Results for “my favorite things”
241 found

My favorite movie watching season

I always love the Fall, not for the changing leaves, not for the weather, and not for the chance to show off my sweater collection.  I love the Fall because it's the best movie season of the year.  The months from September to December is when all the distributors bring out their smart, adult, critically favored, award season films.  The summer is left to the kids and the action blockbusters, but over the next few months is when all the Oscar contenders will be released.  UP IN THE AIR, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS, THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR PARNASSUS are just a very few of the smart, cool, quality looking pictures that I'm looking forward to seeing over the next few weeks.

I have always assumed, and I believe it's conventional wisdom in the industry, that these kinds of films come out at the tail end of the year in order to remain in voters minds come Oscar ballot time, which is immediately in the new year.  The thinking is that any film that comes out in the early part of the year will be forgotten and overlooked compared to the more recent offering, regardless of it's artistic merit.  Aside from it being a sad commentary on the shortness of our memories I'm wondering if this is entirley true.  I'm taking a leap here and turning to the educted readers of MR for their feedback, but I wonder if like the proven business observation that when a second carpet shop opens beside the first it's competition, when a third opens it becomes the carpet district and is good for all of them.  Is there something about a grouping of similarly aimed films coming out all at once, even from competing distributors, that increases the box office for all as opposed to having them spread out evenly throughout the year?  I know I'm drawing a parellel between geography and the calendar, and perhaps that's a classic apples and orange mix, but I can't help but wonder if creating a film 'season' is not conferring a benefit to all the films that are released in this period.

Where is our economy headed?

The ever-interesting Brad DeLong is on a real roll lately. Read his post on current economic trends. Here is my favorite part:

…more important than the short-run cycles are the long-run trends. Labor productivity growth in the United States rose from 1.2% per year from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s to 2.3% per year in the late 1990s to 4.2% per year–so far–in the 2000s. How much of that second jump-up in productivity growth will be sustained? We do not know, but it is safe to bet that some of it will. (Me, I don’t believe those numbers: I prefer to look at the income rather than the product side of the National Income and Product Accounts, and say that the three economy-wide productivity numbers are 1.2%, 3.1%, and 3.2% respectively, with the difference between the income and product side blamed on an erratic “statistical discrepancy.”) When will the rapid productivity growth that we have seen in the United States and ascribed to information technology spread to the rest of the rich countries? We do not know, but we do know that one of these years it will make itself visible. How long will it take world trade in information-services like form-processing, accounting, and customer service to truly boom as a result of the internet and the fiber-optic cable in the same way that the iron-hulled ocean-going steamship and the submarine telegraph made world trade in staple goods–not just luxuries and preciosities–boom in the late nineteenth century? Once again we do not know, but once again we do know that one of these years it will make itself visible.

It is time for governments, firms, investors, workers, and parents worldwide to begin betting on the long-run trends that have become visible over the past decade. Such bets probably won’t pay off in the next year, or two, or three. But they surely will start to pay off sometime in the next ten.

I will direct your attention again to Brad’s recent post comparing Bob Rubin and Paul O’Neill. I think it is one of the finest things an economist has written on bureaucracy, ever.

Friday assorted links

1. Redux of my 2018 post “My Favorite Things Ukraine,” closes with this: “Overall, this is a stunningly impressive list, though there are legitimate questions as to who and what exactly counts as Ukrainian.  They’re still trying to sort that one out, which is part of the problem.”  The comments are interesting too.

2. Is progress in mathematics understudied?

3. “Insurance reduces anxiety and repetitious thoughts related to the mishap; with fewer thoughts about the mishap, its cognitive availability is lower and so it seems less likely to occur.

4. Using AI to decode pig calls.

5. Why was Norway a welfare state laggard?

Who is excellent and why?

A few of you have written in and asked me why some people, such as Kevin Lewis and Samir Varma, are designated as say “the excellent Kevin Lewis” on Marginal Revolution.

It is simple — I view this recognition as resulting from a combination of their intelligence and persistence, and thus their excellence in finding and sending me links and interesting commentary.  (I have met them both, and they do seem to have other virtues, but those other virtues are not the ones being recognized here.)  The word is completely unironic.  I view “belief in excellence” as one of the underlying philosophies of MR, and also belief in the notion that excellence should be mentioned and promoted.

