Assorted links

by on January 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Millian January 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm

“why wouldn’t every student choose a Stanford or MIT education over, say, UNM?”

I find it upsetting that this is an argument made against the utility of online education.

We all know the public choice bad guys exist, we just like to pretend that we never personally encounter them.

2 mike January 20, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Yeah, that guy is like a caricature of the kind of clueless spoiled pricks who give the non-asshole 25% of college professors a bad name.

3 RM January 20, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Well .. if 75% of professors are a**es, they really do not need this one guy to give them a bad reputation. Surely with these numbers the general public must already know, no?

4 Steve January 20, 2013 at 2:58 pm

The professor is leaving academia to work for a high tech company and thinks he will have better work/life balance? Only someone who has never worked in this sector would dare to say something as completely stupid as that. Please let me trade places with you – you have have no bloody idea what it’s like.

5 Jack January 20, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I think this is just a case of ”the grass is greener…”, and there’s no need for insults. People who work in the private sector tend to think academics have cushy jobs, and academics think that there is better work-life balance in the private sector. In truth, the US labor market being reasonably competitive and meritocratic, there are no cushy jobs. (But on the flipside, there is also much less cronyism than in most other countries in the world, including much of Europe, according to studies on labor markets).

I expect the guy will soon realize that he is only trading off some stresses for others. To be sure, in any organization there is probably 5% or so deadwood, but that’s a different story.

6 Adam January 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm

I dunno. I worked in hi tech for years before going to grad school. The work life balance that seemed strained when I was in tech was infinitely better than it is in academia, imho

7 dearieme January 20, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Admittedly it was long ago, but when I moved from the university to industrial life I was struck by how slack the working hours were compared to what I was used to, and how slowly people knocked of their tasks. My new colleagues noticed too.

8 Steve January 20, 2013 at 6:24 pm

I would agree that it’s likely that people with experience in only one of these two environments would tend to have a grass-is-greener perception. It’s interesting to read the experiences of the other posters as it seems different from what I have heard but I am sure there are a lot of variables: what position/department in the tech firm, which firm, what geographic location, which academic field, etc.

I’m sorry to have been a little harsh in my original posting and it was probably a little over-the-top but the knee-jerk reaction of someone working 60-70 hours a week, under constant pressure, doing work that is not interesting in the least, to someone with what many (warts and all) would consider as a dream job may not be completely charitable. It’s interesting that Tyler states that this person must complain a lot.

I know this is anecdotal but I have a friend who went from being an engineer at a very large tech firm in Silicon Valley (where I work) to a PhD at a UC in Computer Engineering. He is in his third year and doing well and says that while he works hard there is no comparison – he has much more free time and less stress than in tech and is getting to do things that are much more interesting.

Of course there is a danger to descend into a pissing contest of who has it worse but the ultra-competitive workaholic culture in the Valley is well known. Obviously some will prefer tech to academia and they will have valid reasons (for them). It’s just hard to believe work/life balance is one of them (unless they get incredibly lucky in terms of their corporate positions).

9 mkt January 20, 2013 at 11:32 pm

“working 60-70 hours a week” … “Silicon Valley (where I work)”

There’s the explanation. Silicon Valley is infamous for the long hours that people there work, complete with free energy drinks and even food to encourage/enable the workers to stay even longer in the workplace.

Most workers do not work 60-70 hours per week. Someone looking from the viewpoint of Silicon Valley needs to look at what most workers elsewhere experience.

However, one group of workers nationally who does work 50-60 hours per week is … college professors.

Hence any anecdotes about the increase or decrease in workload in switching from one sector to another must be viewed with a grain of salt, and put into context: which sectors were involved? College professors work more hours than most other workers do … but fewer than some.

10 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 4:43 am

Academia is often longer because it is so unproductive.

And my theory is people who don’t complain aren’t paying attention. Maybe economists are enjoying a transient growth phase.

