Oh wait, there’s no ’13 this season.
The Bears went 7-1 the first half of the season, 3-5 the second half, and failed to make the playoffs. By most accounts, that’s a horrific collapse.
I disagree. Here’s the first half of the season: Colts (W), Packers (L), Rams (W), Cowboys (W), Jaguars (W), Lions (W), Panthers (W), Titans (W). That’s a weak schedule– only two opponents made the playoffs the year before (Packers, Lions), and only two opponents made it this year (Colts, Packers). So 7-1 shouldn’t have been surprising to anyone.
Now here’s the second half of the season: Texans (L), 49ers (L), Vikings (W), Seahawks (L), Vikings again (L), Packers again (L), Cardinals (W), Lions again (W). That’s a much stronger schedule: four opponents made the playoffs last year (Texans, 49ers, Packers, Lions), and six opponents made it this year (all but the Cardinals and Lions). I wouldn’t call losing five of those games a collapse. Agonizing to watch, yes. A collapse, no.
It’s safe to say the Bears did about what they should have done this season– beaten weaker teams, lost to stronger teams– given they still don’t have an offensive line.
The Bears have a decent QB. They have decent running backs and wideouts. They have a strong defense. But the offensive line is embarrassingly weak. It’s been bad for four years, surrendering an average of almost three sacks per game. Even worse is the fact that with Matt Forte and Michael Bush at running back, the Bears couldn’t run between the tackles. Think about that: the most basic play in football is handing the ball to an RB and having him run straight ahead– and the Bears couldn’t do it. Late in games they were leading, when you want to run the ball over and over again and to keep the clock moving, the Bears had to throw. There’s no surer sign that you don’t trust your own line.
Worst of all, despite knowing how bad the line has been, the Bears have drafted just three offensive linemen in the last four years: Carimi, Webb, and Louis. If you’ve heard of them, it’s only because they suck or they’re injured.
So should Lovie Smith have been fired today? I say yes. Either he coached the offensive line poorly, or he didn’t build a good O-line, or he didn’t demand that the GM bring in good linemen. When that obvious a problem goes unresolved (and arguably unaddressed) for so long– especially with so much other talent on the team– heads have to roll. Furthermore, if you spend years wondering whether a coach should keep his job, he probably shouldn’t.
I’m not saying Lovie didn’t try to fix the line. I assume he did. But he didn’t do enough about it, so that’s that. Hopefully, Emery and the McCaskeys will bring in a strong coach with the ability and the good sense to fix the offensive line. I’m not optimistic.
People joke now about John Madden’s BAMs and BOOMs and the turkeys with extra legs and think he’s just some goofy old codger who lent his name to a successful video game. They forget or don’t know that he’s got the second-best coaching record in league history (103-32-7).
In Madden’s second book, One Knee Equals Two Feet, he said that the most important group of players on the team is the offensive line. The center is the first person to touch the ball on every play. The linemen are the first people to hit the other team on every play. If you can buy your QB an extra half-second in the pocket, he makes better plays and gets sacked less. If you can run behind the a strong line, you make the field shorter, you keep the ball longer, your opponents spend less time on offense, your defense stays fresher, etc. The game looks complicated from time to time, but it’s not that complicated. Get good linemen.
In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Ford attempts to strike up a conversation with his old buddy Hotblack Desiato, a member of the biggest, loudest, richest band ever. He fails because Hotblack is spending a year dead for tax purposes.
Next week, the federal estate tax is scheduled to rise to 55%. The exemption from that tax is scheduled to drop to $1 million. That in mind, it looks like folks may well try part of Hotblack’s tax evasion strategy. Alas, human preservation and medical resurrection have yet to be perfected.
I can’t think of a tax less moral or less justifiable than the estate tax. Even if I could, I wouldn’t admit it because it might give someone ideas.
Running low on time before I have to post, so here’s old reliable: a questionnaire plucked from online.
1. ARE YOU YOUNG AT HEART, OR AN OLD SOUL? I’ve been told the latter more than the former. That I’ve phrased it that way should tell you which is accurate.
