Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Hat is Dead 

Well, I thought I'd make it official although this post is several months overdue. I enjoyed starting The Hat, but Sabernomics took over my life. Blogging is a strange thing. You don't know what you are going to be blogging about until you get into it. It turns out that the blogoshpere didn't need another policy blog. The Hat just didn't have a niche in this area, though I enjoyed it. However, the baseball/sports stuff seemed to attract an audience, which is why I began and continue to run Sabernomics.

The Hat will remain as long as Blogspot remains, but I do not plan to make any more posts here. Who knows, the Hat may rise again. But for now, it will remain as it is. Thanks to all of my readers (both of you) and apologize for cutting things short.

Tight lines,


Friday, April 09, 2004

Hindsight is 20/20 

Here is a brilliant piece of hypothetical history from Gregg Easterbrook on what would have happened if the Bush administration had done what Richard Clarke and many Democrats claim, now, that it should have done when it took office.

Trends in Grade Inflation 

I ran into this website thanks to a link at The Chronicle for Higher Education site. The trend is disturbing.

No wonder one school is fining professors for giving out too many As. Also, Princeton has put a cap on the number of As professors can give.


Wednesday, April 07, 2004

More Advice about Econ Grad School 

Craig Newmark at Marginal Revolution has some more good advice for graduate school in economics.

You also may be interested in my guide to graduate school in economics.


Sewanee in The Tennessean 

There is an interesting article in The Tennessean about Sewanee's image modification. I think the article is misleading. My impression is that the name change had NOTHING to do with the loosening our affiliation with misguided southern stereotypes. I sat in on several of the meetings where outside consultants encouraged us to play up our being in the South. It was the insiders who wanted to play down the southern image. The consultants responded that unless we plan to move up north there is no use in fighting that fight. Clearly, the writer is quoting from one of two reports on the issue, so he is not making it up. But this was not the one of the main reasons for the change.

Here is the deal. Our name is The University of the South. Most people in "the South" call us Sewanee. Even our letterhead says Sewanee. This is very confusing. So now we are using the name Sewanee: The University of the South. I don't understand why this is so upsetting to people. It is just formalizing and informal name of the school to help outsiders understand that Sewanee and The University of the South are one in the same.


Friday, April 02, 2004

My How We've Grown 

Tyler links to an interesting post on changes in the US since 1904. This is particularly interesting to me since my grandfather was born during that year. The numbers are staggering, particularly the life-expectancy of 47. I think it is truly amazing how much the living conditions of my family have changed in just two generations. It makes me gasp at what my daughter's children will have in 2073 (when I will be 100).


Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Trump on Socrates 

Enjoy a taste of Dan Ackman’s hilarious review of Donald Trump’s new biography Trump: How to Get Rich (Note: I refuse to provide a link to this book) from the Tuesday March 30, 2004 WSJ:

Who among us -- ex-wives, former mistresses and spurned business partners excepted -- does not love The Donald? He first entered our world, and allowed us into his, more than 20 years ago, and he has never left. Now the idea of Donald J. Trump not being around seems difficult to imagine. Mr. Trump always saves us the trouble of having to try.

Mr. Trump tells his readers that they should budget quiet time: For Mr. Trump it's between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m., when he reads seven newspapers and catches up on the dozen magazines he receives daily. He also says that you should read books a lot. Mr. Trump does it "in the evening, after a black tie dinner," while munching pretzels. He enjoys biographies. But "now and then I like to read about philosophers -- particularly Socrates, who emphasizes you should follow the convictions of your own conscience, which basically means thinking for yourself, a philosophy I tend to agree with."

The book reads as if it had been dictated in the back of a limousine on the way to a helicopter, which is exactly what you'd want from a Trump production.

Should you read this book? You could read Socrates instead, but he was never as rich as Mr. Trump and not as much fun.


Advice to Econ Graduate Students 

Fellow GMU alum and now GMU professor Alex Tabarrok gives some excellent advice to graduate students in an interview with Crescat Sententia.

