Archive for 2009

Scroogenomics vs Ulterior Motives (and Other Justifications for Gift Giving)

Thursday, December 31st, 2009
Scroogenomics vs Ulterior Motives (and Other Justifications for Gift Giving)

As a poser economist (as Jeff Ely calls me), I love to complain about the social inefficiency of gift giving. It's a terrible idea, guys! We waste 13 billion dollars a year on it! But I do appreciate that I have a tendency to pooh-pooh social conventions far too... »

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What Can Search Predict?

Monday, November 30th, 2009
What Can Search Predict?

Statistical wisdom is sometimes found in unusual places. Take, for example, the following exchange in, “Whip It,” a story of roller-derby loving misfits: Team: (chanting, after a game) We're number two! We're number two! Coach: You guys came in second out of two teams. Team: Woo! So what’s the moral? Well, there's been a fair amount... »

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Precious, Precious Daylight

Saturday, October 31st, 2009
Precious, Precious Daylight

Tomorrow, after-work or after-school activities that require daylight come to an abrupt end for most of us in the US and Canada.  (Remember to "fall back" tonight!) There seems to be a lot of misdirected vitriol surrounding daylight saving time (DST). First, let's get this out of way: no one (worth arguing with) thinks daylight... »

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Grammatical Interlude: The Two Acceptable Uses of Quotation Marks

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
Grammatical Interlude: The Two Acceptable Uses of Quotation Marks

Grammatical prescriptivism annoys me to no end. (No ending sentences with prepositions? Ridiculous! Don't split infinitives? Poppycock!) Well, except when I do it... There are exactly two valid uses of quotation marks: when you mean something literally, and when you mean something nonliterally. It ought to be hard to mess that up.  But the following... »

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Anatomy of the Long Tail

Monday, August 31st, 2009
Anatomy of the Long Tail

I admit I'm a movie snob. I'm less likely to watch blockbusters about toys gone wild that open on 4000+ screens than tales of food gone wild that open on 50 screens. And for this I always figured I was among a minority who ventured beyond... »

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