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 clich├ęs, 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