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Essays from earlier days...(17 posts)

Essays from earlier days...sctri
Nov 7, 2002 11:16 PM
What were some of your more memorable topics and experiances(fondly or otherwise) from university/college/school?

this is comming on the heels of my remaining awake most of the night to complete a term paper on "how the potato got to Ireland"....

good times, bad planning, but good times...

I dunno...i was really drunk at the time (nm)ColnagoFE
Nov 8, 2002 7:24 AM
Artificial Intelligence: A contradiction in terms?Eager Beagle
Nov 8, 2002 8:26 AM
a brief topic - easily sorted in a coupla sides of A4...
Hyperinflation in post-WWI Germanymohair_chair
Nov 8, 2002 9:21 AM
That was one of the most interesting papers I ever wrote. Lots of economic theory comes alive when the inflation rate hits 1 x 10^23. The velocity of money is astronomical (the velocity of money is how fast it changes hands). People would get money and try to spend it immediately, because if you didn't, it would lessen in value overnight. No savings accounts, obviously! Shops closed at lunch to raise the prices. Eventually, money becomes worthless and a barter economy takes over. Companies start paying their employees in commodities like sugar and flour. A false boom erupts as companies borrow funds to retool their factories, knowing that the loan will become worthless in a matter of weeks. Fascinating stuff. The worst year was 1923, at the end of which a young man tries to start a revolution. Anyone want to guess his name? He went to jail and wrote a famous book, and later he led the country.

I'll have to dig that one out and read it again!
U.S. Representative's social and career history vs. death penaltjtkirk15
Nov 8, 2002 9:35 AM
I wrote a paper a couple of years ago that through econometrics attempted to explain why a U.S. Representative would be for or against the death penalty. It was a stretch to find a bill that dealt with the death penalty but after finding one and granting that their vote reflected their capital punishment sentiments, I began looking into their past. I looked at things such as party affiliation, religion, age, marital status, children, etc., but also the district they represent: education, poverty level, crime level, etc. Using this data I was able to correctly predict the vote of 88% of the representatives. What this told me was that the Representative's didn't make a moral decision, they voted on circumstances. This makes sense in one respect, but if you are against the death penalty, you'd like to see a more moralistic approach.

The paper was fascinating and I published it in a journal as well as received requests from some national organizations who wanted ot study the results. It was fun.
Nov 8, 2002 12:09 PM
Where was the article published and can it be understood by a non-economist? I am a lawyer with a commercial litigation practice. However, I have represented two death row inmates in habeas corpus actions. One of my law partners, jokingly but accurately, has said that the death penalty is my hobby. Your study sounds interesting.
Nov 11, 2002 9:23 AM
Hi. I think it can be understood by a non-economist but really there is only one way to find out. If you want, send me an email at and I will send you a copy of the paper. Then you can read it and if you have questions I can answer them. I would point you to the journal it was published in (Kentucky Economics Association) but it is very, very hard to find -- as in I haven't found a copy other than what I was given. The study has room for improvement, but the correlations are interesting to note.
Hyperinflation in post-WWI Germanysctri
Nov 8, 2002 7:14 PM
Yes, i had a histroy prof who showed the inflation rate in american dollars pre and post war... if i recall pre war it was roughly 1 USD= 4 german (dollars?) and then he asked us how much we thought it changed after WW1

He had the figure written on the overhead with half the paper covered, and showing only 1- 4...

And then he gradually moved the paper over, and over, and over revealing series the of zeros
Much higher than we imagined (it was still in the millions or hundreds of millions wasnt it?)

Interesting essay no doubt

Bruce SpringsteenPaulCL
Nov 8, 2002 10:24 AM
A paper on Bruce??? Nope. But listen to this memory...

1980 or 1981...Vanderbilt Univ, Nashville, Tenn. I and a bunch of buddies stood in line for 48hrs+ for tickets to a BS concert. I ended up buying 8 front row and 2 second row seats. I then spent the next several weeks scalping tickets, bartering tickets for stuff, exchanging 1st row for 50th, fending off the police, making $100's in the meantime...

My philosphy class teacher's assistant was a big BS fan ...but a fan without tickets. He offered me a deal I couldn't refuse. Give him a couple of tickets (25th + row) and he will give me an "A" on my final paper. The course was graded on one paper at the end of the term. One long 20-30 page paper that I hadn't started yet. I handed in just a title page, he wrote "A" on it, and I gave him the tickets. Best paper I ever wrote. Of course, I felt some guilt about it and was nervous until I got the final grade. It turns out that the TA graded all the papers and just handed in the title page to the ever-so-lazy prof. I got over my guilt real fast.
Which was best? Nebraska? The River?sn69
Nov 10, 2002 4:07 PM
Free market capatalism has a well-defined roll to play in acadamia. I say well done.
Thank you, thank youPaulCL
Nov 11, 2002 6:58 AM
The guilt started to creep back after 20 years. The tour, to date myself, was in 1981. Was that "Born in the USA" ?? I dunno.

