Tuesday, March 31, 2009

TARP in pictures

This is one person's (brilliant) idea of what the government bailout looks like.

The TARP, in Pictures

One interesting character commented that it's a shame no one understands sunk costs... Hit tip Russell Roberts.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Boy Meets Girl

How many of these not quite traditional romances can you recognize?

1 - Boy meets girl. Boy discovers girl actually has two legs. Girl likes him anyway. Evil jack in the box feeds boy to a fish. Boy escapes, finds girl, and slays jack in the box. They live happily ever after.

2 - Boy meets girl. Boy kidnaps girl's baby brother. Girl chases boy just so she can reject him (ok, ok, and get her brother back). Heartbroken, boy becomes a stalker.

3 - Boy meets girl. Boy finds out girl is pregnant. Boy marries girl anyway. Evil king tries to kill the baby. They move around ... a lot.

4 - Boy meets girl. Boy gives girl a starring role in several movies. Girl karate chops boy a lot. And you wonder why boy hasn't ever popped the question?

5 - Boy meets girl. Boy kills girl's brother. They both commit suicide. We hope the rest of the cast has learned their lesson.

And what do they all have in common? I've seen or read them all this year - 3 of them this week. (Solution will be posted next week in the comments.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hyrum vs. Hamper

One of the advantages of being a sometimes work at home Dad is that I get to record events like this: R2-HyRum
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Hyrum got stuck in one of our laundry hampers ...
"because he likes to play with the laundry," adds Joy. He particularly enjoys taking the laundry out of whatever basket or machine is available. "Putting it back in is more of a foreign idea."

In other laundry news, our washing machine broke Friday night just before we went up to the temple. It won't drain. Saturday we had the temple trip and then a church meeting for me in the evening, and today's Sunday, so the water is still sitting there waiting for me to fix the problem. That's the other good part of being a sometimes work at home Dad - my work hours are flexible enough to fix things.

"You fixed it once."

What We're Reading

Joy just finished "Abram's Daughters" a five book Amish romance that I'm encouraging her to blog about. Given that she got it for Christmas and finished it last week, she liked it a lot.

I am reading the third book in Star Trek's "Captain's Table" series as told by Sisko (it's alright), Yearbook by Ally Condie (more addictive than advertised with strong character development), and Fire in the Bones the biography of William Tyndale who translated the Bible into English. For work, I'm rapidly studying up on the foundations of ethics so I can write a chapter on Ethics and the Food System. This week I started thinking that it's been a few years since I last read my Tolkein, so I may head back to that soon.

Together we recently finished The Princesses of Bamarre (Joy's choice) and are nearly done with the second Harry Potter book (mine). I'm not sure what Joy will choose for our next one, but after that I think we'll be getting back to books 4 and 5 of the Chronicles of Narnia.

Hyrum spends the most time playing with the copy of the Book of Mormon we got him for his birthday, Goodnight Moon, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear. He's paying more attention when we read to him. He recently heard about Little Red Riding Hood in English and German, Brer Rabbit and Brer Alligator, and Horton Hatches the Egg. Some days he gets to join us at Hogwarts.

In the scriptures, I just finished Envy and today will be reading in the Book of Mormon about Ephraim (lot of Isaiah quotes) and Epistles before moving to Equality and Equity later in the week, and I'm in John 5 in the New Testament. Joy is ... somewhere further than the last time I talked to her, probably in Chronicles. [Up from her nap, she reports that Ammon is teaching King Lamoni and that "Chronicles is very difficult."] Hyrum just heard about how Nephi had to flee his brothers (2 Nep 5) and the TV helped Joy tell him about Alma's mission in Ammonihah. Joy and I are keeping up on our Sunday School reading in the Doctrine and Covenants, so we've got someone in every book of scripture this year!

In other media, we finished "the good part" of The Happiest Millionaire this week and are about to watch Darby O'Gill with our good friends, the Petersons, both for St. Pat's. We also recently finished Savannah Smiles about a little girl who runs away with two conmen whose hearts are softened by her tender smile. It goes down in history as having the most ambiguous ending of all time from a cheesy movie. I haven't quite finished Labrynth on my own yet and after that I'll finish West Side Story which we started together but now that Maria's brother is dead, Joy has no interest in seeing the sad parts. Hy has seen part of Monsters, Inc., Bambi, and Fantasia 2000. He prefers watching Wii. Joy continues enjoying the 6th season of Little House on the Prairie. "Yeah, I'm on the 5th CD."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hyrum Meets Mud


Mommy decided to try again with the "making a mess on your birthday" idea.

