John Irons's Blog


Economic News, Data and Analysis


“Why throw money at problems? That is what money is for.”
-Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake

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Yikes – Media version


Grasping Reality with Both Hands: Brad DeLong’s Semi-Daily Journal: Why Oh Why Can’t We Have a Better Press Corps? (Los Angeles Times/Joel Stein Edition)
Why Oh Why Can’t We Have a Better Press Corps? (Los Angeles Times/Joel Stein Edition)

Joel Stein: Have something to say? I don’t care – Los Angeles Times: Not everything should be interactive. A piece of work that stands on its own, without explanation or defense, takes on its own power. If Martin Luther put his 95 Theses on the wall and then all the townsfolk sent him their comments, and he had to write back to all of them and clarify what he meant, some of the theses would have gotten all watered down and there never would have been a Diet of Worms…

But… But… But… But…
Luther did put his 95 theses on the wall. And he asked for everybody interested to send him comments. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther mailed his theses to Pope Leo X, the Archbishop of Mainz, his friends, and scholars at other universities besides Wittenberg. He probably posted them on the Castle Church door as well–the standard way of advertising a theological event. He asked readers to come to Wittenberg to discuss and debate his theses, and if they could not do so, to debate him by letter.
Here’s Martin Luther:

Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences: Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.

In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (1) Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance…
I don’t know what I’m going to say in fifty years when my great-grandchildren ask me, “Great-grandpapa, what were newspapers?” Perhaps: “Well, they were big buildings located in cities, where managers paid people to be ignorant and write about things they did not understand…”

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Internets: Not Truck, Tubes

From a poster on YouTube… Ted Stevens remix.

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From Sawicky…

MaxSpeak, You Listen!: CAPTION CONTEST

My entry: “Igor, bring me the brain!”
Posted by max at July 8, 2006 04:17 PM

In knew this looked familiar…

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Random Useful Tip

This makes a huge difference… give it a shot….

TaxProf Blog
I Can See Clearly Now
Forgive the non-tax content, but I thought I would pass along a cool tip from Walter Mossberg, the Wall Street Journal’s tech guru. You can dramatically improve the clarity of text on your computer by activating a hidden feature in Windows XP called “ClearType”:
* Right-click and select “Properties”
* Select the tab “Appearance” and press the “Effects …” button
* Check the box “Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts” and select “ClearType” in the drop-down list
* Click on “OK” and then press “Apply”
I made this change on both my desktop and laptop, and the results are stunning.

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News flash… CNN to broadcast actual news…

It’s about time…

In Jacko’s Wake – Newsweek National News –
Now Klein says he’s taking steps so that CNN doesn’t have to go wacko for Jacko, or someone like him, again. Seven months into his tenure, Klein is making revolutionary changes at the cable network—scrapping signature broadcasts like “Crossfire” and “Inside Politics,” shaking up his morning-show ensemble and his prime-time producing staff, and creating a new international news show at noon. These are only the first steps in a broad overhaul plan aimed at getting the pioneering and once dominant cable news network out of a seemingly perennial second-place finish, far behind Fox News. His unorthodox, even heretical game plan: serious news that doesn’t put viewers to sleep. “There’s a palpable thirst out there for the broad scope of stories if they’re told in a compelling way,” Klein says.
Klein has moved aggressively to make CNN’s prime-time producers shift their focus to longer, more-polished pieces, eventually creating a sort of “60 Minutes” every night. It’s an art he knows personally: for two decades he worked as producer at CBS and, as the network’s executive vice president, he oversaw its prime-time programming. Forever roaming the halls and popping in on —producers, he’s transformed CNN culture—news meetings are now singularly focused on finding characters and discussing storytelling technique. In the past, CNN was plagued by a bumbling media image. Klein has imposed strict message discipline and many staffers refused to talk on the record about the network for fear of losing their jobs. Privately, though, many staffers express discontent with the new regime, saying it’s not possible to make “60 Minutes”- style pieces on a limited budget and tight time constraints. The ratings have yet to pro-vide consolation: in May CNN averaged only 610,000 viewers in prime time, still well above third-place finisher (and NEWSWEEK strategic partner) MSNBC, but still far below Fox’s 1,401,000 viewers. CNN officials say they have numbers to be proud of, pointing to strong improvement in the key 25-to-54 demographic and a powerful performance by the brand name when CNN’s numbers are combined with those of its sister network, Headline News. That network has improved dramatically in the ratings thanks almost entirely to its legal-affairs program hosted by Nancy Grace. Last Thursday, Grace drew 804,000 viewers, more than any CNN prime-time program save for “Larry King Live.”

