Assorted links

by on July 3, 2012 at 2:57 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Chess players who did well in business.

2. Orbitz defends its price discrimination.

3. The suburbs aren’t dead yet.

4. Reuters piece on changes in economics.

5. Silly insurance markets in everything.

IVV July 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Why should the suburbs die? They’re an attractive solution for a lot of people. Inprove walkability, but maintain lower density. Besides, for more quiet and larger yards, we’d all live in the country, surrounded by wilderness we tame, if we could just walk out the door and get our groceries and take in a show, too.

Rich Berger July 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Amen. Those urban planners hate the suburbs but people like them.

TallDave July 3, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Agreed. Plus, they tend to be relatively high-trust.

JMC July 4, 2012 at 1:51 am

I’m a young professional and its interesting to realize that I’ve actually never lived in a suburb since I left my parents home for college. I’ve always lived within 15 min from work or school and I can’t imagine the hour commutes that people are finding themselves in for an affordable “American Dream” with the white picket fence.

Realistically, almost everybody has to make compromises and for me thats choosing a smaller condo or apartment in the ideal location rather than the dream home.

Ricardo July 4, 2012 at 2:58 am

Cities are good for people with disposable income and no children. Even then, a lot of jobs for college graduates these days seem to be in office complexes located in the suburbs so living in a city won’t necessarily cut down on your commute time. Suburbs are good for people with two or more children who want to live in a good public school district.

TallDave July 4, 2012 at 11:28 am

Not everyone works in the city, though. I live 10 min from work, and my commute is quite scenic and pretty.

OTOH, I probably give up some labor mobility.

Eric July 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Orbitz wasn’t engaging in price discrimination, but rather ad discrimination.

Jordan July 3, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Information discrimination, perhaps?

Nathaniel July 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Pawn to d4. I wonder if the Queen’s Gambit instills a calculated risk strategy that allows one to find success in business.

Mark Thorson July 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm

I cheat at chess. When someone wants to play a game, I always pick up a white and black pawn, put them behind my back and pretend to randomize them, then present my closed fists with a pawn in each one. Against a right-handed player, the black pawn is always in my right hand. Far more often than you would think, a right-handed player reaches out to the diagonally opposite hand, which is my right hand.

Andrew' July 3, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Maybe the computers could make themselves useful and figure out how to make it fair. Maybe the second mover should move twice.

Rahul July 4, 2012 at 1:43 am

What if players made two moves every turn. Wonder if that’d be an interesting variant on chess or a dud.

Ray Lopez July 4, 2012 at 11:50 am

But at the grandmaster level, there is a much smaller advantage to having white than at the amateur level–because of aggressive play adopted by black. Black is OK, as a Hungarian GM wrote. Ever play a stronger player in a winning position? It’s hard to win! They find counter-play.

Andrew Hargrave July 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Some people are surprised that despite gentrification, not all whites want to live in cities.

What they don’t understand is that many whites just don’t like city life in general. And that they don’t just dislike living around minorities, but also dislike living around hipsters, gays, ethnic whites, etc.

Careless July 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm

add “almost everyone else” to the list. Between commuting time and my wife’s desire to visit Chicago frequently, the suburbs are the best available solution for my desire to not be surrounded by other people.

MD July 3, 2012 at 7:41 pm

My forefathers were from Britain and were ethnically Welsh and English. Am I one of the ethnic whites?

Jack July 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm

(4) Reuters piece is awful — every hackneyed, cliched straw-man criticism of economics is to be found. Ugh. But the discussion of Alan Kirman’s classic research on the economics of ant colonies is fun, even if mostly irrelevant to the question at hand.

Andrew' July 3, 2012 at 9:38 pm

“awful — every hackneyed, cliched straw-man criticism of economics is to be found.”

“Awful”? Sounds like a very useful primer on hackneyed, cliched straw-man criticisms of economics!

jorod July 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm

City land is expensive. Suburb land is cheap and spread out. Duh….Not to mention the disastrous government housing policies of the last 50 years that turned urban centers into wastelands..

RM July 3, 2012 at 5:52 pm

WRT suburbs, I think the financials still favor living there, in fact even more so than in 2007. 1) You can get a house for 1/2 the 2007 price. 2) Don’t let the price of gasoline fool you; with more fuel efficient cars, the cost of transportation may actually be falling. And this does not even consider the potential onslaught of electric, other hybrid technologies or the driverless car that will allow you to work while you commute.

