Results for “dylan”
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What is the best country music?

That is a request from Bill Russell, a loyal MR reader, and yes I will get soon to more of your requests.  I’m no expert, but my picks are as follows:

1. Hank Williams Sr., get both discs and don’t look back.

2. The Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, The Flying Burrito Brothers (the first two albums), plus Gram Parsons’s Grievous Angel.

George Jones and Bob Willis and Merle Haggard are all in my view somewhat overrated.

3. Louvin Brothers, Tragic Songs of Life (some call it bluegrass), Dolly Parton, Dock Boggs, Patsy Cline, the essential Johnny Cash (there’s lots of it), and the country/gospel of Elvis Presley.  Dylan’s country music is good but is not his strongest suit.

Arguably the best songs of Ryan Adams (alas they are scattered but "Amy" and "La Cienega Just Smiled" are two places to start; does anyone know a more general sourcing?) are as good as anything in the genre.  I like Lucinda Williams as well plus Shelby Lynne, most of all I Am Shelby Lynne.

Alternatively, the best collections from the 20s and 30s are mind-blowingly good; for instance try American Primitive on John Fahey’s Revenant label, or the Harry Smith collections.  That’s some of the best American music period though in some ways the blues shouts are closer to rock and roll than to country.

I might add the whole list comes from someone who was initially allergic to country music, so if that is you give some of these recommendations a try.  Just think of it as White Man’s Blues.

Who Killed Davey Moore?

Matt Yglesias points us to the following:

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Monday [February 2004] that Americans’ preference for long-term, fixed-rate mortgages means many are paying more than necessary for their homes and suggested consumers would benefit if lenders offered more alternatives.

By the way, Greenspan’s recent Op-Ed claims he is not to blame, plus he disavows blame in his NPR segment the other morning

The other day I wrote of widespread fraud; I was referring to the fact that many lower income borrowers lied on their mortgage applications or failed to provide documentation of income.  Do any of you have figures here?

The New York Times today blames many factors, including lax and fragmented regulators, but most of all the irresponsible practices of mortgage-lending affiliates of nationally chartered banks.  Here are the now well-known warnings of Ed Gramlich.

If you are curious to evaluate my record as a prognosticator, my earlier posts on whether we are in a housing bubble are here [TC: it turns out I didn’t buy close to the peak] and here.  Am I to blame?  Here is Alex’s insightful post.  Most to the point, here is my post "If I Believed in Austrian Business Cycle Theory."

Some of the Austrians blame Greenspan for lowering short-run interest rates to one percent.  From another direction, here are tales of a real estate bubble on the moon.

I browsed through a New York Fed conference summary the other day; it was about "systematic risk" and it was held about a year ago.  I did not see a word about housing bubbles.  The surprise was not the bubble, but rather than its collapse could be such a source of systemic risk and that it could freeze broader credit markets so much. 

Paul Krugman claimed that the fundamental problem is lack of solvency, but he doesn’t make a clear enough distinction between insolvent homeowners (for sure) and insolvent banks (has he bought puts?).  I haven’t seen an estimate of the losses that is large enough to imply anything close to widespread bank insolvency.

Matters would be easier to understand if they were either much better or much worse than they are; it is the current state of hovering which is so puzzling.

Here is Bob Dylan on what went wrong.  It’s the best account I’ve heard so far.

Resume normal programming

I’m now done with my week guest blogging.  The week has flown by.

My final observations are about econo-blogging:

  1. It has been fun. Thanks for listening.
  2. The intertubes can be an interesting and challenging place for discussing ideas and economics.  This might be obvious to you, but for many of us in the ivory tower, the seminar room and the printed page remain our primary fora.  Not coincidentally, they are also where the strongest career incentives lie.
  3. I’ve loved being welcomed and challenged by the Pareto Optimists here at MR.
  4. I’ve been amazed by how much work blogging can be.  More than anything else, this past week has simply increased my admiration for the work that Alex and Tyler put into this site and our community.

I’m still thinking about how my experiences this week will shape my own future views about the who/what/when/where/why of both doing economics and communicating findings.  I’ll be sure to report back if I figure out how one should deal with the (many) alternatives.

