Jizzneyland

Mar. 26th, 2017 00:00
[syndicated profile] urban_feed

When a city or town specifically zones an area for "adult" businesses.

Troy, NY resident: Did you know that the City Council voted on the "Jizzneyland" zone last night? I'm not sure if 70 acres near a residential neighborhood is going to be enough.

The new George Steiner book

Mar. 26th, 2017 05:51
[syndicated profile] marginal_revolution_feed

Posted by Tyler Cowen

George Steiner, with Laure Adler, A Long Saturday: Conversations.  Steiner is one of the most knowledgeable people, even into his 90s.  From these conversations I learned that he started working for The Economist as an economics reporter after WWII, computers drive us to a notion of “minimal language,” “God is Kafka’s uncle,” he recommends North, by Ferdinand-Louis Céline, and Ben-Gurion once told him “Only one thing matters: send me your children.”  By the way, “Malraux predicted that the religious wars of the twenty-first century would be the greatest in history.”

Definitely recommended.

The post The new George Steiner book appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

[syndicated profile] marginal_revolution_feed

Posted by Tyler Cowen

Mostly yes, that is a result for cosmetic surgeons, and that may be one reason why online evaluation of medical services has been relatively slow to evolve in an effective manner.  Here is part of the abstract of a new paper:

I argue that surgeons see reviews overwhelmingly as a threat to their reputation, even as actual review content often positively reinforces physician expertise and enhances physician reputation. I show that most online reviews linked to interview participants are positive, according considerable deference to surgeons. Reviews add patients’ embodied and consumer expertise as a circumscribed supplement to surgeons’ technical expertise. Moreover, reviews change the doctor-patient relationship by putting it on display for a larger audience of prospective patients, enabling patients and review platforms to affect physician reputation. Surgeons report changing how they practice to establish and maintain their reputations. This research demonstrates how physician authority in medical consumerist contexts is a product of reputation as well as expertise. Consumerism changes the doctor-patient relationship and makes surgeons feel diminished authority by dint of their reputational vulnerability to online reviews.

Here is the paper, by Alka V. Menon, and the pointer is from the excellent Kevin Lewis.

The post Do online reviews diminish physician authority? appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

[syndicated profile] jwz_blog_feed

Posted by jwz

When you install Signal, it asks for access to your contacts, and says very proudly, "we don't upload your contacts, it all stays on your phone."

And then it spams all of your contacts who have Signal installed, without asking your first.

And it shares your phone number with everyone in your contacts who has Signal installed.

And then when you scream ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME and delete your account and purge the app, guess what? All those people running Signal still have your phone number displayed for them right there in plain text. Deleting your account does not delete the information that the app shared without your permission.

So yeah. Real nice "privacy" app you've got there, assholes.

I'm going back to Facebook Messenger, where at least the privacy failings are obvious.

PS: If you suddenly find yourself in possession of my phone number, please don't share it, with anyone, ever. SIGH.

Bozena Riot

Mar. 25th, 2017 21:11
[syndicated profile] jwz_blog_feed

Posted by jwz

It's like a chicken vacuum, but for democracy!

BOZENA RIOT is a remotely operated, armored vehicle designed to handle riots and mobs in the streets and urbanized areas. The system offers a solution for both protecting the law-enforcement units in action and controlling the situation whenever peace maintenance is required.

High pressure tear gas guns guarantee control of crowds in extreme situations. And the high-tech video system means every moment is captured from all angles.

The Arlington Ladies

Mar. 25th, 2017 18:21
[syndicated profile] futilitycloset_feed

Posted by Greg Ross

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Defense.gov_photo_essay_071215-D-0653H-588.jpg

In 1948, Air Force general Hoyt Vandenberg and his wife Gladys were walking through Arlington National Cemetery when they saw a young airman being buried without any family members present — only the chaplain and military honor guard who attend every burial. Moved by the lonely ceremony, Gladys organized the Officers’ Wives Club so one of its members would attend every Air Force funeral. The other branches of the armed services have followed suit so that today an “Arlington lady” attends every funeral at the cemetery. No soldier is buried alone.

