Friday, July 20, 2007

For Those of You Who Are Skeptical

Here is a link to an LATimes article that confirms claims of a coffee whose beans are selected first by wild civets (cat-like mammals), who eat the beans. The processed beans are reclaimed from the civets' solid waste...the resulting beans sell for $600/pound. Apparently, the civet's digestive tract removes some of the chemicals that make coffee bitter and harsh. However, the process also removes some of the caffeine.

Fall Courses I'm Looking At

I noticed that the course guide has been updated, so I'm making a list for the coming semester.
  • Ec 2061: Dynamic Games and Contracts. Susan Athey's new course, which should snuggle nicely with Oleg's class.
  • Ec 2140: Econometric Methods. This way I can say I am taking two classes from a husband and wife pair of professors.
  • Ec 2723: Asset Pricing. Everyone must endure this trial by fire...from what I understand.
  • Ec 2800b: Urban and Social Economics. Taught by the dark lourd himself. But this conflicts with metrics...such giznank.
Those are the only 4 courses that really catch my eye. In addition, I'm sure I'll have various requirements to satisfy, like Economic History and distribution requirements, and I'll also need to sit in on macro at some point. I don't really remember much from Barro's section...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Unusual Airplane Disasters

I inherited from my dad an obsession with airplane disasters and crashes. Today I discovered that planecrashinfo has a page dedicated to strange disasters. Among more recent disasters are an Aeroflot crash caused by the pilot's allowing his children to take turns at the controls, a Peruvian plane that hit the water because its crucial sensors were covered with duct tape by a negligent maintenance worker, and the following amusing incident on a British Airways flight(it's ok to be amused because no one was seriously hurt):
On a flight from Birmingham, England to Malaga, Spain, at FL 173, a large section of windshield fell away from the aircraft. The decompression pulled the captain out from under his seatbelt. Despite trying to hold onto the yoke, the captain was sucked out into the opening. A steward in the cockpit was able to grab hold of his legs. Another steward was able to strap himself into the vacant seat and aid in holding onto the captain's legs. The copilot wearing full restraints made an emergency landing at Southampton. The captain remained half way out of the aircraft for 15 minutes and suffered only frostbite and some fractures. Improper bolts used to replace the windshield two days earlier resulted in the accident.

Removable Tattoos

Yahoo News reports on a new kind of tattoo ink that, while permanent, is much easier to remove than the usual ink (it's "combustible"). Assuming this new ink is indistinguishable from the old, how will this affect the market for tattoos? My guess is that tattoos are generally sold as costly signals of commitment, and as such, the availability of cheap counterfeits will hurt the tattoo market. Perhaps branding, which I can only assume is impossible to remove, will have a newfound popularity that extends beyond the NFL...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

iPhone in a Blender Video

Another in the long line of "Will It Blend?" videos. I want to know where the generous funding comes from...
Will It Blend?

Current Draft of My Bio Paragraph

This is for the bio book for school next year...please let me know if it's too pretentious. Or not pretentious enough. Maybe shift it to the third person?
I was born in Palo Alto, CA, and I split my formative years between the Bay Area and New Haven County, the pizza capital of the world. I went to high school at Hopkins, in New Haven, and then came to Harvard as an undergrad. I majored in economics. My academic interests include evolutionary psychology, evolutionary theory, behavioral economics, the economics of happiness, applied game theory, applied microeconomics, and the theory of social networks. My numeriferous extracurricular activities include watching 3 hours of Red Sox baseball a day, cooking and barbecuing/braai'ing, playing tennis and squash, and pleonasm. I try my best to get people to call me Jonathan instead of Jon.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Attractiveness in Mauritania

I believe that it is commonly said that some features of women, like symmetry, breasts, and youthfulness, are uniformly considered attractive across time and space, while taste for heft and skin tone vary. The more expensive of fat/thin and white/tan (at least among white people) is usually the more attractive.

The NYTimes reports that women in Mauritania are so desperate to plump up that some of them are force fed like geese in a foie gras factory.
Now Mauritania’s government is out to change that. In recent years, television commercials and official pronouncements have promoted a new message: being fat leads to diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure and other woes. The joggers outside the Olympic stadium testify to their impact: Until lately, a Mauritanian woman in jogging shoes was roughly as common as a camel in stiletto heels.
The government isn't exactly tackling this problem with creativity. A woman interviewed has it more right, I think:
“Men want women to be fat, and so they are fat,” she said.
My question is, when will the equilibrium switch like it did many years ago in the US? Is there some dynamic path in which the arms race for fatness doesn't end? Force feeding is suggestive to me that, instead of the healthy and discontinuous equilibrium switch to skinnyness being attractive, we are seeing a race for more and more expensive versions of fatness. Maybe I'll attempt to write a paper about this, or at least find the paper that's already been written.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

iPhones on eBay

seem to be going for the market rate...that's not like apple.