Saturday, 31 January 2015

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - Week 16

TMA 03

The assignment

Cut-off date: 10 February

Chapter 9 was dreary and dreadful. Poorly written and overly wordy it took what could have been fairly interesting topics and made a real dogs diner of presenting them in an interesting fashion. I have finished the chapter, but it was a struggle and I'd be hard pressed to tell you much of what it was about.

So, 10 days to get Chapter 10 read and the essay written, I just hope chapter 10 is better written.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - Week 15

Week 15 – What do my estimates really mean?

15.1 Online tutorial - What do my estimates really mean?Complete Econometrics III and Practice exercises III

Welfare Economics and Social Choice (Chapter 9 - yeah, I know, fairly seriously behind again)

This is the section of economics that I thought I would be most interested in but Chapter 9 is written in a manner that I find really difficult to wade through. The author seems to take great delight in dressing up what are comparatively straightforward concepts in unnecessarily complicated language, which just takes longer than it should to read and understand.

So, I am less than impressed, but I need to get through this and Chapter 10 and get the essay written.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - Helpful Edgeworth Box tutorials

I found these YouTube videos very helpful when looking at TMA03 Part 1, and the second video with the American guy was especially good.

I'm sure there are many more equally as good video tutorials out there and the Khan Academy are also usually very good, but I thought his explanation of getting to equilibrium but adjusting price was very good.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - Week 14 & TMA02 Marked and Returned

Week 14 – Visible hands: economists and the design of government

14.1 Visible hands: economists and the design of governmentRead DEPMP, Book 1, Part II: Chapter 10
14.2 Behavioural economics: Richard Thaler View some short video clips
14.3Adam Smith and alternative views of motivation View some short video clips

Received my TMA02 this morning. Extremely pleased with the mark, just slightly down on the last TMA, so well on track to getting the target score I need in the TMAs to get a distinction in this module - however the EMA is now the big worry in this respect, as I am no clearer on what is required or what I will do for it, and a good score in the TMAs is meaningless unless you can equal it in the EMA.

I also feel a bit of a fraud regarding the TMA marks. It is more a victory for systematic essay planning, well presented diagrams and reasonable prose than any masterful explanation of economic theories. Apart from the econometrics, which everyone seems to hate, the two TMAs so far have been a bit pedestrian in terms of their difficulty.

The TMA result has restored the missing motivation and enthusiasm, so I'll get down to getting some more Edgeworth diagrams crafted this weekend and try and put Part 1 of TMA03 to bed and get some reading done.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - Motivation Deficit

There is just too much going on at present to get motivated to read further into this section or to make much headway in Part 1 of the TMA. I feel totally becalmed on the study sea and without any foreseeable hope of a breath of enthusiasm to get me moving.

I hope this will change when I get the TMA result, but as usual that is still looking to be at least a week away.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Free Speech anyone ...... ?

but you'll have to have it with a bit of - cowardly/politically correct - (delete as appropriate) self-censorship.

At least the theguardian and Huffingtom Post have the journalistic integrity to show the cartoon. report under the headline Defiant Charlie Hebdo depicts Prophet Muhammad on cover but seem to have had the web-site guest edited by a wet-lettuce. Other UK national media outlets are as equally 'reserved' as the BBC.

But to the cartoon.

Is this offensive ?  Really?  Is it?

If so I would love for somebody to tell me why. At its simplest it is a message of forgiveness and support of free speech, what is offensive about that.

There does not appear to be any distinguishing features or text that would enable anybody to attribute any identity to the cartoon character other than that reported by the media. Reports are quick to say this is the 'Prophet Mohammed', but is it ? What about the cartoon character identifies it as the Prophet Mohammed ?

Unless the text inside the paper says something different, this cartoon could just as easily be a middle Eastern gentleman, and indeed a moderate Muslim, standing up for free speech and offering forgiveness........ so I think the cartoon is simply inviting people to take offence, because they wish to take offence.

I could have this completely wrong, I am prepared to accept that as a possibility, but somebody who knows far more about this than I do is going to have to explain this to me in very simple words that I can understand.

But what, other than this, were Charlie Hebdo to do as a response? It is just a great shame that they have not been backed 100% by all western media.

I would like to think that all moderate Muslims, although they may well be offended by this cartoon (for reasons I can't begin to understand), would support the right to free speech. Surely that is the path to peace, rather than artificial indignation.

Certainly, I would hope that people everywhere of all religions, colours and creeds will find human rights abuses such as.......
  • prosecution for blasphemy,
  • public floggings and be-headings,
  • persecution of homosexuals and transsexuals,
  • 'honour killings',
  • child brides,
  • subjection of women,
  • female genital mutilation ,
 ............ far more offensive than this cartoon.

Were Islam and moderate Muslims to denounce the behavours listed above, which are incompatible with my idea of civilised society, then there would be absolutely no need to ridicule or satirise the religion.

