Share of the Week
Every week I share a bit of content that I found useful, interesting or otherwise worth sharing. You can expect these to be memes, comic strips, podcasts, articles, twitter threads, etc.
This Week: Extreme Climbs
I decided to reveal my obsession with climbing and all things extreme. I really enjoy watching and reading about people in extreme situations, whether they seek them intentionally or they just find themselves in such scenarios. I like to think about what makes these people different, and whether I could pull something that extreme off. So, here's a compilation of some of my favorites:
1. Into Thin AirA Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster , by Jon Krakauer.
A friend recommended this book to me. They called it an excellent exploration of the human condition, I agree . It is a first hand account of a (very fatal) 1996 Everest expedition. The author was writing a magazine article about commercial Everest expeditions when a storm hit. Krakauer's account of what happened and his assessment on why make for a thrilling and very interesting read. It won't take you long to finish it. You can find it on Amazon here, and it's also available on audible. I should also mention that Krakauer's account caused some controversy, especially since other survivors challenged some of what is on the book. This, of course, just makes the whole situation more interesting.
This documentary is amazing. I don't want to give any spoilers, so I will just say that this tells the story of a team of three men who want to ascend Mount Meru's Shark Fin route. A route that had never been completed before. The documentary provides some insight on what these climbers have in mind, the risks they take and, my favorite part, the profound and particular relationships that are developed under such circumstances. A must! You can watch it on Youtube, Amazon Prime and other streaming platforms.
3. Free Solo, a National Geographic movie
Another documentary, this time about a single (solo) climber, Alex Honnold, who wants to climb El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park by himself, with no ropes (free). Again, no spoilers, but through this movie you can get a glimpse of what makes these extreme climbers different from the rest of us, and how that impacts other spheres of their lives. The endeavour on its own is worth watching, but taking a peek at Alex Honnold's character makes it fascinating. Stream it on Hulu, Youtube, Amazon, etc.
The Nuclear Family Was A Mistake
This week, I am sharing this article by David Brooks, about the evolution of family structures in time. It talks about how the switch between an extended family model to a nuclear family model has left us without some important social ties. This article is not a cry to go back to the good old family values, but a note that when we shrink our communities there are tradeoffs that affect some more than others.
The article emphasizes that this change disproportionally affects the poor: the rich can pay for some of the activities that extended family used to do, such as childcare. I have some reservations about some of the claims, specifically about the discussion of single parent homes (cue my female-headed households work in progress!), but they made me think, and I spy room for interesting discussion. I think, of course, that this discussion cannot be had without talking about the patriarchal structures that remain in our society as well as the diversity of families that exists today.
The article is written from the perspective of the American experience, which is likely different from other contexts. Indeed, many of these depictions differ from how I would describe general family life in Mexico, but still, it’s an interesting topic to think about because -regardless of where in the spectrum we are- the tension between the benefits of independence and the benefits of communities exists.
Brooks does not examine the role of the state in this article, but some parts of it reminded me of other discussions, where people have argued that it is the state that should provide services to take on some of the roles that extended families used play, such as universal childcare.
I highly recommend this read, it sparked interesting conversations with my friends, made me reflect on my personal beliefs about the roles of families, my own family ties and also whether and how the state can react to this tradeoff. Stability vs mobility. Freedom vs support, independence vs community. The trade-off is there, but where do we optimize?
Two big bonuses of this article: 1) You can either read it or listen to it online or on the Audm app 2) It cites the work of Minnesota Population Center Director Steven Ruggles. I’d love to discuss more about this, so tweet at me! @nataliaordaz
I listen to a lot of podcasts. I have my forever favorites, but I like to explore new ones to hear other people's views and takes. This week I decided to share bunch of good podcasts, which were recommended to me by friends . Most of these are not serial, so you can listen to episodes in whichever order. I am embedding one of my favorite episodes of each. If you have other recommendations, I am always looking for more shows to add to my list.
Of course I had to start with this amazing podcast hosted by Jennifer Doleac. Every episode she has a different guest talking about their research- mostly economics and crime. Amazing guests every episode, and it is always so informative to listen to the author talk about their work. This episode has Mica Sviatschi talking about her paper on how deportations of Salvadoran members of LA gangs in the 90s increased violence in El Salvador. Not to miss!
Investigative journalism is something I really enjoy reading or listening to, and who doesn't, really? Reply All tells different stories of current relevance, but this episode is especial for me, as I remember this story unfolding in real time.
A Journalist Called Andrea Noel is attacked on the street in broad daylight in an upsacale neighborhood in Mexico City. The video of the attack goes viral and she starts investigating who is behind it.
A great podcast about architechture and design is always a refreshing break from economics (is it really a break, though?). This episode is about my hometown: Mexico City. Talking about the impacts of urbanization, architechture, marketing, climate and gardens: also not to miss.
DeepMind: The Podcast
Hannah Fry shows up on this list more than once! Her shows were recommended to me by a couple of family friends who were clearly fans and converted me. I like her approachable take on science communication . This eight part podcast is exclusively about AI and discusses what it is and some examples of how it's being used. This one about robots is super interesting.
