Sonnet is the youngest of the lot, just over a year and a half old.


She came to us in an unusual way.  Deb and I were at 5 cats, which we considered a good number.  Then an acquaintance who does animal rescue work in the Gulf Coast told us of a litter of 4 mostly-black kittens which were going to be destroyed for lack of homes, and if I didn’t save them nobody would.  So I took it upon myself to find them homes, offering my colleagues at Berklee a $500 donation to the department scholarship fund for each kitten adopted, plus help with their initial medical expenses.  Ultimately, we saved all four, plus two “bonus” kittens!   But finding homes was incredibly hard and initially we were having no success, so I took a kitten in the hope of giving the “kitten drive” some momentum.

002Then when the kittens were delivered, they messed up which one was which, confusing Sonnet with her brother, also a tuxedo who had a white chin rather than a black one.  Here’s an early photo of Sonnet, as we were figuring out that we had the wrong kitten.

However, it worked out for the best! Our friend was supposed to take Sonnet and a different brother (who also ended up with us in a case of mistaken identity), but Sonnet HATED her brother.  So to avoid that match made in Hell, we kept Sonnet while she kept the kitten we were supposed to get, plus got her brother.
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Another semester complete; tightening up the “15/40 Rule”

Finished up another semester.  First time in quite some time…ever?…that I taught a full semester and didn’t fail a single student.  Not sure how I feel about that.

People fretted way too much about the 15/40 Rule.  Ironically, it only affected a handful of people, and the ones who were affected only lost a point or two.  So I’m going to tighten it up:  it’ll heretofore be known as The 10/30 Rule.

Overall, it was a fun semester.  One thing to note:  my 3 Economics sections were 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 Music Business majors (who are required to take the class).  The best section–they asked the most questions, got the most into it, and performed the best–was the one which was 1/2 Music Business majors.  Which pretty much serves as confirmation that the % Music Business majors has nothing to do with how good a class is.

I’ll also declare success on eliminating the Economics midterm.  It made timing less awkward, feed up 2 hours of class time, and allowed for larger, more challenging take-home quizzes during the semester.

Capital in the 21st Century Review: Chapter 4 (part 2 of 3)

Chapter is titled “From Old Europe to the New World.”  It covers the same ground as chapter 3, but looks at major economies other than those of Britain and France.  The first part focused on Germany, which then led to discussion of the collapse of European Capital/Income ratios due to the World Wars.

Part two looks at the United States, Canada, and touches on Net Foreign Capital.


figure 4.6

Thomas Piketty points out two things here.  One is that the Capital/Income ratio c. 1800 is far smaller in the United States than in Europe:  around 3 rather than 6 or 7.  — and that much of this difference is explained by the smaller value of agricultural land (around 1x annual income in the United States vs. at least 3x annual income in Britain and France.)  An irony here is the land was so abundant in the United States compared to the Old World that it was dirt cheap, suggesting that real price and value are two different things.

(In economics, we call this the diamond-water paradox, that  something of extremely low value to society can be so highly priced while something essential for life itself can be extremely cheap.)

Thomas Piketty adds that housing and business capital also were lower.  In short, immigrants did not arrive with houses or often even large tools, and it took time to build these up.

The other major difference is that the Capital/Income ratio has been much more stable than it was in Europe.  In Britain and France it stated the 20th Century at 7, fell to under 3, then climbed back up to over 6  Meanwhile, in the United States it started around 5, fell to around 3.8, and climbed back up to a bit above 4.  Quite simply, our country was far less affected by the World Wars, measured as either economic impact of % of the population killed.

WW2 casualties

Note that 5 of the top 6 countries (Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, “Rest of the USSR”), were all part of the USSR during the decades around World War Two.

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