The Cost of Learning about Economics.

Check this out. Please.

Free lectures from great economists. Free.

Published in: on May 29, 2009 at 8:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

All You Fascists

Last night, in arguably the biggest match of ’09, Barcelona FC beat Manchester United 2-0, claiming the title Best Club in Europe.  The Champions League tournament rarely features the two best teams and seldom pits the world’s best two players against each other.  Last night, we had both.  Manchester United vs. Barcelona.

Christiano Ronaldo


Lionel Messi

Goliath vs. David. Cock of the walk, vs. quiet and humble.

I admire Ronaldo like crazy.  His 40+ yd bombs in the games leading up the Championship were incredible.  He is amazing.  He is also easy to hate.  In talking about being honored as player of the year last year, Ronaldo commented that he was the world’s first, second and third best player.

Messi is easy to love.  He’s short, fast, looks like a nerd, carries himself quietly off the field and is incredibly unpredictable with the ball.  He is almost as entertaining to watch as Ronaldinho was. For goodness sake, his nickname (La Pulga) is Spanish for the flea.

In 2007, Ronaldo was runner up in the Ballon D’or (European Footballer of the Year- this is soccer’s equivalent to MVP of the world) while Messi ranked 3rd in voting.  In 2008, Ronaldo was voted Footballer of the year, while Messi was runner up.  With his stats (38 goals in 51 appearances in Europe) and with Barcelona realizing the triple crown (winning the Spanish La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League, Messi is almost a shoe-in for the honor this year.

I  (like Jack Bell of the NYT) really wasn’t sure who to root for in this match.  As a youth, Manchester was my club.  Giggsy was awesome, and Cantona was a god.  I wore my collar up for several years in high school in homage.  A few years ago, I stumbled across the book, How Soccer Explains the World: An unlikely theory of globalization. It’s a must read for any soccer fan.  The book describes the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona FC.  Ever since, I have loved Barcelona.  Having Ronaldinho for a while there didn’t hurt.

Barcelona was born in 1899.  Their history is intriguing and can be found on wikipedia (what a useless sentence).  But, in a nutshell, Barcelona’s football club represented a force against the fascism that took over Spain under Franco’s dictatorship.  Sports and politics mix in Europe in ways that are hard to understand here.  Franco’s soldiers murdered the president of the club.  The fascists bombed Barcelona’s corporate offices.  Barcelona represented the spirit of a people who refused to be controlled by Franco’s fascist dictatorship.  Real Madrid stood for everything represented by Franco.

The match was wonderful.  Messi scored a brilliant goal.  Barcelona  won.  And I’d argue that the world won.  Sorry Manchester, I’ll root for you next time.  As long as you’re not playing the blaugrana.

Let Me Go Home.

LISTEN to this while you read if you’d like (Note: This is highly recommended)

Habitat for Humanity just received a gift of $100 million dollars, the largest single gift they have ever received (Link to the story).  When you think about housing, you probably think of Habitat.  It is certainly the most well known of housing organizations.  Powered by the sweat equity model, Habitat is an extremely effective way of providing home ownership to low and moderate income families across the world.

While I applaud Mr. Terwilliger’s (a real estate investor and developer) gift and generosity, it makes me think about some of the lessons we’ve all learned from the recent real estate crash.  While I support the mission of Habitat, it does not solve all the problems in the housing arena.  It is an extremely important piece of the puzzle, but so is affordable renting.  I think it has become clear that home ownership is not appropriate for all families.  The sub-prime and predatory lending that was so prevelant in the last decade has ruined a lot of lives and has contributed to our current economic debacle.  Unjustified risk-based pricing, discriminatory lending practices and issuances of single premium credit insurance has placed many low-income families in impossible situations.  The (collapse of the) securitization of the subsequent loans into mortgage backed securities on the other side has cost investors and banks untold billions.

The Caleb Foundation is a non-profit housing developing and management organization whose mission is to develop, preserve and manage rental communities so as to provide safe, decent housing to low and moderate income residents. The most current research on homelessness and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs both promote the housing first model for decreasing homelessness.  This model, as opposed to the the emergency shelter model, attempts to house families as quickly as possible in affordable rental housing, often assisting them to secure their own lease and make the initial payments.  Research suggests that for many people, this model yields more effective outcomes more efficiently (cheaper!)  (policy brief, abstract, other links).  While I have not conducted a thorough literature review on housing policy, and while it is clear that this model doesn’t work for everyone, it is becoming clear that there is a dire need for affordable rental housing.  Ownership is not for everyone and shelters don’t seem to be as effective as permanent housing.  In a time like this, the work of organizations like The Caleb Foundation is more necessary than ever before.

