Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Afternoon Links

1. Markets in everything: WiFi enabled, multi-color, energy efficient LED light bulb that you control with your iPhone.

2. "Patchwriting" is more common than plagiarism, and just as dishonest.  I guess that's what happened to me, see recent CD post

3. Almost half (46.3%) of Irish residents buy private health insurance, despite "free" national health insurance.

4. Thanks to the commodity boom, 2012 graduates from the South Dakota School of Mines make more on average than Harvard grads, $56.7k vs. $54.1k.

5. New website archives every TV news program since 2009, and it’s now online and searchable for free.

6. Russia has vast new diamond field containing "trillions of carats," enough to supply global markets for next 3,000 years.

7. Airlines add service in North Dakota's oil patch:  Delta to add two daily Minneapolis-Williston flights, United to add three flights from Denver to Williston.  

29 Comments:

At 9/19/2012 2:48 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"WiFi enabled, multi-color, energy efficient LED light bulb that you control with your iPhone"...

Wow! Now there's an expensive reason to get tied up with a phone contract or the purchase of an iPhone...

I'll bet it will sell like hotcakes though considering the potential sales figures for the iPhone 5 alone...

 
At 9/19/2012 4:13 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Well, I think we have to invade Russia

 
At 9/19/2012 5:03 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Perfect artificial diamonds indistinguishable from natural diamonds may be the disruptive technology that makes mining in Russia uneconomic.

 
At 9/19/2012 5:04 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

There is no reason why basic universal health insurance cannot be supplemented in the private market.

 
At 9/19/2012 5:28 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"There is no reason why basic universal health insurance cannot be supplemented in the private market"...

There's no reason there should be basic universal health insurance in the first place...

BTW who decides what the definition of 'basic' is?

 
At 9/19/2012 6:02 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

"Private health insurance, however, is under attack."

Government has done a disservice to the American people by driving-up health care costs:

How to reduce medical costs over 50%:

1. Limit medical lawsuits and awards, to lower malpractice insurance premiums (which are up to $200,000 a year) and unnecessary medical tests.

2. Lower standards to practice medicine (to increase labor).

3. Allow insurance companies to sell health-care policies across state lines (average health care insurance ranges from a low of $1,254 in Wisconsin to a high of $8,537 in Massachusetts).

4. Allow innovation (example below):

Kaiser Microclinics At 50% of the Cost of a Full-Service Hospital

Two doctors working out of a microclinic at a mall could meet 80% of a typical patient's needs. With a hi-def video conferencing add-on, members could even link to a nearby hospital for a quick consult with a specialist.

Patients would still need to travel to a full-size facility for major trauma, surgery, or access to expensive diagnostic equipment, but those are situations that arise infrequently. The per-member cost at a microclinic is roughly half that of a full Kaiser hospital.

 
At 9/19/2012 6:14 PM, Blogger Tom E. Snyder said...

Great article on "patchwriting." I think you are right.

 
At 9/19/2012 6:20 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Jon Murphy,

We obviously do.

Also obvious is that those diamonds will benefit Putin and his friends.

They'll go toward funding Putin's most important projects.

Teaching birds to fly South for the winter, for instance. Originally, they put a beak on Putin, but that just made him look silly, so they took it off. And one of the birds managed to get caught in the propeller and died.

Putin wanted a photo op with a Siberian snow leopard. So, they caught a hapless leopard and tranquilized him....so well that he died.

The joke in Russia is "who's next?".

At least this kid got away with his life. But our hero made the news because that's crazy even for Russia.

Thank goodness he's found diamonds to finance his "humanitarian" work. Maybe he'll give Obama some advice on image rehabilitation.

 
At 9/19/2012 6:26 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

The short story about Irish health insurance should be (but won't be) a lesson on how much government really gives a damn about people's health for everyone who's crying that Obama just wants to make health care available to everyone and bend the cost curve.

(Of course, what he's not telling you is the direction in which he's bent the cost curve).

 
At 9/19/2012 7:09 PM, Blogger hancke said...

I was talking with the CFO of a hospital I do business with and he was telling me that for a hip transplant the hospital loses $2k on the implant alone for a Medicare patient. Cutting payments to providers does not bend the cost curve, it only redistributes the cost. Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements and regulations for nursing homes are insane.

