on at Performance Network

Performance Network theater in Ann Arbor has suspended operations.

How can it possibly be optimal to do this in the middle of a run when all the fixed costs for the current show (which we were planning to see next week) have already been paid?

Hope they find a way to restart - we really enjoy their productions and they are generally well-attended and a couple a year have very successful extended runs.

Addendum: more on PN from the Ann Arbor News.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Academics for athletes at UNC

Now the scandal has reached the Daily Mail.

It is hard to make the case that the NCAA is not exploiting these young men, a case that it wants to make to stave off unionization / payment / insurance claims, when things like this go on. In that sense, UNC is generating a huge negative externality for other universities that take the scholar side of scholar-athlete more seriously, even for the football and basketball players.

More broadly, this is pretty sad stuff for all involved. Mary Willingham, the administrator who blew the whistle, deserves a lot of praise.

Assorted links

1. Abandoned military bases.

2. Facebook as censor. Could this sort of clueless bumbling be related to it not being cool anymore?

3. In case you need a planeload of cute in your life today.

4. FT lunch with Tim Geithner

5. Government is just another name for the things we do together.

#1 via instapundit. I think #2 is via MR. #3 from Jackie Smith.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Boku Buckeye

Why does the president of Ohio State make so much?

Hat tip: Dan Black

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Movie: Dom Hemingway

Dom Hemingway is a great bit of British gangster fluff. It is sort of in the same genre as the Wolf of Wall Street but it is a lot more honest about its fun.

The NYT review is cleverly written but a bit more negative than I would have been.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Performance management and higher education

There are attempts afoot inside the beltway to bring the glories of performance management to the higher education world. Sarah Turner's short but very thoughtful piece should give advocates of such efforts many reasons to slow down and maybe (perish the thought) even read the literature on what has gone wrong with performance management in other contexts such as job training.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Gary Becker, RIP

Gary Becker passed away yesterday. has written a better post than I could

I started a dissertation under Becker before switching to Heckman when he returned to Chicago after two years at Yale in 1991. When I asked Becker for "permission" to switch he commented that he thought Heckman would be good for me (he was right) but added that he thought the topic I was working on with him was more interesting.

A very large loss for our intellectual world.

Addendum: the obituary from the University of Chicago, including remarks from Heckman and Kevin Murphy.

Hat tips: Bob Willis and Dan Black

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sir Richard

I do not know how this missed my attention earlier in the year, but UCL economist Richard Blundell, who has made important contributions in labor, public finance and econometrics, became Sir Richard Blundell earlier this year.

Glad to know the Queen is keeping up with the journals.

Electile dysfunction

A sad story regarding what happens to a republican with a sense of humor.

I thought the ad was pretty funny in a 15-year-old-boy sort of way.

Hat tip: Charles Brown