11 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 5:04 am

For example, why did certain persons not complain about the TSA porno scanners that are now going away? The complainers were correct. I understand that some people see themselves as post-opinionated, but I do to, but in full. I am becoming post-contrarian-opinionated. I just don’t care.

12 Jack P. January 21, 2013 at 10:21 am

Also an anecdote: I am an academic and I have not worked in a high-pressure private firm (tech or otherwise), but I have put in on average 70 hrs a week during the PhD and 65 hrs a week in the tenure track (I slowed down because I had kids).

That said, I am working on my own projects and I am my own boss (up to a point; Admin needs to see a regular flow of publications, grant money, and graduate students completing their theses/dissertations). Since I have some flexibility on my choice of projects, it is probably more pleasant and fulfilling than working for a firm, whatever the sector. On the flip side, I have very little geographical mobility. Academia is a “thin” market and it is challenging for anyone who’s not a star to move around (e.g., if the spouse gets a new job elsewhere).

Again, I really doubt that one sector is cushier than another, because the US job market is fairly competitive and meritocratic. Free lunches are unlikely to stick around for long.

13 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 10:41 am

That is the question, do the markets between academia and industry clear.

I have had both, and industry was much better.

“This view is not a new one. In his book, A Ph.D is not enough, Peter J. Feibelman makes it clear that making it academia means making sacrifices in family and social life, and giving up on the idea of a work/life balance.”

So, you get paid less. You work more. Some people spend the equivalent of a full-time 40 hour week just on the grants and admin. You have to REALLY like C.Elegans to make the “well, at least I get to work on what I want.”

14 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 10:43 am

“I have had both, and industry was much better.”

To be clear, I haven’t really had the full spectrum of both. My point is that I hear a lot of academics talking about parts of industry that they don’t really know about. We had a professor who never had a non-academia job seriously tell us that one of the advantages of academia was that everyone there was objective.

15 bob January 23, 2013 at 1:03 pm

You might have the wrong job: There’s plenty of high tech firms out there where the 40 hour week is real. It might even include the opportunity to work from home at times, very flexible hours and such.

The reason employers that provide shitty conditions stay afloat is because people like you actually sign up for them, instead of moving to greener pastures the minute someone plans the first death march.

16 al January 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm

How would a customer in any restaurant in China really know what was in their cooking oil?

17 Mark Thorson January 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm

You want to eat in restaurants frequented by high Communist Party officials. Isn’t that in Tyler’s book?

18 whatsthat January 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm

#5: Tyler brings up “mood affiliation” many times.

I’m just saying.

19 axa January 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm

did you missed the part of “this person complains a lot”?

20 whatsthat January 20, 2013 at 8:38 pm

All too aware of it.

21 Claudia January 20, 2013 at 8:42 pm

I think the title was a bit of a joke. Or it should have been for someone who wants scientists to be treated like rock stars. The guy in the post, tenured at a good university with an offer at Google, must not be a slouch…maybe even a budding ‘star.’ Elevating scientists is not just how society treats them but also the treatment they expect. Sure some parts of his piece sounded overly idealistic, but others raised serious concerns. Besides I would worry a lot more about the people who don’t complain.

22 Thor January 20, 2013 at 9:58 pm

I’m guessing it was the sheer number of complaints. He raises some good points, but seems to complain about just about everything, too.

23 whatsthat January 21, 2013 at 7:04 pm

My point is: mood affiliation is not falsifiable, at least to the level of its present development

24 David Jinkins January 20, 2013 at 4:30 pm

|1. Chinese “gutter oil”.

There is no great stagnation?

25 Affe January 20, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Great band name, tho.

26 Mark Thorson January 20, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Gutter Oil or Great Stagnation?

27 Affe January 20, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Great Stagnation, opening for Chinese Gutter Oil.

