August 14th, 2006

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World of Warcraft demise?

I haven't played World of Warcraft since last Wednesday. Just haven't felt the desire to do so. I think I may be done with it. This happens to me with just about every video game that I play. I get into a game very infrequently. When I do, I'll play it for a while. A lot. Then, it's not like I get bored of it, I just lose interest. And then I'm done. Doom, Red Alert, Team Fortress Classic. The pattern is the same.

So in any case, now I have two level 60 characters that are probably going to be played very rarely and it's somewhat of a shame because I've become pretty decent of a player.

However, Jason will be happy. He didn't like me playing. I think he looks at it like I look at LARPing.
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Coaches and line-ups in sports

Other than the Seattle Mariners, I don't follow sports too closely. I'll turn on the occasional Seahawks or Monday Night Football game. Sometimes I'll watch an N.B.A. game. However, I read ESPN.com nearly every day. Mostly for baseball news, but I check other stories as well.

Today I'm reading a story on Matt Leinart's refusal to sign a contract with the Cardinals. And it has a comment from the coach, Dennis Green. The quote mentions that Green has been with the Cardinals for two years. And my first thought is But wasn't it just last month that Dennis Green was making a big deal about buying the Vikings and then getting fired when they brought in a new owner instead of letting Green put together the deal? There's this weird phenomena I seem to have of compressing the subjective time between mentions of where a coach or sports star plays. Another example: Junior Seau is retiring… from the Miami Dolphins. He played for San Diego for years. Somewhere I missed that he moved to the Dolphins. That part doesn't bug me. What bugs me is that he's been with the Dolphins for three years. Three years and it never registered on my brain?? Two years that Green has been with the Cardinals and it hasn't registered? Has it really been 5 years since Aikman was with the Cowboys? Whooosh! That's the sound of lots of sports information going right over my head.
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Macroeconomics

Y'all may want to get your scroll bars handy. Last year I signed up for a macroeconomics class but it was cancelled. After I had purchased the book. So I vowed to do the classwork anyway, via self-directed study, since I had the book. Well, laziness and work drama set in, and I didn't get very far. However, given that I have free time now, I'm starting in earnest. This means I will be using this space to work through the problem sets in Principles of Macroeconomics like I did for my Microeconomics class last year. Feel free to comment with your own answers or just disagree with mine or scroll or unfriend or whatever suits your fancy.

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Indistinguishable products

One common assumption in economics is that the products of different firms in the same industry are indistinguishable. For each of the following industries, discuss whether this is a reasonable assumption.

  1. steel
  2. novels
  3. wheat
  4. fast food

steel
I would think that one bar of steel is pretty much like any other bar of steel, so this assumption would be true in the case of the steel industry. The one wrench to throw into this is that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office these days allows all sorts of obvious inventions to be patented. So a slight variation on a common process might be patented allowing differences in product to persist. However, even with that, i can't imagine that there is much difference in steel for most common uses. Perhaps in some specialized fields.
novels
Even Star Trek® novels are easily distinguishable from each other, in wording if not in plot and interest.
wheat
Wheat is a commodity. One bushel of wheat is indistinguishable from another.
fast food
The premise of fast food is that a Big Mac® is the same wherever you go in the U.S. Now, another brand's burger is going to have some differences, but they will be minor. The primary difference is in the branding, not the burgers themselves. Still fast food is more unique than wheat is.
School

A peace dividend

I'll only be answering the last part of this question directly.

Imagine a society that produces military goods and consumer goods, which we'll call guns and butter.

  1. Draw a production possibilities frontier for guns and butter. Explain why if most likely has a bowed-out shape.
  2. Show a point that is impossible for the economy to achieve. Show a point that is feasible but inefficient.
  3. Imagine that the society has two political parties, called the Hawks (who want a strong military) and the Doves (who want a smaller military). Show a point on your production possibilities frontier that the Hawks might choose and a point the Doves might choose.
  4. Imagine that an aggressive neighboring country reduces the size of its military. As a result, both the Hawks and the Doves reduce their desired production of guns by the same amount. Which party would get the bigger peace dividend, measured by the increase in butter production? Explain.

The graph is bowed outward because of specialization. Some people and resources are best suited toward producing guns, some toward butter. If the folks who are better at making butter are instead making guns, they will be making fewer guns per person (or per resource). Their productivity on the production of guns will be much less. Moving on to the last part, the amount of butter the Doves will be producing in this economy will likely be using all the people who are best at making butter. So reducing the number of guns produced means that people who are better suited to making guns will now be making butter. But less of it per person than those already making butter. On the other hand, the Hawks will likely have some folks better suited to making butter making guns. So long as they allocate the right people, if they reduce gun production by the same amount as in the Dove scenario, they will be moving people who are more productive at butter production (compared to the Doves allocation at least) to butter production. So they'll get more butter in exchange for the guns given up. However, there will be a lot of leftover guns.