The_Economic_Naturalist

The_Economic_Naturalist - The Economic Naturalist In Search...

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The Economic Naturalist In Search of Solutions to Everyday Enigmas Robert H. Frank Basic Books April 2007
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2 THE ECONOMIC NATURALIST In Search of Solutions to Everyday Enigmas Robert H. Frank Contents Acknowledgments Introduction Chapter 1. Rectangular Milk Cartons and Cylindrical Soda Cans: The Economics of Product Design Chapter 2. Free Peanuts and Expensive Batteries: Supply and Demand in Action Chapter 3. Why Equally Talented Workers Often Earn Different Salaries and Other Mysteries of the World of Work Chapter 4. Why Some Buyers Pay More than Others: The Economics of Discount Pricing Chapter 5. Why Smart for One Is Sometimes Dumb for All Chapter 6. The Myth of Ownership Chapter 7. Decoding Marketplace Signals Chapter 8. The Economic Naturalist Hits the Road Chapter 9. Psychology Meets Economics Chapter 10. The Informal Market for Personal Relationships Chapter 11. Two Originals Parting Thoughts
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Acknowledgments When I first started teaching introductory economics, a senior colleague advised me to begin each class with a joke. It would start students off in a good mood, he explained, and make them more receptive to the ensuing lecture. I never followed his advice. It wasn’t that I thought he was wrong in principle. Rather, I thought it would be too hard to come up with a relevant joke each time and felt that telling an irrelevant one would just be pandering. As luck would have it, however, I stumbled upon a joke that seems just the right vehicle to launch this book. The joke is set in Boston, a city known for its learned cab drivers, many of them dropouts from Harvard and MIT: A woman lands at Logan Airport, grabs her luggage and jumps into a cab, hungry for a good New England seafood dinner. “Take me to a place where I can get scrod,” she tells the driver. Eyebrow arched, the cabbie turns and says, “That’s the first time I’ve heard anyone say that in the pluperfect subjunctive.” Few people actually know what the pluperfect subjunctive tense is. I didn’t, or didn’t realize I did, so I looked it up on ASK JEEVES: The pluperfect subjunctive (or past perfect subjunctive) tense is used to express a hypothetical situation or an action which is contrary to reality. In this case, the verb in the main clause is conjugated in the conditional form and it is necessary to use the subjunctive in the subordinate clause. Here’s an example that will be familiar to New York Yankee fans from the late 1990s, when Chuck Knoblauch, the team’s second baseman, inexplicably lost his ability
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4 to complete the short throw to first baseman Tino Martinez: “The Yankees would have been out of the inning if Knoblauch had made the throw to first.” As is clear from the definition and example, the woman in the joke didn’t actually use the pluperfect subjective tense at all. If the joke works, it is only because most of us haven’t the foggiest idea what this tense is.
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This note was uploaded on 03/27/2008 for the course ECON 1110 taught by Professor Wissink during the Spring '06 term at Cornell.

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The_Economic_Naturalist - The Economic Naturalist In Search...

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