"My second idea worked really well."

She took baby for a walk in the positively balmy 50 degree weather we had last week.

"And it's rained recently, so there were nice little puddles and some mud."

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After all this, he came in and had a nice warm bath. The bink is awaiting sterilization.

He spent a good portion of his time rubbing his hand over the ground, picking up little pebbles, and smoothing out the ground.

"He would walk on the pavement, but once he got to the grass, he would stumble a little and choose to crawl."

"He wanted to follow the cat he saw, but when the cat came up to him, he backed up a little."

Happy Birthday Baby

Hyrum is 12 months old! He had a fun birthday overall, thanks to Mama's diligent and creative planning... though several things did NOT go according to plan. As far as Hy was concerned, the balloons and the presents were a hit, as was playing outside for the very first time. Joy describes it thus: "He discovered rocks ... and he splashed in a puddle as he lay on his side in it. He also followed a cat into a neighbor's yard." That will be in another post.

Here he is playing with two punchy balloons at once.
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We had planned to give him a really fun morning. We set his food in front of him, including a favorite at Pop and Grandma's (mac and cheese), chocolate pudding, and his birthday cupcake. I did eventually convince him to take two bites of the cupcake. Otherwise, he was very dismayed by the change in schedule and menu. He smooshed up the cupcake and let it fall to the floor. We finally gave in and gave him green beans and yogurt, "two normal staples of his daily diet"

Pick your favorite caption:
~Dude, what are they feeding me here?~
~Hunh, I've sure got them fooled! They think I like vegetables~
~They tell me I'll like this stuff someday. I think they're full of ... chocolate pudding.~
~Don't they know this stuff will kill them? I'm not touching it. Well, okay, I'm touching it, but not with my tongue.~

"I think he was trying to put it back" It sure looked that way. He got some on his hand, looked at it "like, what happened??" and then he put it back in and tried to press the pudding off. He repeated it several times "to no effect!" "He didn't even need his clothes off cause he didn't get it on his clothes, or even his face! He didn't even rub it on his face."

Then we thought we be inspired by the birthday party some friends of ours threw for their kids and give him some time to be DIRTY. We put him in the tub with a container full of chocolate pudding. He looked around, standing in the tub, shivered, and wondered what was going on. I showed him that he could smear the pudding on the tub. He looked at me as if I were a madman. So I took some pudding and smeared it on his belly and gave his face a little warpaint.

That's when he finally broke down and cried. "He commenced to wail." Hokay, abandon ship! We cleaned the baby and got him into normal, dry clothes and let him play around by himself for a bit to restore equilibrium, "which he enjoyed a lot better."

We hid one present under a couple of blankets, which intrigued him. He lifted one blanket, then dropped it and went to his regular toys. We finally convinced the blankets would be fun, and unveiled THIS: a Little People car center thingy. He was pretty interested. When I sent one of the cars down the chute and it spun off into the kitchen, Hyrum opened his mouth and gave a decisive nod of his head that came right out of California: Cool! He enjoyed the rest of his morning while I went to work.

After work, we played a game with him that turned out to be more roller coaster than we intended: open the presents! We'd hand him a present, like this (~16-18 year old) keyboard I've been lugging around with me from our Nintendo days. His first reaction is delight. He plays with it enthusiastically. Then we take it away from him because he does need to get to his other presents and still get to bed sometime today, right? This he does not like. But then he has a new present for us to open for him. And he likes what he sees. Lather, rinse, repeat.
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His other two big gifts from us were a $20 laptop that plays alphabet games and a free hippo walker/scooter/toy that we rescued from the Nursery junk pile and fixed. One of the cool things about the hippo is that the mouth moves up and down as it walks and it devours the things it runs across - the items are scooped up into its belly by a brush. I fondly remember using it in Nursery to teach Calvin about Jonah and the whale.