First recommendation in Spanish! Radio Ambulante is one of my favorite podcasts. It tells stories of Latin America and Latinos all around the world. Their award winning stories are always engaging and relevant.
This episode is about the truly remarkable story of a José Salvador Alvarenga, who got caught up in a storm on a small fishing boat and survived lost in the ocean for 438 days.
If you aren't fluent in Spanish but want to learn, Radio Ambulante has an app for that! It-s called Lupa.
Así Como Suena
Another recommendation in Spanish. Asi como Suena is a podcast made in Mexico. Topics vary: the stories of female construction workers in Mexico City, stories about the significance of grandmothers across cultures, political scandals, and the life stories of children born inside prision.
All of the episodes narrate interesting and personal stories. This episode is about how four lives were changed by a single transplant- but mostly this is a story about friendship and love.
Ouside/In is a podcast about nature and our relationship with it. This is the newest addition to my rotation, but I was very pleasently surprised by this particular episode. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but this episode talks about how the structure of our society can have repercussions, for generations, on our relationship with water.
The Curious Cases of Rutherford And Fry
Last but not least: Hannah Fry again! Well deserved because she is just wonderful. In this more informal podcast, she and Adam Rutherford talk about "curious cases" or things that we all want to know. Crucially, they use the power of science, which is what we are all about.
In this episode: hangovers: WHY? Also recommended: The Good Bad Food, and The Human Instrument.
Jan 27th-Feb 2nd I am working on a paper about the evolution of female headed households around the world, with Khoa Vu and Anna Bolgrien. We are working with lots of data and have been thinking about how to visualize it efficiently and in an attractive way. For this purpose, I have recently seen a lot of different chart types and maps.
If you are also looking for inspiration for a specific project, or if you just want to see what other people have done, here are some examples.
I am also sharing the link to Rob Kabacoff's online book on data visualization in r, which I have found super helpful.
This week, I decided to share a few of the resources that I use to plan for the semester. I hope you find them useful!
- The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity has a few webbinars on their Core Curriculum. I specifically use skills 1 (every semester needs a plan) & 2 (How to Align Your Time with Your Priorities). I am by no means perfect at adhering to my plans, but this makes it much easier to keep working on long term goals and stay in track. You can gain access to their contents via an institutional account (like I do, through the University of Minnesota)
- A bullet journal. Not for everyone but certainly for me. I don't step outside without my notebook. Here you can find a 5 minute intro. What I like the most about the system is that it is simple and customizable.
- Finally, one thing that has really helped me stay on track with my academic stuff is to have a systematic hobby that produces something tangible. For me, this has so far meant online baking classes.
- It is important (to me) that it is systematic because that allows me to feel like I am moving forward, and it minimizes the number of decisions I need to make. I can just follow the curriculum that has been already designed.
- It matters (again, to me) that it produces something tangible because it provides what academic work sometimes can't: I work=> I get something. While I can work for weeks in getting my standard errors right and get nowhere, if I spend half an hour making a pavlova, I will get something. And I will eat it.
If you have other resources that help you stay on track, tweet them at me @nataliaordaz!
Dec 16th- Dec 22nd:
I have been sharing lots of podcasts here, and I was looking for something different, but I listened to the first episode of Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill podcast and I guess I am sharing another podcast! This episode shows the interesting point of view of a PI turned democracy advocate (?) in the Harvey Weinstein case. I really enjoyed how the story is narrated, and I was intrigued by Igor Ostrovskiy, the PI tasked with following Farrow and other journalists, presumably on behalf of Weinstein's defense. I am looking forward to the rest of the series, but even as a stand-alone episode, it was worth the 35 minutes! It is also a great way to learn about Ronan's investigative journalism on Weinstein without adding another book to your pile. You can click on the description on the right, or listen on nprONE.
Dec 1st-Dec 8th:
I love listening to Hidden Brain. I have to say, though, that I especially love it when it is *not* explicitly about economics, because it does a great job of explaining a topic to those of us who are not knowledgeable in it. While catching up with some grading, I listened to this episode, in which Shankar Vedantam interviews Raj Chetty.
It is an excellent listen, even if you are familiar with Chetty's work. He explains findings of many of his studies and gives a very detailed characterization of inequality and mobility in the US, and the evidence they have found about its determinants.
This podcast showcases some of the best economic research done on this topic: with and without experiments ;), all while showing the intricacies of policy evaluation and measurement. Listen to it, it will be a very well spent 52 minutes.
Nov 25th- Dec 1st and Nov 18th-24th
I was a little behind in my share of the week this time, but I decided to post two articles that I have really enjoyed, one in English and one in Spanish. Both are excellent pieces of writing. They are about the human experience, human emotions.
In Epífita de Ciudad Inhóspita, Alaíde Ventura writes about relationships and what makes a home, through her experience living in Mexico City. It provides delectable insight into what it is like to make such a gargantuan city your home.
In Reflections on My Decision to Change Gender, Deirdre McCloskey reflects on how her life and relationships have been impacted by her transition. It is a deeply touching article, showing us the good and the bad, in pristine McCloskey writing.
Empathy, the human condition, and how we make our own lives are the themes that link these two pieces together. And excellent writing. I hope you enjoy them!