Welcome to The List, where faculty in MIT Sloan’s Applied Economics Group share the books, articles, films, and locales that are informing and inspiring their work and lives.
Pray the Devil Back to Hell—I am not able to catch many movies, but I hope to see this in the next couple of weeks.
The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears—The first novel from Dinaw Mengestu, a fantastic African writer. It is about three African immigrants in DC; they play the dictator game—no, not the economics one, but an African one: name a dictator, then guess the country and year.
From Evidence to Policy: A Decision Science Symposium with the Government of Rwanda and J-PAL—I just returned from this exciting conference in Rwanda.
House of Cards—No time for movies recently, but I did enjoy the Netflix show on congressional politics.
The “Four Seasons” Series—Four novels by my countryman Maurizio de Giovanni, set in Naples at the beginning of the 1930s, i.e. midway through the fascist era: part history, part fun, a snapshot of my hometown when my grandparents were young.
Online Advertising and the Market for Consumer Data—aka: How to combine great research and a summer weekend in Paris with my wife and (then) six-month old daughter.
I did recently finish Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, which is a dated but funny send-up of academic life. I think some believe this is what academic life is really like, but fortunately it’s not!
Reading: Asterix and the Normans. If you need an explanation why it is worth reading this then actually you do not deserve one.
Movies: Kill Bill 1 and 2…. For some reason I was thinking about teaching and that drove me to these movies.
Traveling: In Norway, all the way to Lofoten Islands. An extraordinary experience, in an incredible country. Swimming in the Arctic Ocean was kind of a shock …. Literally.
What am I watching: Backyard Oil (TV show). Any group of people that is willing to pay $5,000 for a chicken thought to have the power of finding oil under the ground deserves to be studied in great detail!
What am I reading: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, by Mo Willems. Why does the pigeon want to drive the bus? Why can’t he? What are the greenhouse gas emissions from the bus? Is its fuel taxed at the proper level? Is that why he can’t drive the bus? These are questions that need to be answered.
Where I am traveling: Anywhere my kayak takes me!
Books I’ve been reading: Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Scribner, 2010; and W. E. Knowles Middleton, The History of the Barometer, Johns Hopkins Press, 1964.
In August, my wife Joan and I spent time at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony in the Berkshires. On Thursday, August 15, we attended the Goat Rodeo featuring Yo Yo Ma and his entourage, playing music from along the legendary Silk Road. On Sunday afternoon August 18 Emmanuel Ax played some Beethoven compositions. It was a fun weekend!
Book: The Dog Stars—A great post-apocalyptic read!!!Book: The Dog Stars—A great post-apocalyptic read!!!
I just finished Whitey, which my wife got me as a reintroduction to Boston! [Whinston recently joined the MIT Sloan faculty]