by Tyler Cowen
on July 12, 2013 at 12:55 pm
1. Why isn’t there more quinoa?
2. Delaying income verification in ACA is a not so great sign.
3. A case for the pursuit of unhappiness.
4. The dependency of U.S. graduate programs on foreign students.
5. Soccer fan markets in everything, Red Bulls edition.
6. The age of Robo Sapiens?
1. Because it tastes like crap?
2. It’s kind of a pain to prepare
Hows that? Boil water or stock, let simmer for 30 minutes. As easy as any other grain.
It’s a good idea to rinse it in cold water before cooking it. Otherwise it can have a bitter flavor.
What’s interesting about #1 is the way the writer breezily assumes that quinoa *should* be taking over the world. She probably doesn’t even realizing she’s doing it. Why? Because other people like her – highly educated, young, yuppish urban East Coasters – think it’s all the rage. And she makes the cardinal error of assuming her own experiences are more representative than they actually are. Matt Yglesias does this a lot (hell, I do this a lot).
8 may be doing it as well.
Huh?? Did we read the same article? The author sees the skyrocketing prices/demands and asks why supply isn’t keeping up.
I like quinoa but I seldom eat it because of the risk of kidney stones. The article doesn’t mention that quinoa is high in oxalates, which cause stones. I once gave myself a stone by eating too much spinach, which is another food rich in oxalic acid. I won’t make the same mistake with quinoa.
Taro/”Elephant Ear”, too.
Hahahaha, quinoa it easy to find in Switzerland. A little bit of soy sauce helps, but a layer of of molten gruyère on top of it makes it awesome.
Probably because quinoa is expensive and people are unfamiliar with it or how to prepare it well.
I’ve switched almost all my grains/carbs to quinoa for health/weight loss reasons… Lowest carb/highest protein grain out there!
Adding value, I will read and summarize these links and be the first to post, all in a few minutes.
1/ . Another glutten free grain. Teff if another E. African one. 1:150 Americans have glutten allergy and this grain defeats that. Why not more popular? Because of substitutes–the other 149 people *can* digest glutten so there’s little price incentive to get scarce guinoa to market. Same reason computer programmers in the USA don’t make 500k a year (competition from slightly inferior Indian programmers keeps a steady stream of substitutes handy).
2/ Oh gawd…a boring article on Obamacare’s finer points. Not worth summarizing
3/ Time magazine had a recent lead article (cover page) on happiness. Key findings: money *does* make you more happy, across the world, and genes that produce ‘happiness’ are found more often in ‘immigrants’ such as which populated the USA. Must be read in connection with this article (which also makes a genetic argument, more downbeat than the Time article)
4/ Another such old news piece, here is the factoid: “foreign students make up the majority of enrollments in U.S. graduate programs in many STEM fields, accounting for 70.3 percent of all full-time graduate students in electrical engineering, 63.2 percent in computer science, 60.4 percent in industrial engineering, and more than 50 percent in chemical, materials and mechanical engineering..”
5/ Red Bull soccer does not like a ‘profane’ but harmless chant used by fans involving “A S S”. How quaint. They should not come to Europe, where fans make monkey sounds to black players, and throw firebombs (Greece, UK, in reverse order).
6/ Boring. I thought there would be a tie-in to the Robot film “Pacific Rim” but there’s not.
So there you have it, an executive summary of all the links. You are welcome.
#1, not so, it can taste pretty good if you know how to fix it right. For that get yourself to a Bolivian restaurant–if in DC you may run into Tyler eating saltenhas.
Like the article says it is becoming more and more popular in the US, though it will never replace fries as the side dish of choice. Just like soccer will never take over American football, but I digress.
Again, if you are going to Bolivian restaurants you are in the “food is fun, whee!” regime.
I tried replacing rice in a dish half and half and the quinoa burned, simply meaning it is marginally less robust than rice. If you are in the “food is a nightmare” regime, then this makes you put it back on the shelf for another 6 months.
Eat your quinoa. It’s good for you. I just think you haven’t been introduced to good recipes.
Just as good as brocolli, too. In fact, you could have a brocolli quinoa salad!
As to the issues of increasing US production of quinoa, one of the barriers is getting a number of famers to switch at the same time in order to make a processing facility worthwhile. You have both a coordination and an investment problem.
Farmer coops are good coordinators for new crops and investment because they coordinate the planting intentions and share in the ownership of a facility to get the product off the ground.
The prices of quinoa are really high right now. Who knows tomorrow.
I just said I have prepared quinoa. It’s a marginal pain. There are individual switching costs in addition to macro ones, especially for those of us whose main problem is not finding the most remote Bolivian restaurant where we hope the menus are not in English.
4: this is a natural outgrowth of the “graduate student slave” approach taken by PhD programs. PhD’s are rarely worth the time financially, so the only people who want them are those who need a greencard (ie, lots of people) or the few who are truly committed to the Life of the Mind ™ – ie, far less. I actually took a staff research job as a sort of dry run to see if I wanted to go to grad school, and decided against it: in the department, I saw too much politics, too much work for little or no purpose, exceedingly low pay, and a PhD in my field wasn’t worth the five years + several years in postdoc purgatory before finding real work.