28 Dismalist January 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm

#5. “Or that education has underlaid the majority of the things that have made this country great — fields in which we have led the world? Art, music, literature, political philosophy, architecture, engineering, science, mathematics, medicine, and many others?”

All of these have become world-wide endeavors. I guess he means that the Republicans are against all of this. Thus, the logical implication is that it would be best to emigrate.

29 uffy January 20, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Well, first, it’s not at all certain that the US ever led the world in those endeavors with the exception of science/engineering from WWII until roughly the 1980s or 90s. Yes there’s Hollywood, but is that really enough to constitute “art”? Our education spending ( also looks pretty good by international standards as of 2008 and these numbers don’t include all of the other avenues of funding knowledge/science/art.

Anti-intellectualism generally is a problem though in America, as is low investment spending generally ( We are also spending at roughly half the rate of Europe on infrastructure and only a quarter the rate of China and the Middle East. (

30 Dismalist January 20, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Agreed. Didn’t want to say it, but we can thank Hitler for much of the lead.

31 Joe Smith January 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm

“Agreed. Didn’t want to say it, but we can thank Hitler for much of the lead.”

Sure – Hitler encouraged large numbers of European scientists to move to the United States and the United States to open the purse strings for research.

32 zbicyclist January 20, 2013 at 5:32 pm

#5. There’s stresses to be found anywhere. Some of the stresses are from the job, and these can be helped by a change in career path. Some are from the person themselves, and these you take with you. I wish Lane luck.

33 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 6:09 am

People have a remarkable capacity for inability to decompose. I said something to my wife to the effect of “it seems like football coaches it is always ‘what have you done for me lately?'” and she responded “Everything is exactly like that.” But to paraprhase Louis CK “some things are and somethings are not!”

34 CJS January 20, 2013 at 5:58 pm

On #5:

Could someone please explain what Tyler is getting at? I’m a grad student in statistics with a heavy CS background, so the post really speaks to me. It sounded like the professor realized he wanted to actually be solving problems instead of teaching others the skills they might need to go out and solve problems for themselves. And if he acted on that preference he could get paid more and have a better work-life balance to boot. (Yes, it would be better. Machine learning is a very competitive field.)

35 GGS January 20, 2013 at 6:16 pm

I am also in CS and I completely sympathize with the author. Work-life balance in academia is much worse than industry research imo. I know colleagues who moved from industry to academia and say they work thrice as much. I also understand the need to devote one’s time to solve hard problems while under constant pressure to keep publishing boring incremental work. Seems like Google is the right place for him

36 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 6:04 am

It is almost assuredly true that the market between academia and industry doesn’t “clear.” My task is to figure out why that is. It’s amazing to me how many people think it does.

37 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 6:11 am

“Could someone please explain what Tyler is getting at?”

No. But I can say this: We have an infinite world of possibilities. We push everything through the same academia system. Maybe there might be some inefficiencies.

38 Skip Intro January 21, 2013 at 8:54 am

I notice you make a great many assertions and even the occasional beginning of an argument, but never evidence.

39 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 10:17 am

So, why is it you think that Trudie’s advice for people considering teaching economics was to the effect of “it’s a decent life but does not correlate to the human capital invested”?

If you have a study, show me?

40 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 10:18 am

I ‘never’ provide an argument or evidence.

And you NEVER exaggerate, either.

41 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 10:33 am

It’s just funny that you think THIS is an argument that needs evidence. It’s everywhere. The old saw is that you choose industry for higher pay and academia for interest freedom. The first part is obvious, but I dispute the second part. There is not really such a tradeoff.

So, best guess is that pay is considerably higher, assuming all else is equal in industry versus academia. Assuming people earn their marginal productivity, then industry might be assumed to be more productive. What also happens (assertion alert) is that high competition for professorships drives down compensation and drives up work demands.