All I remember is getting the "A", sitting in line for 48 hours, spending a lot of that time in the back seat of a car with a girl who pulled right up to the line, getting threatened in line by some really big dude in a Caddy, not backing down, scoring the tickets, making about $400 profit from the tickets, having said girl as girlfriend, having said girl dump me the minute the $400 was gone. Lesson learned. But it was worth it.
That b#tch!sn69
Nov 11, 2002 5:13 PM
...But I'm sure you're the stronger man for it. '81 would have been The River. The only reason I remeber that is because "Hungy Heart" was locked in competition for air time that year with Devo and Rick James. Born didn't come out until '84 or '85, during the dark, scary years of new wave hair doos and parachute pants.
Hey KoolAid: The Cult of Jim JonesTypeOne
Nov 8, 2002 9:26 PM
No, that's not one I wrote, but it was purported to be the title of an ill-fated essay written years earlier by a resident of my dorm. The stuff of legend, but I never saw it.
I recall writing a paper for a psych class (definitely not my major) about how certain groups can resort to "groupthink" and exhibit "risky-shift phenomenon." This was a fancy way of explaining why some groups can never make good decisions, and often make risky and irrational decisions. The chief example one theorist used was Kennedy's cabinet approving of the Bay of Pigs invasion.
I don't remember a lot of the details of what traits the groups exhibit for this to be true, but the more places I work, the more it all makes sense. It was an interesting topic. This was my first introduction to a scientist taking a commonsense idea, fabricating some fancy terms and definitions, and penning an academic essay about it. I think I did a good job of regurgitating that same commonsense stuff in my paper.
My favorite research paper was on...Wayne
Nov 11, 2002 7:08 AM
skin color, lactose intolerance, and vitamin D fortified milk, etc. for a Biological Anthropology class. Maybe from our vantage point today it doesn't look like it, but being "white" (and lactose tolerant for that matter) puts you in the minority world-wide and naturally requires a biological explanation, especially considering that "black" is probably the ancestral condition. Luckily there is a explanation that makes perfectly good sense from an evolutionary perspective.
My favorite research paper was on...Sintesi
Nov 12, 2002 5:34 AM
So why are whites lactose tolerant from an evolutionary perpective? I'll take the dumbed down Homer Simpson explanation. Thanks.
Ah, a story of Vitamin D and the disease...Wayne
Nov 12, 2002 6:21 AM
ricketts (details are sketchy now but I'll try). Without adequate vitamin D you get ricketts, i.e. bones deform because they are not strong enough to handle the stresses placed on them. You make vitamin D via sunlight penetrating the skin, consequently dark skin inhibits this, not a problem if you are living in the tropics with lots of sunlight.
Well, once people got fire and moved northward (less sunlight annually) into colder regions (requiring clothing for protection, thus shielding skin from the vitamin D producing sunlight also) presumably ricketts became a problem. If you plot skin color vs. annual sunlight you find the most pale people liviing in the least sunny places (i.e. Northwest Europe). OF course they wouldn't have moved there even until after the last ice age (about 12,000 years ago) but they are the extreme example. Alternatively, you can get Vit. D from milk, but that requires you drink it. Almost all animals become lactose intolerant around weaning, it's thought this helps to get the kid off the teat. Pasty white people are largely lactose tolerant, presumably because of the vitamin D they could get from the milk of their domesticated animals conferred further protection from Ricketts on them.
Is ricketts that big of a deal? Well yes, if you want to get a baby through an already tight pelvic aperture. Clearly this has been a major factor in human evolution. Bipedalism reshapes the pelvis and limits the birth canal. Not a problem if you have a chimpanzee size head like the first bipedal apes did. A problem, when you have a modern human size head. How have humans adapted to this?
One way is, we give birth to "premature" infants. Our gestation time would be about 12 months if we born at a comparable level of maturity as other apes (whose pelvises don't constrain infant head size at birth). But our heads would be too big by then, so there has been selection toward "early" births.
So human birth is a delicate matter, a deformed pelvis due to Ricketts would probably get you and mom killed at birth. Very direct natural selection at work.
Linus Pauling; Genius or Joker. (nm)rtyszko
Nov 11, 2002 9:09 AM