Thursday assorted links

Comments

1. No tip, but an economics card instead (don’t try this on your next date).

LOL! The language in the article is great (talk about patronizing tone).

The philosopher kings in Seattle will raise the min wage and you peasants will like it!

The current minimum wage for Seattle is $11, going up by $2 per hour every April for the next two years.

http://murray.seattle.gov/minimumwage/#sthash.CL2ryKy5.dpbs

Since the $15 per hour minimum wage hasn't kicked in yet, the patron who left the card is a pretty big jerk. Even if service was extremely poor, he should have just not tipped.

However, it's quite predictable that tipping will decline substantially in areas with high minimum wage rates.

In addition, it is different for tipped-employees and those employers with less than 500 employees which a typical, local pub would be categorized. Still, compared to my state ($2.13 an hr), service industry employees in Seattle make a killing!

http://www.eater.com/2015/3/31/8300981/seattle-minimum-wage-law-15-restaurants-suttonomics

"Still, compared to my state ($2.13 an hr), service industry employees in Seattle make a killing!"

I assume you are talking about tipped employees. And the Federal law is:

"If wages and tips do not equal the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour during any pay period, the employer is required to increase cash wages to compensate."

That's correct. As an ex-server, I would often receive a $0.00 check for two weeks of work due to the amount of tips I had claimed over that 2 week span. The state law is similar to the federal law where the employer is basically, only obligated to provide (or substantiate**) total wage compensation in line with the state hourly minimum wage ($7.25).

The relevant part of the statute is below. Assuming wage rules in Seattle are similar, tipped-employees in the service industry will/do make a killing relative to those in my state.

"For employers who have “tipped employees,” there will also be a change in the required minimum rate of pay. **Employers are permitted to take a credit, for a certain amount of tips earned by their employees, toward the employers’ payment of the minimum wage.** However, for an employer to be able to count tips as wages and take a tip credit towards the minimum wage, the state labor law requires that tipped employees be notified in advance and be permitted to retain all tips, and requires that the employer maintains accurate and complete records of tips received by each employee and such tips must be certified by tipped employees monthly or for each pay period. Tip pooling is permitted as long as the tipped employees retain at least 85 percent of the tips they receive, which means the employer must maintain accurate and complete records of the tips received and the amount of tips earned under the tip pooling arrangement."

Does the wage hike even apply to tipped jobs? I am all for abolishing tipping via higher restaurant prices, but you can't stop tipping the waitress because the hostess got a pay increase.

He's a jerk regardless.

The comments to the article are even better!

Agreed the guy is a jerk but you have to kinda admire the pro level of jerkiness. Maybe he never tipped and now has a political reason to be cheap.

I love some of the comments from the tipped employees.

One said: "not to mention paying taxes on top of all that tipout. We make less than you'd think."

Welcome to America, tipped employee. I pay over 52 cents state and federal taxes for every additional dollar I earn in California. I make less than _you_ think.

"If you can't afford to tip, don't eat out"

We don't serve peasants here.

4. You people made a mistake when you stopped buying CDs

The tragedy is that there is actually an enormous amount of good classical music on Spotify, Rdio, etc. It's just that it is almost impossible to find.

But no system can make up for the screwups of composers like Bach and even worse Wagner.

Music compositions must be 3 minutes or less to both allow enough ads and to meet today's consumers' 2:45 attention span.

78s recorded more than enough to meet the requirements of radio and listeners. CDs were designed by a Japanese rich guy who suffered from the same stupidity of Bach in thinking music should drag on and on and on in boring repetition. If CDs were designed correctly, they would have only been 1.5-2 inches in diameter and CD players would fit in a shirt pocket, would have eliminated the whole failed concept of albums.

Seriously, why couldn't Rubber Soul or Sgt Pepper or Dark Side of the Moon be condensed to no more than two 3 minute cuts? And what was Hendrix thinking when he dragged out the Star Spangled Banner or All Along the Watchtower to five to ten to fifteen minutes. LPs were bad enough in encouraging long ego trips, but CDs went back to cater to the ego trips of dead composers who just could not help but be repetitive.

And another thing, those LP album covers were just ridiculous with all the wasted expense printing colored pictures and wasting ink on lots of words. And then idiots let them add pages and boxes to contain even more pages of wasted space to feed the egos of writers....

Just put your CD on continuous repeat. Duh!

4. You people made a mistake when you stopped buying CDs.

Good information architecture is grossly under-appreciated and never just "happens"

7. An even greater stagnation.

Unexpectedly!

