Assorted links

by on July 15, 2013 at 1:41 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Sinkholes, including one bovine example.

2. Julio Rotemberg, with a new theory of Fed policy (pdf, via Arnold Kling).

3. Can this big orange ball save you?

4. Tokyo does live snail facial therapy.

5. What is happening to serendipity and browsing in the on-line world?, by Virginia Postrel: “…consumers are more than twice as likely to buy books on impulse in a bookstore than online, according to Bowker Market Research.”

6. How stores track shoppers.

1 anon July 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Here is book titled “Sink-Hole” from Puffin Books

2 Colin July 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm

It’s pretty much impossible to imagine any scenario where that ball could be widely deployed and would be a rational investment.

3 Matt July 15, 2013 at 3:29 pm

workers are trying to fill in a sink hole just down the street from me right now. there was already an opening because of road construction, but heavy rain caused it to open up and expand rapidly. For a bit it looked like a very large gas main might get broken by concrete barriers falling on it, but that seems unlikely now.

4 Mark Thorson July 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Barnes & Noble is doomed, just like print newspapers and phonebooks. I used to frequent bookstores all the time, but that ended decades ago. Nobody can anticipate what kind of book I will like, and I don’t need help finding books. Amazon and the used book section of satisfy all my desires for books.

Bricks-and-mortar retail only makes for things that must be purchased in a physical store, like fresh vegetables and haircuts. The linked article seems like wishful thinking on the part of someone whose job depends on the continued existence of the old paradigm.

More interesting to me are the zombie businesses that haven’t yet been seriously impacted by sales over the Internet because nobody has yet figured out how to do them — but which are ripe for such innovation. Eyeglasses are a big one. Shoes are another. Tesla has demonstrated that cars can be sold that way, and they are providing an example of how the established paradigm resists innovation. I hope Tesla is successful in crushing the dealer networks.

5 Hoover July 15, 2013 at 5:27 pm

I can’t share your triumphalism. I will regret the closing of the last bookshop.

Browsing in a real shop has a particular and complex imaginative function for me that being online doesn’t reproduce.

6 Axa July 16, 2013 at 6:51 am

@Mark: bookstores used to be places where people bought and ordered books. I wonder what happens, either there is some kind o f magic thing happening in bookstores that only the illuminated see it….or marketing people is wonderful. They not only sell you products, they also tell you how to buy it.

7 kb July 16, 2013 at 8:44 am

a visit to powell’s bookstore ( in portland is as fascinating to a booklover as the grand canyon is to a geologist.

8 Mark Thorson July 16, 2013 at 11:58 am

You will be able to visit a bookstore in the 20th century version of Colonial Williamsburg, a historical re-creation of life before the Internet. People will marvel at the landline phones, analog TV, film cameras (which aren’t phones), arcade videogames, music CDs, and videocassette recorders. They’ll even have one of those closet phones you put coins in to make a phone call.

9 Luke July 15, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Wow, I can tie these to the late, great Dr. Robert L. Forward in two ways. Mukilteo, where Survival Capsule is located, is the mainland side of the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry. Clinton is the southernmost town on Whidbey Island, where Dr. Forward lived during his later years. In fact, I think the island is in the background of the photo.
Additionally, in the article regarding averting the oncoming death of brick-and-mortar bookstores, Postrel mentions a book her husband has enjoyed about the search for gravitational waves. Dr. Forward built the first bar gravitational antenna while in grad school in Maryland.

10 mark July 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Interesting detective story about the recent fall in the price of gold. Argument appears to be that it is due to the decisions of central banks to end gold leasing programs out of fear of counterparty risk, which has consequently killed the rehypothecation of gold. The great unwind of margin etc.

11 Michal July 15, 2013 at 11:13 pm

#4: This is nothing new. Penn and Teller did it ten years ago (but it may be the whole point of this link)

12 Signe July 16, 2013 at 3:44 am

Sorry, posted below without seeing this!

13 Signe Rousseau July 16, 2013 at 3:43 am

ICYMI, Penn & Teller called it with a pretend snail therapy a couple of years ago

14 dead serious July 16, 2013 at 5:13 am

@3: “They killed Kenny!” “You bastards!”

15 Krigl July 18, 2013 at 9:16 am

While survival capsule is a great idea, in the Great Tokyo and other overcrowded areas there will be no place for most people to store it.

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