Well, the circle's complete. For the third consecutive time since I moved here, Massachusetts elected the empty suit over the girl. Granted, it couldn't have been easy to get worked up over Kerry Healey or Martha Coakley, although it didn't take much for Shannon O'Brien to look like a candidate against Mitt Romney, despite the best efforts of the press. (In 2006, I voted for Grace Ross, the Green candidate, who wiped the floor with both Healey and Deval Patrick in the debates--the libertarian kook was more compelling than either of them too--but in addition to being a third party candidate, she was worse than a normal woman, an open lesbian who eschewed pantsuits.) When I first signed the papers on the new place, the local media was in the middle of crucifying acting governor (never spoken without the adjective) Jane Swift for being a new mommy and governor at the same time. Maybe it's a series of coincidences, but electorally, it looks like the Bay State continues to wrestle with some daddy issues or something.
Refreshingly, and on top of the generic right-wing blather, our new guy (did I call it or what?) is a climate change "skeptic." (It's part of the Obama agenda, says this guiding intellectual light.) I wonder what his views on evolution might be? He's also the pro-war, pro-secuirty candidate [and as of his speech this morning, the man who will protect our Medicare] who's against government spending. He's the independent candidate unbeholden to special interests who somehow bankrolled an immense, well-produced ad buy in the last two weeks of the campaign. At least I'll have something to complain about and amuse myself with for the next six years. My best hope now is that he turns out to be yet another Republican closet case. At least get us some entertainment value.
War and peace, revolution and stability, misery and abundance, human assets and liquidity---all merely macroeconomic functions?
He was probably baiting me, but I responded. Here's how I wish I had phrased it:
Human behavior is described by macroeconomics, it is not governed by it. Social sciences, describing war and peace, politics, etc., are also descriptions of group human behavior. It's not surprising that they sometimes bump into one another.
3. Ivory tower silage?
Was I just singing their praises? I like working with grad students well enough: they're generally pretty motivated, and smart, and will work long hours doing the more boring, repetitive sorts of scientific tasks. But on the other hand, it's easy to get in a situation where they run in circles, and where inexperience leads them to unproductivity or to surprising conclusions. Very often, grad students do need to be led, and there's something to be said for wily veterans after all.
Although as with any other employees, it's great to get a good one (my advisor must have been as disappointed as my boss is now).
Mom's Subaru went off to auction on Monday. We would have sported the (at least) $3500 repair bill if we had liked the car better--turns out the exhaust noise wasn't so much a leak as an obstructed catalytic converter, which was building up some backpressure. The exhaust and the head gasket problem may well have been related (which is why you should maintain your cars, kids), although I can't guess which was chicken and which egg.
We replaced it with a Hyundai, whose all-wheel drive is some rpm-based power-rationing thing with, basically, automatic transmissions on each front/rear wheel pair. AWD was something we shopped for, but this version is far inferior to the Subaru drive mechanism, even if it gets the vehicle through the snow eventually. With the weather, we've had plenty of opportunity to compare this week both versions. On the other hand, it's comfortable, with some luxury features that please my wife, and Korean cars, despite serious improvements in the last 20 years, don't yet suffer the reputation of value that leads to the inflated prices of Japanese models. (How far we've come, eh?) Maybe that's how the American automotive industry catches up again, by manufacturing good bargains. I see some irony that the only car we had that really lasted was a Ford...built by Kia.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010