Dust Storm in Phoenix

Biblical stuff:

QOTD: The NYSE as Server Farm and Bell

The Big Board most of the world knows has been reduced to a server farm and a bell.
– Source: Bloomberg

To the above I would add … Everything else is theater.

Twitter Digest: 2011-07-05

  • Geekish, but …. Mining Twitter with R for consumer attitudes toward airlines – http://t.co/pk3PEMu ->
  • Theme parks are to suburban entertainment what milking machines are to large barns of cows. ->
  • This isn't the best time to be excellent at tennis. You have to be perfect. – http://t.co/REn7BSP ->
  • Positive-ish review of new book about Bayes's rule in probability & statistics. http://t.co/6MXOabP ->
  • Avg debt-to-assets ratio for local Chinese govts is 70%. Almost 100 cities have debt ratios 100%+. – http://t.co/2GUiIWE ->
  • Brooks may be right about the "mother of all no-brainers", but far from clear to me voters will see this in 2012 the way he describes. ->

China’s Factory of the World? Problems

The bearish stories mount in China. We have the municipal debt debacle, plus continuing signs of troubles in the industrial heart of things:

China’s southeastern Guangdong province, the country’s main export manufacturing hub often referred to as “the factory of the world,” is in danger of losing its economic mojo amid a litany of woes.

Small and midsize manufacturers of clothes and other export goods that have been flooding markets around the world are struggling with rising materials costs, shortages of workers and funds and the upward trend of the Chinese currency, the renminbi or yuan.

Many of these businesses have gone under or cut back on production sharply during the current hard times, which some local business owners say are even harsher than the economic slump triggered by the global financial crisis in 2008.

Gathering economic gloom is fomenting social unrest in this heartland of China’s export-oriented economy, as a recent series of riots in the province show.

via asahi.com(朝日新聞社):China’s ‘Factory of the World,’ falling on hard times – English.

Twitter Digest: 2011-07-04

  • Great data/graphs on U.S. urban crime rates by time of day. Turns out criminals work 9-to-5. http://j.mp/k8trxy ->
  • New paper shows rapidly escalating consequences/costs of software patents. Distressing. http://j.mp/kPzWd /cc @bfeld ->
  • Great quotes from When Prophecy Fails: “They were prepared to consider almost anyone in the group a potential messenger from outer space”. ->
  • Pakistan’s nuclear posture has entered an important new phase. An explanation is overdue. http://j.mp/lLTaYR ->
  • Eurosport: 100,000 Serbs welcome home Djokovic http://t.co/qONvC1l ->
  • An open letter to NIH Director Francis Collins regarding his appearance at the Society for Integrative Oncology http://j.mp/ioN9UE ->
  • Does Quantum Interference exist in Twitter? http://j.mp/iM55oa ->

Twitter Digest: 2011-07-03

Italy and The Third Man

From a letter to the editor in the current issue of The Economist on Italy:

SIR – I refer you to some apt lines uttered by Orson Welles in “The Third Man”: “In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

Mathias Koenig-Archibugi

Twitter Digest: 2011-07-02

  • Speaker Boehner doesn't have the numbers http://econ.st/kHmsTg ->
  • In case folks are curious, the @-stream consensus seems to be Nadal in four tomorrow/today. ->
  • I say this with reluctance as a hater, cynic and misanthrope, but … @Flipboard has become that rare thing for me — a habitual app. ->
  • Djokovic/Nadal tomorrow. Who'll give odds? ->
  • Wise words from Mark Pincus: On the Web, whenever you have an open-ended community, it will … turn into porn. ->

Bing Gordon Gamification

Good deck from Bing Gordon of KP on hacking gamification.

sFund Gamification June 30 2011

via Barry

In Praise of Vagueness

Recent-ish paper on a favorite subject: vagueness.  The authors show that in certain contexts, like weight loss, it is better to know less than more. The fuzzier the information was, the more weight people lost. People with more precise information gained weight.

Is the eternal quest for precise information always worthwhile? Our research suggests that, at times, vagueness has its merits. Previous research has demonstrated that people prefer precise information over vague information because it gives them a sense of security and makes their environments more predictable. However, we show that the fuzzy boundaries afforded by vague information can actually help individuals perform better than can precise information. We document these findings across two laboratory studies and one quasi–field study that involved different performance-related contexts (mental acuity, physical strength, and weight loss). We argue that the malleability of vague information allows people to interpret it in the manner they desire, so that they can generate positive response expectancies and, thereby, perform better. The rigidity of precise information discourages desirable interpretations. Hence, on certain occasions, precise information is not as helpful as vague information in boosting performance.

In Praise of Vagueness via WSJ Ideas