Assorted links

by on October 4, 2012 at 12:11 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Japan’s first cuddle cafe.

2. New critique of Woodford and ngdp targeting, from Gavyn Davies and others.

3. Fish fraud, and excellent material on Iranian hyperinflation.

4. Some of the maple syrup is seized, and the policy uncertainty costs of horse nationalism.

5. There is no great stagnation (the ostrich pillow), and Thiel and Kasparov and Rogoff and Shuttleworth will debate.

Chuck Ross October 4, 2012 at 12:28 pm

On Japan’s cuddle cafes, this reminds me of a recent Wired article discussing Japan’s cat-petting cafes. As in, felines.

Turkey Vulture October 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Sounds like a better business than cuddle cafes. I wouldn’t pay specifically for cat or dog-petting time, but if a local cafe had nice cats and dogs in it all the time I would pay a premium for my coffee in order to sit there.

Arthur October 4, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Interesting:

Girl gives customer foot massage (3 min) – 1,000 yen
Customer gives girl foot massage (3 min) – 2,000 yen
Customer sleeps with head on girl’s lap (3 min) – 1,000 yen
Girl sleeps with head on customer’s lap (3 min) – 2,000 yen

Ray Lopez October 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Girls sleeps with mouth open on customer’s lap, facing down– 10 dollar in Thailand. Oops, sorry, this is a family site.

Bender Bending Rodriguez October 4, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Girls or lady-boys?

axa October 5, 2012 at 11:55 am

troll fail

Dismalist October 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm

#4: “Its federation’s strategic reserve of unsold syrup was set up to cushion the impact of uneven harvests caused by poor weather.”

More like cushion the impact of good weather.

prior_approval October 5, 2012 at 3:31 am

Sure- maple syrup is actually an exotic product, only able to be harvested in a restricted geographic region when the unusual weather extremes of spring in Vermont and Ontario provide the proper conditions to make it commercially viable.

In the past, these extremes were reliable, and were found in a larger region than today. Good weather is changing the dynamics, meaning that when a harvest is reduced through less extreme temperature swings, there is a need to keep people from switching to alternatives.

After all, with the exception of a single IHOP in Vermont, maple syrup is already impossible to find in a major pancake chain.

Though one must admit, at least the Canadians are exploiting export markets – in the last 5 years or so, pure maple syrup (2.99€ for 250ml – around $4 for 8oz) has become a staple of Aldi’s winter offerings.

John Thacker October 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Heh, I was actually surprised that the first story in 3 wasn’t about the fish fraud of restaurants claiming that you’re getting a different fish than you are.

Sam Penrose October 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm

It sounds, um, peri-sexual, but that issue aside, such services could provide huge value. People are mammals, and benevolent touch from other mammals is very good for mammals’ health.

Ari October 4, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Can we watch you, Rogoff, and Kasparov play chess instead?

wiki October 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm

+1

Ray Lopez October 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm

+1 me 2. I bet Rogoff will be anti-stagnation while Thiel is in Tyler’s camp. Interesting that GM Rogoff recently drew current World #1 chess champion Magnus Carlson in a casual blitz game, but I bet Carlson was not really trying to win. TC told me by email he would probably lose to Rogoff–is TC sandbagging? Common chess tactic to downplay your strength!

Anon. October 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm

I didn’t get the horse story…anyone got any background info?

affenkopf October 4, 2012 at 3:10 pm

1. The Japanese cuddle cafe is based on a similar business in New York (source). Yet this story is used as another example of how weird Japan is.

AC October 4, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Humans love narratives, and Americans consider their culture higher status than Japan’s. Hence, the kneejerk reaction to such stories is “those weird Japanese.” Consider the contrast with “Those sophisticated Europeans!”

axa October 5, 2012 at 11:59 am

if sophistication is directly proportional to soccer fandoom, yes.

TR W October 4, 2012 at 3:46 pm

No, it’s the Japanese who are putting out the “we’re so weird” stories. They want the world to believe they are docile, cute, weird, unique, sexless, chaste and polite. It’s a smoke screen. They don’t want others to understand the real Japanese.

affenkopf October 4, 2012 at 4:12 pm

You don’t speak Japanese and follow Japanese media, do you?

TR W October 5, 2012 at 1:27 am

I’ve been following East Asian news for years. “We’re so weird” stories are common.

Mark Thorson October 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm
Doc Merlin October 4, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Speaking of no great stagnation, robotics technology has really taken off in the last 5 years. Robots are now milking cows without needing a human to lead them. Robots are pruning vines in France. Robots are doing all sorts of manual sorting labor.
Robots are picking veggies. etc etc.

logic_poet October 4, 2012 at 11:25 pm

These stories about the Iranian hyperinflation raise a question in my mind. Compared to the regular sort of crackdown an authoritarian regime could use to disrupt the black market in dollars, would it make their overall plight worse if they were to also flood the black market with counterfeit USD (obtained via barter from DPRK)? I kind of expect the regime to do this, but don’t have the expertise to judge whether such a course would merely accelerate bad consequences already in the pipeline, or create additional ones besides the reputation problem that would come from knowingly passing funny money. One sign that such a strategy is imminent would be if the Iranians are even more aggressive about controlling hard currencies other than the greenback.

Rodrigo October 5, 2012 at 2:50 pm

The idea of a great stagnation due to decresing pace of technological innovation is not supported by evidence. Just look around: eveyday brings news of major scientific discoveries. Here’s and example:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/10/04/162263750/scientists-create-fertile-eggs-from-mouse-stem-cells

Picking selectively the evidence that supports one position will eventually become untenable.

Saturos October 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I just want to point out that so-called “dakimakura” (linked to in 1st article) have been available in India for ages. Of course, only the Japanese would think of putting pictures of schoolgirls on them: http://www.dakimakurapillow.com/

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