Weekly Roundup 31: A Curated Linkfest For The Smartest People On The Web
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Feature:The Dalai Lama’s Introduction to Buddhism – Via Open Culture – When the Dalai Lama paid a visit to Emory University, he offered an introductory lecture to Tibetan Buddhism. The lecture is not exactly what you’d normally get in the university classroom. The talk is not entirely linear. And he spends some time speaking in English, then speaks in his native tongue (with the help of an interpreter). But, he can talk about Buddhism with the authority that few authors can, and there’s a reason audiences come to see him in droves.
1. How The Brain Takes Short Cuts & Why? – Via DLPFC – Our capacity for intuitive decision-making evolved in a world of high stakes but relatively simple decisions. Feast or forage; fight or flight. The gains of recent technological and financial innovation have been great, but they come at the cost of increased complexity. According to the tenets of rational-choice economics, this can be only a positive development. These gains allow for the satisfaction of a maximum number of individual preferences. Anyone who has been overwhelmed by the choices they face at the supermarket or the bank, however, might suspect that the revealed-preference account is missing something.
2. Dan Ariely : How Concepts Affect Consumption – Via Predictably Irrational Blog – Our prehistoric ancestors spent much of their waking hours foraging for and consuming food, an instinct that obviously paid off. Today this instinct is no less powerful, but for billions of us it’s satisfied in the minutes it takes to swing by the store and pop a meal in the microwave. With our physical needs sated and time on our hands, increasingly we’re finding psychological outlets for this drive, by seeking out and consuming concepts. Conceptual consumption strongly influences physical consumption. Keeping up with the Joneses is an obvious example. The SUV in the driveway is only partly about the need for transport; the concept consumed is status. Dozens of studies tease out the many ways in which concepts influence people’s consumption, independent of the physical thing being consumed. Here are just three of the classes of conceptual consumption that we and others have identified.
3. Book Review: The Pursuit of Unhappiness -Via MetaPsyhology – Ancient questions concerning happiness, well-being, human flourishing and living the good life have become a modern concern for philosophers, policy-makers, economists and psychologists, and this excellent book will undoubtedly become a key text for those engaged in these debates.
4. How to tap the wisdom of the crowd in your head – Via Scientific American – There is an old saying that two heads are better than one. This saying received empirical support in social psychology in the 1920s, when a series of studies showed that groups were more accurate than their individual members. In an early demonstration of the phenomenon, for example, Columbia University’s Hazel Knight asked students to estimate the temperature in a classroom. When the estimates were averaged together, the resulting group answer was more accurate than the estimate of a typical member.
5. High Population Density Triggers Cultural Explosions – Via ScienceDaily — Increasing population density, rather than boosts in human brain power, appears to have catalysed the emergence of modern human behaviour, according to a new study by UCL (University College London) scientists published in the journal Science.
6. Yes, the Web Is Changing Your Brain – Via Internet Evolution – More than a year ago on ThinkerNet, I described a new kind of human intelligence particularly suited for the digital age. It involves strong multitasking ability, rapid switching between tasks, logical statements, and an ability to identify and take advantage of potential connections, to separate information into transformable chunks, and to reassemble these chunks for new purposes.
7. Stunning Infographic: Relationships Between Science Disciplines – Via Al Fin – (This is a repost)
8. Options Are Overrated– Via NYT – Americans believe that the world works best when consumers have unlimited choice. This is why my corner drugstore offers, by my last count, 103 different kinds of body moisturizers. These are not, of course, to be confused with moisturizers for the face, hand, elbow or foot.
9. Robet Shiller: Why Home Prices May Keep Falling – Via NYT – HOME prices in the United States have been falling for nearly three years, and the decline may well continue for some time. Even the federal government has projected price decreases through 2010. As a baseline, the stress tests recently performed on big banks included a total fall in housing prices of 41 percent from 2006 through 2010. Their “more adverse” forecast projected a drop of 48 percent — suggesting that important housing ratios, like price to rent, and price to construction cost — would fall to their lowest levels in 20 years.
10. Revenge of the Nerd & “Quant”: Paul Wilmott is out to save Wall Street’s soul—one dork at a time. – Via Newsweek – Imagine an aeronautics engineer designing a state-of-the-art jumbo jet. In order for it to fly, the engineer has to rely on the same aerodynamics equation devised by physicists 150 years ago, which is based on Newton’s second law of motion: force equals mass times acceleration. Problem is, the engineer can’t reconcile his elegant design with the equation. The plane has too much mass and not enough force. But rather than tweak the design to fit the equation, imagine if the engineer does the opposite, and tweaks the equation to fit the design. The plane still looks awesome, and on paper, it flies. The engineer gets paid, the plane gets built, and soon thousands just like it are packed full of people and sent out onto runways. They fly for a while, but eventually, because of that fatal tweak, they all end up crashing.
11. The Age of Diminishing Endowments – Via WSJ – Richard Levin, the longest serving president in the Ivy League, had enjoyed a charmed run at Yale. In his first 15 years Yale’s endowment notched up the best returns of any university’s, and its innovative investment strategy became a model for many others. Mr. Levin rode the bull market to restore morale, launch a building spree, and strengthen the school in sciences and internationally. Yale dollars even spruced up shabby New Haven.
