Wednesday, October 18, 2017

On jerks at work

I thought this article had some good advice on dealing with jerky colleagues.

I particularly like this bit:
What if you have to sit near the sleaze?
There are mind tricks to protect your soul — ways for the situation to be less upsetting to you even though you can’t change it. My favorite is a guy at Stanford who pretends that he’s a doctor who studies “a-hole-ism.” When he sees these people in meetings, he pretends that it’s a privilege to be able to see such a rare specimen. It’s a sort of detachment — pretending you’re a doctor, just observing.
and plan to give it a go at my next meeting.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

NPR on the economics job market

Planet Money follows my student Julian Hsu around during this past economics job market.

The piece does a nice job of capturing both Julian's personality and the rush of the interviews at the Allied Social Science Association meetings.

I do think they could have worked in some additional substantive information about the market without compromising the relaxed feel of the piece.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Assorted links

1. On Donald Trump's financial acumen.

2. Some useful thoughts on saying "no", one of the very most important skills for professorial success.

3. I really enjoyed this old piece by Donald (now Deirdre) McCloskey that marginal revolution linked to a few days ago.

4. Economic Journal Watch on the (quite interesting) history of classical liberalism in China.

5. Dilbert on the economics Nobel.

Hat tip on #1 to the deputy dean and on #5 to Herr Bachmann.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Movie: Battle of the Sexes

This movie was not quite what I expected. In particular, it is much less preachy and much more focused on sexual preference, and much less focused on feminism, than I was imagining. Indeed, as the NYT review hints, the movie manages to make Bobby Riggs out as a sort of warm-hearted American huckster type who plays the "male chauvinist pig" character not because he really believes it but because of the big financial payoff it provides. And I think feminism plays a somewhat reduced role relative to sexual preference both because in retrospect it is so clear the feminist side was destined to win out and because sexual preference is more topical in the present day.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Jerry Pournelle, R.I.P.

Pournelle was one of my favorite science fiction writers during my heavy science fiction reading phase in junior high and high school. I recall reading some of his columns in Byte as well, as my dad had a subscription for many years.

I got different bits out of the NYT obituary and this warm recollection from science fiction writer Sarah Hoyt.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017

On teachers

This Atlantic story does a nice job of illustrating why education is such a mess. The authors prefer their personal study, with a sample size of two and causal effects inferred from introspection and a loose before-after test score comparison, to actual research with sound identification of causal effects.

More broadly, there is a large literature showing that professionals of many sorts systematically overestimate their own knowledge. Scripted lessons can embody the universe of research findings about how to teach particular topics to particular types of students, which will almost always trump (on average) the idiosyncratic views of individual teachers. That does not mean that enthusiasm should play no role but justifying departures from scripted curricula based on teacher morale is very different than justifying them based on direct rather than indirect effects on educational outcomes.

The Atlantic should be embarrassed.