February 27, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
The comedic geniuses over at Cracked explained why winning a second Presidential term in America isn’t all that great:
- Being President is so physically demanding that those who lose re-election live longer. Most of the longest living Presidents in history led one-term administrations.
- The second term President’s party does badly which means a difficult Presidential term. For reasons that are unclear Americans vote against the President’s party in mid-terms during their second year, making it harder to get legislation passed.
- It hurts the chances of the President’s favoured successor. After a two term President leaves the White Office somebody from another party is usually voted in.
- The scandals begin to pile up and leak out. Watergate, Iran-Contra and Monica Lewinsky were all scandals that began to emerge during the second terms of administrations.
Read the full list of reasons, and the humour that makes articles from Cracked so entertaining over here.
February 26, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Reuters reported that South Korean condom companies are cheering over a court ruling:
- South Korea’s highest court overturned a 1953 law that used to make adultery illegal.
- As a result shares in one condom company rose by 15%. Investors were so excited trading had to be suspended.
- 892 South Koreans were indicted on adultery charges in 2014.
Read more over here.
February 25, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Japan has a few companies that have existed for over a thousand years. Joe Pinsker took a look at the secrets to their success:
- The oldest businesses are in industries that don’t go out of style: making food, shipping goods, and constructing buildings.
- The country is flexible about passing businesses down a generation. If a family felt that their own child wasn’t worthy enough to run the family business, they would “adopt” a more suitable heir.
- This explains why while in most of the world those adopted are usually children, in Japan 98% of adoptees are 25-30 year old men.
- For a long time Japanese banks were expected to help out all struggling companies. As a result, according to one estimate, between 1955 and 1990 less than a hundred companies went out of business.
- Things are changing though. In 2007 a 1,429 temple construction business ran out of money. Soon after a 533 year old company, and a 465 year old company went out of business.
- This is in part because a change in the law meant that it was difficult for struggling businesses to get help from banks.
- Younger Japanese consumers also care less about a company’s history.
Read about some of the older companies still operating in Japan, the 10 foot 17th century scroll that traced a company’s owners, some fascinating statistics, and much more over here.
Source: The Atlantic
February 24, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals have cautiously been hailed a success with several being met ahead of target. Now the United Nations is working on a set of “Sustainable Development Goals” and one economist analyzed the goals that will likely lead to the most development:
- Air pollution kills 7 million people a year. Changing how people cook would save lives and generate $10 for every dollar spent.
- Activists could also try to upgrade people to more high tech stoves that generate less smoke but that would create only $2 of value for every dollar spent.
- The most beneficial policy would be to reduce barriers to trade. According to one estimate this would generate $3,426 for developing countries, for every $1 spent.
- Other ideas that would generate high returns per dollar include providing reproductive-health services ($120), increasing nursery school enrollment ($33), and broadband penetration ($17).
- Some argue that the UN should focus on “data for development” but the act of monitoring is expensive and will take away the money available for actual development.
Read what this methodology has to say about the return on combating climate change, what other economists think, and much more over here.
Source: The Economist
February 23, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
In the North East of the United States and freezing? Matthew Yglesias has, what many will consider, cold words of comfort. Cold days are better than hot days for the economy:
- Temperatures above 15 degrees Celsius reduce America’s economic productivity.
- This effect is only seen on weekdays, where a temperature above 30 degrees Celsius is expected to cost a country $20 per person.
- This is due to the heat’s effect on agriculture and because employees just don’t seem to like working when it’s warm out – even with air conditioning.
- If America could control the weather and optimize it for economic development then income growth could be boosted by 1.7% a year.
- This could explain why countries in the colder north – such as many European ones – are richer than countries in the warmer south.
- This also has implications for what climate change could do to economic growth.
See some charts, read additional details, and find more over here.
February 22, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Clive Thompson took a look at photocopiers and what they may tell us about the future:
- Crude attempts to create copies of documents before the advent of the copier included using a runny ink to write something and then pressing another page on top of it to transfer some of the ink.
- Companies used to have routing slips on important letters with a record of who had seen it and who it had to go to next.