Hy also got his Very Own copy of the Book of Mormon because he really does love playing with the BoM and the hymnal. Maybe for Christmas we'll get him a hymnal. Pop and Gamma sent him some Disney clothes (a sweater, a onesie, and a bib) and the New Testament children's picture storybook. Gamma also crocheted Hy and me a couple delightful Leprechaun hats.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Why Mormons Build Temples

For Joy and me, there's really no more wonderful place on earth than the temple. We both volunteered at the Provo temple when we were single, and we felt so privileged to be able to serve together at the Palmyra temple. Joy was always touched at how big a smile lit up my face and my heart every early Thursday morning while we worked there. It's the most satisfying work on earth.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Return of the Retrospective 2


July 21, 2008

Hasn't been much of a stuffed animal boy. We give them to him mostly so he can throw them out of his crib.







Aug 15
"Needs more ketchup."

Joy says, "With his tendencies to bite, I don't know that Mommy would let him do that anymore."





Sept 24

6 months old and already standing. What a determined mover he's been! He does still crawl when speed is of the essence, but he walks for most of his movement. I'm rapidly running out of excuses to call him Baby Hy instead of Toddler Hy.






Oct 30
And there he is, plying his incredible cuteness. Good morning, Hyrum. Nice nap?





Nov 16

He was being cuddly just before we took the picture, honest! Hy is actually getting to be just a little more cuddly than he used to be - more willing to give us a nice, big hug first thing in the morning. They're very nice.









Some Sunday Nov/Dec

"Say, Dad, can I have a turn with the camera now?"






Dec 14

"Yes, mastah! Yes, mastah! I will get you more brains. ... Just as soon as mommy changes my diaper."





Also Dec 14

"This is my Dad. He's not the smartest looking cookie in the Animal Crackers box, but I like him just the same. Dad, could you please look at the camera?"







Feb 27, 2009
Hyrum discovers his first teething toy. He's up to eight teeth... and Daddy's up to no good teaching him how to stick things in his mouth. That took a good 10 minutes to manage, and even then I didn't see it happen. But he kept the ring in his mouth a good 5 minutes!



Mar 11, 2009
Hyrum turns 1 years old.

Wait a minute.

August 24, 1979
Derrill turns 1 years old. That's right. Pictures of Hyrum enjoying his birthday will be in the next baby post.

J: "I bet you were fun too, Derrill. That's the SAME smile Hyrum has. I mean, I may not think he looks exactly like you, but he has your smile."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"Africans have cell phones? Who do they call?"

So much in life is about our perceptions and understandings, and it takes a fairly wide variety of images to get a passibly correct idea about anything. Here's one picture from the multifaceted gem called Africa: Cell Phones.

Cell phones are transforming fairly large swaths of Africa - the western coast and particularly Kenya and newly Tanzania (the large red blob on the eastern part of Africa) are seeing massive widespread growth in cell phone coverage. (some) Rural towns without drinking water and sanitation have cell phone towers at the public school. Cell phones in Kenya do a good deal more than we make use of them in the US - they do their banking, job hunting, and find out market prices via cell phone. When I was at ATHGO last summer, our policy proposal dealt with using cell phones to increase political literacy, democracy, and participation - informing people of legislation that would affect them and giving them a forum to voice their opinions.


I found this short video today at Bill Easterly's blog where Kenyan businsswoman June Arunga discusses how some of the stereotypes we have of African poverty can stand in the way of the kind of investments that would help people lift themselves out. She was speaking at the Aid Watch conference at NYU.


June Arunga on Western Attitudes Towards Business in Africa from LF on Vimeo.

Again, this is one image of many. I'm not claiming cell phones will save the world. But it's a part, and it's a part less-understood.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Return of the Retrospective 1

SOMEONE is getting ready to celebrate his very first birthday. That can mean only one thing: It's time to review the year in pictures again! Many of you will remember my grateful retrospectives as he started gaining weight. I've missed those chances to show random unseen pictures. A couple of these you may recognize, but it's been a while, and they're cute, and they're just as randomly drawn.

March 23, 2008 - 12 days old


As Joy and I looked at these earliest pics of little baby Hy, Joy said, "I don't even know that baby anymore." He's a whole new person!










March 30 - 19 days
He always had such serious looks on his face as a newborn. Now his serious looks are when he's playing - very intense. Most of the time, he's my smiling son.








April 11 - 1 month
Ah, and there's that smile! Well, not quite. This picture and the next two courtesy Grandma's phone. It's not his First restaurant, but pretty close, and his first month birthday. He was fairly miserable that entire dinner, so Joy and I spent it apart as one got to eat while the other bounced and soothed the exhausted baby.








