Classy!

Forgetting the small time politician’s making a dumb statement, I and many Aussies would agree with the Mark Webber comment about Australia becoming a nanny state. The nature of society would surprise many from the low alcohol beer at sport games to the near hysterical reaction to crude behaviour on TV. It’s not the scene you would expect if you thought up a stereotypical view of Australians. And yet we also have the below..

The roads minister of Victoria in Australia has used strong language to criticise Lewis Hamilton after his road car was impounded by Melbourne police.

Minister Tim Pallas made the comment on the day that Victoria launched a new road safety campaign. The Formula 1 racing driver, who was arrested on Friday, is expected to be charged with improper use of a vehicle.

Mr Hamilton, who was in the country for the Australian Grand Prix, has apologised for his “over-exuberance”. Mr Pallas criticised the 25-year-old British racing driver on the day that Victoria launched a Don’t Be a Dickhead road safety campaign. Asked whether Lewis Hamilton met that description, he said: “OK, I’ll say it. He’s a dickhead.”

But Australian driver Mark Webber has defended his fellow competitor, saying his homeland had become a nanny state, with ridiculous parking and speeding rules.

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>Tool Tyne

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I have a bet that Andy Carroll (pictured above) will be playing upfront for England at the 2014 World Cup alongside Wayne Rooney. The kid has pace, power, good feet and dominates defenders. Next season is an excellent acid test for me. That’s if he is allowed to play.

He has a court appearance for assault coming up and reminded himself last week by breaking the jaw of Steven Taylor, our prize centre back at the training ground after an exchange of text messages between Taylor and Carroll’s ex-GF. 

Now the details aren’t clear and it’s all been kept tight at Newcastle United but let’s hope it’s not the start of an all-too-typical infamous career at Newcastle United. 

>I Remember Me

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Last night I talked to Si, my old boss in Japan who I still affectionately call Boss. While roaming through the various changes in our lives over the years (Si now has a young boy), the fate of the UFC and some old friends, Si, a singer-songwriter mentioned my love for The Silver Jews. The Silvers Jews are in reality one man, Dave Berman, the guitarist and poet and consequentially one of the best lyricists around. His words and simple melodies can move, amuse and inspire move than any writer in any medium. The tragedies which are of such immense pathos usually involving himself in desperate straits drunk and depressed or lost love have now given some ground to equally beautiful stories of love and animals in the skies reflective of his own love trials and retribution.

For Dave Berman is bewitching. When in sorrow or melancholy, you turn to Dave Berman. It can never be as lonesome and wrenching as he has experienced.

I’m drunk on a couch in Nashville

In a duplex near the reservoir

And every single thought is like a punch in the face

I’m like a rabbit freezing on a star

To take you to the highest levels of ecstasy Dave Berman is there to explain the joys of love can pull from your heart. Berman believes in great love and writes so lovingly and/or achingly, you draw breath.

I believe the stars are the headlights of angels

driving from heaven to save us

to save us

Won’t you look at the sky?

They’re driving from heaven into our eyes

and though final words are so hard to devise

I promise that I’ll always remember your pretty eyes

your pretty eyes

Berman is racked constantly by guilt and doubt in all his actions to such depths he tried to commit suicide in 2003 only to survive and put together his most positive and fun album to date with Tanglewood Numbers. He has bemoaned Radiohead in the past wondering why they only write about feelings rather than a story you can relate to and take home. No one writes like Berman. He is revelatory, inspiring and deeply moving. I have never known his like before. I’ll forever have that Friday Night Fever.

She wouldn’t change me if she could

I wouldn’t change her, she’s too good

Sometimes a man just needs a change of pace

I’ve heard all those come on lines

But I go home at closing time

I know no one could ever take her place

The Boss referenced one song during our conversation and it’s below. I Remember Me, the simple story of a man who is hit by a truck as he asks his beloved to marry him, falls into a coma and when he finally comes around, she has moved on after encouragement from his family. Only Dave Berman can write a song as eloquently tragic as this.

