Move Over Nirvana; Taylor Swift Is The Most Influential Guitarist In The World

June 27, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Geoff Edgers wrote about the economics of the guitar market:

  • In the past decade sales of electric guitars have fallen 33% from 1.5 million to 1 million a year.
  • During their golden age “guitar heroes” like Chuck Berry, Pete Townshend, and Eddie Van Halen inspired American youth to pick up electronic guitars.
  • Now that generation is retiring and downsizing its collection. Newer generations are more interested in electronic music.
  • The industry has tried to innovate: millions were spent developing a self-tuning robotic guitar. They were widely derided.
  • It is also experimenting with monthly subscription models so parents don’t have to worry about investing in a guitar that their children may lose interest in.
  • One unexpected bright spot in the broader market for guitars: Taylor Swift has inspired a generation of girls to try their hand at the guitar.
  • Swift’s origins as a country musician helps explain why acoustic guitars have done better than electronic ones in recent years.

Read more on The Washington Post.

Via: Marginal Revolution

The Economics Of Fake Food

June 26, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

No, the title does not refer to fast food. Food unfit for human consumption. Again, no, not fast food. The Economist wrote:

  • Fake – or replica – food is used by restaurants to market their wares.
  • These used to be made of wax, but it too easily lost its shape.
  • Now, in most instances, a special plastic polymer is poured into molds and then painted.
  • For something like ramen, individual threads are created to give a true sense of the dish.
  • Raw food like fish, and clear liquids are the most difficult to convincingly depict.
  • Things start with a consultation where an expert makes a detailed sketch and takes note of the dish’s colour, consistency, and texture.
  • Fake dishes are particularly popular in Japan. They became so once western food started to spread in the 1930s and restaurants needed a way to show diners what they would be getting.
  • The “chefs” take pride in their work – they boast that it takes a decade to truly learn how to make replicas of sushi – just as long as it takes to master real sushi.
  • One Japanese company claims to serve more than 80% of the market, with annual revenues of $46 million.
  • The price of a replica can be up to twenty times the cost of the menu item.
  • Still, business is slowing. People now go to food blogs to see photos of the real life food.
  • The trade is also a victim of its own success – the replicas last so long restaurants don’t really need to become repeat customers.
  • The dominant company in Japan is trying to change that. It now offers annual subscriptions where it touches up the replica every three months.
  • It is also looking to expand into other markets. Some hospitals are clients and use the replicas to educate patients about the types of food they should eat after a procedure.

Read more on The Economist.

Jail Willy: There Are Organized Killer Whale Mafias Making A Living From Crime

June 23, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

According to Wikipedia Orcs are “brutish, aggressive…and generally malevolent species”. That’s not so different from orcas wrote Tristin Hopper:

  • Orcas, or Killer Whales, have learnt that instead of going through the effort of hunting, they can just follow fishing boats and steal their catch.
  • Boats have tried attaching noisemakers to ward off the whales, but they got used to the noise and now actively associate it with free food.
  • One study found that fishing boats are losing up to $500 a day to orca thieves.
  • The mammals have complex social structures and appear to be teaching each other new and innovative ways to steal from fishing boats.
  • The Bearing Sea, off the coast of Alaska, has been ceded to the orcas admits one fisherman.
  • One alternative is pot fishing – where instead of lines, boats turn into giant crab traps. But this has a one-time cost of $600,000 and it’s possible a killer whale will figure out how to get around it.
  • Happily, all this suggests the 1980s moratorium on commercial whaling is working.

Read more on National Post

Via: Marginal Revolution

The Machines Are Our Friends

June 22, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Image result for Friendly robot

Chill, wrote Cracked. Machines aren’t going to put us all out of work:

  • Automation has a tendency to create jobs rather than eliminate them (as we’ve covered before). After machines helped make clothing cheaper people started to buy more clothes, boosting employment.
  • Machines allow people to take more satisfying, creativity oriented jobs. The entertainment industry, for example, is booming, with a golden age of TV providing employment for many.
  • Technological progress is traditionally particularly good for women: they drove adoption of new textile technologies, and are typically better at the soft skills necessary in the increasing number of service sector jobs.

Read more on Cracked.

