Results for “my favorite things”
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My favorite things Dubai

Brazil_1 No, I can’t afford to stay here, but surely this is my favorite Dubai hotel.  I am told they pick you up at the airport in a white Rolls Royce and then the bridge to the hotel spouts a burst of flame to welcome you.  Supposedly from the water it looks like a cross, which makes it a controversial structure with the local Muslims.  I am going there shortly to eat lunch, if I can believe my guidebook this adventure will involve the use of a submarine.

So far, the Pakistani food here is excellent…and, um…they have a few green median strips along the road, albeit not at social marginal benefit = social marginal cost.  As to my favorite Dubai novel or film, I’ll have to get back to you.

I can tell you one thing, my favorite Dubai blog is Emirates Economist

Addendum: Chris Masse points me to this link of Duba’s mega-projects, take a look.  Here is an overview photo.  Here is the story.  By the way, the UAE just had its first race with the robot camel jockeys.

My favorite things Texan

Music: How about Blind Willie Johnson, a pinnacle of the blues tradition?  Buy it here.  Can I overlook Scott Joplin and his "Euphonic Sounds"?  Lightnin’ Hopkins?  Woody Guthrie (if only he had read Economics in One Lesson…)?  Leadbelly?  Janis Joplin?  Roy Orbison?  Jimmie Rodgers?  Charlie Christian?  Ornette Coleman?  Buddy Holly?  Here is a longer list.

Painting: Robert Rauschenberg?  Look at this one with the goat, I believe it is in Stockholm.  I bet you, like I, say naaaah, but the field is thin.  I’ll opt for his "Bed" as an important work, however.

Literature: Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is the obvious choice, or try Katherine Anne Porter.

Food: Texas barbecue has a strong influence (sausage!) from German migrants.  That is also why Tejano music has so much accordion, with a hat tip to Poland as well.

Comedian: Steve Martin.  All of Me and Planes, Trains and Automobiles both make me laugh.

The bottom line: I love Texas, but I am surprised that the weight of achievement is so unbalanced toward music and food.  By the way, I’m in El Paso, doing research for my next book.

Addendum: Several readers write to tell me Guthrie is not a Texan…

My favorite things Nevadan

I had to use Google for this one:

Author: Walter van Tilburg Clark – The Ox-Bow Incident – one good argument against frontier justice.

Paiute Indian Prophet: Jack Gordon, here is a fascinating link.

Movie, set in: Casino is an underrated Scorsese work, nods also to Leaving Las Vegas and Viva Las Vegas.

Architecture: The competition is stiff.  We are staying in the Luxor, but my favorite would be the little bits on the desolate outskirts of town, with pumping oil derricks and tumbleweed.

Inexcusable Aberration: I still think Showgirls is a good film.

We are here, by the way, for my mother’s seventieth birthday.

My favorite things Georgian

The state that is, not the country.

Music: I’ll go with Otis Redding, who was born in Georgia and played in Macon early in his career.  Favorite song: Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song).  Here is the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.   Most underrated might be the acoustic bluesman Pink Anderson.  And I still have guilty sympathies for pop musician Tommy Roe ("Dizzy," "Sweet Pea," "Sheila").

Literature: Here is a list, I will go with Flannery O’Connor or the poetry of James Dickey.

Cinema: Speaking of James Dickey, this one is a no-brainer, I can’t believe my parents let me see this when I was eleven or so, but I thank them.

Artist: No, Georgia O’Keefe doesn’t count.  Most of the ouevre of Outsider Artist Howard Finster is churned-out junk, but his early work was excellent.  This painting isn’t bad either, or try here.  It was, however, a mistake when he finished 67 paintings in one weekend while visiting Wake Forest University.

Architecture: I am very fond of this kind of Savannah house, if only because it reminds me of Haiti.  For my modernist readers, this is from Atlanta.

