Monthly Archives: August 2007

The sound of summer

Today is an unusual summer day for me. I can’t hear what’s become the normal accompaniment to my workday. Even after two years in the Bay Area, I find the local microclimate astonishing. My office is in the Presidio, with a wonderful view out the window of the Golden Gate. Many summer days my office is in full sunshine, but the bridge – less than a mile away – is wreathed in fog. Hence the foghorn.

The microclimate also means that the Presidio usually has a bit of a chill from the cold sea waters not far from our door (not today – it’s hot by San Francisco standards). Downtown San Francisco is a bit warmer and when I cross the Bay Bridge to Berkeley, it’s often another 10 degrees warmer. That puts Berkeley at the perfect temperature, high 70s, perhaps just into the 80s. But if I travel through the Caldecott Tunnel, maybe three miles from my house, the temperature can go up another 10 to 20 degrees. Utterly bizarre.

(Incidentally, there’s another sound of summer my wife and I love: crickets. They’re making wonderful noises at night in our street.)

Not smug

When my wife and I bought a new Prius earlier this summer, the one thing we jointly swore was that we wouldn’t join the ranks of smug Prius owners. Brad DeLong clearly has no such inhibitions.

Incidentally, for all of the rapidly rising sales, I’m sure there are many places in the US where a Prius is still relatively uncommon. Not Berkeley. Toyota of Berkeley, where we bought our car, proudly boasts that it has sold more Priuses than any other dealership in the world (around 70,000, we were told). Just on our little block, there are a half dozen other Priuses. You’d think they are taking over the world.

Telling tales

Some additional minor fame, courtesy of Robert Frank:

Basic economic principles are not rocket science. They are accessible even to children. Lance Knobel, for example, who writes the blog, said that he’d been regaling his 11-year-old son with economic naturalist puzzles at bedtime, “and he can’t get enough of them.”

Curiously, my wife did a search on the Times site so she could send the link to her mother in England and the last time I appeared in The New York Times was also in Economic View — seven years ago — when Louis Uchitelle quoted me about inviting anti-corporate NGOs and union leaders to Davos. I wonder how Economic View will quote me in 2014?

Taking a break

I don’t think I take an excessive amount of vacation, but it does seem that when I’m away lots of news breaks. We’ve just come back from a week near Lake Tahoe and I missed Barry Bonds breaking the home run record and one of the wildest weeks in ages in the financial markets.

Eagle Lake

Among the many wonderful things I did instead was walk a short way into the Desolation Wilderness. The one-mile walk to Eagle Lake must be one of the great short hikes in the world. You climb rather steeply up a path between towering cliffs, with amazing views of Lake Tahoe and its rather perfect Emerald Bay. Just when you’re hot enough and tired enough, you reach Eagle Lake.* My family and the family of friends we were vacationing with all changed into our swimsuits and plunged into the clear, cold water. Truly perfect.

Just to check whether my vacations are truly harbingers of newsworthy events, we’re off to Kauai tomorrow. Life is very good right now.

*Photo from Flickr by Pinar Ozgar 

The 25-years war

Tom Ricks was depressing on NPR’s Talk of the Nation at lunchtime today. He was asked to compare the first Gulf War with the second. I’ll paraphrase his response. “The first Gulf War wasn’t really a war. It was a blip. A four-day ground assault. I think in 100 years historians will look back and see it as the first battle of America’s 25-year war in Iraq.”

The English Gordon Brown

From yesterday’s Washington Post:

[Representative Tom] Lantos said he joked with Brown that he had the good fortune to be coming to power with new leaders in Europe — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy — who are more congenial to Britain and the United States than their predecessors. “He burst out laughing, and he indicated, in an inimitable English way, that he agrees with me on his luck,” Lantos said.

Sarkozy apparently made the same mistake, declaring that Brown was “mon ami anglais”.

Maybe they’ll all figure it out eventually.