markets in everything
This might be something for your “markets in everything” series. Swiss (French) TV has uncovered that many orphans in Cambodian orphanages are actually not really orphans. These children are just their to meet the demand of altruistic Swiss to help poor Cambodian orphans. These Swiss actually pay to help a few weeks at an orphanage and to teach English or other things deemed useful (maybe so they can signal how altruistic they are to their friends).
Here’s the original TV report (French):
And here’s an article in a newspaper (German):
That is from an email by Luzius Meisser.
Tim Steiner has an elaborate tattoo on his back that was designed by a famous artist and sold to a German art collector. When Steiner dies his skin will be framed – until then he spends his life sitting in galleries with his shirt off.
“The work of art is on my back, I’m just the guy carrying it around,” says the 40-year-old former tattoo parlour manager from Zurich.
A decade ago, his then girlfriend met a Belgian artist called Wim Delvoye, who’d become well known for his controversial work tattooing pigs.
Delvoye told her he was looking for someone to agree to be a human canvas for a new work and asked if she knew anyone who might be interested.
…The work, entitled TIM, sold for 150,000 euros (£130,000) to German art collector Rik Reinking in 2008, with Steiner receiving one third of the sum.
“My skin belongs to Rik Reinking now,” he says. “My back is the canvas, I am the temporary frame.”
As part of the deal, when Steiner dies his back is to be skinned, and the skin framed permanently, taking up a place in Reinking’s personal art collection.
“Gruesome is relative,” Steiner says to those who find the idea macabre.
A pop-up in Helsinki, Finland might have just stumbled upon the answer to a question nobody was really asking: How can I order delivery and also go to a restaurant at the same time? Sure, table service restaurants kind of do that already if you look at them from far away — customers enter a restaurant, they order, and food is delivered to their table — but the AmEx-sponsored Take In goes a step further.
With no kitchen, guests at Take In choose from a curated selection of dishes from roughly 20 restaurants via an app called Wolt, the other sponsor of the pop-up. Guests eat their dinner in the Take In dining room. Take In offers bar service, and “hosting service,” helping get orders to the correct table. Guests who just want to drop in for a drink are welcome to do so. While it seems like a concept designed for solo diners, a Wolt spokeperson tells Monocle that the restaurant offers a solution for groups who can’t decide on what they all want to eat. The Take In pop-up started at the beginning of November, and will run through April 2.
Here is the full story, via Steve Rossi.
TrumpSingles.com is a matchmaking site where supporters of President-elect Donald Trump can connect and possibly find love.
During an appearance on “Fox & Friends,” the site’s founder said TrumpSingles helps supporters navigate a divisive year.
“Sometimes it’s tough to date when you’re a Trump supporter, so we’re making it easier to find each other, who are like-minded and have the same political views,” said David Goss, the 35-year-old Californian who launched the site in June.
TrumpSingles, which costs $19.95 per month, had 24,000 members as of Wednesday afternoon.
Here is the link, via Brent.
It is 100% soy wax, in case you are wondering.
The pointer is from Ted Gioia.
Canadiana Village, about an hour north of Montreal near Rawdon, Que., has been on the market since the fall. The nearly 60 hectares of land and 45 buildings are going for $2.8 million.
The village is designed to resemble a pioneer settlement from the 19th century, and includes a church, a general store, a mill, a cemetery, a saloon and 22 houses.
However, most of the buildings are just for show.
…”There’s only one livable home.”
Kaija said most of the buildings were shipped to the village over the years.
In its heyday, the village welcomed close to 30,000 tourists per year and was a popular destination for school field trips.
It was also featured in more than 110 film and TV productions, including Radio-Canada’s Pays d’en haut and I’m Not There, a Bob Dylan biographical drama.
Nigeria has confiscated 2.5 tonnes of “plastic rice” smuggled into the country by unscrupulous businessmen, the customs service says.
Lagos customs chief Haruna Mamudu said the fake rice was intended to be sold in markets during the festive season.
He said the rice was very sticky after it was boiled and “only God knows what would have happened” if people ate it.
It is not clear where the seized sacks came from but rice made from plastic pellets was found in China last year.
Rice is the most popular staple food in Nigeria.
