Monday, 22 December 2014

The great equalizer (BSBTE)

In short, what would likely most impress a visitor from the past about Bill Gates’s life are precisely those modern advantages that are not unique to Bill Gates – advantages now enjoyed by nearly all Americans.

As quoted in Cafe Hayek.

from Bringing Sexy Back to Economics


Tuesday, 16 December 2014


Great video from LibertarianSass

"I care about free markets, and I hate war. I think school choice is important, and I think marijuana is a plant."

Monday, 15 December 2014

Weekend musings

After a couple of days of fun and melancholy, celebrating yet also saying goodbye (for now) to good friends, came one of those great Atlanta Sundays. Christmas gifts packed, cards written, brief workout, coffee on the patio, lunch with a friend, chocolate cake baked, lovely dinner made.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Soldati. Amici. Vite.

Si sta come
sugli alberi
le foglie

DEATH is a dialogue between   
The spirit and the dust.   
“Dissolve,” says Death. The Spirit, “Sir,   
I have another trust.”   
Death doubts it, argues from the ground.           
The Spirit turns away,   
Just laying off, for evidence,   
An overcoat of clay.

Thursday, 27 November 2014


It started as an inside joke. Now I have more than these than is socially acceptable. But anyway, a few looks from the past year.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Elitism: opera vs sports

Current price for Atlanta Falcons tickets: $60-$340
Current prices for Atlanta Opera tickets: $24-$125

American Football: understand the rules or else you are destined to several hours or slow and repetitive start and stop.
Opera: it's music.

I don't understand the charges about opera music being elitist, although I will accept that some of the greatest opera houses in the world like to give off an appearance of "high society" (I'm looking at you, Met and La Scala). However even within that context, wearing a bow ties does not make you more of a snob than wearing baseball cap. Being a snob does that.

And anyway: if you can listen to the Tosca and not be filled with compassion to the point of tears then you are simply a robot.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Looking Back

I think I just identified the first big mistake I made in life.

When I was in 4th grade I organised a sort of garage sale amongst my school class. This is not a "thing" in Switzerland, so it took quite a bit of convincing, but I got a permit from the municipality and permission from my school to rent a table (I think) and hold the sale on school grounds, and then talked my classsmates in to bringing their old toys, clothes and books and hanging out for a few hours to sell our things and raise money for a children in need charity (Kinder SOS, perhaps?)

It was, from our point of view, a great success, we raised somewhere over 250 francs. For a 9 year old, a lot of money.

After all was said and done, and I confirmed our totals and told our classmates I would be sending the money off to the charity, one classmate asked if we could donate part of what we raised to WWF. Of course, I said, let's give 200 to Kinder SOS and the rest to WWF.  Let's help animals too, right?


Too late.

She should have raised that before the event, when we were discussing the details of what we were doing and why. The decision had been made and while her idea as certainly a good one, I had promised Kinder SOS all of our proceeds and now had to change those terms.

I should have trained to say no. And she would have trained to organise better, or to present a stronger case (instead of just "let's do this because I like animals", something like "I know we decided X, but looking at what we raised, we can donate Y over here and that will cover this and this...). It would have been a win-win.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Band Aid 30

My skepticism with Geldof's scheme here really started with Live 8 back in 2005 (20 years too late?) when Geldof said: "we did this 20 years ago and nothing has changed so we must do it again". Apparently he has heard it said that doing the same thing over with failing results is a good use of everybody's time.

Well Geldof is back, now to fight ebola, which apparently everybody had been ignoring until now. Also, apparently, the problem here is money rather than local skepticism of medical solutions and lack of resources and infrastructure.

First, interview bits from an Al Jazeera piece:
I would ask does Geldof know when it's Christmas time in Ethiopia? As perhaps the fact that we celebrate Christmas a few weeks later on the 7th of January could have misled him into thinking we don't know when it is. Reassure him from us that, after his last three reminders, we are well aware and don't need any more prompting.
The oft-quoted observation by Marx that "history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce" applies here for both its acuteness and how it has become a cliche. The Band Aid songs reflect this pattern. They begin as an attempt to respond to catastrophe and then excise all historical context and specificity.  
and also
The political problem with these celebrity bashes, including the most recent legacy of Live 8 and its Make Poverty History allies just over nine years ago, is that dazzling, back-slapping performances resulted in lost focus when it came to structural power. 

Bringing it back "home", a different view. Bryony Gordon writes about the comment Geldof and co. appear to be making about their public, those they expect to "donate" cash to their cause.  Some excerpts (emphasis mine. And yikes, I'm on page with a Gallagher brother):
Later, we learnt that Adele had quietly made a private donation to Oxfam. But in the shallow, self-promoting world of celebrity, the simple and silent act of handing over money to charity is not the done thing – that’s what we impoverished plebs do.
Instead, the rich and famous donate their precious time, and for this they expect to be celebrated and congratulated, as if before they flashed their expensively whitened teeth in the video for a song, we had no idea that Ebola was a problem
It’s not the troops deployed to Sierra Leone who are going to make a real difference – that honour will go to Geldof and his merry army of pop stars...
Which all reminds me of something Noel Gallagher said during Live 8 nine years ago: “Correct me if I’m wrong, but are they hoping that one of these guys from the G8 is on a quick fifteen-minute break at Gleneagles and sees Annie Lennox seeing 'Sweet Dreams’ and thinks 'f**k me, she might have a point there, … we should really drop the debt, you know’. It’s not going to happen, is it?