Unexpectedly, indeed.

Very serious people . . .

What's not to like? Crazy laws, e.g., ACA and Dodd-Frank; innumerable regulations; zero interest rates; huge deficit spending; trillions in quantitative easing; six years of hope and change; . . . and 2% is all the growth we get?

Everything they touch very seriously turns to shit.

As unbelievable as it seems the geniuses suck at everything. Let's give them more discretion over everything so they can finish the job.

#4 - You discover when you rip classical CDs to computer that the basic track information is typically nonsense. Complete and utter nonsense. I've seen it come through as a string of webdings text, and no, it doesn't translate into something useful when you choose another font.

You're right that most of the track information is crap, but you can edit any of it to reflect how you think about classical music. It takes a minute or two, but it's worth it to have composers, performers, titles and sections of multi-movement works labelled consistently.

And if you save the data that you've entered to Gracenote or whatever other online database you're using, your choices will come up as available options for subsequent users too.

The track information is not on the CD. It's on a place like CDDB, populated by volunteers. Maybe classic music fans are trolls.

I only had a bout a hundred classical CDs - I know, how coarse am I - but of those all but a few tiny-run issues had track information in the standard online database. That happens when not enough other people own the same CD for anyone to have typed it in and submitted it.

Ripping my whole CD collection took about two months of daily swapping and ripping, but I'm very happy with the result. All lossless, of course. It's not as if the cost of hard drive space is forcing anybody to listen to MP3.

You got the first part emphatically right. By ripping lossless, you're way ahead of the curve.

But do you have an external DAC or combo DAC/headphone amp, depending on your listening preferences? You may only be scratching the surface.

And the gold-plated Monster ethernet cables.

Switch from CDDB (or FreeDB) to MusicBrainz and that problem goes away. Not to mention, you get a much richer set of metadata—composers, performers, work titles, opus numbers, album art, production folks, recording venue,...

MusicBrainz can handle pretty much all the metadata you'd want to record about a classical recording. (It's a crowd-sourced, completely open project. I've personally put in and fixed up a lot of classical albums.)

Awesome, thanks for the tip.

#6 were both good, but I'm not sure of the connection. Exaggerated threats?

Anyway, 6b ended with a tie-in to a recent post about how writing stuff down aids in learning.

Maybe it is that both Iran and Arab Gulf States have built paper armies, but the Iranians have done so more efficiently.

#5 is a potentially revolutionary concept if it can be done right. Not that this particular company is doing it right.

The key reason people work for others instead of starting their own business or working purely as consultants is the wage security that comes with a salaried position. The employer takes the risk with his/her capital, while the employee gets fixed rate of income. This is the fundamental basis of the deal between employer and employee in the capitalist system.
A system to guatentee the employee a smoothed rate of income instead of a salary would upset that apple cart by diminishing the benefits of accepting a fixed salary instead of a share of profits. Potentially, the employee might be significantly better off with a cut of profits instead of salary if he/she can use income insurance to smooth the income from profits into a higher monthly rate.
Thus, salary might be transformed into profit-sharing, employees might turn into co-owners, and the traditional model of employer/employee transformed into one of collaborating independent contractors and worker-owned co-ops.
I suppose most leftists should love this, but I'm sure they will find something to hate about it, as companies will obviously find a way to give a bigger share of the profits to the more productive employees. These's no reason the share of profits would be fixed per worker. And the wage insurace would have to be designed to track your average earnings.

I don't really think the service is actually insurance. From the description it's really just a personal savings account that evens out your cash flow, with a built in Cash Advance.

From the site:
"Is the paycheck boost a loan?

No, paycheck boosts aren't a loan. If you have any money saved in your Even account, Even will use it to boost your pay. And if you don't have enough saved, Even will give you an interest-free advance on your next bigger-than-average paycheck."

You aren't pooling your resources against unlikely catastrophe's but instead using the service to Even out cash flow. However, how is the service going to cover a large percentage of its users getting a Cash Advance and then cancelling the account? Some kind of Setup fee (deposit) that more than covers any Cash Advance? If so, then the service is just a Savings Account with a $3 per week fee.

It might be useful. Probably would be useful for a lot of people with poor impulse control. It could well be a perfect vehicle for young college students working part time jobs.

$3 fee per week and no interest. Seems really expensive to me, especially if I'm young, poor, and not sure about my next paycheck.