Addendum: Hey, did I forget James Brown?  The hotel TV in the background notes he is from Augusta…

My favorite things Floridian

I am in Palm Beach for a few days, so here goes:

Film: The classic is Key Largo; Bogie’s speech about Edward G. ("more, you want more…") is a (the?) classic statement of behavioral economics.  An honorable mention goes to Wild Things, a hot and underrated work of teen film noir.  Of course Body Heat was set in Florida as well.  As for comedy, Jim Carrey’s debut feature Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, set in Miami and environs, was made before his brilliant comic talents ossified. 

Literature: I’ll pick Zora Neale Hurston, with my favorite work as her memoir Their Eyes Were Watching God.  She is also quite a libertarian thinker in many ways.

Music: The Allman Brothers, Ray Charles, and Tom Petty are the only competitors I can think of.  They are all overrated, but I will opt for Charles’s "What’d I Say?"  Tampa Red was pretty good, but often he is attributed to Georgia.

Art: Many notable Americans painted Florida, but how about an artist who is truly of Florida?  I’ll opt for the Haitian Edouard Duval-Carrie, here are a few good paintings by him.  And here is Kevin Grier’s favorite Duval-Carrie, scroll down to the bottom.

The bottom line: I love Miami Art Deco and roadside architecture, but doesn’t Florida feel just a wee bit underrepresented on the lists of artistic greats?

Addendum: A number of readers argue persuasively that the Allman Brothers should belong to Georgia, not Florida. 

My favorite things French

I do one of these every time I go somewhere.  I’ve held off on France out of fear of excess choice, but here goes:

French opera: Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande is ravishing, try to find the old version conducted by Roger Desormiere.  Messiaen’s St. Francis wins an honorable mention; my favorite piece of French music might be Messiaen’s Vingt Regards.

French restaurant: I’ve yet to get into Pierre Gagnaire, considered the world’s greatest restaurant by many.  For quick notice, I’ve done well at the Michelin two-stars Savoy and Hotel Bristol, the latter is even open for Sunday lunch, a Parisian miracle.

French novel: Proust is the only writer who makes me laugh out loud.

French pianist: Yves Nat has done my favorite set of Beethoven sonatas.  These recordings are brutally frank and direct, and deep like Schnabel, albeit with fewer wrong notes.  Few aficionadoes know this box, but it stands as one of my desert island discs.  Note that French pianists are underrated in general.

French artist: I find much by the Impressionists sickly sweet and overexposed.  I’ll opt for Poussin (this one too), Seurat’s black and whites, and Cezanne watercolors.  Right now I would rather look at Chavannes and Bouguereau than Renoir or Monet.  As for the most underrated French artist, how about Delacroix?  A few years ago some of his small canvases were selling for as little as $60,000.

French popular music: Serge Gainsbourg is often called the "French Bob Dylan," but he is more like "the French Beck."  Buy this set for a truly eclectic mix of styles.

French movies: If you don’t usually like French movies, you still should watch Robert Bresson’s A Man Escaped, Jean Pierre Melville’s Bob Le Flambeur (a big influence on John Woo, also try Le Samourai), and Theodor Dreyer’s Joan of Arc.

My favorite things Indian

Being here is number one at the moment, but here are a few specifics:

1. My favorite Indian musician – I have to go with Zakir Hussain; yes the CDs are wonderful but they do not compare with seeing him live. Honorary mentions go to Ali Akhbar Khan (sarod) and L. Subramaniam (violin).

2. My favorite Indian movie – Bollywood stands or falls as a whole, but if I had to pick one film, it is the classic Mother India; this 1957 movie is arguably the defining moment of Indian cinema.

3. My favorite Indian novel – Rushdie is the obvious favorite, but I will opt for Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. Better than any Dickens but Bleak House. And did you know that he was an errant economics Ph.d. student at Stanford when he wrote the manuscript?

4. My favorite Indian artist – Indian miniatures are a favorite, but we must go with named artists for this category. How about Nandalal Bose, the Bengali painter from the early twentieth century? Here are more nice pictures by him.

