markets in everything

Transparent erasers markets in everything there is no great stagnation

To many, Japan seems like a technological wonderland that’s at least a couple of decades ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to innovation. That even applies to something as seemingly mundane as office supplies, as is evident by this new see-through eraser that enhances precision by providing an unobstructed view of what’s actually being erased.

…And with a price tag of around $1.40 for a large version of the Clear Radar, and around 90 cents for a smaller one, Seed isn’t charging an inflated premium for this innovation, so why wouldn’t you upgrade?

Here is the full story, via Samuel Brenner.

Airline markets in everything

Out of the many repulsive things about air travel, airline food probably ranks high. But not for AirAsia.

Asia’s largest low-cost carrier is betting people love its food so much that it opened its first restaurant on Monday, offering the same menu it sells on flights. It’s not a gimmick, either: AirAsia, based in Malaysia, said it plans to open more than 100 restaurants globally within the next five years.

The quick-service restaurant’s first location is in a mall in Kuala Lumpur. It’s called Santan, meaning coconut milk in Malay, which is the same branding AirAsia uses on its in-flight menus.

Entrees cost around $3 USD and include local delicacies such as chicken rice and the airline’s signature Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak dish, a rice dish with chilli sauce. Locally sourced coffee, teas and desserts are also on the menu.

Here is the full story, via Michael Rosenwald.  P.S. Pablo Escobar’s brother is now selling a folding smart phone.

Japanese hotel markets in everything

A Japanese hotel offers a room that costs only $1 per night, but there’s a catch — the guest’s entire stay is livestreamed on YouTube.

Tetsuya Inoue, who took over the Asahi Ryokan hotel in Fukuoka from his grandmother last year, said he was looking for ways to boost business and was inspired by a British YouTuber who livestreamed his time at the hotel.

“This is a very old ryokan and I was looking into a new business model,” Inoue told CNN. “Our hotel is on the cheaper side, so we need some added value, something special that everyone will talk about.”

Inoue said room No. 8 is now equipped with cameras that are always livestreaming on his YouTube channel, One Dollar Hotel. He said the feed is video only and the cameras are pointed away from the bathroom area to give guests some privacy.

“Young people nowadays don’t care much about the privacy,” Inoue said. “Some of them say it’s OK to be [watched] for just one day.”

He said the hotel loses money with the $1 stays, but once his YouTube channel reaches 4,000 view hours, he will be able to monetize the scheme with ads.

Here is the link, via Ashish K. and the excellent Samir Varma.

Rat transit markets in everything

Learning to drive small cars helps rats feel less stressed, scientists found.

Researchers at the University of Richmond in the US taught a group of 17 rats how to drive little plastic cars, in exchange for bits of cereal.

Study lead Dr Kelly Lambert said the rats felt more relaxed during the task, a finding that could help with the development of non-pharmaceutical treatments for mental illness.

Here is the story, via the excellent Fergus McCullough.

Canadian markets in everything but they need a British person too

One brave outdoorsman will finally take a special shot of whiskey at a bar in Canada’s Yukon Territory containing his amputated, now-dehydrated big toe, which he donated to the establishment for their signature “Sourtoe Cocktail” after losing it to frostbite in February 2018.

Nick Griffiths of Greater Manchester, England, lost three toes to frostbite while competing in the intense Yukon Arctic Race two winters ago.

That is not even the strangest part of the story.  Via the excellent Samir Varma.

Lebanese/Gaza marriage markets in everything

Political parties sponsor weddings for young members to reinforce their loyalty, and gratitude. Religious and ethnic minorities — which means everyone in splintered Lebanon — consider marriage and procreation essential to their long-term survival. And armed groups encourage their fighters to marry so that their children can become the fighters of the future.

A few weeks before the Maronite nuptials, Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group and political party, oversaw a similar enormous wedding for 31 couples. That was tiny compared with a mass wedding in Lebanon earlier this year that brought together 196 couples and was sponsored by the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.

But the nearby Gaza Strip — where an Egyptian-Israeli blockade keeps people poor and locked in — beats them all, often because of competition between foreign sponsors eager to win friends by expediting marriages.

In 2015, the United Arab Emirates sponsored a mass wedding there for 200 couples. Two months later, Turkey seriously upped the ante, bankrolling a ceremony for 2,000 couples that was attended by officials from Hamas, the militant group that rules the territory…

Fadi Gerges, an official with the league, said it was natural for minorities to encourage their youths to procreate in a country where demographics affect power.

Here is the rest of the Ben Hubbard NYT story, via the excellent Kevin Lewis.

Vending machine markets in everything

The engagement ring (size 6.25) is in the fourth machine in the B3 slot, almost hidden among the more colorful gifts. Made by Fitzgerald Jewelry of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, it features a yellow rose-cut diamond surrounded by gray-colored diamonds set in 14-karat gold band with matte finish. It costs $800 before tax…

Ms. Kelly jokingly added that you could almost pull off an entire wedding with items from the vending machines. Grooms can wear the Duncan Quinn cuff links ($525) and a necktie ($285). Brides can carry a dried bouquet that stays fragrant for three years ($25). Photos can be taken with a Polaroid camera ($100). The machine even sells Polaroid film in color or black and white ($17 each).

Here is more from the NYT.

Berkeley markets in everything

Multiple students on campus have offered to pay their classmates to drop out of classes they are waitlisted for, raising concerns about over-enrollment and advising.

Campus sophomore David Wang reposted a screenshot on the Overheard at UC Berkeley Facebook page showing a post by a Haas senior in their final semester before going abroad offering to pay $100 to the first five students to drop UGBA 102B, “Introduction to  Managerial Accounting.” The student in question needed the class to graduate, and claimed that the “advising office was no help, so I’m taking matters into my own hands.”