I think the key thing it needs is some sort of means of assessing an individuals "risk" or estimating their likely future earnings.
Suppose someone is an independent contractor doing free land work as a web developer. You might require them to submit receipts for a year proving that they have a certain income and then do some economic forecasting about the prospects of future work in that industry. Then, you can come up with a number for how much they should earn in the next year and shave 1% (or whatever off that) for the fee. It would almost be like running a consulting agency except that the employee determines what jobs he works on and his salary is proportional to some projection of his total earnings. Plus he would have total access to how much he was actually making relative to his smoothed out salary, so he would know exactly how much of his earnings you were shaving off, and could easily switch to a different company.

"I think the key thing it needs is some sort of means of assessing an individuals “risk” or estimating their likely future earnings."

The site says that they want electronic access to your bank account to assess your income over the previous few months.

"Even looks at how much you've earned and how much you've spent in the last 6 months. ... To calculate your average, the Even app securely connects to your bank account and looks at your paychecks from the past few months."

I can't see there being enough revenue to fund it for a traditional model. But perhaps as a web based system, they could make the money work. If they can hit a very high amount of users and really skimp on the phone support.

They mention having unlimited phone support during business hours and 24/7 texting support. There is no way they can pay that out of $3 per week without really spreading it thin.

The site says that they want electronic access to your bank account to assess your income over the previous few months.

Right, but then you also have this problem that people will try to cheat by working less and collecting pay based on their past earnings. I see a potential for all sorts of perverse incentives and gaming to occur. So it will be tricky to implement.

I just saw this quote in Bold print on Even's site:

"Talent is equally distributed.
Opportunity is not."

It's a ridiculous statement. And then there were these quotes:

"Research shows no correlation between raw intelligence and economic station, let alone any causation."
"Poverty is a chemical trap that is nearly impossible to escape."

I think this is a bank started by socialist web designers. It might work, but there's no mechanism to deal with poor impulse control. Which is the people who most need the service.

More likely that Even is telling the people who its expects to be customers whatever it is that they want to hear. In other words, I wouldn't mistake marketing copy for dearly-held beliefs. [Also, where are those quotes? I don't see them anywhere on the site]

I do think Even has identified a problem that increasingly affects the younger generation (Uber-ization of the economy), and this is a potentially clever solution.

"I don’t see them anywhere on the site"

First,
https://even.me/work-at-even

And then the "Read more about our mission" link.

https://medium.com/@jschloss/why-69a9d8193075

#1. As is all-too-common, the card labelled "Economics 101" contains no actual economics.

It implicitly invokes the classic 'Price elasticity of demand' concept.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_elasticity_of_demand

"Price elasticity of demand (PED or Ed) is a measure used in economics to show the responsiveness, or elasticity, of the quantity demanded of a good or service to a change in its price, ceteris paribus."

From the card: 1) I choose to not eat out, 2) I pay a higher price, 3) I pay the same price and don't tip.

Ergo, if the price to eat out goes up the customer will choose #1 to eat out less to avoid #2 a higher price. However in this particular case (a tipping situation) the customer can avoid a higher price by not tipping.

#7. I seem to recall (but cannot find) analysis that suggested that, given the low level of TFP growth we've seen in the last 40 years and the demographic transition caused by the baby boomers retiring would cause the trend rate of RGDP growth to drop to about 1% for the next decade.

#4 - My "old man yells at cloud" moment is that I have never been able to successfully use iTunes. For a company so famed on UI, it seems that Apple's real solution is that you install a program and it does what it wants to do, and you don't get a say. If that's user friendliness count me out.

iTunes is User Hostile, but many Apple advocates suffer from "battered wife" syndrome, so it works out.

The iTunes app and the Amazon Prime Video app are two inexplicably bad experiences in reasonably successful businesses from companies that should know better.

Is there some strategic point in making my program hard to find? So that I browse more random junk?

I've been assuming that Apple makes iTunes for PC bad on purpose. Is the Mac version just as bad?

Ian Bogost has a convincing hypothesis that the iPhone experience also sucks. But the genius of Apple is that they were able to let us to accept this. More in this nice booklet: http://www.amazon.com/The-Geeks-Chihuahua-Living-Forerunners-ebook/dp/B00W2VBFW2

You might be a cucktarian if you say 'don't try this on your next date'

#6 seems to imply that military spending is the dominant way to evaluate military threat/effectiveness. While it is important as part of a comprehensive set of facts, it is almost meaningless on its own.