5. Favorite Indian chess player Vishwanathan Anand is a no-brainer. India has a history of supercalculators, so how about this guy? You give him two and a half hours on his clock and he still uses only thirty minutes, and that is against world class competition. He used to be ranked number two in the world, though he has slipped in the last few years.

My favorite things Mexican

I am in Mexico, and you will be hearing more about this. Here are a few of my favorite things.

1. Favorite Mexican novel: Pedro Paramo, by Juan Rolfo. A hilarious and moving tale of visiting rural Mexico and encountering the dead. The true heir to Dante. I remain surprised by how many people do not know this marvelous work, though the English translation does not capture the humor well. Will you be turned off if I tell you this is a favorite of Susan Sontag’s?

2. Favorite Mexican music: Mexican rap is extraordinarily eclectic and creative. I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite group, but Control Machete is one place to start.

3. Favorite Mexican artist: Marcial Camilo Ayala, whom I am currently visiting in Cuernavaca. Here is one of my favorite pieces of his; here is one in black and white. If you pay in advance (less than you think), I am happy to help you get one.

4. Favorite Mexican food: Chicken with mole sauce, a’ la Puebla or Oaxaca. For real authenticity, make sure you crumble in the stale tortilla.

5. Favorite Mexican movie: You probably already know Y Tu Mama Tambien, Amores Perros, and El Mariachi. So I’ll recommend Luis Bunuel’s old version of Wuthering Heights, a truly strange adaptation that captures the spirit of the original novel remarkably well. You do not have to buy into Bunuel’s later, more pretentious work to like this one.

Addendum: My favorite Mexican dish might be Chiles Nogada.

My favorite things Scottish

Favorite Scottish painting: I have to go with Henry Raeburn, check out the sense of motion in this picture.

Favorite Scottish novel: I’ve never found Stevenson or Scott very readable, so I’ll opt for Alasdair Gray’s quirky Lanark, a playful fantasy that recalls Tristram Shandy and science fiction.

Favorite Scottish music: Some of you might say Jesus and Mary Chain, but on this one I am stuck by the lack of a true favorite. This list did not much sway me. Must I go with Donovan, Garbage, Annie Lennox, or Lonnie Donegan? The bagpipes don’t do it for me, nor do Belle and Sebastian.

Favorite Scottish economist: For me this is not a no-brainer. No doubt, Adam Smith’s lifetime achievement is number one. But if you actually sat down and talked econ for a few hours, I suspect one would come away with a higher opinion of David Hume. He was, after all, the smartest person ever.

Favorite Scottish smartest person ever: David Hume

Favorite Scottish Commissioner of Customs: Adam Smith

Favorite Scottish biographer: Duh.

Favorite Scottish movie: Gregory’s Girl. This movie gives new meaning to the phrase “oozes charm.”

My favorite cinematic things Hong Kong

Where to start?

1. John WooThe Killer holds up the best on repeated viewings, but Hard Boiled makes the biggest first impression, at least circa the early 1990s.  It is less shocking today, precisely because it has been so influential.  Bullet in the Head has some incredible peak moments, but I’ve never loved A Better Tomorrow as many people do, neither part I nor part II.   Once a Thiefthe true Hong Kong edition only — is a good dark horse pick, nimble and philosophical.  Of the American Woo movies, Windtalkers, about the Navajo code talkers during World War II, is much underrated, a fine work.

2. Ringo Lam. City on Fire, and also Prison on Fire.  I would like to know more of them.

3. Wong Kar-wai.  I love all of his movies up through 2000, after that I have mixed feelings at best.  Essential viewing, perhaps my favorite is Chungking Express, for capturing a certain era in Hong Kong, although I doubt that is the best one.

4. Tsui Hark. I am sorry, but I never have loved them, the less pretentious the better.  I did enjoy Chinese Ghost Story.

5. Jackie Chan. Drunken Master II is my favorite, for some U.S. releases this was retitled simply Drunken Master.  You’ll just have to figure it out.  I love the first thirty minutes or so of Armour of God, you can skip the rest.  I consider him one of the comic geniuses of recent times.

