markets in everything
Pornography is the most common form of sexual experience available online — so common, perhaps, that a market for rarer intimacies has emerged.
Bottles of influencer bath water sell for $30 a jar. Some cam models have scaled back on erotic performance because they can earn more money selling homemade cookies and hair clippings. You can even pay a stranger to gorge himself on snacks from Trader Joe’s, if that’s your thing.
For some people, such work is a full-time job; others see it as a side hustle — one where the hourly pay can be considerably higher than the going rate for, say, dog walking or bartending. Plus, it doesn’t require leaving your dorm room or apartment…
Ella says that in her first semester at Parsons, she made around $800 a week from a few different sex-work-based revenue streams, including selling photos of her feet…
Still, what’s the appeal, one may ask, of having someone pay you to count your stretch marks, or selling pictures of your phalanges to strangers?
Do note this (Average is Over!):
Becoming a successful online sex worker isn’t easy. To gain a following, freelancers have to be savvy marketers, be highly proficient in search engine optimization, know how to budget, maintain a blog, and have pretty advanced video editing and producing skills.
Mz. Kim has created courses to help people build that skill set, including “Monetizing Your Appeal Online: Content Strategies for Models”; before the pandemic, she held classes across the country. Part of her gospel is: “It’s not about starting a profile on Twitter. You have to provide something more than selfies. You have to think about: What is your core appeal?” (Next week a new class, “Investing for Sex Workers,” will go live.)
Here is the full NYT piece, with plenty of further examples.
You’ve heard of Bubble Tea? Well, this is Bubble Coffee:
In a recent interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Butler said coffee was hard to find on the NBA’s Orlando campus. He and his French press are keeping his teammates caffeinated, one extremely overpriced cup at a time.
“You can’t get coffee nowhere here,” [Jimmy] Butler said in the interview. “So I might bump it up to 30 bucks a cup. People here can afford it.”
…According to the menu outside his Walt Disney World hotel room, Butler’s offerings include a latte, a cappuccino, a macchiato and more. A small cup goes for the hefty price tag of $20. (A medium and large go for the same price, so you might as well spring for the venti.)
Here is the full ESPN story, via Christina.
Art historian turned blockchain artist Robert Alice has created “Portrait of a Mind” — a monumental series of 40 paintings stretching over 50 meters in length.
Drawing on the history of 20th century conceptualism as well as the founding myth of Bitcoin’s creation, “Portrait of a Mind” is a complete hand-painted transcription of the 12.3 million digits of the code that launched the cryptocurrency.
By scattering the codebase into 40 globally distributed fragments, the project will “draw up a global network of 40 collectors where no one individual will hold all the code,” Alice said.
He explained: “In each work, an algorithm has found a set of hex digits that together are highlighted in gold. These read a set of coordinates that are unique to each painting. 40 locations across 40 paintings – each location is of particular significance to the history of Bitcoin.”
Speaking to Cointelegraph, Alice said he remains curious as to why much of the commemoration of Bitcoin emphasizes the publication of the whitepaper over and above the codebase itself, which, for him, is “the real historical document.”
Christie’s will sell one painting from the series, “Block 21 (42.36433° N, -71.26189° E),” as part of its “Post-War and Contemporary Day Auction” on Oct. 7, at the end of a week-long exhibition of auctioned works in New York.
The piece includes a unique fungible token as an integral part of the work and will be offered at an estimated price of $12–18,000.
Here is the full story, via Shaffin Shariff.
Swedish label Kön has produced a range of gender-neutral underwear to demonstrate that products “don’t have to be categorised” as just for men or women.
The underwear is made from plant-based textiles and comes in recycled paper packaging.
Wanting to create an inclusive brand suitable for everyone, Bill Heinonen founded Kön – a fashion company offering unisex underwear in a bid to give consumers the ability to “define some products themselves”…
Kön – pronounced “shaun” – takes its name from a Swedish word that stands for both gender and sex.
“I don’t want everything to be gender-neutral,” Heinonen explained, “but I think it’s important to give consumers that ability to define some products themselves.”
“Everything doesn’t have to be categorised as ‘men or women’ – a sweater can be just a sweater, a shower gel can be just a shower gel, and so on.”
Here is the full story, via a loyal MR reader. The photos are safe enough for work, though they are of…gender-neutral underwear.
“An Ohio man built a backyard squirrel bar with seven varieties of nuts on tap.” And yes this will be monetized:
Dutko’s favorite part of the bar is its quirky bathroom sign: “Nuts” and “No Nuts.”
