Jet Packs For Fire Fighters

November 25, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Firefighters might soon be equipped with jetpacks wrote Amy X. Wang:

  • Dubai is filled with glittering skyscrapers which can make things difficult for firefighters.
  • The government has thus signed an agreement to purchase 20 jetpacks for its firefighting force.
  • They will have a top speed of 45 mph and will climb 900 meters.
  • Thermal scanning technology will enable firefighters to identify those in need of assistance. The jet packs will also be able to carry medical equipment.
  • They should be ready by the end of 2016, and each is thought to cost around $150,000.
  • This will make a good addition to Dubai’s civil services, which also includes Lamborghini police cars.

Read more here.

Source: Quartz

Camel Fashion

November 24, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Jason Karaian looked into the world of apparel for camels:

  • A company in Abu Dhabi has come to be known for its upmarket camel beauty supplies.
  • Now it is branching out into performance wear. The full body compression suit apparently makes race camels run faster and beauty camels look better.
  • The suits are worn before and after camel races to increase blood flow.
  • The advantages are similar to that which Under Armour marketed to become a billion human clothing company.

Read more about the business here.

Source: Quartz

How Your Name Can Change Your Life

November 23, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Natalie Vail at Cracked composed a list of ways that your name can affect your life:

  • People who have names that come early in the alphabet do better in life. This may be because in classrooms, for example, they’re called upon first, have their names mentioned first when they co-author something, or even have their names on the tops of ballots when they run for office.
  • This helps explain why, in the past century, only six American Presidents have had a surname from the latter half of the alphabet.
  • We’re also more likely to marry people whose names resemble our own.
  • Children in conservative states get weirder names – such as “Serenity” or “Londyn” – than children in liberal ones. This might be because conservative mothers tend to be younger and thus may be more adventurous in their choice of names.
  • In Germany, at least, having a noble sounding name – like Furst (“Prince”) – leads to better life outcomes.
  • For male CEOs having a simple informal name – like Mark – seems to be an advantage. It makes them seem less intimidating, allowing people to be more comfortable around them.
  • For female CEOs however a more complicated name – like Marissa – seems to be advantageous. This might be because it makes them seem more professional.

The full article has many more fascinating details, and as with all articles from Cracked has a good deal of humour in it. You should read it here.

Source: Cracked

The Economics Of Turkey Prices

November 22, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Thanksgiving is coming up. Anna Lipin used the opportunity to examine turkey prices:

  • Feeding turkeys can make up as much as 70% of a turkey’s production costs.
  • This is especially true for pasture turkeys that are free to frolic about. Their increased activity means that they need twice as many calories as their factory farmed brethren.
  • Turkey farms also have to pay for freezers. Your turkey may say that it is fresh and was never frozen, but according to industry standards as long as it wasn’t chilled below 10 degrees it wasn’t frozen.
  • Despite all this though turkeys are a loss leader for a supermarket – you pay less than what it cost the store to buy it.
  • This is because supermarkets know that you’ll also buy items like potatoes, cranberries, stuffing, and butter – and they jack up those prices to increase margins.

Read more here.

Source: Lucky Peach

The History Of Waterbeds

November 19, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Josie Rubio delved into the history of the waterbed:

  • Waterbeds have been around for 3,000 years. They enjoyed a surge of popularity for a while in the late 1800s.
  • However, being unable to regulate the temperature of the water meant that they soon lost appeal.
  • In 1968 a university student created a water bed that suddenly became a symbol of sex appeal, with couples engaging in playful romps on the fluid filled mattresses.
  • So strong was the link to sexual activity that dealers who sold the mattresses were described as “seedy” and sold them along with things like “orgy butter”.
  • In New York City a Bloomingdale’s public water bed display became a meeting place for singles.
  • Which is odd because landlords were increasingly banning water mattresses in NYC. They were difficult to get through the door and when moving out tenants had a tendency to leave the water bed rather than go through the trouble of draining and disposing of it.
  • Some landlords even required that waterbed insurance be purchased in case the family cat Mr. Scruffles decided to scratch it open.
  • Water beds eventually lost their sex appeal as they were soon marketed to the sick and elderly as therapeutic devices.

Read about the urban myths that flew around about water beds, the role they’ve played in popular culture, how Hugh Hefner liked his water bed, and other details here.

