Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Book: The Economist's Diet by Christopher Payne and Rob Barnett

Payne, Christopher, and Rob Barnett. 2018. The Economist's Diet: The Surprising Formula for Losing Weight and Keeping It Off. Touchstone Books.

The book does not really provide a diet at all, in the sense of lists of things to eat or lists of calories to count. Rather, it describes the rules of thumb that a couple of humble and entertaining economists came up with in the course of their respective weight loss adventures. Some bits of advice will not surprise: simply eating less plays a big role in their success. They frame the eating less as having one "regular" (they call it square) meal each day and two small-to-medium meals, rather than three squares. Reasonable enough, and the next square meal is never too far away. They say not to drink your calories, except beer. But what if you are a member of the wine economists' association? And they recommend weighing yourself every day. Indeed, they ascribe great power and insight to the daily ups and downs that they study via their informal mental time series analysis. I was less convinced by this part; my sense has always been that day-to-day fluctuations in weight have too much other stuff in them to justify much in the way of substantive conclusions. Maybe you have to be a macro to buy into that part of the scheme.

Fun stuff and an easy read, plus a couple of useful mind games to play on yourself that I had not heard of before; if the title sounds interesting, you will probably enjoy it.

Amazon page.
Barnes and Noble page.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

China and Trump

I found this Atlantic piece from a couple of months ago quite interesting. I think Americans (and American journalists) often forget that people in other countries see American politics through the lens of their own history and concerns, which can often make them look quite different. The line about the democrats and the cultural revolution is particularly funny.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Assorted links

1. An article title pun worthy of Jim Hines.

2. Service sector liberalization in Spain.

3. Actually, you should pretty much never rely on just one study.

4. A t-shirt I saw at Wisconsin that I don't think I ever would have seen at Michigan (or Maryland, or Chicago, or Washington)

Addendum: the link in (4) has gone away. Here is an alternative.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Book: An Academic Life: A Memoir by Hanna Gray

Gray, Hanna Holborn. 2018. An Academic Life: A Memoir. Princeton University Press.

What a delightful book! Hanna Gray was president of the University of Chicago during much of my time there - she handed me my MA in 1987 but not my doctorate in 1996. Her memoirs comprise two main parts. The first part, which reflects her background as an academic historian, concerns growing up as the child of German academic refugee immigrants who came to the US during the 1930s. This part of the book contains a very interesting (and largely new to me) discussion of this broader migration and how it played out in the US. The second part concerns Hanna's own educational and professional progress through a private high school in New Haven, Bryn Mawr, Harvard, and Oxford, and then employment as a professor and then an administrator at Northwestern, Yale and Chicago. I learned a lot about the daily life of a university administrator and about the history of the University of Chicago in particular. Of special interest for me was the short discussion of the history of the Harris School; I worked as a TA, a tutor, and then as a teacher of my own class during the transition from the Committee on Public Policy Studies to the school. Hanna's love of academic life and of historical inquiry shines through the book, as do her wise sense of perspective and dry sense of humor.

Highly recommended.

Princeton U Press webpage.