He could straddle a goat and ride off into the sunset…

April 24, 2010



He could straddle a goat and ride off into the sunset…

Originally uploaded by Limbic

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Hello

January 24, 2010

Readers,

How are you? I am fine. I wanted to tell you a little bit more about my classes this semester and my academic history in general. I began Washington University in St. Louis a naïve high school graduate, with a 5 on an AP Economics exam and an interest in doing things I was good at (and liked, perhaps). So I enrolled in microeconomics during my first semester, and income and employment theory (macro 2) during my second. I hated both of these classes, and never declared what-I-thought-would-be an economics major. In fact, I vowed to never take another economics class again.

Then came junior year, and I needed a writing intensive credit, and thought hey, maybe I’ll eventually get an economics minor and get this requirement out of the way at the same time, so I took this economics class, Comparative Systems in Theory and Practice, that had a vague sounding name and an intriguing looking syllabus, and I hated it as well. Why do I dislike these economic classes with such fervor?

Well, for the most part, I think it’s because they don’t make sense! For basic, modern economics to work (not including behavioral economics, which might be more interesting but isn’t really an option anymore), so many ridiculously improbably assumptions have to be made–about consumer behavior, and the behavior of firms, about human nature itself. And I just couldn’t stomach it. To make matters worse, the discipline trudges along with its only recently questioned assumptions by applying large servings of math, calculus three, and silly looking graphs that certainly don’t represent the way I make purchasing decisions.

And in some ways, the discipline seems to acknowledge just how absurd it is. As I have finally decided to finish the economics minor this semester (only four credits away! keep your options open! philosophy and economics? what a team!), I’ve been presented with a new microeconomics text book that rehashes a belief in the same absurd assumptions — rational choice theory, among others — but also acknowledges that these simplifying assumptions may not always hold, which they’ll discuss in chapter 5. Despite this known ignorance, they claim that the basic workhorse of economics — this consumer choice theory — is pretty good at predicting the behavior of consumers in general. The benchmarks against which they match their success were absent from the text, and I’m not really inclined to take them on the strength of their word.

Anyway, I think I might continue to post to this blog complaints about the discipline of economics to make my semester a bit more bearable, and perhaps shake your confidence in the sanctity of that modern pseudo-science, Economics.

Winter

January 21, 2010

It’s unseasonably warm in St. Louis, and I am quite enjoying it. Aside from a splash of rain that swept through here today, the Lou has seen regular 40 degree days this week, which makes getting around not too painful–which has been especially, important, as this was the first week of classes of the last semester of my life as an undergraduate college student.

The week started off with a whimper, after a no class, MLK day on Monday, and then Tuesday, on which I have only one class for 1.5 hours. Wednesday was more tiring, when I have 6 hours of class, but then Thursday was good again, and included only Tuesday’s 1.5. Friday, Saturday and Sunday all carry no classes for me, only appointments at the squash court and other such entertainments/errands.

So, we’ll see how that goes. This may be my lightest semester yet at WUSTL, but I’m sure it won’t go without a challenge. As I have decided to finish a long forgotten economics minor, I should have to come to grips with some formulas, equations and partial derivatives that I thought I was all but done with. Never-mind, though, I think it will be entertaining, at the least, to model mathematically the world of perfect rationality that current economic teaching has us living in.

To fulfill what Washington University calls its “Writing Intensive” requirement, I am enrolled in a new class called Writing the Natural World, which may or may not be terrible. We spent the first class offering ambiguous adjectives to describe nature that the teacher then wrote on the board, leaving the class rather ill-defined and me a bit nauseous. I can appreciate a good word-scatter once in a while, but this was just so internally contradictory, and “collegey” in general that I thought I was at a liberal arts college–no offense, though.

North

January 8, 2010

From New Zealand to Miami, and now to St. Louis, I move north once again to finish my final semester of college. Nervous? Yes. Excited? Of course.

I have not so much new year’s resolutions as personal goals for this semester, which I hope to keep. As per my recent epiphany concerning the relationship between personal fulfillment and hanging out, I intend to do a lot of that during this last time-section of college. I intend to explore personal relationships more deeply and more broadly, and to more successfully balance a healthy academic life with a satisfying social one.

I will graduate from Wash. U with a major in philosophy and a minor in economics, with a passion for science and a desire to return to south america in some form. How I will combine these interests/qualifications is not immediately clear to me, but it is a daily task to which I hesitantly dwell, unsure of what the future holds.

Miami has been unseasonably cold, but surely more temperate than St. Louis will be, where lows have lately sat in the single digits. After so many months outside of the frigid midwest, I am hesitant again to shiver. But I will go, bravely 18.5 hours north, accompanied for 7 by a friend, and the remainder with only the company of a few audio books and some podcasts.

I have a new living arrangement with new roommates and a good friend who just returned from studying abroad in Hong Kong. I am quite looking forward to this reunion.

New Year

January 3, 2010

Playing poker, watching football. The new year has seen me stepping off my ivory tower and becoming more American.