Friday, 14 November 2014

Piketty on US Inequality (BSBTE)

As explained in

Piketty is being celebrated for supposedly demonstrating that the deep structures of capitalism tend toward ever-greater inequality. But in the United States—the most unequal of all the advanced economies—the main explanation offered for the growing gap between rich and poor is that 100,000 or so corporate managers are being overpaid. What’s getting all the attention is Piketty’s depiction of rising inequality as the tragic flaw at the heart of the entire capitalist economic system. But what’s really going on, at least according to Piketty, is a comparatively narrow and shallow problem of corporate governance.

from Bringing Sexy Back to Economics


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

So THAT'S what I want

I just saw the article with this headline and sub-:

Jennifer Lawrence knows what she wants in a guy
Actress Jennifer Lawrence says she wants a man who allows her to be herself in all situations.

Which is so strange and unusual and worthy of a news headline. Because I, as I am sure all of you, want a man who does not. Do any of that. Ever.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Small perfections

A productive day at work, an evening game of tennis, a simple dinner with good wine, and Act 2 of Madame Butterfly. All with Giuseppe.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

ScienceBabe makes me happy

As far as those evil chemicals and big companies… Whole Foods brought in $12.9 billion last year. Monsanto brought in $14.9 billion last year. Don’t tell me that one of these companies is the big bad guy when one of them caters to people who can afford to spend $4 on a bottle of water and the other is building the technology that feeds starving people.

ScienceBabe vs FoodBabe here 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Friday, 31 October 2014

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Sleeveless October.

Tallulah Falls & Six Flags.

Let me say: amusement parks seem to involve a lot of walking in between spots of interest and then waiting, and then a few seconds of action.

Conclusion: Amusement Parks are a lot like Golf.

Tallulah Falls, day hike, and why I love GA:

Friday, 24 October 2014


From Nightvale - The September Monologues

I hate Panic! at the Disco. I’ve never actually heard their music, so I don’t actually hate them so much as resent them. Or rather, resent what they stand for. Or rather, resent what I believe that they stand for. Or rather, resent my perception of other people’s projections of what they stand for. Or rather, myself.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

I’ll have a large slice of employment, please (BSBTE)

Thomas Dalrymple responds to Paul Krugman Slice of Labour.

He concludes:

Mr Krugman’s argument is not the argument in favor of labor market rigidity as above, however. He is what one might call a slice-of-cake man, where an economy is a cake to be sliced rather than a dynamic organism to be nurtured, and where supply and demand can be managed without reference to price. There may be cruder economic ideas, but I don’t know what they are. He is also, of course, a proponent of ever-greater government stimuli to the economy. In this article, he quotes John Maynard Keynes on the dangerous influence of ideas. I wish he had quoted Keynes’ eloquent words on the effects, social, psychological and economic, on the debauchment of the currency.

from Bringing Sexy Back to Economics


Libertarian Halloween

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Charleston Weekend Highlights

  • Swiss Gebhardt family reunion
  • Selfie Stick. For Selfies. And extreme close ups
  • My imaginary friend
  • My friend to whom I am imaginary
  • Breakdancers. And something about kettle corn
  • I got a free rose. My name is Rebecca
  • Food
  • Barbecue
  • Food
  • Dinner in the rain. Dry
  • Worst acted play ever
  • Gossiping in Italian with Chinese translation
  • Raffià
  • Limoncello
  • Just Charleston
  • Harris Teeter. With my imaginary friend
  • I was blessed by a nun

Monday, 6 October 2014

Body Positivity unless you're skinny. Then ugh.

"Everyone’s body is perfect! Well, unless I think you’re too skinny. Then gross. Go eat a sandwich. You twig. Do you even eat?"

I'm imaginary and all my partners have been dogs. Plus, Julie Borowski raps.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Miss America is killing us by steam (BSBTE)

Because correlation – causation, right?


Endless fun to be had at the Spurious Correlations website.

from Bringing Sexy Back to Economics


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Geek Greek Day

I was, for no reason of value, performing superficial research as to whether anybody celebrates a National or World Classics Day.

Instead I found something about cheer-leading championships.

That's exactly how we did it.



Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Monday, 29 September 2014

Beer and Freedom (BSBTE)

Beer and Freedom

Via The Skeptical Libertarian, who comments:
I think if anything can debunk the leftist trope of ” free markets benefit the rich at the expense of the poor” it’s this. 

