Weekly Roundup 91: A Curated Linkfest For The Smartest People On The Web

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The 12 Rules of Survival – By Laurence Gonzales – via Value Investing World – As a journalist, I’ve been writing about accidents for more than thirty years. In the last 15 or so years, I’ve concentrated on accidents in outdoor recreation, in an effort to understand who lives, who dies, and why. To my surprise, I found an eerie uniformity in the way people survive seemingly impossible circumstances. Decades and sometimes centuries apart, separated by culture, geography, race, language, and tradition, the most successful survivors — those who practice what I call “deep survival” — go through the same patterns of thought and behavior, the same transformation and spiritual discovery, in the course of keeping themselves alive. Not only that but it doesn’t seem to matter whether they are surviving being lost in the wilderness or battling cancer, whether they’re struggling through divorce or facing a business catastrophe — the strategies remain the same.

Immersed In Too Much Information, We Can Sometimes Miss The Big Picture – via NPR – Although we find ourselves as travelers in the age of over sharing, it turns out we remain quite adept at avoiding the really tough topics. Google’s Eric Schmidt recently stated that every two days we create as much information as we did from the beginning of civilization through 2003. Perhaps the sheer bulk of data makes it easier to suppress that information which we find overly unpleasant. Who’s got time for a victim in Afghanistan or end-of-life issues with all these Tweets coming in?

The Heartbrake of Social Rejection: Heart Rate Deceleration in Response to Unexpected Peer Rejection – via Sagepub – Social relationships are vitally important in human life. Social rejection in particular has been conceptualized as a potent social cue resulting in feelings of hurt. Our study investigated the psychophysiological manifestation of hurt feelings by examining the beat-by-beat heart rate response associated with the processing of social rejection. Study participants were presented with a series of unfamiliar faces and were asked to predict whether they would be liked by the other person. Following each judgment, participants were provided with feedback indicating that the person they had viewed had either accepted or rejected them. Feedback was associated with transient heart rate slowing and a return to baseline that was considerably delayed in response to unexpected social rejection. Our results reveal that the processing of unexpected social rejection is associated with a sizable response of the parasympathetic nervous system. These findings are interpreted in terms of a cardiovagal manifestation of a neural mechanism implicated in the central control of autonomic function during cognitive processes and affective regulation.

Systems thinking, Visual thinking & Feedback Loops – via Gogerty.com – A lot of systems get out of hand due to feedback loops, whereby the inputs of something end up getting amplified by a system and then increase the input again. Biology, finance and other complex system fail when a system goes haywire and self amplifies exponentially until system failure.

What Happened to Yahoo – via Paul Graham- When I went to work for Yahoo after they bought our startup in 1998, it felt like the center of the world. It was supposed to be the next big thing. It was supposed to be what Google turned out to be. What went wrong? The problems that hosed Yahoo go back a long time, practically to the beginning of the company. They were already very visible when I got there in 1998. Yahoo had two problems Google didn’t: easy money, and ambivalence about being a technology company.

How TED Connects the Idea-Hungry Elite – via FastCompany – These two things — great ideas and the human connections they create — make TED a unique phenomenon. Other conferences, such as the World Economic Forum in Davos and D: AllThingsDigital in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, have similar elite A-list rosters. But TED, which takes place annually in Long Beach, California, is the only one that fully exploits the power of what you might call, with apologies to Cisco, the human network. In the nine years since publishing entrepreneur Chris Anderson bought TED, it has grown way beyond a mere conference. By combining the principles of “radical openness” and of “leveraging the power of ideas to change the world,” TED is in the process of creating something brand new. I would go so far as to argue that it’s creating a new Harvard — the first new top-prestige education brand in more than 100 years.

Is the Sky Falling on the Content Industries? – via SSRN – Content owners claim they are doomed, because in the digital environment, they can’t compete with free. But they’ve made such claims before. This short essay traces the history of content owner claims that new technologies will destroy their business over the last two centuries. None have come to pass. It is likely the sky isn’t falling this time either. I suggest some ways content may continue to thrive in the digital environment.

Miguel’s Weekly Favorites

Can Money Buy Happiness?
via Sciam – Money can’t buy you love. Worshipping Mammon foments evil ways. Materialists are shallow and unhappy. The greenback finds itself in tough times these days. Whether it’s Wall Street bankers earning lavish multi-million-dollar bonuses or two-bit city managers in Los Angeles County bringing in higher salaries than President Obama the recessionary economic climate has helped spur outrage and revulsion at those of us collecting undeserved lucre.