In this sense, those designations are quite similar to the ongoing series “My Favorite Things [xxxx]“.

This designation of excellence is also related to why MR does not spend a great deal of time on all of the political depredations of our time.  Yes, they are important, but I fear that focusing on them too much would a) make me stupider, and b) distract from an underlying vision of excellence I wish to communicate.  I am too selfish to wish to be made stupider in that manner.

More generally, for any media source you are reading, what is the underlying vision of excellence?  Or are they just pukers?

If you can trace their underlying vision of excellence (or lack thereof), you will understand much of their material much better.

How outrageous are the new North Carolina laws?

Here is a summary from Politico:

The state’s Republican-controlled General Assembly passed the bills this week during a special session. The new laws reduce the number of positions the governor can hire and fire at will from 1,500 to 300, strip the governor’s party of the power to control the state board of elections, require legislative approval of gubernatorial cabinet appointments, and move the power to appoint trustees for the University of North Carolina to the legislature.

The first sounds like a good change, as in general the professional bureaucracy in American politics should be more powerful, as it is in Western Europe.  The second clause — power over elections — sounds like a simple power grab, but can I say I find it an inferior arrangement to vest this responsibility with the legislature?  No, and note the new deal gives each party equal representation on the election commission (otherwise the Democrats would hold a majority).  The trustee appointment change I find it hard to get worked up about, though it does seem to me more naturally the prerogative of the executive, but the state constitution gives trustee appointment rights to the legislature.

How about “require legislative approval of gubernatorial cabinet appointments,” which sounds pretty severe?

Well, check out the North Carolina state constitution: “Appointments. The Governor shall nominate and by and with the advice and consent of a majority of the Senators appoint all officers whose appointments are not otherwise provided for.”  [Later sections seem to cover the “appointments…otherwise provided for.”]  Furthermore, this seems like pretty standard practice at various levels of American government.

Perhaps the Republicans have good legal advice, and are likely to win this in the courts, as the source behind the last link is suggesting.  As a commentator, a good starting question is whether you have in fact read the North Carolina state constitution.

Overall the story seems to be that the legislature is — within the provisions of the state constitution — seizing more power for the legislature.  (You don’t have to like that, given some of the other Republican stances, but don’t confuse the different issues here.)  Don’t presidents and governors try to do the same?  Succeed in doing the same?  Is it perhaps worth criticizing the state constitution, rather than just condemning the Republicans for exercising constitutional powers?  Here is a link outlining many of the power grabs in previous North Carolina history, including by the Democrats.

Have your feelings about the filibuster changed as of late?

Is it so much worse if such shenanigans are done in a lame duck period?  Would it have been so awful if Clinton had won the presidential election and TPP had passed during the lame duck session, as many people were talking about?  Or if the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court had been approved?  Do we all condemn the flood of “midnight regulations” that come during each federal lame duck session?

I am very willing to consider limiting the power of lame duck sessions.  And I am very willing to believe that the North Carolina legislature made moves in the wrong direction from a utilitarian and also public legitimacy point of view.  Furthermore, I am also no expert in North Carolina constitutional law and I would gladly be set straight if I am overlooking some relevant facts on these issues.

In the meantime, I don’t quite see this as a coup d’etat, it seems like a pretty traditional power grab within established constitutional structures, it’s not the Republicans heralding the end of constitutional government in the United States, and I’m not sure that the critics are being entirely consistent in applying the principles articulated in their shrillness.  The critical commentary here really does need to up its game.  If your argument is simply “I don’t want groups I disagree with to take more power through legitimate means,” well by all means say so!

As for my summary view, the legislative actions do seem unwise to me, they seem to be coming at an especially fraught time, I don’t favor all of the other policy preferences of this legislature, and I think they are extending what is already a series of unwise precedents.

Here are my favorite things North Carolina, none of them refer to politics.

 

Friday assorted links

1. My favorite things Swiss, redux.  These days I would add Peter Zumthor and the Vitra design museum outside of Basel.

2. Theatre of Harmonic Social Motion, a short essay by Anthony Morley.  What are the invisible hand mechanisms governing science?

3. When do unions oppose the minimum wage?

4. 3 a.m. interview with philosopher David Estlund.