But now that the western media have stepped back from acting as the 'Free Press', where do they go next.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - Week 13

Week 13 – Welfare economics and social choice

13.1 Welfare economics and social choiceRead DEPMP, Book 1, Part II: Chapter 9
13.2 New directions in welfare (happiness and the capabilities approach)View a short film

A long train journey and Chapter 8 was read and pretty much understood. It didn't really seem to be a full chapter's worth of new ideas, but it did go over the slight re-use of already well hammered out concepts in great detail. I hope this chapter on Welfare economics starts getting challenging, as so far this course has been a bit disappointing in terms of being stretched academically.

At some point in the near future our EMA project subjects and ideas have to be decided on and at this stage I have no idea, absolutely nothing, completely bank, inspiration negative.

Well I can get the first part of the next TMA completed now, and then hopefully the last TMA result will arrive.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015


I feel completely numbed and almost disorientated by the events of today in France. I have huge sympathy for the families and friends of those who have been killed at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. I am sure there will be much written about this in the coming hours and days but I think Salman Rushdie has pretty much captured by feelings on the subject........

Statement from Salman Rushdie, British author

Posted at
"Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms.

This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today.

I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity.

Respect for religion' has become a code phrase meaning 'fear of religion.' Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect."

I think the countries that value freedom can no longer allow religion and the religious to think that their beliefs take precedence over the thoughts and feelings of rational people. In all media reports the word 'religion' should be replaced by superstition' and the act of 'praying' should be referred to as what it is 'hoping'.

If the countries that are socially, scientifically, educationally, democratically, advanced don't stand up for the human rights and dignities of women, homosexuals, the disabled, the poor and the religiously oppressed, then  we are failing.

Blasphemy is a victimless crime

If we can't all agree on that then we are not as advanced as we think we are.........

Updated 9th Jan 2015

Although there has been a huge rallying in support of the staff of Charlie Hebdo and cartoon satirists everywhere, there has been a disappointing reluctance to reproduce the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of several years ago that caused this so-called offense and outrage, so I applaud the American Humanists for doing so......
There are still those media commentators who seem to think that it is offensive to ridicule religion, but surely that it the point of all of this. Religion is ridiculous. Why should silly superstitions be exempt from scrutiny and questioning, they have managed to silence such challenges for hundreds of years through control of information and punishment for non-believers in order to maintain their privileged social and political position.

......and it continued today in Saudi Arabia with a liberal blogger flogged and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Saudi Arabia where non-belief for people 'born Muslim' (which actually means born to Muslim parents as all children are born atheist) is punishable by death, and where they 'tolerate' other faiths but not atheists, and atheism is treated as terrorism. This is because non-belief in any higher supernatural power is more dangerous than belief in another imaginary friend, because rational thought might catch on.

The further events in France today has shown what the 'West' is up against in trying to understand the motivations behind such mindless acts of violence. Acts that achieve nothing to further any identifiable cause. It looks to me that this 'group' were determined to take innocent life for whatever sick and misguided reason and Charlie Hebdo may have been the target this time, but really it's just random acts of violence.

Monday, 5 January 2015

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - TMA02 Submitted

Well, that is a relief, TMA finally submitted

I have never been so far behind on a TMA and never taken so long write one from start to finish, and without the two week Christmas break it would have been pretty difficult task and a car crash of an essay.

In the end the TMA has not been too bad.

Part A was pretty much covered in DD209's Game Theory, with just some minor additions this year, so that should have gone pretty well.

Part B Econometrics was no fun at all and while I think I have provided the answers they want, I couldn't be 100% sure.

Part C ended up being the most straight forward essay so far but editing it to the word count was painful. I have approached it in a fairly straight forward manner. Bullet pointed the relevant sections from Chapter 7, bullet pointed the important parts of the article, matched the bullet points up and supported the article points with big dollops of text book teaching - there is an awful lot of quotes and referencing of the book and article, but I can't see any other way of doing this.

I thought it was a pretty flimsy essay questions anyway, and I would rather have been given a far more meaty and contentious scenario for us to make so sense of.

Anyway, that is probably it for OU study for the next two 'traditional' weeks of marking until I get the TMA returned. Too much else going on, the most important of which is a job interview.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - Week 12

Week 12 – General equilibrium: efficiency, welfare and redistribution

12.1 General equilibrium: efficiency, welfare and redistributionRead DEPMP, Book 1, Part II: Chapter 8
12.2 Amartya Sen on justice and injustice

This section of the course sounds as though it will be really interesting. Economics mixed with political ideology with a bit of philosophical social justice thrown in.

But itis going to have to wait, the next three days are given over to thdTMA, driving the length of the country and looking after elderly relatives. It is just as well I am off work on Monday.
View some short video clips