All that money spent by Iraq on its military doesn't mean much if its soldiers flee from ISIS and abandons its equipment to them (and since Iraq is now basically an Iranian satellite, why include it as part of an anti-Iran alliance?). The Arabs collectively outspent (including foreign aid) Israel in the 1960s, but that didn't stop Israel from defeating the combined Arab armies in 1967 and 1973. There are plenty of other examples in history too. I'm sure the US outspent North Vietnam from 1965-1974. Didn't mean the US won.

Doctrine, morale, command & control, and training are all very important in evaluating the effectiveness of an army. The weaknesses of Arab armies are very well known and documented. The Gulf states are even worse because their low population and high oil revenue call into question the willingness of their average soldier to make sacrifices if there was indeed a major Arab-Persian War.

I haven't even gotten into other important factors about waging war outside the army one starts with: a diversified economy, population size, and other factors important for long term war.

so the chart isn't helpful in making anyone more informed about the military effectiveness of an Arab bloc against Iran. It ignores the many reasons why the Arabs fear Iranian hegemony.

The Gulf States would collapse in a war with Iran. Kuwait had a lot of expensive arms in 1991 too.

This is silly. Iraq had far more. The argument here is the Arab states combined have a lot more stuff than Iran.

And that argument is irrelevant.

Having fancy planes and tanks mean nothing if the Arab armies don't know how to use or maintain them. Saudi Arabia spent hundreds of billions of dollars to modernize its armed forces in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, the Saudis mobilized to defend themselves. When US forces arrived, they determined the Saudi military was practically worthless. Despite all that money spent (and thousands of advisors from Pakistan, Europe, and America), the Saudis didn't know how to properly deploy their forces, conduct basic military operations, or maintain their equipment in the field. Even the feeble Iraqi military, which could only stalemate Iran with lots of Arab financial support and American intelligence, could have overrun them if Saddam had risked it.

The Gulf Arab military forces are basically a Potemkin military. They look glamorous and effective, but are thoroughly rotted inside.

If the Saudis had an effective military, they should have overrun Yemen months ago, wiped out most of the Houthi rebels, and put back the Yemeni government to power. They don't, so they haven't. So instead they are trying their best to support pro-government militias to slowly claw back government controlled areas.

Also, you can turn this around.

Iran spends so little on military should mean we could have easily leveraged military threats to gain more concessions.

Unless those numbers aren't really that important.

I mostly agree with you, but I do have one quibble.

It's a lot easier to dig in and defend your own turf then to project power and invade others. The Israeli victories in both of conflicts you cite were really defensive wars for Israel. Obviously, each side views the other as the aggressor, and it was Israel that attacked Egypt first in 67 and also ultimately expanded their territory. Putting the controversy aside, it's clear that Israel benefited from the fighting happening on their home turf. Although Israel ultimately did some fighting outside their borders, this might not have been possible had they not already severely weakened their enemy's military.

It is only easier to dig in and defend your on turf if everyone on that turf is on your side. One of the things that this examples don't take into account is most (all?) of the Gulf states need a military to defend themselves from Iran and to keep most of the population that they rule in line. It is pretty tough to have to plan on dealing with an external threat and an internal threat at the same time.

Correct, unity is very important.

#6 The Gulf States buy expensive US (and allied) weapons, Iran has to (mainly) build own because of sanctions. Plus, Iran has a large population so has a larger but less technological based military. The Gulf States have small armed forces so buy the best to make up. Its classic quality versus quantity.

Does the spending for Iran include expensive "peaceful" nuclear activities?

The Saudi military is a joke, and the kingdom is wrought with internal conflict that can only be paved over with a combination of petrodollar hand-outs and brute military force. You can see the need for the latter in the Saudi-lead military intervention in Yemen, or in the 2011 invasion and repression of the pro-democracy uprisings in Bahrain. (And contrary to superficial mainstream analysis, the Houthis are more or less autonomous from Iran even if the latter gives them some weapons from time to time--Houthis have been fighting Saudi-backed governments and the Saudi army itself for decades, long before the regional Islamic cold war heated up). The only way Saudi Arabia would survive a war with Iran for more than a week is if the US steps in (which of course, it will).

Military spending is not a very useful metric, unless adjusted for median income.

The biggest expense in any organization is labor, and the military is no different.

Thus, if I am a poor country, I can spend less on my soldiers' wages. Even less if they care conscripts.

Meanwhile, America, for example, has to pay a much higher wage, pensions, and benefits.

For example, if we compared American military spending in 1945 vs. Soviet military spending, American military spending might be more than the Soviets, but that does not mean the Americans could smash the Soviets easily.

Another example might be nuclear weapons: I would bet the USA easily outspent the USSR on nuclear weapons spending, but for long periods the Soviets had the bigger arsenal.