5. How did the Brexit idea rise to prominence?

6. Big hack and theft at Ethereum, ongoing story, a big setback for “this kind of stuff.”  (Can I call it that?)  Here is Izabella Kaminska.

What is the most obscure state according to Wonkblog and Google? And per capita?

From Christopher Ingraham:

The top five most-searched states are, in order, California, Texas, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania. And to answer Tyler Cowen’s original question, the bottom five states, in descending order, are Idaho, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, and, at the absolute bottom of the 50-state barrel: Wyoming.

And searches relative to population?:

You can see that the biggest overperformer is, oddly enough, Alabama — it’s the 24th most populous state, but the 15th most frequently-searched state. It’s hard to say what’s driving the discrepancy, but Google’s data offer some clues. For instance, Google’s nifty Correlate tool shows that many Alabama-related searches have to do with sports scores and events — perhaps tied to the popularity of college sports at the University of Alabama. Or, there may be something unique about the state the causes its residents to use the state’s name in Google searches more often — searching for rules and regulations on things like drivers’ licenses and the like.

Other big overperformers include Hawaii and Alaska, Colorado and Connecticut.

On the other side of the ledger, the state that appears to generate the lowest amount of search interest relative to its size is Indiana.

…Louisiana, West Virginia, New Mexico and Idaho also are considerably under-searched compared to their population.

Separately, I received this email from a loyal MR reader:

I am following your most-obscure-state series with some fascination. However, I think the approach is a bit off, because in many cases small states are less obscure than larger ones. Rhode Island is not obscure precisely because most know of it as the smallest state. And even small states produce outlier individuals that elevate their states’ prominence. Rather, I think you should look at obscurity on a per-capita basis — that is, what state is disproportionately obscure compared to its population, economic footprint, &c.
I would suggest Indiana. Our 16th-most-populous state, Indiana is nonetheless relatively obscure for its size.
Consider:
  • Indiana is overshadowed by many of its larger neighbors; northwestern Indiana is part of Chicagoland; southeast Indiana is tied to the Cincinnati and Louisville areas.
  • The best-known historical political figures identified with Indiana are Benjamin Harrison and Dan Quayle — neither well-known.
  • Indiana has far fewer Fortune 500 companies based there than any neighbor except Kentucky (and only one more than Kentucky). Indiana’s big firms tend to be major industrial companies like Eli Lilly and Cummins, important but not consumer-facing and thus contributing to obscurity.
  • Indiana is a major producer of many products, agricultural commodities and mineral resources, but it is the top producer of few, and so doesn’t gain prominence for them (in the way that people associate dairy with Wisconsin or cars with Michigan).
  • Indiana has only one large city, and it’s the 34th-largest U.S. metro area with about 2 million people. States of similar size tend either have much larger metro areas or they have multiple Indianapolis-sized metros.
  • Indiana is not especially diverse — 85% white, and few prominent foreign ethnic minorities concentrated there.
  • In education, Indiana’s best known big school is Notre Dame, which due to its Catholic heritage is not especially associated in the public mind with the state. Purdue is a strong school but ranked 61 by US News — lower than you might expect for a flagship in a state Indiana’s size.
  • Indiana is a place where a lot of notable people are from but where few stay. Think John Roberts, Allan Bloom, Sydney Pollack, Steve McQueen, Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Samuelson. (Indiana’s proximity to Chicago contributes to its obscurity by sucking away some of its greatest talents.)

Sports and culture are probably the only arena in which Indiana escape obscurity In sports, this is due to the Hoosier basketball tradition, Larry Bird, Bob Knight, John Wooden, and the Indy 500.

Culturally, Indiana has produced several highlights. In music, the Jackson 5 are indelibly associated with Indiana. The novels of Booth Tarkington stand out. Cole Porter was born and raised there. The Gaither gospel singers are from and based in Indiana. Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, a minor classic, is set there. Ben-Hur author Lew Wallace was a lifelong Indianan. Indiana has produced some strong comics — Red Skelton, David Letterman, Jim Gaffigan — although they are not popularly associated with Indiana. Jim Davis of Garfield is from there. Films and TV shows set there? HoosiersBreaking Away, Rudy, Parks and Recreation.
…Despite these strong points, the relatively large size of Indiana weighs against them and leaves Indiana the most obscure state on a per-capita basis.
Thanks — I continue to enjoy this series and am looking forward to your posts on Rhode Island and Delaware.
TC again: Here is my earlier post My favorite things Indiana.  But I think we have a winner in the per capita sweepstakes.

