Archive for the ‘idea of the day’ tag

#  Combatting Incompetence →

July 10th, 2009 at 18:55 // In Worth Knowing 

Though you may not now it by its name, you’ve likely heard of the Peter Principle:

“All new members in a hierarchical organization climb the hierarchy until they reach their level of maximum incompetence.”

The best way around it, according to recent simulations: promote, essentially, at random.

(via Idea of the Day)

#  The He-cession →

July 1st, 2009 at 20:42 // In Worth Considering 

I apologize heartily for the cringe-worthy title. I bear no responsibility for it’s creation, merely it’s prorogation. But Reihan Salam, among others, thinks that men and machoness are unlikely to emerge from this recession unscathed. While part of me is screaming “bogus trend story,” I can’t condemn it as meritless:

As behavioral finance economists Brad Barber and Terrance Odean memorably demonstrated in 2001, of all the factors that might correlate with overconfident investment in financial markets—age, marital status, and the like—the most obvious culprit was having a Y chromosome. And now it turns out that not only did the macho men of the heavily male-dominated global finance sector create the conditions for global economic collapse, but they were aided and abetted by their mostly male counterparts in government whose policies, whether consciously or not, acted to artificially prop up macho.

(via Idea of the Day)

#  Propogated by its Uselessness →

June 3rd, 2009 at 9:53 // In Worth Considering 

An interesting theory: the reason ineffectual folk cures spread is that their ineffectiveness raises their visibility. So that’s why all those people take Emergen-C and Airborne…

(via Idea of the Day)

#  Pie Chart Problems →

April 14th, 2009 at 13:12 // In Worth Knowing 

They ask us compare angles, but we tend to underestimate acute angles, overestimate obtuse angles, and take horizontally bisected angles as much larger than their vertical counterparts.

The piece’s thesis: that data visualization cannot save you, is certainly one worth taking to heart.

(via Idea of the Day)

#  Spending to Boost the Economy →

February 21st, 2009 at 10:44 // In Worth Knowing 

Apparently, economists think there are better and worse ways for us to spend our way out of the recession. Some of their most interesting suggestions:

Tyler Cowen, George Mason University: In my view, fixing the banking sector is more important than getting the stimulus right. So if you can afford to lose the money, go to a large bank (more likely to be insolvent), find their most overpriced service, and buy as much of it as you can. That way you are doing your part to recapitalize our banking system.

Ethan Harris, Barclays Capital: Get a haircut. It is a purely domestically produced service with extremely high labor content. This means no drain in spending power out of the country: it is “Buy American” without violating any trade agreements.

Robert Shiller, Yale University: I suggest using it to give an extra-generous tip to taxi drivers. They talk to lots of people, especially active business-oriented people, and they will be feeling more upbeat, sensing that some people are feeling flush, and they will communicate this feeling to numerous people, thereby helping restore confidence.

(via Ideas)

#  A Defense of New Jersey →

January 26th, 2009 at 20:11 // In Worth Considering 

I swear this article appears at least semiannually in some paper somewhere. This one chose the “epicenter of artistic talent” angle.

(via Ideas)

#  Lernu Esperonto →

January 25th, 2009 at 11:23 // In Worth Distraction 

I’ve always been curious about Esperonto, so when this post led me to this story which pointed to this site where I found the introductory course in the title link, I had to spend a few minutes working through the very straightforward and informative introduction.

#  The Age of Mass Intelligence →

December 8th, 2008 at 21:39 // In Worth Reading 

John Parkers offers a welcome counterweight to the unavoidable, and often inane, argument that people are dumber than ever before. A snippet:

Millions more people are going to museums, literary festivals and operas; millions more watch demanding television programmes or download serious-minded podcasts. Not all these activities count as mind-stretching, of course. Some are downright fluffy. But, says Donna Renney, the chief executive of the Cheltenham Festivals, audiences increasingly want “the buzz you get from working that little bit harder”. This is a dramatic yet often unrecognised development. “When people talk and write about culture,” says Ira Glass, the creator of the riveting public-radio show “This American Life”, “it’s apocalyptic. We tell ourselves that everything is in bad shape. But the opposite is true. There’s an abundance of really interesting things going on all around us.”

(via Ideas)

#  Giuliani was Right →

November 24th, 2008 at 15:51 // In Worth Considering 

I’m increasingly leery of news stories proclaiming that academics have proven or demonstrated something or other. That said, some Dutch researchers have experimental evidence showing that signals of low-level crime make people more likely to litter or steal.

(via Ideas)

#  Nitrogen Triflouride →

November 18th, 2008 at 21:35 // In Worth Knowing 

Hypothetical question: You’re heartsick about global warming, so you’ve just paid $25,000 to put a solar system on the roof of your home. How do you respond to news that it was manufactured with a chemical that is 17,000 times stronger than carbon dioxide as a cause of global warming?

I’d probably say, “Really!? Wow. That sucks. Is there any replacement.” To which the article says nothing.

(via Ideas)