“I work far harder in academia for my $50K/less per year than I’d get in industry.”
“I took about a $35K/year hit in going from industry to academic in STEM 7 years ago; ”

So, do people really have much more freedom to pursue their interests in academia? Harder to study, but I suspect not really, unless your interests happen to correlate with your tenure committee and your granting agencies.

42 Claudia January 21, 2013 at 11:30 am

Skip, does Andrew’ remind you of anyone? I will submit this is not the best place for people who want their hands held through an argument. You could go find his evidence if you want to be helpful…

I disagree with Andrew’s tone on this one. I do think the academic vs private vs government markets clear pretty well. Surely there are some people who sort incorrectly and yes, advisors/mentors with narrow experiences may shoulder some blame for this. My advisor knew I would be happy in my gov’t job whereas I was not even going to apply there (too many macro economists in one place). And I am not probably cut out for academia. I love beautiful impulse response functions like the next macro nerd, but I have a bit of an anti-intellectual or rather pragmatic streak. I actually like working on stuff that applies to the real world. But I have seen private sector economists in action and while the pay is mind boggling I am not ready to tie myself totally to the real world and give up my self-directed research. I like the fact that there are all these options. Each has pluses and minuses. I wonder sometimes in the Hirschman spirit if the ease of exit allows some of the problems in the different spheres to fester. So the lack of perfect clearing may be the key ingredient to progress.

43 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 12:25 pm

So, your critique of me and my supposed lack of evidence is that you had a good advisor?

44 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 12:27 pm

BTW, the same people make something like 30% difference on average between the two places. I’m not sure why what I’m saying isn’t dead nuts obvious, or at least the null hypothesis.

45 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 12:35 pm


You (likely) spent many years, the better part of a decade perhaps, training to be an academic, to then not be…and you have a beef with my expository style?

46 Claudia January 21, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I know that I ramble and say silly things, but I believe my first statement was clearly to your defense. (A thank you might have been more appropriate than a snip.) That said I disagree and I do think the academic-industry-govt markets basically clear. You seem to put yourself up as a counter example of non clearing, so I was just offering an example in support of clearing. My bigger point was that perfect sorting or clearing is not necessarily beneficial. Complainers can be catalysts for change in a way that the complacent never would. I had an undergrad advisor who basically explained if you didn’t like the mainstream approach, you first had to demonstrate you ability to do it well and then you could advocate for change. If you leave to hang out with your like kind, you’ve lost that opportunity.

47 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm

And this is what we make EVERYONE do. And there are no studies. Think about that.

48 Steve January 22, 2013 at 11:11 pm

I would hazard to guess that all of the folks here with experience in both industry and academia and who are saying they prefer industry have PhDs and their industry jobs were still research related. I honestly cannot see someone who has experience doing a well-paid but boring, grinder of a corporate job in tech that only requires a BA saying this (i.e. supply chain management). But I could be wrong. Again, as you economists like to point out everyone has their own unique utility function.

49 Joe Smith January 20, 2013 at 6:01 pm

#5 You can all hate on the writer but the fact is that the Republicans are seriously anti-science and it is going to cost the country dearly.

50 Brandon Berg January 20, 2013 at 6:17 pm

This really isn’t true, except on a few specific topics (AGW, anything fetus-related), and Democrats have their own anti-science positions (GMOs, psychometrics). The real threat is the hostility to economics on both sides.

51 john personna January 21, 2013 at 8:33 am

News this week was that support for young earth creationism is on an uptick, especially among those still identifying as Republican. Other news this week was that Rick Santorum was calling out colleges again, for opposing religion. That sir, is our world. The Republicans are becoming fundamentalists in a 3rd world sense, and that WILL impact our science and engineering. We can’t just hope that there is enough cognitive dissonance out there for a young earth creationist to come up with effective molecular biology.

52 ad nauseum January 21, 2013 at 3:32 pm

While young earth creationism is certainly anti-science, I fail to see how that will effect advancements in engineering, health science, or even molecular biology. A person could falsely believe that the earth is 6000 years old, but still wish to understand how, in their view, a cell was “created” and how to manipulate those building blocks to a certain outcome.