“It doesn’t matter whether we are burying a four-star general or a private,” Margaret Mensch, head of the Army ladies, told NBC. “They all deserve to have someone say thank you at their grave.”

Trump and Healthcare

Mar. 25th, 2017 09:04
[syndicated profile] new_dilbert_feed

Today we are witnessing one of the most important events in political history. But you probably can’t see it because the news is talking about healthcare, and how Ryan and Trump totally failed to get enough votes.

The real story is happening in parallel with the healthcare story, and that’s what renders it invisible. Something enormous is happening that has nothing to do with anything you are seeing in the news. In fact, you’ll probably read it here for the first time.

I’m dragging this out to see if you can guess the big news before I tell you. It is something I predicted would happen. It is something the country needs MORE than healthcare. It was, until yesterday, perceived as the biggest problem in the United States, if not the entire world.

And that problem almost totally went away yesterday. The smell might linger, but the problem has ended. We should be celebrating, but instead we will be yammering about healthcare.

Do you know what problem just got solved? It’s invisible for now, but later everyone will be able to see it.

Don’t see it?

Okay, I’ll just tell you.

With the failure of the Ryan healthcare bill, the illusion of Trump-is-Hitler has been fully replaced with Trump-is-incompetent meme. Look for the new meme to dominate the news, probably through the summer. By year end, you will see a second turn, from incompetent to “Competent, but we don’t like it.”

I have been predicting this story arc for some time now. So far, we’re ahead of schedule.

In the 2D world, where everything is just the way it looks, and people are rational, Trump and Ryan failed to improve healthcare. But in the 3D world of persuasion, Trump just had one of the best days any president ever had: He got promoted from Hitler to incompetent. And that promotion effectively defused the Hitler-hallucination bomb that was engineered by the Clinton campaign.

In all seriousness, the Trump-is-Hitler illusion was the biggest problem in the country, and maybe the world. It was scaring people to the point of bad health. It made any kind of political conversation impossible. It turned neighbors and friends against each other in a way we have never before seen. It was inviting violence, political instability, and worse. 

In my opinion, the Trump-is-Hitler hallucination was the biggest short-term problem facing the country. Congress just solved for it, albeit unintentionally. Watch the opposition news abandon the Trump-is-scary concept to get all over the “incompetent” theme.

No one wants an incompetent president, but calling the other side a bunch of bumblers is routine politics. We just went from an extraordinary risk (Trump=Hitler) to ordinary politics (The other side=incompetent). Ordinary politics won’t spark a revolution or make you punch a coworker. This is a good day for all of us. It just doesn’t look that way because the news is distracting you with the healthcare issue, which is also important, but a full level down in importance from electing Hitler (in your mind).

Here is CNN marking the turn away from Hitler to incompetent.

Speaking of healthcare, I predicted on Periscope here several days ago that the only way to get a bill passed was to let Ryan fail hard on the first attempt while scaring the left at the same time. That softens both sides to the middle. There was literally no other path to the middle. You couldn’t get there without the first step being a major failure by the majority party. This necessary step toward success is, of course, being reported as total failure.

Today I’m getting a lot of what I call the “November 7th effect.” That’s where my critics are prematurely celebrating my wrongness because the Ryan version of healthcare failed. I hope to see my critics again toward the end of the year. Don’t be strangers.


You might enjoy reading my book because we don’t have affordable healthcare in this country.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

trump basket

Mar. 25th, 2017 00:00
[syndicated profile] urban_feed

A toilet bowl.

-I drank way too much last night and ended up spending my night at the trump basket.
-The trump basket is clogged; whoever used it last needs to plunge it.

