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November 27, 2006

Economic thinking

It's hard to resist an article with a lead like this: "There’s a case to be made that the single most intellectually and politically influential neighborhood in the United States is Chicago’s Hyde Park."

And it's a strong case, too -- Hyde Park is home to the BonJour Cafe's delicious belgian rolls, which have been winning the whole world over with their yummy goodness. But this article, surprisingly, is really about the Chicago School of economic thought, which has made the world's elite its bitch.

Fortunately, this isn't another paean to the ideological yumminess of free markets. Instead, the author says, "[f]or Thomas Friedman (and, indeed, [University of Chicago economics professor] Allen Sanderson), people can’t “disagree” with neo-classical economics. They can only fail to understand it." Which is the pithiest way of criticizing the Chicago school that there is.

All in all, this is a good read. Even if I am tired as all get-out from a long ER shift, and with sore feet to boot.

November 15, 2006

The light dims, the bears sleep, there's Christmas music on the radio again...

Here in Chicago, the bright sunny days of summer have gone away -- as they should -- and another season of darkness, cold, wind, and (any day now!) snow has arrived. Also as it should. It's been this way every year for, I don't know, longer than any of us have been around.

And yet I dread it. There's something about your alarm clock going off in the dark, about dressing in the morning under the same lamplight that you read your book by last night before reluctantly giving up the day and going to bed, about heading to the hospital through the cold dark, about glimpsing the gray dawn on your hurried way past a rare hospital window, about not being able to leave the hospital before the daylight is gone. The joys of winter -- fluffy snow, brightly lit coffee shops, curling up with a hot cocoa and a good book -- are tough to arrange on an intern's schedule. Not that the joys of summer weren't also elusive on this schedule, but somehow it wasn't as consequential. Q4 call in July isn't as depressing as q4 in January.

To pass the time these next few months with quick wit and style rather than with dull grunts and vacant stares, I've decided that I need a new project. Since I'm not driving the bus when it comes to my residency schedule, I need to be when it comes to the time that's all mine.

So what should I do? Learn to read Latin? Write a persuasive defense of agrarianism against the common charge that it's illiberal and regressive?

Any thoughts?