What has San Diego contributed to American culture?

In honor of the AEA meetings I was going to do “My Favorite Things San Diego” but frankly I came up with what is more or less a total blank.  Eddie Vedder?  I like Tom Waits.  Lots of athletes.  What else?

San Diego, by population, is the eighth largest city in the United States.  Yet it seems to have had hardly any cultural influence.  What gives?

Movie, set in: Almost Famous, or perhaps A Day Without a Mexican.

End of story, unless you can tell me more.  I’m sure to enjoy the weather, though I’ll look longingly at Tijuana just across the border.

Manila notes

How the mothers talk to, smile at, and elevate their small children reminds me uncannily of Mexico.  It was actually Mexico, not Spain, that ruled the Philippines for centuries.  You can tell how bad the traffic or the flooding is by the clucking sounds made by the taxi drivers.  There is a lot of boxing on TV, and you will regularly be surprised by which food items turn out to taste the best.  Don’t rule out the baked goods or the chicken minestrone soup.

This is a surrealistic dream country, combining fractured elements of an earlier global economy in strange and unpredictable ways.  If you’re not paying attention you can think you are somewhere else — Acapulco?  Lima?  Los Angeles? but in which years? — and yet you are regularly pulled back to the Filipino reality, if only by seeing the Chinese dragons perched in front of the Spanish colonial church.  “My Favorite Things Filipino” would all be moments of disorientation.  The traditional exotic spots now seem pseudo-exotic to me, at least compared to Manila, which forces you to rethink everywhere else you have visited.

Someone should write a New Yorker article about how Filipinos use music in public spaces.  The mango is superb, even by the standards of tropical countries.  If I lived here, I would learn how to talk with my eyebrows.  They don’t like to criticize each other.  Martha Stewart is brought up and discussed by high status Filipinos without irony.

The ability to appreciate the Philippines is a Turing test of some sort, but I am not yet sure for what.

Article about me

How else can one title such a post?  Here it is, from New York magazine.  Excerpt:

Among this new crowd of economists, Cowen, a 45-year-old professor at George Mason University just outside D.C., is a cult hero, insofar as he co-runs an influential blog called marginalrevolution.com. You don’t need to be an economist to enjoy it. There are only a handful of posts a day, but the range of ideas is awe-inspiring. Cowen weighs in on everything from “wage compression”–when bosses give raises at a rate below productivity gains–to household pets, arguing that “if you must support the life of either a cat or a dog, choose the undervalued cat.” (Dogs’ friendly disposition increases the odds of their being well-cared for by other people, while the natural diffidence of cats makes them more susceptible to neglect).

Here is their selection from the series "My Favorite Things"…

The Lives of Others

That’s the new German movie with the rave reviews and the foreign language film Oscar, but don’t be fooled.  The movie is technically excellent, but not thoughtful.  It is part of a more general, and disturbing, trend in contemporary German culture to whitewash the past.  The film shows many small acts of defiance against the Stasi, as if to redeem an otherwise sorry East German record.  Last year — fortunately I cannot remember the title — we were shown the German martyrs against the Nazis. 

Don’t economists emphasize the marginal unit?  Can’t we have at least one movie about small acts of defiance?  In principle yes, but characters implausibly discover the brotherhood of man and viewers are fed uplifting final homilies, a’la Schindler.  Natasha, who lived with her equivalent of the Stasi for many years, had a similar reaction of partial disgust and incredulity.

My friends consider me a cultural Germanophile (I could do "My Favorite Things German" for weeks), but I tend to be a cynic about the blacker historical episodes in the German past.  I used to hate the slow, tortuous, and pretentious Nazi-Angst movies of Fassbinder and his ilk, but they’ve aged surprisingly well, and they came much closer to striking the appropriate tone.

Addendum: Here is one good review (spoilers); by the way if you know the Hong Kong original, Infernal Affairs, you’ll find The Departed almost impossible to watch.  I walked out.