53 ad nauseum January 21, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Perhaps I just should have pointed out the obvious. All the clamor about creationism and how its going to essentially ruin America is nothing but hysteria that is always pushed as a political weapon.

54 Steve J January 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm

” All the clamor about creationism and how its going to essentially ruin America is nothing but hysteria”

So your position is this particular false belief is harmless? You may be right about that. I think what people worry about is the mental gymnastics required to believe in creationism and science at the same time. It is so hard for the non-religious to understand something like creationism that we assume those that choose to believe in it must reject science in general. Hopefully we are wrong.

55 So Much for Subtlety January 20, 2013 at 6:25 pm

That is not a fact. It is not even a particularly interesting opinion.

There is little in the way of science that I can think of that the Republicans oppose. They do have a lot of people in their party who are doubtful about the age of the world and who was involved in creating it. So do the Democrats. In fact until recently wasn’t this one of Obama’s “evolving” positions? They tend to think Global Warming is a fraud. They are highly likely to be right. They were opposed to infant stem cell research. An issue they seem entirely right about given the break throughs we have had, and there have not been many, have involved adult stem cells by and large.

In the meantime, the Democrats continue their war on other forms of science. They tend to reject the idea that there are not inherent biological differences between the sexes. To the point of forcing the military to reduce their physical demands for recruits to next to nothing. They continue to deny there are differences, whether biological or cultural, but certainly stubbornly impossible to remove, between the races. So they have been all on board the importation of a second totally dysfunctional minority to join the one slavery gave America.

I think both of those will have a larger impact on America than any objection over evolution. After all, Marion Barry was funny as Mayor of DC – hey, I don’t have to live there. He will be less funny as President.

56 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 6:06 am

It is because the left defines science as publicly funded scientists. That’s all.

57 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 6:21 am

As an aside, it is not so much that Republicans were right about fetal stem cells (I was) it is that the left saw it as a political football to paint the right as anti-science and the researchers saw this as a funding drive.

If you define science as a lot of what happens in academia, then yes, being against answering esoteric and useless questions about fetal stem cell behavior is by your definition ‘anti-science.’

If your definition of science is more about what is actually pragmatic for scalable innovation, then it is pro-science to direct funding away from useless esoteric questions.

58 john personna January 21, 2013 at 9:04 am

We are way past global warming being a fraud. We are down to last ditch argument that it might not *all* be anthropogenic. But really it didn’t start with climate. It started with evolution. Again, see Santorum. The wedge that made Evangelicals, and then Republicans, reject science was one thing and one thing only. They needed to reject geology and biology in order to have a farm-circuit, revival tent, view of the world. Once that pattern was established, it could be used again and again. Climate was easy. I mean what can we know when the earth is less than 10K years old, and sediments are just put there to fool unbelievers?

59 maguro January 21, 2013 at 9:53 am

How are we “way past the point” of global warming being a fraud? The climate is much as it ever was and all the long-predicted warming related disasters have failed to materialize.

The fact that global warming believers feel compelled to blame perfectly ordinary storms like Sandy on AGW shows their desperation more than anything else.

60 john personna January 21, 2013 at 10:08 am

Why is it that that those who accept anthropogenic global warming, now, with currently available evidence, seem to be the only ones making an evidentiary argument? I mean when UCB says they can explain temperatures since 1750 based on CO2 and volcanic eruptions alone, and without solar variation, etc., what do you do? Just say “but … but … Berkeley!”

61 john personna January 21, 2013 at 10:11 am

Again, I hear “we can’t believe those liberal scientists” and I see a young-earth, Evangelical, Republican value network in play. Evidence is not rejected. Evidence is not considered. Science, and scientists, are rejected.