The project, which measures about 25 inches wide and 16 inches tall, took him eight hours to design and build.
After posting a video on YouTube showing the build process, Dutko said he was “overwhelmed” with comments and requests to purchase the bar. He immediately applied for a design patent and is now planning to launch a business to sell The Nutty Bar for about $175 – $200.
Swiss authorities want to renew a discreet agreement with China, signed in 2015, which allows officials from Beijing to enter the country and question Chinese citizens residing here illegally…
The agreement allows Chinese officials to enter Switzerland for a period of two weeks – without official status – in order to investigate Chinese citizens found to be staying illegally in the Alpine Nation. Once identified, these people can be deported in collaboration with SEM.
Individuals affected by the agreement include rejected asylum seekers, illegal travellers, and those without identity papers.
From Fayette, Missouri, listed at $375,000:
1875 Howard County Sheriff’s House and Jail. Extremely unique opportunity!! Extensive renovation in 2005 (supposedly $1.5 million) captures modern high end finishes with traditional architecture and character. This home is 2465 sq ft with three levels of living area, 2 bedroom. 1.5 bath, high end finish throughout, appears to have been totally rewired, replumbed and new HVAC zoned system installed. AND THE BEST PART, connected to the home is a 2500 sq ft legitimate jail with 9 cells, booking room and 1/2 bath. The cell door lock throws appear to be operational. Full basement under the home with lighting throughout. Possibilities are amazing with this property.
…BMW is planning to move some features of its new cars to a subscription model, something it announced on Wednesday during a briefing for the press on the company’s digital plans.
…now the Bavarian carmaker has plans to apply that model to features like heated seats. BMW says that owners can “benefit in advance from the opportunity to try out the products for a trial period of one month, after which they can book the respective service for one or three years.” The company also says that it could allow the second owner of a BMW to activate features that the original purchaser declined.
In fact, BMW has already started implementing this idea in some markets, allowing software unlocking of features like adaptive cruise control or high-beam assist (in the United States, those options are usually standard equipment). Other features are more whimsical, like having a Hans Zimmer-designed sound package for your electric BMW or adaptive suspension for your M-car. Indeed, the company says that its forthcoming iNext will “expand the opportunities for personalization.” I’m sure y’all can’t wait.
Here is the full story, via the excellent Samir Varma. In the standard theory of bundling, bundling enables more price discrimination, as for instance with the cable TV bundle. But if most consumers really don’t value the add-ons at all, which perhaps is the case here, a’la carte may maximize revenue after all.
One of my favorite countries, this is from the newspaper:
DESPERATE to get his taxi badge, a man bought a $500 used typewriter and donated it to the Licensing Office…
The seller, who asked not to be named, wrote: “So funny story. I had a typewriter for sale on Facebook marketplace for some time. I get this call from a young man. We chat for a bit. He says he’s down at licensing office. He’s coming right now.
“When he arrives he gives me the story. Since December he’s been trying to get his taxi badge. He bought a maxi taxi and can’t use it because he’s waiting for his badge. Then when he passed pandemic lockdown happened. Three months later, Licensing Office opens with an appointment system, appointment to pay, then appointment to collect. The day arrives to collect. He’s told typewriter is not working over a week.”
The post goes on to say that officials at Licensing agreed that if they got a typewriter they would be able to provide the taxi badge.
The seller continues: “He finds me on Facebook marketplace. When he arrives he says ‘You ever heard of a private person buying a typewriter for the State?’ Money paid. He calls later to say everyone is getting their license today. He actually called twice while at licensing office to get further instruction on operating the typewriter. Well done, young man. Well done!”
As tourism slowly resumes around the world, many nations are still reluctant to open their borders fully – with Cambodia imposing perhaps the toughest entry requirements of any country.
The south-east Asian country is popular with backpackers, and most renowned for the Unesco-listed temple complex at Angkor Wat.
According to the latest Foreign Office bulletin on Cambodia, foreign travellers must pay a $3,000 (£2,400) deposit for “Covid-19 service charges” at the airport upon arrival.
What appears to be the first “coronavirus deposit” can be paid in cash or by credit card.
The FCO says: “Once deductions for services have been made, the remainder of the deposit will be returned.” But those deductions may be steep – especially if another passenger on the same flight happens to test positive for coronavirus.
