Weekend Update

Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

I was already planning to take Monday off, but then I looked at our flight schedule for this evening and realized that I probably will want to sleep in tomorrow morning. That may be true Tuesday as well, but those flights aren't quite as late. We're on a two-legged flight each way -- with a two-year old and a two-month-old in tow.

I won't post over the holiday weekend, but I'll check for email and comments now and then.

In any event, I wish you a happy Labor Day. I'll see you back here again Tuesday or Wednesday. Now, without further ado...

Friday Four

1. It sounds like more trouble than it's worth, but a man in England has found a way to make money off telemarketers:

In November 2011 Lee Beaumont paid £10 plus VAT to set up his personal 0871 line - so to call him now costs 10p [per minute], from which he receives 7p.

The Leeds businessman told BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme that the line had so far made £300.
To crunch some numbers: 300 pounds * (100 pence/pound) * (1 minute/7 pence) * (1 hour/60 minutes) = over 71 hours spent entertaining unplanned intrusions into his time at home.

While Beaumont's solution wouldn't work for me even if that kind of line were available here, it does suggest a free market solution to the problem of unwanted cold calls. If enough people had lines like Beaumont's (or people had the option to accept a call free or charge per minute upon answering), telemarketing would become a much more expensive proposition, due to the volume of calls it requires.

2. There is a story at Slate about the blizzard of negative media coverage Yahoo's CEO, Marissa Mayer, has received since joining the ailing Internet giant from Google. Call me a contrarian, but I am inclined to like her after reading the following:
... Mayer has gotten more criticism in one year as Yahoo CEO than Microsoft's Steve Ballmer did in 10. Most recently she's caught flack for posing for a high-fashion Vogue spread (accompanying a feature written by Jacob Weisberg, chairman and editor-in-chief of the Slate Group). She's been taken to task for "suffering from gender blindness" and for exhibiting a "princess" problem in refusing to "own up to her own ambition." And in this much-talked-about Business Insider piece by Nicholas Carlson, Mayer is portrayed as "robotic, stuck up, and absurd in her obsession with detail," at least according to her "many enemies within her industry"--some of whom Carlson evidently interviewed for his 19,000-word "unauthorized biography." With section titles like "Questions persist," "Mayer goes missing," " 'Who is this woman and what is she actually saying?' " and (gasp!) "In the middle of all this, a baby," the piece reeks of sour grapes from those she bested. [links dropped]
The article points out, among other things, that employee morale has improved greatly at Yahoo under Mayer's leadership.

3. It is always nice to see progress in my young daughter's grasp of language, however incremental it might seem to a non-parent. A couple of days ago, a dog barked as I was helping her into the car. "I heard a dog," she said. Notice the indefinte article. Nice.

4. As someone who finds sitting for long periods of time uncomfortable, I have had an interest in standing desks for some time. I even experiment with working while standing when I have the chance. (I will adopt a setup that easily permits standing or sitting when time/space/funding line up to permit it.)

That said, and in light of recent media hype about the alleged deadliness of sitting for long periods, I was intrigued and amused when I saw the following pair of links posted to Hacker News: " What Happens When You Stand for 2 Years", and "What Happens When You Sit at a Desk for 13 Years -- And Actually Exercise".

A math and science blogger I follow chimes in with an interesting post, too: "Standing Desks Considered Harmful".
I don't know how much to make of Dr. Hedge's remarks. I take most fitness studies with a grain of salt (which, by the way, some studies are saying isn't bad for you after all). But it makes sense that it's probably best not to sit all day or stand all day but to alternate your time sitting, standing, walking, and even spending some time in a hammock. [link in original]
I wonder if, in his parenthetical remark, John Cook might have been thinking about the work of John Ioannidis.

Weekend Reading.

"Wanting what you can't have is the easy way out." -- Michael Hurd, in "Wanting What You Cannot Have" at The Delaware Coast Press

"If you feel you have no choice but to rush, then something else is probably wrong." -- Michael Hurd, in "Rushing: What's the Point?" at The Delaware Wave

"The federal government considers it appropriate to spend $134,000 on screening mammography to save a single woman -- but not $190,000." -- Paul Hsieh, in "How Much Will Your Life Be Worth Under Obamacare?" at Forbes

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

HI Gus,

Here's another way to profit from telemarketers.


I'm conflicted by this. It's hardly benevolent but it IS a comic masterpiece.

c. andrew

Gus Van Horn said...

I think I'd seen or heard this before, but had completely forgotten about it. Turns the tables, that prank does.