Sunday, May 24, 2009

Carlsen and the last game curse

Although he seems in top shape and, inter alia, managed to even win against world champ Vishy Anand both at the Linares and at the Amber (Blindfold) tournaments (through wonderful games)..., there is definitely something wrong with Magnus Carlsen and the final games of most recent chess tournaments he has been participating in-- which is probably more frustrating to his fans than to himself, it seems, given he continues on the same frequence :-).

And there was Alicante

... and with that also my very first time in Spain (though, with Seville and Barcelona to follow within the next few months, this will definitely be my 'Spanish year'). The 'city of lights' was ultimately a pleasant surprise, although, to start with the lows, I thought it was already too hot for this time of the year--however, evenings were perfect--, the architecture of the city is really not my very favourite (I recall here an earlier post of Andy on Alacant--he was way more negative on the city looks-- while I think there are also some nice spots), and if you happen to stay in one of the fancy hotels next to the Casino, the music/noise will not stop until 4:30 AM, only to restart at 7:30 AM with the hyperactive hotel housekeeping ladies... :-).
BUT: an early morning walk along the beach, dining in such fine places as La Taberna del Gourmet and César Anca (there are a couple of others I will surely have to try out with my next visit there, but Marco did not miss at all choosing these two, this time)--- tip: try any seafood dishes in either and don't miss the black rice in the first, plus the selection of white wines in these places is really beyond expectation in quality, try e.g. some of the Rueda or the new Penedés vineyards in the lists, to take two very distinct but very fine types--, or a walk through the city center in the evening (evoking here and there images of Tuscany, if you were to ask me for an analogy) should be on your to-do list, if you happen to visit. And did I already mention that the wine/food prices are just lovely (especially if you come from Scandinavia) ? :-).

Oh, I almost forgot: my primary reason for visiting Alicante was to give a seminar at the Fundamentos del Análisis Económico, Universidad de Alicante. Great audience, nice people, charming university campus: I totally enjoyed my visit there!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday night econlinks

  • "A neat project would be to infer the extent of school spirit from the estimate of the price elasticity implied by the prices that different university cemeteries charge"-- very much so, indeed-- though looks only applicable/relevant for a few places in the USA (most likely unrepresentative even of the USA entire university universe, not to even mention Europe or others). Nevertheless, very selective sample aside, this is an interesting idea: read Dan Hamermesh's entire post on Freakonomics.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Budapest redux, with a Cserszegi Fűszeres flavour

My whereabouts: returning to Aarhus after a couple of days in wonderful Budapest, where, inter alia, I had a poster presentation in an interesting 'Wages, Firms and LEED data' workshop, at CEU. The highlight this time was a well organized wine tasting evening at the Szabadság Kávéház (certainly worth a visit if you are around); pity that Ady Endre had to watch but couldn't join in... With this occasion, I have discovered that I just adore the Cserszegi Fűszeres varietal when it comes to white Hungarian wines.

PS. The Danube cruise & dinner went on for somewhat too long this time, relative to a similar event about a year ago : however, I wouldn't mind at all having that every year :-). And wrapping up such an evening with further drinks in Instant should be the rule (thanks to Daniel for the tip!).

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sunday night econlinks

  • Bilingualism and early child development: very interesting brand-new research in PNAS (institutional or individual subscription needed, else only abstract is free). And yes, bilingualism clearly pays off, if you were wondering.

  • Vienna and the largest Swiss cities top Mercer's quality of living index for '09, while Munich appears to be the winner if you account simultaneously for both quality of living (position 7) and infrastructure (position 2). "München mag Dich" indeed, as they say.

  • There are many problems with (some of) these suggestions concerning reforming the academe and pre-academe, but there should indeed be a continuous debate on these issues. Proposals 3,4 and 5 could be ok with me in the current format; the other three are presented in an unnecessary radical perspective, despite being debated many times before and shown not to be that simple as they seem at first sight. Via Gabi Istrate, on Ad Astra. An interesting corrolary here is the following: why not decentralize completely the process and leave it up to each university to organize itself as it fits it best (e.g. by offering tenure or not, by having "generalist" or "specialist" departments etc) ? In the long run the best academic/educational system would win (by attracting the best/most students, by generating the highest-earning/most succesful graduates etc.)? Of course, to some extent these differences exist even now, but more among "unusual" types of academic/research institutes and "typical" universities.

  • Going Dutch -- the article would like to give an "American perspective", but ends somewhere midway and misses much of what I would have expected. Oh, and 18 months... come on! After 18 months you know yet nothing about Amsterdam, not to mention the whole of Netherlands (even after long discussions with Geert Mak) ... I'd love to read his opinions after 80 months... As for 'Socialism gone Wild', the author could try his chance a bit more to the North of Europe :-).

New England clam chowder

My whereabouts this week: I'll be presenting two papers (and will do my best not to miss a dozen other very interesting presentations) at this year's SOciety of Labor Economists meeting, in Boston, one of my favourite (& frequent) US destinations. If you're planning a first time visit soon, here's my two cents: New England springs are absolutely lovely, summers can be too hot... , but the clam chowder is always yummy! :-).