Tuesday, December 28, 2010

imagining leisure time

Here are some of the main things I'm working on over break and which will most certainly be subjects of more in-depth posts on this blog in the weeks to come:

Finishing Tomlins' Freedom Bound

This is a fascinating history of law, labor, and society in the U.S. from early colonization up until the Civil War. Not only is there tons of new material in here, but Tomlins does an excellent job of synthesizing demographic research and the existing legal history of the colonial period to make some compelling new arguments. For example, he gives a more refined view of English feudal law's implementation in the colonies, and he argues that there are some striking institutional continuities before and after the Revolution which question the notion of the Revolution as a "sharp break" with the past. Here is an interview with Tomlins about the book.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcDCLnLpULk. Really an amazing scholar. I recommend anything by him; he has deeply influenced my work.

Watching Cowboy Bebop

An anime with a theme that is very dear to my heart, Cowboy Bebop is about a group of wanderers, a sort of 21st century "Lost Generation" that has a fantastic soundtrack and moving story. It was a bit slow at first, but the story and themes develop quickly after the first 8 episodes or so, as they move into more personal accounts. I very rarely watch anime, so when I do I try to look for the best. This is definitely up there with the others I've watched -- Deathnote and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

Staring at Stata output

I'm working on an applied theory project which lies at the intersection of contract theory and labor history. The fact that it is my first serious empirical paper means that I am spending many hours slogging through manuals and websites for the simplest commands. Needless to say it is a very frustrating experience.

No fiction for me this holiday! Normally I take the winter weeks off to catch up on favorite authors. Unfortunately that is not the case this year as I move into an important stage of dissertation writing and as other activities crowd out the leisure time normally associated with reading. This is a very readable discussion of the most effective econometric tools used in applied analysis today. It may not solve any problems with your code, but it will give you a good primer on important studies and ideas behind each idea.

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

The latest installment of the Professor Layton series leaves much to be desired. I firmly believe this is the worst in the series. The puzzles are uninspiring and at times are a real insult to play through. I'm serious, some of the puzzles are just that bad, relying on subtle tricks which require absolutely no logic. The music is bland and unmemorable. The minigames, while much more varied than in previous installments, lack the depth and quality which they had in previous games. Maybe I'm getting sick of these games, but I doubt it -- I was really excited to jump into Unwound Future and now I just can't wait to get back out.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

The latest AC is really just as much an improvement over II as II was over I. This series keeps getting better and I'm extremely excited to see where the developers go in future installments. Focusing on one very big city (Rome), the game adds more challenge, reduces some of the nonsense sidequests, and slims the game in other areas to give the gamer a truly high-quality sandbox experience. I'm only about halfway through so I can't say too much about the story, but I've heard from around the web that it's the only drawback to this installment.

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