+1 Explains the phenomenon fully.
I guess the question is, is the current state of affairs a problem? It certainly sucks for engineering undergrads, who get “taught” by TAs that they have trouble understanding. But maybe that is offset by lower tuition?
Take it a step further, say your kid can’t get into an undergrad program because they are displaced by foreigners. How do you feel about continued taxpayer funding of that ‘education’ system?
It takes a Ph D to diferentiate grand and undergrad?
3. “Don’t become happy, lest you perform marginally less accurately on highly artificial tests given by certain university psychology professors.”
The author also deeply misunderstands asceticism. And, probably, what it means to be happy in the first place.
From the article: “It shows the crucial role of global agribusiness, big-ticket infrastructure investment, and trade in bringing us the things we eat, whether we like it or not.”
(That probably breaks a lot of locavore hearts.)
You could try growing it yourself or move to the Andean highlands. (Wonder what your carbon footprint is if you live in the Andean highlands as opposed to DC?)
I mix a little quinoa with rice and cook the mix in a Zojirushi Rice Cooker. I can’t cook diddly but my rice is always perfect according to my Chinese friends. YMMV
From the Univ of Sydney, quinoa has a glycemic index of 53 and glycemic load of 13.
Assume a $200 rice cooker 😉
Kids are a killer because you have the compounded (im)probability of everyone liking something or the multiplier effect killer of having to prepare multiple meals.
4) I’ve never seen a serious, grown-up study of STEM grad students effect on the economy. Most of these sorts of article just wave their hands and assume how foreign grad students are just going around magically creating innovative businesses. I suppose some of them are, but most of them are just normal people who want visas. A lot grad students I worked with ended up at Goldman Sachs instead of doing anything scientific. Is that what we want?
Also, is it clear we need to have so many training programs. Maybe that’s the problem.
I have seen a lot of foreign science grad students get through the program, get a green card and then go into a completely different field, usually not related at all to what the were ostensibly studying. This seems very common in Chinese and those from the backwaters of the Soviet Empire. I don’t mean to tar everyone like this, I work with a Kirghiz and tried to recruit a Mongolian. While I don’t blame them, and they are the kind of people I like to see in this country, I just wish they weren’t cluttering up my department. There is careerism and then there are people who are very smart but were put on a track that started in a state technical school in crapistan or Anhui, and quickly knew that they had no interest for the subject and yet continued in it because they saw no way out. While I mostly blame the horrible way in which Soviet style and even worse Chinese schools track students, a lot of blame has to also accrue to professors who have no interest in grad student research outside getting a research drone.
I puzzle at what the human capital value-added training could possibly be when you add a language barrier on top of the already non-existent training…then you get the “your training is NO training!” answer (i.e. “your ability to work in an open-ended and chaotic environment”)
About that language barrier, give someone who passed the TOEFL, 3-5 years in the US, and if they are actually interested in staying they will know enough English to get by. Sink or swim is about as good a language learning method as you will ever find.
As to training, being a grad student is excellent traing for all sorts of things, just like the army is. A successful grad student can usually be successful at lots of other stuff if they choose to.
Well, they tend to very smart and motivated people who want visas, but yeah, many would have gone straight into working like their American citizen peers after undergrad if given the choice.
5. Spitting in the ocean . . .
The drunken hooligans are out of control. They glory in it.
3. “…happiness comes only to those who don’t actively chase it.”
Only if you are meta-irrational. A meta-rational person who has read Kahneman, Gilbert, Epictetus, Seneca, Voltaire and the like will realize that the probability of happiness can be maximized by ordering one’s life in a specific, prescribed manner. This is a sophisticated pursuit of happiness, not some naive, straw-man “I’m going to chase the carrot” pursuit derided by critics.
Or buy a jet ski.
#4: Dependency? Who pays the tuition, the foreign student? Or is there a domestic source from taxation? If the student is paying, we’ve got high class export industries on our hands. If the source of the funding is domestic taxpayers, we’re fools.
3. The article describes experiments that made people “unhappy” in a matter of minutes. That sounds like a quick mood change, which is quite a bit different than the happiness people envision when they say, “I just want to be happy.” They don’t mean that they just want to listen to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and that will be it. They are talking about something deeper.
A more accurate way to paraphrase the article: people do worse on difficult tasks when they are *relaxed*, and better when they are slightly agitated. That’s the whole point of relaxing — not having to do hard stuff! Although my description is more accurate, it sacrifices the excuse to brandish the word of “happiness” around and means you don’t get to goad people into clicking on your link bait. [And no, that 3rd paragraph from the end of the article is not an adequate rebuttal of this point.]
1) Because throwing more money at a problem doesn’t always proportionally increase yields? This is the same as the mythical-man month myth from software design. Plants researchers have much the same problem, since testing is seasonal and you cannot add more seasons no matter how much money you have.
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