The World Is Getting Weirder. Here’s Why.

Turn on the television and it seems like the world is spinning out of control with bizarre and unexp

The Average Thief

An academic paper by Geoffrey Fain Williams looked at the life of a typical thief: People seem to en

Credit Scores And Relationships

Put aside Tinder and get on the dating sites which match you according to your credit score. Luke Ka


The World Is Getting Weirder. Here’s Why.

October 12, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Turn on the television and it seems like the world is spinning out of control with bizarre and unexplainable things, from ISIS, to unlikely Presidential candidates filling the airwaves. Steve Coast looked at the recent spate of weird aircraft incidents to explain why the world seems to be getting weirder:

  • Planes used to crash because of cracks in the frame, outward opening doors, and even urine corrosion. All those problems were fixed.
  • In fact most problems with airlines were fixed with the introduction of a checklist. Since then we’ve been trying to solve ever smaller and niche problems.
  • Thus now when airlines crash it’s for the most bizarre reasons – pilot suicide, anti-aircraft missile, or simple disappearance into the oceans.
  • With airplanes we may be at a point where the solutions we’re coming up with are actually creating more problems.
  • After 9/11 airplane cockpits had to be locked. This allowed a suicidal German pilot to fly a passenger jet into a mountain.
  • Now an air steward has to be in the other pilot’s seat anytime one of the pilots has to leave the cockpit. Perhaps the next crash will happen when a steward makes a mistake while sitting in the pilot’s seat.
  • It could also be why America’s houses of government are grid-locked. The US government has arguably come up with fixes for most of the problems that governments face. Now lawmakers are bickering over weirder things like debt ceilings.

Read more about what this could say about the wider economy and the internet, as well as how this all connects to The Joker from The Dark Knight here.

Source: Playboy

The Average Thief

October 9, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

An academic paper by Geoffrey Fain Williams looked at the life of a typical thief:

  • People seem to engage in thievery for short periods – usually around a year.
  • Reported earnings from stealing are low.
  • Those who engage in risky behaviours such as smoking are more likely to engage in theft.
  • Most thieves have stopped their dastardly heists by their late 20s – those that haven’t don’t earn a lot of money from it.
  • It’s possible that there are professional thieves that are so uncommon they aren’t captured in the data, or don’t respond to such surveys.
  • Or maybe the average thief is just a risk-taking adolescent who earns little more than they would from a part-time job.

The above summary is taken from the abstract. You can read the full paper here.

Source: Science Direct

Via: Marginal Revolution

Credit Scores And Relationships

October 8, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Put aside Tinder and get on the dating sites which match you according to your credit score. Luke Kawa reported on a study by the Federal Reserve which showed that a happy credit score is the key to a happy relationship:

  • Those who have above average credit scores are 14% more likely to enter into a committed relationship.
  • Couples with similarly high credit scores are 37% less likely to breakup in the third and fourth year of a relationship.
  • Those that have a big difference in credit scores are 24% more likely to end their relationship between the second and fourth year of the relationship.
  • It’s not the low credit score that drives breakups. They just seem to lead to low trustworthiness which drives actions that lead to breakups.
  • Luckily while it’s not common for people to ask about credit scores on dates, people usually end up with partners that have similar credit scores.

Read other details from the study here.

Source: Bloomberg

Social Etiquette In The Mobile Age

October 6, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Chris Weller outlined an observation about social etiquette:

  • In general people seem to follow a “rule of three” in group conversations. As long as at least three people are listening to a speaker speak, the rest of the group feels comfortable taking out their phone and focusing on that.
  • The aim seems to be to make sure that the person talking feels as if they’re being listened to and isn’t being ignored.
  • This then makes it more socially acceptable to break away from the conversation and focus on notifications from a phone.

Read more here.

Source: Tech Insider

The Economics Of Busking

October 5, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Charles Shafaieh wrote about the buskers, or street performers, of New York City:

  • To maximize profits buskers can’t dress too nice – or else people will think they don’t need money. But they can’t be dirty either – or else the crowd will think of them as beggars.
  • Thus buskers go for the simple – a plain clean shirt and perhaps jeans.
  • Commuters value work ethic more than individuals. Those who are there at the same place at the same time every day will draw more contributions.
  • For about six hours of work during the peak hours between 7 and 10am, and 4 and 7pm, a busker can make anywhere between $50 and $200.
  • This could potentially make busking more lucrative than being popular on Spotify.
  • Odd things like the level of terror threat, or the performer’s mindset can affect donations in a given day.
  • If a crowd see’s one person giving money to a performer more tips will likely follow as the performer’s skill has thus been validated.
  • Some of the buskers see what they do as genuine art. This is why they may play in narrow hallways where pedestrian traffic is low but acoustics are ideal.

