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comment by blackbootz
blackbootz  ·  411 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: December 6, 2017

I GOT A CAT! A three-month old kitten from BARCS--Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter. I couldn't've hoped for a better personality: social, cuddly, doesn't seem to get into too much trouble with wires or drapes, is getting more independent but is still curious as, well, a cat. She's absolutely hysterical and I find myself laughing aloud at her antics while I'm home doing work.


Two weeks left in the semester. School has been a pleasant challenge but in response to a ramping up in difficulty, I've abstained from drinking for the last few weeks. It's been such a positive influence that I'm thinking really hard about abstaining for the entirety of next semester. Partly because next semester may quite literally require twice as much work as this one, but also because I'm hungry for a big personal project and I've enjoyed the experience, I'm seriously considering a four-month commitment to teetotalism. As it was, I spent at least 24-48 hours a week recovering from hangovers. Abstention would allow me to focus on school, soccer, and gymnastics. Speaking of which...


One of the highlights of 2017 was getting back into the sport. I've increased my flexibility and skills with just four hours of practice a week since September. Today I finally managed a giant--a 360° swing around the high bar.

Bryan Caplan

An economics professor of mine is a graduate of George Mason University which is home to a number of world-renowned economists, like Tyler Cowen, Robin Hanson, and Bryan Caplan, the latter of which is publishing his book on the economics of education in January of next year. An earlier book of his, The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, has been the most stimulating book I've read this year, and if this new book proves to be half as interesting I think we're in for a treat. I was explaining Caplan's work quite enthusiastically to my professor. Afterwards he surprises me by sharing that he's friends with Caplan and that he's going to see about inviting him to give a lecture on his book next semester. My jaw dropped. That doesn't happen every Tuesday.

PTR  ·  411 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The GMU Economics department is an interesting creature to me. At my undergrad university, we had two ECON professors from GMU. One of them convinced Alex Tabarrok to come to campus for a keynote and short lecture, and I got to have lunch with him. Which was wild to me because I'd spent the past two years reading his (and Cowen's) blog, Marginal Revolution

GMU is also known for its donations from Charles Koch. Without going into specifics, it was common knowledge in the ECON department at my own school that both GMU-alum professors were on accelerated tenure tracks because of the funding they brought with them from their connections to the Koch Foundation. Of course, both professors were excellent teachers in their own right, but there's a strong norm of procedural justice among academe and this violated it so badly that it was an agenda item in the faculty senate for 3 years in a row.

One of the profs wrote a letter of recommendation for my master's program, so I hope it's obvious enough that I hold no feelings either way about what choices they've made in their academic careers. But, like I said, GMU is an interesting creature. I've been speculatively following high-level graduates of the ECON department for the past 5 years now and researching alums (I'm very familiar with Cowen, Hanson, and Caplan - recommended Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids to my wife). If anything's true about that department, it's a tight network of alumni.

blackbootz  ·  411 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I am one with your observations. GMU's economics department is an interesting creature indeed. When my professor, a GMU economics PhD by the name of Howard Baetjer, first seriously suggested I apply to a Charles Koch Institute internship, I was confused. I had never heard a real life person speak with anything but contempt for the Kochs, let alone their nonprofit or advocacy groups. I had listened to an interview with Stephen Dubner and Charles Koch on Freakonomics and knew that some people sincerely conceive of Charles Koch as merely a billionaire uber-libertarian with small government fantasies intent on unleashing the productive capacity of the everyman, that Jane Mayer's criticisms were off-base, etc. That said, whatever the Kochs' do believe is of vast importance. Their political network is mind bogglingly well-funded. After spending $250 million in the 2016 election cycle--though neither for Trump or Hillary--they stated their intention to spend as much as $400 million in 2018. From Politico:

    Koch and his brother David Koch have quietly assembled, piece by piece, a privatized political and policy advocacy operation like no other in American history that today includes hundreds of donors and employs 1,200 full-time, year-round staffers in 107 offices nationwide. That’s about 3½ times as many employees as the Republican National Committee and its congressional campaign arms had on their main payrolls [in November 2015].

The honorarium that my professor would pay Bryan Caplan to come speak at my college? Paid from a donation made by the Koch Foundation.

That said, I have an enormous respect for Cowen, Hanson, and Caplan. I've seen Cowen give one of his "Conversations" in DC. I'm genuinely geeked to see Caplan next semester if he agrees to come. I'm pretty well convinced of some of the broad libertarian arguments--the negative effects of things like operational licensing, the supply and demand distortions in the Affordable Care Act, etc. I am wary of the libertarian movement, though, since their arguments are so easily co-opted by don't-give-a-fuck greedy, crony corporatists. So, like you, I observe from afar not without some interest.

cgod  ·  411 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Maybe you should read Nancy McLean's "Democracy in Chains." My buddy just finished it and read quite a few passages to me. It's a pretty bold condemnation of George Mason's economics department amongst other things. I haven't read it, my friend was impressed by it.

PTR  ·  410 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Have you read "Dark Money"? I liked it - I'll give "Democracy in Chains" a go too.

Koch funding at my alma (as I mentioned) was very contentious. There's an English department faculty member there who hosted a book club for a few months this fall semester, and I think they covered both books along with "Sons of Wichita". From what I understand, it went over about how you'd expect: very academically political, which is arguably the worst kind of political.

blackbootz  ·  411 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Will do.

WanderingEng  ·  411 days ago  ·  link  ·  

If you post a picture of your cat, I guarantee I'll go "aww!"

blackbootz  ·  411 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Curled up while I'm reading. I like to think she's holding up her head while snoozing.

kantos  ·  410 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    7 shares on a cat photo

You can take the hubski out of the reddit, but not the reddit out of the hubski.


I have no shame.

_refugee_  ·  410 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Cute animal photos are one of the few positive things that run rampant o’er the internet. I’m all in favor.

Sometimes when I need a lift I cruise to r/aww or, on twitter, accounts with such apt names as “Emergency Kittens.”

Maybe the internet’s overwhelming love of animal photos is evidence that we can still believe in the good of humanity. At least, I am grateful for the counterpoint it provides.

blackbootz  ·  410 days ago  ·  link  ·  

And the dense conversation above about politics and dark money garnered 1 share. You can't beat a cat photo!

WanderingEng  ·  411 days ago  ·  link  ·  

She looks so content! What a lucky cat.