Here is a list of some of my favorite things. I include them in the hope that you'll discover something new that interests you. I've divided my interests into the following sections:
- The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra (in Johnstown, PA)
- The Princeton University Orchestra
- The MIT Symphony
- The MIT Musical Theater Guild. Usually I play bass in the pit orchestra, but once I even performed as a singer/actor (as Sam Byck, the would-be assassin of Richard Nixon, in Stephen Sondheim's Assassins).
- The Vanderbilt University Orchestra
- The Northwestern Philharmonia
- Occasional chamber music groups, for pieces such as Schubert's Trout Quintet
- A few rock bands, which named Just Shy, Hindsight,
and Perfect Madness.
In 1996, I wrote some gee-whiz stuff about the Internet on this section of my Web page. It's no longer so uncommon for someone to say, as I did then, that "I couldn't imagine my life without the Internet." It's still true, though, that I spent more time writing email than any other activity. And the Internet has been an essential part of my research. For example, my Ph.D. dissertation reported the results of a series of auction experiments I ran over the Internet, with participants submitting their bids via email. (The auctions were for cards from the game Magic: the Gathering.) Today I do research on electronic commerce and advertising at Yahoo!.
I have developed a World Wide Web site devoted to interactive economic simulations, which help to illustrate some principles of economics to my students. I also built and maintain the Economic Science Association website for the worldwide organization of experimental economists.
I'm a Macintosh fanatic. As of 2007, I have been using a MacBook Pro. Admittedly, the Microsoft Windows environment has improved a lot since I first started ranting about this, but I still prefer my Mac. It makes life simpler and easier for me.
For daily news updates about the Macintosh, including tons of announcements of newly available software, I rely on the Macintosh Resource Page.
For information about the Macintosh and the Internet, I read TidBITS, a weekly electronic magazine with particularly informative, well-written articles.
I recommend to everyone the following two articles from TidBITS on email etiquette: Mailing List Manners 101 and Mailing List Manners 102. These articles include good ideas, not obvious to everyone, about thoughtful "netiquette" to make cyberspace a much nicer place for everyone.
I'm sure you are already familiar with Wikipedia, but I'm going to include a button to demonstrate that I donate money to them. I've been very impressed with their ability to maintain so much information from volunteers.
Here's an interesting page where you can play 20 Questions against a computer, and help the computer improve its performance.
Here's another interesting page where you can participate in the Small World sociology experiment, which aims to measure how many "degrees of separation" there are between two randomly chosen people. My first target was an Indonesian graduate student in computer science.
I love to cook, though I'm afraid I've not found much time for it lately. I try to prepare a variety of kinds of food: Asian stir-fries, broiled fish in red-wine-garlic sauce, chicken with capers and olives, taco salad with homemade guacamole, French onion soup, hearty lentil soup, grilled pork loin, etc. My most-used cookbook is The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, though I enjoy a lot of other cookbooks as well.
I'm also very much into restaurants. Some people find it odd, but I have been known to plan vacation travel around a particular restaurant I want to visit. I'm always looking for new fine dining experiences.
My dinner at elBulli in Spain in 2001 remains the most sublime dining experience I've ever had. The combinations of textures, colors, flavors, temperatures - every dimension of the food experience - were incredible. Highlights from the tasting menu included paella Rice Krispies, goose barnacles skewered on a broth pipette and frozen-foie-gras quinoa with hot consommé.
My favorite Tucson restaurants include Acacia, Bistro Zin, Cafe Poca Cosa, Cafe Terra Cotta, The Dish, El Charro, Janos, Miguel's, Neo of Melaka, P.F. Chang's, Pastiche, Vivace, and Wildflower.
My favorite restaurant reviews on the Internet used to be found at Steven Shaw's New York Restaurant Review and Food Guide. I really enjoy the way Steven (aka Fat Guy) writes about food, so I'm disappointed that the site no longer appears to be active. However, I've noticed that he has started the site egullet.org, and you can find his How to Dine guide on that site. I find him both informative and entertaining.
I'm also interested in winetasting. I'm most familiar with California wines, particularly Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs, and Zinfandels, but I'm always interested in learning about other varietals and other winegrowing regions.A good wine site I've visited on the Web include Wine Today. The Wine Spectator site has a decent introduction to wine tasting.
Princeton economics professor Orley Ashenfelter publishes Liquid Assets, a wine-tasting newsletter with an unusual and interesting emphasis on the use of statistics.
Amy Reiley's Pocket Vineyard allows you to take her wine tips with you, and keep your own wine-tasting notes with you, on your handheld computer.
Before I went into economics, I studied astrophysics at Princeton University, where my favorite professors included David Spergel and Jill Knapp. Although I'm not an expert, I still enjoy stargazing and learning about astronomy, so I'm happy to share some of my favorite astronomy links.
AstroWeb is a comprehensive reference site for astronomers.
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell
- The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
- The Cider House Rules, by John Irving
- The Code Book, by Simon Singh
- Why is Sex Fun?, by Jared Diamond
- Le Ton Beau de Marot, by Douglas Hofstadter
- Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie
- A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
- Jim Henson: the Works, by Christopher Finch
- Among Schoolchildren, by Tracy Kidder
My research currently centers around bidding in Internet auctions. I particularly recommend AuctionWatch as a source of information on online auctions, including categorized lists of sites as well as a really nice collection of news articles, updated daily. There exist many dozens of sites where commercial auctions take place, but eBay is by far the biggest.from Worth magazine. I believe the article is highly exaggerated, but its basis in truth is what makes it so funny,
If you are interested in game theory (the study of strategic interactions), I recommend visiting Mike Shor's Web site Gametheory.net.
Here are some economist friends with particularly interesting Web sites:
- Al Roth - maintains a Game Theory and Experimental Economics page.
- Peter Cramton - an economist with extensive information on auctions and bargaining.
- Charlie Holt -
does innovative economics experiments for both research and teaching.
Brad Delong - I enjoy his thoughtful essays on economics for the popular press.
- Preston McAfee - to see his set of economist jokes, choose "My Documents" and "Humor."
For business news, I read the Wall Street Journal. I particularly enjoy the Marketplace section, from which I draw a lot of cases I discuss with my students. Click here to subscribe at special student rates.
On May 15-17, 2003, I hosted a workshop on classroom experiments here in Tucson. I work with a group that has been putting on such workshops annually.
Every January I participate in the IAP Mystery Hunt at MIT. This involves competing in teams to solve a set of mind-blowingly difficult puzzles (I'm not exaggerating here: see this word puzzle, this number puzzle, and this trivia puzzle as illustrative examples) in order to obtain clues to the location of a coin hidden somewhere on campus. I had the satisfaction of participating on the winning teams in 1995 and 2005. I captained our winning 1995 team, which designed and ran the 1996 hunt.
I am a big fan of The Muppets, particularly the little-known Muppets Tonight! TV show. If you haven't yet met Clifford, Bobo, Seymour and Pepe, and Andy and Randy, then you've been missing some great Muppets! More recently, Muppets Central has provided even more details on the Muppets.
I enjoy listening to National Public Radio for news and interesting features. I particularly like the weekly programs Car Talk and Prairie Home Companion, which you can sample online. I appeared as a guest on the show Talk of the Nation, hosted by Neal Conan, on June 5, 2002 - you can listen to the recording online.
I enjoy sunsets and mountain hikes in my home of Tucson, Arizona.