Read more about the compositions that earn the most money, and other details here.

Source: Hopes & Fears

The Shadow Economy Building Up Around The Refugee Crisis

October 4, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Where there are thousands of people in close proximity there is an untapped market. Ben Hubbard looked at market infrastructure springing up as refugees continue to make their way to Europe:

  • In the coastal towns of North Africa, stores display lifejackets for sale on their mannequins.
  • They also offer inflatable rafts and other flotation devices.
  • Sadly many of these products are of low quality. Some of the lifejackets, for example, are made of a foam that absorb water rather than float on it.
  • But the real money is filling boats. Migrants pay about $1,200 per seat on a boat. Children cost half.
  • A raft can hold about 45 passengers, and after paying for commissions, the cost of boat and motor, and bribes, human smugglers can earn about $30,000 per boatload.
  • Migrants are terrified of paying their lifesavings to get on a boat, only to have the money stolen from them. This is why the money is held in escrow accounts, and is only transferred once the crossing is complete.
  • There are clauses in the contracts that allow agents to collect payment even if those on the boat drown.

Read more about this shadow economy over here.

Source: The New York Times

Via: Marginal Revolution

Inequality In Car Accidents

October 2, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Emily Badger and Christopher Ingraham wrote about inequality on the road:

  • While deaths as a result of traffic accidents have been dropping over the years, the declines have been focused on the most educated.
  • For those under 25 the rates of fatalities have actually increased.
  • In 1995 deaths from accidents were 2.5 times higher for those at the bottom of the education spectrum compared to those at the top. In 2010 the ratio was 4.3.
  • This is because those with less education are likely poorer and thus have older cars without modern safety features like side air bags and rear cameras.
  • Poorer areas also have fewer hospitals.
  • And poorer residents may not be able to muster the political strength to lobby for road safety features such as crosswalks, speed bumps and stop signs.
  • It’s unclear if seat belts or alcohol play a role in the differences.
  • This ratio will likely get worse as self-driving autonomous cars will, at first, only be affordable for the rich.

Read more over here.

Source: The Washington Post

Personal Cheerleaders

October 1, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Lauren O’Neil wrote about a troubling practice in Chinese tech companies that’s gaining attention:

  • It’s been reported that some Chinese tech companies are hiding attractive young women to act as “programming cheerleaders”.
  • These girls are there to socialize with employees during their breaks, play ping-pong with them, and bring them things like food when they need it.
  • The HR department of a company that hired three of them stated that it was because its male programmers had troubles socializing, and the girls were there to increase motivation.

Read about the outrage and fallout here.

Source: CBC News

Via: Marginal Revolution

How Subway Strikes Can Reduce Your Commute Time

September 30, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

London has had about 50 subway underground, strikes since 2000. The Economist looked at a study on what this did to commuting patterns:

  • In February last year 171 of the system’s 270 stations shut down due to a strike.
  • While 75% of commuters had to alter their route as a result of the strike, only 70% of travelers returned to their old route after the strike was over.
  • The remaining 5% seem to have inadvertently found quicker commuting paths during the strike.
  • Subway maps aren’t always the best representation of a city’s geography. Therefore a route that seems to make sense on a subway map may not actually be the fastest way to get to a destination.
  • Strikes force commuters to think of alternate stations that they can use – and for a surprising number the alternate route is actually faster.
  • On average therefore those who were affected by the strike shaved 20 seconds of off their commute time once the strike was over.
  • Summed over time these benefits will more than make up for the cost of the strike.

Read more about the study and its conclusions over here.

Source: The Economist

Banning Alcohol Increases Drug Abuse

September 29, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Christopher Ingraham reported on a study about drug abuse:

  • “Dry” counties – places where the sale of alcohol is banned outright – seem to have more meth labs than “wet” ones.
  • This could be because those who break the law to buy alcohol anyway may also be more likely to consider breaking the law to purchase meth.
  • The evidence indicates that removing the ban on alcohol could reduce the number of meth labs by as much as 25%.
  • This means that, in a twist on conventional wisdom, banning alcohol becomes a gateway to harder drugs.
  • There are other areas where such bans have unintended consequences. Dry counties have higher DUI related crashes than wet ones – likely because you have to go further to get your alcohol.
  • They are also more likely to have high rates of binge drinking.

Read more about the study, its conclusions, what happens when you merely restrict the sale of alcohol, and other fascinating insights here.

Source: The Washington Post