2. WHAT MAKES SOMEONE A BEST FRIEND? The most important factor is time. Go from there.
3. WHAT CHRISTMAS (OR HANUKKAH) PRESENT DO YOU REMEMBER THE MOST? I remember a few birthday gifts and an Easter gift, but I can’t remember any particular gift as being given on Christmas or Hanukkah. In fact, I’ve never received a Hanukkah gift, which is odd.
4. TELL ME ABOUT A MOVIE/SONG/TV SHOW/PLAY/BOOK THAT HAS CHANGED YOUR LIFE. In an early episode of Twin Peaks, Cooper told Truman, “Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot black coffee.” I don’t drink coffee, but a nap will do in a pinch.
5. NAME A MOVIE THAT YOU KNEW WOULD BE TERRIBLE JUST FROM READING THE TITLE. American Psycho 2.
6. WHAT HOLIDAY DO YOU MOST LOOK FORWARD TO? Thanksgiving, because it’s my birthday.
7. HOW IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR PARENTS? The age gap has held constant since we first met, but I’ve caught up heightwise.
8. YOU’VE GOT THE TV ON, BUT YOU’RE NOT REALLY WATCHING. WHAT CHANNEL IS THE TV ON? The channel with football on it.
9. NAME A SONG THAT NEVER FAILS TO MAKE YOU HAPPY. “Grass Roots” by Havalina Rail Co. I don’t listen to it that often.
10. YOU KNOW AT LEAST ONE PERSON NAMED MICHAEL. TELL ME ABOUT HIM. He was a buddy from Clemson. Just about the time he started to act like a decent human being, he got in a car wreck that wiped 15 to 20 years off his memory. He didn’t know his wife or kids. He didn’t know his high school, college, or work buddies. He acted like a little kid. But he slowly started to recover, and from what I can tell he’s functioning like a high-schooler now.
11. HAVE YOU EVER READ THE “MISSED CONNECTIONS” ON CRAIGSLIST? HAVE YOU EVER POSTED ONE, OR WANTED TO? No and no.
12. CAN MONEY BUY HAPPINESS? It can try.
13. DO YOU DRINK? SMOKE? DO DRUGS? WHY, OR WHY NOT? I don’t smoke because I have enough trouble breathing. I don’t do drugs because I have enough trouble thinking and keeping my heart beating. I drink a little because steaks and pasta aren’t going to wash themselves down.
14. IS THERE ANYONE CLOSE TO YOU THAT YOU KNOW YOU CAN’T TRUST? YOU DON’T HAVE TO GIVE NAMES. Yes, but they’re being closely monitored.
15. WHERE WAS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO GO WHEN YOU WERE A LITTLE KID? The tall jungle gym at my elementary school in Virginia. It doubled as a spaceship.
16. DO YOU ENJOY BEING WITH ONLY ONE OR TWO FRIENDS, OR WITH A LARGE GROUP OF PEOPLE? Depends on the friends and the group. But all else being equal, I prefer being with only one or two friends. Fewer witnesses.
17. DO YOU LIKE THE TYPE OF MUSIC YOUR PARENTS LISTEN TO? My parents’ musical preferences are generally tolerable.
18. DO YOUR PARENTS LIKE THE TYPE OF MUSIC YOU LISTEN TO? Who cares?
19. IF YOU COULD ONLY EAT ONE THING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Slop (elbow macaroni with meat sauce).
20. WOULD YOU CALL YOURSELF/YOUR FAMILY “MIDDLE CLASS?” Yes.
21. NAME A TV SERIES YOU DIDN’T ENJOY UNTIL AFTER IT ENDED. There are several that I didn’t even start watching until after it ended. The original Star Trek, Twin Peaks, The Wire, Arrested Development come to mind.
22. HAVE YOU EVER BOUGHT A PRODUCT FROM AN INFOMERCIAL? Does a George Foreman grill count?
23. IF YOU COULD GIVE UP YOUR CAR AND NEVER HAVE TO DRIVE AGAIN, WOULD YOU? Only if I could afford to be chauffeured around for the rest of my life.