*Ties*, by Domenico Starnone

Mar. 25th, 2017 06:45
[syndicated profile] marginal_revolution_feed

Posted by Tyler Cowen

This is one of the better Italian novels of the last few decades, and this year’s first fiction must-read.  It is short, easy to comprehend, utterly compelling, and the basic story line is that of a married couple and their children, to say more would spoil the plot.  The introduction and translation are by Jhumpa Lahiri, also first-rate (by the way, here is my conversation with Jhumpa, toward the end she discusses this project).

Here is the Amazon link.   This Rachel Donadio NYT review provides some very useful background knowledge.

The post *Ties*, by Domenico Starnone appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

[syndicated profile] marginal_revolution_feed

Posted by Tyler Cowen

Growers who can afford it have already begun raising worker pay well beyond minimum wage. Wages for crop production in California increased by 13% from 2010 to 2015, twice as fast as average pay in the state, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Today, farmworkers in the state earn about $30,000 a year if they work full time — about half the overall average pay in California. Most work fewer hours.

Some farmers are even giving laborers benefits normally reserved for white-collar professionals, like 401(k) plans, health insurance, subsidized housing and profit-sharing bonuses. Full-timers at Silverado Farming, for example, get most of those sweeteners, plus 10 paid vacation days, eight paid holidays, and can earn their hourly rate to take English classes.

But the raises and new perks have not tempted native-born Americans to leave their day jobs for the fields. Nine in 10 agriculture workers in California are still foreign born, and more than half are undocumented, according to a federal survey.

Here is the link, including further points of interest, via Anecdotal.

The post California labor market sentences to ponder appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

The Jump

Mar. 25th, 2017 01:50
[syndicated profile] futilitycloset_feed

Posted by Greg Ross

schumann jump

On Aug. 15, 1961, during the third day of construction of the Berlin Wall, 19-year-old Communist German border guard Hans Conrad Schumann was standing on the corner of Ruppiner Straße and Bernauer Straße. A roll of concertina wire 3 feet high was strung before him; behind him cement slabs were being positioned to replace it. Opposite, in West Berlin, a group of protesters had gathered to denounce the building of the wall, which was intended to stop the exodus of young professionals from the East German state.

“The people were swearing at us,” he wrote later. “We felt we were simply doing our duty but we were getting scolded from all sides. The West Berliners yelled at us and the Eastern demonstrators yelled at us. We were standing there in the middle. There was the barbed wire, there was us guards, West Berliners, East Berliners. For a young person, it was terrible.”

West Berliners began to shout, “Come over! Come over!” A West Berlin police car pulled into sight, its engine running and its rear door open, inviting him to desert. For two hours Schumann debated, thinking about his parents and his sister. Then, at 4:00, he jumped over the wire and ran. “Then I was in the West and they received me with a great cheer. I was the first.”

Caught by photographer Peter Leibing, the image appeared in newspapers around the world. Within a month, 68 members of the East German special police had deserted to the West.

Schumann settled in Ingolstadt and worked in an Audi factory for 20 years. When the wall came down in 1989, he returned to his hometown and discovered he was a pariah, the “wall jumper,” a tool of the Western imperialists. Dismayed and depressed, he hanged himself in 1998 at the age of 56.

(From James E. Wise Jr. and Scott Baron, Dangerous Games, 2010.)

On Foot

Mar. 24th, 2017 20:55
[syndicated profile] futilitycloset_feed

Posted by Greg Ross

On May 20, 2005, to convey its size, Italian artist Gianni Motti walked the length of the nascent Large Hadron Collider, followed by a cameraman.

At an average speed of 5 kph, it took him 5 hours 50 minutes to walk all 27 kilometers of the underground ring. Today a proton covers the same distance 11,000 times in 1 second.

Motti dubbed his effort “Higgs: In Search of Anti-Motti.” I don’t think he found it.

flexget

Mar. 24th, 2017 19:57
[syndicated profile] jwz_blog_feed

Posted by jwz

Dear Lazyweb,

Is there yet anything that sucks less than flexget, for taking an RSS feed with torrents of TV shows in it, parsing the episode numbers, and only downloading the ones that have not already been downloaded?

Because flexget really is a piece of shit.

I hate you, Milkman Python.

