Sunday, October 20, 2013

First: Assume a Can Opener…

Economists are familiar with the phrase assume a can opener. It comes from a joke most economists know by heart (in one version or another). The joke generally goes like this:

A physicist, a chemist and an economist are stranded on an island, with nothing to eat. A can of soup washes ashore.

The physicist says:  Let's smash the can open with a rock.

The chemist says: Let's build a fire and heat the can first.

The economist says: First: assume that we have a can-opener...

The stereotype that many economic models require unrealistic or absurd assumptions in order to obtain results is a harsh criticism and maybe a bad rap on those who are trying to get a handle on why world economies behave the way they do.

Okay, maybe the economists of the world from academia to business haven’t always been right. The fact is economic theory ranges broadly. Furthermore, study can be focused on microeconomics or macroeconomics. Microeconomics is generally the study of individuals and business decisions, macroeconomics looks at higher up country and government decisions.

Microeconomics considers decisions that businesses make regarding the allocation of resources and prices of goods and services. It takes into account taxes and regulations created by governments. Microeconomics focuses on supply-demand and other forces that determine the price levels in an economy (i.e. how a specific company can maximize production and capacity so it can lower prices and better compete).

Macroeconomics on the other hand, is the field of economics that studies the behavior of the economy as a whole and not just on specific companies, but entire industries and economies. This looks at economy-wide phenomena, such as GDP and how it is affected by changes in unemployment, national income, rate of growth, and price levels (i.e. how an increase/decrease in net exports will affect a nation's capital or how GDP would be affected by unemployment rate).

It has to start somewhere. So, I’m glad there are people willing to First: Assume a Can Opener.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Animation with Clay

Inspired by animation production workshops for children, SSD art instructor Dan Broadfield has been encouraging the kids at Neuwoehner High School to create figures, creatures and themes for animated stories. Dan was himself inspired by artist Maya Yonesho. Shown here: two angles on my own piece which I think would be fun to incorporate into an animation piece.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Storybook Forest

A funny memory. Once my mom took us motoring from our home (Lakewood) just West of Cleveland to this place in Western Pennsylvania called Storybook Forest. Four boys (Wes, Greg, Dan and Rob) and our sister Lynn. Our older brother wasn't with us so maybe we were ages 11, 9, 7, 6 and 5 as passengers when a cop pulled us over in Mom's shiny black 1967 Lincoln Continental going 100 miles and hour.* We arrived at Storybook Forest only to discover the place was closed. (Kind of like that National Lampoon vacation to Wally World when John Candy's character said "sorry folks the park's closed, the moose out front should have told ya.") They let us in to look around anyway.

* I was too young and not paying any attention but I think the cop was somewhat forgiving and reduced the ticket to something like 15 mph over the speed limit. My brother Greg may recall as he was always the navigator in the front seat on such trips.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Happy Autumnal Equinox

Today, our celebration of seasonal change is marked by adjusting daylight savings time on alarm clocks, pumpkin flavored lattes and Halloween candy on sale everywhere from convenience stores to the neighborhood grocery. Kind of makes you think doesn’t it? What will they be saying about us in 1,000 years?

The Fall Equinox on September 22, 2013, the halfway point between solstices when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are each about 12 hours long. The nearly equal 12 hours of light and darkness can be attributed to the Earth's lack of an axial tilt on the day of the equinox. (The word equinox is derived from the Latin words aequus, meaning equal, and nox, meaning night.) Just about 10 miles from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, an ancient  civilization likely celebrated The Fall Equinox. Part of The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site where the remains of the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico are preserved. Woodhenge is a reconstruction of what is believed to be where a sun calendar marked the seasonal changes.

According to archaeological finds, the city of Cahokia was inhabited from about A.D. 700 to 1400. At its peak, from A.D. 1050 to 1200, the city covered nearly six square miles and 10,000 to 20,000 people lived here. Over 120 mounds were built over time, and most of the mounds were enlarged several times. Houses were arranged in rows and around open plazas, and vast agricultural fields lay outside the city.

The fate of the prehistoric Cahokians and their city is unknown, but the decline seems to have been gradual, beginning around the 1200s. By A.D. 1400 the site had been abandoned. Exactly where the people went or what tribes they became is yet to be determined.