Weekly Roundup 113: A Curated Linkfest For The Smartest People On The Web
Handpicked to satisfy your intellectual curiosity!
If you like this roundup or plan on linking to it (or from it) kindly include a reference to SimoleonSense Thanks.
*Legal Disclaimer: I link to content created by others. If you believe I have violated your copyright (and prefer that thousands of intelligent readers avoid reading your material) please let me know and I will take down the link.
Cartoonish Infographic – via Flowing data:
“Talk is cheap. Supply exceeds Demand.”
John Malone & Ted Turner: On Buying Acres by the Millions – via NYTimes – John C. Malone, a media mogul who is on the verge of buying nearly one million acres of timberland in Maine, could soon become the largest private landowner in the United States, catapulting him ahead of Ted Turner on the list of those who accumulate earth the way others accumulate, say, bison.
Research shows entrepreneurs are pretty much like the rest of us – via APS – What were the conclusions of these studies? In various ways, entrepreneurs are indeed very similar to everyone else, Shaver found. They don’t care about financial success any more or less, or about following family traditions. Especially surprising is that they are not more likely to believe they control their own destiny. In another paper based on the PSED, Matthew Ford and Charles Matthews found that entrepreneurs have no preference for analytical vs. intuitive approaches to solving problems (Ford & Matthews, 2004). As for their differences, the one true statement in Shaver’s game was that entrepreneurs possess a greater belief that they will succeed. They are also less likely to care what others think of them. But perhaps the key difference, one that seems to tie the other differences together, is that entrepreneurs display more intensity towards their work. For their business to be successful, they are willing to sacrifice more, whether that sacrifice is in the form of time with family or money earned (Davis & Shaver, 2009). Similarly, Ford and Charles also found that entrepreneurs find it harder to balance work with their personal lives and to get support for what they do from friends and family.
Everything You Know About Fitness is a Lie– via Mens Journal – Gym machines are boring, CrossFit is sadistic, and dieting sucks. Luckily, none of them is essential to being truly fit. Through years of trial and error — and humiliation at the hands of some of the world’s top trainers — the author discovered the secrets to real health.
On Confabulation & Transparency – via Charbonniers- We are shockingly ignorant of the causes of our own behavior. The explanations that we provide are sometimes wholly fabricated, and certainly never complete. Yet, that is not how it feels. Instead it feels like we know exactly what we’re doing and why. This is confabulation: Guessing at plausible explanations for our behavior, and then regarding those guesses as introspective certainties. Every year psychologists use dramatic examples to entertain their undergraduate audiences. Confabulation is funny, but there is a serious side, too. Understanding it can help us act better and think better in everyday life.
E.O. Wilson–Communism/Socialism: “Great Idea. Wrong Species.” – via Psychology Today – I live in a staunchly socialist country. The Canadian ethos is built on the premise that one should repeatedly seek to redistribute rewards such that outcomes are as egalitarian as possible. The general idea is that we are a loving, caring, and generous society, and as such social justice must imply that we should assiduously strive for the equality of outcomes. Let’s see how this plays out in two arenas, income tax and the distribution of teaching loads in universities (obviously two topics of personal relevance).
The Beauty of First Impressions – via Brain Blogger – n the study, people more accurately described and had a more positive impression of attractive people than those who were less attractive. Likely, people pay attention to other people whom they believe are more attractive. This previously reported “halo effect” is a phenomenon in which people who are physically attractive are also thought to be smarter, friendlier and more competent than less attractive peers. The current study, published Psychological Science involved 75 men and women who were instructed to have three-minute one-on-one conversations with people they had never met before. Afterwards, the participants rated each other on their level of attractiveness, as well as five personality traits: openness, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism. Each participant also rated him- or herself on the same characteristics.
How much do we really learn in college? – via Bakadeusyo- The study, included in NYU Professor of Sociology Richard Arum’s new book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, surveyed more 3,000 students with an average GPA of 3.2. The students surveyed were asked to take a standardized test covering skills students are expected to garner from an undergraduate education, and only 36 percent showed improvement after four years of college.
Aswath Damodaran on Tax Policy – via Musings on Markets – As some of you may be aware, I report average effective tax rates for US companies, by sector, at the start of every year. Yesterday, that data was picked up by the New York Times and has got plenty of publicity since. I have heard from both sides of the debate. from tax lobbyists that feel that the low tax rates reported for some sectors do not reflect reality and also from those who believe that companies in the US don’t pay their fair share
Catch Some Zzz’s to Lose Some Pounds – via Brain Blogger – The average length of a night of sleep for an adult in the United States has decreased by 2 hours in the last 50 years. Increasing evidence reports the damaging effects of sleep deprivation and restriction on hormone release, cardiovascular function, and glucose regulation. Now, in fact, evidence shows that sleep loss undermines dietary efforts to lose weight, especially body fat.