File "/Library/Python/2.7/site-packages/SQLAlchemy-0.9.4-py2.7-macosx-10.9-intel.egg/sqlalchemy/sql/compiler.py", line 2185, in _get_colparams
    (", ".join("%s" % c for c in check))
sqlalchemy.exc.CompileError: Unconsumed column names: value

Band Metadata

Mar. 24th, 2017 18:22
[syndicated profile] jwz_blog_feed

Posted by jwz

Dear Lazyweb,

I would like a service that maps a band name to their web site, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatnot. Does such a tool exist?

Welfare and warfare

Mar. 24th, 2017 16:55
[syndicated profile] marginal_revolution_feed

Posted by Tyler Cowen

But it is also a question of history and, more specifically, of how welfare states in the rest of the world developed alongside warfare. European welfare states began in Prussia at the end of the 19th century, when war with France required the mobilisation of a large number of civilians. Britain’s welfare state has its origins in the discovery that many of the men who presented themselves to recruiting offices during the Boer war were not healthy enough to fight. Before the second world war, British liberals would have seen the creation of a government-run national health service as an unwarranted intrusion of government into private life. After 1945 it seemed a just reward for a population that had suffered.

In America this relationship between warfare and health care has evolved differently. The moment when the highest proportion of men of fighting age were at war, during the civil war (when 13% of the population was mobilised), came too early to spur the creation of a national health system. Instead, the federal government broke the putative link between war and universal health care by treating ex-servicemen differently from everyone else. In 1930 the Veterans Administration was set up to care for those who had served in the first world war. It has since become a single-payer system of government-run hospitals of the kind that many Americans associate with socialised medicine in Europe. America did come close to introducing something like universal health care during the Vietnam war, when once again large numbers of men were being drafted. Richard Nixon proposed a comprehensive health-insurance plan to Congress in 1974. But for Watergate, he might have succeeded.

That is from The Economist.

The post Welfare and warfare appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

[syndicated profile] krebs_on_security_feed

Posted by BrianKrebs

A recent, massive spike in sophisticated and successful phishing attacks is prompting many universities to speed up timetables for deploying mandatory two-factor authentication (2FA) — requiring a one-time code in addition to a password — for access to student and faculty services online. This is the story of one university that accelerated plans to require 2FA after witnessing nearly twice as many phishing victims in the first two-and-half months of this year than it saw in all of 2015.

bgBowling Green State University in Ohio has more than 20,000 students and faculty, and like virtually any other mid-sized state school its Internet users are constantly under attack from scammers trying to phish login credentials for email and online services.

BGSU had planned later this summer to make 2FA mandatory for access to the school’s portal — the primary place where students register for classes, pay bills, and otherwise manage their financial relationship to the university.

That is, until a surge in successful phishing attacks resulted in several students having bank accounts and W-2 tax forms siphoned.

On March 1, 2017 all BGSU account holders were required to change their passwords, and on March 15, 2017 two-factor authentication (Duo) protection was placed in front of the MyBGSU portal [full disclosure: Duo is a longtime advertiser on KrebsOnSecurity].

Matt Haschak, director of IT security and infrastructure at BGSU, said the number of compromised accounts detected at BGSU has risen from 250 in calendar year 2015 to 1000 in 2016, and to approximately 400 in the first 75 days of 2017.

Left unchecked, phishers are on track to steal credentials from nearly 10 percent of the BGSU student body by the end of this year. The university has offered 2FA options for its portal access since June 2016, but until this month few students or faculty were using it, Haschak said.

“We saw very low adoption when it was voluntary,” he said. “And typically the people who adopted it were not my big security risks.”

Haschak said it’s clear that the scale and size of the phishing problem is hardly unique to BGSU.

“As I keep preaching to our campus community, this is not unique to BGSU,” Haschak said. “I’ve been talking a lot lately to my counterparts at universities in Ohio and elsewhere, and we’re all getting hit with these attacks very heavily right now. Some of the phishing scams are pretty good, but unfortunately some are god-awful, and I think people are just not thinking or they’re too busy in their day, they receive something on their phone and they just click it.”

