Sunday, December 11, 2005

Chronicle Column #2 and Msg from Steve Levitt

My second Chronicle of Higher Education column has been posted:
Trusting the system

Not as controversial perhaps as my first one, so not as much bruhaha (I still remember that word showing up on a 7th grade vocabulary list). I did recently get this unsolicited e-mail from Steve Levitt in regard to the first column:
Don't like the term Freakonomics, eh?

Then don't bother sending your packet to U of C.

Just kidding.

I'm not even involved with junior recruiting this year.

Steve
To which my reply was:
Yeah, actually my next column starts with an apology for the first one, analyzed using the model from my job market paper.

I have a second paper on fads and fashion that--I just recently realized--happens to explain why you used to be my (academic) hero until the Clark Medal and the book made you too well-known and popular, so that I now have to adjust my tastes to someone lesser known with more signal value.

When I submitted that column though, I never expected it to be published, or for it to be so widely read. It surprised and mortified me.

I am sorry about any offense, though I stand by my claim that the term Freakonomics is horrid. Though for a brief second, I did consider, for want of a better term, listing it on my CV as a field.

Ben

Monday, December 05, 2005

cafe musings of the college bound

I was sitting in a little French bakery, La Douce France, sipping espresso and enjoying a blackberry tart, with a copy of the economist, my ipod for the moment turned off from Death Cab for Cutie, to enjoy the sound of french easy listening christmasy music, the chattering grey-haired ladies-who-lunch gabbing in Spanish, and two twin indian girls, soliciting a well-heeled elderly gentleman for a college recommendation.

That caught my attention. The well-practiced, college interview speech, the focused pre-meds-to-be with already the perfectly crafted resume, the appropriate extra-curriculars, the excitement about diverse knoweldge, but still the early laser focus on medicine, in these high school seniors. Exciting times. It is a process that I still read about avidly when articles show up in Time or the New York Times. Probably because, I, like those girls, devoted a huge amount of effort and mental faculties to the process. Though maybe I will still write that paper on education some day.

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