Local Leaks: Now You Can Be Your Own Wikileaks (for your community)– GOod- Inspired by the world-changing success of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, students and professors at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism have put together LocalLeaks, an internet tip-line that allows citizens to anonymously reach hundreds of local newspapers around America.
Video: Fast Times for Our Brains – via PsychCentral – Cultural shifts in perceptions about the human body and brain, how the brain reacts to scarcity, abundance and social situations, and how modern Western society and market economics are straining our body’s limits and making us sick physically and mentally.
Why Scientific Studies Are So Often Wrong: The Streetlight Effect” – via Brains on Purpose – How are we supposed to cope with all this wrongness [described in the article]? Well, a good start would be to remain skeptical about the great majority of what you find in research journals and pretty much all of the fascinating, news-making findings you read about in the mainstream media, which tends to magnify the problems. …
A New Geography of European Power? – via Policy Pointers- This 35-page Belgian paper offers an analysis of the geography of European power in the early twenty-first century.
Drug Trafficking, Violence and Mexico’s Economic Future– via Knowledge @ Wharton – In June 2010, in the days leading up to Mexico’s state elections, Rodolfo Torre, a leading gubernatorial candidate from the northern state of Tamaulipas, was assassinated. He had campaigned against Mexico’s drug-related violence. Shortly thereafter, in July, drug criminals used a car bomb for the first time in the history of Mexico’s drug war and killed four people in Ciudad Juárez. In August, the bodies of 72 migrants were found in northern Mexico. They had been shot after refusing to work for a drug gang. Days later, a prosecutor and police officer investigating the crime disappeared.
Corporate Tax Code Proves Hard to Change – via NYT – Large trucking companies paid the government more than 30 percent of their income in 2009. Biotechnology companies paid less than 5 percent
Kevin Kelly: Achieving Techno-Literacy – via NYT-Now that the year is done, I am struck that the fancy technology supposedly crucial to an up-to-the-minute education was not a major factor in its success. Of course, technology in the broadest sense was everywhere in our classroom. There was an inexpensive microscope on the kitchen table and an old digital camera to record experiments. There was a PC always on for research. Our son was also a big user of online tutorials. Of particular note is Khan Academy, which offers nearly 1,600 short high-quality tutorials on algebra, chemistry, history, economics and other subjects — all created by one guy, and all free. The Internet was also essential for my wife and me as we researched the best textbooks, the best projects, the best approaches. But the computer was only one tool of many. Technology helped us learn, but it was not the medium of learning. It was summoned when needed. Technology is strange that way. Education, at least in the K-12 range, is more about child rearing than knowledge acquisition. And since child rearing is primarily about forming character, instilling values and cultivating habits, it may be the last area to be directly augmented by technology.
Books about Government Accounting – via MTEF Bayesian Heresy
Why Some Teenagers don’t use Social Networking Sites – via Dr Shock – In a recent study the conclusion about social networking sites and teens was that 93% of teens and young adults go online, compared to only 38% of adults over 65 years of age. It is surprising that 7% of 12-29 year olds still don’t use social networking sites. Twitter is the exception because it’s the only social networking site not often used by teenagers and young adults. Here you can read more about social media and young adults.
Eating Bad Food Linked to Depression– via Discover – Eating foods high in trans-fats and saturated fats increases the risk of depression, according to a Spanish study published in the United States Wednesday, confirming previous studies that linked “junk food” with the disease. Researchers also showed that some products, such as olive oil, which is high in healthy omega-9 fatty acids, can fight against the risk of mental illness.
How to read a paper – via Bad Science – We all rely on heuristics, or shortcuts. Trusting an authority is one. Zoe boasts in the Mail that she is “studying for a PhD in nutrition” but she admitted to me, tediously, inevitably, that she’s not registered for a PhD anywhere (although she is thinking about doing one in the future).