No, it was LAWS that benefited the rich at the expense of the poor. Get rid of the laws and watch the industry explode. There are literally thousands of independent breweries now.
He is linking to the article How Jimmy Carter Saved Beer, which shows this graph:

Friday, 26 September 2014


Usato originalmente per descrivere un'arte che si allontana dal suo stesso ideale. Generalmente, un termine uasto per esprimere disprezzo.

Intorno alla metà del Cinquecento caddero i fondamenti politici della società fiorentina che erano stati alla base del Rinascimento; anche la concezione del cosmo fu rivoluzionata, mentre le divisioni maturate all'interno della Chiesa divennero il simbolo di una disintegrazione di un mondo unificato e assoluto. In campo artistico, il senso di dubbio e la conseguente alienazione dell'individuo trovarono espressione nel Manierismo.

Story telling with numbers

Also known as: accounting.

I was in a 2-day intensive finance and accounting course and am somewhat worried that I enjoyed it as much as I did. It lends credence to the idea of responsibility making anything more enjoyable: half way through day one I built my own income statement, and while I have read many of these, making my own from scratch was a whole new game of fun.

Also: teachers. Their talent matters.

The first thing I was told in this class was: accounting is storytelling. And right then, I was already interested. The trainer is my said reminded me of DuoLingo: stories and repetition. She would ask us if we ever heard of a particular term or concept, then ask us to tell stories or chemicals we knew of it. She would then give us a proper definition, walk us through an example asking us questions throughout, and then tell us a story about an example from her own working experience. Between The repetition and the interesting stories, by the end you know and have memorized the concept.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Scottish Independence

I vacillate between "Yay self-determination" and "does Scotland have sustainable revenues to support itself in the lifestyle to which it is accustomed?" and I usually settle on "I want more cake. Where is the cake?"

Saturday, 6 September 2014


The original hipsters.

"The negative meaning arose in the late 16th century, probably originating in sarcasm. Before that, it meant outstanding in a good way. Webster also gives “distinguished” as an archaic form, and notes that its present form often has an unpleasant connotation (e.g., "an egregious error"). It generally precedes such epithets as “rogue,” “rascal,” "ass," “blunderer”."

And form the OED:

"mid 16th century (sense 2): from Latin egregius'illustrious', literally 'standing out from the flock', from ex-'out' + grex, greg- 'flock'. The derogatory sense (late 16th century) probably arose as an ironical use."

Friday, 5 September 2014


The last few weeks have brought me to Nashville, Jekyll Island, Simon's Island, Charleston and an 8 hour stint in New York City. Now, perhaps, no more for a few weeks.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Murder, I wrote

I had a Murder, She Wrote dream, where I was the Jessica Fletcher character, and the murderer was Zac Efron.

So. No more soju for me.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Conversations in Atlanta

The Albanian and the Brit in the kitchen swapping tips for a good ceviche. In a French-inspired home, sipping Italian wine, of course. 

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Border Crisis

Is all mine.

As it turns out: one may not cross the border from the US in to Canada, via plane anyway, with all of the below:

  • a US driver's license
  • a scanned copy of a birth certificate (on screen)
  • a scanned image of a passport
  • filed finger prints
  • promises of good will
On the other hand, with just one valid passport they will let you right through. 

Now you know. 

Thursday, 31 July 2014


Let's face it: it is an odd story. Especially in a Christian context. God is good and what he does and decides is always right, right? On the other hand: he created man, didn't like what he created, destroyed it all and then created it again. That. Doesn't make sense.

And I'm not even going in to the whole genocide and incest part of the story.

In any case, Darren Aronofsky - whose films I tend to enjoy a great deal - recently made a film of this bizarre story, following upon which Nick Cohen wrote a hilarious review.

I point to one paragraph in particular:
The Ten Commandments do not condemn slavery or child abuse. Instead of recommending a moral life, four of the commandments are merely the instructions of a jealous, not to say vain God, on the importance of revering Him and Him alone, honouring his day and respecting his name. How could a Hollywood liberal tell the Noah story without casting God as the villain? He is a dictator who demands total obedience. 

This both misses and explains the point.

The ten commandments were a contract. A political agreement, a land rental deal, a right for this group of citizens to settle in this master's land. This is precisely what makes the ten commandments so remarkable. These types of deals were struck all the time between tribes and local powers (kings, etc.). The right to reside on the land came with a commitment to, perhaps, fight in their wars, or contribute their food. The ten commandments are the first record we have of this same type of deal - common and normal in its historical context - being struck with a deity.

Now read the paragraph again.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Why the US can not win the World Cup

From the Freakonomics radio podcast about "Why America Doesn't Love Soccer Yet".

WILSON: I remember when I first came and I first started coaching here, I had a kid on a team who I was coaching and he was six, and he was fantastic. And he scored something like five goals in a game, and the parents started screaming at me take him out, take him out. And I thought why would I take him out? He just scored five goals, we’re crushing the other team, these other kids, and they were in a panic. And I never saw this happen in Little League. You know, I never saw anybody say you know that kid he just struck out two players in a row…take him out! It didn’t happen. It didn’t happen in basketball…

Sunday, 27 July 2014


I am in one, and I know why I chose to be in one, but I don't really understand the legalities of it.