Last month, an especially tricky phishing scam fooled several students who are also employed at the university into giving away their BGSU portal passwords, after which the thieves changed the victims’ direct deposit information so that their money went to accounts controlled by the phishers.

In other scams, the phishers would change the routing number for a bank account tied to a portal user, and then cancel that student’s classes near the beginning of a semester — thus kicking off a fraudulent refund.

One of the victims even had a fraudulent tax refund request filed in her name with the IRS as a result, Haschak said.

“They went in and looked at her W-2 information, which is also available via the portal,” he said.

While BGSU sends an email each time account information is changed, the thieves also have been phishing faculty and staff email accounts — which allows the crooks to delete the notification emails.

“The bad guys also went in and deleted the emails we sent, and then deleted the messages from the victim’s trash folder,” Haschak said.

Part of BGSU's messaging to students and faculty about the new 2FA requirements for university portal access.

Part of BGSU’s messaging to students and faculty about the new 2FA requirements for university portal access.

Ultimately, BGSU opted to roll out 2FA in a second stage for university email, mainly because of the logistics and support issues involved, but also because they wanted to focus on protecting the personally identifiable information in the BGSU portal as quickly as possible.

For now, BGSU is working on automating the opt-in for 2FA on university email. The 2FA system in front of its portal provides several 2FA options for students, including the Duo app, security tokens, or one-time codes sent via phone or SMS.

“If the numbers of compromised accounts keep increasing at the rate they are, we may get to that next level a lot sooner than our current roadmap for email access,” Haschak said.

2FA, also called multi-factor authentication or two-step verification, is a great way to dramatically improve the security of on online account — whether it’s at your bank, a file-sharing service, or your email. The idea is that even if thieves manage to snag your username and password — through phishing or via password-stealing malware — they still need access to that second factor to successfully impersonate you to the system.

Are you taking full advantage of 2FA options available to your various online accounts? Check out twofactorauth.org to find out where you might be able to harden your online account security.

[syndicated profile] new_dilbert_feed

I worry that climate scientists think the skeptics are just dumb. I’m sure there are plenty of dumb people on every topic, but I’m here to suggest that the bigger problem might be a form of pattern recognition. I’ll take you through that thought.

I’ll start by displaying my own pattern-based starting point for the climate change issue. I don’t present my opinion as truth or fact. This is a description of my biases, a result of all the patterns I have observed over my lifetime. If you have observed different patterns, I would expect you to have different biases. Here’s a whiteboard graphic of my starting biases on climate change.

I’m not a scientist, but it seems to me that the chemistry and physics parts of climate science are probably pretty locked down. I give that stuff full credibility.

The measurements of temperature, ice, and sea levels over time are probably fairly good, but I observe disagreements among scientists on how best to measure. I’ll give the measurements an 85% credibility.

When it comes to the complex climate models, I’ve never seen a complex, iterative model – of the type that includes human assumptions and human measurements – reliably predict the future multiple years out. I don’t think it has ever been done, and perhaps it never will be. I give the complex climate models a 10% credibility rating. And I am only that generous because perhaps this is the exception to the pattern I observe that says complexity always hides the future, as opposed to predicting it.

This is a good time to remind you that I have neither the qualifications nor the time to evaluate the climate science models on my own. So I’m stuck with using pattern recognition – which is not science, and it is not reason. And my pattern recognizer says humans use complexity of this sort to hide the truth, not to reveal it. If scientists want to change my mind, they need to show me historical examples in which things “like this” did a good job of predicting the future. You have to work on my pattern memory to change my mind, not my knowledge of climate science.

The last box in my graph, the economic models, have no predictive power for this topic, or any other. Long term economic models are like astrology with good manners. I have a degree in economics, and an MBA, and I spent years in corporate America making financial projections. My experience tells me that the people creating the models can get any result they want. None of that looks like science to me. I give the economic models zero credibility, just like every other economic model that pretends to see the future.