 
At 9/19/2012 9:26 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"At least this kid got away with his life"

Poor kid probably thought he was about to be eaten alive.

 
At 9/19/2012 9:29 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

2. "Patchwriting" is more common than plagiarism, and just as dishonest. I guess that's what happened to me, see recent CD post.

The problem with this is familiarity. In the case of political issues some conservatives have read the same authors and listen to the same commentators. It is hard for them to do much but rephrase the party line using similar terminology. The same is true of liberals and even libertarians and anarchists who all start with the same principles and use the same logic when making their arguments. If I write a commentary about Machiavelli it is hard for me not to sound a lot like Gifford Orwin or Harvey Mansfield or if I argue about Plato or Aristotle it is easy for me to be like Bloom or Pangle because I learned from them. If I attack their positions I am likely to use an argument that uses very similar terminology or language as Rothbard or Gordon because those are the authors that I found most convincing. It is difficult not to use similar language and identical terms if you are making the same point as a particular author that you may agree with even if your argument is unique and different.

I have no idea how universities will ever be able to police this properly or how they can avoid making errors and accuse people who are accused of the practice but did not engage in it directly.

 
At 9/19/2012 10:04 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

I recall turning in a paper, which was 100% original.

A new instructor, a gay guy, who just got his Ph.D from Cornell, told me this paper is so good I must of copied it.

I had to show him a similar paper from another econ class to prove it wasn't plagiarized.

Nonetheless, he gave me only a "B." I could've complained to the Chairman of the Econ Dept. However, the guy had too many problems already and I didn't want to get involved in any more of his "games."

 
At 9/19/2012 10:55 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

DeBeers will invade Russia for us.

 
At 9/20/2012 6:23 AM, Blogger Tim Worstall said...

6. Russia has vast new diamond field containing "trillions of carats," enough to supply global markets for next 3,000 years.

Industrial diamonds. Which usually sell for 20 cents a carat.

Probably not worth mining them when it's easier and cheaper to make them in a lab.

 
At 9/20/2012 8:03 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

One other link I'd like to add (but forgot about last night), if I may:

August foot traffic at retail stores and malls was up 12.3% from August 2011 and up 6.3% from July 2012.

This agrees well with the NSA Retail Sales (excl. Autos, Deflated) number that was released last Friday. August sales were 3.2% above the same month last year. Annual Retail Sales totaled an unprecedented $2.118 trillion, a gain of 2.6% from the same 12-month period last year.

While these numbers are preliminary, it does suggest that the consumer has fully recovered from the recession.

 
At 9/20/2012 8:20 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Universities can now use software and websites like "Turnitin," which generate "originality reports/scores" based on what percent of a writing sample is 100% original, and does not appear elsewhere.

A paper that contains a significant amounts of "patchwriting" would likely have a very low "originality score," even though that score would be higher than a simple "copy and paste."

 
At 9/20/2012 8:43 AM, Blogger Moe said...

What is “free” health care in Ireland (wife is from Ireland):

Under the Health Act (1970) all residents of Ireland qualify to receive services either under eligibility Category I or Category II(income based). Those falling within Category I are entitled to services without charge, other than for long-stay care in publicly funded facilities. Just under one third of the population today has this type of full eligibility. Those within Category II (or limited eligibility) incur some charges for services utilized.
Back when it was referred to as the “Celtic Tiger” – Ireland’s Category II recipients rose in number – now that is has stumbled - it is falling.

 
At 9/20/2012 8:49 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Moe-

Just so I understand you correctly:

Category I, no costs are incurred

Category II, some costs are incurred

Is that correct?

 
At 9/20/2012 9:08 AM, Blogger Moe said...

First off - no expert here! - just fundamentally familiar. Both categories do incurr costs - Category I costs primarily for long-stay care.

 
At 9/20/2012 9:17 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Ok, so if I was in Category I and just went for a simple check-up, I wouldn't pay anything.

But if I was Category II, and went for a simple check-up, I'd have to pay a co-payment or something like that?

Sorry for essentially asking the same question three times. I am just trying to make sure I understand this correctly.

 
At 9/20/2012 9:24 AM, Blogger Moe said...