12. James Surowiecki: Change We Can’t Believe In – Via The New Yorker -A s you walk into the Retiro train station in downtown Buenos Aires these days, you pass a long line of people snaking their way from the station’s entrance to a single window. At first glance, this is unsurprising: what’s more common than a queue in a train station? But there is something distinctive about this line: it ends at a window bearing a sign that reads “Coins.” The people standing patiently in line are not, it turns out, waiting to buy train tickets. Instead, they’re waiting to do something that’s become very difficult in Buenos Aires: make change.
13. Video: Jim Rogers On Inflation – Via Finance Professor – Recently Talked About Jim Rogers Video.
14. Julian Robertson Bets the Farm on Inflation — Seeking Alpha – Via FInance Professor – “Today, we are going to highlight Julian Robertson’s steepener swap play. In layman’s terms, he is betting on inflation. Taken from eFinancialNews, ‘Steepeners are a type of interest rate swap, where one party agrees to pay the other a fixed rate in exchange for a floating rate, which is derived from the difference between long and short term rates. Many of these products also use high leverage, where the difference between the two rates is multiplied by up to 50 times to produce a higher return.’
15. Corporate Governance Update: The Forecast On Earnings Guidance – Via Harvard Law Blog – Over the past few years, an increasing number of U.S. public companies have discontinued or modified the practice of issuing quarterly earnings-per-share (EPS) guidance and, in the current financial crisis, this trend has accelerated. A recent survey of 1,300 chief financial officers concluded that “the struggle to produce accurate forecasts now tops the list of things that keep them awake at night.”
16. Corporate Transparency and Resource Allocation – Via Harvard Law Blog – In our paper Does Corporate Transparency Contribute to Efficient Resource Allocation? which was recently accepted for publication in the ournal of Accounting Research, we examine whether the country-level information environment positively affects the timely reallocation of resources in response to growth shocks (or changes in growth opportunities) by improving the transfer of resources from industries which experience negative growth shocks to those that experience positive growth shocks.
17. What Does Slower Economic Growth Really Mean? – Via HBS – During the past several weeks, economists have begun to predict substantially slower growth rates for the world’s economy into the foreseeable future. Characteristic of this is the reduction of roughly 100 basis points annually in the expected growth rate of the United States from 2 to 3 percent per year to 1 to 2 percent. Those responsible for the projections tell us that as a result, we can expect substantial reductions in sustainable employment, incomes, and profits, not to mention the standard of living to which people can aspire. You may or may not agree with these projections. But they suggest that it’s time that we ask whether we have been using the right measures for growth.
18. The Challenges of Investing in Science-Based Innovation – Via HBS – In economic downtimes, businesses are apt to cut R&D projects that don’t promise a speedy return on investment. But take a cue from smart science-based businesses, which view the recession as an opportunity to stoke up research and innovation for long-term competitive advantage.
19. Niall Ferguson and the Certainty of Uncertainty – Via HBS – Neither globalization nor financial crises are new. What may be new is that today’s highly efficient global financial system is so optimized that it appears vulnerable when unexpected events occur, which they invariably do.
20. Transactions under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) – Via SubsidyScope – This page is your gateway to information on the TARP transactions. Subsidyscope has gathered data on each transaction under the TARP program. The following table shows which companies received funds, how much they received, and when they received it. Detailed data on individual transactions can be downloaded into a spreadsheet, and the visualizations provide a quick view of the transactions over time, by recipient and by date.
21. 50 Great Examples of Data Visualization – Via Webdesigner Depot – Wrapping your brain around data online can be challenging, especially when dealing with huge volumes of information. And trying to find related content can also be difficult, depending on what data you’re looking for. But data visualizations can make all of that much easier, allowing you to see the concepts that you’re learning about in a more interesting, and often more useful manner.
22. Socrata: Social Data Discovery of Open Government Data – Via Infoasthetics – Socrata [socrata.com] features, next to a slick design, the hip trademarked slogan “Making Data Social”, as it aims to make government data open to new audiences and constituencies. At the heart of this movement is the concept of open data, making raw government data readily accessible, in a form that maximizes comprehension, interactivity, participation, and sharing. At Socrata, they call this emerging phenomenon “social data discovery“, as they offer a comprehensive set of online solutions for delivering social data discovery on government data sites.
23. Video: Coda: An Electric Car for the Rest of Us? – Via Good – The California-based Coda Automotive is offering what just might be the real deal in terms of relatively affordable electric driving: a sub $40,000 EV that gets about 100 miles per charge. And it might be ready for purchase in California as early as 2010.
24. How To Read The WSJ For Free Online – Via Silicon alley Insider – Other than the Denver Post, which got all the Rocky Mountain News subscribers when that paper shuttered, The Wall Street Journal is the only newspaper in the top 25 to add to its circulation this year. And though this turn of events probably has as much to do with subscription discounting as anything, everyone likes to say the Journal is adding subscribers at least in part because it’s erected a paywall online. We’ve even come out and said the troubled New York Times should follow the Journal‘s lead