April 12
Blissful slumbers. Is my Hyrum really hidden somewhere in that face?










April 17
Is my Hyrum really hidden somewhere in that face?? I have been careful in general not to post his grumpy pictures, but he IS a baby and it's good to admit that fact occasionally. Actually, yes, that looks a lot like his grumpy face now, too, come to think of it. Joy agrees.









April 27
This shot is SO reminiscent of the first time we gave him a bink, clutching it with both fists. He still doesn't seem addicted to the bink - we reach for it well before he does. The bink is most useful in helping him sleep and as a signal that he's done eating. Pops it right in, looks at Mom, and says, "Sorry, Mom, no more's fittin in there."





May 28
"I'm getting ready for my first long walk. Half of me is gungho, ready to go. The other half is wondering what this contraption is all about and why Mom and Dad are making such a big fuss...."








June 15
Ah, now there's a baby I recognize.
"Heeeeeeeeeeeeere's Hyrum!"
I liked that Sunday outfit.





June 23
Hm, looks like our program of stuffing the baby was working well that week.
"Do me a favor, Dad, and don't show that to my fiancee, k?"
We were SO glad to get him on a bottle. Then to get him onto formula at 7-8 months. Now we're SO glad to get him off formula and into cow's milk. That saves us more than $15/week.



July 7 - nearly 4 months old
These days, we put the cat and butterflies in his crib and he attacks them pretty thoroughly. He chews on the butterflies and tries to separate the two of them, and he gives the cat a good whack every now and then to prove he's still got it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

More Arabian Fishies

Pictures of fish don't quite do it for me. I like seeing them move. Here is a long tank at the Kuwait Scientific Center aquarium.
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Here is a tall, circular tank.
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Here are some cool shiny fish.
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And what trip to an aquarium would be complete without a shark?

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Derrill of Arabia 5: Fin

On the flight to and from Kuwait, I saw the best Arab movie (twice!). It's called Reda, which means satisfaction, but I think the English title is The Good Life, or something like that. I watched with English subtitles, but missed the first 5 minutes or so both times. Since imdb.com has so very little information on it even if you manage to find the flick, I'll describe it while the other fish videos are uploading. It stars comedian Ahmed Helmi and Mena Shalaby.

Most of the time, this is a romantic comedy. Three physically identical twin brothers with neurotically different personalities fall for the same girl. Semsen is the closest thing to a main character of the three - intelligent, religious, socially backward, and cowardly. He's seeing a shrink to help him be more self-assertive. Prince is the over-tough guy who carries knives, smokes several packs a day, and wears a black executioner's hood at home. Bebo is obsessed with his soccer team and is the goofiest of the three.

Together they run some swindling schemes going under the alias "Reda." One example: Semsen goes in to a doctor complaining of a problem and claims that he has a miracle drug that will cure it. He goes out to get it and Prince walks in, takes the drug, and the doctor can't find the problem anymore. Doctor pays them Big Money. Bebo meanwhile is at the police station so that if anyone brings a case, they have an alibi since no one has any idea that "Reda," their united alter ego, is actually three people.

Early in the film, they each meet the girl. At first they try to outwit each other trying to spend time with her without the others knowing about it. When they realize and confess they are all in love, they try to share her, taking turns until it becomes obvious this won't work. Most of the comedy centers around their antics and trying to convince her that they are only one person. But since the brothers don't communicate very well, she gets very frustrated that they never remember anything she tells them.

SPOILER ALERT. The girl's mother is dreadfully ill. She needs an operation in England and their wicked rich uncle won't help them. So the brothers devise a scam to rob the uncle of the amount needed for her trip and operation. They deposit their illicet earnings in his financial corporation and then go to thee separate branches, withdrawing the money at the exact same time from each of them. This would have tripled their earnings, but Semsen dropped his case and bolted when the clerk called him back. They decide to give her all their money and she leaves.

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT. Then the film takes a decided left turn. Semsen sees her car one day. He goes to her shop and learns she was only a customer, not the owner as she claimed. He goes to her apartment and learns that she only rented it for one month. He talks to the other brothers and they figure out that she was going under an assumed name also. Semsen then discovers that his shrink is in on it too. The rest of the film is a remarkable thriller about how the brothers capture the girl and doctor, force the truth from them, return the money to the wronged "uncle" and live happily ever after as ... ah, but that would be telling.