24. IF YOU GO BACK TO ONE POINT IN TIME TO GIVE ADVICE TO YOURSELF, WHEN WOULD YOU GO AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY? Spring 1996. Skip the steak dinner. Go with Martha.
25. WHAT’S YOUR “QUIRKIEST” HABIT? I make sure the fridge is closed before turning in for the evening.
26. SOMEONE CLOSE TO YOU IS DYING. YOU HAVE THE CHOICE TO LET THIS PERSON LIVE FOR 10 MORE YEARS, BUT IF YOU DO, YOU CAUSE THE DEATH OF 10 STRANGERS. YOU DON’T HAVE TO SEE THEM DIE. DO YOU TAKE THE OFFER? Tough call. Too many variables. Who are the strangers? Could I pick them? Because I must confess that I’d kill ten bad guys in order to extend the life of a loved one. But even then, it’d depend on the age and condition of the dying– he or she might not want ten more years.
27. WHAT IS ONE THING YOU COULD NEVER FORGIVE? The unforgiven has already been informed.
28. WOULD YOU RATHER BE IN A RELATIONSHIP AFTER THE HONEYMOON PERIOD ENDS, OR BE SINGLE? In the relationship. A wise man once said that life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone.
29. WRITE THE FIRST PARAGRAPH OF YOUR OBITUARY. Here goes:
VISCARIELLO, Vincent Dominic, 128, declared dead April 4, 2105 (Mars 80/9/495). Mr. Viscariello disappeared from his suite in the Caveside Hilton at the Coca-Cola/ZeitBank Arsia Mons Colony on April 1, 2104 (Mars 80/3/137) and was declared dead in absentia upon petition by his family. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Orinthius Octavian Winterbourne Foundation for Economic Education.
30. DO YOU WANT TO HAVE MORE FRIENDS THAN YOU HAVE RIGHT NOW? I’m okay with the number of friends I have now.
31. WHAT PART OF THE PAST YEAR STICKS OUT IN YOUR MIND? Seeing my niece.
32. YOU WIN A SCRATCH-OFF LOTTERY GAME THAT GIVES YOU $2000 A WEEK (AFTER TAXES) FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. DO YOU KEEP YOUR JOB? $104,000 a year? I might hang on to my job, just in case that two grand isn’t going to be adjusted for inflation.
33. COULD YOU BE IN A LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP? IF YOU’RE IN ONE, WHAT MAKES YOURS WORK? Not easily. Not applicable.
34. WHAT’S THE BEST ROUTE TO YOUR HEART? Up under the sternum.
35. HAVE YOU EVER MET SOMEONE THROUGH THE INTERNET, THEN MET THEM IN REAL LIFE? Yes.
36. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SPORT? Soccer.
37. WHAT HAS BEEN TROUBLING YOU LATELY? Back.
38. DID YOU ENJOY YOUR HIGH SCHOOL PROM? IF YOU HAVEN’T GOTTEN THERE YET, DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO IT? IF YOU DIDN’T GO, WHY NOT? I didn’t go because I attended a soccer tournament, which we won by defeating a much-hated arch-rival. I scored either the most or the second-most goals for my team in that tournament.
39. WHAT DO YOU USE MORE OFTEN: YOUR INTUITION OR LOGICAL REASONING? Reasoning, but even my intuition is pretty darned logical.
40. WHAT IS THE NICEST COMPLIMENT YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN? [Redacted]
41. WHO WAS YOUR FIRST CRUSH? A girl named Tracy.
42. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THERE IS LIFE ON OTHER PLANETS? Yes, for now.
43. PREDICT WHAT YOUR LIFE WILL LOOK LIKE A YEAR FROM NOW. Pretty darned similar to now, except in a different house.
44. OFTEN, PEOPLE WILL ASK HOW YOUR LAST RELATIONSHIP ENDED. I WANT TO KNOW HOW IT BEGAN. In a bookstore.
45. WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO GO OUT AND EAT? Portillo’s.
46. EARLY BIRD OR NIGHT OWL? Night owl.
47. WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WANT TO CHANGE ABOUT YOUR CURRENT SITUATION? I’d rather be an early bird.
