Cars are boring; bikes are cooler. Here are the top 10 reasons why.
10. Cars are for stuff
People from the pre-computer era have books, DVDs, TVs, stereos, big photo albums, board games, and playing cards. They need cars to transport their stuff.
Cool people have digital stuff. They can fit their entire music collection in a bicycle pannier.
Take a look at the picture on the right. How much does one box of popcorn cost?
The correct answer, for this particular box, is $1.50. However it is not obvious that "two for $3" implies "one for $1.50". In other contexts, customers must make a minimum purchase to obtain a lower per-unit price. For example, if a shoe store has a "buy one pair, get a second pair free" sale, the customer who buys just one pair of shoes pays full price.
The actual per unit price of popcorn is not stated anywhere on the sign. Regular readers may recall a question from a financial literacy test used in a recent Statistics Canada Survey: True or false: By using unit pricing at the grocery store, you can easily compare the cost of any brand and any package size. In this case, the answer is false. The only unit price listed on the sign, 70.6 cents per 100 grams, corresponds to a price of $1.99 per 282 gram box, not the actual price of $1.50 per box.
A key insight of behavioural economics is that people don't always do what is in their own long term interests. Our inner planner sets goals - complete that paper, write that referee's report, floss. Our inner doer - who has all the perseverance of Homer Simpson - fails to follow through, and sabotages the planner's best intentions. As a review of Nudge by Tim Leonard puts it:
Too often, our impulsive, myopic, unreﬂective reptile half seizes the levers of choice from our resolute, farsighted, thoughtful human half. The upshot: we are more Homer Economicus than Homo Economicus.
Last fall I stopped talking about the economics of gender, and began talking about the economics of sex. It was wonderful.
So much can be discussed under the rubric of economics of sex. Take, for example, the pick-up artist phenomenon, described in books like The Game. It's like Cesar Millan's Dog Whisperer books, urging men to be alphas, take a leadership role, and ignore begging and requests for attention. The major difference as far as I can see is that pick-up artists aim to make women come to bed, rather than dogs come to heel.
Paul Krugman has recently taken aim at the rhetoric of the US right:
From the enthusiastic reception American conservatives gave Friedrich Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom,” to Reagan, to the governors now standing in the way of Medicaid expansion, the U.S. right has sought to portray its position not as a matter of comforting the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted, but as a courageous defense of freedom.
That got me to thinking. When I read or watch the US media, I hear lots of talk about freedom - much more than in Europe, say. But do Americans actually feel freer than people elsewhere?
In theory, it's safe. Everyone knows which side of the pathway they are supposed to be on. Having a yellow line in the middle of the pathway reduces the chances that cyclists will plow into each other, causing a nasty accident.
Statistics Canada has released its most recent report on police personnel and expenditures and notes that police strength measured as officers per capita declined in 2012 by 1 percent. Moreover, there has been a slight decline in police expenditures overall with spending in 2011 totaling 12.9 billion – a decline of 0.7 percent from the previous year. However, spending and officers per capita have generally grown over the last decade and police forces and police spending are higher than they used to be. What is of more interest to me are the numbers at the CMA level and their relationship with crime rates.
For complicated historical reasons, I hold $13,000 in a locked-in RRSP with Great West Life. A few days ago, I received a "Year-End Retirement Illustration", shown over the fold. I read it and thought "That's so bad, it's bloggable."
For centuries, elephants with large tusks have been targetted by hunters and poachers. The "unnatural selection" in favour of smaller-tusked elephants has resulted in a dramatic decrease in average tusk sizes right across Africa.
Smaller tusks increase an individual elephant's probability of survival, by making him or her a less attractive target for poachers. But what if all elephants' tusks decrease in size? Can evolution save the elephant?
I’ve been doing some data exploration on public sector spending and societal outcomes and have some preliminary results that have caused me to puzzle about what they might mean. I’ve been looking at annual data for OECD countries (33 countries) over the period 2000 to 2010 and the relationship between public sector size and crime rates. Public sector size is defined as total government expenditure as a share of GDP. The crime variables were the number of homicides per 100,000 of population and the number of burglaries per 100,000 of population. The data is from the OECD and is essentially unbalanced panel data. The results for homicides did not surprise me but that for burglaries did.
The best survival strategy is to team up with other young males and form a bachelor herd. It's safer, but still lonely. Hence a bachelor springbok will repeatedly challenge the dominant male, risking injury and death.
It's not easy being the dominant male, either. Dominant male springbok are so busy mating with females, stopping members of their harem from wandering off, and fending off challengers that they have no time to eat. After a short period of dominance, they are so weakened by their efforts that they, too, become easy pickings for predators.
For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons. - Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Time can be divided, approximately, into time spent eating, sleeping, caring for others, playing, relaxing, making love - all the things that make up "leisure" - and time spent in activities that generate things to consume, or earnings to buy things to consume. An individual faces a trade-off between leisure and consumption, as shown in the diagram below the fold:
On the way back from the Zambezi river crossing, the driver told me of his life's ambitions: he wanted to be middle class, to give his children a good start in life, and to have an asbestos roof.
In this country, he told me, there are two types of roofs: metal and asbestos. Asbestos is much better because it doesn't get hot in summer, and it's quiet - it doesn't rattle when the rain falls on it. Asbestos is also more expensive than metal, and that means it's higher status.
In South Africa the signs of AIDS are subtle, but ever present. Dispensers with free condoms in every university washroom. A red AIDS ribbon painted on the wall of the Knysna hospital. Another on the entrance to the Muizenberg cemetery, where wooden crosses and flowers in plastic bottles mark the resting places of those who die young, and are much missed.
Condoms are simple, cheap and effective weapons against AIDS. The South African government has developed its own brand, Choice, which is given away for free. In Cape Town, for example, the government aims to distribute an average of 104 condoms per year for every man over 15. The problem is, people don't like them. The government-issue condoms are seen as low status. People complain that they are too small, or that they aren't reliable.
Baboons are rational. They minimize the effort required to attain a given number of calories or, alternatively, maximize the amount of calories obtained from a given amount of effort. Given a choice between spending hours searching for fruit and seeds, or scarfing some left over potato chips, they’ll take the leftovers every time. Once they learn that humans keep bananas and other delicious food lying around in their kitchens, they break into homes, or enter through any open window, and pilfer anything edible.
Their behaviour can be explained by a rational model of crime: steal if the benefits of doing so are greater than the expected probability of getting caught times the anticipated penalty if caught.