Assorted links

by on July 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. What exactly do peahens find attractive in the peacock’s tail?  An eye-tracking study.

2. The Japanese wage curve and aging as a possible source of deflation.

3. Joel Mokyr on technopessimism.

4. What happens when they allow only one trip to the salad bar?

5. Appointing gay ambassadors.

6. The Renzo Piano micro-house.

Arjun July 29, 2013 at 1:26 pm

3. I think Mokyr’s real point–and the one that should be the center of any discussion about technology and society–is this:

“The economic organization and distribution in a future leisure society may need a radical re-thinking.”

Yes yes, technology will probably create new jobs in the future, but that is of little comfort to the mass of the population today that lacks the resources and environment to effectively and efficiently shift from their present jobs to the “jobs of the future.” There is friction in this transition, and ignoring this friction is antithetical to economics. After all, isn’t economics a discpline whose ultimate purpose is to minimize human suffering? (arguably the point of all discplines, but you get my point.). If we hand-wave away the suffering of the short-term (as is the case when we make the bizarre leap of 100 years in discussions about the transition away from agriculture), we’re losing a ton of resolution in terms of viewing the ebbs and flows of people and standards of living.

Ted Craig July 29, 2013 at 1:29 pm

6. It’s a shed with a kitchen.

rluser July 29, 2013 at 2:20 pm

and overpriced

JWatts July 29, 2013 at 3:52 pm

It’s an overpriced camper. Seriously, you can buy any number of campers with similar features for half that price, at least in the US. Perhaps campers are a lot more expensive in Europe?

Scoop July 31, 2013 at 10:04 am

Or for the same price I could get any number of reasonably maintained 1000-square-foot condos in a blue-collar section of Dallas. Search Zillow.

Current July 31, 2013 at 3:48 pm

No, caravans and camper-vans are quite cheap. You can get an old caravan for a few hundred quid.

Tom July 29, 2013 at 1:51 pm

The aging of Japan is forerunner of the US, and other countries.

Good monetary policy (Sumner’s macro) will NOT be enough to save an economy with other structural problems, tho it helps.

The US should have more tax cuts, like the payroll tax cut, and especially tax loans, which is money now to those who want in return for a tax-enforced promise to repay. The amount should be up to the 5 year amount paid in income taxes.

AndrewL July 29, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I don’t agree. It appears (from the article) that Japan’s problem stems from low labor mobility. Whereas in the US, wages are more rigid, but job security less so, In Japan, job security is high, but wages are less rigid. Japan thus cannot react to market conditions as quickly as adjusting wages to market conditions is a lot slower than hiring and firing.

JWatts July 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm

especially tax loans, which is money now to those who want in return for a tax-enforced promise to repay

Which some future politician can promise to forgive in exchange for votes. You might as well just give the money away from the start.

Stephen July 29, 2013 at 6:17 pm

#4

I don’t understand the whole issue with salad bars in China. Why don’t they have a rule similar to most other buffet type service that they do just about everywhere else: no taking home left overs. You should only take what you can eat (and perhaps sneak out) in this sitting.

For places that do let you take it to go: weigh the amount and charge them by weight.

Andrew' July 30, 2013 at 5:51 am

The ideal for buffets to charge by the delta of weighing customers before and after, and having pay restrooms.

Rahul July 30, 2013 at 7:27 am

You could weigh before and after the restroom too……..

Brian Donohue July 30, 2013 at 8:34 am
David July 30, 2013 at 11:37 pm

I recall these salad towers with fond nostalgia. Though, the art was still nascent during my years in China.

What outsiders cannot appreciate is the Chinese compulsion to get the best deal possible. If the price is fixed and the quantity is not, the path towards the “optimal” solution is clear.

I recall one day, during which part of the Chinese lesson involved the special nuance of meaning behind the Chinese term ‘gungfu.’ We ended up in a Pizza Hut, my treat to my Chinese companion. Like most Chinese his age, he despised both cheese and eating with his hands, but Pizza Hut held some strange cache that made them tolerable. Yet, he did have a go at eating pizza with chopsticks. Anyway, when I pointed to a young woman returning from the one-trip salad bar with a plate that had been enlarged by at least 50% through a carefully arranged ring of cucumber slices cantilevered out several inches beyond the original diameter of the plate, my Chinese companion nodded in admiration and said, “Gungfu.”

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