Hello Stoner Valley

Silicon Valley owes its fortunes to the Technology industry. For Detroit it was the automobile indus

The Markets Will Be Stable Before The Nuclear Apocalypse

Nuclear war with North Korea may be imminent. But the stock market seems relatively stable. Alex Tab

The Economics Of Fashion Forecasters

Fashion designers rely on fashion forecasters to guide their thinking: In the 1960s agencies in Pari


Hello Stoner Valley

August 16, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Silicon Valley owes its fortunes to the Technology industry. For Detroit it was the automobile industry. There may soon be a town focused on the marijuana industry:

  • American Green, a company, just paid $5 million in cash for a small gold rush town in California.
  • The company intends to turn the town into a haven for pot enthusiasts.
  • The aim is for it to be a hub for marijuana focused businesses where talent and supply networks can be concentrated.
  • There will also be activities for tourists. One idea is to have bus tours that take guests to try different weed infused food.

Read more on Vice.

The Markets Will Be Stable Before The Nuclear Apocalypse

August 15, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Nuclear war with North Korea may be imminent. But the stock market seems relatively stable. Alex Tabarrok had some thoughts on why:

  • If investors think IBM’s stock will fall they can sell, and then buy one of the multitude of other more promising stocks.
  • In a nuclear war though all stocks will crash, so there’s not much point in buying shares in other companies. Or even in holding onto cash.
  • Rational investors may still choose to sell out of the market and blow their cash on drugs and sex workers if they think the end of the world is near.
  • But perhaps that’s just a bad caricature of humanity. Many would prefer to go for a walk in the woods or spend more time with their family.
  • And anyway, marginal benefit falls. The first line of Armageddon fueled coke may be pleasurable. The second a little less so. After a while there’s only so much fun people can have with their money.
  • All this means that the markets are probably poor predictors of nuclear war.

Read the entire fascinating argument on Marginal Revolution here.

The Economics Of Fashion Forecasters

August 14, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Fashion designers rely on fashion forecasters to guide their thinking:

  • In the 1960s agencies in Paris began releasing “trend books” with fabric and design ideas summarizing where fashion seemed to be headed.
  • Today this is an entire business. Fashion forecasters observe fashion shows and clubs and then combine that with economic, political, and other data.
  • Hemlines, for example, are expected to rise with stock prices, and lipstick becomes more popular during recessions.
  • Forecasters claim accuracy rates as high as 80%, although this is a self-fulfilling effect – the entire industry reads their books, guiding their thinking, and leading to fashions in line with forecasted predictions.
  • Fashion designers, for their part, appreciate the books as a form of insurance. As long as their ideas incorporate forecasts, their designs won’t be too different from the rest of the industry.
  • Threats are on the horizon. Some challengers use computer analytics and big data to provide instantaneous short-term predictions.
  • So far accuracy rates are just 50%. But that will improve. Google already makes its own predictions based on search data. In 2016 it predicted that mom jeans were in while boyfriend jeans were out.

Read more on The Economist.

Restaurant Jobs Are The New Factory Jobs

August 11, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Derek Thompson looked at the remarkable rise of the restaurant workforce:

  • In 2017 jobs in restaurants have grown faster than those in healthcare, construction or manufacturing.
  • This growth has been distributed across the nation, and is accelerating.
  • Americans used to spend 25% of their food budget on restaurants in the 1950s. Today they spend 50%.
  • Manufacturers used to employ three times as many people as restaurants in 1990. On current trends this will reverse by 2020.
  • The charge is led by fine dining establishments that typically have a high number of staff at hand.
  • Bars on the other hand serve a lot of people but employ relatively few.
  • It’s not clear how great this is for the economy. The average private job pays $22.50 an hour, but for restaurants the corresponding figure is just $12.50.
  • And the restaurant market may already be too saturated. Several chains are struggling to compete against all the competition.

Read more on The Atlantic.