62 maguro January 21, 2013 at 10:44 am

Maybe I’ll believe they can explain everything when they produce a climate model that actually works. Until then, it’s just so much end-of-the-world doomsaying.

63 john personna January 21, 2013 at 11:22 am

Well maguro, your statements above lead me to believe you don’t really understand what climate models are, what they do, and how their outputs are judged by statistical correlation. But, for what it’s worth “Climate Predictions: Worst-Case May Be Most Accurate, Study Finds” (at National Geographic). Of course it’s time for “but … but … they’re scientists!”

64 maguro January 21, 2013 at 11:31 am

Yes, please explain how you can square the predicted temperatures in Mann’s hockey stick model with what actually happened. This should be good,

For that matter, how do the models reconcile flat global tempratures over the past 15 years with atmospheric CO2 levels that rose sharply over the same period? That shouldn’t happen if atmospheric CO2 levels drive temperatures.

The fact is, all the models can do is back-cast, but all the dire predictions of catastrophic AGW effects are based on climate model forecasts and only climate model forecasts.

Give me a ring when the climate modellers are able to forecast something correctly.

65 john personna January 21, 2013 at 11:40 am

So, you don’t trust scientists. Not even people like NASA. See this is where this thread started. Can people do science while rejecting science? Can you cheer the Mars missions while rejecting what those same scientists say about our planet? Or can you trust them?

When you ask me, a non-scientist, to defend some particular study by some particular guy, you are doing two things. You are playing scientist yourself, and you are doing it badly.

The rational thing is to trust expertise, especially when it is broadly repeated. It is actually a cognitive error to go looking for corner cases of disagreement, and to use those to support your pre-existing belief. I mean, if blind support of consensus is bad, someone should wake up and realize how much worse it is to have blind faith in cranks.

66 maguro January 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Ah, but NASA engineers were actually able land a rover on Mars, whereas Jim Hansen’s climate predictions have been much less successful. There is really no reason to conflate the two, other than sheer sophistry.

And while I might be inclined to defer to academic credentials on matters of purely academic interest (say, the evolution of a certain species of mollusk), I’m certainly not prepared to remake the world economically and politically based on some credentialed expert produced climate model forecasts, when previous climate model forecasts have been almost hilariously inaccurate.

Of course, this is a much easier question for people like yourself who favor the usual “solutions” to CAGW (higher taxes, stronger government role in the economy, more wealth redistribution) regardless of whether CAGW is real or not. For statists, there is no downside to “doing something” about global warming, but of course that doesn’t stop you from getting on your moral high horse anyway.

67 Steve J January 21, 2013 at 8:40 pm

“There is little in the way of science that I can think of that the Republicans oppose.”

We seem to missing the forest for the trees here. Republicans are in general more religious than Democrats. Religion asks us to believe without evidence which is pretty much the opposite of science.

68 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 10:49 am

One of my liberal committee members was pissed that my funding was from the DoD for breast cancer. I wanted to ask him “you’d rather they spent it on bombs rather than boobies?”

But alas, you can’t tell committee members to go get…ed.

69 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 10:50 am

Oh, and I’m not getting paid a dime more (in fact much less) with a Democrat in office. So, go get …ed.

70 Dismalist January 20, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Virtually everybody is against some science, often for good reason! Speaking with Hayek, some is not more than superstition, and speaking with the age, some is the flavor du jour.
Work-life balance? Which Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that? Look, we have a free labor market for those with a marginal value product above the minimum wage. Changing jobs is a personal question, not a societal one.

71 Sunset Shazz January 20, 2013 at 7:30 pm

This really is underwear gnome logic.

1. Some people in a free society are anti-intellectual.
2. ?
3. I’m changing jobs!*

*But only for a while, I might be back in the future.

72 Joe Smith January 20, 2013 at 7:38 pm

” 2. ?” The piece you are missing is:

“Those anti-intellectual people are having a large impact on the conditions of my current employment.”

