Assorted links

by on August 1, 2013 at 2:34 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Why is the U.S. Passport Office in New York so efficient?

2. Robert Bellah has passed away.

3. Films Stanley Kubrick liked.

4. Cloned quarter horses win antitrust suit.

5. The Chinese are scalping Genius Bar appointments.

6. India’s short-term yield goes vertical at 10% and foreign funds are leaving equities.

Adrian Ratnapala August 1, 2013 at 2:46 pm

I got my last (Australian) passport renewed at the post office nearest my workplace.

jtf August 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm

The US Embassy in Singapore is also particularly good.

kyle v August 1, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I thought it a bit odd that the Slate article about the efficient passport office did not list the average wait time before applicants received their processed passport.

I myself live in Houston, Tx. and have had to renew a passport twice in the last 5 years or so ( once for renewal, once for loss ) . Each time, I’ve walked into the federal building in downtown Houston, spent about 15 minutes filling in forms and waiting in line, and then spent about 3 minutes handing in the paperwork.

The official then tells me it should take about an hour to finish the passport and I’m welcome to come back or wait…While everyone doesn’t have the convenience of a nearby passport office and must wait 6+ weeks for mail delivery, I always found it amusing that no one knows the actual passport turnaround time is ~ 1 hour.

bob August 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm

1. I never would have thought it was so efficient. Unfortunately neither did my friend who paid a third party expediting service $700 to renew his passport when he realized that his was expired 3 days before a trip.

Cliff August 1, 2013 at 5:15 pm

That doesn’t make any sense. On that time frame, you have to go in person to the passport office to renew.

crs August 1, 2013 at 2:58 pm

#1 “The fact that management matters—a lot—shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has ever worked under a good manager and also a bad one” … update any priors today? I agree with the article that a careful blend of autonomy and support is an important motivator for workers (public or private).

Enrique August 1, 2013 at 9:21 pm

But I wonder if, by announcing that x office is the most efficient, more people will gravitate towards this office, thus causing it to be less efficient

Rahul August 1, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Aren’t workload and efficiency different dimensions, not necessarily anti-correlated?

JWatts August 1, 2013 at 3:24 pm

The Most Efficient Office in the World
It’s run by the United States government. We’re not kidding.

That seems like a pretty gratuitous assertion.

Urso August 1, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Slate is infamous for its clickbait headlines, which often make some controversial or arresting claim that is, often, not supported by the content of the article. Superlatives like “best” “worst” and “most” are often good signs of clickbait. No one would read an article titled “This Passport Office is Well Run, but Maybe Some Others Are Better Run, Who Knows?”

Andrew' August 1, 2013 at 3:32 pm

5. The Chinese are scalping them? Jeez, and I thought I hated hipsters.

JWatts August 1, 2013 at 4:02 pm

In my opinion, the blame falls squarely on Apple. There wouldn’t be a market for jumping the queue if they’d better staff their customer service.

dan11111 August 2, 2013 at 2:53 am

Does this help or hurt Apple? It is great free marketing of how exclusive and in-demand Apple products are.

Adrian Ratnapala August 2, 2013 at 3:29 am

Or how badly people need help to figure out how to use them.

JWatts August 2, 2013 at 9:01 am

Apple products seem to be “simpler” to use than their competitors products. However, that may mean that the techno-challenged tend to gravitate to their products and that there are “more” customers needing help with their products than need help with their competitors products.

Mark Thorson August 3, 2013 at 11:17 am

The retail operation of Apple has been without a leader for 10 months.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324170004578638450204855848.html

Mark Thorson August 1, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Is this good or bad for gold? The people of India and China are some of the biggest gold hoarders. Will they be cashing out to get through the economic downturn or will they be hanging on and adding to their holdings because their currencies are losing value?

Rahul August 1, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Through the many downturns India has been through, I don’t think the gold hoardings have declined much. Maybe there is a temporary liquidation of gold assets but people restock with a vengeance as soon as the downturn eases a bit.

tjones August 1, 2013 at 7:22 pm

“The Chinese are scalping Genius Bar appointments.”

If there’s a scalper hogging all the genius bar schedule and sell it on ebay, say, in glendale, CA, would tyler cowen say “The Americans are scalping Genuis Bar appointments”.

Shane M August 1, 2013 at 8:00 pm

At first read I thought the Genius Bar was an establishment that required passing a test or / IQ credentials to get in the door. (“Not only can we have someone smart sit for your SAT, but we can also get you into the smart-people club downtown”).

AndrewL August 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm

There it is buried in middle of the article: incentives

“He promotes high-performing agents and disciplines—or in extreme instances even fires—lower-performing ones. (Yes, while it isn’t easy, it is in fact possible to fire federal employees.) ”

Good managers know the right incentives.

The Cranky Professor August 1, 2013 at 9:32 pm

re: passports. The last time a student of mine on an abroad program had hers stolen in Rome, for something like $75 (plus paying for 2 photos to carry in) she got a replacement passport in 24 hours.

Willitts August 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm

1. This falls into the category of easily exceeding low expectations. We’ve all been snookered into believing that issuing a passport is a time-intensive task.

Andrew' August 2, 2013 at 5:35 am

Not to mention we do most of the work for them. OTOH, they are comparing apples-to-apples, aren’t they? If they are vastly more efficient than other offices with the same inputs and outputs that is nice to know.

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