So far, so good, perhaps you are keen to go. But here is the downside of the experience:
But if one passenger on their flight tests positive for coronavirus, everyone on the same flight is quarantined in government-approved accommodation for two weeks, at a cost of $1,176 including meals, laundry and “sanitary services”. They must also pay another $100 for a second Covid-19 test. This totals a further £1,021.
If the traveller happens to be the coronavirus-positive patient, they will have to take up to four tests at another $100 (£80) each, as well as $3,150 (£2,500) for treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in the capital, Phnom Penh.
…Cambodia also imposes a requirement for $50,000 (£40,000) of travel insurance cover for medical treatment.
If the unfortunate arrival passes away, the Foreign Office warns: “The cremation service charge is $1,500 [£1,200].”
Here is the full article, via Shaffin Shariff.
When you’ve been cooped up for months, you start to miss aspects of life you used to dread. Remember airport security lines? Remember 3.4-fluid-ounce bottles? Remember taking off your shoes and then scrambling to put them back on at the end of a conveyor belt? What we wouldn’t give for those experiences now.
For travelers longing for the days of yore, Taipei’s Songshan Airport is offering 90 people the chance to pretend they’re going on vacation.
The airport is hosting a tour that will allow people to go to the airport, without actually going anywhere. The half-day experience will include a tour of the airport, a mock immigration experience and finally, the chance to board and then disembark an airplane.
Here is the full article, via Shaffin Shariff.
Moral hazard — forget about it!:
In the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, government leaders have pledged to cover all costs for any traveler who tests positive for the coronavirus while on vacation, according to the Associated Press. In a letter sent out to governments, airlines and tour operators, Cypriot officials said they would cover “lodging, food, drink and medication for covid-19 patients and their families” while on the island.
Tourism accounts for 13 percent of Cyprus’s economy, according to the AP, and with one of the lowest coronavirus ratios per capita in Europe, tourism ministers plan to restart international air travel on June 9.
Here is the full story, which includes other examples.
At Rasmus Persson and Linda Karlsson’s restaurant, you don’t have to order takeout, or wear a mask, or try to stay two metres away from the other patrons — because there are no other patrons.
It’s just you, seated alone at a table in a picturesque meadow in the Swedish countryside as you’re served a homemade meal that arrives in a basket using a rope and pulley.
It’s called Bord För En, which translates to “table for one,” and it opened on May 10 in Ransäter, a rural town some 350 kilometres west of Stockholm.
“We wanted to create a space that’s 100 per cent corona-free, as much as we could at least,” Persson told As It Happens host Carol Off.
And here is their Facebook page with further details and images. By the way, most of the customers are men. Then there is this:
When you book your reservation at Bord För En, you include a list of names of your close friends, and the restaurateurs then solicit one of them to write you a personal message.
It operates on a “pay what you wish” basis, and so far they have been heavily booked.
Tear gas is among the new flavors at a Hong Kong ice cream shop.
The main ingredient is black peppercorns, a reminder of the pungent, peppery rounds fired by police on the streets of the semi-autonomous Chinese city during months of demonstrations last year.
“It tastes like tear gas. It feels difficult to breathe at first, and it’s really pungent and irritating. It makes me want to drink a lot of water immediately,” said customer Anita Wong, who experienced tear gas at a protest. “I think it’s a flashback that reminds me of how painful I felt in the movement, and that I shouldn’t forget.”
The flavor is a sign of support for the pro-democracy movement, which is seeking to regain its momentum during the coronavirus pandemic, the shop’s owner said. He spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid repercussions from the pro-Beijing government.
“We would like to make a flavor that reminds people that they still have to persist in the protest movement and don’t lose their passion,” he said.
He tried different ingredients, including wasabi and mustard, in an effort to replicate the taste of tear gas. Black pepper, he said, came closest to tear gas with its throat-irritating effects…
At about $5 a serving, tear gas ice cream has been a hit. Prior to social distancing regulations over the coronavirus outbreak, the shop’s owner said he was selling 20-30 scoops per day.
Here is the full story.
For $20, fans of German soccer club Borussia can have a cut-out of themselves placed in the stands at BORUSSIA-PARK. According to the club, over 12,000 cut-outs have been ordered and 4,500 have already been put in place.
Here is the tweet and photo.
And some sports bettors are betting on simulated sporting events. (Again, I’ve never understood gambling — why not save up your risk-taking for positive-sum activities? Is negative-sum gambling a kind of personality management game to remind yourself loss is real and to keep down your risk-taking in other areas?)
Via Samir Varma and Cory Waters.