73 wiki January 21, 2013 at 7:08 am

Since the link between the budgets of universities and individual professors’ salaries is quite weak I don’t see how those “anti-intellectuals” affect academics so much as the bloat due to political correctness and the bureaucratization of academia which is more likely to be a Democrat fault. After all the bulk of the increases in spending at most universities have been due to the expansion of administrative spending, special programs for every minor interest group, and various sorts of student hand-holding NOT professors’ salaries. Furthermore the ratio of non-tenure track to tenure-track positions has also increased, again mostly due to longer term trends only weakly tied to national spending on science. This would be as absurd as blaming Medicare or the insurance companies for the longer working hours and relatively lower wages that the average medical doctor has to deal with (relative to older generations).

74 TR W January 20, 2013 at 8:06 pm

I’m not surprised the Chinese use sewage water. From what I’ve seen, Chinese in the US will go out of their way to avoid non-East Asian restaurants to eat at East Asian restaurants even if they are incredibly dirty. If they want cheap (gutter) food they will get it.

75 anon January 20, 2013 at 9:04 pm

@TR W: Wow, what an amazing insight! Chinese people like to eat Chinese food.
You are a fookin eejit. (That’s Chinese, BTW.)

Great lines from #5 (“huge potential” and “few private companies can break into state-owned sales channels”):

China consumes as much as 90 million tons of diesel fuel annually, and there remains huge potential in the alternative fuels market. But many biodiesels produced can be more expensive than diesel and are not compatible with certain engines.

Another difficulty is that Sinopec and PetroChina control the diesel supply market, and few private companies can break into state-owned sales channels.

76 anon January 20, 2013 at 9:23 pm

4. I Have a Dream.

Marx was right: history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.

77 anon January 20, 2013 at 9:34 pm

6. Wilson Schmidt’s granddaughter blogs North Korea.

She won’t be invited back for a while.

“I can’t express how cold it was. Maybe 10-15 degrees F in the sunshine, not including wind chill.”
She needs to spend some time in MN and ND in the winter, where 10-15 degrees F in the sunshine is warm.

78 Derek January 21, 2013 at 12:18 am

Yes but homes in the cold climates in the US are heated.

79 Bender Bending Rodriguez January 21, 2013 at 12:47 am

Perhaps those who sling accusations at education have forgotten that the US reshaped millennia of social and economic inequity by leading the way in creating public education in the nineteenth century

Ahem. You might want to check prior art:
Frederick the 2nd put this into motion in the late eighteenth century. When it did show up in the US, the proponents made clear they were copying the Prussian system.

80 Willitts January 21, 2013 at 4:34 am

3. God I hated contract law. This was fun reading. I wish my professor had approached it in this fashion.

The reliance on a common law interpretation is valid given the setting, and I agree with the interpretation of the dwarf contract as a counter offer under the mirror image doctrine. The brief period in which I was involved in contract law was between entities of the US government and German parties. Since German civil law prevailed, I know slightly more about that.

Bilbo wasn’t quite fully engaged in negotiation – a clear contract of adhesion or culpa in contrahendo. It appears that Gandalf actually made the offer on Bilbo’s behalf without consultation or power of attorney. Under civil law Bilbo would have some protection under an interpretation contra proferentem. Otherwise, under common law some form of promissory estoppel may be available. He could also claim impracticability, impossibility, unconscionability, or frustration of purpose in some of the contract terms.

What’s remarkable about the expert interpretation is how seemingly defective contract clauses are so readily dismissed as inconsequential. I had not understood so much of contract law to be well settled. It was a reeducation for me. I’m also quite impressed by the prop. I’d love to know who drafted it. Did the credits list a legal adviser?

Contract law was one reason I went into criminal law.

