Mankiw, thank you for making parenthetical notes about yourself in your textbook

Why do Harvard kids head to Wall Street? (Ezra Klein)

Opinion and Discussion about the future of R. (The Julia Group/AnnMaria)

When at eight-twenty on Thursday morning my phone alarm played the purposely annoying music to which I start each morning, I made the executive decision of making it a ‘sleep in’ day.  I had not been sleeping well.  In the end, you have to appreciate that your body provides you feedback about its health and needs independent of the schedule of other commitments in life, e.g. classes.  I felt really good when I woke up at one.

I wish I had the data for this, but my absenteeism from classes last semester at Iowa significantly exceeded my absenteeism from classes here in London, which has been close to nil.  It really is a major problem to miss class here when your two-hour lecture and one-hour seminar happen back-to-back in one marathon session one day of the week.  In the same vein, studies have shown that in the EU, the major correlate of work force absenteeism is sick leave benefits.

Later that day, it occurred to me what a minor miracle it is that the major states of the world recognize the same days of the week.  This thought came to me as I was listening to an audio lesson about the pillars of Islam tell me about the observance of Friday as a special day of prayer and spiritual gathering–and although observance to the degree of not participating in commerce varies, it would seem you could avoid the potential conflict by making all of the Sabbath-type days coincide globally.  (Yeah, in retrospect this is sounding just a little bit stupid.)  The seven day week article in Wikipedia looks like promising reading, something to earmark for future procrastination usage.

Students in London seem to study a lot.  (However, upon further reflection I should note that students in the U.S. also study quite a bit, and maybe I’m just late to that party.)  But students here seem to study things more thoroughly as well, though, e.g. a second-year economics student I was speaking to is reading her second econometrics course right now.  I did in fact feel inadequate.  It’s impossible for the contrarian to reply with the real analysis and econometrics requirements of, e.g. The University of Chicago’s undergraduate economics course, because London Met is certainly not top tier among British universities.  You must award merit to the British educational system, A levels and such, for producing students competent in the subjects they are reading.  At the University of Iowa, a perfectly competent institution whose graduate students land teaching positions at top economics programs, you can earn an undergraduate BA in economics without taking calculus.  Friends, economists, countrymen–that is just insane.  How can you have an economics graduate who can’t do calculus…that’s like an English teacher who still needs his mom to read Green Eggs and Ham out loud at story time; who has to TiVo Sesame Street episodes so he can watch them on repeat for comprehension.

I don’t understand people who tell me they love to read, but just “don’t have time to read for pleasure” during the year.  In general I feel, as Nicholas Serota does, that art is “a necessity and not a luxury”.  What would my life be without Jorge Luis Borges’ Fictions?  Less rich, that’s what.  How can you not love a story which starts

I recall him (though I have no right to speak that sacred verb–only one man on earth did, and that man is dead) holding a dark passionflower in his hand, seeing it as it had never been seen, even had it been stared at from the first light of dawn till the last light of evening for an entire lifetime.

Jacques Derrida I find less essential, but his essay “On Forgiveness” is much better than his essay “On Cosmopolitanism”, perhaps because he is tilling infinitely richer ground in applying his theory of forgiveness to the anthropology of Abrahamic religions and the modern political need to reconcile states or people groups between which there has been great recent violence.

Really everyone should read Borges, study calculus, and sleep until their bodies are happy.

Saturday morning means more happy, beautiful religious singing at gospel choir.  Modern Christianity allying itself with a fun and uplifting musical tradition: well played, my friends, well played.

2 Responses to “Mankiw, thank you for making parenthetical notes about yourself in your textbook”
  1. M. says:


    Link me to the “Why Do Harvard Kids Head to Wall Street?” article? I am curious.

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