by Tyler Cowen
on November 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm
1. On the sophisticated economics behind Somali piracy.
2. What are the most popular images on the web right now? Also known as “the media voter theorem.”
3. Bird nationalism, British style.
4. Markets in everything, farmer cologne for cows.
5. How Lorde became Lorde. And what are the worst things about working at Google?
6. In part-time jobs, women earn more than men.
Oh wow, I wonder if I can be first comment.
#1) Somali pirates sophistication. Does not seem that sophisticated to me, just extending credit to pirates, and new money driving up prices… same Econ 101.
#2) Interesting…a Photoshopped photo of a red train in winter
#3) Brits prefer British native birds. Apropos of nothing, England has relatively few species compared to where I am right now, the Philippines.
#4) A cologne that appeals to cows and humans. Reminds me of a product sold by Gap called “Grass” that smelled like…grass
#5) Some artist named Lorde…boring. How Google over-hires smart people (over-hiring is the rule at any corporation, some even claim it’s so that everybody works harder, knowing they can be replaced, and/or so corporations can select managers from within the corporation) and, consequentially, how the work at Google can be boring.
#6). OK. Noted.
Let’s hit the Enter key and see if I’m first…somebody will beat me I’m sure.
The simple, yet vibrant formatting of the online Lorde magazine article really represents the best of the online magazine medium, which is matched by the quality of the writing. I lived in that part of Auckland around the time that she was born and recall the vibrant Serbian immigrant community as a notable part of the neighborhood called “Dalmatians” (for the Dalmatian coast of Yugoslavia) at the time.
Dalmatia is the western part of Croatia. Perhaps these Serbs were refugees from southern Dalmatia, which declared independence from Croatia but was crushed, with the Serbs fleeing into Serbia proper or elsewhere.
I don’t know myself, as I wasn’t as aware of Balkan politics at the time. But, I suspect that a wave came from Dalmatia and subsequently the ethnonymn was attached to all people from the general region regardless of actual ethnicity or place of origin. In the same vein, Kiwis are known to call people from the American South “Yankees”.
Overqualified employees doing boring tasks for Google is interesting, because it is oft complained that Wall Street is a huge waste of the best and brightest minds. Now it sounds like Google — and likely their peers as well — waste a lot of the best minds of their generation with relatively unproductive work. Is this a Great Stagnation problem? Perhaps, when combined with the wasted minds on Wall Street, it should properly be viewed as a cultural problem. Success is defined by money. Our primary cultural value is monetary greed. Doing something positive for your community is no longer a value, probably because the wealthiest Americans now only exist in communities with other wealthy Americans, so their communities don’t lack for much.
I don’t think this is a stagnation issue; it’s more fundamental. When playing with a possibly novel yet unproven technology the challenge is high, the sort that might really help to have the brightest brains work on. Unfortunately, you probably can’t afford to pay them the best at that stage when you haven’t made any money out of your idea.
OTOH, once your idea really makes it, you have oodles of cash, now you can afford to hire the best and brightest. So you do. Unfortunately the challenge may not be that high any more. It’s a mature product needing only maintenance, refinement, bug fixes, customer support, fluff, frills etc.
The hen keeps laying golden eggs without you having to do much.
Our primary cultural value is monetary greed.
I highly doubt that.
What alternatives would you suggest?
Friendliness, freedom, security, kindness, love, honor, prestige, fame, attractiveness and charity are probably all more primary to our culture than greed.
When’s the last time you told somebody you liked how greedy they were? Or bragged to people how greedy you are? I’m guessing that you never have.
There is a wide band of talent levels in software, but most companies only keep people in a very narrow band: People below the band have trouble getting past the interviews, and those above leave quickly. Google just happens to be at the top of the food chain, as far as large companies are concerned. You have places where nobody knows what they are talking about, and others where there are major problems with promotions, because everyone is quite competent.
Then there’s the issue of price. The difference in salary between an crummy level developer and an amazing one is narrow enough that you’d be silly to get an untalented one on purpose. So you get a bunch of companies that have a lot of overqualified people, and others where lead architects would not be hired at Google for cleaning floors. The first category just expects most people to leave every 2-4 years, due to stagnation.
5. Am I the only one who thinks “Royals” sounds like the Prince-composed “Round and Round?”
5. Oh my goodness, Google is a company. Just like hundreds of other large companies with really smart, qualified people working at it. I am shocked, shocked I tell you!
Number 6 makes broad sense. It implies that women in part time jobs include higher proportion in fairly well paid and educated occupations that choose to go part time for, e.g., family reasons, than men in part time jobs. I can believe that, for anecdotal reasons. (I’ve known female engineers and programmers who worked 30 hour weeks for family reasons, but no men.)
Anecdotaly true in my experience as well, namely my wife and many of her friends with professional degrees in the medical and mental health fields once they had children.
OTOH, my office is open 37.5 hours, which also technically makes all hourly employees part-time. I”m not sure how common the strict 40-hour week is anymore outside of manufacturing.
#6: I think it is a challenge to the employer discrimination theory of the wage gap that the largest pay gaps in full time jobs appear to be in jobs that are paid based on production, via commissions (retail sales, insurance & real estate brokers, etc.)
Yeah, that really jumped out at me, too: (Depending on the definition of “legal occupations”) All of the highest wage gap occupations are commission-based compensation. It’s really hard to make a case for wage discrimination when the lion’s share of wages come directly as a result of work effort. There’s still room for customers discriminating against women, but that’s a much harder issue to identify, much less tackle.
1. Pretty pictures of trains in the Alps, who doesn’t like that? On positive not it is a classic example of man conquering nature . Heck what is wrong with kitten videos. Pets are popular among both hunter gatherers and modern bourgouise, seem essentially human. Anyway Reddit hardly represents the median voter
Do you have some revenue sharing agreement with that kottke.org site? Why link to that and not the story directly? The kottke.org site adds exactly nothing…
Probably because that’s where he saw it, and in the “curated content” biz that means that posting a direct link would be like plagiarism or stealing or something.
#3 Dude, those are some fucking evil looking albatrosses
#5 Google – Not only are they sitting on a pile of cash and can’t think of anything worthwhile to invest it in, they have hordes of underutilized tech talent. I think someone wrote a book about trends like this one…
2 is a great website, with a great name.
A bit of bird nationalism would not go amiss if the subject were Canada Geese.
On #2, I want to know the shape of the data set.
That’s more interesting than the moment’s favorite; how far is the “most popular” of each of those from the second most popular, and what’s the variation in counts of “most popular” over time?
(On the Google thread, this about Brin and Page: This, of course, is highly unlikely given neither of them would ever smoke a cigar or drink Scotch.
Those poor bastards.)
6: A hidden benefit of Obamacare! Once it starts increasing the amount of people working part-time it will help close the gender wage gap!
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