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More adventurous than the average bear

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Sunday, September 09, 2018

Links - 9th September 2018 (1)

The Most Ambitious Thing Humans Have Ever Attempted - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "GAWANDE: Massachusetts General Hospital. And within two months of publishing the result that a gas could render people insensible to pain, it was being used in every capital in Europe. There’s no internet. You had to send news by boat and horse. And within two months people were using it in the capitals of Europe, and by six years later there wasn’t a hospital in the country that was not delivering anesthesia care. By contrast, anti-sepsis, Joseph Lister discovered that if you used antiseptic solution, clean the instruments, your hands, did all that stuff, you could cut infections by 80 percent. And a generation later, you still haven’t gotten to half of the profession doing it. And when I broke it down, I realized there’s a difference between a visible and immediate effect that they had in anesthesia that could be recognized right away, and tackling invisible delayed effects of germs...
The economists Lawrence Katz and Alan Krueger looked at the last decade of net new job growth, and 94 percent of the net new jobs have been in forms of employment where there are no healthcare benefits: freelancers, independent contractors, temporary workers...
My mom turned 80, and she just moved into a retirement community that is on a college campus where she goes to classes. She writes papers. She gets to do little teaching and lecturing here and there too!"

Does Doing Good Give You License to Be Bad? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "LIST: Milton Friedman argued C.S.R. is a fundamentally subversive doctrine and declared that the business of business is business... When you compare the application rates to those two different jobs, what you find is the C.S.R. job attracts about 33 percent more in application rates, so it ends up being about the same as that wage increase.
DUBNER: That’s amazing. So, to be both reductive and cynical, I could say, “Rather than paying someone $15 instead of $11, I can just say I’m a C.S.R. firm and pay them $11 and I’m going to get the same — at least the same volume of recruits.”...
LIST: The real gem here is that we also attract a very different type of worker who responds to the C.S.R. ad. People who apply for the C.S.R. firm actually are more productive per hour for us, and they enter more data accurately... The actual C.S.R. effect itself is primarily driven by women in terms of productivity. So, what I mean by that is, it’s female workers who are selecting into C.S.R. firms — they are much more productive than other workers selecting into other types of firms. So our C.S.R. effect is entirely driven by women...
When you look at employee theft of either money or goods and services, it is actually enormous. It’s in the billions of dollars every year. Employees steal much more money than bank robbers from banks...
EFFRON: So, there is a study showing that when people express a hypothetical preference for purchasing environmentally friendly products over conventional products, they’re more likely to lie, cheat, and steal in a subsequent laboratory task...
TILLEY: The moral licensing that goes on among white people working in developing countries is astounding. Malawi is one of the poorest countries on Earth. And yet, people who work in development, who are ostensibly trying to improve the situation, in their day-to-day lives have no problem haggling over vegetables, for example, have no problem engaging in corruption when it comes to obtaining permits or licenses. But when it comes to actually making sure that their staff or the people they interact with are paid a fair salary, they take a fairly hefty slice of moral licensing, I guess, because they assume that they’re doing good in their jobs, so it doesn’t matter if they take a bribe or pay a bribe or pay 35 cents rather than 40 cents for carrots."

How to Catch World Cup Fever - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "Stefan SZYMANSKI: Well, everybody in America calls it soccer. And a lot of people think that this is a word that comes from the United States, but actually it’s an English word coined in the 1890’s at Oxford University and up until the 1970’s it was a perfectly acceptable word. However, in recent years, Brits have decided that they think soccer is a terrible word and that you Americans should stop using it and start calling it football instead. And that’s completely absurd...
DUBNER: [On Iceland] I know the manager of the national team, at least until recently, was also a part-time dentist...
BENNETT: You know, I’ve watched him do root canal, and I asked him, “Why do you keep, as an international manager, keep doing part-time dentistry?” And he said, “The other managers blow off steam by hunting. Other guys gamble.” He said, “I do root canals.” Like I was a moron...
SZYMANSKI: Well, first thing to say about comparing soccer data with G.D.P. data is soccer data is way better. It’s far more reliable. We know who won the game and there’s no real argument about that. Whereas G.D.P. — boy, even for developed nations, there’s always some margin of error. But what we found when we looked for convergence in the soccer data was something that has never really been found in the G.D.P. data, which is something called unconditional convergence. Which is just to say, it’s very clear in the data that the countries with the worse results are getting better, are catching up with the countries with the better results, and that’s regardless of any other factors at all. That’s not something you find with G.D.P.
DUBNER: So you’re saying it’s easier to catch up in soccer than in your economy. Why’s that?
SZYMANSKI: One reason is that actually probably more people care in developing nations about this national soccer team than the state of the national economy."

