Category Archives: Blog

The Nobel Prize in Economics

My spouse is an economist, which means that I have, over the years, been exposed to much talk on the matter, and much reading. I am grateful for that, as I did not study it in school, but for an introductory course at the university level and – believe it or not – a general course in high school (we had an awesome man named Mr. Kronstein as teacher – he was super conservative. In 2021 he wouldn’t be allowed to teach kids about, well, anything).

As a journalist, have I attended both Mont Pelerin Society and Atlas (cannot find an appropriate link) conferences, which, one could argue, gave me insight into a certain school of economics. In short, I am not an expert. I have common sense knowledge – for example, if one has a lot of something, one likely won’t be careful with it. If one has limited resources, one might be inclined to take better care, etc. Also, people have “reasons” for making even lousy financial choices, even though said reasons might be puzzling to others. (Certainly, one excludes here people suffering mental health issues – can we really say, for example, that someone who “chooses” to sleep on a sidewalk grate in January is being rational? Of course not. This is where the law is needed and, sadly, seems to fail.)

This is my overly-wordy way of saying that I am interested and trying to learn. One way I do so is by keeping up with my favourite economics blog, Tyler Cowen’s Marginal Revolution. Cowen also hosts a terrific podcast, not just about economics, but generally related to its study. (One recent podcast featured Claudia Goldin – absolutely fascinating stuff.) So when the Nobel Prize for economics was announced this year, the first place I went for information and explanation was Marginal Revolution. Check out the link if, like me, you want a better picture of what the three winners have contributed to the field.

A Quote for Thanksgiving

I had two longings and one was fighting the other. I wanted to be loved and I wanted to be always alone. – Jean Rhys

This is pretty much the story of my life. So why do I call it apt for Thanksgiving? Because I am grateful to have found someone who gives me both of those things: love and space.

I hope I do the same for him.

Babi Yar

On September 29 and 30, 1941, over 30,000 Jews were slaughtered at Babi Yar. It was part of a broader mass killing action in Eastern Europe, though the sheer numbers of that day leave one without words. As a teen, I read Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s poem about Babi Yar – it never left me.

No monument stands over Babi Yar.
A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
I am afraid.
Today, I am as old
As the entire Jewish race itself.

I see myself an ancient Israelite.
I wander o’er the roads of ancient Egypt
And here, upon the cross, I perish, tortured
And even now, I bear the marks of nails.

It seems to me that Dreyfus is myself.
The Philistines betrayed me – and now judge.
I’m in a cage. Surrounded and trapped,
I’m persecuted, spat on, slandered, and
The dainty dollies in their Brussels frills
Squeal, as they stab umbrellas at my face.

I see myself a boy in Belostok.
Blood spills, and runs upon the floors,
The chiefs of bar and pub rage unimpeded
And reek of vodka and of onion, half and half.

I’m thrown back by a boot, I have no strength left,
In vain I beg the rabble of pogrom,
To jeers of “Kill the Jews, and save our Russia!”
My mother’s being beaten by a clerk.

O, Russia of my heart, I know that you
Are international, by inner nature.
But often those whose hands are steeped in filth
Abused your purest name, in name of hatred.

I know the kindness of my native land.
How vile, that without the slightest quiver
The antisemites have proclaimed themselves
The “Union of the Russian People!”

It seems to me that I am Anna Frank,
Transparent, as the thinnest branch in April,
And I’m in love, and have no need of phrases,
But only that we gaze into each other’s eyes.
How little one can see, or even sense!
Leaves are forbidden, so is sky,
But much is still allowed – very gently
In darkened rooms each other to embrace.

-“They come!”

-“No, fear not – those are sounds
Of spring itself. She’s coming soon.
Quickly, your lips!”

-“They break the door!”

-“No, river ice is breaking…”

Wild grasses rustle over Babi Yar,
The trees look sternly, as if passing judgement.
Here, silently, all screams, and, hat in hand,
I feel my hair changing shade to gray.

And I myself, like one long soundless scream
Above the thousands of thousands interred,
I’m every old man executed here,
As I am every child murdered here.

No fiber of my body will forget this.
May “Internationale” thunder and ring
When, for all time, is buried and forgotten
The last of antisemites on this earth.

There is no Jewish blood that’s blood of mine,
But, hated with a passion that’s corrosive
Am I by antisemites like a Jew.
And that is why I call myself a Russian!

More about the poet and the massacre here.