Generations change, but the game remains the same

I tried to ignore it, but Employment Services Minister Mark Arbib’s resurrection of the (Tony Abbott?) “job snobs” line has turned into yet another tiresome round of the generation game. This time it’s Generation Y who are copping the flak for being “Generation Lazy”, a collection of job-hoppers and dole bludgers.

How many times must these cannonballs fly? Arbib (born 1971) was barely out of nappies when the phrase “dole bludgers” was coined and applied to the unemployed members of Generation Jones (the younger boomers who missed out on the fun of the 60s), a group to which I briefly belonged. That continued right through the late 1970s, and into the recession of the early 1980s. And even before that, the older boomers had been routinely labelled as work-shy hippies.

The recession of the 1990s hit all groups of the population, with older workers suffering even more than youth. Still, the old cliches were dragged out and applied to Gen X-ers (remember the Paxtons?)

Now the economy has soured again, and Gen X bosses and pollies are kicking their Gen Y subordinates. If the slowdown drags on as long as I expect, it will be the turn of Gen Z/Millennial/Potter before long.

As I said back in 2000

Much of what passes for discussion about the merits or otherwise of particular generations is little more than a repetition of unchanging formulas about different age groups Ð the moral degeneration of the young, the rigidity and hypocrisy of the old, and so on.

You couldn’t get a better example than the latest round of recycled cliches.

Delusion central

Australians and others who were happy to be included on Senator James Inhofe’s list (PDF, may need converting) of “scientists” whose “work” contradicts the mainstream view on anthropogenic global warming (scare quotes deliberate) may be interested to know that Inhofe has now emerged as a Birther, or at least a fellow traveller. Of course, Inhofe is also a young earth creationist, and his list includes people like creationist weathercaster Chris Allen who has no more (and no less) relevant qualifications than most of the Australians on Inhofe’s list.

It’s sad to see people with distinguished careers like those of Don Aitkin and Ian Plimer ending up supporting lunatic conspiracy theorists like Inhofe. But the whole basis of climate science delusionism is a conspiracy theory. It’s only by invoking a conspiracy among mainstream climate scientists that delusionists can argue that any attention should be paid to the views of a minority so tiny that even a list of 650 has to be padded out with economists, retired historians, weathercasters and lots of cranks: the number of active, regularly publishing climate scientists on the list is in the single digits.

Endnotes, again

I really, really hate endnotes. But now that I am writing a book I have to decide whether I have to swallow my pride and use them, and if not, what alternative to adopt.

To start with, I want to distinguish between explanatory notes, spelling out a point that is marginal to the main text and references giving authority for some claim made in the text, or examples or a person making a claim that I may endorse or criticise. In academic work, I’m used to the Harvard format where explanatory notes are placed as footnotes, and references cited in the body of the text as “Quiggin (2009)”, then listed in full at the end. This is much better than the all-footnotes system used, for example, in legal writing.

For a popular book on a technical subject like “Zombie economics”, there are a few options, which can be mashed up in various ways.

* The standard endnotes setup with explanatory notes and references listed at the end of the book
* Footnotes for explanation only: this leaves open the question of how to deal with references
* A further reading section at the end of each chapter, in place of references
* A book without references, but with an online hypertext version in which readers who want to chase references can find them.

Any thoughts?


I got more very useful comments on my section on the rise of the Efficient Markets Hypothesis, and I will get down to editing it before long. In the meantime, here’s my draft section on Implications of the EMH

At least in the draft, I’m following a standard structure: One chapter per dead/zombie idea, with sections on Beginnings, Implications, Failure and What Next? It seems to go OK for EMH, and we’ll see how it works for the others.

As before, comments of all kinds, and particularly pointers to (putative) errors, are most welcome.

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Sockpuppet ban

I’ve had an increase in disruptive troll comments here and at Crooked Timber, and have now discovered that a large number of them appear to be from someone who has posted here and elsewhere in the past as “John/Jack Greenfield”. I discovered it when “Greenfield” put up a comment at Catallaxy identical to one posted by a trollish commenter here posting as “S. Haines”. I challenged Haines on the point and he/she/it promptly disappeared. An IP check has now revealed numerous similar trolls several of whom had already been banned. The list includes:

S. Haines
Phyllis P.
Jake Bowden
Belgian Dentist
Milton Keynes
Mark Milankovitch
Ian. Mc

IP numbers vary, but all begin with 203.171.192 or 203.171.195. If any of the above want to dispute their sock puppet status, they are welcome to email me. Bloggers who don’t wish to encourage trolls, sockpuppets and other such lowlifes are welcome to contact me for further details, and are urged to ban “Greenfield” and associated socks.

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I’ve been meaning to do reviews of a couple of books, but the task of writing my own book means that I need to get rid of distractions (of course, it also means I’m even more tempted by every distractoin that comes along). Anyway, I thought I’d just give a recommendation and very quick summary for two of them.

Street Fighters: The Last 72 Hours of Bear Stearns, the Toughest Firm on Wall Street by Kate Kelly has a self-explanatory title. At the time, the failure of Bear Stearns seemed sure to be the biggest financial event of 2008, if not the whole decade. A little over a year later, it’s still interesting to read a blow-by-blow account of the collapse. I doubt if we’ll ever get anything like this for the October meltdown – even with this isolated case, it’s a bit hard to keep track of the varied cast of characters.

Recovering the Lost Tongue is a fascinating story of environmental struggle in central India. The link is to Amazon, but there’s also an Indian edition (details here).

Finally, here’s a link to a review of The Spirit Level a book arguing that inequality is bad for (almost) everyon.

In which I agree with the IPA

John Roskam of the IPA in today’s Fin makes the correct opening point that the banks can’t have it both ways, benefitting from government guarantees while resisting close regulation. Since no one is suggesting removing the guarantees any time soon, the implications are, I think pretty obvious.