I know that if we choose to end our marriage there is all this legal rigmarole to go through, but how can that be? I did sign a marriage certificate but was not presented with any associated contract laying out the terms and conditions.

And I think I should have been.

If I could re-design marriage, it would be a legal contract, period. It would have to be drawn up by the parties, or appointed legal advisors, read and signed, with terms for future dissolution and other such contingencies. (For the record: a pre-nup is better than romantic, it is logical and demonstrates that you have thought through the marriage, rather than being swept up in a moment's infatuation).

So that's my view. It seems to me that if people were aware of all the terms and conditions, they would give marriage more thought. Because it is a legal contract and it's not the romantic part. Being with somebody you trust wholly, being a team, making choices together: all of that is romantic. Even making the decision to bind your fortunes and futures together is romantic. Sealing the deal is just a step in the proceedings.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


Speaking of food, see G's preparation for cooking. Clearly I am having an influence here. The question is: is this a positive influence or negative?

Friday, 18 July 2014

Bella vs Intelligente

This comic, below, reminds me of G once asking me if I think I am more beautiful or more intelligent.

It's not for me to judge, I said, not least because beauty is subjective, and exists only in the eyes of the beholder. In any case I would hope that I am more intelligent, as intelligence makes your beautiful, whereas the reverse is not true.

Thursday, 17 July 2014


Football is where it should be.

Germany won the World Cup. Germany was the best team throughout the tournament. And Germany has been the best team for in world cups for quite some time. 

I wish I were saying all this about Italy, but I am happy nonetheless. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

On the radio

Interview with Ed Sheeran:

Radio host: "How do you with the ladies?"
Ed Sheeran: "What do you mean?"
Radio host: "Well you're on the road a lot..."

What I thought he was going to say: "You might be a musician but you're still ginger"

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Decision Making (BSBTE)

What I think whenever I watch a singing talent show.

Dilbert comic strip for 07_02_2014 from the official Dilbert comic strips archive.

from Bringing Sexy Back to Economics


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Football? Or Massacre

Conceding 7 goals in a game? A semi-final? And you are the host nation?

Too strange for fiction. So it will only happen in real life. 

Brazil-Germnay, 1-7. Germany scored 5 gols in the first 28 minutes. And they were beauties. Beauties. The score was a massacre, Brazil didn't know what hit it, but Germany has played their gorgeous game for so long. 4th semi-final in a row, unheard of. 

Hopp Deutschland. 

Feeling independent

As in: happy 4th of July. A little late.

Mine included birthday celebrations, World Cup games, home made linguine, dinner with cousins and white water river rafting. 


Sunday, 6 July 2014

First Shopaholic (BSBTE)

I learned from the podcast Good Job Brain about Mary Todd’s Lincoln incessant shopping. She was almost like an older-day’s Kardashian, with the press following her from shop to shop.

In fact, she was so addicted to going shopping that she used some of taxpayer money out to buy things with at shops. She also thought that a good use of the federal funds would to be to redecorate the White House using it. She brought the idea of redecorating forward to congress, who approved and gave a $20,000 limit.

Which she exceeded.

Apparently much of her spending was kept form her husband, and stories say she sold off White House manure – purchased as fertilizer – to help her repay some of her outstanding debts.

from Bringing Sexy Back to Economics


Friday, 4 July 2014

Boys are smart, girls are thin?

"How would American girls’ lives be different if parents were half as concerned with their bodies and twice as intrigued by their minds?"

A NY Times piece, which I found on Experimental and Behavioral Economics, so I post his mention here. 

Parents are two and a half times more likely to ask “Is my son gifted?” than “Is my daughter gifted?” ...What concerns do parents disproportionately have for their daughters? Primarily, anything related to appearance. Consider questions about a child’s weight. Parents Google “Is my daughter overweight?” roughly twice as frequently as they Google “Is my son overweight?” Just as with giftedness, this gender bias is not grounded in reality. About 30 percent of girls are overweight, while 33 percent of boys are. 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Improv in the Park

Thank you Whole World Improv Theatre for the monthly free Improv nights at Atlantic Station.

Astroturf picnic, comedy and laughs. All of which had been immediately preceded by yoga in the park (I was a spectator).

Monday, 30 June 2014

Atlanta Sundays

Never cease to charm me.

Early morning tennis with Giuseppe. (And yes, my arm still hurts).

Second breakfast.

The game at Fado's with a lively crowd, friends coming and going, singing and dancing.

Cocktails with friends.

Pool with friends.

Cookout by the pool.

Evening on the porch, hookah and samba music.

And life is good.

