A Chinese fortune cookie typically offers homely advice or bland predictions with your dessert. But a recent one offered a good economics lesson: “The cost of something is what you give up to get it.” Nice to see the idea of opportunity cost enshrined between baked bits of dough. I wonder, though, what one does give up at a Chinese restaurant? (HT to TW)
I love spoonerisms. What’s a spoonerism, you say? It’s a phrase in which letters or syllables are swapped to make a new, punny meaning. The best spoonerism I’ve ever heard, by a long shot, is courtesy of Anu Garg, the editor of Wordsmith.org:
Rev. William Archibald Spooner, the father of spoonerism, not only gave the English language a new word, an eponym, but also an artful device for repartee. The story goes that a member of parliament cut off another calling him a shining wit, and then apologized for making a spoonerism.
In this CNBC interview with Warren Buffett, the interviewer makes a nice (if inadvertent) spoonerism, when she tries to say that “average retail investors feeling that they can’t get a fair shake” in the stock market because the game is weighted toward special interests. But instead of “fair shake,” she says “share fake.” Which pretty perfectly summarizes what those retails investors are afraid of getting.
I was walking outside the American Economic Association meetings this past Sunday when a man stopped me and asked what all the university professors were doing in one place. I told him that it was the annual convention of economists, and got a hearty laugh by telling him the old joke that when the economists arrived in town, the prostitutes left. This joke is a good illustration: the arrival of economists represents a decrease in demand; the prostitutes’ leaving represents a decrease in the amount supplied. I don’t know the shape of the supply curve, however, so I can’t speculate about the size of the change, if any, in the equilibrium price. But the joke does suggest that the equilibrium quantity transacted decreased.
Economists may think there’s nothing for them on Etsy, the website that sells handmade and vintage arts and crafts items, usually made by grandmas or some overeducated Brooklyn mom. But they would be wrong. Dork out with these statistical distribution pillows: Log Distribution? Continuous Uniform? Even Chi-Square! It’s all here. And it also turns out, Normal Distribution makes a really good doorstop…
(HT: Flowing Data)
With my better half serving in the administration, I’m spending much of this year visiting Brookings. And every morning, we receive an email, letting us know just what the various Brookings economists are up to. This morning’s edition (written by Daniel Moskowitz) was priceless: Good enough I thought worth sharing with the wider world.
The folks at The New York Times couldn’t have been nicer while we had our blog there, but one thing that always bothered me was that there were way too many rules and restrictions regarding what we were allowed to post.
But this one is. At least I hope so. Otherwise I just lost myself a co-author. Excerpt: Continuing to make bold moves in the first 100 days of his administration, Obama will announce this week two blockbuster appointments to senior positions at the Department of Treasury. Sure to raise eyebrows will be the appointment of University of Chicago economist Steve . . .
The January issue of Vogue, in its back-of-the-book Index section, lists 10 “inspired ideas” for the new year, “all in tune with environment- and recession-minded resolutions.” No. 9 on the list is a sewing kit. That seems pretty practical. “Missing button?” reads the text. “Torn pocket? Take matters into your own hands (and keep tailoring bills in line) with Smythson’s . . .
I am delighted to report that the economics paper on AC/DC I blogged about yesterday was meant as a joke. It takes a lot of work to run an experiment on real people, just for a gag paper. It turns out they meant to play the same AC/DC song in both treatments, but made a mistake and accidentally played two . . .
Turns out the “CSI” effect on the criminal justice system may not be quite as severe as we thought. Michigan Circuit Judge and Eastern Michigan University criminology professor Donald E. Shelton has published a paper indicating that the TV show’s effects on jurors may be exaggerated. The data, consisting of a survey of 1,027 jurors called for duty in a . . .