Source: Van Winkle’s

Surge Pricing For Parking

November 18, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Faiz Siddiqui wrote about experiments in surge pricing for parking spots:

  • In D.C. its estimated that 25% of downtown traffic congestion is merely due to drivers circling the block looking for parking – a classic case of demand outstripping supply.
  • Demand based dynamic pricing, which could prices to go up to $8 an hour or more in the future, is expected to help reduce traffic.
  • Critics say that this is a revenue raising measure which will increasingly price poor people out of certain areas of the city.
  • However, when a similar program was run in San Francisco it was found that while in 31% of cases parking prices increased, on average they declined by 4% as prices plummeted during periods of low demand.
  • In Los Angeles congestion decreased by 10% and average parking prices were lower at 60% of parking spots.
  • Parking spots in the D.C. pilot are being fitted with sensors so that in the future it may be possible to track your car through an app.
  • The aim is to have at least one open space on every block, although the cost of that last spot could be eye-watering.

Read more about the experiment, its supporters, and its critics here.

Source: The Washington Post

Via: Marginal Revolution

Surviving The Apocalypse In Style

November 17, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Never let it be said that Centives doesn’t look out for its readers. For all you billionaires looking for a backup in case the end of the world looms, Micah Singleton had a suggestion:

  • Vivos Europa One is a living facility built into a Soviet era cold war bunker in Germany.
  • It can survive nuclear blasts, airline crashes, earthquakes, electro-magnetic pulses, and chemical attacks.
  • It is aimed at the ultra-wealthy and includes swimming pools, movie theaters, and gyms.
  • Only 34 families will be invited to purchase real estate within the bunkers.
  • In the event of an Armageddon type event, the company behind the project will dispatch helicopters to bring inhabitants to their underground survival villas.

Read more about it here.

Source: The Verge

The Economics Of Diners

November 16, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Diners are known for their seemingly endless menus, quality food, and wonderful atmosphere. They’re going out of business, writes Aaron Elstein, at least in New York anyway:

  • The number of NY diners has decreased from 1,000 to 398 in a generation.
  • The biggest problem is rent. The extensive inventories require extensive storage space and rent can be as high as $25,000 a month.
  • Employees have to be skilled enough to make 400 different dishes and master 60 different types of salads.
  • Food prices change all the time but updating a diner’s voluminous menu to reflect new prices requires thousands of dollars for new printing.
  • Landlords, for their part, prefer renting space to national chains like Applebee’s because they know they can go to the corporate parent if an individual restaurant owner fails to pay rent.
  • On the other end of the spectrum food trucks are putting pressure on margins by offering short, focused menus which lead to low-priced food.

The full article looks at the Greek origins of diners and interviews owners of some of New York’s best diners. Read it here.

Source: Crain’s

Via: Marginal Revolution

What’s Up With Polling?

November 15, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Pre-election polls were wrong about who would win in the United Kingdom, Israel, and Bihar. Jill Lepore took a look at the history of polling and the current challenges that it faces:

  • In the 1980s pollsters could expect that 60% of those they called to poll would be willing to share their opinion on politics. These days less than 10% do.
  • And polling companies have traditionally only called those with landlines. With the younger increasing opting only for mobile phones this biases samples
  • Yet polls have become more important than ever. The big TV networks have used polls to determine the main debaters for the Republican Presidential debates, and even what order they’re presented on the stage.
  • Critics of polling point out that most democracies are republics, not direct democracies. This is to prevent decisions from being taken by mass opinion and the hysterias that it is prone to, thus, in theory, protecting things like minority rights.
  • Moreover, pollsters often don’t reveal the way they arrived at their conclusions so that they can keep their algorithms secret and maybe sell them in the future.
  • Others note that polls actually help ensure that everybody’s voice is heard since each data point is treated equally.
  • Some are trying to turn polls against politicians. One startup allows users to see the candidates that stand unopposed and then pledge money to anybody who’ll stand in an election against them.
  • As soon as the candidate with the right policy positions enters the race the pledges become instant donations that are given to the candidate.
  • Potential candidates for office then can see how much money they’d start off with the moment they entered a race.

The full article is much longer and goes into a much deeper level of analysis of the history of polls. You should read it, and what this means for Donald Trump, over here.

Source: The New Yorker

The Anti-Tinder

November 13, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

There are services like Tinder that help you get into a relationship. Only fair that there be services that help you get out of one. Emanuel Maiberg reviewed one of them:

  • The Breakup Shop offers a multitude of services in order to help you break up with your partner.
  • An email or text costs $10. A letter costs up to $30. And if you want to add the personal touch to your subcontracted breakup you can pay for a $29 breakup phone call.
  • The Breakup Shop also has a gift store where you can buy your soon to be ex a Netflix subscription as a consolation.
  • The shop offers merchandise for those initiating the breakup to feel better about themselves too – like Call of Duty.
  • Maiberg tried the service and found that it’s probably not suitable for ending long-term relationships but may work as an alternative to “ghosting” out of a short-term one.

Read about the service and hear what a breakup phone call sounds like over here.

Source: Motherboard