When I talk to people who believe the climate change models and the economic models are accurate, I observe another pattern. The people who have the least real-world business experience think the experts probably know how to do this sort of thing. That observation might be nothing but confirmation bias on my part, but if you want to change my mind, that’s part of your challenge.

This brings us to the famous-but-questionable statistic that 98% of climate scientists have the same view. If you have a degree in art history, for example, you might find it compelling that so many scientific experts are on one side. How could so many experts be wrong??? But if you are a student of persuasion, as I am, you see a world in which mass delusion is the rule, not the exception.

Consider all the people who have a different religious belief than you. According to you, all of those people are living a mass delusion. Consider the people on the other side of the political divide from you; those people are in a mass delusion too. In fact, most of our experience of life is informed by one kind of mass delusion or another. So when I see a statistic that says 98% of experts are on the same side, based on climate and economic models, it could mean one of two things: 1) They are right, or 2) It is just another routine mass delusion, and one of many.

My point is that the 98% of scientists claim has a lot of persuasive power if you are not a trained persuader. But it means far less if you understand how common it is for smart people to be sharing a mass delusion. Remember that every religion and every political party has smart people in it. Being smart doesn’t protect you from delusions as much as you might think.

If you want to convince me that climate change is a clear and present danger, you need to change my biases on three things:

1. Convince me that complex models such as the climate science models have done good jobs in other fields in the past. And the examples have to involve human judgement in the inputs, and lots of iterations. And those models have to have succeeded in predicting the future five years out, or better. If such things exist in other fields, I can be persuaded that climate scientists can do it too. (No fair picking physics models. Those are not filled with human assumptions.)

2. Convince me that economic models of this complexity have done a good job predicting the future in other areas.

3. Erase my memory of all the times mass delusions looked totally real to smart people.

If you want to make me worry about climate change, working on my biases by changing my pattern memory has a better chance of persuading me than the current method of calling me an idiot. 

You might enjoy reading my book because of all the reasons.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

[syndicated profile] marginal_revolution_feed

Posted by Tyler Cowen

Let’s say you believe that a flood of forthcoming warrior-entrepreneurs will create exciting new products and earn high rates of return on their capital; associated venture capitalists will benefit too.

That might sound quite optimistic, and in one regard it is.  But the high returns also indicate that the status quo ex ante is in some way deficient.  Had the earlier entrepreneurs done better, the opportunities for these new creators might have been less.  In a sense, the prediction is also an (implied) pessimistic take on the current world as it stands.  The overall state of affairs may be less positive than many others believe.

The mood states of “optimism” and “pessimism” are often misleading ways of classifying or thinking about people’s views on the economy, or indeed about other matters too.  Those descriptors do not distinguish between attitudes toward likely final outcomes, as opposed to attitudes about benchmarks and constraints.

The post Optimism about the margin is sometimes pessimism about the infra-margin appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

[syndicated profile] marginal_revolution_feed

Posted by Tyler Cowen

Recently I went to a (very good) conference.  As a number of us got off the train and waited near the platform for a ride, we immediately recognized each other as belonging to the same event, even though we had not met each other before.  We were short and tall, male and female, and of varying races, but still we all had “that look”; I leave it as an exercise for the reader to consider what that means.

It occurred to me that many conferences could try to be more diverse.  No, I am not referring to gender or race or ethnicity, although that may be true as well.  I am referring to personality types and life experiences.  Perhaps each conference should have at least one or two people who are not driven to succeed, not the member of any elite group, and not assured of their standing in the world.

What then to select for?  I wondered whether each conference ought not to invite a hitchhiker or two.  Think about hitchhikers, at least as a group on average:

1. They are mobile and not so set in their ways.  They do not evaluate everything in terms of its efficacy and productivity.

2. They are adventurous and willing to engage with strangers.

3. They have not sunk their assets into expensive homes or fancy cars.

4. They wish to see the world and have a minimum amount of restlessness, maybe more.

5. Superficially it may seem that hitchhikers are “stupider than average,” but I suspect relative to their demographics they are smarter than average.