Here is the full story, via Paul Kedrosky.

NBA crypto markets in everything

Nets sixth man Spencer Dinwiddie is in the process of converting his contract so it can be used as a digital investment tool, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.

Dinwiddie’s deal, which he agreed to during last season, is worth $34 million over three years. By converting it to be used as an investment vehicle, Dinwiddie will receive a lump sum upfront that will likely be less than the total amount of the deal.

According to Charania, Dinwiddie’s plan is to start his own company to securitize his deal as a digital token. Dinwiddie would pay investors back principle and interest.

Dinwiddie’s deal includes a player option for the 2021-22 season, and it is unclear how opting out would impact investors. Last year, Dinwiddie took a business class at Harvard along with now-teammate Kyrie Irving.

Former NFL running back Arian Foster previously tried to do something similar but it did not pan out.

Dinwiddie is heading into his sixth season. Last season, he averaged 16.8 points and 4.4 assists.

From Sports Illustrated, via Mike Tamada, here is further coverage from Atlantic.

Corn markets in everything

Farmers across the U.S. have stumbled onto a fertile side hustle at a time when prices for their crops are low: cramming produce into an air gun and charging people to fire it into the sky.

Growers of corn, apples and even pumpkins place the agricultural ammo at the base of a long tube, sometimes with the help of a ramrod. Then they use an air compressor to build up enough pressure to send the fruits or vegetables flying hundreds of feet, where they land with a satisfying splat.

“Why not shoot it?” says Fred Howell, owner of Howell’s Pumpkin Patch in Cumming, Iowa. “We’re fat Americans and we play with our food.”

It’s a way to keep jaded teens and bored adults coming back to spend time and money on the farms while the youngest members of the family are happy petting sheep.

Here is the full WSJ story, via the excellent Samir Varma.

Travel markets in everything

Since launching IntroverTravels in South Dakota nearly three years ago, Marek has planned a wide array of trips for his clients, from tours of Vietnam and Thailand focused on cuisine, to more adventurous wildlife-watching itineraries in South Africa and the Galapagos. “They tend to be remote places where there’s an absence of people or external stimuli. You can get back to nature, contemplate history or experience the culture of a new place,” Marek says.

His clients tend to be “social introverts,” people who enjoy activities but need to be alone afterward to recharge.

And:

When the group meets, Renzi has them all agree to a few specific principles, including, she says, “Honour one another’s needs and preferences for personal time and space and right to silence, and encourage one another to take personal time and skip group activities as needed. Be open to different belief systems, ways of behaving, communication styles.”

The trips are usually capped at 16 people, and many now have waiting lists. “The demand has certainly been growing,” Renzi says.

Here is the full story by Dave Mcginn, via Art Johnson.

Disgrace insurance markets in everything

According to a Vulture article, Comenos then put together a squad of researchers in India to do the same thing: comb the trashiest ends of the web for iffy tweets, racial slurs and ill-advised sexts sent by about 27,000 prominent figures. These are then fed to a team of data specialists in Boston who crunch the numbers, based on 224 factors, and generate a “risk score” out of 100 for each person to gauge how close they are to getting permanently cancelled (shamed, rejected or boycotted for offensive behaviour or language).

Comenos’s company is called SpottedRisk: a “disgrace insurer” backed by Lloyds of London and touting for business from studios and brands badly burned by a celebrity shooting themselves in the foot – and damaging whatever project they were involved in. These losses have been substantial. Tiger Woods’ 2009 car crash, plus revelations about his infidelities, cost him $22m in brand contracts – and the shareholders of those brands up to $12bn. Meanwhile,#MeToo has escalated Hollywood blacklisting. After sexual abuse allegations against Kevin Spacey in 2017, Ridley Scott reshot the thriller All the Money in the World with Christopher Plummer in Spacey’s role – at a cost of $10m. Another Spacey movie, The Billionaire’s Boys Club, ploughed on with its planned release regardless of increasing public disgust at its star. It made £98 on its opening night.

SpottedRisk says its payout for Spacey would be about $8m – a number generated by combining his risk score with its “outcry index” to gauge public reaction. Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein would merit $10m payouts, while Roseanne Barr is relatively small change at $6m.

Here is the full Catherine Shoard article, via Michael, note that Donald Trump and R. Kelly are considered “uninsurable.”

California markets in everything

A Taco Bell hotel with Taco Bell themed items and equipment:

Just as guests began arriving at The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel & Resort on Thursday, a viral tweet made the rounds connecting the fast food chain to conservative-leaning political contributions made by its corporate parent, YUM! Brands. Would that cast a cloud over the pop-up activation, which had been in the works for over a year? Would the flood of Instagram influencers, YouTube vloggers, and Taco Bell enthusiasts be less likely to gleefully share their Fire Sauce-smothered content? The answer, of course, was no.

People really, really love Taco Bell. Every reservation for The Bell’s four-night run ($169 per night) booked up in under two minutes.

Here is the full story, via Shaffin.

Markets in everything, Russian science edition

Our team in Russia received a tip from the local research community to a new form of publication fraud. The tip led to a website, [redacted] set up by unscrupulous operators to serve as a virtual marketplace where authors can buy or sell authorship in academic manuscripts accepted for publication. This kind of peer-to-peer sharing, in “broad daylight” is not something we’ve seen before – so we conducted a quick analysis of the site, and its data, before taking swift action to alert our friends and colleagues in the scientific community.

There are no author names, or journal names indicated on the site – the journal name is available to buyers only. Sometimes as many as five authorships in a single article are offered for sale, with prices varying depending on place in the list of authors.

Here is the full story, via Brandon.