This is not what you expect to hear in the middle of an economics podcast. However, Episode 308 of Planet Money: Keynes vs. Hayek, has an interesting look at John Maynard Keynes going beyond the strong economic role he advocated for the public sector. It’s fun to hear how Keynes was something of an Oscar Wilde figure.
Oh, and you also get to hear about the Keynes versus Hayek economic policy differences. ;)
When Michael Bay releases his re-make of “The Graduate” with a virtual Ms. Robinson, the line, “One word: Plastics!” will be updated to “3d printing.”
Being able to make variable density structural supports takes 3d printing beyond nifty and into this-is-the-way-the-future-is-going-to-work!
Keating uses the example of a palm tree compared to a typical structural column. In a concrete column, the properties of the material are constant, resulting in a very heavy structure. But a palm tree’s trunk varies: denser at the outside and lighter toward the center. As part of his thesis research, he has already made sections of concrete with the same kind of variations of density.
I’m listening to the 4th Graders Read A Credit Card Agreement episode of NPR’s Planet Money podcast. In it, the hosts discuss the how eye-roll-back-in-your-head complex credit card agreements and notices are. Is it really necessary to make them so complicated? Is it even possible to make legal notices simpler?
Of course the second one is easier to read. It is broken down into clear sections with nice signposts to tell the reader what s/he is looking at. Now, here is the question. Are your fee agreements and other documents more like the first set notice, or the second?
I was listening to Martin Seligman at the RSA talking about positive psychology. His discussion of the causes of suicide (a lack of meaning in daily activities) dovetailed with an earlier discussion on the Suicide Paradox from Freakonomics. Two bits that stuck with me from the Freakonomics episode was that suicide rates increase as standards of living rise and that the time from the suicidal impulse to the suicidal action is often as short as two to five minutes.
I know, this doesn’t sound very “happy” so far. The RSA lecture made me look up more of Martin Seligman’s presentations and I came across the TED.
Plastic in durable goods from electronics to appliances generally are not recycled. This TED discusses the current “solutions” to the the amount of plastics being used: including third world sorting and burning. Mark Biddle presents large scale technologies to recycle these plastics back into usable basic plastic pellets that can be used again in many industries (not just faux wood benches and the like).
How do you fix the United States education system and not go broke? Here are some interesting takes on customized education.
The Freakonomics Podcast episode “How Is a Bad Radio Station Like the Public School System?” focuses on the “School of One,” a New York City pilot program in elementary schools trying to eliminate the one-size-fits-all factory model in education. Instead of a teacher providing one instruction method to all the students in the class, instruction and advancement is highly individualized:
The classroom is divided into smaller groups based on different teaching methods.
Large group live instruction
Small group live instruction
Small group virtual tutoring
Small group collaboration
Independent virtual instruction
Students elect their own training method. And, this is not a hippy-dippy “let’s have class outside” feel good and don’t worry about results program. This is more objective based than any school I have every heard of: Read the rest of this entry »
Here is a fascinating TED presentation from economics writer Tim Harford defending trial and error methods of arriving at solutions. Harford specifically compares expert solutions to trial and error methods at arriving at solutions to complicated problems.
Why is this important? Many problems do not have solutions that are black and white. We are not asking what is 3 + 4. Instead we are asking how do we create the most effective vaccine? Or, for business people what is the most effective pitch.
Harford suggests the best method for arriving at an answer is to try as many possible solutions as is practical and then iterate with the best ones.
It’s a fine argument is favor of the fail faster philosophy. Give it a watch.