6. Bruce Lee. Enter the Dragon is a perennial favorite, plus there is the fight scene with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game of Death, and with Chuck Norris in Return of the Dragon.

The Infernal Affairs trilogy is quite good, as is Election.  Some of the early Shaw Kung Fu movies have entertaining moments, best seen is excerpts.  Chow-Yun Fat is perhaps my favorite movie actor.  There is plenty more I don’t know about.

The bottom line: People, you need to have seen all of these movies, now.  Just ask Scott Sumner.

My all-time favorite things Ontario

1. Short story author: Alice Munro I consider one of the very best writers ever, from anywhere or any period.  Read them all, and there is a new collection coming this November.  Here is one place to start.

2. Movie, set in: Dead Ringers, by David Cronenberg, one of my favorite films period.

3. Director: After Cronenberg there is James Cameron, hate me if you want but I find his movies splendid.  Sarah Polley remains underrated in the United States, start with Away From Her, another of my all-time favorites.

4. Novelist: Margaret Atwood, especially Cat’s Eye.  I used to like Robertson Davies, but somehow his novels have not stuck with me.

5. Pianist: I used to think that only half of Glenn Gould’s recordings were tolerable, but in the last five years I have come to see his Haydn and Brahms recordings as masterpieces.  Now it’s only the Mozart and Beethoven I can’t stand.  Don’t forget the Berg Sonata and of course the Bach and also his writings.

6. Architect: Frank Gehry comes to mind, though I do not like the new rendition of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

7. Alanis Morissette song: “Head Over Feet.”

8. Comedian: I love Mike Myers in “Wayne’s World” and Jim Carrey in “Ace Ventura” and “The Cable Guy.”

9. Favorite Neil Young album: Everybody Knows this is Nowhere.

10. Blogger: AhemCory Doctorow deserves mention too.

We haven’t even touched the painters.

What strikes me is not only how strong this list is, but how little thought was required to compile it.

My favorite Polish things

My favorite Polish novel: Solaris, by Stanislaw Lem. Don’t worry if you hate science fiction, this is possibly the best novel ever penned about erotic guilt and the nature of personal identity.

My favorite Polish music: My traditional favorites have been the Chopin Etudes and the Polonaise Op.40. But arguably the Mazurkas hold up best over time. Here is a recent Chopin CD that will blow you away.

My favorite Polish movie: Kanal, directed by Andrzej Wajda. A European movie of great depth with a plot as gripping as Hollywood.

My favorite Polish TV show: The Decalogue, episode four. This audiovisual classic is now available in its entirety on DVD. In the fourth episode, a daughter receives an envelope from her father, with the written instructions: “Don’t Open This Until I Die.” I leave the rest up to your imagination.

I’m enjoying my time here very much, soon I will be in Kracow.

Addendum: Let’s not forget the goose in cranberry sauce, the pork knuckle pate, the wild boar with dumplings, the sour soup with sausage, the duck with cherry sauce, or the wonderful Brazilian restaurant they have here. Polish food in Brazil is fantastic, so now they are returning the favor, all to the benefit of me.

My excellent Conversation with Will MacAskill

Here is the audio, video, and transcript.  Here is part of the summary:

William joined Tyler to discuss why the movement [Effective Altruism] has gained so much traction and more, including his favorite inefficient charity, what form of utilitarianism should apply to the care of animals, the limits of expected value, whether effective altruists should be anti-abortion, whether he’d would side with aliens over humans, whether he should give up having kids, why donating to a university isn’t so bad, whether we are living in “hingey” times, why buildering is overrated, the sociology of the effective altruism movement, why cultural innovation matters, and whether starting a new university might be next on his slate.

And an excerpt:

COWEN: Of all the inefficient things, which is the one you love most?

And longer:

COWEN: If we’re assessing the well-being of nonhuman animals, should we use preference utilitarianism or hedonistic utilitarianism? Because it will make a big difference. We’re not sure all these animals are happy. They may live lives of terror, but we’re pretty sure they want to stay alive.