At The Caleb Foundation, we believe that peace, justice and familial development are predicated on the availability of a safe decent place that a family can call their own.  Housing research suggests that ownership is not the answer for everyone and homelessness research suggests that shelters are less effective than apartments at getting a family in homelessness up off their feet.  I believe that every family in this country should have their own safe decent place to call home.  Even the idea of home is central to the American dream.  However, this does not mean that families should buy a home they can not afford.  It does mean that organizations like The Caleb Foundation fill an extremely necessary gap in the answer to homelessness.

“I dream of a home up yonder, where loved ones are waiting for me… Oh Let me Go Home, yeah, I wanna Go Home”

God Only Knows

When I meet new people, I like to ask them to make lists of things.  What’s your five favorite movies? Three funniest things that ever happened to you? Top ten bands?  The funny thing is that everytime someone turns the question back to me, I hate answering it.  It’s like that part in High Fidelity (I think it’s only in the book) where he realizes that the top five list he gave the reporter just wasn’t right.  Here’s my current*  five favorite albums.   They link to my favorite track from each album.

Dark Was the Night– Compilation

Vampire Weekend– Vampire Weekend

Have a Ball– Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s

Josh Ritter–  The Animal Years

For Emma, Forever Ago– Bon Iver

Notable Mention: Pet Sounds (Summer is coming, after all)

*Note: I reserve the right to change these at a moment’s notice.   They will most likely be different tomorrow.

Here’s a bonus list (short but sweet) of some of my favorite youtube (some official, some unofficial) music videos.


Published in: on May 18, 2009 at 9:13 pm  Comments (2)  
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Mr. Big Stuff.

Know thyself.  In The Republic, Plato uses the parable of the cave to discuss knowing who oneself is.  Basically, the allegory discusses a bunch of folks who live in a cave.  The only image they have of themselves is that of their shadow on the wall of the cave.  He discusses how the folks in the cave beging to view themselves based on the images of their own shadows.   He then discusses how the philosopher has a view that encompasses reality. Plato thought that the physical did not emcompass reality, but that they were reflections or shadows of the real “Forms”.

I recently read “Victory Over the Darkness” by Neil Anderson.  This book has the worst title ever.  It took me awhile to get past it and actually start reading it.   I’d actually recommend it to any Christian.  The first half of the book lays a doctrinal answer to the question, “Who am I?”  The second half of the book is a practical application and implementation of that knowledge to your life.  In the second chapter, Anderson goes through the New Testament and pulls out a list that “itemizes in first-person language who you really are in Christ.” Below is a sample of that list.  A couple of months ago I started praying through this list.  This was surprisingly hard.  I’ve always had a hard time accepting compliments.  But lately I’ve realized that even worse, I’ve barely been able to acknowledge my own strengths, or even spiritual truths about myself.  Here are some spiritual trusts about what it means to be a Christian.

So, I’ve been trying to get to know myself again. I’ve been drawing a new understanding of who I am in Christ.  It’s like I don’t have to look at the shadows that Satan presents about who we are.  God is like the philosopher who understand the real form of who we are.

Who do you think you are?  In Christ…

I am the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13)

I am the light of the world (Matt. 5:14)

I am a child of God (John 1:12)

I am part of the true vine, a channel of Christ’s life (John 15:1,5)

I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15)

I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit (John 15:16)

I am a slave of righteousness (Romans 6:18)

I am enslaved to God (Romans 6:22)

I am a child of God; God is spiritually my Father (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 3:26)

I am a joint heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance (Rom. 8:17)

I am a temple- a dwelling place- of God (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19)

I am united to the Lord and am one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17)

I am a new Creation (2 Cor. 5:17)

I am reconciled to God and am a minister of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5: 18, 19)

I am a saint (Eph. 1:1, 1 Cor. 1:2; Phil. 1:1)

I am God’s workmanship- born again to do his work (Eph. 2:10)

I am a fellow citizen with the rest of God’s family (Eph. 2:19)

I am righteous and holy (Eph. 4:24)

I am a citizen of heaven (Phil. 3:20)

I am chosen of God; holy and dearly loved (Col 3:12; 1 Thess. 1:4)

I am a son of light and not of darkness (1 Thess. 5:5)

I am a holy partaker of a heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1)

I am one of God’s living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:9,10)

I am an enemy of the devil (1 Pet. 5:8)

I am born of God and the devil cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)

Anderson encourages Christians to ignore the shadows of who we are that are presented by Satan.  I would encourage us to also ignore the shadows created by our media, our friends and our society.  Take some time in silence and solitude to think about who you really are.   Acknowledge the above list through prayer every day for two weeks. Try it.  Know Thyself… as God knows you. Come on. Have an answer prepared in case someone wants to know who do you think you are.

Published in: on May 18, 2009 at 1:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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Goose Blues.

This, my friends, is pure comic genius.


Published in: on May 11, 2009 at 4:54 pm  Leave a Comment