Can Parking Direction Tell Us Anything About Company Morale?

A reader named Tim Wadlow writes in with an interesting theory:

I spent about 10 years as a operations management consultant, working with dirty, dull, and dangerous manufacturing companies.

After spending time at roughly 100 manufacturing locations around the world, I noticed an odd trend: the direction that employees parked in their parking spots highly correlated with employee morale and satisfaction with their jobs. Most of the cars parked forward? A good company to work for, with employees who want to get to work. Most cars backwards? It seems as though the moment that the employee got to work, he or she was planning a quick exit.

Next time you drive by a manufacturing company check it out.

Maybe CEO's should study Google Earth maps of their parking lots to determine if they are changing a companies culture?

NBA Fans Give the League a Predictable Present on Christmas

Before labor peace came to the NBA, it was not uncommon to hear stories that the lockout was going to negatively impact fan interest in the game (here is one example in this genre). The story basically went as follows:

1. Fans become angry when the games are taken away.
2. The longer fans go without games, the angrier they become.
3. Stay away too long and the angry fans will never come back.

This story actually gets repeated every time a labor dispute that taken away games in North American sports. And the story certainly seems plausible.

A few years ago, though, Martin Schmidt and I investigated the impact disputes have upon fan attendance; and much to our surprise (yes, we tended to believe the stories sports writers had told us for years) we failed to find an effect. Attendance in the major North American sports is not statistically impacted by labor disputes.

The Perils of Technology, iPad Edition

These days, I read a lot of books on an iPad 2 using the Kindle app. It is for the most part a very good experience, especially for recreational reading. As millions of others have noted, having an electronic device loaded up with a mini-library of e-books is especially valuable while traveling, which is when I do a lot of my reading.

The other day, on vacation with the family, I came across a pitfall. I was reading the old football novel North Dallas Forty (thanks to Henry for the suggestion, and all of you for other suggestions). It's pretty entertaining -- especially the race stuff and drug stuff. As it happened, my 9-year-old daughter was curled up beside me reading her book (The Doll People). She took at look at what I was reading. Her eyes immediately found a four-letter word.

The Perils of Drunk Walking (Ep. 55): Full Transcript

Jeremy Hobson: It’s Freakonomics time. Every two weeks we explore the hidden side of everything. Today, why the first decision you make in 2012 is riskier than you think. Here’s Stephen Dubner. Stephen Dubner: Happy New Year, everybody! Now, how are you getting home from that party? If you’re in New York City, where I live, good […]

One Man's Story of a Very Unwilling Bank

A reader we'll call H., who's in the rental-property business, writes in with a bizarre story about his bank. Assuming it is at least 60% true from both sides (his side and the bank's), what are we to make of this?

My partner and I were looking to obtain a small business loan. Our banker told us that loans are very hard to obtain because banks are being very stringent. Not like we were going to shut down without a loan, but we figured it could help us grow the business. So, in an effort to build credit (and a good relationship) for our business with a major U.S. bank, my partner and I proposed to our banker that we would give him $50,000 cash to hold onto and in return, have the bank loan us $50k for 5 years. Basically we were securing the loan with cash as collateral. This way, we could prove to the bank that we are a responsible business and were hoping that after this first loan, the bank will be willing to lend to us in the future with more favorable terms.

Should We Be Searching for Dinosaur Vomit?

Yes! That's the argument in a new Historical Biology paper called "A Call to Search for Fossilized Gastric Pellets." Here's the abstract:

Numerous extant carnivorous, piscivorous and insectivorous species – including birds, pinnipeds, varanid lizards and crocodiles and mammals – routinely ingest food combined with a high proportion of indigestible material that can be neither absorbed through digestion nor eliminated as faecal matter. Their solution is to egest the indigestible portion through the mouth as a gastric pellet. The status of gastric pellets in extant species is reviewed. Arguments based on phylogeny, anatomy and biomechanics strongly suggest that many extinct species, including crocodilians and pterosaurs, may also have produced gastric pellets routinely.

The Perils of Drunk Walking (Ep. 55)

In our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast, Stephen Dubner looks at why the first decision you make in 2012 can be riskier than you think. (Download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript.)

The risks of driving drunk are well-established; it's an incredibly dangerous thing to do, and produces massive collateral damage as well. So if you have a bit too much to drink over the holiday and think you'll do the smart thing and walk home instead -- well, that's not so smart after all. Steve Levitt has compared the risk of drunk walking with drunk driving and found that the former can potentially pose a greater risk:

Peyton Manning for President?

In Freakonomics, we wrote about how the black-white gap in America exists not only in vital matters like education, income, and health but in seemingly trivial matters like baby names and preferences in TV shows.

With that in mind, it's interesting to take a look at a new poll by Public Policy Polling (PDF; Yahoo! writeup) about Americans' football preferences. The headline finding is that the Green Bay Packers are now "America's team," with 22 percent of respondents listing the Packers as their favorite team. (I have a feeling that winning the Super Bowl last year and going 12-0 to start this season had a little something to do with that; let's see what the poll shows this time next year.) But PPP also asked the 700+ respondents their race, gender, and voting ideology, and it's interesting to see how the favorability rating of individual players varies.

A Pareto-Efficient Donut

In line at the Star$$ on campus, I got to chatting with Professor C just in front of me. She ordered a latte and bought the last of the delicious Star$$ cake donuts, which I had had my eye on. When I got to the order desk, I asked the barista (actually a male, so I guess a barister!) if he had any more in back. Professor C offered to split the donut with me, and I said OK, but I insisted on giving her $1, my share of its cost. She then said she prefers one-half donut to a whole donut anyway, and so do I. She gave the barister a $1 tip. Everyone was better off—a clear Pareto improvement compared to the situation where she got the donut, and the barister and I got nothing.

FREAK-est Links

1. NPR offers a taxonomy of online complainers; which kind are you?
2. The next sports book I'm dying to read; some background.
3. "Judicial Hellholes": Philadelphia tops the list. (HT: Ryan)
4. Carl Bialik on silly cocaine stats.