Thursday, 26 June 2014


Da quando, a 16 anni, Mario Balotelli é diventato un calciatore professionista, é sempre stato la stessa persona. Immaturo, orgoglioso... un bravo calciatore e anche un rischio in campo.

Quando fa gol contro l'Inghilterra, contro la Germania, é il nostro campione ed abbiamo una bellissima nazionale.

Quando l'Italia perde, é tutta colpa sua.

E allora mi ritrovo d'accordo con Galliani (non pensavo fosse possibile): la nostra nazionale ha un solo giocatore ed é lui.

Insomma, Balotelli non ha da vergognarsi, é l'Italia che si deve vergognare. E' Buffon che, in quanto capitano che insulta i compagni di squadra, si deve vergognare. Sono le persone che pregiano 23 giocatori e ne criticano solo uno, che si devono vergognare.

Vogliamo prendercela con qualcuno? Prendiamocela con Prandelli, che ha costruito tutta una squadra attorno ad un giocatore di cui nemmeno lui si poteva fidare.

Ma continuiamo a volere bene alla nostra squadra: TUTTA la nostra squadra. Il calcio é un gioco, ricordiamocelo. Chi mette la maglia azzurra lo fa con orgoglio e rappresenta noi con orgoglio. Per tutti gli errori commessi - da Cassano, da Paletta, da Insigne, da Balotelli - non li tifo meno domani, continueró a tifare la maglia azzurra, non importa chi la indossi.

Balotelli deve essere giudicato agli stessi livelli degli altri giocatori, e io ho tanto l'impressione che non lo é mai stato.

Mario: quando fai errori in campo, mi arrabbio. Quando finisci nella stampa per l'ultima cretinata da adolescente rimbambito, alzo gli occhi al cielo. Ma quando metti la maglia azzurra, sei uno dei nostri. Tu la volevi, questa vittoria, tanto quanto gli altri giocatori.
Non per niente riesco a tifare persino i Juverntini, quando hanno la maglia azzurra, quindi figuriamoci ;-)

Monday, 23 June 2014


Was fun.

You might as well smile, this is really happening.

Follow up

In case you are wondering how Friday ended:

Italy lost sadly
Switzerland lost badly
And I grated my finger along with my parmesan

Friday, 20 June 2014

Dysfunctional morning

It is 7:10 in the morning.  Tally of the day so far:

I actually got my hair in knots and pulled my scalp. If you know the length of my hair you will know how unlikely this is.

Watered down my coffee by mistake.

Stabbed my hand with the shampoo bottle (!).

Dropped my contacts in the sink. Both eyes.

And I'm about to get into the car to drive to a meeting. Should be fun.

Monday, 16 June 2014


Just saw an article about how to detox without juicing.

Easier than living on juice, perhaps? Let's  find out. 

No alcohol.
No caffeine. 
Expected that.
No processed sugar.
Easier said than done but makes sense.
No wheat.
No meat.

At which point I stopped reading. There were more things you can not eat which I am guessing will ultimately leave you with juices only. 

The weekend's games

First of all, welcome Italy of course. 


In other news and moving past weekend even well done Netherlands. While Spain has been impressive in the last years, we are all ready to see somebody win. The tricky thing if you don't want Spain to lose as much as somebody else to win. The Netherlands did that.

Costa Rica caused an upset with Uruguay. 

Switzerland turned out to be one of the big revelations of the weekend. They tend to play quite slowly, they hold the ball back in generally seem quite neutral about who should win the game. Sunday about halfway through the  woke up and started pushing towards goal. And it paid off. Then won and they won well.

I couldn't watch France vs Honduras of course, which France won, of course. And Argentina versus Bosnia gave us some good moments as well. You can't help but cheer internally for the Bosnian side, first time in the world.

Today already seen Germany shame Portugal, and I'm looking forward to the USA-Ghana this evening, even just the first half that I will be able to watch. 

Friday, 6 June 2014


I am on my way to a conference where I am exhibiting in a trade show. Monday I was all on schedule and ready to go. In the last 48 hours it has resulted that I have no monitor for display, which doesn't matter since I have no wifi, and all my marketing materials are held at customs. Last night I slept almost not at all, and today am not in peak travel condition.

Arrived at the airport I printed out my boarding pass (no data where I am going, back to paper), and saw something magical: TSA PRE-CHECK. It was beautiful. Everything will be alright.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

The saddest sentence you will read this week (BSBTE)

Re-posting form Rebecca’s personal blog:

“Prison was the first time in her life she had experienced reasonably consistent and decent treatment”

From the article Some to Misery Are Born.

from Bringing Sexy Back to Economics


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

People helping people (BSBTE)

Paraphrasing Penn Teller: “When somebody tells me 1 out of every 5 people lives in poverty, I think that poor person has a whole 4 people to help him out. That’s good.”

from Bringing Sexy Back to Economics


Monday, 2 June 2014

Angel Oak

A few weeks ago we went back to Charleston to house sit.

We went to see Angel Oak Tree.

