Hiéq's Rants

Things that I think you should know

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I really respect these people, to be honest… Wish there are more organizations like this in Singapore to reach out to the elderly…

I really respect these people, to be honest… Wish there are more organizations like this in Singapore to reach out to the elderly…

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What people can do if they are determined: how limiting carbon emission may save the economy

As the legislation loomed, prophecies of economic doom bubbled up. The U.S. Business Roundtable anticipated two million jobs would be lost, and the Chamber of Commerce foresaw compliance costs of $20 billion a year.

After the launch, Appalachian Power in West Virginia got an order from General Electric. The scrubbers cut 98 percent. “I was really shocked,” McLean said. “It had never been mentioned as a possibility.” It also turned out that coal from some parts of the country had lower sulfur content, so plants tried new mixes, bought from different mines, and took advantage of dropping rail transport prices. 


Filed under carbon emission environment featured

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Gamers solve decade old HIV puzzle in ten days

Scientists from University of Washington have been struggling for the past decade to decipher the complex structure of an enzyme that exhibits AIDS-like behavior, and which might hold a critical role in building a cure for the disease. Gamers playing spatial game Foldit have managed to collectively determine the enzyme’s structure in ten days.

Read more at http://www.zmescience.com/research/studies/gamers-solve-decade-old-hiv-puzzle-in-ten-days/#bjyg26C37PticUtG.99

Filed under science featured gaming hiv

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Are there too many people in finance?

The classic example of rent-seeking is that of a feudal lord who installs a chain across a river that flows through his land and then hires a collector to charge passing boats a fee (or rent of the section of the river for a few minutes) to lower the chain. There is nothing productive about the chain or the collector. The lord has made no improvements to the river and is helping nobody in any way, directly or indirectly, except himself. All he is doing is finding a way to make money from something that used to be free. If enough lords along the river follow suit, its use may be severely curtailed.

Those in “other finance” often engage in similar behavior. They skim the best business deals, creating a “negative externality” on those who are not party to them. If the bad assets that they reject – for example, the subprime mortgage securities that fueled the 2008 financial crisis – are created anyway and foisted on less knowledgeable investors, financiers contribute no more to society than a lord who installs a chain across a river.

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/the-rent-seeking-problem-in-contemporary-finance-by-robert-j—shiller#XGw2WYIFuuw2SF8S.99

Filed under featured inequality economics rent seeking finance project syndicate price of inequality Joseph Stiglitz

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An analogy to why new policies are hard to implement

To see why, suppose that in 1930 an economist conducted an empirical study of what cured infectious diseases, and, analyzing masses of data from previous years, concluded that 98% of all treatable illnesses were cured by non-antibiotic medicines – “tradicines,” which include all traditional medicines of various schools. This conclusion would most likely be valid, because the use of antibiotics before 1930 – just two years after Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin and years before it was fully workable as a cure – was rare and mostly inadvertent.

But now suppose that the economist goes on to argue that, therefore, it would be silly to give patients penicillin, because we know that 98% of all treatable diseases were cured by tradicines, and penicillin is not a tradicine. That is a wrong deduction, based on evidence that does not exist. What the economist’s study in 1930 showed is that tradicines accounted for 98% of the cases that were successfully treated. It does not show that penicillin does not work.

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/the-logical-flaw-that-keeps-people-poor-by-kaushik-basu#UplqYfcdYU0EUxqt.99

Filed under inequality featured

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How a clear, worthless stone become so expensive after a brilliant marketing campaign

Wanting to turn America into its next big market, De Beers met with advertising agencies to form a battle strategy. Its aim? To convince consumers that “Diamonds = Love”. To romanticize the stone, the campaign sought to change the public’s idea of how a man (successfully) courts a woman. They engaged the fledgling film industry, and covered movie idols (the paragons of mass audience romance) in their product. Magazines and select publications were flooded with stories that reinforced the idea of diamonds representing an indestructible devotion. Conspicuous photographs of celebrities’ bejeweled fingers splashed across news pages. Fashion designers promoted the “rising trend” of diamonds on the radio. Even the British Royal Family was convinced to wear diamonds over other jewels, under the assertion that it could greatly aid an industry in which Great Britain had a controlling interest.

Read more: http://www.policymic.com/articles/51981/how-a-clear-worthless-stone-with-a-brilliant-marketing-campaign-conquered-the-world

Filed under inequality economics featured