MACASKILL: It makes a huge difference. I think the arguments for hedonism as a theory of well-being, where that saying that well-being consists only in conscious experiences — positive ones contribute positively, negative conscious experiences contribute negatively — I think the arguments for that as a theory of well-being and the theory of what’s good are very strong. It does mean that when you look to the lives of animals in the wild, my view is it’s just very nonobvious whether those lives are good or not.

That’s me being a little bit more optimistic than other people that have looked into this, but the optimism is mainly drawing from just lack of — I think we know very little about the conscious lives of fish, let alone invertebrates. But yes, if you have a preference satisfaction view, then I think the world looks a lot better because beings, in general, want to keep living.

Actually, when we look to the future as well, I think if you assess how good is the future going to be on a hedonist view, well, maybe it’s quite fragile. You could imagine lots of future ways that civilization could go, where they just don’t care about consciousness at all, or perhaps the beings that will, are not conscious. But probably, beings in the future will have preferences, and those preferences will be being satisfied. So, in general, moral reality looks a lot more rosy, I think, if you’re a preference satisfactionist.

COWEN: But it’s possible, say, in your view, that human beings should spend a lot of their time and resources going around destroying nature, since it might have negative net expected utility value.

MACASKILL: I think it’s a possible implication. I think it’d be very unlikely to be the best thing we could be doing because once —

COWEN: But there’s a lot of nature. We have very effective bombs, weapons. We could develop animal-killing weapons if we set our minds to it.

And from me:

COWEN: I worry a bit this is verging into the absurd, and I’m aware that word is a bit question-begging. But if we think about the individual level — like what do you, Will, value? — you value, in part, the inefficient. It’s very hard to give people just pure utilitarian advice, because they’re necessarily partial.

At the big macro level — like the whole world of nature versus humans, ethics of the infinite, and so on — it also seems to me utilitarianism doesn’t perform that well. The utilitarian part of our calculations — isn’t that only a mid-scale theory? You can ask, does rent control work? Are tariffs good? Utilitarianism is fine there, but otherwise, it just doesn’t make sense.

Fascinating throughout.  Don’t forget Will’s excellent new book What We Owe the Future.

Addendum: Here is Ezra Klein’s conversation with MacAskill.  And with Dwarkesh Patel.

My YouTube viewing habits

Abe emails me:

Tyler, I really enjoyed your recent podcast with Russ Roberts talking about favorite books and reading strategies. On the podcast, you mentioned YouTube a couple of times. I was hoping Russ would ask you about your YouTube habits, but he didn’t, so I thought I’d email to ask. What type of things do you watch on YouTube? Do you have any favorite channels or strategies for finding good content? I think it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the subject.

My habits here are primitive, and not recommended for most of you sophisticates, but here goes:

1. I don’t subscribe to YouTube channels.

2. I watch some reasonable percentage, at least in part, of what people send me.

3. I watch prospective guests for CWT, to experience their conversational rhythms and mannerisms and “tics.”

4. I listen to music, especially when I am traveling, mostly classical music recitals or “world music,” to use a much-abused phrase.  For many “world musics,” the visual element is all-important.  I love Led Zeppelin, but I don’t click on them in this medium.  Piano and guitar recitals I enjoy much more than orchestral music, at least on YouTube.

5. Sometimes I watch videos on science, or occasionally econometrics.  It is often the best way to learn new concepts in these areas.

6. I watch Magnus Carlsen play BanterBlitz and engage in related chessboard antics in other forums, mostly while I am exercising on the Peloton.  If you understand chess reasonably well, he is one of the greatest entertainers of our time, in addition to being the best chessplayer ever.

7. I don’t listen on speeds other than 1x.  Doing so would disrupt the purposes mentioned above!  If I am just trying to absorb information rapidly, typically I would prefer a book.  The information from #5 usually is difficult enough for me to stick with 1x.  If it is just someone blabbing, typically I care about the true human rhythms of speech, or I just won’t do it.

What else?