It looks like this:

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Sic transit gloria mundi

Blogging shall resume soon (I have, as always, so much to say).

For today, I leave you with selected loud whispers of Emily Dickinson reflecting upon her education.

A coward will remain, Sir,
Until the fight is done;
But an immortal hero
Will take his hat, and run!

Monday, 12 May 2014


I would like to import some American customs to football in Europe.

First of all: every sport arena should have an organ. Clearly.

A roll call of starting players and their positions, complete with dramatic music and thunderous applause.

Blooper reels of the opposing team.

Regular stadium-wide singing intervals.

So. Much. Food.

Fireworks. And screens.

A tool race (??). Ok maybe not the tool race.

Cap waves, just changed to scarf waves.

Saturday, 10 May 2014


I once read a post about the "secret" to loving your job.

Pick a job, it said, any job. Find something within that job which do well. Do it more. Become better and better at it. Become the expert. Become indispensable.

Because you picked what that thing was, because you are already quite good at it, you will enjoy doing it and improving that skill. As you become the expert, the go-to person, you also increase your responsibility, which makes us all feel good.

This is exactly what has happened to me in life, and I agree. Whenever I hear people on TV talent shows saying "this is all I ever dreamed of doing" I want to tell them to go out and experience the world a bit more.

Cue Mike Rowe's recent letter giving career advice to somebody who sounds pretty typical, and equally like self-entitled whiny child. Somebody who claims that he will "try pretty much everything" and blankets that statement in all the requirements he has for any job he could ever possibly hold.

Rowe replies:

Stop looking for the “right” career, and start looking for a job. Any job. Forget about what you like. Focus on what’s available. Get yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late. Volunteer for the scut work. Become indispensable. You can always quit later, and be no worse off than you are today. But don’t waste another year looking for a career that doesn’t exist. And most of all, stop worrying about your happiness. Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.Many people today resent the suggestion that they’re in charge of the way the feel. But trust me, Parker. Those people are mistaken. That was a big lesson from Dirty Jobs, and I learned it several hundred times before it stuck. What you do, who you’re with, and how you feel about the world around you, is completely up to you.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Got bored.

Made pie.

Ocean’s New Book (BSBTE)

On this fine Friday, I add a shameless plug of Ocean’s latest publishing adventure.

Ocean runs the translation agency Acahi, working with a network of freelance translators. Freelance work in general is as exciting as it is intimidating, and in translations more so than in some fields, as you truly are on your own. Where do you start? How do you connect with the proper networks? How do you stand out? And logistics: connecting, communicating and most important of all: getting paid.

Well Acahi is here to help with their new book How to be a successful freelance translator: make translations work for you (see what he did there?)

from Bringing Sexy Back to Economics


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The saddest sentence you will read this week

"Prison was the first time in her life she had experienced reasonably consistent and decent treatment"

From the article Some to Misery Are Born.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Tuscany and Wine

Your lesson for today, courtesy of Ornella:

Tuscan families were the first in Europe (and therefore in the world) to make wine in an organized way

*One of these families were the Mazzei. Filippo Mazzei was in Paris, sent by the Granduca di Toscana to learn about heating from Benjamin Franklin (the Franklin stove). He learned, came back to Tuscany and here the stove was improved upon: instead of iron it was mane in terracotta, which provided more heat with less consumption. Not only that, but while in Paris he also met Jefferson who invited him to Virginia to teach him how to make wine. He went, and apparently it is his (Filippo's) the sentence: "all men are created equal"

I always said it: Tuscan people rock!!!

Understanding communism (BSBTE)

In the kitchen:

Setting: I am cleaning out our food shelves

Me: I’m going to put the coffee salt and pasta all on the lower shelf since it is what we use the most. I’ll put bread crumbs and flour above.

G: hmmm

Me: …?

G: flour and pasta should be kept together

Me: *sigh* this is the difference between a communist and a free marketeer. A communist rules by ideology, regardless of whether the enforcement is welcome, sensical or beneficial. A free marketeer adapts his approach to human nature and positive outcomes.

G: so I am a communist?

Me: kitchen communist

G: *starts to pour water on my head*

Me: as a free marketeer I probably believe in private gun ownership…

from Bringing Sexy Back to Economics


Monday, 5 May 2014

Polish Potluck

My first ever potluck dinner: check.

And I say "my": G did all the cooking.

What is BSBTE?

It used to be You remember that right?

We have a new domain now: and when a post goes live there it gets copied over to the blog with the BSBTE tag. Read, enjoy, comment over at the original blog, and learn learn learn. 

Saturday, 3 May 2014


In Italy, the man fills up stadiums.

In Atlanta, he performs at Center Stage Atlanta, capacity 1000, and I can pretty much see up his nose.

Wonderful show, wonderful music and all wonderfully performed. Is it rather sad that we are now surprised when a singer sounds as good in person as he does on his recordings?