48. ARE THERE ANY CHILDHOOD POSSESSIONS YOU STILL HOLD ON TO? Certainly.
49. GIVE ME AN UNPOPULAR OPINION YOU HAVE. Just one? We should have more states.
50. WHAT WAS THE LAST SONG THAT WAS STUCK IN YOUR HEAD? “I’m not like everybody else,” by the Kinks.
51. WHERE DO YOU LIVE? BE AS GENERAL OR SPECIFIC AS YOU WANT. Inside the Oort Cloud.
52. DO YOU BELIEVE IN GIVING KIDS MEDALS AND TROPHIES FOR PARTICIPATION? No. Maybe certificates.
53. WHAT WAS THE LONGEST CAR RIDE YOU’VE EVER TAKEN? Drove to El Paso and back, although some of my sojourns to the northeast and out to Chicago and back may have technically been longer.
54. HAVE YOU EVER TAKEN PART IN A PROTEST? Yes.
55. WHAT IS YOUR ETHNIC HERITAGE? Depends on who you ask. I say three-quarters Italian, one-quarter Irish.
56. DESCRIBE A PERSON THAT INSPIRES YOU.
57. IF YOU EARN MINIMUM WAGE DOING WHAT YOU LOVE, WOULD YOU? If it were running the multimillion dollar business that I own and that’s rapidly rising in value, then yes.
58. DO YOU BELIEVE IN LUCK? Yes.
59. DESCRIBE THE LAST TIME YOU WERE VERY ANGRY AT SOMEONE. I’d rather not, so that the next time, my target is totally unprepared.
60. DO YOU WANT TO LIVE UNTIL YOU’RE 100? Yes.
61. DO PEOPLE CHANGE? IF SO, HOW DO YOU KEEP A RELATIONSHIP TOGETHER WHEN BOTH OF YOU START TO CHANGE? Yes. Work and love.
62. HAVE YOU EVER RISKED A FRIENDSHIP BY TELLING SOMEONE YOU LIKED THEM? Yes.
63. WOULD YOU RATHER BE ALONE DOING SOMETHING YOU ENJOY, OR DOING SOMETHING YOU DON’T LIKE WITH YOUR BEST FRIENDS? The latter.
64. DO YOU PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH? Generally.
65. IF YOU TAKE PRECAUTIONS TO STAY SAFE, DO YOU ULTIMATELY ACT MORE RECKLESSLY? Yes. This is almost true by definition, and the phenomenon is not unknown to those of us who study econ.
66. WHAT DO YOU VALUE MORE IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: ATTRACTIVENESS OR INTELLIGENCE? Intelligence is part of the attraction, so intelligence.
67. ARE YOU HARD-HEADED? Yes.
68. HAVE YOU EVER LAUGHED UNCONTROLLABLY WHEN IT WAS SOCIALLY INAPPROPRIATE? Yes.
69. WOULD YOU PREFER TO LIVE? A CITY? THE SUBURBS? THE COUNTRYSIDE? THE MOUNTAINS? Suburbs, especially if equidistant from the city, the countryside, and the mountains.
70. DO YOU OFTEN SKIP BREAKFAST? I’d say 95% of the time.
71. HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT TRUE LOVE IS? I can’t tell you, but it lasts forever. (The lyrics don’t exactly match, but whatever.)
72. WOULD YOU WANT TO KNOW THE EXACT DATE AND TIME YOU WERE GOING TO DIE? Yes.
73. WHERE IS “HOME” FOR YOU? Nice try, stalker.
74. DO YOU WANT TO BE PERFECT? “Want to be”?
75. WHAT HAVE YOU NEVER TRIED, BUT WOULD REALLY LIKE TO SOMEDAY? WHAT’S HOLDING YOU BACK? Flying a plane. I haven’t been diagnosed with a terminal illness yet.