So, let me end on a personal note, albeit quoting:

I’m walkin’ down that long, lonesome road, babe
Where I’m bound, I can’t tell
But goodbye’s too good a word, gal
So I’ll just say fare thee well

China fact of the day

Top 10 collections of translated poetry, from a single Chinese store:

  1. Paul Celan, Selected Poetry and Prose
  2. Rainer Maria Rilke, Selected Poems
  3. Dylan Thomas, Selected Poems
  4. Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Poems
  5. Emily Dickinson, Selected Poems
  6. Allen Ginsberg, Selected Poems
  7. Friedrich Hölderlin, Poems
  8. Constantine P. Cavafy, Collected Poems
  9. Federico Garcia Lorca, Selected Poetry
  10. The Eddas

Not a bad list, I would like to know more about their clientele.  The top four "General Titles in Poetry" are:

  1. Friedrich Hölderlin, Collected Prose
  2. Martin Heidegger, Elucidations of Holderlin’s Poetry
  3. Wang Zuoliang, History of English Poetry
  4. Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation

Thanks to Yan Li for the pointer.

My favorite things Minnesota

No, I am not there, but this is atonement for my unintended slight of the state on Saturday.

Music: Dylan, Dylan, and Dylan.  Bringing it All Back Home is his best album, and don’t forget Blood on the Tracks and Love and Theft, among many others.  Did I mention the guy is a first-rate author, an amazing DJ, and a passable actor as well?  I’ve found that relatively few intelligent people appreciate Dylan as a vocalist (don’t forget the Bing Crosby influence) and guitarist (one of the best of his time, though not technically), don’t be distracted by the lyrics.

But yes there is more.  My favorite Prince songs include "Starfish and Coffee," "Glam Slam," the Purple Rain "medley" on side one, and "Seven," most of all the acoustic CD single version.  My favorite Replacements songs are "I Will Dare" and "Skyway."

Film: The Coen brothers have many good films, most of all Fargo, Raising Arizona, and Brother, Where Art Thou?  Much of Fargo is set in Minnesota.

Literature: F. Scott Fitzgerald is an obvious first, Sinclair Lewis I don’t enjoy much.  Tim O’Brien’s Going After Cacciato is a neglected classic.  Ole Rolvaag isn’t bad.  I believe Anne Tyler is from the state, Breathing Lessons is worth reading for a tale of dysfunctional families.

Artist: Duane Hanson — the guy who makes the sculptures that look like people — is the obvious pick.  Any painters other than (ugh) Leroy Nieman?

Small town: "Small" isn’t quite the right word, but Duluth is a beauty, and yes Highway 61 runs up there.

Museum: The Walker Art Center is one of the most dynamic arts institutions in the United States.  Here is a good article on the arts scene in Minneapolis.

I won’t call them "best", but Winona Ryder, Charles Shulze, and Garrison Keillor count for something.

The bottom line: Education and intellect kick in here in a big way.  Minnesota is one of the best states.

Christmas gifts

This is not quite a year-end "best of" list, but if you are looking for gifts, here are my off-the-cuff picks in some select areas. 

1. TV show: Season one of Veronica Mars.  Matt Yglesias and Dan Drezner are fans as well.

2. Classical music: Maurizio Pollini, Chopin’s Nocturnes.
This recording has none of the flaws that Pollini would have shown in
these pieces 20 years ago; they are lyrical and beautiful.  For something
new try Golijov’s Ayre song cycle, and don’t neglect the accompanying Berio pieces.  Richard Egarr’s Goldberg Variations is the only harpischord recording which stands up to Glenn Gould.  Finally, Paul McCartney’s Ecce Cor Meum was better than most other new releases, and yes I hated Liverpool Oratorio but he finally figured out how to do it.

3. Non-fiction: Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling Upon Happiness, or for the economist David Warsh’s Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations.  Google back to my reviews if you don’t remember them.

4. Fiction: A slow year for this category, maybe I will pick Suite Francaise.  I’ll bet against the new Thomas Pynchon being any good but if I am wrong I will let you know.

5. DVDs: You might try Solo con Tu Pareja, the new Criterion release of the 1991 Mexican film by the guy who did Y Tu Mama Tambien.  After that, stick with TV, at least for the time being.