If you go to graduate school be prepared to be bored for at least the first two years. After that it gets much more interesting. And believe it or not the boring stuff will help you to do the fun stuff. (And the boring stuff becomes a lot more fun when it turns out to be useful!) Sure, it's overdone at most places but math and hard-core empirical work have their place.

Intuition is a tricky thing because most of our intuitions are wrong. For most of us, it's only by training ourselves on the boring stuff that we develop good intuitions which we can then use to blog!

Sobering advice, but still excellent.


Why are Gas Prices so High? 

It is not just OPEC (as Bill pointed out) or greedy oil companies, but environmental regulations. Well, I suspect there is a good chance oil companies have had a hand in supporting these regulations (see Russell Roberts's post on Bruce Yandle's Bootleggers and Baptists hypothesis). Skip has a good post on this, and he is pessimistic about the chances for a fall in gasoline prices anytime soon.


Monday, March 29, 2004

High Concept Comedy 

On Monday nights Letterman show, Dave presented the following high concept comedy piece - have 1999 Nobel Prize winner for Economics Robert Mundell come out and tell old Jeff Foxworthy “You might be a redneck” jokes. Throughout the entire hour, Dave called on Mundell to tell old chestnuts like:

If you only have one tooth, you might be a redneck.
If you call your sister mom, you might be a redneck.
If you’re too drunk to fish, you might be a redneck.

Brilliantly applied comedic theory! It could only have been improved if they had included my favorite redneck joke “If you job requires you to wear a shirt with your name on it, you might be a redneck” and also if they could have somehow gotton James Buchanan, who is from Alabama, to participate instead of the Canadian Munndell.

Up to this point, whenever I have told someone I am an economist, they reacted with mix of confusion and mild disgust. After this comedy bit, the public’s perception of economists can only improve, although we may get called on to occasionally tell a redneck joke, which I know will be no problem for myself or JC.


Wisdom from Thomas Sowell 

Here are a couple “Random Thoughts” from the great Thomas Sowell:

It is almost impossible to go to a shopping mall these days without seeing some teenage girl's navel. There was a time when a guy was not likely to see a girl's navel except on some more memorable occasion than a visit to a mall.

I don't want to give false hope to anyone with medical problems. But I remember a doctor telling me, after the end of my finger had been smashed by a powerful machine and looked like hamburger: "I will try to save your finger but you should never expect to see a fingernail there again." Six months later, a fingernail began to grow back


Introducing Sabernomics 

For those of you who have been following Old Fishinghat from the early days, you have certainly noticed a change in the content of my posts. While my tone remains bitter and sarcastic (like Bill), my main topic of interest has been baseball (unlike Bill). Therefore, I decided to create a new weblog for my baseball studies and commentary.

I am happy to announce the start of Sabernomics: a weblog dedicated to economic thinking about baseball. If you are a regular reader of this site, then you know what to expect. If this interests you, please visit the new site. I have transferred many posts from the Hat over to Sabernomics to get it started -- I always hate it when new weblogs start with just that first post.

What does this mean for Old Fishinghat? Not much. Bill and I will still be posting plenty of commentary.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Private Stadiums are Profitable 

Doug Pappas and Baseball Primer discuss a study by Marc Poitras (GMU alum) and Larry Hadley that shows privately funded baseball stadiums can turn a profit.

In their study, the researchers took into account team performance, ticket prices, the honeymoon period of a new stadium, stadium capacity and player salaries. With the first season in a typical $268 million stadium expected to produce about $33 million, half the cost of construction would be recovered in five years and all of the cost in 12 years, the study said. After 20 years, revenues would exceed construction costs by more than $100 million and by $200 million after 30 years, the study said.


The Old Fishinghat Revealed 

Q: Why is this weblog, which is mostly about baseball economics, named "Old Fishinghat?"

A: Here is a picture of this site's namesake.

WWW http://fishinghat.blogspot.com
OFH Studies

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