Tunisia and Climate Change: What it Means for Southeast Asia – via PolicyPointers – This 2-page Singaporean commentary considers whether climate change was the hidden trigger for the Tunisian uprising
How to Become a Philosopher: A Beginner’s Guide – via WSJ – He got down to life arithmetics to get his message across. “Human lifetime is less than 1,000 months long. For only 1/3 of those 1,000 months will you have time for serious thinking, serious loving and serious acting – that gives you only 300 months,” said Prof. Grayling, who teaches philosophy at the University of London. (The rest of the time you’ll spend doing things like sleeping, eating or being stuck in a traffic jam).
‘Happiness is a moment of grace’ – via Guardian – Bruckner suggests that with nothing standing between ourselves and happiness, other than our willingness to grasp it, there is a moral compulsion weighing on us to be happy – and it’s precisely this social pressure that makes so many people unhappy. “We should wonder why depression has become a disease. It is a disease of a society that is looking desperately for happiness, which we cannot catch. And so people collapse into themselves.”
Private Equity in the 21st Century: Cash Flows, Performance, and Contract Terms from 1984-2010 – Via SSRN – we use a large, proprietary database of private equity cash flows and management contract terms over the period 1984-2010, comprising close to 40% of the U.S. Venture Economics universe, to provide new evidence on the determinants of private equity performance, cash flow behavior, and contract terms. The data are the first available for academic research to include cash flow information for a large sample of private equity funds extending beyond 2003, to include information on general partner capital commitments, and to combine cash flow information with the terms of the management contracts. Our analysis is centered around two interrelated themes. First, we investigate the impact of broader market conditions on private equity markets. While it is well known that public and private equity markets are correlated through time, with shared periods of boom and bust, the implications of this correlation for private equity investors and managers are not well understood.
Correlation, causation and the Super Bowl – via Decision Science News – Discussing the Decision Science News correlation, causation post during one of our daily and always entertaining Yahoo! Research lunches, someone said “this battle can’t be won because people just want to believe certain things are causal”. In line with that, Jason Zweig sends along this very funny piece about a spurious correlation, which, even though abandoned by its creators, refuses to die.
How Steve Jobs ‘out-Japanned’ Japan– via SFGate – Jeff Yang muses on how Apple managed to beat the tech titans of Japan by playing their game, only better
Demand Media’s Planet of the Algorithms: A startup you never thought of– via Businessweek – It’s March 2010, and Reese, the chief innovation officer of Demand Media (DMD), is accepting a “game changer” award for innovation at the We Media conference in Miami. Several dozen people listen as he invokes Demand’s plan for cranking out Web pages and videos to quench every last bit of human curiosity wherever it springs up. The plan’s code name: Little Brother, a nod to George Orwell.
How Being a Sore Loser can make you Rich (or crazy) – via James Altucher – I threw all the pieces on the floor. I’m almost embarassed to tell you this. When someone says to you, “I was playing a game of chess and I lost and I threw all the pieces on the floor,” you might think: ok, he was four years old. Thats cute. But I was 17. I was shaving. The other guy had just captured my queen so I did what any 17 year old shaver would do in the middle of a match of North Brunswick High School versus Matewan High School: I threw all the pieces on the floor and ran out of the school.
Losing Control of Customer Mix Through Group Discounting – via Iterative Path – If a GroupOn promotion brings in 1400 new customers, from students to business people to grandmas who came in only because of the steep discount, what message will it send to your core customers? Will the big change in customer mix negate a key reason your pre-GroupOn customers hired your product for?
Turn Down the Heat, Lose Weight? – via Discovery – A small adjustment to your thermostat may do more than just save the planet; it could also help trim your waistline.
Are cities the best place to live? Are suburbs OK? – via Boson.com -A little over two months ago, some two dozen influential architects, urban planners, and academics from around the country gathered at a New Orleans cottage to spend a long weekend discussing strategy. The house belonged to 61-year-old Andres Duany, a leader in the movement known as New Urbanism, which originated in the late 1970s and has enjoyed decades as the dominant force in American city planning, urging Americans to reject suburban subdivisions in favor of denser, more diverse neighborhoods.
Using a generic (vs. brand name) product undermines self-esteem – via Boson.com – Pay attention, marketers. If any study validates what you do, this one does. Researchers found that using a generic (vs. brand name) product undermines self-esteem. In one experiment, university students were asked to type out a resume, ostensibly for a recruiting event. Students used an Apple iMac to type their resumes and were told that the keyboard and mouse were new. Some students, though, were told that the keyboard and mouse were generic parts — to save money. The students who used the generic keyboard reported expecting a lower salary. A similar effect was found in an experiment on single men. The men were presented with a set of dating profiles for women, one of whom the men could choose to call. The researchers then provided the woman’s phone number and an Apple iPhone to make an introductory call. The phone had a dead battery; the researchers then offered either a generic or brand-name replacement battery. Men who received the generic battery expected women to find them less attractive than men who received the brand-name battery.
