I’m quite happy to fill in for Bryan while he’s holidaying in California. I finished up at GMU about three years ago before taking a job at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Bryan’s given me a bit of a promotion in his description by calling me Prof; the Kiwis follow the Brits in academic ranks. I’m Senior Lecturer here, which I suppose would fall somewhere between Assistant and Associate Prof in US terms.

Bryan paints me as an angry man. In my defence, I’ll note that I scored low on all the other component parts of neuroticism. On net, anger has fallen considerably since arriving in New Zealand. I’ll try to come up with some suitably angry posts to make Bryan happy though. Reasons for reduced anger:

  • The safety nuts haven’t yet taken over here. You’re still free to injure yourself in interesting ways. Mountain roads to ski fields are exhilirating and terrifying; occasionally, cars fall off of them. The Department of Conservation might warn you against doing something particularly stupid, but you can feel free to ignore them. When folks win Darwin awards as consequence, there’s no hue and cry for stricter safety regulations.
  • Politics is more relaxed. The Prime Minister lent her voice to an episode of BroTown, a cartoon that sits somewhere between Simpsons and South Park. The leader of the ACT Party spent a few weeks on the NZ version of Dancing with the Stars.
  • The Broadcasting Standards Authority is a good deal more relaxed than the FCC. Free to air broadcast television includes South Park, Deadwood and the Sopranos. In response to complaints, the BSA is far more likely to tell folks to stop whinging than it is to levy fines.
  • Society failed to implode after the legalisation of prostitution and gay marriage (civil unions).
  • I haven’t had to worry about the terrorism alert status since I got here.
  • It’s an easy 25 minute commute from beach to school.

On the downside:

  • I’ve yet to find a single Ethiopian restaurant.
  • Tyler Cowen told me that New Zealand would teach me the importance of fixed costs. He wasn’t wrong.
  • Broadband speed is about 5 years behind that in the States. Recent moves to local loop unbundling make it unlikely that there will be any significant investment in fibre optic connections to residences.
  • David Friedman says we’ll expect cold houses in warm climates as consequence of rational maximisation. I think the theory applies doubly so when the housing stock was built by Brits holding near-Lysenkoist beliefs about the merits of harsh environments for child-rearing.

I’ll try to remember what the Beltway was like prior to my next posting. I can feel the anger rising already…