May 1st, 2005


New York City

Got in around midnight Friday. Waited for the shuttle. Despite having booked in advance, they had no idea I was coming. Got to the Radisson Lexington, on 48th and Lex, as Amanda kept calling it. SHe met up with us at the hotel, and we went for food at some diner.

Saturday, Jason and I walked 5th Avenue, and the three of us visited the Museum of Modern Art. Very nice. Crowded, but nice. Lotta stuff I didn't like, but they had so much that even with liking less than a third of it, the collection was still impressive. I went back to the hotel and napped. Jason took the subway for one stop just to say he had.

We got all spiffy in black, then went to a fancy restaurant, Pompano's. Mexican seafood. Got some precious looks. Then cabbed to Albion for the show. Hung out with Darren pre-show, then enjoyed the music from up front for backandtotheleft. When Assemblage came on though, I bailed upstairs after 4 songs because there was a dead zone where I was crammed in for Tom's vocals. The club there is nice, but damn if their DJs didn't play the music extra loud. Everyone was dressed far more prettily than our clubs get. I kept thinking meat market but I can't for the life of me figure out how people actually talk to each other there at all. How do you pick someone up when it's that loud? Hand signals? That would be sweet! I wouldn't have to be funny or charming or interesting! Of course, I probably would need to be prettier. Also nice, New York City is non-smoking indoors. So instead of walking out of there smelling like cigarettes, I smelled like sweat! It was quite hot in there, And I danced.

Today, Jason and I walked up to Central Park. Amanda met us there. We hung out for a while. I took pictures of random passersby. Well, not completely random. Anything that struck me as interesting. People carrying dogs. Funny looking bikes. The particularly high-stepping jogger. That one probably won't show how funny-looking he was in still. Noted that there are a lot more Italian-Americans there. Also, a lot of people speaking French.

Flight back sucked somewhat, because we got the last row. THe one where the seats don't lean back at all. Lady in front of me tried to lean hers back and jammed my knees. I yelped and she moved her chair to the upright position. I did manage to get most of my homework done on the flights there and back. Get ready for massive posting!


Eco 200: technological backwardness

(group) The United States used wood in metallurgy long after the British had changed to coal. Was this evidence of technological backwardness in the United States? If the United States was technologically backward, how would you explain the fact that all sorts of machines for woodworking were perfected in the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century? Fireplaces are often said to be inefficient ways to heat a room. Why then were they so widely used in the United States in preference to stoves? (Hint: larger logs can be used in fireplaces.) Why did stoves become more popular as wood prices increased?

It depends on what one means by technologically backward. A population could use a technologically backward method because it is more economically efficient. Fireplaces are an technologically inefficient way to heat a room. More energy goes toward ends other than heating the room than with other means. However, it is economically efficient. Otherwise, the individuals who picked that method of heating would have chosen differently.

Again, I don't suppose this is the answer for which the author is looking. Reasoning being that the author spends a bunch of the beginning of the chapter telling us how the scientific definition of efficiency means nothing and is a worthless concept. We should use only an economic definition according to him. I suspect he views this problem similarly.


Eco 200: energy as the ultimate measure of value

(group) Some critics of U.S. agriculture argue that highly mechanized production techniques in farming are inefficient because the energy consumed by the machinery used to grow food exceeds the amount of potential energy available in the food that is grown. Does this argument make any sense? Is energy the ultimate measure of value?

Yes, it does. To those critics energy may be the ultimate measure of value. I suspect the author of the book does not, but those critics get to choose for themselves what they value.


Eco 200: bumper cars

(group) Is it efficient for cars to have bumpers so strong and heavy that the car will sustain no damage in collisions at speeds up to 5 miles per hour? How would you answer such a question if you were a car buyer? If you were an automobile manufacturer? If you were a federal official charged with setting minimum standards for automobile bumpers?

As a recent car buyer, I felt it was valuable to have a car with a strong bumper as parking in Seattle often entails vehicles "nudging" other vehicles. I'd rather have a car that sustains no damage because I do not want to replace my car if it were to fall apart at the slightest bump. An automobile manufacturer ultimately wants to sell more cars and parts. They will value a strong bumper if it sells more value in cars than a lack of it sells more value in replacement parts. By the same token, auto purchasers may value the lack of a strong bumper as more valuable if the cost of replacing parts over time is cheaper than the extra cost to include the bumper. Or if they don't have they money up front. Or if they don't know how fragile a car really is. Or if they assume the car is not fragile. The federal official's job is to value injuries above all else. So they value the lack of whiplash injuries at low speeds higher than the cost of bumpers. Especially since they are not purchasing all those bumpers.


Eco 200: scalping

(group) You find out in late December that you can make $10,000 on a business deal if you can gain the goodwill of a client by getting him two tickets to the Super Bowl game next month. You manage to buy two well-located seats from a scalper for $750. Were you cheated by the scalper? Or are you glad the scalpers exist? Why do so many people intensely dislike scalpers?

People intensely dislike scalpers because they often make a large profit for very little capital investment. In the case described above, I would not be cheated as I received much more in value than I paid for the tickets. Whether I am glad for the scalpers existence depends on how much I could have obtained the tickets for in their absence. Individual holders of the tickets might not have been so inclined to base their prices on opportunity cost.


Eco 200: gasoline hoarding

(group) In an article on hoarding in the United States in which a number of social scientists were quoted, a sociologist said that gasoline hoarding was not rational but rather a result of Americans' emotional stake in their cars. A historian said hoarding was an absolutely typical American trait. Some attributed hoarding to a "shortage psychosis," and others spoke of "panic buying." Another sociologist said that strong leadership was required to stop such "competitive behavior."

  1. How can we decide whether hoarding is irrational, psychotic, a national character trait, a product of emotion and panic, or an intelligent response to uncertainty.

    By looking at whether people's predictions on the future price of gasoline come true or not. If people hoard gasoline in a time of abundant gasoline, it's not particularly rational. Given that gasoline prices in the U.S. have generally fallen in constant dollars, hoarding makes little rational sense. Unless the hoarder intends to hold the gasoline for short term fluctuations or for the extreme long term (when petroleum is expected to become a lot more scarce).

  2. What is the difference between hoarding and maintaining an appropriate level of inventory?

    No difference based on the dictionary definitions of the word hoard: a supply or fund stored up and often hidden away.

  3. Why do both business firms and households maintain inventories? How do they decide on the proper level of inventories for particular goods?

    Both maintain inventories to hedge against expected price fluctuations. Also, both may maintain inventory because transaction costs may mean that purchasing goods only just prior to their use or in small amounts may result in higher expenditures versus the cost of storing the goods for future use.