76. HOW DO YOU EXPRESS YOUR CREATIVITY? This here blog’s about as close to creativity as I get.
77. DESCRIBE YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD. I’m not going to fall for this.
78. NAME SOMETHING YOU ONLY LIKED BECAUSE IT WAS POPULAR. I’d have to dig around the old memory palace before finding an answer. I realized a very long time ago that “fitting in” isn’t me.
79. GIVE ME THE STORY OF YOUR LIFE IN SIX WORDS. “Mind your own damn business. Please.”
I write this post from the WordPress app on my brand spankin’ new iPhone 5. Screen could be a smidge wider, but I am glad to have a real mute switch and a real home key once again. The battery life seems to blow away that of the Samsung Infuse. Oh, and it hasn’t crashed or frozen yet, even though it’s been turned on for more than ten hours.
Below is the first photo I’ve taken with the camera.
In related news, I have a Samsung Infuse and its accessories available for sale.
Here are some brief responses to recent questions from anonymous readers. I may expand my responses one day.
1. “Personal Question! What meaning does your religion (or philosophy) hold for you and how does it impact how you live day to day?”
It generally keeps me from having other gods, making graven images, taking the Lord’s name in vain, forgetting the Sabbath, dishonoring my parents, committing murder, committing adultery, stealing, bearing false witness, and coveting my neighbor’s stuff. Generally.
I abide by the Golden Rule as much as possible. I figure since, in some form or other, it shows up in virtually every religion and philosophy and in game theory (read The Evolution of Cooperation), it’s pretty solid.
As an aside, the book of The Good Book that has most influenced me is Job. Here’s the short version: God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, to whomever He wants, and doesn’t have to answer to anyone… because He’s God. You don’t get to argue about things like goodness, justice, mercy, or fairness with the guy who invented them. Don’t like it? Tough noogie. If God exists, then this is incontrovertible.
For similar reasons, I also like the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20), but probably more for its commentary on property and exchange than its commentary on getting into Heaven.
We are owed nothing by God, by God. You can substitute “the universe” or “fate” for God if you’d like, but it still holds. If you happen to get good stuff thrown at you, just be grateful.
2. “…[I] was wondering what your opinion is on the legalization/decriminalization of Marijuana; the Constitution and the Amendments to the Constitution, as well as the founding father’s views on Cannabis, seem to point to the states being allowed to legalize/ decriminalize marijuana, but the presidents over the last few decades have been heavily against marijuana (The War on Drugs).”
I think that the federal prohibition of marijuana should end, and that the states should legalize, criminalize, and/or regulate it as they see fit. If a constitutional amendment was necessary to prohibit the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol throughout the entire country, then it seems to follow that a constitutional amendment would be necessary to similarly restrict any other ingestible substance throughout the entire country.
That said, I have little patience for stoners. They deserve to be eaten.
3. “Would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses, or one horse sized duck and why? This question should be on one of your questionnaires.”
This is a stupid question.
4. “You should write a blog post about gay marriage. The issue has been slowly shifting in favor of gay marriage. How long do you think it will be before it is legal in all states?”
Eight hundred years, tops.
5. “On January 15th, in a post named ‘On Austrian Economics’ you said, ‘A more interesting question (not that Austria vs. Keynes is uninteresting) would have been whether I favor the Austrian/Vienna school or the Chicago school. I’d need time to ponder that one, preferably whilst eating a Chicago-style Vienna Beef hot dog. I just discovered Let’s Nosh down on San Jose this weekend, so my mind’s wandering thataway right now.’ I was curious as to whether your pondering has led you to a preference yet.”
It has. The Chicago-style dogs and Italian roast beef sandwiches at Let’s Nosh are far superior to those at Carmine’s. The key is that Nosh has the right ingredients: the right brands of beef (Vienna), the right toppings, the right type of bread, and so on. Carmine’s (in Riverside) definitely has the best Chicago-style pizza in the city, but their beef sandwiches are mediocre. Not enough beef, the bread’s wrong, they can’t pronounce giardiniera, the gravy isn’t right… I don’t want to think about it anymore.
