19 Days To Go: The Late Great Paul Samuelson

180px-Paul_SamuelsonThe greatest living economist has passed away.

This statement is not intended as a subjective judgment of the accuracy of his theories or my opinion of his political views, though both rank very high. It is simply a fact that no economist since John Maynard Keynes has been so influential (and indeed, though Keynes’s theories were more groundbreaking, Samuelson’s may have inspired more intellectual output).

I wish I had the time or the insights to wish him a proper farewell, but alas I am deep in the second draft of my book and would probably have little to add to the many eulogies that will come from across the academic world (for example, Real Time Economics has a smattering of economist reactions). The New York Times has a deservedly long article celebrating his major achievements. I encourage you to read it all.   Continue reading “19 Days To Go: The Late Great Paul Samuelson”

34 Days To Go: Look Around You

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.” — Love Actually (2003)

Continuing our meditation on the true meaning of Christmas, famed author Mitch Albom has a heartwarming story in today’s column, concluding with his definition of the Christmas message: “All we really have to do is look out for one another, help fix each other’s holes, and the miraculous can be an everyday thing.” To find out what he means by “fix each other’s holes,” read the column here.

From anecdote to data, we shift gears to psychologist Thomas Plante whose recent research shows that giving and helping others not only makes you more compassionate but improves your well being and stress management. Read about that experiment here.

“I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never be conquered.  The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man’s meaning.” — Russian writer Vasily Grossman

Quote of the Day: Leonard Pitts, Jr.

I’m still catching up on my reading, so this quote is over a week old. It’s from one of my favorite writers—the one who inspired me to become an op-ed columnist, in fact. In this paragraph, he’s speaking to African-American women, as part of a larger article based on Chris Rock‘s recent documentary Good Hair. Here it is, your quote of the day:

I am your brother, your father, your husband and your son. I’ve seen you in church with big hats on, giving children the evil eye. And at the jail on visiting day, shoring up that wayward man. And at the bus stop in the rain on your way to work. And at the dining table with pen and paper, working miracles of money. When I was a baby, you nursed me, when we were children, I chased you through the house; when we were dating, I missed half the movie, stealing sugar from you. I saw you born; I took you to your prom; I glowed with pride when you went off to school. I have married you and buried you. I love your smile. A million times, you took my breath away.