Monday, October 27, 2008

It's fall, which means back to school and football

So why wouldn't you want to read about geeks arguing about football? No, not that argument. A more basic argument: should we be playing it? Rather, should UNC-Charlotte begin playing college football? Greg Mankiw, without offering a yes or no, puts interesting insight into the dilemma. And, as always, the students begin to weigh in.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Because I had been asked to update

And, well, maybe to indicate that I still exist, here is the updated status of my quest to read 30 books during 2008.

Blink (Malcolm Gladwell)
The bottom billion (Paul Collier)
Step by step: Divine guidance for ordinary Christians (James Petty)
The fellowship of the ring (JRR Tolkien)
Prince Caspian (CS Lewis)
HDR affordable seniors housing handbook (trade publication)
Fields of the fatherless (Tom Davis)
The two towers (JRR Tolkien)
Secrets of the baby whisperer (Traci Hogg)
The end of poverty (Jeffrey Sachs)
The return of the king (JRR Tolkien)

Currently Reading:
The Bible (ESV)
Transit maps of the world (Mark Ovenden)
Excel 2007 data analysis and business modeling (Wayne Winston)
Microeconomics and behavior (Robert Frank)
The wealth of nations (Adam Smith)
I'm chocolate, you're vanilla (Marguerite White)
Velvet Elvis (Rob Bell)
Mere discipleship (Lee Camp)
Third ways (Allan Carlson)

I've been told that I should count the Lord of the Rings trilogy as one book since that is the author's intent. Too bad, I'll count it as three. And there are several books that I won't likely finish, but that's probably okay even though I want to finish 30 by New Year's Day. It's hard to say if I'll come close to making the goal. I have a lot ground to make up but the holidays loom ahead and this is often good reading time. Also, the days are growing shorter and that should help.

I've also got at least 5 books on the shelf that I'd like to start reading but aren't listed here. (Obviously I need to finish some of these first.) But I'm happy to report that only one book has been so hideous that I was forced to put it down without reading it.

Also, I've adopted a new principle: every fall I intend to purchase and read a book written by a newly-minted Nobel Laureate. This year's book:

Development, geography, and economic theory (Paul Krugman)

In that vein I also purchased Off the books: The underground economy of the urban poor (Sudhir Venkatesh). I think it's highly likely that this man may win the prize for his research into the urban poor society.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What would another governance system look like?

I spent part of Sunday discussing with my favorite spouse some of the differences between Socialism and Capitalism. It wasn't a long discussion because we don't have as much knowledge about the topics as we do capacity for opinion, but it led me to wonder later what an American Socialist state might look like.

I decided that it would look a lot like large government institutions such as the state hospital where I worked for several years. This may not be the case but I think it would be fair to imagine more of this type of governance. So what does that mean to you and me? I think more of things like this: wonderful ideas with lifeless application.

Any [state] resident who stays and works in the state for five years after graduation will have their state income tax for that time period returned in the form of a down payment or closing costs on their first house. For a single person, that could be up to $10,000, and for a married couple, it could be up to $15,000...

To participate, students have to register with the [Agency] no later than the 60th day after college graduation or day of degree completion. Those who have registered then have until 90 days after their fifth state income tax return is due to apply...

We have learned through observation that socialism can destroy the incentives necessary for the production of goods. Do you think someone somewhere within this organization has lost the incentive to produce goods worthy of consumption?

If you don't understand the financial crisis

then you aren't alone. But these guys help explain it. (With updates).

[If you did not read the links in order, read #2 then #3 then #1. If you did read them in order, go back and read #1 after you are sufficiently comfortable with what you understand about the explanation. It is interesting that while 80% of people think that "weak" regulation is part of the cause, support for and against regulation is unchanged.]

The untold story of the recent Olympics

Iss really not as dramatic as the title suggests, but I can't quit wondering that if Michael Phelps' diet consists of 12,000 calories per day, how much does that increase his risk of stomach and digestive-tract -related diseases? It is entirely likely that his diet will be elevated only for a short number of years (maybe significantly elevated from 16 to 32 but only this peak level for 8 to 10 years?) but during that time he will have eaten significantly more food than the average person of his size. It is entirely possible (since 12,000 is probably 3-4 time as much as the average American eats in a day) that by age 30 he has eaten as much food as most 50- and many 60-year old men. That can't be good, can it?

Is it okay to prefer things that are like you?

What about when those things are like you because they have the same color skin?

Like when watching tv (Part II) or when voting.