Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Stop visualizing success...

From Seth Godin (of whom I'm generally a fan):

The thing is: clear visualization, repeated again and again, doesn't actually decrease the chances you're going to fail. In fact, it probably increases the odds.

When you choose to visualize the path that works, you're more likely to shore it up and create an environment where it can take place.

Rehearsing failure is simply a bad habit, not a productive use of your time.
Apparently not. I first read this in Made to Stick (Amazon) but I found a reference online that details the study fairly well at Officer.com.

Basically, a study from UCLA showed that simulating past events (thinking about past problems step by step, going through them in detail, the actions you took, what you said/did, the environment) was much more helpful than simulating future outcomes. Those who simulated past events experienced better moods almost right away and were likely to have taken specific action to solve their problems.

The authors of Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath possibly facetiously suggest that counterintuitive to pop psych literature urging you to visualize success, maybe instead of visualizing that we're filthy rich, we should be replaying steps that led to our being poor.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Dale Carnegie vs Ayn Rand

We need both. Glenn Reynolds links to a blog comment: "Let’s just say that the libertarian movement would do well to spend less time reading Ayn Rand and more time reading Dale Carnegie." Libertarians do need to get better at not only developing ideas but communicating them and finding ways to implement them.

Perhaps it's just been my perception, but that the world has moved towards economic liberty has been more the result of government failures than any deliberate attempt to pursue economic liberty, suggests a failure on the part of libertarians.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Is that a rhetorical question?

Forbes asks "are the French lazy?". As previously noted, I generally don't think the effect of culture on economic growth is strong - it's the regulations that reinforce that view of culture that's stifling. As Forbes points out, the French malaise is largely self inflicted:

But the difficulty in hiring and firing workers is just one defect of the French labor system. Small businesses are particularly hurt by the 35-hour law, which forces employers to pay their hourly workers overtime if they work more than 35 hours a week. As a result, the French work fewer hours than just about anybody in the OECD. In fact, the average French employee worked just 1,476 hours in 2011, according to the latest data available from the OECD and the French labor department. In contrast, workers in the U.S. rocked 1,704 hours per year, 21% more than their counterparts in France.

But working a lot more doesn't necessarily mean that Americans are more productive than their French counterparts. One way to gauge productivity is to take a nation's GDP and divide it by the total number of hours its citizens slaved away that year. In 2011, the GDP for each hour worked was $57 in France and $60 in the U.S. Therefore, it appears that while the French work less, they seem to be producing just as much as their U.S. counterparts, on a relative basis. But this snapshot doesn't really show the big problem with the French labor market. Labor productivity, as defined as GDP per hour worked, in the U.S. from 2001 to 2011 grew twice as fast as it did in France. That means the U.S. will most likely widen its lead over France in the years to come unless it makes some big changes to its labor laws.

Hans Rosling: "River of Myths"

Another good look at the progress in the developing world particularly in the area of child mortality (via Freakonomics):

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Making "sustainable food" actually sustainable

People who use the word "sustainable" to describe products that don't work as well as their supposedly "unsustainable" counterparts at a much higher cost, don't really know the meaning of the word.

It's heartening then that there are some real innovations (not "innovations") being funded by VCs. Gigaom takes a look at the "budding food innovation movement" in Silicon Valley:

The real reason that Beyond Eggs could eventually catch on is because it’s not striving to be an eco or vegan product. It will be about 19 percent cheaper than using eggs, will last longer on the shelf than eggs, is safer to use than eggs, and is better for you than eggs. Then there’s all of the feel good aspects — the poor environmental and inhumane conditions of the egg industry, and the reduced carbon emissions by decreasing the amount of feed (mostly corn and soy) that goes to chickens. But all of those won’t matter if the products don’t pass Tetrick’s “Dad Twinkie” test: in theory deliver a twinkie that’s cheaper and better for you, but that tastes exactly the same.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The deadly opposition to genetically modified food

Instapundit: "Where the connection between policy-advocacy and dead children is much clearer." From the Slate:

Finally, after a 12-year delay caused by opponents of genetically modified foods, so-called “golden rice” with vitamin A will be grown in the Philippines. Over those 12 years, about 8 million children worldwide died from vitamin A deficiency. Are anti-GM advocates not partly responsible?

Golden rice is the most prominent example in the global controversy over GM foods, which pits a technology with some risks but incredible potential against the resistance of feel-good campaigning. Three billion people depend on rice as their staple food, with 10 percent at risk for vitamin A deficiency, which, according to the World Health Organization, causes 250,000 to 500,000 children to go blind each year. Of these, half die within a year. A study from the British medical journal the Lancet estimates that, in total, vitamin A deficiency kills 668,000 children under the age of 5 each year.

Yet, despite the cost in human lives, anti-GM campaigners—from Greenpeace to Naomi Klein—have derided efforts to use golden rice to avoid vitamin A deficiency.

Richard Epstein: "You cannot make the poor richer by making the rich poorer"

Filed under ideas that aren't popular but true (via Instapundit).

Sunday, February 17, 2013

On Immigrants

From Steve Case at the US Senate Committee on Immigration (via PandoDaily):

Today, 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies in the United States were started by immigrants or the children of immigrants, employing 10 million people across the globe and doing $4 trillion in revenue. Of the 10 most valuable brands globally, seven of them come from American companies founded by immigrants or their children. In the past 15 years, immigrants founded one quarter of U.S. venture-backed public companies.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A reminder that education spending doesn't drive growth

From the LA Times, an op/ed by Jonah Goldberg (via Instapundit):

British scholar Alison Wolf writes in "Does Education Matter?": "The simple one-way relationship … — education spending in, economic growth out — simply does not exist. Moreover, the larger and more complex the education sector, the less obvious any links to productivity."
It's a catalyst.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Henry Ford on Reputation

Henry Ford via Swissmiss:

You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.

Too bad politicians can't be jailed for malpractice

"Argentina Freezes Supermarket Prices To Halt Soaring Inflation; Chaos To Follow" (Zerohedge via Instapundit):

Up until now, Argentina’s descent into a hyperinflationary basket case, with a crashing currency and loss of outside funding was relatively moderate and controlled. All this is about to change. Today, in a futile attempt to halt inflation, the government of Cristina Kirchner announced a two-month price freeze on supermarket products.
The consequences of heavy handed market interventions are predictable and avoidable. To brush what will be the brutal effects away of these desperate acts of a failed ideology as 'unintended consequences' should be criminal.

Update: Zerohedge on Argentina's Financial Collapse, asking "How was it possible that in so rich a country so many people were hungry?"