>From the NYTimes, this piece is hardly news if you follow economics. Its scientific models are simply prescriptive rather than predictive and its mathematics explain what has happen but have generally failed to understand what will happen. Yet again, its failure to take into account human behaviour and choices

The Return of History
By DAVID BROOKS
Published: March 25, 2010

Some brilliant scholar has to write a comprehensive history of modern economics because the evolution of this field is clearly one of the most consequential things happening in the world today.

Act I in this history would be set in the era of economic scientism: the period when economists based their work on a crude vision of human nature (the perfectly rational, utility-maximizing autonomous individual) and then built elaborate models based on that creature.

Act II would occur over the past few decades, as a few brave economists tried to move beyond this stick-figure view of humanity. Herbert Simon pointed out that people aren’t perfectly rational. Gary Becker analyzed behaviors that don’t seem to be the product of narrow self-interest, like having children and behaving altruistically. Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman pointed out that people seem to have common biases when they try to make objective decisions.

This part of the history would be the story of gradually growing sophistication and of splintering.

Then the story would come to Act III, the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009. This act is a climax of sorts because it exposed the shortcomings of the whole field. Economists and financiers spent decades building ever more sophisticated models to anticipate market behavior, yet these models did not predict the financial crisis as it approached. In fact, cutting-edge financial models contributed to it by getting behavior so wrong — helping to wipe out $50 trillion in global wealth and causing untold human suffering.

This would bring the historian to Act IV, the period of soul-searching that we are living through now. More than a year after the event, there is no consensus on what caused the crisis. Economists are fundamentally re-evaluating their field.

“Where were the intellectual agenda-setters when this crisis was building?” asked Barry Eichengreen of the University of California, Berkeley, in The National Interest. “Why did they fail to see the train wreck coming?”

In The Wall Street Journal, Russ Roberts of George Mason University wondered why economics is even considered a science. Real sciences make progress. But in economics, old thinkers cycle in and out of fashion. In real sciences, evidence solves problems. Roberts asked his colleagues if they could think of any econometric study so well done that it had definitively settled a dispute. Nobody could think of one.

“The bottom line is that we should expect less of economists,” Roberts wrote.

In a column called “A Crisis of Understanding,” Robert J. Shiller of Yale pointed out that the best explanation of the crisis isn’t even a work of economic analysis. It’s a history book — “This Time is Different” by Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff — that is almost entirely devoid of theory.

One gets the sense, at least from the outside, that the intellectual energy is no longer with the economists who construct abstract and elaborate models. Instead, the field seems to be moving in a humanist direction. Many economists are now trying to absorb lessons learned by psychologists, neuroscientists and sociologists. They’re producing books with titles like “Animal Spirits,” “The Irrational Economist,” and “Identity Economics,” about subjects such as how social identities shape economic choices.

This amounts to rediscovering the humility of an earlier time. After all, Adam Smith was a moral philosopher, Friedrich von Hayek built his philosophy on an awareness of our own ignorance, and John Maynard Keynes “was not prepared to sacrifice realism to mathematics,” as the biographer Robert Skidelsky put it. Economics is a “moral science,” Keynes wrote. It deals with “motives, expectations, psychological uncertainties. One has to be constantly on guard against treating the material as constant and homogenous.”

In Act IV, in other words, economists are taking baby steps into the world of emotion, social relationships, imagination, love and virtue. In Act V, I predict, they will blow up their whole field.

Economics achieved coherence as a science by amputating most of human nature. Now economists are starting with those parts of emotional life that they can count and model (the activities that make them economists). But once they’re in this terrain, they’ll surely find that the processes that make up the inner life are not amenable to the methodologies of social science. The moral and social yearnings of fully realized human beings are not reducible to universal laws and cannot be studied like physics.

Once this is accepted, economics would again become a subsection of history and moral philosophy. It will be a powerful language for analyzing certain sorts of activity. Economists will be able to describe how some people acted in some specific contexts. They will be able to draw out some suggestive lessons to keep in mind while thinking about other people and other contexts — just as historians, psychologists and novelists do.

At the end of Act V, economics will be realistic, but it will be an art, not a science.

>Ciara and Me!

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Me and Ciara, the first child of Si and Jen taken last week in Manchester. She is only 8 weeks old and so light I was desperately afraid of her sliding through my arms. Despite the obvious tiredness on both of Si and Jen’s faces, they are coping well and warm.