Big to Fail: The Transatlantic Debate – via policy Pointers -This 41-page working paper examines the debates on the problem posed by “too big to fail” financial institutions in the US and Europe
Isaac Asimov on Science and Creativity in Education – via Brain Pickings – Today, we cross this retro-fascination with your keen interest in the future of creativity in education and turn to legendary sci-fi author Isaac Asimov, the quintessential futurist, interviewed here by Bill Moyers in 1988. Recorded upon the publication of Assimov’s 391st book, Prelude to Foundation, this three-part interview offers a rare peek inside one of history’s most fascinating minds. Asimov shares invaluable insights on science, computing, religion, population growth and the universe, and echoes some of own beliefs in the power of curiosity-driven self-directed learning and the need to implement creativity in education from the onset.
A Fighting Spirit Won’t Save Your Life – via NYT – But there’s no evidence to back up the idea that an upbeat attitude can prevent any illness or help someone recover from one more readily. On the contrary, a recently completed study of nearly 60,000 people in Finland and Sweden who were followed for almost 30 years found no significant association between personality traits and the likelihood of developing or surviving cancer. Cancer doesn’t care if we’re good or bad, virtuous or vicious, compassionate or inconsiderate. Neither does heart disease or AIDS or any other illness or injury.
Video: Jeffery Sachs On Africa – via Social Pages – In this seven-minute video, Economist Jeffrey Sachs explains why economic development in Africa remains elusive. He summarizes the geographical, technological, social, and political conditions that held Africa back but propelled parts of Asia forward (he compares to India). Development, he notes, is not simply a matter of wishful thinking and hard work on the part of Africans (as many like to claim), nor is it a matter of just doing what worked elsewhere (as others like to say), but instead requires institutional commitments, economic resources, and global political will.
‘Power Balance’ Hucksters Admit their Product isn’t Based on Scientific Evidence – via Brainspiner – bout 2.5 million people have spent $25 or more on a little rubber bracelet called Power Balance. Perhaps you’veheard of it (or are wearing it). Its makers claim that it “resonates” with the body’s “energy flow” producing extraordinary balance, flexibility and strength in its users.
Video: And the Pursuit of Happiness – via Fora.tv – America considers the pursuit of happiness an inalienable right. But where is this pursuit taking us? How valuable is positive thinking? In arts, melancholia has long been a source of inspiration.
Misunderstood side of Value Investing – via Globe & Mail – I recently missed a multi-bagger stock – the kind that rises several-fold. It reminded me yet again that pure value investing is harder than most people think. That’s because value lies in more than merely a low price-to-earnings ratio or a low price-to-book value. Rather, it consists of a security selling so cheaply that the chances of losing money on it are very low.
John Paulson: Trader Racks Up a Second Epic Gain – via WSJ -Hedge-fund manager John Paulson personally netted more than $5 billion in profits in 2010—likely the largest one-year haul in investing history, trumping the nearly $4 billion he made with his “short” bets against subprime mortgages in 2007.
No DVR Ad Effect – via Overcoming Bias – For years, digital video recorders like TiVo, which give viewers the option to skip commercials, have had television advertisers worried. But a study … rebuts the conventional wisdom that the recorders (DVRs) dampen sales. … Matching … each household’s shopping history one year before and two years after the TiVo’s arrival, the researchers found no effect on the purchase of advertised brands, even among those who used DVRs the most. (UofC Magazine Jan’11p25; the study)
A new form of corporationg: Non-Evil Firms – via OVercoming Bias – Fifteen benefit corporations have been created in the three months since new [Maryland] legislation, signed into law in April, took effect. … At its core, benefit corporations blend the altruism of nonprofits with the business sensibilities of for-profit companies. These hybrid entities pay taxes and can have shareholders, without the risk of being sued for not maximizing profits. Companies can consider the needs of customers, workers, the community or environment and be well within their legal right.
Remembering Challenger and Its Lessons – via Michael Roberto – 25 years ago today, the tragic explosion of the Challenger Space Shuttle took the lives of seven brave astronauts including New England high school teacher Christa McAuliffe. The ABC News video below looks back at the tragedy. On this day, we remember the courage of those astronauts and mourn their loss. Hopefully, we also remember the key lessons from that catastrophic failure.
All about the world’s gold reserves & producers – via submit infographics