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Reasons to Love Berkeley: The Two Weeks Before Classes Begin

Enough people are back that you run into by accident to make life really interesting, but people are not yet so harried with term-time work as to be running around with heads down grunting. So you learn a lot--and are entertained a lot by your colleagues.

For example, yesterday I spent four hours outside at Nefeli on Euclid, where we talked about (among other subjects):

Frida Kahlo's back brace, the descendents of Leon Trotsky's cats, how Europe has managed to step into the same Heraclitan river twice in 1931 and again in 2011, why Barry Eichengreen and I were so confident back in 2008 that we would not step into the same river twice, Tim Geithner's unwillingness to have people call for his impeachment on the floor of the House of Representatives, whether the Obama Administration is lying when it claims that its desires to use Fannie and Freddie to boost the housing market are being blocked by Acting Director Ed DeMarco of the FHFA and there is nothing it can do, whether the Congressional Republicans are prisoners of or masters of their base, how Nelson Polsby missed an opportunity to say something truly gracious upon the death of Aaron Wildavsky, fights among the intellectual children of "Polyarchy" Dahl, whether it is a benefit or a curse to have a student of Soviet politics as a provost, the Rural Electrification Administration, the reliability of public utilities in the Berkeley Hills, what Obama will surrender to the Republicans in order to get a one-month continuing resolution passed on September 30, how to teach political economy to undergraduates, and assorted other topics.