Addendum: Here is an update, as the story spirals into increasing confusion.
Against this backdrop, it has become a huge ask to invite someone to be a bridesmaid, and many only agree to act as one reluctantly. Consequently, brides are hiring professional bridesmaids.
Professional bridesmaids have become a routine option for wedding packages, currently offered by more than 50 wedding-planning firms in China. A professional bridesmaid would be required to act as the make-up artist, to drink alcohol, and to fend off rude guests on behalf of the bride, among many other tasks. They are required to perform what the sociologist Arlie Hochschild termed “emotional labor”: faking smiles, engineering a joyous atmosphere, and taking part in traditional stunts that are otherwise considered too vulgar for many.
Depending on the level of “difficulty” of the services they provide, a professional bridesmaid is paid between 200 yuan (around £22) and 800 yuan (around £90) per wedding. Many professional bridesmaids work on weekends, in addition to their routine weekday jobs, in order to generate extra income.
Here is the full story from Yang Hu, much more detail at the link.
“By far the best way to eat mealworms” is another insight on tap.
Here is the AtlasObscura story, via the excellent Mark Thorson.
You too may soon be able to feel what it was like to hit an iceberg on the Titanic.
Construction of a life-size replica of the doomed passenger ship began in China’s southwestern Sichuan province on Wednesday with a keel-laying ceremony and fireworks to mark the occasion.
It is part of Star Energy Investment Group’s plans for a tourist resort along the Qijiang River in Sichuan’s Daying County.
And it will eventually come with a simulation of the iceberg collision that sank the original ship in the Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912.
Backers say the project will also play on the 1997 blockbuster “Titanic” movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
Steven Star Chief Executive Su Shaojun said it should not be strange that it is in China.
Here is further information, via Peter Metrinko.
The gambling market is somewhat saturated, so how can new customers be found?
One idea: skills-based games.
In Atlantic City, the Borgata added a basketball free-throw shooting contest. Other casinos are adding skill-based games to electronic slot machines — shooting, puzzles, less slot machine ding ding ding and more Angry Birds-style competition.
Maryland does not allow such games yet, but the state’s gaming agency says it is working on the issue.
That is from Michael Rosenwald, with most of the article covering D.C.’s foray into the casino genre.
Medical insurance often becomes invalid if the customer is drunk. But during the football World Cup in 2014, Shanghai-based Zhongan Insurance turned that rule upside down by offering Chinese football fans a policy specifically for self-inflicted liver damage.
It cost less than $1 and covered sports enthusiasts against alcohol poisoning for 30 days — paying out up to Rmb2,000 ($290) for hospital fees. It soon came to be known as “watching-football-drinking-too-much” insurance.
This has not been Zhongan’s only foray into more specialist areas of China’s insurancemarket. Another of its policies, called “high heat”, reimburses customers when the temperature hits 37°C. Another insures against flight delays — and, in many cases, pays out while the customer is still waiting in the departure lounge.
But while such products might seem niche, the company behind them is anything but. From a standing start three years ago, it has sold 5.8bn policies to 460m customers. This has quickly translated into profit. Zhongan went from making a loss in 2013 to posting Rmb168m in net profit two years later. Total assets jumped more than 500 per cent between 2014 and 2015, to Rmb8bn.
That is from Don Weinland at the FT. And this:
Zhongan is finding it has competition in the market for offbeat insurance policies. TongJuBao already sells specialist policies to cover for the cost of divorce lawyers and for search teams to look for missing children. It also sells insurance that offers income protection for people who leave their jobs to move to a different city.
Shades of Robert Shiller…
“To forestall his book’s publication he paid a friend to find people who might convince him not to publish it.”
That is Jennifer Senior quoting Michael Lewis on Daniel Kahneman’s remarks about his own book, Thinking Fast and Slow.
One of Japan’s largest casualty insurers is going to start offering internet and social media backlash insurance.
Here is the link, including to the original Japanese.
Even more inventive computer crooks have used online pornography as a reward for human web surfers who break the Captcha…
Here is the John Markoff NYT piece, very interesting throughout. Imagine an evil AI agent that can mimic your voice and call your loved ones and…