- When Xerox rolled out the first mainstream commercial copier machines in 1959 some companies removed doors so that they had the space to install them.
- The machines were a hit and the number of photocopies jumped to 14 billion a year.
- They affected international politics. America’s Pentagon Papers were leaked through a photocopier, and the Soviet Union soon began to tightly control them.
- Activists used the copiers at their companies to make flyers for social causes such as the fight to raise awareness for AIDS.
- The CEO of Xerox wasn’t sure that the popularity of his company’s machine was a good thing, concerned that employees were mostly copying “junk and nonsense”.
Read about some of the naughty things that people liked to photocopy, some of the more innovative things they were used for, and what they tell us about the future of 3D printing here.
February 21, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Writing and selling a book is a lot like launching a business wrote The Economist in an article titled “authorpreneurship”:
- To get a book widely recognized in this day and age a bit of outside help is required. A celebrity endorsement from the likes of Oprah or Mark Zuckerberg can help.
- So can a Hollywood film deal or a Pulitzer Prize.
- For authors that can’t go for that kind of prestige, they can always try to get onto bestselling lists.
- Preorders for books are usually recorded as sales during the first week that the book is published, meaning that authors may spend months drumming up interest and collecting pre-orders before the book is released or even written.
- Smart authors can look to release their books in months when few others are released to limit the amount of competition.
- But getting a book popular is just the first step and isn’t always that lucrative. The real money comes from the speaking engagements that a successful book can lead to.
- In this way authors, like musicians, no longer make their money from their main product. Rather they release these to drum up interest, then cash in through public performances.
Read why this is a problem for budding writers who want nothing more than to stay at home and write, what readers want, what this means for the book industry, and other ways to ensure that your book is successful over here.
Source: The Economist
February 19, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Japan has more vending machines per square kilometer than any other country. Brian Ashcraft looked at why the country has such an affinity for them:
- The machines make business sense. They’re cheaper to operate than a shop and make a brand’s products widely available.
- They also serve as free advertizing since the sides of the machines act as billboards pushing the brand.
- Some use the machines as publicity stunts. One company announced that it would sell lingerie through a vending machine, just for the media coverage it garnered.
- The country has a long relationship with “unmanned sellers” which were just open stalls with fruits and vegetables. Buyers were meant to take what they wanted and leave the correct amount of money.
- These days the machines appeal in part due to their technical sophistication. They come with giant touch screens that do things like display the latest headlines.
Read more about the machines, the kinds of things you can get from them, why low rates of crime have boosted their popularity, and much more over here.
February 18, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Ashley Feinberg covered a service that aims to be the Uber for helicopters in New York City:
- A typical flight on the service costs $219, a bargain compared to the $1,000 cost of chartering your own helicopter.
- For the ride to work at least three (and up to five) other people have to have booked it at the same time.
- At launch the service will run from 8am to 8pm, but the plan is to ultimately make it 24 hours a day.
- The only two destinations at the moment are the major airports in the area.
- Passengers can wait for their ride in a lounge at the heliport with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.
- Upon boarding they’ll be offered a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones to make for a more pleasant ride.
Read other attempts at the same idea, why the service will probably fail, its founder’s dreams for it, and much more here.
February 17, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Joe Pinker looked at the question of making public transportation free:
- Some feel so strongly that getting around the city shouldn’t cost anything that they’ve come up with ingenious workarounds. In Sweden around 500 subway riders make a monthly $12 contribution to a common pool, cheaper than the $35 weekly pass. They then jump the turnstiles and if anybody is caught, the pooled funds pay the fine.
- In theory public transportation is a win-win for all. It would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and alleviate traffic congestion.
- In practice experiments with free public transit have found that it barely increases ridership – and when it does it’s usually pedestrians who take the subway rather than drivers.
- Singapore found that free rides at non-peak hours were a good idea, since they reduced the load on the subway during periods of high congestion.
- But proponents of free public transit note that the poor should be able to get around the city and so public transit has to be free, even if it doesn’t increase usage.
The full article looks at the experience that cities around the world have had with free public transport, and provides many other fascinating details. Read it here.
Source: The Atlantic