Psychology of Living in Space – via Seed – A space station is a rangy monstrosity, a giant Erector Set assembled by a madman. But the living area inside the Mir core module, where cosmonauts Alexandr Laveikin and Yuri Romanenko spent six months together, would fit in a Greyhound bus. The sleep chambers are less like bedrooms than phone booths. They have no doors. Before I came to Moscow, I read an article in Quest: The Journal of Space History that said that Laveikin returned early from the mission due to “interpersonal issues and cardiac irregularity.”

Can thinking aloud make you smarter? – via Bakadesuyo- Performance gains on this task were substantial (d = 0.73 and 0.92 in Experiments 1 and 2, respectively), corresponding to a fluid intelligence increase of nearly one standard deviation.

How much does income affect job satisfaction? And how much does job satisfaction affect income? – via Bakadesuyo- Objective success influenced both the initial level and the growth of other-referent subjective success, but it had no influence on job satisfaction. Most importantly, both measures of subjective success and both their initial levels and their changes had strong influences on the growth of objective success. We conclude that the `objective success influences subjective success’ relationship is smaller than might be expected, whereas the `subjective success influences objective success’ relationship is larger than might be expected.

Grocery cart choice architecture – via Nudge Blog – Researchers at New Mexico State University say a simple change in the design of shopping carts may help people make better decisions about the food they buy.

Google Earth as Big Brother? – via Freakonomics – Google Earth isn’t just for kicks anymore: FP reports that governments around the world are using the service to catch everyone from tax evaders to marijuana growers. Amateurs are getting in on the act as well. Aided by Google Earth, a Ph.D. student at George Mason University has led a massive effort to create “the world’s most authoritative annotated map” of North Korea. Google’s Street View service also continues to be controversial, prompting recent challenges and concessions in places like South Korea and Germany.

Top 10 Ways Your Brain Is Sabotaging You (and How to Beat It)
– via LifeHacker – An unexamined brain is a tricky thing to carry around. You’ve got unintentional biases, marketing weaknesses, “overclocking” issues, and all kinds of other mental bugs you may not know about. Here’s a helpful list of the mind’s weird ways.

Video: Reputation, Motivation & Online goal seeking – via Gogerty -If you build or work with brands or have an online site that involves community or sharing this Google 1 hour video is a must watch. Reputation is brand, it is how other perceive things, people and everything else. These value judgements created and managed by others are powerful.

When Consumption Isn’t Conspicuous – via NeuroMarketing – Marketers know that a key element in many purchases is to signal something about the buyer. A Toyota Prius, for example, says that its owner is concerned about the environment. Expensive luxury brands let the world know the buyer has discriminating taste, and, more importantly, has plenty of money. Whether you believe in the evolutionary psychology explanation (“Look at me, I have excess resources, I would be a great mating choice!”) or simply feel some people need to show off, you likely agree that the signaling aspects of luxury products are a key factor in the success of those products. Indeed, in The Luxury Strategy, Kapferer and Bastien suggest that many luxury brands advertise not to attract customers but to be sure that the rest of the population can identify these brands when their wealthy users display them.

Does time fly when you’re reading about sex? via The results support the hypothesis that sexual taboo stimuli receive more attention and reduce the perceived time that has passed (“time flies”)—the duration of high sexual taboo words was underestimated for taboo-word stimuli relative to all other word types.

Financial Topics & Investing

Video: Tim Jackson: Prosperity Without Growth – via Fora.tv – So much of the analysis of how we respond to climate change assumes that economic growth and emissions reduction are compatible goals. But is this wishful thinking? To question maximizing economic growth as an organizing principle of society seems close to economic heresy. Enter Tim Jackson, a professor of Sustainable Development and author of the book, Prosperity Without Growth. He argues it’s time to re-think the very notion of growth and what it means to be genuinely prosperous.

The Price of China’s Property Boom – via WSJ – A Chinese Academy of Social Sciences study making the rounds lately has revived bubble fears by suggesting that a startling 64.5 million urban housing units—one for every four households—is sitting empty, based on dormant electricity meter readings. Local utilities have since stepped forward to try to discredit the CASS numbers. But even if they are accurate, fears of a property crash may be misplaced.

Do stock options improve employee performance? – via PhysOrg- It has become an article of faith in Silicon Valley that stock options create incentives for employees to work harder and smarter. But does that assumption stand up? It depends on who is receiving the options, according to a new study co-authored by Nicole Bastian Johnson, assistant professor of accounting.

Extreme Moneyball – via Bloomberg- Frank and Jamie McCourt borrowed and blustered their way into a California dream life of mansions, Gulfstream jets, and ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The dream has ended

How a 16-yo Kid Made His First Million Dollars Following His Hero, Steve Jobs – via Gizmodo- His name: Christian Owens. His age: 16. He made his first million dollars in two years, “inspired by Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs”. This is how he did it.

