People Are Using Ubers Instead Of Ambulances

Brad Jones wrote about an unexpected healthcare cost reduction method: Getting into an ambulance can

Why Have A President When You Can Have A Monarch?

Leslie Wayne wrote about today’s monarchists: The International Monarchist League argues that

The Economics Of A Las Vegas Residency

A residency in Las Vegas is an increasingly lucrative option for well known artists wrote Shirley Ha

 

In Nigeria Fake GPS Readings Are Being Used To Boost Uber Fares

November 29, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Yemisi Adegoke wrote about Uber in Nigeria:

  • Uber drivers in Nigeria are using an app that feeds fake GPS data into Uber’s tracking system, making the trip seem longer than it was.
  • The abuse ranges from a few extra dollars per trip, to costs that are an order of magnitude higher than what the fare would have been.
  • Drivers in Nigeria say that it’s a reaction to Uber slashing its base fare by 40% in May.
  • Nigeria is emerging from a recession and continues to struggle with inflation driving up food prices, even as the country suffers from extreme poverty.
  • The drivers allege that Uber knows about their manipulation – but doesn’t have an incentive to stop them since it means more revenue for them. Uber denies this.
  • Uber’s competitors have figured out ways to block the use of GPS hackers.

Read more on Quartz.

There Are Baby Sleep Consultants

November 28, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Chitra Ramaswamy wrote about the UK’s sleep consultants:

  • Parents having trouble getting their babies to sleep have an entire industry of sleep consultants to choose from.
  • Prices start at £180 Skype consultations, £250 home visits, £390 overnight stays, and £620 for 24/7 support.
  • Demand is driven by professional couples who don’t have live-in families to support them – and who need their own sleep.
  • The industry is unregulated. Parents could visit the NHS for a consultation from an accredited professional – but there is often a waitlist.

Read more on The Guardian.

Drivers Playing Pokémon Go Caused Up To $7.8 Billion In Damages From Car Crashes

November 27, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

The Pokémon Go craze peaked a little over a year ago. Economists have since had time to crunch some numbers:

  • A review of accident reports in an Indiana county found that 148 days after the game was released there were $5 – $26 million in damages from car crashes, likely as a result of people playing the game while driving.
  • This includes two lost lives. Scale that across the United States and you get damages as high as $7.3 billion.
  • Crashes were particularly high around Pokéstops – places where people could go to stock up on virtual supplies.
  • The game did take some steps to prevent this. Players who were moving too fast were blocked from battling in gyms.

Read more on The Verge.

Why Price Gouging During Natural Disasters Might Be A Good Thing

November 20, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Tyler Cowen talked about the lighter side of price gouging:

  • After natural disasters companies that raise the prices of essentials like water suffer massive social media blowback.
  • But if shops don’t do it, the people will simply buy it up and price gouge their neighbors.
  • This then contributes to photos of empty shelves – which can make a crisis seem worse than it is, and drive activities like looting.
  • If companies were able to charge higher prices they would have more of an incentive to increase inventories in the lead up to a disaster in the first place.
  • Supplies of essentials would also increase as neighboring entrepreneurs would migrate to the disaster area with supplies for sale, knowing they can get a good price.
  • The best alternative to price gouging isn’t forcing stores to sell at artificially low prices. It’s rationing, to make sure that people only get what they need in an emergency.

Read more of the argument here.

How Tinder Made The NBA Better

November 17, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Tom Haberstroh wrote about the “Tinderization” of the NBA:

  • In the 80s home teams won 70% of games. Today they win just 57%.
  • Tinder is a big reason why. NBA players on the road now get a lot more sleep as they don’t need to stay up all night drinking at clubs to pick up dates.
  • Instead by texting their date and leaving a key at the front desk, they can have someone in their room waiting for them the moment they return to their hotel.
  • The rise of chartered jets – where coaches can control diet and alcohol intake – has also boosted sleep levels.
  • Social media in general now allows the world to see if players are up late before a game, or in a drunken brawl. To protect their brands and corporate sponsorships players have decided it’s better to just stay in.

Read more on ESPN.

