Author: Crissie Brown

Campus Question – September 25, 2011

Tonight’s question, greetings, and social banter here. (More) Tonight’s Campus Question   As NPR reported, the Boston Red Sox gained a half-game in the American League wild card race because their game against the Yankees was rained out. Meanwhile, the UARS satellite crashed into the Pacific, offering more evidence of the reliability of the Janitor Professor of Astrology’s Bippiescopes, and the movie Moneyball pulled in $6.8 million in its opening night. Should the Red Sox trade for the Janitor Professor of Astrology, for the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore, or for a NASA satellite to be named later?...

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Morning Feature: Pizza or Muffins? (Ask Ms. Crissie)

Professor Plum won the resident faculty pool on the Florida straw poll. “It wasn’t a big pool,” he said. “But I can afford breakfast.” (More) We note that BPI has never charged the resident faculty for breakfast. As Professor Plum strutted away with Ms. Scarlett to join his colleagues in the wine cellar library, where they’ll spend the weekend drinking thinking on our motto of Magis vinum, magis verum (“More wine, more truth”), we realized that was his way of saying he’d found the Squirrel’s most recent hiding spot for the mail. We asked the Squirrel for an explanation, but he was busy combining subtle traps with clever bluffs to build a sizable lead in the staff poker game. At least he’s been learning something while procrastinating his research. The Professor of Astrology Janitor seemed to be onto the Squirrel’s pattern, and reraised after the Squirrel opened the next pot. Chef quietly called, as did the Squirrel. The King-Jack-Six, all-Diamond flop drew a check from the Squirrel. The Professor of Astrology Janitor checked behind, as did Chef. The King of Spades on the turn brought another check from the Squirrel. This time the Professor of Astrology Janitor bet. When Chef called and the Squirrel folded, the Professor of Astrology Janitor knew he was half-right: His Tuftedness had been bluffing. By contrast, Chef’s call was suspicious. Did she have two...

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Campus Chatter – September 25, 2011

Today in history, greetings, and social banter here. (More) Vasco Núñez de Balboa reached the Pacific Ocean today (1513). Also, Boston’s Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick printed its first and only issue (1690), Congress passed the Bill of Rights (1789) and established Sequoia National Park (1890), ground was broken for Boston’s Fenway Park (1911), the TAT-1 transatlantic telephone cable began operation (1956), and 4200 people ran the first Chicago Marathon (1977). And China launched Shenzhou 7, whose crew would make China’s first spacewalk (2008). Good morning!...

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Campus Question – September 24, 2011

Tonight’s question, greetings, and social banter here. (More) Tonight’s Campus Question   At the Florida Conservative Political Action Committee conference, Ann Coulter called Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz “a hideous beast who has a voice like a hyena getting an abortion.” Do you think there a mirror in front of the podium? And as a special Saturday bonus question: How many hyena abortions do you think Coulter has performed?...

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Morning Feature: Nudge, Part III – Personal Freedom (Non-Cynical Saturday)

Do nudges toward better decisions narrow our personal freedom? Or do they expand it? (More) Nudge, Part III – Personal Freedom (Non-Cynical Saturday) This week Morning Feature has discussed Nudge, the 2008 award-winning bestseller by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. Thursday we considered the difference between Econs, the perfectly informed and perfectly rational economic actors of theory, and actual Humans. Yesterday we saw how Humans can be nudged toward better decisions regarding money and health. Today we conclude with issues of personal freedom and objections to nudging. Note: Richard Thaler is a Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the University of Chicago. Cass Sunstein was a Professor of Law at the University of Chicago when the book was written; in 2009, President Obama appointed Sunstein to be the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Let’s RECAP Thaler and Sunstein offer dozens of existing and suggested nudges that do or would enable Humans to make better decisions. Several of their suggested nudges use involve a policy they call RECAP: Record, Evaluate, and Compare Alternative Prices. Because they suggest it so often – for cell phone plans, credit cards, mortgages, student loans, Medicare plans, among others – RECAP offers an excellent example of the principle behind Nudge. RECAP is a mandatory disclosure policy, which Thaler and Sunstein argue can be one of the least intrusive and most...

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