Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Failing Home Economics"

Many people make irrational decisions when dealing with money and their budgets:
"A behavior called loss aversion tends to freeze consumers in place in one area even as spending in other areas remains unchecked. Mr. Brafman noted that many would-be travelers, rattled by the rise at the pump last summer, canceled their vacation plans while continuing to spend at home. Gas prices were up, on average, $2 a gallon, he said. 'It seems like a substantial amount, but for a 600 mile trip, that amounts to $80 in savings. This could have been easily recouped by cutting out one trip to a restaurant.'"
Also, people tend to view money in relative rather than absolute terms. Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, explains:

“Need” and “cost,” he pointed out, are deeply personal and wildly relative. “I have a student at M.I.T.,” Mr. Ariely continued, “a very smart guy, who just wrote me bemoaning the fact he’d lost all this money in the stock market.”

The student told Mr. Ariely he had wanted to buy a $4,000 mountain bike, and regretted not doing so before the stock slide. However, he had decided to buy the thing anyway.

“He had lost so much money already he was immunized against feeling the pinch of the purchase of the mountain bike,” Mr. Ariely said. “In other words, having lost $40,000 in one week, looking at spending $4,000 on a bike seemed like nothing.
Read the NY Times article here.

"What’s the Value of a Big Bonus?"

Dan Ariely, a NY Times Op-Ed contributor and Duke University Professor, recently published research revealing that large bonuses may be counterproductive.

People that have relatively smaller bonuses tend to preform as well as, or better than, people with the highest bonuses. Trials were taken across the world, including India and top level US business schools. Read his article in the NY Times here.

"Yes, We Will Have No Bananas"

This past summer Dan Koeppel from the NY Times wrote an Op-Ed piece on the artificial prices of bananas.
"...That bananas have long been the cheapest fruit at the grocery store is astonishing. They’re grown thousands of miles away, they must be transported in cooled containers and even then they survive no more than two weeks after they’re cut off the tree.

Apples, in contrast, are typically grown within a few hundred miles of the store and keep for months in a basket out in the garage. Yet apples traditionally have cost at least twice as much per pound as bananas.

Americans eat as many bananas as apples and oranges combined, which is especially amazing when you consider that not so long ago, bananas were virtually unknown here. They became a staple only after the men who in the late 19th century founded the United Fruit Company (today’s Chiquita) figured out how to get bananas to American tables quickly — by clearing rainforest in Latin America, building railroads and communication networks and inventing refrigeration techniques to control ripening.

The banana barons also marketed their product in ways that had never occurred to farmers or grocers before, by offering discount coupons, writing jingles and placing bananas in schoolbooks and on picture postcards. They even hired doctors to convince mothers that bananas were good for children..."
Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mail Googles

Google Labs just came out with a new product that will save you from drunk emailing. This was written by a Google Engineer,
Sometimes I send messages I shouldn't send. Like the time I told that girl I had a crush on her over text message. Or the time I sent that late night email to my ex-girlfriend that we should get back together. Gmail can't always prevent you from sending messages you might later regret, but today we're launching a new Labs feature I wrote called Mail Goggles which may help.

When you enable Mail Goggles, it will check that you're really sure you want to send that late night Friday email. And what better way to check than by making you solve a few simple math
problems after you click send to verify you're in the right state of mind?

By default, Mail Goggles is only active late night on the weekend as that is the time you're most likely to need it. Once enabled, you can adjust when it's active in the General settings.

Hopefully Mail Goggles will prevent many of you out there from sending messages you wish you hadn't. Like that late night memo -- I mean mission statement -- to the entire firm.
Read the original blog post here.

A Moving Skyscraper

"Each of the floors of the Dynamic Tower rotates independently, giving the building different shapes throughout the day. (Dynamic Architecture/ David Fisher)" Read the article here.

The Mindset in the Middle of the Storm

"The question must be asked: the world seems to be crumbling so what kind of person thinks he could actually fix it?" Read the answer here.

Tempelhof Airport in Berlin Closed on Thursday

Berlin’s mayor, Klaus Wowereit, advocated for closing Tempelhof, because it was an unprofitable drain on the city’s budget.
“I wanted to see the last plane take off, but they won’t let me in,” said Gunther Münke, 68, who said that as a young boy he would stand with his brother on a nearby hillside, made famous from photographs of the airlift, where children gathered to catch the sweets dropped by friendly pilots. Mr. Münke said he later worked on the building’s heating system and felt a bond with the landmark. “It is something old, and you cannot just get rid of the old.”
Read the rest of the article here.

"An Open and Shut Marriage"

The New York Times has a column called "Modern Love," in which it discusses the changing dating and marriage landscape. Recently Colette DeDonato wrote about open marriages and the problems that come with polygamy. What happens if you have a crush on a person you are not married to? Read the rest of the article here.

Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were

"It’s not a pipeline problem. It’s about loneliness, competition and deeply rooted barriers." Read more in the NYT .