Assorted links

by on September 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Splendid Charles Mann review of Hugh Thomas, a real zinger.

2. Is it illegal for a customer to write down prices in a store?

3. Trade politics in Middle Earth.

4. New book: Timothy Besley and Torsten Persson, Pillars of Prosperity: The Political Economics of Development Clusters, web page for the book is here.

5. How some regions are successfully reforming education.

6. Are autistics more likely to be atheists and agnostics (pdf)?

dearieme September 17, 2011 at 7:26 pm

#1 The review doesn’t tell me what I need to know viz should I bin my father’s copies of Prescott’s books and read something newer?

Roy September 17, 2011 at 11:33 pm

This is not a competitor to Prescott, that would be Thomas’s “Conquest” which is extremely good, and honestly better than Prescott’s Conquest of Mexico.

Though I would never bin Prescott because it is probably the finest 19th century piece of historical scholarship, and he was a truly beautiful writer. Mommsen is his only rival.

dearieme September 18, 2011 at 5:44 am

Thanks: I’ll keep the Prescotts and perhaps try “Conquest”. I thought Thomas on the Atlantic slave trade was pretty good.

Michael G Heller September 18, 2011 at 6:37 am

Best short book may probably be Charles Gibson’s Spain in America.
Heavyweight intellectual book is D. A. Brading’s The First America
Interesting short take is: J.H. Elliot’s The Old World and the New
A true classic is J.H. Parry’s Spanish Seaborne Empire
A reliable book is John H. Elliott’s Imperial Spain (he’s a specialist really)
For the philosophical try Colin MacLachlan Spain’s Empire in the New World
Book I never got around to reading is Matthew Restall’s 7 Myths of Spanish Conquest
To be honest I binned Prescott decades ago. I think it was my dad’s too!

Steve September 18, 2011 at 2:14 am

Speaking of Charles C. Mann, here’s my review of his new book “1493:”

http://www.vdare.com/articles/charles-c-mann-s-1493-the-columbian-exchange-the-homogenocene-and-white-guilt

R. Pointer September 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm

I guess Tesco is signaling that you shouldn’t expect a deal.

Ken Rhodes September 17, 2011 at 9:32 pm

According to Wikipedia, Tesco is the third largest retailer in the world. Not in England … in the WORLD!

How the heck do they treat their customers like that and keep the revenue rolling in???

Rahul September 18, 2011 at 12:02 am

This isn’t some Brit quirk. As far as I know, even American retailers like Walmart and Target will kick you out if you try to record prices. I even saw a sign in one Walmart warning against this practice I believe.

The prohibition is aimed at competitors apparently who can try to price match and undercut sales. I think you get paid a pretty penny for doing this job surreptitiously armed with a barcode reader.

I’m not exactly sure of the legality of them kicking you out. But so long as the stores have the “Right to admission reserved” clause, I think they enjoy wide leeway in regulating what behavior they will not allow in-store.

Andrew' September 18, 2011 at 5:53 am

“Tesco is the third largest retailer in the world. Not in England … in the WORLD!
How the heck do they treat their customers like that and keep the revenue rolling in???”
Answer: See previous sentence

dearieme September 18, 2011 at 8:55 am

Also consider the value represented by their sparkling water at about 26 cents for 2 litres, and the loveliness of some of their products such as the houmous and smoked salmon taramasalata that I’ve just had for lunch. I don’t recommend their light bulbs though.

Dan Weber September 18, 2011 at 9:32 am

I just don’t believe that this information is trade secret. For small items, like the manager said, I can just buy them and I’ll find out on my receipt how much they are worth. They will even collate the information for me. That can’t be a “pretty penny.”

There are probably websites where consumers collect this information, wiki-style. southern savers (dot) com gets you pretty close already, although it’s not necessarily simple to search.

The author conflates “illegal” with “against store policy,” and unfortunately Tyler does the same thing by repeating the misleading headline. Tesco may be jerks to their customers, but they’re not taking the law into their hands by forbidding certain behaviors in their stores.

AndrewL September 18, 2011 at 10:21 am

I have not had this experience in any Walmart or target, can you find some evidence of this practice in Walmart or target?