Finally, smaller countries may spend more simply because they have less manpower, so they must use more capital and less labor.

Just for example, Iraq median income per household is around $4,000.

Saudi Arabia is $24,000.

Weird! The stereotype of the rich Saudi would have let me to assume the median income per household would have been higher.

The mean/average income is MUCH higher.

The way most software organizes music is horrible.

I have my own scheme, using software with the odd name of "foobar 2000".

One of the most horrible offenses done by music-hating people like Steve Jobs and Tim Cook is there's no way to store the numbering systems of composers catalogers. For example Bach has the "BWV" numbers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis), Mozart has the "K" numbers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%B6chel_catalogue), etc. Why does Tim Cook think he can do a better job cataloging Mozart than Koechel?

I want to see fields like Composer, Conductor, Soloists, Recording Date, Venue. _Which_ Callas "Traviata" do we want? Lisbon? Milan?

Tim Cook wants to destroy all Western Culture and force "Dr. Dre." down our throats.

He sounds to be a bad bugger, this Tim Cook. Who is he?

I guess that $150 BN will help Iran stand out.

The Gulf states spend fortunes on their armies because they need to defend themselves but don't really have anybodu who would do it if they weren't paid. They count on technology the way they traditionally counted on mercenaries. The smaller gulf states still count on mercenaries because of a combination of a lack of manpower and a lack of trust in what manpower they have. Being a soldier is dangerous and unpleasant work and no one a gulf sheikdom could trust would do that kind of work without outsize rewards.

Iran is a modern nation state it spends the low or non existent dollar value of its large population of young males and it cannot buy expensive weapons systems. The question here is which is more important the high tech equipment or the men who use it.

Traditionally when we discuss this we talk about the armies of nation states, Suvarovian Russians with a cult of the bayonet vs better equipped western Europeans. Even when nation states roll over and fail to resist it is the state and leadership declaring that it is unwilling. For these emirs and sultans, and even the kings, the question is

"how reliable are my soldiers and how much are they willing to lose before becoming unreliable?"

They hope that with sufficient technology it won't matter because victory will be overwhelming enough and the deterence effect will be great enough that they will not need to take casualties. The Gulf monarchies, including the Saudi's, are buying technology and morale. Iran is barred from buying the technology but it does not need to worry about the morale when compared to a mercenary army.

Its worth noting that a major force that the Gulf states are "defending" themselves from is oppressed populations within their own borders, particularly religious minorities (Shia Muslims) and migrant workers (typically from South Asia and the Phillippines) who, when combined, make up the vast majority of the population in most Gulf States if I have my numbers right

Neither Iran nor any of the Gulf Arab states has seriously invaded a serious neighbor since the 19th century, although Abdulaziz's conquest of various territories such as Hejaz, now part of the KSA, counts I guess. But that all pretty much was over by the early 30s, and the stuff in Yemen over the years has been more like this ongoing minor stuff, not really real war.

Iran has an experienced military because they fought off the US-backed invasion by Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the 80s, a long real war that left around a million dead. They do not invade their neighbors, although they obviously support various forces in other countries and have sent in some militias to Iraq to support the current government (sorry, kids, that is not an invasion, nor was their support of the Hizbullah in Lebanon, as I saw somebody claiming here at some point). So, yes, the Iranian military, while less well-armed, is certainly much more disciplined and experienced at fighting than any of the Gulf Arab states.

That said, I think people are overly dissing the potential capabilities of the Saudis. Yes, they have dissidents, notably the Shi'a, and all those expat workers, but despite constant stories about how fragile their regime is, I have news for you; it is not at alll fragile. The generational transfer was supposed to trigger some big collapse, but, guess what, they have their generational transfer in place with barely a whisper of hassle. In fact, the Saudi royal family has been ruling the place, or at least the center of it, since the 1740s and has a lot of credibility and populatarity. There are plenty of Saudis who would fight hard and loyally for them. Their problem is that they do not have the experience of the iranians.

Of course, most of the other Gulf states will simply have to rely on outsiders, with the possible exception of the Idabi Omanians, who share the Strait of Hormuz with the Iranians, and are more independent from the others (and have also fought a lot with rebels and such in their western deserts, their troops have some experience and are also very loyal to their monarchy).

"Neither Iran nor any of the Gulf Arab states has seriously invaded a serious neighbor since the 19th century..."

That comment is so obviously untrue that it's hard to believe a university professor could write it.

