Sunday, April 27, 2003

A long weekend

all sorts of stuff happened this weekend. among them, a decision to forego capitalization. i finished reading the long walk, somehow fitting given this week's marathon and reality television and horrible tragedy. supposedly there is a japanese movie adaptation of it, but i haven't been able to find anything about it. speaking of movies, i saw a mighty wind, which was quite funny. stood in the rain at earthfest and got free samples of stuff and saw an incredible performance by sheryl crow. also went to a driving range for the veryfirsttime. and ate lots of good meals.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Self-interest, modernity?

I just saw Better Luck Tomorrow and Confidence, both of which prominently feature people double-crossing people. I have no faith left in humanity. (They are good movies, though, if a little implausible toward their ends.)

Also, I ran across a review of the new DeLillo book, which does a good job of dissecting everything I dislike about this modern style-over-substance tendency.

While looking for a review of the DeLillo book, I also read a review of Brill's new book. Sadly, the only person ever to give me a D didn't get panned. The Times thought it did a good job of showing how self-interest and public interest were intertwined, which is about all you can hope for if we're all as self-serving and dehumanized and divided as all this pop culture is making me believe.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Two Interesting Surveys

I love surveys, and I recently ran across two interesting ones.

In Wired, 54 percent of respondents thought that "Earth is as it appears and not some alternate plane, or fifth-dimension fantasy, or projection of a higher power" (i.e. it's not an experience machine).

The second is a survey being done at Harvard of how people around the country use language differently. Oddly enough, one of the questions is whether people say NEW Haven or New HAVEN.

Wednesday, April 9, 2003

More about men, women, careers

With uncanny timing (given my recently revisiting the Maurren Dowd fiasco), I heard this story on NPR explaining:

Putting off marriage and babies until later in life significantly increases women's wages: It's an increasingly common dilemma for working women who want to have children: Do they have babies early on or wait until they can provide a better income for their family? Well, analysis by researchers at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank says that waiting has its benefits. Income dips less than one percent for women 28 and older after childbirth; it falls 4 percent for those women who have babies before then. While many women today are choosing to put off having a family until they're established in careers, the reality is they only have a 50 percent chance of getting pregnant when they’re 40.

Also, the press release says:

Studies have shown that men who have been married earn more than men who've never been married, a phenomenon known as the "male marriage wage premium." St. Louis Fed researcher Abbigail J. Chiodo and economist Michael T. Owyang first described the relationship between marriage and men's wages a year ago. They describe how, in contrast, marriage has little or no effect on women's wages, after taking into account individual characteristics such as education and experience. Indirect forces, however, such as children and household responsibilities do tend to affect a woman's lifetime earnings.

Here's the actual study.

I'm not particularly obssessed with this topic, just attuned to coincidence.

Tuesday, April 8, 2003

Bosses around

My old boss Jeff Pulver was recently featured in BusinessWeek, which is kind of neat. I was also a bit surprised to run into a picture of Steve Lawrence, who I worked with this summer, at the web site for the book I'm auding (I'm getting tired of deciding between listening and reading for audio books) (apparently this is a real word - "the process of hearing, recognizing, and interpreting spoken language" - but that won't stop me from co-opting it), Linked. (The book is very heavy on the intellectual history/storytelling. I was really excited to read Six Degrees, which looked more sciencey, but had to return it to the library before I had a chance to read it.)

Sunday, April 6, 2003


Shawn sent me the URL of his latest artistic endeavor, Parykausa, and I figured I'd link to it here. Not quite sure what to say about it, though. It's par-for-the-course-ishly intriguing.

Saturday, April 5, 2003

Fun with airlines

So, I booked my tickets to Budapest (to present my paper)! Very exciting. I'm also visiting Naomi in Ireland. Of course both of these places turned out to be pretty tough to fly between, and the cheapest solution ended up taking two round-trip flights. Aaron tried to convince me that three one-way legs cost more because I'm "paying for convenience," but intuitively it always struck me as stupid that they would charge me less to fly more. I did some hunting around for a better explanation. (Along the way, I found this fun page about frequent flier programs.) The closest thing I've found so far is this, which says:

Consultant Nick Bredimus explains that in the early days of the aviation industry, there were only one-way fares. When computers were introduced into the pricing equation, carriers were able to track seat inventory more effectively and predict who might show up for a flight and who wouldn't.

Technically, then, a 21-day advance fare like the one I booked is both a discount and a gamble-a discount from the full fare and a gamble by the airline that my plans will change and I won't take that flight. I'm not about to suggest that airlines should turn off their computers and go back to handwriting tickets, but I do think carriers can do something to rein in unreasonable fares.

"You see some anomalies [in pricing] but you can't figure out why they exist," says Bredimus.