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Brad DeLong brings back memories. I spent a very nice summer in Berkeley taking a computer science course and an economics course; spending the majority of my time at La Strata — arguably the best place in the world to drink a cappuccino in August.

Brad DeLong’s Semi-Daily Journal (2004): a Weblog
Summer in Berkeley
It is 3 P.M. on an August day at the coffeehouse La Strada, at the corner of Bancroft and College. The sun is shining. The espresso machines are humming–Italian technology being operated by Spanish-speaking immigrant workers processing water from the Sierra Nevadas, milk from Marin County, and a ground-up roasted bean originally from Ethiopia now grown in Central America under shade canopies by small farmers interested in sustainable agriculture. It is a beautiful day.
The overhead heat lamps are on.
I repeat that: the overhead heat lamps are on to take the chill out of the air, so that we can comfortably sit in the sun, sip our coffee, and discuss the Great Intellectual Issues.

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Brookings Plagiarised by US Government!

Oh my – they didn’t think anyone would notice?

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: April 18, 2004 – April 24, 2004 Archives
Compare and contrast the CPA Website with that of the Brookings Institution.
Who knew Strobe’s influence still stretched so far?
Actually, a quick look under the hood of each site shows that either the CPA or Brookings snagged the other outfit’s website and remodeled it as their own.
The presence of this line (“submenu name=”Brookings Review” id=”brs” url=”/press/review/rev_des.htm”) buried in the code of both websites seems to give a pretty good sign of who did the deed.
Now if they’d just crib the policy proposals and not just the html!
Oh, the Humanity!

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Moving on…

As many of you know, for the past year I have been on sabbatical leave from my assistant professor position in the economics department at Amherst College. I have been spending my time down in the DC area getting some reading and writing done, running ArgMax, and hanging out with my new fiance, Jessica.
I have recently decided to resign from Amherst College and stay down in the DC area on a permanent basis. I highly recommend the economics department at Amherst both to economists on the job market as well as potential Amherst students. The faculty and staff at Amherst were a pleasure to work with.
Most importantly, the outstanding students at Amherst made it a pleasure to teach. For those that have not taught at the undergraduate level, bright economics students – especially at the introductory level – are very good at keeping you on your toes. They tend to question every assumption and force you to truly understand the material you teach. I think I might have learned as much economics as I taught in most of my courses.
So, what am I up to now? I have recently started a new job at a DC Policy organization called OMB Watch, which is a well-respected nonprofit research, educational, and advocacy organization here in DC that focuses on budget issues, regulatory policy, nonprofit advocacy, access to government information, and other issues involving the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). If you’re in the DC area you might spot me with a pair of binoculars “watching” OMB.
Officially, my title is: “Senior Economic Research and Policy Analyst; and staff Economist.” (Pretty fancy, eh?) I will be working with the budget group analysing federal budget and tax issues, advocating responsible economic policy, as well as bringing an economist’s perspective to some of the other work done here.
I’ve been called crazy for giving up a cushy tenure-track faculty position, but I feel that this is the right move for me right now. So far, it’s been a huge, and welcome, change in pace from the academic lifestyle (hey, isn’t summer supposed to be a vacation?); but I am very much looking forward to take a more active role in policy debates and policy advocacy.
Anyway, despite the fact that I now have an honest 9 to 5 job, I will continue to follow the economy and update ArgMax as time permits. You can probably expect even more macroeconomic policy (especially fiscal) as that will be what I am working on everyday.

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Valentine’s Day

I’ve been meaning to announce some personal news on this site for some time. And I think Valentine’s Day is the perfect time.
Last November, I was engaged to the intelligent, beautiful, and kind Ms. Jessica Bay Jones. We’re scheduled to be married this coming September!
We’ve set up an Irons-Jones Wedding WebSite.
Anyone know any good wedding-planning books?
Happy Valentine’s Day!

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