Saturday, March 27, 2010

Quick Cayman Island Economics

Just got back from a brief spring break trip to the Cayman Islands. Ever since R- and I learned Scuba Diving during our honey moon, we've been taking a lot of tropical trips. Cayman is supposed to be one of the best and delivered as one of the best we've been to (compared to Bali, Hawaii, the Great Barrier Reef, the Florida Keys, Puerto Rico).

On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense1) The island felt very American (half the people on the island are tourists and the tourists are mostly American). Moreover, it felt very Red State American. As in every person we talked to was from what felt very Red (e.g. South Dakota, Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan--ok those last two are swing states but the people we met were clearly from the red parts). Which is cool because a Bobo from among the "coastal elites" you don't come across these people very often, (people that David Brooks calls, on Paradise Drive). Also, notable since I don't we saw a single Asian person on the half of the island our hotel was on during the whole trip. Not that there's anything wrong with that, just odd and notable and weirdly surreal.

2) So the South Dakotan couple did have two daughters finishing college on the coasts (Computer Science majors at Stanford and UC Davis). That also struck me as anachronistic. Majoring in CS seems so 2000. Reminded me why Economists tend to instinctively distrust government planners. Back in 2000, we talked about a massive shortage in computer scientists, which promptly went away with a deflating bubble, Indian and Chinese and Russian outsourcing, and shifts in technology, leaving many of my friends and family who majored in computer science unemployed for long periods of time. And all the government effort to get people to shift to computer science proved to be a bad idea.

The current health-care bill has the same flavor of government planning, as it tried to address a "shortage" of primary care doctors by creating more of them. That sounds like trouble.

Otherwise, the trip was great. Photos coming soon.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Oscars and Populism

AvatarI was a little bothered that Avatar didn't win the Oscars last night, but it took me a while to articulate why. After all, they are a private organization and should be allowed to choose who they wish. And I have no huge problem with elitism in other spheres. But it is striking to compare the winners from the 1990's to 2004 (Titanic, Bravenheart, Gladiator, etc. nearly all popular blockbusters) with the winners since 2004 which have all been much smaller limited release films.

So why should I care? I guess I care because in an era of Tivo and the Long Tail, where everyone is segmenting off into their own niches, the Oscars are one of the few pieces of mass culture that everyone shares as a focal point for water cooler discussion. 2nd in ratings only to the superbowl. And so it seems like maybe it would be useful for the Oscars to retain their relevancy to pop culture (Avatar being the highest grossing movie internationally, and tapped as deserving to win the Oscar by at least a few of the movie critics I read), or risk spinning off into own niche apart.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Blog and Site Feed Have Moved

For various technical reasons, I was forced by google to move my blog to http://blog.benho.org

Their automated mover worked pretty well except that their auto-post pointed to the wrong site feed. For those using it, the updated site feed is now:
http://blog.benho.org/feeds/posts/default

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Me in businessweek

More shameless self-promotion. A mention in businessweek.

No quotes from the interview. I haven't learned yet to give good sound bites.

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