Wednesday, February 29, 2012

America is Europe

The complexity of our tax code allows us to believe that we're not a welfare state, but that's false. Read more in David Brook's piece in the NYT. (Thanks, Tom)

HBR Daily Stat: Researchers Can Easily "Prove" False Findings

Using legitimate statistical analyses, researchers were able to show in an experiment that participants were nearly 1.5 years younger after listening to the Beatles' "When I'm Sixty-Four" than after listening to a song that comes with the Windows 7 operating system—an obviously ridiculous finding that demonstrates how easy it is for research to yield "false positives," say Joseph P. Simmons and Uri Simonsohn of The Wharton School and Leif D. Nelson of UC Berkeley. Too often, researchers aren't aware of the high likelihood of finding false evidence, and the pressure to publish leads scientists to convince themselves of the validity of their findings, the authors say.

Read more about the False-Positive Psychology.

Leap year flight of fancy: how to remake the calendar with no leap day

What if we didn't have a leap year and holidays fell on the same day every year. It's possible -- but will tradition stop it from happening?

Two professors, an astrophysicist and an economist, propose junking the leap day dependent Gregorian Calendar for a 364-day (52-week) year and a leap week every once in a while. Read more in CS Monitor. (Thanks, Tom)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Michael Sandel: The lost art of democratic debate

If you enjoyed the TED talk, check out Michael's website Justice. (Thanks, Scott!)

11 Things to Know at 25(ish)

Strong religious undertone -- things to remember as we get older! Read more in Relevant Magazine. (Thanks, Claire)

Tackling the World Economy

Richard Shiller has a solution: give people shares of GDP. We can solve the debt crisis by replacing T-bills with “Trills.”

Read more in HBR. (Thanks, Joyce!)

HBR Daily Stat: Reading Irrelevant Info Hurts Your Ability to Think

"Research participants who had read useless information about future negotiation partners were 46% less likely to identify important issues in the negotiation than people who had been told nothing, suggesting that irrelevant information hampers clear thinking, say Margaret Neale of Stanford and Scott Wiltermuth of the University of Southern California.

"Moreover, statements such as "This person prefers a certain amount of change and variety and becomes dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations" tended to be rated as advantageous, indicating that the participants were unable to perceive the uselessness of the information they were given, the researchers say."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How Companies Learn Your Secrets

Target can tell if a women is pregnant before she tells anyone by the change in her shopping habits?! Brilliant or creepy?

... And if they throw in a random lawnmower into the mailer so she doesn't know she is being spied on, she is even more likely to use the coupons. Read more in the NYT. (Thanks, Neil)

The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets

New paper published at Yale:
"Languages differ dramatically in how much they require their speakers to mark the timing of events when speaking. In this paper I test the hypothesis that being required to speak differently about future events (what linguists call strongly grammaticalized future-time reference) leads speakers to treat the future as more distant, and to take fewer future-oriented actions.

"Consistent with this hypothesis I find that in every major region of the world, speakers of strong-FTR languages save less per year, hold less retirement wealth, smoke more, are more likely to be obese, and suffer from worse long-run health. This holds true even after extensive controls that compare only demographically similar individuals born and living in the same country.

"While not dispositive, the evidence does not seem to support the most obvious forms of common causation. Implications of these findings for theories of intertemporal choice are discussed."
Pretty interesting how culture and language choices may impact savings habits! Read more at Yale's Economics website. (Thanks, Tom)

Affluent, Born Abroad and Choosing New York’s Public Schools

Affluent, foreign-born parents generally believe that public schools are a better place for their children to experience a wider range of cultures and better street-smarts. Read more in the NYT. (Thanks, Alessia)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The M.R.S. and the Ph.D.

Read more in the NYT.

Hazard of the Trade: Bankers' Health

Seriously? Wow. "Every individual she observed over a decade developed a stress-related physical or emotional ailment within several years on the job, she says in a study to be published this month."

Read more at WSJ. (Thanks, Rish!)

