Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I don't only read the NYT...

If I have more than 15 minutes available, I read my igoogle headlines. Today was a great day for my google reader feeds:

First, there's completely ridiculous marketing by ethanol makers. I remember writing a paper in 2004 for my Environmental Analysis class saying that ethanol was a bunch of subsidy-dependent hype that was, if not worse, at least not better for the environment. Public opinion is starting to catch up, and ethanol lobbyist are trying to reframe the debate: the claim is now, well we may not be better than conventional oil, but we're sure better than shale oil! Give me a break.

Next came an article in the Washington Post on email signatures that is surprisingly aware of good study design:
Brownstein asked his research team, StrategyOne, to catalogue the most common e-mail closing lines with an online poll. (The sample of about a thousand Internet users came from a nonrandom pool of respondents, so these numbers are rather more food for thought than hard data.)
Major credit to the Post writers/editors on that one.

Finally, the Freakonomics blog links to a time article on the 50 worst cars of all time. And Steven Levit shares an amazing anecdote:
In talking with an auto executive a few years back, I got some insight into how disasters like this happen. I asked this auto executive how his company decided between the 10 or 15 concept cars that the design teams proposed.
His answer: The five most senior executives at the company looked over the possible vehicles and picked the ones they liked best!
If that's true, it's completely out of this world, especially compared to how Google makes decisions.

The list of cars is impressive, and includes this gem. A 1986 version of the H2, which really got me thinking about the similarities between the eighties and aughts -- high oil prices, low growth, out of control financial markets, and a financial/real estate crisis at the end of the decade. Will the teens now be another period of low oil prices and high growth?

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