I contacted four of my former students regarding the questions in the previous post. Here’s what I sent them:
“A few of my students have asked about majoring in economics (what sort of careers are open to them, what sort of coursework does it entail, what sort of master’s work can it lead to, what would be an ideal minor, what if I’m not so good at math, blah blah blah). I gave them some answers, and offered to put them in touch with former students of mine who’ve majored in econ. That’s you. May I give them your email/facebook address? Or would you mind answering some of the above questions so I can pass the info along?”
And here are their responses so far:
From Former Student 1:
yeah id be happy to help them out! feel free to have them email me […] as for those questions, ill try to give general answers: Careers – Usually it depends on degree level and program. Most of the econ majors I know have gone into a variety of business positions (management, marketing, etc). The finance industry is very receptive of bachelors in econ grads. A masters and PhD degree open you up to a variety of economist positions and research analyst positions. Econ course work is becoming more mathematical, especially with new models being developed after the recession. Course work is broken down my macro, micro and mathematical econ (econometrics, math econ etc). I was terrible at math, but now I really enjoy it so im sure if a student isnt good at math, they can learn the skills (especially since its put in the econ setting which is exciting). as for the ideal minor, that usually depends on the individual’s preference. Some do political science, some statistics, some finance. It all depends on where you want to be after the program. And tell them theyre making an awesome decision if they major in economics, yet as a grad student preparing for a final tomorrow, it requires some sleepless nights, being considered the nerd on campus, and studying on Friday nights.
From Former Student 2:
Definitely! […] I’ve written some answers to some of those questions before, I’ll forward that along when I find it. Honestly, after all of my classes so far, if they want to become an economist, majoring in math and computer science is much more useful than a major in econ. A minor in econ would suffice as long as you read stuff on the side. But the most useful classes to what I’m working on currently are probability, linear algebra, and micro theory.
Forwarded answer from Former Student 2:
The following responses are more geared towards the students interested in an econ Ph.D. program and careers that result from that.
A little bit about me (so you can see my biases): Currently a Junior at [some lame university that isn’t Clemson] majoring in Mathematics and Economics with a minor in History. I started as a History and Business Econ major, after working as a research assistant (RA) and taking more math, I decided to try and become an academic and my goal is to get an economics professorship at a research university. I work as a research assistant and an undergrad TA.
Careers : What can’t be a career? You can do anything with economics. I think it’s an excellent door opener. I know people who currently work as: actuaries, investment bankers, working on econ Ph.D., and a transfer agent. Research economist, you get to become a complete expert in your niche, you’re always learning higher level stuff, the downsides include long hours, working in isolation (even when you’re part of a research group), and you need a high tolerance for setbacks and rejection.
Coursework (personally, I believe that the following list of courses will open the most doors. The following should allow you to pursue graduate level econ, grad work in any other social science, make you a very attractive job applicant, and teach you to “think like an economist.”):
- Principles, Intermediate, and Advanced Microeconomic Theory (some schools call it Price Theory)
- Principles and Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory. Feel free to take more macro courses if you wish, but since macro varies so much from school to school, what you learn in undergrad may very well be the polar opposite of what you end up using.
- Game Theory
- Math: Bare minimum: Calc I-III (don’t take business calc, I can tell you more about this if you wish since I’m a business calc TA.), linear algebra, intro to proofs, probability, statistics
- If you want econ grad school, take the above and these: real analysis (this is the big one, if you had to take a class that wasn’t already listed above, take real analysis!!!), topology , differential equations (this stuff is trivial, it’s not necessary per se, but important enough to get mentioned) http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-economics/
- Try not to take “Mathematical Economics,” I hear these courses tend to be watered down mathematics. See http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2006/05/which-math-courses.html
- If you want law school, take the “Law and Econ” elective and ask some professors or your academic advisor about a pre-law track for econ.
- Any class you find interesting! I believe that you should take a class with professors who are experts in their fields, ones that know what they’re doing. You can pick up a lot of stuff on your own, you can do that whenever. But you won’t have another chance to take a class with Professor XYZ if you pass up the opportunity. Plus it could lead to extremely valuable career advice and mentoring.