81 Willitts January 21, 2013 at 4:39 am

5. UNM’s gain is Google’s loss.

82 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 6:16 am

I realize TC is being tongue-in-cheek, but I don’t get the overreaction to complaining generally. “‘You’ didn’t give a crap what I thought before I complained, so why are you so irritated after I’ve complained?” Are people so self-absorbed that they can’t even explicitly ignore the people they were unconsciously ignoring just beforehand?

83 DocMerlin January 21, 2013 at 9:22 am

“Are people so self-absorbed that they can’t even explicitly ignore the people they were unconsciously ignoring just beforehand?”


84 Willitts January 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm

MR posted this guy’s complaints which implies there is something there worth reading.

I read all his complaints and while I disagree with most and agree with some, all of them were either reasonably expected or just a figment of his warped imagination.

If Google is strictly dominant in every aspect, he shouldn’t be tossing hand grenades at his former employer but rather celebrating his transition. For what purpose is he on a rant about academia, Republicans, etc?

His rant is self-serving. I don’t think he is genuinely disappointed that academia is not living up to his expectations or that the Mongols invaded it. He found a preferred career option and he’s using his departure as a sanctimonious screed against the 33% of political decisions that didn’t go his way.

I’m supposed to ignore and withhold my opinion about something that was put out there for me to review and comment on? Are you so self-absorbed that you can’t even explicitly ignore a comment you could have just scrolled past? My comment commanded your snide reply?

85 Steve J January 21, 2013 at 5:42 pm

I wonder if people are getting on a semantic difference between arguing and complaining. If complaining is defined as expressing displeasure with something that cannot be changed then I’d agree I do not like complaining. But when I read this guys rant I think he is arguing rather than complaining and I love arguing.

86 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 9:40 am

5. “As almost everybody knows at this point,”

If anyone knows anyone who doesn’t know that he is leaving academia please let us know so we can send them a bulletin to their phone.

87 prognostication January 21, 2013 at 11:04 am

He’s writing to an audience of people who read his personal blog. I would imagine most of them knew.

88 Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 11:07 am

Oh! Thanks.

89 Steve-O January 21, 2013 at 12:22 pm

The academic bloggers I follow tend to post during the weekday, and the non-academic bloggers I follow (who have day jobs) seem to post on the night and weekends. I’m not sure if this is correct, but I view the neither set of bloggers to be blogging as their day job (which is either a professor or business person). I take this as (admittedly weak) evidence that professors don’t work as many hours as business people.

90 prognostication January 21, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Professors aren’t required to work during conventional ‘business hours,’ except inasmuch as their teaching, advising, and committee duties tend to occur during business hours. They can do a lot of their other work (proposals, writing papers/reports, answering emails, grading) at any time. This doesn’t say much of anything about how much they are working.

91 nobody important January 21, 2013 at 11:09 pm

I guess it varies, but I had one professor whose office hours seemed to be 5 minutes before class and 5 minutes after class. Any other time? good luck. This is not typical, but it does happen, and it creates the wrong impression. But then at many schools teaching is rightly or wrongly only a small part of what the job is about.

92 Careless January 22, 2013 at 10:23 am

I’m always amazed by how many lawyers are on message boards and blogs. AFAICT, they’re not mostly the unemployed ones, either. As for legal legal academics, has the fewest posts on Sunday, and fewer over the summer than during the school year.

93 Floccina January 21, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Chinese “gutter oil”.

I wonder if at the doses is it likely that the carcinogens cause any cancer.

94 Eric H January 21, 2013 at 7:53 pm

#5 This is almost a libertarian complaint: [paraphrasing] “I hate centralization, therefore I am going to a massive corporation.”

UNM is a heavily state- subsidized school in a state whose internal politics are heavily dominated by Democrats. My experience with it years ago was that it was dominated by, well, hippies who had been left behind. In ~1984, I read that the average age was 27. The campus was overrun by people at least twice my age who seemed to be upset that there was not more Marxism in calculus classes. So, yeah, I have a hard time believing that Republicans are at the bottom of all of his problems.

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