The Future of Freakonomics Radio - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "We did find that whenever we talked to politicians per se, or people directly associated with politics, some listeners were bound to get agitated. We interviewed some Democrats... After interviews like that, we’d get a bunch of emails calling us libtards. We’ve also interviewed plenty of conservatives, from this country and elsewhere... After these interviews, we’d get emails calling us — well, mostly things I probably shouldn’t repeat. In fact, usually pornographic things"
It's telling that anti-liberals only used the term libtards, but anti-conservatives used unprintable, obscene terms

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Trump's new order - "We've gotta make here as a nation of laws that we enforce our borders and do everything we can to make sure that those who are proceeding across our border illegally, that they are dealt with through the legal system, and for those who wanna come and see asylum in the United States, come to one of our ports of entry. It is not illegal for you to come to our country through a port of entry and seek asylum...
'Democrats who were horrified by the President's order for obvious and understandable reasons have been pushed by it into a new position that is so radical that it will do the Democrats more harm than it will do the President himself'
'Right. So, he's maneuvering, you're saying, the Democrats into a position of being the party of illegal immigration, essentially'
'Yeah, that gives them too much credit. There's no plan here... He has backed Democrats into a position of saying the correct answer is that all these tens of thousands of illegal aliens who are crossing from Central America should be released into the interior of our country, that is the party's new position. And that's a bad position to arrive at... an unpopular position'"
Maybe illegal immigration is a human right

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Monday's business with Dominic O'Connell - "He went absolutely ballistic and it became a long-running duel where he would ring up and threaten to punch me in the face, throw me to the window, all these kind of things, while simultaneously firing off legal letters from Shillings law firm, ringing my editor, trying to ring Rupert Murdoch, the ultimate owner of The Sunday Times. He leveraged pressure or tried to, all the way up the chain from me to my bosses to the ultimate owner. And many papers would have buckled under their pressure. But to be fair, the Sunday Times stuck with it, and it was often quite hair raising dealing with them. When you have a billionaire screaming down the phone, it's not easy to handle... once we knew the story was accurate and worth pursuing, we stuck with it... We've developed a strange kind of mutual Stockholm Syndrome I think recently where he will ring up, it often starts up being quite aggressive and we'll end up rambling around and he'll talk about trading conditions and how Arcadia is doing. He's told he's not gonna read a word of the book and he's told me I'm not worth suing because I can't afford to defend it"
So much for the media being corrupted by Murdoch

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Emmerson Mnangagwa: I am a nice man - "'Your nickname Crocodile has its roots in the Revolutionary War, but the crocodile is also a very patient and ruthless animal. Do those characteristics describe you, do you think? Patient and ruthless'
'I am as soft as wool. I am a very soft person in life, my brother... a family person. I'm a Christian and so on... because you've read so much bad publicity by my enemies, which is sunk into you. I don't blame you, but as you go on and as you relate, you discover that you were wrong. Then if you are man enough you come and say ah, Commandant Mnangagwa, I was wrong about you, you're such an nice man.'"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Madeleine Albright on Fascism - "'[On Trump] Does he have fascist tendencies, if there can be such a thing?'...
'He is not a fascist... he is the most anti-Democratic president in modern American history. He has in fact identified himself with a group which is a somewhat tribalist and nationalistic.'
'Don't all politicians identify themselves with groups?'
'I think they do, but seek common ground. What I believe is a democratic small-D politician is somebody who does have ideas and views but is willing to listen to others. To compromise is not a four letter word... I deliberately have not called him a fascist... I was gonna write this book no matter what [, no matter who won]... It's one thing to develop a base it's another to deliberately create these divisions and continue to make them much much [stronger]"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, How to fix EU migration - "[On Merkel's migration policy in Germany] We had a very cruel attacks being attempted by asylum seekers in the last weeks and months. In my region we had a little girl, 40-years-old, which was first raped and then murdered by an Iraqi refugee. And as soon as policeman want to have a grip on him, he was, he was gone, he was gone back to Iraq pretending that he was prosecute there. And now we got a grip on him, and now he's coming back.