No need to comment on mortgage subsidies, un-tolled roads, average cost instead of marginal cost pricing for sanitary infrastructure, etc.

kiwi dave July 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm

1. is not surprising and pretty silly, a good example of how journalists fail to think through causes, effects and correlation. Which hypothesis is more likely: (i) Bill Gates, Peter Thiel et. al. were just random kids who, through chess, developed great business and strategic skills; or (ii) the people on that list have high cognitive skills, patience, ability to delay gratification and the ability to think strategically led them to chess and enabled them to excel in it?

So Much For Subtlety July 3, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Those chess players are high concentrated. They run tech companies and work as quants. They are not really doing a whole lot of other things. There was one guy in transportation but the fall of the Soviet Union presumably created its own special opportunities.

From which you might draw many conclusions, especially about high cognitive skills, patients, ability to delay gratification and the ability to think strategically. But I would draw one in particular – none of the skills that make a good chess player are useful in the real world except in the very narrow specialities where being a nerd is more or less a pre-requisite. High cognitive skills aren’t as transferable as you might think and do not often translate well into the business world. Playing rugby is probably a better bet.

The better question is why are virtually all chess players in the movies bad guys? And am I the only one who thinks that SPECTRE’s Chief of Ops got a raw deal in From Russia with Love? I mean the old Bulgarian shoe in the calf trick just because one operational plan went wrong?

Slugger July 4, 2012 at 11:00 am

How about an article on successful people who have never played chess or who suck at chess?
I know a big-time CEO who has blue eyes, male pattern baldness, and plays golf. Do I have the makings of a article here?
Confirmation bias, folks, strikes again.

Ray Lopez July 4, 2012 at 11:51 am

But studies have shown good chess players have a strong correlation with a high IQ and better than average memory. Surely these factors will give you an edge in business, no? Check and mate Slugger!

So Much For Subtlety July 4, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Only if high IQ and better than average memory confers an advantage. Given so few chess players go on to do much of any importance in the business world, the evidence would seem weak.

On the other hand I would think that playing golf and male pattern baldness are highly correlated with business success. As, to be honest, is blue eyes. Or at least the lack of a dark skin. Correlation or causation? Golf, I would be prepared to bet, causes business success. Male pattern baldness is a feature of age which tends to go with being at the top of your career. Correlation. Blue eyes? Could go either way.

RM July 3, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Point is that the Great Recession in combination with other secular trends now favors the suburbs over inner cities even more than in 2007. That said, two additional points:

1. Age distinctions are probably more important now than in 2007. Unemployed/underemployed college and just post-college kids really do need to live in the city to avoid car payments.

2. Much, much longer-term trends away from cars may change everything; millenials already show less signs of attachment to cars.

Major July 3, 2012 at 6:16 pm

millenials already show less signs of attachment to cars.

Driving among young people has declined a bit, but that isn’t evidence of a shift in their transportation preferences away from cars. There are many other possible explanations: economic conditions, unemployment, gas prices, stricter requirements for obtaining a driver’s license, tougher DUI laws, advances in communications technology, etc.

Brian H. July 4, 2012 at 6:47 am

I would add “student loan debt” to the list. You see a lot of hipster/liberal inclined people crowing that the kids are rejecting “car culture” in favor of public transit. This is true to some extent, mostly among the upper-middle class and status seeking kids from liberal backgrounds. But they make up a fairly small minority.

The truth is young people are doing extremely poorly in this economy, have bad future prospects and are saddled with vast student-loan debt. They don’t have cars because they can’t afford them, or still live with their parents and borrow their cars when needed.

Doc Merlin July 4, 2012 at 11:23 pm

+1
We just can’t find jobs.
Thanks baby boomers for screwing things up.

Michael Heller July 3, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Marriage is a risky enterprise. This needs to be underwritten in bold ink.

TrollsWillTroll July 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Marriage is a risky enterprise.

Willitts July 4, 2012 at 12:10 pm

4. The efficient route isn’t necessarily the shortest route.

Consider the number of ants and the capacity and canalization of their storage depot. If a large number of ants took the shortest route, it could congest the storage facility or its entrance.

And this is just the first reason that popped into my head. The ants might have a perfectly rational adaptive reason for this other than that which springs to mind.

If anything, this demonstrates the inability of dumb humans to think that simple experiments don’t have hidden complexities.

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