Nothing Mostly

December 20, 2009

Just here in Miami, hanging out with high school friends and worrying about the future. Merry Christmas.

And you don’t have to be in New Zealand to have adventures

December 13, 2009

Well, as the title of this post describes, Miami can be an exciting place (as if any of your really doubted that in the first place). So, about two days ago me and my friend Jake and his girlfriend Rose went to a little pizza/pasta/fish shack, well-known, called Al Capone’s Flicker-Lite. I’m not sure what the history of that name should realistically suggest, but it is a kind of hicky, fish sandwich and tartar sauce, beer and open air seating kind of joint on the intracoastal waterway.

Anyway, so we’re seated there, legally ordering a pitcher of Blue Moon beer, and we get carded. I’ve been 21 in the United States for less than a month, so it’s still a treat to get carded, and I whip out my ID, checked and confirmed, with Jake and Rose following. Despite our mature looks and credible bits of identification, Rose manages to drop her ID (State of Illinois) below the table, through a crack in the planks of wood, and into the aforementioned intracoastal waterway. Oy gevalt.

Everyone wants to help. Too many people want to help. A (stupid) man with a boat pushes it further out into the intracoastal with a broom. Of course, we go swimming the next morning with goggles and bathing suits and remarkably find it, suffering only a few barnacle cuts on the way out. So Rose was saved, she can easily confirm her identity at the airport and at the clubs. And it was fun!

More words

December 11, 2009

I’ve been back in Miami for 19 days and to be quite honest, I haven’t thought about New Zealand that much. Of course, as the post study abroad pamphlets say, most of the time people won’t want to hear about your adventures, apart from a few “How was New Zealand?” from friends and family. And I think it’s good that way.

Anyway, despite a personal pledge to find gainful employment, I recently turned down a lucrative position at one Johnny Rocket’s South Beach, where I would have been a server. It was the last job interview I planned to do, and I didn’t think it would stick. But to my amazement, I was hired. Of course, to get the job (I think), I had to lie about how long I’d be home. This was troubling, especially with the prospect of an angry or awkward goodbye after only three weeks of work (which is pretty much all I could have provided), and to be honest, I didn’t really want the shlep. So I called it quits. Oh to lost opportunities!

I haven’t been completely shiftless, however. Recently, I’ve started tutoring a young high school student in Algebra II, which is rewarding personally and otherwise, and writing articles for the local SunPost. That and eating meals with my family, staying up late to browse the much faster internet that America has to offer, and petting my cats generally sums up my winter activities. I have designs to go camping with my friend Joe in about a month, and to observe the millennia old holiday of Hanukah, which starts tonight.

Happy Holidays,
Josh

Face

December 9, 2009

I am flossing and depilating regularly.

My Room

December 5, 2009

In my room, there are these memories.

There is a sticker on my bathroom door that says: “Security Area: Identification and Weapons Must Be Worn in This Area.” Also, above my door is a gold sign, and it reads: Reserved For The Master. My AOL screen name used to be MasterJ19, until my dad commandeered it because it was the master account. In my room, the wall paper is all fighter jets.

A corner of my room was once devoted to wrestling. There, I tacked magazine cut-outs of my favorite WWF stars. It was short lived, because it was ugly, but for some reason I think about it from time to time. I use it as a token memory to share with others when recalling childhood. I remember when I got a mirror in my room, to look at myself before going to school.

I have a white board/bulletin board in my room, and it says, and maybe will ever say: Call Hamal Tommorow, referring to a Herald editor I was trying to write for. There are dabs of white-out on my wooden window blinds–the whiteout where my sister accidentally left a permanent marker mark. On the floor, still, is the tile we got to replace the dusty carper that Dr. Simpsor, my pulmonologist, recommended we get rid of. In my closet, there are heaps of clothes that no longer fit.

There are some later additions. Things not necessarily the mark of a child. Old Bose speakers and stereo equipment. A newish TV. New concerns. The place where my headboard carved out a rectangle, because I insisted in sleeping against the wall. The broken light switch I snapped in half with a rubber band gun. Pictures of the first girl I ever danced with. (Danced! Who am I, Travolta?) There are floppy disks to data files I can no longer access.

There are my father’s Great Books of the Western World, which I started to read, or at least put in my room, when I first became concerned with knowledge. The still sticky square of blank wall behind my door where the wallpaper ran out.

The sound of the air conditioner that can still lull me to sleep. The fluorescent bed lamp that always fell down because it was mounted wrong. The matted pictures of cats, and speaker wire, and me writing about it all. Gas receipts and pictures of birthdays–the stuff of every day life.

There is me and then Me. There is the cooing baby of the past, and then time and then me now. The mother and father who raised him (me). Gone is the labrador retriever, but now there are cats.

And now there are sidewalks on the street and I know longer come home from high school. I no longer smash boxes of styrofoam on my friends head as if we were in the ring. I no longer do my math homework at the table or sleep in my parents bed. Everything is here, but everything is different. The boy that used to live here is gone. I’ve kidnapped him and used his body to sleep in different beds. Maybe somehow he’s back.