- If you’re considering applied economics or economics, take some computer science courses. I don’t really have any advice on that since I haven’t taken any and everyone I know learned it on their own (they, like me, figured out that comp sci is needed for econ too late). But something on data mining, programming, and software would be helpful.
Master’s work: I personally know/have heard of students who have gone into: econ, math, computer science, physics, history, political science, public policy, law, Russian, accounting, international business, and finance. Econ is extremely versatile.
Ideal minor: Math, Computer Science, or Econ.
What if I’m not good at math? Allow me to refer you to what I’ve been referred to several times:
Now some advice and a personal story. At Paxon I hated math and science; I was convinced I couldn’t differentiate even the most basic equations. I can pin-point the exact moment at Paxon that made me despise math (it was in Algebra II). But now, I love it! I took business calc my first semester at [some lame university that isn’t Clemson], when I was told I needed real math to become an economist I was scared. But there was no other route. Luckily my Calc 1 professor hated teaching undergrad so she made the class extremely difficult (no other Calc 1 prof wanted students to write proofs on exams!) and I saw what higher level math was like and I love it.
What I’m trying to say is that you’re probably not “not good at math,” you’re just approaching it with the wrong attitude and inefficient study habits. It’s not entirely how many hours you put into studying; it’s about how you spend those hours. Don’t be afraid to fail!
Let me close with a quote from John Maynard Keynes:
“… the master-economist must possess a rare combination of gifts. He must be mathematician, historian, statesman, philosopher–in some degree. He must understand symbols and speak in words. He must contemplate the particular in terms of the general, and touch abstract and concrete in the same flight of thought. He must study the present in the light of the past for the purposes of the future. No part of man’s nature or his institutions must lie entirely outside his regard. He must be purposeful and disinterested in a simultaneous mood; as aloof and incorruptible as an artist, yet sometimes as near the earth as a politician.”
From Former Student 3:
I’d be happy to answer those questions! […] There are a lot of careers open to Econ majors, depending on what you want to do. Yo can use it as a foundation for international relations, politics, law school – which is what I’m doing – and go in with an understanding of why and how the country runs the way it does and how the economy is so integrated with legislation. You can go on to graduate school in economics and end up doing research; I know someone who is getting a PhD in Economics, and is just doing studies with his professors, some of his recent work relates to the effects of incarceration crime rates on the economy, and the wealth gap. You can also teach, at whatever level. And economics is just knowledge that is useful always, regardless of the field you end up in. The coursework at [some other lame university that isn’t Clemson] is all I can talk about with any confidence in what I’m saying. You need to take Principles of Micro and Macro (which can be covered with AP Micro and AP Macro), Intermediate Micro and Macro – neither of which are that difficult, but that could be because I enjoy what I’m learning. And then you need to take upper division electives to complete the major requirements. There are a lot of opportunities for research or volunteering to help professors here with their research, which doesn’t necessarily have to be in Economics. A minor with Economics could be Business, or you can double major with Economics pretty easily. And it’s not that math intensive, though you will basic calculus. […] I hope what I’ve written has answered the questions, somehow at least. I hope I’ve helped at least a little!
This is why I teach: so others will write my blog posts for me.
An anonymous reader writes:
I just wanted to say thank you. You and Mr. ZYXWV really sparked my interest in Economics and now in about a semester I will be done with my AA and start taking my Econ classes. I’m also very happy to read that it is a very flexible degree and one that is highly sought after by employees. Is there a minor that you would recommend me taking? I’m thinking Poli Sci. I just want to be happy in what I do and make very good money.
I passed your message along to Mr. ZYXWV, and we both thank you for your kind words. However, we could use a little bit more to go on in terms of your future plans. Is there a general field you’d like to enter, or a type of work you see yourself doing? Was your AA in business, computers, something else? Let me know via the contact page or email, and it’ll help me answer your question a little better.
In the meantime, I’ve asked some former students their thoughts on the matter (because a few of my current students have also asked about majoring in econ), and I hope to cobble together some answers for you soon.