Rahul September 18, 2011 at 11:49 am

I am pretty sure I saw a sign at our local Walmart (right by their returns counter where all such mandatory signage is posted in bright yellow.) Not sure if they still do this and didn’t find any evidence online.

It seems like a fuzzy area of law. The practice does not seem to be patently illegal but you will politely be asked to leave by the manager if caught doing it. The store has the upper hand since “right of admission” is reserved.

Check these discussions out:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1423341/posts

http://www.retailwire.com/discussion/10740/legality-of-price-checks-questioned

My understanding is that all stores surreptitiously kept doing this till Walmart got sued by a competitor. And now they all try and crack down on others trying to scan.

mulp September 17, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Tesco obviously objects to free markets. If you want to know the price of something Tesco sells, it will cost you the price of the item you want to price.

Or perhaps this is what Tyler calls a market in everything: prices. And Tesco does offer an incentive to buy a price on a bottle of water: they throw in a bottle of water.

Veridical Driver September 18, 2011 at 4:39 pm

You are being facetious, but what you are saying is true… Tesco, like most big corporations, oppose free markets. And fortunately for those corporations, their are enough true-believing left-wing zealots who believe that corporations are all ideologically pro-market… They help give a anti-capitalist moral smokescreen to government mandated corporate oligarchy.

CBBB September 18, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Just the opposite it’s usually the right-wingers who constantly confuse pro-business with pro-market.

William Sjostrom September 18, 2011 at 4:07 am

I can’t speak for the London Tesco the writer was in, but I write down prices all the time at my Tesco without any hassle at all. I take pictures, too, for classes, and no one bothers me. Moreover, I do a lot of Tesco shopping online, where the prices are posted, and I have brought the online prices into the store a couple of times to compare (they were the same) without any hassle. Maybe in London they are different, or maybe, it being the Guardian and all, they just made it up.

Andrew' September 18, 2011 at 5:55 am

5. It seems self-explanatory that if you give more money to a system determined not to reform what you won’t get is reform.

Jeff T September 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Possible “Political culture that is New Hampshire” ? The winning commenter on the Middle Earth trade policy quiz is a New Hampshire state legislator: http://pileusblog.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/trade-politics-in-middle-earth-answers-winner/ His name is Seth Cohn, and he keeps a pretty informative website: http://sethcohn.com/pages/2011-votes-of-seth-cohn. He purports in the comments at Pileus not to have had any formal education since finishing high school at 16. Pretty cool. How did someone with such a good understanding of trade policy ever get elected? I noticed from the roll calls listed on his website that New Hampshire has a HUGE state legislature, which according to Wikipedia is “the fourth-largest English-speaking legislative body in the world.” Each of the 400 lower house members represents, on average, a mere 3,291 New Hampshirites.

zbicyclist September 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm

#2: Retailers track other retailers prices all the time. But they don’t have to make it easy for their competitors, and often throw out people collecting prices. They ask you to leave, you leave. it’s no big deal. You drive to another store (probably not the closest store, because they may have been warned about you).

To me, the reporter just seems either naive or near deadline with nothing better to say.

ronald hawlingtoff September 18, 2011 at 8:04 pm

i got hassled and threatened to be kicked out of walmart for writing down prices and specs for uv bulbs. i told them i was running an errand for a prof who was a building a spectrometer. the friendly people at walmart did let me know i could write down all the specs and prices to my hearts content for any bulb i bought.

tkehler September 19, 2011 at 3:44 am

I find it ridiculous that you have to buy a product — in your case a light bulb — in order to properly research it (i.e., record specifications so you are better informed).

Hasdrubal September 19, 2011 at 11:56 am

Regarding #2, haven’t several websites and retailers used American copyright law/DMCA provisions to sue people over documenting prices? I seem to remember a big stink over something like that a couple years ago, like something about a website that let you compare prices and know about specials.

Silas Barta September 19, 2011 at 10:20 pm

2. If not, I wonder how the government inflation tracking agencies get their information, because they sure as hell don’t make use of retailers’ IT systems.

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