In any case with the small venue it all felt very intimate, like a private party. Running in to friends at the event, dancing under the stage, singing music from many years of your life, all makes for great times.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Build Your Own Conspiracy Theory (BSBTE)

Too good to be missed, this merits a full blog mention rather than just a tweet.

Daniel Bier over at The Skeptical Libertarian Blog explains how to build your very own conspiracy theory. Don’t be intimidated: you can do anything you put your mind to, even this.

The pomes complete with a step-by-step guide, suggestions of events upon which to build said theories, and a list of potential conspirators.

from Bringing Sexy Back to Economics


Figaro Figaro Figaro Figaro

The Barber of Seville is a bit like Bob Marley, or Norah Jones. One great song played over and over again.

For the record: G is upset with me for holding this view.

The most famous overture in opera closed out the Atlanta Opera 2013/14 season. And I do like this opera very much. Anybody who isn't amused by Largo al Factotum and Una Voce Poco Fa is probably slightly dead. The ensembles in this opera are highly entertaining. It just was written at the height of the use of recitativo, which I find can drag on somewhat.

The staging of the performance was brilliant, and my compliments to the Atlanta Opera artistic department. Stefano de Peppo's Bartolo was well-times and every part was well sung, with Irene Robert's Rosina as a stand out performance. How can she make that look and sound so easy?

I also learned that Rossini stopped writing operas when he was just 37 years old (he lived another 40-odd years). He was considered a genius of his time, in particular for these comedic operas, and one theory is that he was aware of a changing tide and wanted to quit while he was ahead. This was very early 19th century, following on several transforming revolutions and, finally, the French Terror. A little bit, I suppose, like much of Europe in the 50s and early 60s: people were tired of fighting, tired of thinking, and wanted to be entertained more than challenged.
But that was all due to change.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Locution (BSBTE)

Locution (click for original)

Feeling lachrymose and wistful, I write today’s post about the forthcoming SAT revisions:
One big change is in the vocabulary questions, which will no longer include obscure words. Instead, the focus will be on what the College Board calls “high utility” words that appear in many contexts, in many disciplines — often with shifting meanings — and they will be tested in context.
the 211-page test specifications and supporting materials being shared publicly include “everything a student needs to know to walk into that test and not be surprised.”
I abhor this noxious abasement of our students’ abilities, bilking them, nay downright abrogating them, of the blithe life to which a broad vocabulary can inure them. This obdurate and pernicious habit of coddling young people’s intellect will make a generation of blunderbusses with the concomitant ignorance of the etymology of all our greatest vocables.
Too wan to continue, I sign off.

This Site (BSBTE)

As mentioned previously: we are back. The blog is on a new domain and with a new look, with all the same content and humour as before.

(Humour? On an econ blog? No way!)

Bookmark the new homepage, and subscribe to our RSS feed. Even more importantly: leave us comments and let us know what you think and where you disagree. Or, if a comment section is not enough, contribute to our blog with your own post and theory.

Find out who we are on the About Us page, and scroll down to find an introduction to the Dumb Agent theory, which was the first discussion point of this blog.

Last but not least, our two books: Bringing Sexy Back To Economics, followed by Bringing Happy Back To Economics.

from Bringing Sexy Back to Economics


Friday, 25 April 2014


What do you note in the image below?

Do you see it? Left versus right? 

All the women are in static, still poses. All the men are in dynamic poses. Why is this? 

I am assuming each dancer selected his and her pose and photo. Are women thinking they must look graceful (and, essentially, passive) and men that they must look active? Why do they think that? IMHO the men's photos are more impressive; I go to the ballet to see movement and their photos make me excited for what is about to come. Creating a balance of strength and grace is difficult and is one of the things I like about ballet, so the men's photos embody that for me (pun intended). 

Or, let me get creative here, do men feel more need to prove themselves in ballet, a world which the lay person more naturally associates with women? 

Carrying this to its logical conclusion - at least if you are in my head - brings me back to a previous post about how men are raised to have to prove themselves continuously, society does not tell them they have a choice. 

To note: this is from the playbill of the Atlanta ballet, the dancer bios. 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Shout Out

To my friend, sister and partner in crime.
Good luck Simona!

Buon viaggio e buon divertimento. Raccontaci tutto!! 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

La Grande Bellezza

I finally saw this film.

One consequence is some nostalgia: I miss being surrounded by beauty. Sorry America, you know I'm a fan but a strip mall is ugly any way you cut it. And they are every where.

The scenery and aesthetics were, I found, striking and I liked the music and how it was used.

For the rest, I found it highly derivative. And I'm amazed at all the adulation poured on it from abroad. The Daily Telegraph mentions Rossellini and Fellini as influences, and how Sorrentino does the same for the Berlusconi era.

I disagree. The first two brought us a whole new genre or twist on a genre. La Grande Bellezza clearly wants to recall what came before, but it adds nothing new to the broader oeuvre. When compared to the best of Fellini it is almost pure imitation (La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2, Amarcord). I'm afraid I'm more inclined to side with the FTs Antonia Quirke on this one: social clichés, destination porn, "Fellini in Vegas" (= Baz Luhrmann).