END OF SPOILERS. I really enjoyed it. In Kuwait or underway, I also saw Wall-E which we then enjoyed for Valentines Day, plus Jurassic Park and a couple thrillers which were delightfully edited. I appreciated watching the thrillers in Kuwait much more than I would have in the US.

This concludes our Derrill of Arabia series.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Branch talent show

Today was the church talent show. We had a nice variety of talents and remarkably enough the activity committee's goal of keeping the program to an hour was met. We've never been so short! Since Mom always asks for a copy of my performances, here it is, Mom.

video
Warning: the views expressed in this video do not necessarily resemble the actual views of any person bearing the name Watson. "Not in our family anyway," says my wife the church music coordinator.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Moses making a comeback

Remarkably enough, two leading political figures are starring in comics today as Moses: Rushmo and Obamoses! Rush is also depicted today as the Buddha, which is of a piece with the regular depictions of the Obamessiah. The question is if the satire is a better depiction of these men's egos or of their devotees' fervor. "Lo, here! Lo, there!" indeed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Random Thoughts: If I were.....

... an Insurance Agent, I don't think I would want any of my friends or ward members for clients.

Why, you ask? Well, imagine my friend has something bad happen and comes to me to have the company pay out. Suppose HQ tells me that it's my friend's fault and I can't give out anything. The conflict comes in that I'm supposed to be HQ's representative to my friend rather than my friend's representative to HQ. The friend could get pretty mad, and I've known people who left the church over less of a dispute than that.

I'd much rather refer people to another agent in the firm I can vouch for. That way when such an unhappy state occurs, I can be my friend's rep to the other agent, go to bat, and even if the answer is negative there's a much better chance the friend won't blame me.

Thankfully, economists rarely run into problems like that. Teachers on the other hand, a bit more so.... "Yeah, sorry, dude, but your son's an airhead. He thinks that Karl Marx starred in a bunch of black and white movies and Adam Smith was Joseph's older brother who died of constipation. I had to flunk him." ... I think I'd better work on my delivery. ;)

Any other thoughts about providing professional services to ward members and friends? How much of a discount do you give your home teacher?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Derrill of Arabia 4

Friday night, the organizers took us to the Kuwait Scientific Center. It features a scientific play area for the kids, an aquarium and zoo, an IMAX theater, and all the trappings of Arabic capitalism (gift shops, prayer rooms, and the like.)

My sister, Emie, is big into fish, so this post (and many of the pics I took) are mainly for her benefit.




They're not just for Florida anymore.










This is the appropriately named Pineapple Fish. I've never heard of one of these before, let alone seen one. Top right corner of the tank.







It's NEMO! I found Nemo for you, Emie.










I name you ... Sepia Zebra Fish!







Aquarium Haiku

Swim round in circles.
Do not mind my flashing light.
Here fishy fishy.







Desert mice with really long tails. Let me know if you'd also like to see scorpions and scarabs.







They have a nice collection of sharks, nobly chilling with other fish. Clearly, they went through the Fish Are Friends program.





This is the smallest dog (breed) in the world, a Fennec. The guide book says they are related to wolves, jackals, and foxes, and that their long ears help them find prey AND keep cool.

I've also got a cat relative that's extinct in Africa and Asia, but has survived in the Middle East. Again, send me a note if you'd like to see it.



IMAX was showing us the tale of three intrepid flies who stow away on Apollo 11 to land on the moon ... in 3D. They are the heroic main character, the nerdy glasses-bearing nasal-voiced fly, and the fat fly who keeps stuffing his face for comic relief. After the movie, Buzz Aldrin himself comes out to denounce the notion that flies were there. ??? A very just movie review is here.


As you move from one area of the 'aquarium' to another, they have these long panels with holograms that move. I thought they were pretty neat, so recorded them. Movies of fish coming up when we return for the final chapter in the Derrill of Arabia series.

video video

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Derrill of Arabia 3

(Note for readers: The first paragraph by each picture is a description of the pic. The second will be part of an ongoing description of the conference topics and some thoughts about possible future research topics. So if you don't care about the economics, just read the first paragraphs.)

