Saturday, August 23, 2008

What to do?

Having graduated last week, I find myself, for the first time in four years, in Victoria with absolutely nothing to read. I'm heading to the library this afternoon.

Living on a boat the storage cost keeping books is pretty high, hence the library. Victoria has a bunch of great used books stores though. Defiantly worth checking out if you are in town.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A bit Shameless


Anyway, now that I am working on finding a job, I turn to you. Maybe you work for a company that hires economic majors and know of job openings.

Maybe you don't work for a company that hires economics majors but know of job openings anyway.

Maybe you like my blog so much you want to put a trust fund in my name.

Ok, the last one is reaching, but if you want to hire me, or know of anyone that would I will be very appreciative if you drop me a line.


Monday, August 18, 2008


A few days ago me and a couple of friends were discussing the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One of my friends pointed out that even if Truman's motives were simply to keep Japan out of the hands of Stalin, it may not have been a bad deal for Japan.

I agreed with this because the odds of your life being worsened by one of the two bombs was pretty low, while the probably that your life would be worsened by a Soviet Occupation would be near certain. It's true that no outcome is worse than instant death, but I still feel it's a bet that most people would be willing to take.

A majority of the people that I was talking with agreed with me. The dissenters argued that taking a such a large number of lives in a blink of an eye was morally wrong, no matter the circumstance. I think that most the people at my University would also take this position. I also believe that most economists would agree with my position. We all face trade-offs every day, why should this be immoral just because it's on such a larger scale?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What makes wrestlers angry?

Ok, I realize the irony on writing a post about the Olympics right after I wrote a post about how I don't like watching them, but I'm going to do it anyway.

You probably heard about the angry Swedish wrestler that through down his bronze metal after the ceremony in protest because he felt cheated by a call in the semi-final match.

One of my friends pointed out that you would expect that kind of behaviour from a country that is known for having a temper. Not a polite northern country like Sweden.

Later today I stumbled upon a quote from Nassim Taleb's excellent book The Black Swan (read it!)

People tend to fool themselves with their self-narrative of "national identity" which, in a breakthrough paper in Science by sixty-five authors, was shown to be a total fiction. Empirically, sex, social class and profession seem to be better predictors of someones behaviour than nationality. (A male from Sweden resembles a male from Togo more than a female from Sweden; a philosopher from Peru resembles a philosopher from Scotland more than a janitor from Peru; and so on).

The point is people often judge based on nationality when there is no reason to. Ara Abrahamian is Swedish, but he is also a wrestler and a man. At the Olympic level none the less. I'm sure he has a pretty competitive personality. This makes his behaviour seem a bit less surprising.

On a personal note, being a former wrestler myself, I can tell you that the only time I ever got in an argument with an official was over the exact same penalty that Mr. Abrahamian fell victim too (intentionally going out of bounds). It was extremely frustrating, even in a match of very little consequence. I feel for the guy. Newspaper editorial boards shouldn't be so quick to judge people in situations that haven't experienced themselves.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympics and nationalism

Again I apologize for the lack of blogging. One of the down sides to living on a boat in using a wi-fi subscription service whose owners have little incentive for good customer service.

I've gotten a couple comments on a previous post questioning my dislike for the Olympics. Flatly put, I find the Olympics a bit creepy. I find something very Orwellian in the fact that I am expected to look up to and celebrate certain athletes just because they happen to be born in the same country as me.

I know you can say the same thing about professional the NHL, but I find this less extreme. You are still allowed to be a fan a hockey team that is from a different city than yours (though it is not encouraged). You are also allowed to not be a hockey fan. Where as with the Olympics "I don't like fencing" doesn't seem to be an adequate excuse for not watching.

Lastly, people have the ridiculous idea that your nations performance in the Olympics is somehow a measure of how good your country is doing. This is not a standard that we have in hockey, and I am grateful.

On this note, Paul Krugman has an excellent column today about the threat the nationalism poses to globalisation. It is important to remember that the Olympics only serves to make this worse despite whatever people say about it being a "celebration of world peace"