Advanced Distressed Debt Lesson – Double Dip – via Distressed Debt Investors Blog – One of the key determinants of recovery in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy or distressed debt situation are the specific guarantees embedded in an indentures of a corporate bond. Like a guarantee on a home purchase or rental agreement, XYZ party guarantees the liability of ABC person. In corporate finance, these guarantees are carried by the various operating subsidiaries and holding companies of certain issuers. A less than diligent analyst may misread a guarantee into thinking it is more than it is and sometimes may not realize an entity has guaranteed a certain bond.

Whose Risk Is It? Corporate Catastrophe and Human Rights – via HLS- Assuring the existence of internal systems for effective risk management is a core component of corporate governance, embedded in best practice and the laws of many countries. Yet the global recession caused by the financial meltdown and the runaway Deepwater Horizon leak in the Gulf of Mexico show, yet again, that the consequences of a business failure to anticipate and plan for catastrophic risks can devastate companies, society, communities, and the environment.

Poor Little Rich Girls: The Ballad of Sara and Clare Bronfman – via NY Observer – The heiress wanted to meet the Dalai Lama. She wanted the Dalai Lama to be her friend. She had been obsessed with him for two and a half years. “I was literally in my bedroom one day listening to his tapes and thought to myself, ‘Wow, this guy is amazing!'” Sara Bronfman told an Albany AM radio host last year. When His Holiness arrived in town the next day, Ms. Bronfman could take credit for his presence.

Cyclicality of Credit Supply via Harvard – In the paper, Cyclicality of Credit Supply: Firm Level Evidence, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we study bank loan supply through the business cycle using firm level data from 1990 to 2009. It is well known that lending is cyclical. The contribution of our paper is to address two of the main empirical challenges in identifying whether this reflects the effects of bank credit supply. First, we focus on firms’ choice between two close forms of external debt financing: bank debt and public bonds. By conditioning the sample on firms raising new debt, we can rule out a demand explanation for the drop in bank borrowing which coincides with downturns. Second, by doing the analysis at the firm level, we can directly address how the composition of firms raising finance varies through time. This allows us to rule out compositional changes in the pool of firms seeking debt finance as an explanation of our findings.

Customers Dont See It As Their Job To Ensure You Make A Profit via Iterative Path – There is an interesting 40 year old Harvard Business School Case on selling contact lens to chickens. The key question in that case is how would you price it? The lens cost pennies for pairs of 1000s. Anyone who did not consider the value to the chicken farmers was taken to task by the professor. While the cost is relevant, the right way to price is based on the value creation to the customers and how much of price rent they expect.

Gambling on grades online
– via SkunkPost – Think you’re going to ace freshman year? Want to put money on that? A website called Ultrinsic is taking wagers on grades from students at 36 colleges nationwide starting this month. Just as Las Vegas sports books set odds on football games, Ultrinsic will pay you top dollar for A’s, a little less for the more likely outcome of a B average or better, and so on. You can also wager you’ll fail a class by buying what Ultrinsic calls “grade insurance.”

The economic fallacy of ‘zombie’ Japan – via Guardian – Paul Krugman and others have got Japan wrong: Americans should be so lucky as to get a Japanese-style lost decade

IMF Study of Oil Markets – via Seth’s Posterous

IMF on Impact of Rehypothecation
– via Seth’s Posterous

Academic Research Worth Reading

Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself: Self-Compassion Facilitates Creative Originality Among Self-Judgmental Individuals via Informaworld – Self-compassion is a multifaceted state of potential utility in alleviating the self-critical tendencies that may undermine creative expressions among certain individuals. To investigate this idea, 86 undergraduates were randomly assigned to control or self-compassion conditions, following which creative originality was assessed by a version of the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT). The manipulation was hypothesized to facilitate creative originality particularly among individuals who are prone to critical self-judgment, as assessed by a trait measure. This interactive hypothesis was supported: Self-judgmental individuals displayed lower levels of creative originality in the control condition, but equal levels of creative originality in the self-compassion condition. Results are discussed in the context of theories of creative potential, self-compassion, and chronic tendencies toward self-criticism.

Binary Economics – An Overview via SSRN – Based on binary economic principles, this paper asserts that one widely overlooked way to empower economically poor and working people in market economy is to universalize the right to acquire capital with the earnings of capital. This right is presently largely concentrated, as a practical matter, in less than 5 % of the population. The concentration of the right to acquire capital with the earnings of capital helps to explain how people either remain poor or end up poor no matter how hard they work or are willing to work.


Animated Infographic: Which Countries Spend the Most on Renewable Energy? – via Good – In a world of dwindling traditional energy resources, countries are starting to invest in more sustainable alternatives. Here are the countries that are spending the most on renewable energy, along with how much of it they currently produce, and what percent of their total energy output that represents.

About Miguel Barbosa

I run this site.

15. August 2004 by Miguel Barbosa
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