6. Popular music: You could try the new Dylan, or the new Beck, but so far I think the new Justin Timberlake is — against my will I might add — more interesting than either.  My real pick here is the Argentine sensation Juana Molina.  Buy Son
Acoustic guitar, clear voice, light percussive rhythms, ringing bells,
sheer magic.  This is that "isn’t it amazing I never heard of her
before" CD you were looking for…

7. Jazz CD: The new Monk/Coltrane find is the obvious pick, but the new Ornette Coleman release is one of his best.

Random rants on music and books

1. Bob Dylan’s latest has received rave reviews just about everywhere.  Who can doubt an honest effort from the elder statesman?  In reality it is little more than a repackaged version of his last two (superb) albums and thus mostly predictable and mostly boring.  By the way, it is becoming clearer — against all former odds — that he was often a horrible lyricist but he remains, even in his dotage, a remarkable vocalist.

2. I loved the first half of Samuel Beckett’s Watt, but then lost the thread of the book.  Beckett’s fiction remains underread, if only because we’ve yet to figure out just how good it is (or isn’t).  The best parts are astonishing, but at times I feel I am listening to one of those unfunny British radio comedy shows.

3. Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children is a novel about thirty-somethings, in a pre- and post 9-11 NYC, transitioning (or not) into adulthood.  That is a recipe for literary trouble.  But I bought it anyway, trusting Meghan O’Rourke, and yes it deserves the sterling reviews.  I kept expecting Megan McArdle to show up as a character and give them all a good talking-to about microeconomics, which is exactly what the characters need.

4. The best world music release of the last year or so remains Amadou and Mariam, Dimanche a Bamako.  It is also the best pop album of the last year.  The two Mali musicmakers are blind and also married to each other.  I don’t see how anyone could help but love this music.  After a year from its purchase, I’m still listening to it.

5. Steven Slivinki’s Buck Wild: How Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big Government is exactly what the subtitle suggests.  How did that happen?  One factor is that the Republicans found Democratic rule too horrible a prospect to bear and they became more populist.  Let’s hope the Democrats don’t make a comparable mistake.

6. Stephen Miller’s Conversation: The History of a Declining Art.  I loved the title, hated the subtitle.  Much of the book, which considers the preconditions of good conversation, is fascinating and, despite its popular level, goes beyond the muddled arguments of Habermas.  It collapses when it argues that the quality of conversation is declining in the modern world.  The evidence consists solely of examples of bad modern conversations.

Hello, I’m Johnny Cash

I’d always thought that Sun Records and Sam Philips himself had created the most crucial, uplifting and powerful records ever made.  Next to Sam’s records, all the rest sounded fruity.  On Sun Records the artists were singing for their lives and sounded like they were coming from the most mysterious place on the planet.  No justice for them.  They were so strong, can send you up a wall.  If you were walking away and looked back at them, you could be turned into stone.  Johnny Cash’s records were no exception, but they weren’t what you expected.  Johnny didn’t have a piercing yell, but ten thousand years of culture fell from him.  He could have been a cave dweller.  He sounds like he’s at the edge of the fire, or in the deep snow, or in a ghostly forest, the coolness of conscious obvious strength, full tilt and vibrant with danger.  "I keep a close watch on this heart of mine."  Indeed.  I must have recited those lines to myself a million times.  Johnny’s voice was so big, it made the world grow small, unusually low pitched – dark and booming, and he had the right band to match him, the rippling rhythm and cadence of click-clack.  Words that were the rule of law and backed by the power of God.

That is from Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, volume I.  And I am picking the film to win Best Picture this year, whether or not it deserves it.

Freakonomics of the sea

"Before the 1880s, it was unusual to see lobster on menus," said Jones. "It was considered trash fish that people didn’t want"

Glenn said his interest in menus as historical resources evolved from a project in which he assigned students in a coastal resources class to study seafood price data based on prices in a 1950s restaurant menu he came across.

Besides documenting the rise and fall in popularity and prices of fish and mollusk species in restaurants, menus also provide scientists with serious documentation of the economics of commercial fishing over the decades, he said.

"Sea scallops don’t show up on the menus until the 1940s," Jones said. "Before that, it was all bay scallops on menus. Now, bay scallops are pretty rare and the ones you get are real small"

Other U.S. seafood resources are depleted as well, Jones said. Industry records show oyster harvests from Chesapeake Bay are down 96 percent from annual hauls in the early 1900s, he said.

In recent decades, American consumers in particular have chewed their way through two trendy delicacies, Jones said.

"In the 1970s and 1980s, orange roughie starts showing up on menus," Jones said. "But it’s a very slow-growing species and they were harvesting it much faster than the species could replace itself so it’s becoming commercially extinct"

Fishing boats simply shifted from chasing roughie in waters around New Zealand and Australia to pursuing Chilean sea bass in the southern Pacific and southern Indian oceans.