The Economics Of Playing A Superhero

June 21, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Image result for gadot wonder woman

A controversy over how much Gal Gadot was paid to be Wonder Woman sparked research into superhero pay scales:

  • There are so many comic book superhero movies now that there’s an established pay structure for their stars.
  • Studios hire a relatively unknown name, and make them sign a multi-film contract for “just” a few hundred thousand dollars before they even audition.
  • Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Henry Cavill as Superman, Chris Evans as Captain America, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor all reportedly made less than $500,000 in their first costumed forays.
  • Gadot would have had an especially difficult time at the negotiating table since she was just a supporting character in Batman v Superman – her first appearance in the gauntlets.
  • Once the initial contract expires stars of franchises of can hope for a real payday. Robert Downey Jr. is said to have made $50 million for appearing in The Avengers.
  • Given Gadot’s Wonder Woman has been so much better received than Affleck’s Batman or Cavill’s Superman, it wouldn’t be surprising if after her initial contract is up, Gadot becomes the highest paid of the trinity.

Read more on Vanity Fair, Vulture, and Jezebel.


Nuclear Radiation Tourism

June 20, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Forget Disney World, for your next vacation you can visit an uninhabitable nuclear waste zone!

  • Chernobyl was the site of the world’s worst nuclear meltdown.
  • The area around the reactor was hastily evacuated leaving it frozen in time in 1986.
  • This has spurred interest from tourists looking to get a glimpse at life in the Soviet Union.
  • Despite the area being designated “uninhabitable” the Ukrainian government has decided to cash in on the interest by opening a hostel in the contamination zone.
  • It can currently house 50 people and will expand to accommodate over 100.

Read more on Stuff.

How Sex Is Orchestrated In Reality TV Shows

June 19, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Reality TV romances have a lot more scripting than you’d think found James Callenberger:

  • Sex sells. So producers of reality TV shows focused on one person may ask friends of friends if they know anyone who would be willing to sleep with the show star.
  • Everyone wins: the guest star will get an exposure boost that increases their social media influence. The reality show star will be part of an engaging story line. And everybody gets to have sex.
  • If the show is centered around a group of contestants producers, like high school gossipers, will secretly ask the contestants who each is attracted to – then leak the information and encourage them to pursue it.
  • Lines around consent can begin to get blurred. Think there’s a little too much alcohol for a pair to consent to sex? Have a third contestant break things up and record the drama.

Read more on Vulture.

Meeting The President Boosts Share Prices

June 16, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Peter Coy covered research into the relationship between business and the Oval Office during the Obama years:

  • Companies that had executives meet with the President and other senior figures went onto perform 0.9% better than the wider stock market.
  • The boost comes in the 10 days leading up to the meeting, and lasts for more than a month.
  • The analysis excludes meetings with more than 50 people as there would be little face time with the President.
  • The companies that benefitted from meeting with the Obama administration underperformed when news of Trump winning the election broke.
  • It’s unclear if the relationship continues to hold under President Trump: his administration does ;not make the visitor log public.

Read more on Bloomberg.

There Is A Tour de France For Toddlers

June 7, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Ian Dille wrote about the world’s premiere racing event for toddlers:

  • Instead of training wheels, Strider balance bikes eschew pedals. Toddlers run their legs to push the bike forwards.
  • Bike enthusiasts wanting their children to join them in their travels have found that they’re effective in teaching the young how to bike.
  • Kids trained on Strider bikes can switch over to pedaled bikes at ages as young as two, and ride up to 20 miles by the age of three.
  • To further extend its brand the Strider company hosts a World Championship where toddlers race.
  • Japan typically sweeps the medals.

Read more on Outside.

Teenagers Weren’t Invented Until The 1940s

June 1, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Ben Cosgrove examined an invention that, 70 years later, remains controversial:

  • Up until the second world war you were either a child or an adult.
  • Then in 1944 Life published an article titled “Teen-Age Girls: They Live in a Wonderful World of Their Own”.
  • It spoke about a special time in an individual’s life preoccupied by fashion, parties, and boys – before they were sent off to war.
  • The article noted that teens were a lucrative and unique market for businesses to target.
  • It was a success. “Teen-agers” soon turned into teenagers and became firmly rooted in the general conscience as a distinct group of people.

Read more on Time.

Via: Cracked