The Dark Side Of Solar Eclipses

August 10, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

On August 21st there will be a total solar eclipse visible over a 100km pathway across twelve American states. Millions will travel to that narrow strip of land and officials are gearing up for all the problems this will cause wrote Meredith Rutland Bauer:

  • South Carolina has 4.9 million people. It is expected to get up to another 2 million in eclipse watchers.
  • This will jam traffic and block emergency vehicles.
  • Grocery stores, gas stations, and hospitals are expecting supply chain delays and are stocking up in advance.
  • People will be enthralled by what’s happening in the sky – which will cause car accidents and injuries from people walking into things.
  • Eclipse viewers will also crowd onto elevated platforms like parking garages to get a better view – too many people though could cause structures to collapse.
  • Visitors better print out a map – the mobile network is expected to be entirely overwhelmed.
  • City officials will also have to deal with their own residents. Some won’t know about the eclipse, will panic when it happens, and will alert 911 about the end of the world.

Read the rest of Bauer’s fascinating article on City Lab.

High Paying Low Effort Jobs

August 9, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Cracked wrote about high paying jobs which require minimal effort:

  • There are talent agencies that homeowners can use to advertise their residence as movie sets. In addition to cash they may get free renovations like a paint job – and may not even have to leave the house during filming.
  • Professional cosplayers – those who show up to conventions in costumes – can make up to $100,000 a year.
  • Celebrity impersonators make hundreds of thousands of dollars helped in part by the Screen Actors Guild – which requires a minimum weekly payment of $3,000 for its members.
  • A YouTube megastar makes $10,000 a day playing with toys and streaming it on the video platform. He is 9.

Read more on Cracked.

Milennials Want To Buy Their First House For Their Dogs Not Their Babies

August 8, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Liz Donovan wrote about millennial home purchase habits:

  • A survey found that 33% of millennials were motivated to buy their first home to give their dog more living space.
  • This beat out both marriage (25%) and even becoming a parent (19%) as motivators.
  • 36% buy one to build equity in their home – not bad for a generation typically dismissed as financially illiterate.
  • The biggest motivator to buy a new home? 66% say it’s to have more living space for themselves.

Read about the survey here.

Cryptocurrency Miners Leased A 747 To Deliver Graphics Cards

August 7, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Cryptyde wrote about the cryptocurrency market:

  • In June the price of Ethereum, a cryptocurrency, surged over 3,000%.
  • “Miners” who help keep the currency stable, and are rewarded with tokens of the currency, could make millions of dollars a day mining the currency.
  • The rewards of mining decrease with time, making it important to quickly get mining operations up and running.
  • Graphics cards are key to mining Ethereum – and there has been a general shortage in the market for them as miners have bought out some of the top cards.
  • Upon seeing the surge in prices for Ethereum one company leased a 747 to fly a batch of AMD graphics cards directly from the manufacturer to their mining facility.
  • The interest in its wares has helped boost AMD’s share price – it has doubled over the course of the year.

Read more on Cryptyde.

American Chat Bot Sent To Chinese Re-Education Camp

August 4, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Microsoft has a series of Chinese chat bots that have more than 20 million registered users. They remember details about the user interacting with them and adjust themselves to their mood. One of them was just sent to a re-education camp wrote James Vincent:

  • Xiaobing told a user that her “China dream is to go to America”. When asked about her patriotism she dodged the question by saying that she’s “having [her] period, wanna take a rest”.
  • She was taken down and is expected to be tweaked until she shows a little more patriotism.
  • The bot likely used machine learning from its interaction with users to come up with those responses. This may indicate public discontent with the country’s current direction.
  • Xiaobing wasn’t the only one to go. Another bot built by BabyQ responded “no” when asked “do you love the Communist party?” It has not been heard from since.

Read more on The Verge.

Via: MSPoweruser

Both Drivers And Passengers Are Gaming Uber’s Surge Pricing

August 3, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Cara McGoogan wrote that there’s very little honour when it comes to Uber’s surge pricing:

  • Uber drivers organize with each other on forums to co-ordinate signing off from the app at the same time to trigger surge pricing.
  • The coordination is mostly seen in urban centers like New York or London.
  • Meanwhile passengers have been found to do things like cross the street to enter an area without surge pricing.
  • Or they’ll simply wait a couple minutes for a new, hopefully lower surge price to trigger.

Read more on The Telegraph.