6. They do not schedule their lives so very tightly.

7. Since the late 1970s, fewer people engage in hitchhiking, and this raises their intrinsic interest.  They are trying to resurrect a dying form of social capital, still prevalent mainly in Cuba and Eastern Europe.

8. The groups skews male, but I wonder if any more so than conference attendees more generally.

Most of all, hitchhikers probably have some time to spare.  Send out a car, and offer them a ride and a conference.  Toss in $500 if need be.  They still will be cheaper than reimbursing the travel costs for most of your guests.  Furthermore, when it comes to “getting back,” they can, um…hitch a ride.

If you wish, give them the right to shout out “You must be on drugs!’ or “I wouldn’t give you a ride!” at least once each conference, without fear of being ejected or otherwise shamed.

Again, here is a video on hitchhikers.  They are perhaps the least likely guests to complain about the conference accommodations.

The post Every conference should invite two hitchhikers appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

Green Indeed

Mar. 24th, 2017 00:31
[syndicated profile] futilitycloset_feed

Posted by Greg Ross

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Million_Bottle_Temple_(7447377506).jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Thailand’s Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew has a unique distinction among Buddhist temples: It’s made of beer bottles. When the building was begun in the 1980s, the monks were seeking ways to encourage waste disposal and promote environmentalism. They had been collecting beer bottles since 1984 and decided to use them as a building material.

The main temple, completed in 1986, comprises about 1.5 million bottles. The monks say they provide good lighting, are easy to clean, and retain their color — the green bottles are Heineken and the brown ones are the Thai beer Chang. They even use the bottle caps to make mosaics of the Buddha.

The monks have gone on to build a complex of 20 buildings, everything from a water tower to a crematorium, from the same material. Abbot San Kataboonyo told the Telegraph: “The more bottles we get, the more buildings we make.”

[syndicated profile] marginal_revolution_feed

Posted by Tyler Cowen

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, and it is assuming no major increase in supply in the megacities themselves.  Here is one bit:

We live in a special time where clustered activities are unusually important for economic growth. Some activities, such as dentistry and cement production, don’t cluster geographically very much, for obvious reasons. In contrast, finance (New York and London), information technology (the Bay Area), and entertainment (Hollywood and New York) are the most clustered. For whatever reasons, it makes sense to have many of the top decision-makers in one place.

Leading cities have become so expensive in large part because two of these clustering sectors — finance and information technology — have been ascendant. There is no particular reason to expect those trends to continue forever, and that will bind rents in affected cities.

Even tech will decentralize its gains over time:

If you think of a typical technology project, some of the gains go to the venture capitalists and the intellectual property holders, and some of the gains go to broader society, including consumers. Insofar as the gains are disproportionately reaped by the early project initiators, then yes real estate values in the Bay Area (and other tech clusters) will rise. But the most likely future for information technology is that it will spread its benefits more and more broadly into more and sectors of the economy. That scenario suggests a partial convergence of urban futures.

Another way to put the point is that intellectual property returns erode over time. In the early years of smartphones, a big part of the gain goes to Apple. As cheap imitators enter the market, prices fall and more of the gains go to consumers, or business users of the product, who are scattered across the country.

The article contains other points of interest.

The post Can rents in megacities keep on going up forever? appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

Chef Conf 2016

Mar. 23rd, 2017 17:59
[syndicated profile] confreaks_events_feed
Chef Conf 2016 was held on July 12th to July 13th, 2016 and currently has 52 videos available to watch.

Ember Conf 2017

Mar. 23rd, 2017 17:47
[syndicated profile] confreaks_events_feed
Ember Conf 2017 was held on March 28th to March 29th, 2017 and currently has 0 videos available to watch.

Page Summary

March 2017

M T W T F S S
  1234 5
6 789 1011 12
13 1415 16 1718 19
2021 2223 24 2526
2728293031  

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags