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wasoxygen




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Hubski doesn't accept PayPal but MSF does.

My employer was in the "matching donor" list so I might be able to hustle the boss to kick in too.

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Amazon's New Customer | Stratechery

I sometimes get the feeling that Amazon is always a step ahead of us.

Why Amazon is eating the world says it is not just the switch to online retail, nor the astonishing growth in Prime memberships, reaching more than half of U.S. households.

Hm, I just downloaded an Order History Report and see I have spent more than $100 on Amazon shipping for each of the past seven years running. I blanch at the thought of paying money for the privilege of shopping, but we use the Costco Executive 2% reward check to pay for our Costco Executive membership, so I should do what the math says. Oh wait, the free shipping promotion was in a separate column. Subtracting that out, I have never paid $100 for Amazon shipping in one year, I pay about $47 in an average year, including to third-party sellers.

Why are so many people paying for Prime?

Anyway, the reason Amazon is winning is because of its extreme dogfooding.

    each piece of Amazon is being built with a service-oriented architecture, and Amazon is using that architecture to successively turn every single piece of the company into a separate platform — and thus opening each piece to outside competition.

    While there are usually some compelling cost savings to be had from vertical integration (either through insourcing services or acquiring suppliers/customers), the increased margins typically evaporate over time as the “supplier” gets complacent with a captive, internal “customer.”

    Amazon has committed to this idea at a granular level. Even when it comes to services that can’t be sold, Amazon is still making a push to expose the services externally. The perfect example of this is Amazon’s Marketplace Web Service (MWS) API — this is the set of services that Amazon Marketplace sellers can use to programmatically exchange data with Amazon. Amazon built out a service that they call the “Subscriptions API,” which gives the seller instant notification of any price change by any competitor — including Amazon itself!

Also, forget about the drones, Amazon now has an aircraft fleet.

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: What happened when Walmart left

Caplan might be counting the palatability of public assistance as one of the "other things equal" when comparing the effect of a public benefit on Walmart salaries. I don't know how much of a factor such shame is.

    Some parents, she said, don’t encourage their children academically, and even actively discourage them from doing well, because they view disability as a “source of income,” and think failure will help the family receive a check.

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    And if you have a floor amount of money where it is 'worth it' to take a job and dedicate your time to employment, then Wal-Mart benefits from that floor being otherwise occupied by government programs.

I disagree (though I thought the same way before the Salary Quiz conversation).

Say my floor is $2000 per month to work part time at Walmart. Anything less than that is not worth the trouble and I won't work at Walmart at all.

Say a new benefit appears that gives me $500 per month. Does my floor now change to $1500? No. It's the same miserable work and I demand the same $2000 to do it. The extra $500 makes me more comfortable than I was before. If I make any change at all, it will be to increase my floor, since I need the income from Walmart a little less now.

I think the right way to take palatability into consideration is to estimate a shame cost. If I have to choose between rubbing a magic lantern every month to get $500 or applying for a government benefit for $500, I'll take the lantern. Even if the lantern only gives me $450, I'll choose the lantern. But if the lantern payoff drops to $250, I'll swallow my pride and get on the dole.

So what appears to be a $500 public benefit is only worth $250 to me. It is still a benefit, and it still has the effect of increasing my wage floor for working at Walmart.

Therefore, if I ask myself

"If I was in charge of Wal-Mart, would I encourage a social pressure [against accepting public assistance]..."

it's clear that I would encourage such social pressure, because it reduces the value of the "competition" from public benefits. If that pressure is sufficiently large, it will completely eliminate the value of the alternative form of income. Then we are back where we started, before the benefit was introduced, and my wage floor is back to $2000.

While searching for help with a module error I got invited to Google foobar, which sounds like something that will keep me distracted for a while.

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: What happened when Walmart left

    Wal-Mart is a good example of government making their low prices possible by offering social welfare programs for their workers, which allows their workers to be paid less and still maintain a sustainable lifestyle.

We had some good discussion on this subject.

I ended up convinced that when a Walmart worker starts receiving benefits from a rich uncle (be it Uncle Sam or some other relative), that worker is less inclined to continue working at Walmart; if Walmart responds with any change it will be to make the job more attractive, such as raising salary or benefits.

How Welfare Hurts Walmart is a short argument from a source you may sympathize with.

Public Assistance, Private Subsidies and Low Wage Jobs is a long argument from a minimum wage advocate.

Both point out that the Earned Income Tax Credit is an exception: it is a benefit that requires having a job, giving more incentive to work. But other benefits not tied to employment reduce the incentive to work. When people have less incentive to work, employers must sweeten the pot.

    But what about other programs like food stamps or housing assistance? These means tested public assistance programs are not tied to work, and we should not expect them to lower wages. Let’s take food stamps, which are available to eligible families whether or not a family member works or not. Indeed, when people are not working, they are more likely to be eligible for food stamps since their family incomes will be lower. Therefore, SNAP is likely to raise, and not lower a worker’s reservation wages—the fallback position if she loses her job. This will tend to contract labor supply (or improve a worker’s bargaining position), putting an upward pressure on the wage. Whether or not wages are increased is an empirical matter: there is evidence that the initial roll-out of the food stamps program across counties in the 1970s lowered work hours, consistent with an increase in the reservation wage. The key point is that it is difficult to imagine how food stamps would lower wages. And if they don’t lower wages, they can’t be thought of as subsidies to low wage employers.
wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Regulating poop

In Praise of Extreme Medicine

    A rogue clinic in Tampa, however, provides the carefully sourced material and explains to patients how the procedure is done. Since the procedure is simple, lots of experimentation is going on which upsets some people.

    "Poop from an unscreened stranger could carry serious infections, like hepatitis or gonorrhea, or dormant viruses."

    No doubt–this is why we also ban sex and french kissing.

    I suspect that many of the so-called treatments are crazy but people do a lot of crazy things. It’s odd that we allow some crazy things and ban others—even more that the crazy things we allow are sometimes socially useless while the crazy things that we ban are sometimes socially valuable.

    The case for banning extreme sports, for example, is much stronger than the case for banning extreme medicine. Extreme sports don’t provide much benefit to the rest of humanity, other than some entertainment of questionable social value. Extreme medicine, on the other hand, has the potential to improve all our lives and at the very least is a useful warning about what not to do. Yet, extreme sports are lauded, or at least treated as mostly your own business (we do put some regulations on boxing and race car driving), while extreme medicine is heavily regulated and socially frowned upon.

I have seen that photo many times in online ads for health insurance. Cropped from a Getty image with all licensing in order, no doubt.

Strangely, there is no mention of the pedal clips so conspicuous in the picture. Riders tell me pulling in the second half of the stroke makes a big difference in power, at the cost of flopping over a few times before you get used to clipping out before stops.

Another experience I haven't had is riding on a recumbent. They are so amazing they were banned from competition in 1934.

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Car Article Dump

I assume both YTD numbers represent January 1 to June 30 of each year. I was a bit confused by the "foreign" and "domestic" distinction, but it seems to indicate location of manufacture.

The order is kind of goofy too. Here's the ranking by June 2017 sales. Tesla is still among the boutique marques, but within striking distance of Volvo and Mitsubishi.

  GM       242,873

Ford 227,166

Toyota 202,376

Chrysler 184,089

Nissan 143,328

Honda 139,793

Kia 56,143

Hyundai 54,507

Subaru 52,057

Mercedes 32,102

BMW 28,962

VW 27,377

Mazda 22,342

Audi 19,416

Mitsubishi 7,625

Volvo 7,303

Land Rover 5,760

Porsche 4,516

Mini 4,410

Tesla 3,900

Jaguar 2,946

Fiat 2,242

Maserati 1,235

Alfa Romeo 1,017

Smart 226

Ferrari 218

Bentley 218

Rolls Royce 111

Lamborghini 102

Maybach 0

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Car Article Dump

The bitcoin enthusiast at work revealed that he is waiting for a Model 3. We have requested a lunch outing.

Tesla is moving up in the sales list. It is no longer unusual to see them around.

          YTD 2017  YTD 2016

BMW 149,086 153,436

Audi 102,971 96,934

Porsche 27,568 26,708

Tesla 23,550 16,500

Jaguar 20,665 10,991

Fiat 14,682 16,712

It took me a while to get through the long WaitButWhy love letter to Elon Musk but I didn't regret it.

I found out about this recently while fact-checking some guy who was trying to bring woolly mammoths back from the dead. He cited elephants' resistance to cancer as a justification for the research. "They have so many cells, but they don't get cancer!" Sounded like junk science, like the myth about sharks.

So it does make some sense ... if there is some small chance that a random cell will go crazy, having more cells would make anti-cancer apparatus advantageous. But mice get cancer too, right? The irresistibly-titled Splenda Reduces Cancer Rates In Some Mice reminds me that science is hard and suggests cancer rates over 60% are typical in mice. What's the smallest animal that gets cancer? When a single-celled organism multiplies as rapidly as possible, it's business as usual.

Pachyderm is a funny word. I guessed that it meant "rough skin" but was off: "mid 19th century: from French pachyderme, from Greek pakhudermos, from pakhus ‘thick’ + derma ‘skin.’" It refers to "a very large mammal with thick skin, especially an elephant, rhinoceros, or hippopotamus."

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: MNSKY THE ROBOT HELPS

Was that Sigourney Weaver doing the voiceover?

She gives instant gravitas to "Rakka."

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Horology's Easter Problem

Sotheby's Declines to Sell Patek Caliber 89

    The pre-sale estimate was $6.5 million to $10-million, and the bidding reached only $6.4-million. Since this was less than the reserve placed on the watch, Sotheby’s declined to sell it. Had the bid been accepted, it would have represented a final sale price, including buyer’s premium, of about $7.2-million.
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