1990 Invasion of Kuwait: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_of_Kuwait
1980 Iran-Iraq War https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran%E2%80%93Iraq_War
1948 Arab-Israeli War https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab%E2%80%93Israeli_conflict

For this discussion Iraq does not count, particularly given that it is run by a pro-Iran government. The relevant countries to be compared with Iran are the members of the Gulf Cooperation council, and the statement is true of them as it is of Iran. Yes, Iraq invaded Iran, and I mentioned that in my comment at some length, although I did not mention Saddam's invasionof Kuwait.The issue is about the anti-Iran GCC and Iran, the comparison between them, which Iraq is currently irrelevant to.

I would also note that Iraq barely borders on the Gulf, basically only at the mouth of the Shatt-al-Arab river, and it has a large non-Arab population. I did not mention its invasion of Kuwait.

As it is, my statement is true of Iran and also the GCC states, with the caveats I mentioned, mostly about Saudi Arabia.

You put a link to Arab nations invading Israel. Guess what? None of these were Gulf Arab states, and Iran has also not invaded Israel. Do you think Egypt, Syria, Jordan, or Lebanon is on the Persian Gulf? How totally ignorant and stupid are you, JWatts?

#2: I am about to start as an econ prof at Haverford and will supervise senior theses. I need to either learn about baseball or convince people how interesting macro is!

Congratulations, Carola and good luck. Won't they have you teaching in econ history as well? If not,too bad.

Thanks! In the fall I'll teach an advanced macro elective and senior seminar. I'm sure I'll teach economic history some semesters, as well as incorporating it into macro.

Great school, Haverford. I went there.

Apple software is typically aimed at median users. If you are seriously interested in some area, music, photography, whatever, their rigid, tightly controlled approach is not going to work for you.

I say this as a long-time Mac user.

What universe are you living in? Not the real world, obviously. Apple's Logic Pro is second only to Pro Tools in audio production, and Final Cut X has matured into a world class digital video production tool, right up there with Avid and Premier Pro.

It is true that Apple has exited the pro market in still photography by discontinuing Aperture; however, there are plenty of solutions - including Adobe Lightroom, the market leader - available for Macs.

#1. I wonder why tipping is so prevalent given that it is not really necessary for quality control purposes. A manager could keep service level at a decent level by monitoring. So if it is not for better service, why does it exist at all?

Probably some psychological phenomenon where you can get more money out of customers through tips than by raising prices

#3 - seems this book on the Plains Indians war of the 19th century is just a long version of Patrick O'Brian's novels that were set at sea. This too will pass.

Patrick O'Brian was a brilliant storyteller with a high literary, yet reader-friendly style. I admire Vollman's seriousness of purpose, but everything I've essayed of his is turgid and reader-repellent. There is no comparison between the two writers.

Just a small quibble - the correct, historical name of the gulf is "Persian Gulf." There has been a movement over the last 50 years by the Arab states to change the name to the Persian gulf.

Why is this important? The war over the name reflects broader conflicts. It is best if we use historical accuracy rather than the power de joure to address geography.

For more information, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Gulf

Small correction: The Arab states have tried to change the name from "Persian Gulf" to "Arabian Gulf." This is historically inaccurate, and is actually an interesting situation where geography reflects broader movements.

Remember this if you're doing business in the UAE. Do not write Persian Gulf in any of your business materials. It can come back to sting you.

Dying Grass -- I'm well into it and I'm enjoying it very much. What's your issue with the first five pages? You have excellent taste in literature and my question is serious, not snarky.

The Dying Grass. One might expect an economist to be startled enough by a novel with a list price of $55.00 to gasp, or to at least emit the online equivalent. Oh, textbook author. Never mind.

It's 35 bucks on Amazon. Plus, I just spent well over $55 to take my wife and kid to see Inside Out and feed them popcorn and beverages.

Textbook author: Hitting the like button.

One thing I've learned in life: any time someone says "Econ 101," there's about to be some serious a-holery. Also, that person has almost never taken Econ 102.

Self-validating sentence?

5. Wage insurance? (ha)

Not indexed for inflation so you still have inflation risk. The prospect of inflation seems very remote now but who knows things could change and we could back to 10% per year.

It's computed every month and the amounts are adjusted. So I don't think the actual payments are risky. They'll automatically go up as people's average income rises.

Granted, they do say their $3 per month fee will never go up. That's a ridiculous statement. But on the other hand, if they were successful, they could easily follow the dot.com model of losing money for years to expand market share. And if they eventually raise the fee 10 years down the road, it will be on a far larger customer base.

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