Thursday, March 19, 2009


  • E-cigarettes are en vogue. An option that could ensure the perfect exercise of the freedom of choice, without the typical negative externality such as passive smoking for the others.

  • Bryan Graham's note to potential PhD students. Some specificities to UC Berkeley Econ, but otherwise general enough-- might be a good idea to have something like this on your webprofile, if you plan to have doctoral students...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Yes, I've been all Id today: hope my Egos will catch up with me tomorrow :-)

Otherwise, here's the musical journey I experienced within the last two months of my 20s. It does sound dramatic, doesn't it?...

  • 1st of Feb, Amsterdam: a delicious Schubert+Piazzolla+Schubert sandwich prepared by the Artemis Quartet- in detail

  • 4th of Feb, Amsterdam: the one and only Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, under the excellent and lately omnipresent (at least simultaneously in Amsterdam and Munich...) Mariss Jansons, with a fabulous Tannhäuser Overture, followed by 'Siegfried's Rhein Journey' and 'Sigfried's Death and Funeral Music' from the "Twilight of Gods". Wagner's bits were followed by my favourite Shostakovich piece, his Tenth Symphony. The program reminded me once again that the acoustics in the Concertgebouw's Grote Zaal is close to perfection.

  • 25th of Feb, Amsterdam: Vadim Repin and Nikolai Lugansky at the Concertgebouw, with one the best performance I've seen in years. The program consisted of Debussy's Sonata in G, Prokofiev's 1st Sonata in F, and Beethoven's Sonata Nr 9 in A - aka the (in)famous 'Kreutzer', apparently one of their usual treats, this time as well ending up (can it ever be otherwise with these two?) with the public applauding frenetically and calling them back to stage three times. Vive la grande musique!

  • 1st of March, Amsterdam: "Gipsy Jazz" at the Bimhuis, with Florin Niculescu (have the sound on when entering his website) and the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw (with a superlative pianist, in particular). Monsieur Niculescu is a true maestro: the only other Romanian violinist that I've seen/listened to playing with so much passion is Alex Balanescu. My favourite pieces: a splendid jazz variant of "Ochi chernye" in D minor, and the Ira+George Gershwin bits.

  • 6th of March, Amsterdam: Incognito concert at Paradiso. Initially not my idea, the concert was ultimately quite nice; nonetheless I confess that I did have higher expectations: they 'moved' too much towards soul and even pop... rather than keeping mostly to what I think is (was? should be?) their trademark: acid jazz and jazz funk... Maybe/hopefully next time (or else no next time for me...)?

  • 10th of March, Amsterdam: Mozart and Da Ponte's "Cosi Fan Tutte", at the MuziekTheater (really the best place to see this opera), in an impressive, very modern rendition (in particular: fantastic stage direction by Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito, outstanding cast!), which Milos Forman's Amadeus (remember that?) would have adored. I surely did!

At least one more crucial musical event to come before I leave Amsterdam, so stay tuned! :-)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Journal of Articles in Support of the Null Hypothesis

It exists!

Beyond the fact that I think this is the best journal name I have ever heard of, I do agree however with the other points of Andrew Gelman . But it would be fun to have something published in there. I might just have something for them, depending on the number of rejections in journals which do not support the null hypothesis :-).

PS. The comments to Gelman's post above mention also other very interesting journals. My favourites: Journal of Interesting Negative Results and Rejecta Mathematica.

The 6th sense. In practice

Watch & listen (TED talk by Pattie Maes), and be amazed.

More about the project.
More about Pranav Mistry, the MIT Phd student behind all this.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday morning econlinks

  • Incentives and globalization, a brief but very interesting interview with Luis Garicano. Topics tackled here are CEOs, football, and...everything else.

  • Finally, for those of us who have non-convex desires, you might also consider the girl's marginal benefits (the lyrics) :-). The latter is also my proposed song of the day. All together now, accompanying Mike Toomey and Julia Zhang (excellent stuff, ad majora!): "Cause girl your marginal benefits far outweigh your marginal costs/ Without our equilibrium baby well you know I'd be lost/ Trapped inside this market I need you to buy my love/ Girl without your complementing goods well I'm just not enough"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Kevin Murphy Fan Club

I had already a quote for this week, so the following will be the quote for the weekend:

Kevin Murphy holds comparative advantage in all forms of production.

Read all 10 top facts about Kevin Murphy :-).
Via Greg Mankiw, again.

PS. And if you have some more time, (re)visit one recent empirical test of the well known three-type labor market theoretical framework, which can be summarized as: there are only three types of labor: unskilled, skilled and Kevin Murphy :-).

Spelling quiz

Try it out.

I thought it would be piece of cake, but I only had 23 (out of 27) correct (though two mistakes had to do strictly with American English vs. British English differences...) . Grrrr!

Via Greg Mankiw.

Monday, March 09, 2009


You start with an oyster. You put it inside a large olive. Then you put the olive inside an ortolan (a wee bird called ‘the garden bunting’, in case you are among the underprivileged), and the ortolan inside a lark, and so on and so on. In the end you have a roasted oyster. Or perhaps a social revolution.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Tánc a hóban

Aside (several) superlative classical and jazz concerts I have recently attended in Amsterdam and London (might come back with an overview later on), this one masterpiece by the Hungarian band Ghymes (official, wiki) is something I am literally obsessed with, lately. In particular, it is one of those pieces that would/should! be an instantaneous international success (at least among the connoisseurs), should someone manage a suitable English translation of the lyrics-- which is, tragically, almost always impossible. If you look for a perfect folk-urban fusion (my attempt to a catch-all term, though this folk-urban fusion is highly different than this one, with Eastern Europe as a whole pioneering/developing/enriching the genre nonetheless :-)), look no further. YouTube comes to help again: you can listen to the (full) version of "Tánc a hóban" from the very interesting/highly recommended "Rege" album, and I've also found part of it performed live by Szarka Tamás and the rest of the band. If you're interested, the lyrics of the song, plus some Italian (great!) and English (very approximative...) mot-à-mot translations, can be found here. The last two verses, in absolute harmony with the instrumental background, are nothing less than briliant. Enough reason to learn some Hungarian? :-).

Jobbra lassan, balra lassan,
Ritmus halkan, ring a hajban,
Újra kavarog a -
Végre csikorog a -
Mégis mosolyog a -
Napra hunyorog a -

Tánc a ködben, tánc a jégen,
Tánc a hóban, tánc a fagyban,
Tánc a ködben, tánc a jégen,
Tánc a hóban, tánc a fagyban,
Tánc a ködben, tánc a jégen,
Tánc a hóban, tánc a fagyban.