You've got it. It's income-based if that helps frame it better. A lot of overhauls were in the midst of taking place when the Tiger morphed into a kitten - I think it's a bit messy right now!
(Nothing a pint of Guiness won't cure though.)

 
At 9/20/2012 10:20 AM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

"2. "Patchwriting" is more common than plagiarism, and just as dishonest. I guess that's what happened to me..."

The great irony is that the article would have gained stature by citing Professor Perry. The anonymous author was to too ignorant.

 
At 9/20/2012 2:27 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

One other link I'd like to add (but forgot about last night), if I may:

August foot traffic at retail stores and malls was up 12.3% from August 2011 and up 6.3% from July 2012.

This agrees well with the NSA Retail Sales (excl. Autos, Deflated) number that was released last Friday. August sales were 3.2% above the same month last year. Annual Retail Sales totaled an unprecedented $2.118 trillion, a gain of 2.6% from the same 12-month period last year.

While these numbers are preliminary, it does suggest that the consumer has fully recovered from the recession.


My turn. If we look at the reports from FedEx and UPS we find a problem with shipping volumes.

--FedEx says a weak economy drove a shift to non-premium services

--Volume in its priority international export segment was down 2%


There seems to be a correlation between Real GDP and FedEx package shipments.

Not only that but we have heard reports for a while that the use of jet fuel and gasoline is down.

 
At 9/20/2012 2:37 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Universities can now use software and websites like "Turnitin," which generate "originality reports/scores" based on what percent of a writing sample is 100% original, and does not appear elsewhere.

As I pointed out, people who read a lot of Galbraith will likely use similar phrases and terms. As such they are likely to get a low score even if their argument is different than the one that Galbraith would have given. The algorithms better be very good or they will accuse kids who are not doing anything wrong.

 
At 9/20/2012 3:41 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

There seems to be a correlation between Real GDP and FedEx package shipments.

Hm, that is an interesting correlation, but the relationship doesn't seem consistent. Sometimes Shipments lead GDP, sometimes they lag. There have been a number of false positives, though (shipments fall below year-ago levels, but GDP does not). Regardless, merits a follow up. Thanks!

 
At 9/20/2012 9:33 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

FedEx follow up:

Initial theory verified. Has descent correlation to Real GDP. No consistent relationship, though. Wish there was more than a decade of data. Would make finding a relationship easier. Oh well. Too many false positives to be a reliable economic indicator, though. Spends much to much time below zero when economy is growing.

That said, what does FedEx tell us? Possible slower growth in US economy coming. No surprise there. However, impossible to tell if recessionary or not from this indicator.

Conclusion: academic curiosity, nothing more.

 
At 9/20/2012 9:38 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

If we were using the FedEx data as an economic indicator, it indicated 5 recessions during the past decade. Only one of which it correctly called (2008).

That is a very poor track record if we are trying to use it as an economic indicator.

 
At 9/20/2012 10:03 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

That said, what does FedEx tell us? Possible slower growth in US economy coming. No surprise there. However, impossible to tell if recessionary or not from this indicator.

I like to look at the bigger picture instead of anything put out by the BLS or any particular company that may have its own issues. On that front the economy does not look very healthy, which is why the Fed panicked with QE3 to infinity.

Between the terrible labour market, the huge level of federal, state, and local debt, consumer debt, mortgage debt, etc., there are headwinds that will require to be overcome. The Fed tried but cannot succeed without killing the fiat currency. Then there is the big problem of foreign occupations and adventures that are bankrupting the country further. Not to mention the more than $100 trillion of debt plus unfunded liabilities that cannot be paid off by a $16 trillion annual GDP where the government workforce and government spending are such a huge part of the economy. The government has tried to kill off coal and subsidized renewable projects that cannot provide power. Utilities have bet on natural gas but the producers cannot supply it at current levels and utilities cannot make their usual profits at the break even price. And as everyone watches the infrastructure is beginning to crumble as water and sewer systems, the electrical grid, bridges, and pipelines are beginning to get past their useful lifetime.

Let me note that we are just one act of Saudi Arabian sabotage away from an explosion in energy prices or one contraction away from a collapse in energy prices. Food is going up as idiots in Congress fail to do what is right and cut off ethanol mandates and subsidies. Retail stores are closing down at a pretty good clip and there is a record number of people on food stamps and disability.

Other than that everything is fine.

 

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