Oh, yes, not only did I sleep and eat, I did attend an actual important conference. They occasionally put video of the participants on the large screen, and I happened to notice a familiar looking goateed person or two in the picture. One of them surreptitiously (I can't believe I spelled that right on the first attempt) snapped a picture of them. This is a zoom in on yours truly.

The topic of the Global Development Network conference this year was natural resource management. Per and I took this to mean the interaction of agriculture and the environment. The vast majority of the conference, though, was focused on what to do with extractable natural resources like ... let's see, we're in Kuwait, so it must be ... OIL. Copper and minerals got some honorable mentions, but the real discussion was on how oil revenues affect development and political economy.



As you walk in the door to the Arab Organization building where we met, they had this beautiful mosaic waterfall and reflection pool on the left.


One effect of oil revenues is clearly the ability to build amazingly plush, opulent meeting rooms. I mentioned to Per that it might be interesting to study the effect of 5-star hotels on development. Is it positive because they create jobs and encourage development people to come hold seminars there so they study the problems of your country, or is it negative because the money could be used elsewhere to better effect? What difference does private vs. public ownership make? Per chucklingly surmised that I would enjoy the field research.....


Mosaics and carved wood ceilings everywhere. This was a side room where we discussed African development.






An Arabian version of the Tree of Life, also in the entryway.


One of the speakers proposed a political economy model with fascinating results, but which relied on the assumption that people are willing to trade off safety/security (military, economic, etc) for political freedom (voice and democracy in government). The discussant for that round correctly pointed out that the notion that these are substitute goods (I'm willing to give up safety for freedom or vice versa) is by no means certain. They could be complementary (the more economically secure I am, the more political freedom I demand) or completely unrelated.

It reminded me strongly of Ben Franklin's quote "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." At other times, he added, "and will lose both."


On the floor with the lunch buffet. In addition to furniture and paintings, they had several small birdcages. The decorative holes in that wall look down into the conference room.





Another view from the lunch room, this one straight up. All the sides of the large atrium are filled with potted plants of many different varieties, not to mention fountains and works of art.


One of the more entertaining moments was when a woman came forward to remind all of us that she and the more poli-sci oriented folks had been discussing these questions since the 1980s and she was delighted that economists were finally getting on board. We had been following our own models at the time and she referred to a number of the advances that had been made since that time in the other literatures. I had a fairly long conversation with her later.



This picture deserves to be clicked on to see it up close. Delicately carved gold decorations.







Another side room. I should mention that they had attendants EVERYwhere. Not only the two guys who opened the front door for us and the security people everywhere, they had bathroom attendants who mopped the floor every time it emptied!





The main conference room before things begin.


Given the chapter I wrote on good governance, her comments got me thinking about an interesting idea. One of the complaints about aid and various natural resources is that they reduce government accountability to taxpayers. The question is: what about governance in the US? Alaska, Texas, Nevada and maybe a few other state governments receive most of their funds from the sale of natural resources or a mild tax on only one industry. How does this affect governance? Do they have worse governance (participation, accountability, transparency, lack of corruption, etc.) than California or NY with their perpetual budget battles or Illinois? She was vehemently in the affirmative. Question is, does anyone have governance measures within the states?


Another side meeting room upstairs. The wood carvings throughout the room were most impressive.







Tapestry in the main conference room.


The other research type question the conference made me ponder had to do with government expectations. The old Keynesian model believed people have "adaptive" expectations -- they look to the past and make a guess about today based on the past. This allows policy makers to trick them with unexpectedly high inflation, producing perpetually low unemployment. The 1970s critique introduce "rational" expectations and the notion that people look forward so that the government might be able to trick people once, but people would anticipate further tricks and so neutralize the government.

The research presented at the conference indicated, though, that some of the governments were behaving AS IF they had very perverse expectations, as if they confused long-term trends and short-term trends. That is, they spent money as if it will always be there and ignore long-term trends in lower prices as if they were here today and gone tomorrow. Both adaptive and rational expectations people would have done better at investing the money than government did.

I fooled around with a a handful of explanations and talked to the presenters. They all seemed to settle on a lobbying answer in one form or another: the oil/mineral/whatzit industry gains political influence when its price is high and turns this into long-term political favors. If this is a semi-permanent feature of the political landscape, it is poorly understood and it ought to be possible to devise a set of institutions (to be determined since I haven't done the research yet and it'll be several years before I could get to it) to anticipate this and work around it.