Finish each day

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. -- Emerson

(Thanks, Claire)

Sunday, February 12, 2012


With all the talk about the 99 vs 1% and social controversies, here's one take:
...Before he disappointed his many admirers by declining to seek the Republican nomination, Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana told the Weekly Standard’s Andrew Ferguson that the gravity of the economic and fiscal challenges facing America’s next president might require calling a temporary “truce on the so-called social issues.” On culture war controversies like abortion and same-sex marriage, he suggested, “we’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while.”
But what would a truce look like? Read more in the NYT. (Thanks, Alessia)

McKinsey Consults The Masses To Find The Best Social Innovation

A new initiative from the consulting giant lets you vote on the most socially innovative companies, from TB-sniffing rats to high-tech new stoves. Here's one of the eleven finalist videos:

Read more in Fast Company's Co-Design site. (Thanks, Connor)

Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work

(Thanks, Joyce)

Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability

10 Disney Princes And Whether Or Not You Should Marry Them

"We all know that no one is more of a model for your own future knight-in-shining-armor than a good, old-fashioned Disney Prince. While some may be less desirable than others, for a variety of reasons, we know that at the end of the day, they are the kind of guy you will ride off into the sunset with and, according to their movies, literally never encounter a single problem with. What kind of real-life guy could offer such stability? None. Here, a guide for your future animated romances."

Sadly, my childhood prince scored a 2/10, haha. Read more in Thought Catalog. (Thanks, Alessia)

20 New Year’s Resolutions For 20-Somethings

A couple of my favorites:
1.Before you status update, Tweet, Tumble or Instagram, pause and say to yourself, “is it entirely necessary that I share this morsel of thought with my entire social network?”and if the answer is not, “yes, I absolutely must,” then step away from the Internet.

5. Find a way to save approximately 300 dollars and spend it on a flight to see a friend or family member who lives far away.

6. Please stop liking the Kardashians, all of them. It’s not helping anyone, least of all the Kardashians.
Read more in Thought Catalog.


If you ever wanted a calendar that concisely identifies the big news stories coming up in the next day or week... look no longer: Zapaday.

The Power of Mentoring

Read Gerald Chertavian (of Lowell, MA) in the NYT's job market section. (Thanks, Aunt Pam)

Calif. HS student devises possible cancer cure

An inspirational story about 17 year old Angela Zhang. Read more in CBS News. (Thanks, Jamie)

Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street

Read more about quants in WIRED.

Pronunciation: Boston Style

If you can understand all of these stories, you have spent too much time in Beantown. Read more at Universal Hub. (Thanks, Uncle Kevin)

Watch Kristen Bell adorably lose her shit over a sloth

Read more at Jezebel. (Thanks, Chrissy!)

The Age of Big Data

For those who can make sense of the explosion of data, there are job opportunities in fields as diverse as crime, retail and dating. Read more in the NYT.

(Students in Duke's newly minted MSEM program are going to be in high demand!)

Cuteness Pt 2: Sophia Grace and Rosie Rap

(Thanks, Uncle Kevin)

The $1.6 Billion Woman, Staying on Message

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's No. 2 executive, considers herself a role model for women. But her call isn't simply about mentoring and empowering; it's also a business strategy. Read more in the NYT. (Thanks, mom)

Fotoshop by Adobé

Fotoshop by Adobé from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

(Thanks, Claire)

Income inequality: Who exactly are the 1%?

The very rich in America increasingly work in finance, marry each other and care passionately about politics. Read more in the Economist. (Thanks, Tom)

B Corps: Firms with Benefits

"On January 3, a new California law designed to give businesses greater freedom to pursue strategies that they believe benefit society as a whole rather than having to concentrate on maximizing profits went into effect. According to Patagonia CEO Yvon Chouinard, the new 'benefit corporation' - usually referred to as a B Corp - creates the legal framework for firms like his to remain true to their social goals.

"To qualify as a B Corp, a firm must have an explicit social or environmental mission, and a legally binding fiduciary responsibility to take into account the interests of workers, the community, and the environment as well as its shareholders. It must also publish independently verified reports on its social and environmental impact alongside its financial results.

"Other than that, it can go about business as usual. California is the sixth state to allow B Corps, but the idea of a legal framework for firms that put profits second is not confined to the United States. Britain, for example, has since 2005 allowed people to form 'community interest companies.' Similar laws are brewing in several European countries."

Read more in the Economist.

Doing Good to Do Well

"A growing number of large corporations are sending small teams of employees to developing countries to provide free consulting services to nonprofits and other organizations. A major goal: to scope out business opportunities in hot emerging markets.

"At a cost of $5,000 to over $20,000 per employee, the programs require a significant investment. But the programs drum up good public relations, both internally and externally, via positive media coverage and blogs that many participants write from the field. Company officials also say the popular programs can help them recruit in-demand talent and retain valued employees." Read more in the WSJ.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Opinion: Facebook Is Using You

Whether you can obtain a job, credit or insurance can be based on your digital doppelganger - and you may never know why you've been turned down. Read more in the NYT. (Thanks, Dad)

An updated map of Texas

(Thanks, Kevin)

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 .