Got back from San Diego today. I don’t fly well due to an intense and irrational fear of flying and getting motion-sick on the airplane and crashing. But remembering the following three things have gone a long way towards helping me overcome those fears.
1. Dimenhydrinate. It helps to relieve motion sickness and vertigo. A single tube of Dramamine has twelve pills, 50 milligrams of dimenhydrinate per pill, and I use all twelve on a round-trip. Six there, six back, roughly one pill per 500 miles travelled on this trip. It takes a while for the pills to kick in, so I have to remember to take them about half an hour before takeoff. The good news: I don’t get sick on airplanes. The bad news: I don’t fall asleep on airplanes, and the pills only seem to offset the additional nervousness induced by moving at greater speeds and soaringer heights than God intended me to move at.
2. Acting calm goes a long way towards being calm. If, in the worst case scenario, the plane goes into a nose dive, I intend to glare at my seatmate because his or her screaming is distracting me from doing the crossword. The last thing that person will see in this life is my disgust at his or her panic. And then the first thing that person will see in the next life is me, still wearing the same look of disgust I had on my face at the moment of our obliteration just seconds earlier. Then I’ll unbuckle, and before I either sprout wings, halo, and harp and fly away or find myself in shackles, chains, and locks and trudge towards my eternal punishment, I’ll look back at my seatmate and shake my head in mild disappointment at his or her lack of composure. The thought of my seatmate’s utter bewilderment at my preternatural calm helps me focus on staying calm.
3. Focus. Focus on anyting otter than the window. Read a book or work in a crssword pzuzle, remmmerbing to admkmlzcmklv; ,.a; ,. zzvc zzbhmoip[‘kl
Today, for the first time, I saw the Pacific with mine own eyes. It was pretty much the same as the Atlantic, but cleaner. Hazier, too; couldn’t really see the horizon. Might’ve been a storm.
From the mailbag: “Why did Mitt Romney lose? I thought President Obama had everything going against him?”
President Obama did have a lot going against him– not all of which is directly attributable to him, but this isn’t about what is or isn’t his fault, it’s about what affected his chances at reelection. I won’t rehash everything he had going against him, but generally speaking Americans like him a lot less and approve of him a lot less than they did in 2008.
Click here to look at a really neat-o chart showing how various groups voted in 2012 compared to 2008. Obama lost support among both sexes, those under 30, those over 44, independents, whites, blacks, every education group (except those with no high school diploma), those earning $50K or more, every marital group, every ideological group, Christians, Jews, and those who self-identified as having “no religion.” A lot was going against him. He lost a lot of his supporters (~6.5 million at last count) from 2008.
It just wasn’t enough to cost him the election.
We don’t elect leaders based on whether they’re trending up or down. We elect the guys who get the most votes. And so Obama did what Bush did in 2004: try to increase his turnout. Find out who likes you more than the other guy, and get as many of them as possible to vote. Then keep your fingers crossed that the other guy isn’t as good at activating voters as you are. It worked.
Let me address the term “activating.” One of the lessons from my old government class is that campaigns aim to do three things: conversion (change minds in your favor), activation (getting people to participate/vote), and reinforcement (intensifying beliefs that you already hold). Campaigns generally aren’t very good at conversion. Campaigns generally are very good at reinforcement, even though that sometimes means reinforcing what your opponents think of you. The crux of the campaign is activation: the guys who are better at turning potential voters into actual voters are going to win those close campaigns.
And simply put, Obama’s people were better at that than Romney’s people. Obama set up more offices than Romney did in the swing states. Obama spent more than twice the money Romney spent in the swing states. And if you look closely at the top of the last map, you’ll note that Obama showed more than twice as many ads as Romney did in the swing states.
Some might argue that a 3% victory is not a mere matter of one side being better at getting out the vote. Well, no, it isn’t– there are other issues. But you’ll never convince me that Romney’s side milked every vote they possibly could out of the swing states– not when Romney ended up with slightly fewer popular votes than McCain did in 2008 (at least based on the latest results I’ve seen).
So what could Romney and the GOP have done differently? If they want to know that, they can contact me privately and pay my consulting fee.