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Easter Sunday was spent at TPC Sugarloaf golf course, watching the last day of the PGA Tour Greater Gwinnett tournament. (the order of those words may be incorrect).

Just that morning I had been talking about how whenever I am at the opera the first thing I do is read through all the singer bios and imagine that were my life: traveling the world to sing, beautifully, in the greatest music venues one can find.

On a similar note: golfers. As work-places go, they have it pretty good.

I have never played golf, nor did I grow up in a golf-friendly area ( find enough flat ground in Switzerland for a golf course). So I have limited understanding of the skill involved. I did, however, study the rules before the event, and looked up a few players.

Seeing this live has, in any case, given me a new appreciation for the skill involved. That tiny little ball travels great distance and lands within a tiny plot of land in between lakes, sand pits and grassy slopes.

And, in any case, how can one not enjoy a day out amongst this:

Monday, 21 April 2014

Income Inequality Institute Irony

Alliterations always win.

It is not often I will post a link back to Gawker, but that is where I first heard this bit of news so it is the correct action.

Let’s be honest: it must be hard to work for the Income Inequality Institute. Justifying any form of remuneration surely requires a creative application of words and thoughts. Bearing that in mind I’d love to hear the conversation which decided the payment of $25,000 per month to one man for playing “a modest role” and “[contributing] to the build-up” of… something.

The official announcement states:

“Professor Krugman’s contributions to economic theory are as foundational as his regular critiques of current affairs are trenchant. The Graduate Center is internationally known for its culture of interdisciplinary and collaborative research and Ph.D. training, and nowhere are the quantitative and cultural markers of inequality more systematically addressed than by our social scientists. We are delighted that he will be joining our economics program and the Luxembourg Income Study Center, where we are assembling a remarkable community of scholars and students. Our students will benefit enormously from his teaching, which will cover diverse topics.”

See here for the offer letter and response.

from Bringing Sexy Back to Economics



In the Gebhardt-Brizi household

Update: these are being followed up by my home made chocolate truffles. Happy Pasquetta! 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Ignorance vs Stupidity

I never think too badly of ignorance. We are all ignorant on many things. We simply do not know everything about everything.

Stupidity on the other hand is more bothersome - but that's not to say we are not all stupid on many things. Stupidity is willful ignorance. It is difficult to excuse.

Monday, 14 April 2014

ATL Saturdays

Another love-fest for weekends in the ATL.

Gorgeous summer weather, of course, means brunch outdoors (fried chicken eggs benedict anyone?), walking the beltline from Inman to Piedmont Park, the Dogwood festival (they have a dog show. Hi.), and of course all the internationals there to see the International Stage performances, cheering on the Bollywood dances, a walk back down the beltline and an evening with friends of early tapas dinner followed by the stunning Atlanta ballet performance of Hamlet.

Giuseppe had his own version of morning tennis, afternoon poolside, evening ballet.

Hamlet was stunning indeed, it's a highly engaging modern ballet, set to some beautiful mid/late-20th century music by Philip Glass. Tara Lee danced Ophelia and every movement told a story, all were good but in my mind she stole the show.

Hamlet himself looked like Benigni, which did not always work to his favour.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Yale said what?!

Well, apparently Yale said Gain Weight or Bye Bye.

This is the story of Frances Chan, whose BMI is probably rather close to my own, assuming from her height and weight.

But Yale was all "Nuh-uuuuh if you are that skinny you MUST have an eating disorder and this isn't about loving your body however it is, it's about changing your body completely because I'm Yale and I'm all smart and stuff".

She was subsequently put through a gruelling routine of weigh-ins, blood and urine tests, heart check-ups and mental health counselling. All the results indicated that she was healthy, as she has always been, and Miss Chan's doctor from her home in New Jersey also told the college that her whole family were small but in good shape – to no avail. ... "If this carried on, I was going to develop a real eating disorder," she said. "I resented eating at all."

Monday, 7 April 2014

Friday, 28 March 2014

Reckless Driving

It is not about how good you are at your wheel.

It's about how bad/tired/distracted/unprepared everybody else is.

So, please, just use your turn signal.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

European Art at the High Museum

Friday night Jazz at the High is quite fun, though not necessarily for the concert. They offer a nice set up but the acoustics are not up to par.

However: the music is in the internal courtyard, beyond the first bridge. The floors above are open to an internal open staircase/ramp. In other words: the music carries to all the floors above.

This was a pretty good setting in which to discover the European art collection at the High. I went a little loopy at two pieces by Niccolò di Segna, this here by Giovanni Francesco da Rimini, this German St. Andrew and several more. The impressionist and modern collection was also a noteworthy, as was the Tiepolo, below

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Memphis Belle

In late February, the Memphis Belle came to Atlanta.

Ok not THE Memphis Belle. But an original B-17 which is named Memphis Belle as it is the plane used in the film.

And it is pretty cool.