Via: Cracked

Parents Save More To Send Their Boys To College Than Their Girls

November 16, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

It’s been a particularly uncomfortable few weeks when it comes to stark revelations on how society treats women. Abigail Hess added another demerit:

  • Women hold two thirds of America’s student debt, while making up a little more than half of all college students.
  • The primary reason is that just 35% of households with girls save money for college (compared to 50% of households with boys).
  • Parents may be saving this money for a wedding instead.
  • Institutional biases contribute to the problem – the average merit based grant for boys is greater than that for girls – even though girls often outperform boys in school.
  • And then there’s the persistent gender wage gap which makes it more difficult for women to pay back their loans.

Read more on CNBC.

How Mapmakers Dealt With The Discovery Of Vast Oceans

November 15, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Genevieve Carlton wrote about maps:

  • Voyagers like Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci found distant continents – and in the process forced European mapmakers to deal with the vastness of the oceans.
  • Often they would shrink the size of the Atlantic ocean – making the new world seem much closer than it really was.
  • Some were outraged by the scarcity of land in the southern hemisphere – and reasoned that there must be an undiscovered continent in the south, which they called “Terra Australis Nondum Cognita” – southern land not yet known (see image above)
  • When Europeans ran into Australia they assumed that this was the fabled southern mega-continent, thus explaining how Australia got its name.
  • The oceans could be used for branding purposes. Mapmaker André Thévet, for example, names a series of non-existent islands after himself in the ocean.
  • One Venetian nationalist littered the vast oceans with Venetian galleys – entirely unsuited for trans-oceanic travel, but propagating what was, by that point, the myth of Venice’s pre-eminence.

Read more and see the visual evolution of maps on Atlas Obscura here.

The Economics Of Amazon’s Decision To Create A Lord Of The Rings TV Show

November 14, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Amazon struck a deal to create a series of prequels for Lord of the Rings. Derek Thompson looked at the staggering economics of the deal:

  • Amazon is thought to have paid $250 million just to acquire the rights to create a show.
  • Actually producing one will cost hundreds of millions more, and then there’s marketing costs.
  • Amazon might wind up spending half a billion dollars on creating a show – that most people will just stream as part of their existing Amazon subscription.
  • Still, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies made $6 billion across six films, so maybe the economics will work out well.
  • And adding more content to a well-explored universe has proven to be lucrative for others. Disney, after all, has essentially been making the same Marvel movie repeatedly for over a decade now.
  • People like the familiar. Despite all the money spent on original content, people are most likely to watch back catalogues of old favourites on streaming services.
  • And it makes sense for Amazon to bet big on a few headline shows. The rewards of having one great show can be exponentially better than having several good ones.

Read more analysis on The Atlantic.

Hollywood’s Real Life Loopers

November 13, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Susan Stamberg wrote about Loopers who, turns out, are background voice artists, not contracted time travelling assassins:

  • Loopers provide ambient human voices for public scenes such as those set in restaurants.
  • Producers will ask the actors to educate themselves on the location they’re shooting for – they should talk about local sports teams or weather – even if the dialogue is typically inaudible.
  • A silent film reel will play on a screen and loopers will mill about a giant microphone speaking as if they were off-screen extras.
  • Television shows will usually have around six layers of looper tracks to add real depth to a scene – major motion pictures will have many more.
  • Loopers don’t always provide human voices. In Happy Feet and its sequel, loopers were asked to emit the noise that krill – small loud crustaceans – make.
  • The most fun looper roles typically involve bloodcurdling screams.

Read more on NPR.

Forbes’ 400 Billionaires List Is Probably All Wrong

November 9, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Forbes has a list of the world’s 400 wealthiest people. You can’t trust it, wrote Preeti Varathan and Max de Haldevang:

  • Wilbur Ross, the US Secretary of Commerce was found to have successfully tricked Forbes into putting his name on the billionaires list – even though he was a hundred millionaire at best.
  • There is evidence that Donald Trump similarly never quite made it to the billionaire’s club. But he convinced Forbes that he was one…and that probably helped him become President of the United States.
  • One trick is to argue for an impossibly high valuation, thus convincing Forbes that when they come up with a valuation that’s just implausibly high, they’re being conservative.
  • Entrepreneurs try to boost estimates of their wealth because it lends them an air of credibility that makes business deals easier to negotiate.
  • Meanwhile those that inherit their wealth typically try to lower estimates of their net worth to prevent solicitation from charities, or friends and family.

Read more on Quartz.