Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Morning Slumps Turn Into Afternoon Slumps Turn Into Day Slumps Turn Into Week Slumps Turn Into Year Slumps

I had a football coach who said their were three stages of football programs. First, programs hoped to win. Second, programs wanted to win. Third, programs expected to win.

I have a colleague who talks about loneliness and how intelligence makes you lonely. She says you have to shut up and stop paying attention to the voices in your head. You have to work. You have to make yourself not lonely.

The Filipinos say you can make yourself happy. Happiness is a state of mind. If you want to be happy, just make yourself happy.

Like I said in a previous post, I focus on unimportant things. I get caught up in something and, I fall into a depression. I am unable to make myself happy. I am unable to make myself not lonely. I am unable to work. These are issues I will have to work through for the rest of my life. But the important thing is to keep expecting to win.

The biggest problem I have with my Dad is when he slips into depression, he forgets that he has been there before and gotten through it, and he will get through it again.

I will get through it. I might be crazy. I might have to admit my weaknesses. I might have to work all night, but I will get through. I expect to win.

Great Sentences I Read In The Past 24 Hours

From J.K. Galbraith's "The Proper Purpose of Economic Development" in Economics, Peace and Laughter:

"One of the generally amiable idiosyncrasies of man is his ability to expend a great deal of effort without much inquiry as to why. Most of the descriptions and pictures of the moon I have seen make it out to be a rather questionable piece of property. The absence of atmosphere would seem to be a real handicap. Likewise of water. The climate is predictable, if poor. In northern Canada and Alaska, agriculture suffers from a very short growing season. The moon presents the limiting case of none. Settlement will almost be certainly be slow. Yet these and similar shortcomings show no signs of deterring man in his enthusiasm to get there..."

Galbraith was no fool. He could write, and he understood human nature. His conclusions were wrongheaded and shortsighted, but he needs to be read.

From F.A. Hayek's The Counter-Revolution of Science:

"...But in the general atmosphere in which Quetelet's work became known the belief was bound to arise that the statistical methods, which he had so successfully applied to some problems of social life, were destined to become the the sole method of study. And Quetelet himself contributed not a little to create that belief."

Economics has been dealing with the same problems for fifty years. The question all young economists must ask, what do I have to contribute? I am not talking about meaningless papers or conference presentations. I am talking about what can we say about the big questions early economists set out to answer.

This begs the question, what are the big questions. I think "how do we enrich Africa and the world's poor?" is still relevant. I also think "how do we balance the incentives to innovate (in health care) with providing these new innovations to people (everyone) who can benefit from these innovations (the uninsured poor)?" is relevant.

What I am trying to say is that Hayek and Galbraith are still relevant. How do I remain relevant?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Year's Resolutions

My Mom (Santa) gave me a pair of jeans for Christmas. For the first time since I was twelve, the jeans are not "loose fit" but regular fit. They are tight and my balls fill compressed, but these jeans feel the same way jeans felt when I was twelve. It makes me nostalgic. It makes me ask where my life is going. And it is almost a New Year so...

My dream is to write a book concerning my economic experiments throughout the world. Each chapter could explain something learned that had nothing to do with the experiment. The book could teach economics without boring people. My first chapter could tell the story of being hit on by both a Filipina and a Filipino during my first experiment in the Philippines. This book would require me conducting economic experiments throughout the world and learning how to write, but we have to have dreams.

I want to become more professional. This resolution requires me to care about what I am doing or quitting. It also requires not doing anything menial until 2:00PM. Take care of my the duties I am getting paid for, then worry about the little things that need attention. It also requires not overthinking things. I have to learn how to distinguish between what is important and what is not important. I have been trying to do this for two years, but it is something I cannot learn from books or other people. It is something I have to figure out for myself.

Also part of being more professional is getting in decent shape. I am fat and will soon lose my ability to beat my younger cousins in sports. Losing is unacceptable. I should try and do something physical everyday. If that means push-ups, sit-ups, walking, running, or lifting weights. I should do something physical.

I have to keep expressing my ideas in written form. This blog is part of this process. I also need to a better job of writing for my job.

I might add, adjust, or give more details before the actual New Year, but I think this post is a good start at creating a better WB.

(Yeah, I am full of shit. My sister, GGM, ML, Jeff, Sam and others remind me of this continuously. At least I know it.)

Monday, December 18, 2006

People Disappoint

Yesterday the preacher discussed how unfulfilled expectations can ruin a person's zest for life. Bono once wrote "when you want something so badly, you have already lost it." I do not know what the preacher or Bono's point was, but the old saying "when you don't expect much, you don't get disappointed" comes to mind.

People disappoint. Life disappoints. When I was a kid I wanted to be a professional ball player. Now I want to be a professor who does not have to work. I have spent half my life redefining greatness. I have spent half of my life wanting a reality that cannot exist.

There are two ways to approach this problem. I can either not expect much and be a perfect stoic. I can take what life gives. Or I can make my own reality.

Of course, making reality sounds good, but the truth is most people who make reality are crazy or spend most of their days in their own mind. Unfortunately or fortunately, we have to work with other people. We are social beings.

The trick is learning how to deal with the bullshit. People will disappoint, but you cannot pay much attention to them. Sometimes you have stick with your definition of success. Other times you have to compromise. Like most everything else it is an in-between.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Rich Rodriguez, What The Hell Are You Doing?

You are going to leave your Division I alma mater where you have a lifetime contract, not to go to the NFL, but to take over an Alabama program doomed to mediocrity where you will be fired within five years.

You are going to leave the Big East and its guaranteed 7 wins to go to the SEC and its guaranteed 4 losses. Haven't you learned anything from Frank Beamer? Get your 7 or 8 wins, get your bowls, and every four or five years finish in the top ten.

You cannot do that in the SEC, especially at Alabama. You think Pennsylvania or Ohio boys are going to come down to 'Bama. Do you think Florida boys are going to pick Alabama over any other SEC school or ACC or Big East school for that matter.

Do you think you are going to be the next Bear Bryant? Nothing short of Bear and national championships will make them 'Bama boys happy.

Quite frankly, you have never won anything at West Virginia. You flubbed the Big East and chance at the national championship this season. Last year, the best team in the ACC (not the champions but the best team), Virginia Tech, beat you in Moutaineer Stadium. I know you jumped a Georgia team in a BCS bowl, but they would have beat you seven out of ten times. Really, West Virginia has become the Notre Dame of the east, always overrated and always beatable.

Really Rich, that is the kind of coach you have become, overrated and very beatable. I just hope you do not get fired in the first year. I just hope the next coach at West Virginia will be willing to hire you as an offensive coordinator.

I Am Not Trying To Explain Behavior

I am trying to better observe it.

This is my new motto. Economics is about human action. You cannot truly observe human action ex post. We cannot make inferences from, "he told us his income is $X and he bought a TV." Much less from, "Best Buy sold a thousand TVs at $X, and the county's average income is $Y." You just ignore too much.