Weekly Roundup 37: A Curated Linkfest For The Smartest People On The Web

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-Miguel Barbosa
Founder Of Simoleon Sense

Special Feature Video!! –Walter Cronkite A Reporters Life -Via Cspan – Mr. Cronkite talked about his memoir, A Reporter’s Life, published by Knopf. Mr. Cronkite described his 31 years with CBS News as well as his childhood in Kansas City, Missouri and his personal hobbies and favorite activities. Mr. Cronkite also talked about the deterioration of network news coverage and some of the reasons behind this decline.

Feature Video:The Power of Competition: How to Focus the World’s Brains on your Innovation Challenges – Via MIT World – Cooperation may be making us “a little bit too nice” when it comes to innovation, suggests Fiona Murray. She believes there’s nothing like competition for injecting energy into the process of solving key innovation problems, whether in business or society. Murray is convinced competition make ventures “more effective, more global, more inclusive and more democratic,” all important dimensions for business in a flattening world. She describes the rapidly expanding R&D expenditures of India and China, including the vast numbers of Ph.D.s these nations are producing in science and engineering. The corporate sector has found building global R&D organizations and collaborations difficult. In this challenging environment, where the advantage goes to those firms snagging the best scientists, Murray believes “prizes are complementary mechanisms” for attracting global talent. Just like historic rivalries among great artists (Nb., Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese), or the race to discover the structure of DNA, “fierce competition” can yield “dramatic productivity” and innovation, especially when the right rewards are at stake.

Feature Graphic: Deforestation & Malaria – Via Good – A 2006 Study showed that when Amazon rainforest is cleared, malaria-carrying mosquitoes bite nearby humans nearly 300 times more frequently than when the forest is left intact. This was one of the first examples of how the destruction of biodiversity can directly impact human health.

Feature Article:  What Are the Legal Implications of Implicit Biases? – Via Situationist – A federal judge and regular reader of The Situationist recently sent me a thoughtful e-mail containing thefollowing paragraph.  The judge is asking for input regarding the practical legal consequences of IAT research for employment law.

Feature Article: Why information is its own reward – same neurons signal thirst for water, knowledge – Via Science Blogs – To me, and I suspect many readers, the quest for information can be an intensely rewarding experience. Discovering a previously elusive fact or soaking up a finely crafted argument can be as pleasurable as eating a fine meal when hungry or dousing a thirst with drink. This isn’t just a fanciful analogy – a new study suggests that the same neurons that process the primitive physical rewards of food and water also signal the more abstract mental rewards of information.

Feature Article: The Internet Is Dead (As An Investment)– James Altucher @ WSJ – The days of infinite margins, 1,000% productivity gains, and growth of market throughout the universe are long over. Internet companies now should be treated, at best, like utility companies that get bought at about 10 times earnings and sold at 13 times earnings. Even then, I’m not sure I would give the Internet sector the same respect as the monopoly-protected utility sector. Don’t just ask me. Ask the best. Nobody can figure out a business model.

Feature Article: The Most Misunderstood Man in America Via Newsweek – Joseph Stiglitz predicted the global financial meltdown. So why can’t he get any respect here at home?…Stiglitz had been hammering at Obama’s economic team for its handling of the financial crisis. He wrote that the stimulus program was too small to be effective—a criticism that has since swelled into a chorus, though Obama says he’s not adding more money. Stiglitz also had called the administration’s bailout plan a giveaway to Wall Street, an “ersatz capitalism” that would save the banks’ investors and creditors and screw the taxpayers. “I thought, Larry—he’s just going to yell at Joe,” Anya recalls.

Feature: The Largest Collection Of Science Parks & Incubators Via InfoAesthetics – WAINOVA – Atlas of Innovation is the newest project from data visualization designers Bestario, who are also known from projects like Atlas of Elecromagnetic Space, TEDSphere Talks, Google Proximity between Cities and Data Signals on a Spiral. The online visualization map is based on data originating from WAINOVA, the World Alliance for Innovation, which brings together major science parks and business incubator associations throughout the world. The relational networks layered on top of the world map illustrate a comprehensive, panoramic vision of “the knowledge and comprehension of innovation and its hugh importance for growth and and wealth creation”.

