Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for April 2006

Peppermint Cucumber Sausage Paste Butter

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peppermint butter

For our birthdays we received a Dr. Suess book titled Happy Birthday to You! from some friends from church.

It is a typical Suessian tale written in rhymes about fantastical creatures that escort a small boy through a series of celebrations about his birthday. The constant refrain is what a celebration it is to have been born and be unique. I usually think of those ideas as being a bit over blown but by the end of the book the merit of celebrating birthdays was impressed upon me a bit more. (I know, I know. I'm a scrooge to not have embraced that before.)

Accompanying the book was a series of small items featured in the story. The peppermint cucumber sausage paste butter was the most unusual of the set. I was surprised when I unwrapped it to find that the butter itself had been colored and had other items impressed into it. That we tossed but the rest we kept of the gifts.

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April 29, 2006 at 6:24 pm

Posted in Pictures

Transfer Complete

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WordPress has fixed their entry importer and I have uploaded most of the entries from the previous site. I’m glad to have them up, pictures included, even if it looks a little strange to read my words in a different font and on a different page.

I had hopes to recommend some selections to read but as I’ve looked over the old entries I’ll just leave them there for general perusing if that interests anyone.

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April 29, 2006 at 3:58 pm

Posted in Blogroll

Should One Buy a Gift?

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Early last week I received an email from someone inquiring as to what my wife might want for her birthday. Nothing immediately jumped to mind so I left the email in my in-box for a couple of days to see if anything would come to my mind. Each day I would look at it, think for a second and then decide to think for another day.

On Thursday I decided that I should email this person back with at least some vague ideas since Charity’s birthday was yesterday.  As I wrote out a couple of ideas in reply to the inquiry a entirely new thought began to form in my mind . . . and suddenly it came to me . . . I too should by my wife a birthday present. Yes, yes. That is a good idea.

I think it’s fairly amusing that I thought for four days about what another person should buy Charity for her birthday and it honestly never occurred to me that I should do the same.

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April 24, 2006 at 2:37 pm

Posted in Laughter

Learning by Listening

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Last week I told one of my recitations that I read macro-economic blogs and they about fell out of their chairs . . . how strange is this guy?

I've been reading Brad DeLong's blog for about a year as a part of my growing interest in understanding global economics. I have learned a tremendous amount from listening to a prominent macro-economist write about current events. One of my math professors at Clemson maintained that if you listened long enough to any conversation you would eventually learn what was happening. As I've been listening in on DeLong's macro-economic analysis I think Clemson professor was right; my understanding of macro-economics is much, much stronger.

Recently DeLong has begun posting video clips which I have also found very interesting, both for content and as an interesting development in changing the basic way which blogs may work. Essentially it is having access to a leading economist’s thoughts without having to have it filtered through the big TV networks. I think it is pretty amazing that I can have access to his alternate (and more informed) voice on economic matters.

In the most recent one where he describes the class he has been teaching with a journalism professor on how to write good economic journalism. It's worth a listen. I heartily agree with his need for reporters to place the economic news in a proper context so that the rest of us can understand exactly how important a particular budget measure is. I know that sounds really abstruse but give it a listen and see if it doesn't make some sense.

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April 22, 2006 at 3:40 pm

Posted in Geeky Blogs, Politics

Two Stars

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Tonight Charity and I sat down to watch the recently produced Pride and Prejudice which earned a rare two-star rating from us. The set had a leg up on the BBC version with a depiction of a muddy and worn Bennett house but the screenplay was quite bad: rushed beyond repair, telling instead of showing and occasionally incorporating the very very cheesy, a fatal flaw in movie that strives to be serious. The worst line came at the very end:

Mr. Darcy: And what am I to call you when I'm cross? Mrs. Darcy?

Elizabeth Bennett (now Mrs. Darcy): No, you may only call me Mrs. Darcy when you're completely . . . . and perfectly . . . and incandescently happy.

Wow . . . .

Two thoughts come to mind as a result of this experience.

1) I think movies ratings should consist of two parts: expectations and performance. What often determines whether or not I enjoyed a movie is how high my expectations were going in and whether they were exceeded, met or very definitely not met. I've enjoyed many terrible movies because of low expectations and been disappointed in many average movies who didn't live up to the hype. (Pride and Prejudice: medium expectations, not nearly as good as advertised.)

2) The movie was an interesting contrast to the BBC version which we own and I here publicly confess that I enjoy. The most interesting contrast was the public and formal nature of BBC production in contrast to the more recent intimate and sexually charged version. Other interesting editorial choices were made about the tone and nature of the characters but the major difference that jumped out to me was that this film was shot as a Romantic film and not a Victorian one. I don't know which is more as Austen would have intended but the method and results make for an interesting, if occasionally painful, contrast.

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April 20, 2006 at 2:05 am

Posted in Reviews

Listening to the Web on a Thursday Evening

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Tonight I'm home alone with Charity gone to pottery class, and after nine hours of reading and class today I'm cleaning up a bit, sipping some wine and listening to an interesting piece from Fresh Air on corn and our food supply. I've enjoyed the piece particularly as the interviewee has a relaxed, informative and matter-of-fact take on the industry. Of course, as a student of political economy, my ears perk up at the topic of subsides and therefore why different things at the supermarket cost what they do comes up but also the greater whole of how, why, and what we eat comes is interesting on its face.

Listening to the author talk about the food supply and about "free range chickens" (which amusingly qualified as such) makes me think again about the morality of eating. This topic, broadly under the heading of the morality of purchasing, is a topic that makes my ears perk up when I hear someone discuss it. It's been transformed slowly into one of the threads in my head that I consider interesting enough to get me to read a particular news article.

Several friends of mine have what would commonly be considered esoteric views of eating: only free-range, keeping chickens for eggs, and a belief in slaughtering one's own meat.  Each of them is gracious yet principled and their views, alongside the dramatic social effects both home and abroad of government subsides, make me think. 

In previous years I would have dismissed these ideas as a bit wacky at best and outside the realm of profitable topics of conversation.   I still find the dubious economic sense of some arguments questionable but as I've begun to look to add ecological variety in my diet (rabbit, barley, eggs that have real color and heritage turkeys) I've begun to see more appeal in the arguments and definitely more  good in discussing them.  Couple that with free market principles and the subject of which food ends up where and why is one that catches my attention more often these days than it has before.

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April 14, 2006 at 1:37 am

Posted in Politics

So you want to know what political science is about these days?

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Just so you know . . . as if you wanted to . . . here's an except from the article from 2005 that I'm assigned to present tomorrow.

Changes in First-order Assumptions (pg 328)

The heart of the model is Equations 18 and 19, in which the relationship among the first-order assumptions (Ai) and expected utility (EUX) is brought together under conditions of change and risk. Both numerical and graphical analyses will be conducted here to examine the sensitivity of the expected utility to changes in the first-order assumptions. Substituting a set of probabilities from 0 to 1.0 for the first-order assumptions will be used to generate graphics of the changes in the expected utility. The implicit assumption that the utility (UX) of the action does not change will be maintained. After these investigations, differential calculus will be used to test the sensitivity of the relationship between utility and belief sets.

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April 12, 2006 at 10:51 pm

Posted in Political Science