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Economics Educator. Improviser. Community Builder. Always looking for the next new thing, for better or for worse.


38 things that are definitely not herd immunity

I’ve seen many smart people trying to explain what exactly herd immunity is, like the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins. Some are trying to figure out when we will get to the magical herd immunity. Some question if we ever will.

You see, I’m not a smart person when it comes to herd immunity. Sure, I’m smart enough to get vaccinated and wash my hands, but I’m not smart enough to talk about herd immunity. You probably aren’t either. So instead, I’ll tell you what herd immunity isn’t.

An empty Coke Zero can with a reusable straw sticking out the…

Is your computer working, Jordan? There’s a red spot on your forehead. Looks like some sort of glitch.

By James Tierney & Samuel Jaye Tanner

I clicked on the link. Another Zoom meeting. I entered the waiting room. I was the only participant, but there was a strange feeling. You know, like when you think you aren’t alone. But you obviously are. You’ve been alone for the past nine months.

There was a red stain on the wall behind me. No idea how it got there. Good thing I downloaded that generic office background for my annual performance review. Why was my video darker than usual? It was like a shadow was in the picture with me. I…


It’s ValenTINE’s Day, dum dum

Is your toddler developmentally appropriate for their age but still an idiot? Do they have difficulty pronouncing certain letters, and more often than you’d like them to, say things incorrectly?

Ha! Sucks to have a dummy as your kid. It’s definitely because you didn’t read to them enough while they were in the womb — or it’s just typical development.

If this sounds like you, which you know it does, you’re in luck. I’m here to let you know how to teach little Bryce-y Bear a lesson. …

Why was I the only dude?

Everyone on the Zoom call presented as female. Besides me. They represented 21/22 of those participating in the first session last Tuesday of Jana Marie Foundation’s Breathe Together — a virtual workshop series creating a space to spark conversations, build connections, and promote mental well-being.

The workshop series, offered in partnership with the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State and HUB-Robeson Gallery, was inspired by the exhibition The Anxiety Project. I didn’t feel out of place but it was obvious I was the only dude.

You can explore The Anxiety Project virtually here and here.

According to the…


Did I deserve it?

I was conflicted. You might be too. Am I too healthy to deserve the COVID-19 vaccine? I’m not that overweight. I don’t smoke that much. Am I too isolated to deserve the COVID-19 vaccine? Sure, my wife and roommate work in-person 5 days a week, but I work from home.

What exactly does it mean to deserve a vaccine during a pandemic, anyway?

I signed up. I told myself from the beginning that as soon as the vaccine was made available for me, I would not pass it up. I would protect myself, my family, and my community.

The PA…


You asked — I answered.

It’s been difficult to connect with students via Zoom this semester as I teach large lectures that approach 400. To help, I added a question to my pre-class survey this semester in my intro to macro class: Is there anything you’d like to know about me as a person?

I believe it is important to follow through in your classrooms on any assignments or tasks you have of your students to make sure busywork isn’t a term used to describe your class. Thus, below are the questions and answers. …


An updated list of suggested organizational items for economic students.

At the beginning of each semester, students ask what it takes to succeed in my class. I tell them attendance and note-taking are the foundation but real learning comes from having the ability to learn outside of the classroom. The only way this is possible is if the student is prepared and well organized.

To help with this, Jadrian Wooten and I developed a toolkit for our students. The following items are not required in our courses but are strongly suggested. These items should help any student get on the path to success.

If you have any suggestions on what…


For Christmas this year, Kimberly Tierney bought me a writing guide from 2011 titled 642 Things to Write About, introduction by Po Bronson at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.

This year, I plan to use the prompts to post more by writing in the guide and reposting here with no editing. The prompt will serve as the title of the post.

Let’s see what we create.

You can doubt yourself.

In a tiny second, all inspiration can go away; every idea can seem stupid.

“No one wants to read that!”, “You’re not an expert in this!”, …


This is easier than sending emails.

My aim each semester is to inspire students to continue exploring economics. If I’ve accomplished that goal, I consider the semester a success.

One way I can measure success is by the number of students who request further readings. Each semester, a handful ask for more information on the Fed, behavioral economics, or several other economic topics.

Over the years, I’ve added to a list of books I’ve read that I recommend. You can find many of the books below and more on Jadrian Wooten’s Top Popular Press Books for Economics Students. Along with his coauthor, Jared McEntaffer, Wooten reached…


Many people use betting markets to shape their expectations.

I enjoy gambling. On sporting events, at the poker table, or an election. Heck, give me some odds on the number of claps this post will get, and I’ll make a bet.

In the betting world, the more likely event is called the favorite, whereas the less likely event is called the underdog. Over the past 36 hours, the betting markets for the next president of the United States have been all over the place. …

James Tierney

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