Feature: Video Nina Jablonski breaks the illusion of skin color Via Ted – Nina Jablonski says that differing skin colors are simply our bodies’ adaptation to varied climates and levels of UV exposure. Charles Darwin disagreed with this theory, but she explains, that’s because he did not have access to NASA.

1. What went wrong with economics Via Economist – OF ALL the economic bubbles that have been pricked, few have burst more spectacularly than the reputation of economics itself. A few years ago, the dismal science was being acclaimed as a way of explaining ever more forms of human behaviour, from drug-dealing to sumo-wrestling. Wall Street ransacked the best universities for game theorists and options modellers. And on the public stage, economists were seen as far more trustworthy than politicians. John McCain joked that Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, was so indispensable that if he died, the president should “prop him up and put a pair of dark glasses on him.”

2. More On Spotting bubbles – Via Baseline Scenario – In comments on my previous post on bubbles, John McGowan and others point out that you can use the price-to-rent ratio (or price-to-income) as an indicator of a housing bubble. I think this is a partial but not a perfect solution.

3. The Curse of the Nocebo Effect – Via Brain Blogger – The placebo effect is a universally acknowledged phenomenon. In essence, if you think something is going to make you better, it probably will. If you believe that three tablets will do you more good than two, this may prove to be the case; if you believe that capsules are more effective than tablets, this may become your experience; and if you believe that expensive branded medicine must be better than the cheaper generic; this may turn out to be money well spent. By contrast, the placebo’s darker cousin, the nocebo, is much less well researched and is rarely considered in clinical practice. The term nocebo is taken from Latin for “I will harm”* and was first formalized in the 1960s to mean something that rationally should have no effect but actually causes a deterioration in health. The difficulty in researching the nocebo effect arises because ethics review committees tend to take a dim view of trials in which an intervention is likely to cause actual harm to the subjects.

4. This Is Your War on Drugs Via Mother Jones – Among our leaders  in Washington, who’s been the biggest liar? There are all too many contenders, yet one is so floridly surreal that he deserves special attention. Nope, it’s not Dick Cheney or Alberto Gonzales or John Yoo. It’s a trusted authority figure who’s lied for 11 years now, no matter which party held sway. (Nope, it’s not Alan Greenspan.) This liar didn’t end-run Congress, or bully it, or have its surreptitious blessing at the time only to face its indignation later. No, this liar was ordered by Congress to lie—as a prerequisite for holding the job.

5. Where Am I? Understanding The Spatial Brain – Via NYT – Let’s begin with a quick geography quiz: Which city is farther west, Los Angeles or Reno? If you’re like most people, you carefully reasoned your way to the wrong answer. Because Los Angeles is on the coast, and Reno is in landlocked Nevada, you probably assumed that Los Angeles is farther west. It doesn’t matter that you’ve stared at countless maps or taken a road trip across California — the atlas that we keep in our head is reliably unreliable.

6. Diseasome The Human Disease Network – Via Information Aesthetics –  Built by a team of researchers and engineers, the Diseasome [diseasome.eu] project uses the Human Disease Network dataset to illustrate the relationships between disease genes and human disorders, indicating the common genetic origin of many diseases. Genes associated with similar disorders show both higher likelihood of physical interactions between their products and higher expression profiling similarity for their transcripts, supporting the existence of distinct disease-specific functional modules.

7. In Washington, One Bank Chief Still Holds Sway – Via NYT-  Jamie Dimon, the head of JPMorgan Chase, will hold a meeting of his board here in the nation’s capital for the first time on Monday, with a special guest expected: the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. Mr. Emanuel’s appearance would underscore the pull of Mr. Dimon, who amid the disgrace of his industry has emerged as President Obama’s favorite banker, and in turn, the envy of his Wall Street rivals. It also reflects a good return on what Mr. Dimon has labeled his company’s “seventh line of business” — government relations.

8. Using Neural Networks to Model the Behavior and Decisions of Gamblers, in Particular, Cyber-Gamblers – Via Scribd

9. The Fancier The Cortex, The Smarter The Brain? – Via ScienceDaily — Why are some people smarter than others? In a new article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, Eduardo Mercado III from the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, describes how certain aspects of brain structure and function help determine how easily we learn new things, and how learning capacity contributes to individual differences in intelligence.