"They just moved on to another species," Jones said, citing catch statistics. "Now, the same thing is happening with the Chilean sea bass"

The same type of progression took place among Atlantic ocean species from the 1850s into the 1900s, Jones said.

Analysis so far has included menus mostly from coastal cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco and Providence, R.I., Jones said.

Here is the full story, and thanks to Dylan Alexander for the pointer.  Here is another summary, try this one too.  In Colonial America, servants wrote contracts specifying they would not be asked to eat lobseter (how fresh? and did they give you a bib and that little fork?) more than twice a week.  Here is a Canadian summary of the work.

Did I mention that we are running out of many species of fish, and that we will be consuming lower and lower items on the marine seafood chain?  I favor private ownership of fish stocks, to alleviate the commons problem, but a) this is not always technically feasible, and b) where possible, it would cause current prices to skyrocket, making those fish a luxury good.  Quotas can be a second best solution but they are hard to enforce.  I hope you like seaweed.

I guess I still do care about this guy…

A collaboration of titans, Bob Dylan – No Direction Home, directed by Martin Scorsese.  I’ve just started watching, but it is hard to recommend this too highly.  The quality of the music clips — most of which are not Dylan — simply defies belief.  And did you know that Dylan wanted to attend West Point and his favorite politician is Barry Goldwater?  Fifteen years ago I thought this guy would go into the dustbin of musical history, but I was so so wrong.  The DVD was released today, and the show will be on PBS soon.  And when it comes to CDs, Entertainment Weekly outlines the essential Bob Dylan.

Marshall and Shackle on opportunity cost

…or forget all the fancy talk of "opportunity cost."  Let’s say you ask, "how much does that apple cost"?

The correct answer is $1.00, the price (gross).

The correct answer is not "the consumer surplus on what the dollar could buy elsewhere" (a net concept).

You can still figure in information about price to get both consumer surpluses and the correct decision.

"*Opportunity* cost" is a means of saying that we don’t just stop at the money ($1.00), but rather we think in terms of a foregone good or service (perhaps a pear, etc.).

But just as "cost" was a gross term, so does "opportunity cost" stay a gross term, it does not become a net one.  Only the word "opportunity" has been added to "cost," so why leap from gross to net thinking?

Buchanan and others blur all this when they start talking about the value dimension of opportunity cost.  On one hand this is properly subjectivist.  But it also encourages people to move to the "net" dimension, and notions of consumer surplus, rather than focusing on the *opportunity*.

G.L.S. Shackle wrote about a "skein of imagined alternatives."  This captures the "gross" idea properly, and remains subjectivist, but it doesn’t encourage the leap into the mix of net thinking and consumer surplus, which remains a separate concept.

I don’t have any quarrel with Alex’s economics; as far as I can see this point is semantic.  (I’ll also admit that my gross perspective on opportunity cost is somewhat anachronistic; it is one reason why mainstream economists work directly with consumer surplus.)  What disturbs me is how few economists gave $50 or $40 as the right answer; the actual answers were close to randomly distributed.  Most Web-based sources appear confused on the net vs. gross issue, but at least they hover across the $40 and $50 options.

What I’ve been reading

Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body: The title says it all, this book is not for the squeamish.

Hunger’s Brides: A Novel of the Baroque, by Paul Anderson.  I’m a sucker for 1400-page Canadian novels about Mexican nun/poetesses who are learning to speak Nahuatl and are involved in murders.  The New York Times ran an article on how to deal with the book’s size and weight.

Chronicles, volume I, by Bob Dylan.  No, I don’t care about him anymore either, but  nonetheless this was one of the best books I read all summer.  A primer on what it means to be American and why low rents are good for artistic creativity.

Healthy Competition: What’s Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It, by Michael Cannon and Michael Tanner, published by the Cato Institute.

Sons of the Conquerors: The Rise of the Turkish World, by Hugh Pope.  A useful and entertaining book on modern Turkey and how it relates to Azerbaijan and the "stan" countries.  Short of actual travel, this is your best hope of gaining a knowledge foothold in these areas.

My favorite book this summer remains the accessible yet deeply philosophic The Time Traveler’s Wife.  More generally, Michael at offers a comprehensive set of links on what is new in the world of books.