Category Archives: Eclectic Observations

Experiment

The Sunday Age has a selection of 15 tips to improve your life, including – bizarrely – advice from an economist (#13). What do these dismal scientists think they know about happiness?

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 1 Comment

Crafty Mothers

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Duke University is planning to publish the PhD thesis of S. Ann Dunham, the late mother of President Obama. Titled Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia, it is a study carried … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations, US Politics

Cools Doer

I had thought suspected this for some time, but I’d never seen firm evidence. In most elevators, at least in any built or installed since the early-nineties, the door-close button doesn’t work. It is there mainly to make you think … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 8 Comments

Window Dressing, or the Real Deal?

My father flew with budget carrier Tiger Airways from Canberra to Melbourne yesterday, and had the exciting experience of having part of his window fall out. Fortunately, it was the rim of the inner casing of the window, rather than … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations

N.O.

Seen in New Orleans: several economists walking down Bourbon Street, still wearing their AEA nametags around their necks as they innocently weave their way between the packs of drunk football fans, the men and women with strings of beads around … Continue reading

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Wise man sends card

It’s coming up to Christmas card time again, and I can’t resist sharing the most apt card I’ve ever received. At the end of 2006, a couple of months after writing this paper with Ian Davidoff, the card below landed in … Continue reading

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We the pretentious

A particular pet peeve of mine is academics who write sole-authored papers as “we”. So I was amused when A Word a Day dropped this into my inbox this afternoon. nosism (NO-siz-em) noun The use of ‘we’ in referring to … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 17 Comments

Why work when you can click on the "X added you as a friend on Facebook" email?

Tech-term of the week is ‘bacn’. As Eric Skiff describes it: Bacn refers to emails that you want, but don’t want to deal with right now, like that newsletter that you signed up for that you never really have time to … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations, Web/Tech | 3 Comments

Of screenwriters and jockeys

Like John Quiggin, automatic news and google updates keep me informed of those who share my name. One is Los Angeles screenwriter Andrew Leigh, whose work is sufficiently close to mine that I was recently contacted by a US TV producer … Continue reading

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Like the corners of my mind

Earlier this year, I bought a Dell XPS1210 laptop. Generally speaking, it’s been well-behaved, but in late-June, it developed a problem with the memory. I had always thought that when a computer has memory problems, it is simply unable to … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 2 Comments

iQueue

On the way back from my office to my apartment, I came across a line of people sitting on the sidewalk. Some reading, some playing checkers, some talking on cellphones, etc. Curious, I followed the line to the end of … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 7 Comments

Perhaps Gore Crossed the Atlantic?

In an ad placed by the Department of Trade and Industry in the latest issue of the Economist, Britain claims to have invented (among other things) the Internet. Can anyone vouch for this? (On an unrelated note, I’d advise against … Continue reading

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Topp speler wns prise

If you could spell serrefine, coryza, and fauchard, and are aged 13, then maybe you too could have won America’s national spelling bee championship.

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Deeply Rooted

One of the many joys of being married to someone who understands horticulture is her ability to notice when ‘experts’ are talking mulch. Here’s McGill University science ethicist Margaret Somerville on the 7.30 Report last night. You see I think the … Continue reading

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There are no kangaroos in Austria…

…and now no emus in Germany, either. Dummkopfen.

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 3 Comments

Blowing the whistle on refereeing

Having written 4 referee reports this week, and 7 over the last month (Review of Economics and Statistics, China Economic Review, Journal of Socio-Economics, Economic Papers, European Journal of Political Economy, BE Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy, Australian Journal of Political … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 10 Comments

Tournez à gauche

The first round of the French Presidential election is this Sunday. Is it just me, or do the parties on this ballot list remind anyone else of their university student council elections? Olivier Besancenot – Revolutionary Communist League (Ligue communiste … Continue reading

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That would be illegal under Coonan's new internet laws

Ah, American lexicon is a wonderful thing. Today’s New York Times Select email begins with the following: Rooters’ Guide to the Sweet 16

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Reefer Writing

A particularly persistent urban myth is that the Great Wall of China can be seen by the naked eye from space (Wikipedia has details). I mentioned last year the fact that the Chinese are quite happy to propagate this myth. … Continue reading

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Watching economists work

Inspired by Joshua Gans, I used Google Maps Australia to pull up the place where I work. I’m in the honeycomb-shaped building on this map. Sure, their positioning isn’t perfect. But I still feel like a little kid every time … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations, Universities | 5 Comments

Photo bleg

I have a couple of thousand old photos that I want to scan in to my computer. Does anyone know of either: (a) a service that charges a reasonable price to scan 4×6’s into jpg’s, or (b) a photo scanner … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 3 Comments

Bigger Than Texas

Fun facts to drop into the conversation when you’re next chatting to Americans. Q: How many Australian states and territories are bigger than Texas? A: Five (WA, Qld, NT, NSW, SA) (Australian states by landmass here. Texas is 695,000 square km, meaning … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 4 Comments

Governor Houdini

My father has just returned from Aceh, where he went to observe their gubernatorial elections. He mentioned something I hadn’t seen in the media. The person who’s likely to be the next governor of Aceh, Irwandi Yusuf, was apparently the … Continue reading

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Getting to 'Yes'

One of the great ironies of modern telecommunications is that it’s really hard to speak to your phone company. This evening, I called Optus at 8.15pm to ask about a problem with my mobile phone bill. After a 20-minute wait, … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 5 Comments

Devils and angels

A friend of mine has just joined the London office of a US law firm, Morrison & Foerster. So her work email address ends with mofo.com. As if to compensate, her home email address ends with virgin.net.

Posted in Eclectic Observations

It's September 19, so….

Squalk. So, the infallible guy says he was wrong? Squalk. Arrrgh, y’ll no be talkin like that, me yeller feathered friend.

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 3 Comments

From tech support to smilies

Surfing for a cute quote to put in an oped, I stumbled across these, from the website of French writer and rockclimber Guillaume Dargaud. Q: How many tech support people does it take to change a light bulb? A: We … Continue reading

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Air on a G String

Herald Sun commentator Andrew Bolt today links to a study that finds a positive relationship between listening to sexual music and having sex at a younger age, and concludes that dirty music leads to sex. The hyperlink doesn’t work, so … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 15 Comments

When I'm 34

I’ve reached the ripe age of 34 today, a point at which “early-30s” seems more of a hope than a description of reality. Also, I couldn’t help noticing in one of the news stories yesterday that when Castro was my … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 16 Comments

Spot the hot spot

In an earlier discussion about wi-fi in the US, a commenter posted a question about free wi-fi hot spots in Australia. Hi Andrew, I’m a geriatric granny who visits Australia each year from the UK and brings a laptop which runs … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 4 Comments