10. Robert Shiller -Financial Invention vs. Consumer Protection – via Finance Professor & NYT – JAMES WATT, who invented the first practical steam engine in 1765, worried that high-pressure steam could lead to major explosions. So he avoided high pressure and ended up with an inefficient engine. It wasn’t until 1799 that Richard Trevithick, who apprenticed with an associate of Watt, created a high-pressure engine that opened a new age of steam-powered factories, railways and ships.

11. The Public May Need to Subsidize Itself – Via Cato – Clay Shirky is entirely right about the uncertain future of journalism and the critical importance of subsidy in the emerging world of news and public controversy. Money, it is true, will come from somewhere because news has value, but where it comes from — and under what conditions — will matter for the kind of journalism and public life we have.

12. Can Your Brain Fight Fatigue? – Via NYT – Recently, researchers in England discovered that simply rinsing your mouth with a sports drink may fight fatigue. In the experiment, which was published online in February in the Journal of Physiology, eight well-trained cyclists completed a strenuous, all-out time trial on stationary bicycles in a lab. The riders were hooked up to machines that measured their heart rate and power output. Throughout the ride, the cyclists swished various liquids in their mouths but did not swallow. Some of the drinks contained carbohydrates, the primary fuel used during exercise. The other drinks were just flavored, sugar-free water.

13. Video: Jeff Scargle: Optimal Segmentation Analysis of Event Data – Via Fora.Tv – Jeffrey D. Scargle, research astrophysicist in the Planetary Systems Branch, Astrobiology and Space Science Division at NASA Ames Research Center, presents a practical algorithm for optimal segmentation analysis of event data. Useful information from data sets consisting of points, or other measurements, distributed over a data space of dimension 1 or higher, can be extracted using data segmentation. A simple algorithm based on an old dynamic programming concept provides an effective and practical approach to such problems.

14. Theory of the Firm: Managerial Behavior, Agency Costs and Ownership Structure – Via SSRN -This paper integrates elements from the theory of agency, the theory of property rights and the theory of finance to develop a theory of the ownership structure of the firm. We define the concept of agency costs, show its relationship to the ‘separation and control’ issue, investigate the nature of the agency costs generated by the existence of debt and outside equity, demonstrate who bears the costs and why, and investigate the Pareto optimality of their existence. We also provide a new definition of the firm, and show how our analysis of the factors influencing the creation and issuance of debt and equity claims is a special case of the supply side of the completeness of markets problem.

15. Uncertainty & In Everyday Life , Risk, Worry, & Trust – Via Informaworld – This editorial provides an introduction to and overview of the six papers published in this special issue on Uncertainty and Risk in Everyday Life. While uncertainty and risk are connected and the terms often used interchangeably, we argue here that the terms are not synonymous. ‘Risk’ can be used both to describe the threat posed by uncertainty and the response to such threats. The approach to risk grounded in cognitive rationality involves collecting and analysing knowledge and using it as part of a formal decision-making process. Its development reflects the aspiration to control the world and its uncertainties through the use of systematic knowledge and is part of the increasing rationalisation of contemporary society. However, the investment of time and resources required means that this approach tends to be restricted to contexts in which such resources are available and the investments are considered worthwhile, i.e. they are most likely to be used by large scale bureaucratic organisations. By contrast, in everyday life the uncertainties are often fairly predictable and resources more limited. In such contexts, uncertainty tends to be viewed as worries or concerns that are often the product of the behaviour of other people. Individuals develop low cost strategies to manage their worries and concerns. These strategies draw on readily available resources: relationships, feelings and intuition which underpin both trust (through maintaining close relationships) and distrust (through avoiding threatening individuals and places).

16. Effects of Company Logos On Human Behavior – Via Situationsit -Situationist contributor Grainne Fitzsimonsconducted a fascinating study in collaboration with Gavan Fitzsimons and Tanya Chartrand on the effects of popular company logos on human behavior.  In the following video Gavan and Tanya describe the study.

17. Learning Is Both Social And Computational, Supported By Neural Systems Linking People– Via ScienceDaily — Education is on the cusp of a transformation because of recent scientific findings in neuroscience, psychology, and machine learning that are converging to create foundations for a new science of learning.

About Miguel Barbosa

I run this site.

19. July 2003 by Miguel Barbosa
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