THE MOST THEORETICAL OF NOBELS Last year, Northwestern professor Dale T. Mortensen netted a Nobel Prize in Economics for the University and for Chicago, but this year’s winners have a more coastal bent. Princeton’s Christopher A. Sims and New York University’s Thomas J. Sargent are 2011’s Nobelists, recognized for, as the NYT puts it, “their research on the cause and effect of government policies on the broader economy.” NYU’s paper doesn’t have a story—they seem to be a weekly, and so somewhat ironically Occupy Wall Street dominates their homepage—but Teddy Schleifer at the Prince leads with a fun anecdote:
When economics professor Christopher Sims was awoken by a phone call at 6:15 a.m. from a Texas area code, he was sure it was a prank call. His wife mishandled the phone, and the call was dropped. Assuming that it wasn’t important, the couple went back to sleep.
But when the callers telephoned his home again, Sims had an inkling that it might be the folks from the Nobel Foundation.
“If it was a prank, it was a pretty good Swedish accent,” his wife told him.
The NYT story quoted above, by Catherine Hampell, also includes a quote from a Northwestern professor:
[Sims’s] methodology, developed in the 1970s, has been influential in subsequent decades among economists in many fields and of different political leanings. Research using his methodology, for example, has helped lend credence to New Keynesianism, the theory that says that an economy can go into recession because there is not enough demand.
“The idea that there could be an aggregate demand failure is a very old idea, but it had been completely banished in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s,” said Lawrence J. Christiano, a professor at Northwestern University. “Really the center of gravity of macro was very much in places like Chicago and Minneapolis. That was bumped away in part by results of applying this new methodology, and Sims is the one who originated that.”
The Crimson has an angle here, too: hey, the winners are Harvard grads!
(For those of you who enjoy the inside baseball of higher ed: note that according to Schleifer’s story, John Sexton, the President of NYU, was at the Princeton press conference. Sexton has dramatically expanded NYU’s presence internationally and made a name for himself nationally, but that detail does mean he had to find a way down to Princeton, N.J., Monday morning. Forgive your native New Jerseyan as he savors the image of Sexton running across Manhattan to make his NJ Transit train, of Sexton sitting impatiently on the small two-car “dinky” that takes passengers to Princeton Borough proper.)
EVER FEEL LIKE ASG IS POWERLESS? Five years ago, Penn State students, apparently irked with their own student government’s lack of power, elected to found a separate “advocacy body.” It’s grown into a full secondary student governmnet. Mindy Szkaradnik, writing at PSU’s Daily Collegian, gives a short history.
SPEAKING OF SHORT HISTORIES Connor O’Gara, writing at the Indiana Daily Student, has a short but strong history of the Big Ten.
PELL OVERTURE Dan Holtmeyer at the Daily Nebraskan makes a national debate intelligible to college students with his story on proposed changes to the Pell Grant program:
Under a budget proposal released late last month by House Republicans, Pell Grants will keep their value, with a maximum of $5,550 per year. But changes in the program’s requirements would render hundreds of thousands of college students ineligible for the grants, though the exact number remains unclear, and save more than $2 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
IT’S LIKE THEY’RE ROOTING FOR A SIDE OR SOMETHING Remember Friday, when the Daily Iowan ran a rather opinionated headline over its coverage of Occupy Iowa? “Occupy Iowa ignores several [Iowa City] ordinances,” it read. Well, another, shall we say, unusual one appeared today, with a story by editor-in-chief Andrew B. Sullivan titled “‘Occupy’ demonstrators arrested in Des Moines, still no issues in Iowa City.”
Still? Why “still?” Are they expecting there to be problems?
LASTEST BUT THE BESTEST Here is a quote from the Yale Daily News:
“We did not receive any reports of injuries, but the danger in a crowd situation like this is very real, to those involved in the event and those who happen to be driving or walking in the area,” Assistant Chief of Police Michael Patten said in a Sunday email.
What is he talking about? Protests at Occupy New Haven, perhaps? Hooliganism after this weekend’s football contest with Dartmouth?
No! It was the 11-minute-long “illicit” game, Bladderball. Wikipedia has a history:
Once each year, at 11 a.m. the Saturday before the Yale-Dartmouth game, the inflatable six foot ball was rolled through Yale’s Phelps Gate onto Old Campus, where a throng of Yale students waited. At the sound of a whistle, teams from each residential college and various extracurricular organizations would fight for possession of the ball. Teams were allowed to use any means at their disposal to seize control. In 1975, the Jonathan Edwards College team attempted to capture the ball using a meat hook which predictably popped the ball, inciting enraged chants of “J.E. sucks!” from the other participants. The phrase “J.E. Sux” remains the unofficial motto of Jonathan Edwards College to this day.
In the absence of any scoring system, victory consisted of fervent declarations of victory by each team. Listeners to the Yale radio station, WYBC, would invariably learn that the station team had won a mighty victory, while readers of the Yale print media were invariably informed that each particular publication had bested all other teams handily, by scores often ranging into the thousands of points. In 1977, the Pierson College team literally took this to new heights, by chartering a helicopter (carrying not only the student team captain but also the Master of the College) to fly over the campus and drop leaflets saying “Surrender, Pierson has won!”; leaving nothing to chance, the Pierson team backed this claim up by chaining shut the doors of Branford College and Saybrook College, trapping the opposing teams inside. The crew in the helicopter filmed the entire event, created a news package “verifying” Pierson’s victory, and brought the film to New Haven’s local TV station which that evening broadcast the aerial footage, read the script as written by the stringers and confirmed Pierson’s “win” in the mainstream media.
CORRECTION, appended Oct. 11, 2011, 11:10am: The story previously read "Yale Daily Student," when the paper cited is in fact the Yale Daily News.