Play Econo “What If” on the 2012 Elections

Interesting economy-driven visualization on Obama’s prospects in the 2012 election. What is the likelihood of being reelected given job gains/losses and/or a recession? Click to play along. [-]

2011 03 10 1007

When Washing Machines Attack

I liked the cover image for this week’s cover story at the San Diego Reader. When washing machines attack!

Cover lead t600

Deb Roy Births a Word at TED

As I said on Twitter last week, Deb Roy’s talk at this year’s TED was among my favorites ever. Its mixture of science, data, visualization and personal story touched all my hot buttons, and touched me personally. It’s now up on the TED site, and I have embedded it below.

Collecting the iPad 2 Reviews

  • Engadget: “The iPad 2 isn’t just the best tablet on the market, it feels like the only tablet on the market
  • NYT/Pogue: “The iPad will still dominate the market”
  • WSJ/Mossberg: “Best tablet for average consumers”
  • Daring Fireball/Gruber: “Like last year’s iPhone 4, it seems like technology from the near future”

In short, the kids dig it. And, interestingly, some of the biggest raves came for the new Smartcase, of all all things.

Field Notes: Food, Copper, Drought, Drugs, etc.

  • In silico repositioning of approved drugs for rare and neglected diseases (Source)
  • Modeling and simulation of pedestrian behaviors in crowded places (Source)
  • New drought record from long-lived Mexican trees may illuminate fates of past civilizations (Source)
  • School closes after copper thieves take roof (Source)
  • Food Delivery Search Engine GrubHub Raises $20 Million (Source)

Where the Trail Ends

Incredible mountain-biking eye candy:

Sal Khan at TED Talking Khan Academy

Another very good talk from last week’s TED conference. This time it’s Sal Khan talking about his Khan Academy, aYouTube-ified short-bite education program offered by a former hedge fund analyst. It’s good stuff.

Managing Millennials

Clay Shirky in McKinsey Quarterly on managing millennials:

A famous observation about the net generation, the millennials, is, “They’re doing Facebook at their desks on a Tuesday morning,” which is certainly true. One of the reasons for that is that they’re also being asked to use PowerPoint in their homes on a Saturday afternoon. If you went to any manager and said, “Would you offer your 25-year-olds the following bargain: no more Facebook at work, and in return for which, I won’t call you after 6 PM or on weekends or ask you to watch e-mail.” I don’t think the managers would make that deal.

I don’t disagree, but it’s not only them being asked to do same.

Field Notes

  • Top 10 Sports Websites (Source)
  • Chart of the week: $115 a barrel oil – who suffers and who doesn’t (Source)
  • How Do You Measure History? (Source)
  • Greek borrowing costs hit record levels (Source)

The Economics of Pricing Yourself Out of the Gas Market

A West Covina CA gas station consistently has the highest prices in California, and therefore in the entire U.S. At $4.79 it’s lately been more than a dollar per gallon more expensive than another station right across the street. I’ve noticed it for some time on GasBuddy, but a reporter has finally dropped by to see what is going on.


“Based on our numbers, that’s the highest,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for “There could be others out there.”

…The average gas price in West Covina is $3.62 according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. Industry experts are predicting averages will climb above $4 by Memorial Day.

Business at the Mobil appeared slower than other stations, however. In a half-hour period around noon, only five customers stopped at the station. Another two drove up but then left.

Across the street, a Shell station was selling regular for $3.75 a gallon.

Customers stopping there often complain about the high prices across the street, according to the clerk.

A clerk at the Mobil station referred questions about prices to the owner, Mohamed R. Khidr, who couldn’t be reached Thursday.

So, questions:

  • Why does this station owner seemingly not care that his station is priced almost out of the market?
  • At a few driver per hour in peak periods, is he even covering his costs?
  • Is this just a fantastic moneymaking strategy of finding the nitwits who don’t check prices?
  • Does he have great snacks?
  • How are we to explain someone pricing themselves so strangely when a competitor’s price is visible across the street at much lower levels?

The floor is yours.

[Update] Apparently someone else has been wondering the same thing.