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Inside the White House - "His reaction to Trump and Hillary Clinton's loss as well... when you distill the message, strip out the racism and the misogyny, we had run against Hillary Clinton with the same message Trump had used. She was in that case, a dreadful candidate wasn't she?"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Ndaba Mandela on his grandfather - "'I had a typical image of what jail was. Concrete bars, and lots of police and dogs etc. But when we got there it was nothing of what I had imagined... a lot more luxurious. So much more luxurious, way more than the house I lived in actually'...
'I want to be in jail'
'Yes, I mean. There was a swimming pool. I didn't have a swimming pool at home. And there was a chef and all sorts of goodies.'"

'Solo: A Star Wars Story' Makes the Prequels More Relevant Than Ever - "it works in the prequels's favor that in the two decades since The Phantom Menace they've had something of a critical reevaluation"

How Did Economists Get It So Wrong? - The New York Times - "I. MISTAKING BEAUTY FOR TRUTH
III. PANGLOSSIAN FINANCE... Finance economists rarely asked the seemingly obvious (though not easily answered) question of whether asset prices made sense given real-world fundamentals like earnings. Instead, they asked only whether asset prices made sense given other asset prices...
IV. THE TROUBLE WITH MACRO... the self-described New Keynesian economists weren’t immune to the charms of rational individuals and perfect markets. They tried to keep their deviations from neoclassical orthodoxy as limited as possible. This meant that there was no room in the prevailing models for such things as bubbles and banking-system collapse...
V. NOBODY COULD HAVE PREDICTED . . . In a 2007 interview, Eugene Fama, the father of the efficient-market hypothesis, declared that “the word ‘bubble’ drives me nuts,” and went on to explain why we can trust the housing market...home buyers generally do carefully compare prices — that is, they compare the price of their potential purchase with the prices of other houses. But this says nothing about whether the overall price of houses is justified. It’s ketchup economics, again: because a two-quart bottle of ketchup costs twice as much as a one-quart bottle, finance theorists declare that the price of ketchup must be right...
VI. THE STIMULUS SQUABBLE... Friedman certainly never bought into the idea that mass unemployment represents a voluntary reduction in work effort or the idea that recessions are actually good for the economy. Yet the current generation of freshwater economists has been making both arguments...

Hidden gem: The story behind Telok Blangah’s secret Peranakan family cafe - "Located at the end of a row of neighbourhood shops and just opposite a sparsely occupied wet market is Makko Teck Neo, an unassuming establishment with a laidback vibe."

Windsor man sentenced related to indecent act at aquatic centre - "Al Hariri pleaded guilty to assault and indecent act after he was caught pleasuring himself in the shower area... His lawyer, Laura Joy, argued that what happened in the shower area was not sexual in nature, saying it was more of a cultural issue. But the crown argued otherwise, suggesting there was inappropriate touching."

What makes people distrust science? Surprisingly, not politics - "it is crucial not to lump various forms of science skepticism together... We identified four major predictors of science acceptance and science skepticism: political ideology; religiosity; morality; and knowledge about science. These variables tend to intercorrelate – in some cases quite strongly – which means that they are potentially confounded... Political ideology did not play a meaningful role when it came to most of our measures. The only form of science skepticism that was consistently more pronounced among the politically conservative respondents in our studies was, not surprisingly, climate-change skepticism... Skepticism about genetic modification was not related to political ideology or religious beliefs, though it did correlate with science knowledge... Vaccine skepticism also had no relation to political ideology, but it was strongest among religious participants, with a particular relation to moral concerns about the naturalness of vaccination... trust in science was by far the lowest among the religious"
So much for non overlapping magisteria

The Price Had Better Be Right: Women’s Reactions to Sexual Stimuli Vary With Market Factors - Kathleen D. Vohs, Jaideep Sengupta, Darren W. Dahl, 2014 - "Sexual economics theory predicts that women want sex to be seen as rare and special. We reasoned that this outlook would translate to women tolerating sexual images more when those images are linked to high worth as opposed to low worth. We manipulated whether an ad promoted an expensive or a cheap product using a sexually charged or a neutral scene. As predicted, women found sexual imagery distasteful when it was used to promote a cheap product, but this reaction to sexual imagery was mitigated if the product promoted was expensive. This pattern was not observed among men. Furthermore, we predicted and found that sexual ads promoting cheap products heightened feelings of being upset and angry among women. These findings suggest that women’s reactions to sexual images can reveal deep-seated preferences about how sex should be used and understood"
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