Reader Tim Kelly sends in photo from a store in Lombard, Illinois:
As Tim writes:
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I spotted an interesting sign while out Christmas shopping the other day. The sign stated the company’s “breakage policy,” where any broken item must be bought, but that the store will only charge half price on the broken item. The sign continued offered to repair the broken item, free of charge (I confirmed the free repairs from the shop owner, as it is not explicitly stated in the sign).
The sign was located on a mall kiosk selling Christmas ornaments. I imagine breakage is a big issue for such a shop, as their product is relatively fragile and are highly enticing to bored kids stuck Christmas shopping with their parents.
My initial instinct upon seeing the sign was that this policy seemed to be inviting people to game the system.
First there was “peak oil“; now there’s “peak farmland.” But it’s not what you think. Reuters reports that a group of scientists from the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University just released a report detailing their findings:
The amount of land needed to grow crops worldwide is at a peak and an area more than twice the size of France can return to nature by 2060 due to rising yields and slower population growth, a group of experts said on Monday.
The report, conflicting with U.N. studies that say more cropland will be needed in coming decades to avert hunger and price spikes as the world population rises beyond 7 billion, said humanity had reached what it called “Peak Farmland.”
“Happily, the cause is not exhaustion of arable land, as many had feared, but rather moderation of population and tastes and ingenuity of farmers,” says Jesse Ausubel, the study’s lead author.
This is a transcript of the Freakonomics Radio podcast “The House of Dreams.” [MUSIC: Nicholas Tremulis; “Juju’s Farewell” (from Little Big Songs)] Stephen J. DUBNER: You know what I love? I love a good boomerang story. What’s a boomerang story, you say? All right, here, I’ll tell you one; this one’s about the price of horse manure. […] Read More »
As Republicans and Democrats continue to bicker about spending and taxes, the Onion has stepped in with an excellent plan for averting a fiscal crisis:
STEP ONE: Eliminate school breakfast and lunch programs, Medicaid, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, Medicare, PBS, New Mexico, elk, the Coast Guard, and all dams.
And, our favorite, Step Three:
STEP THREE: Eliminate federal prison system by converting U.S. territory of Guam into an unsupervised penal colony known as “The Gauntlet.”
1. The hyperlink as a microtransaction of trust.
2. Money-back guarantees in the NBA: The Phoenix Suns to give money back if fans don’t have fun. (HT: V. Brenner.)
3. Fifty Shades of Grey gives all Random House employees $5,000 bonuses.
4. An interview with George Mitchell, the man who innovated fracking.
5. Felix Salmon explains the fiscal cliff with Legos and toys.
Our motto has always been “friends don’t let friends walk drunk.” We might have to add texting to that list. A new paper from BMJ Group shows that walking and texting is really not a good idea. The study looked at more than 1,000 pedestrians in Seattle, and found texting to be a particularly troublesome distraction:
Texters took almost two seconds (18%) longer to cross the average junction of three to four lanes than those who weren’t texting at the time.
And they were also almost four times more likely to ignore lights, to cross at the middle of the junction, or fail to look both ways before stepping off the curb.
In a country where more than 4,000 pedestrians are killed each year in traffic accidents, it seems sensible to do what we can to decrease our chances. The authors write:
Individuals may feel they have “safer use” than others, view commuting as “down time,” or have compulsive behaviors around mobile-device use. … Ultimately a shift in normative attitudes about pedestrian behavior, similar to efforts around drunk-driving, will be important to limit the … risk of mobile-device use.
This is a transcript of the Freakonomics Radio podcast “Have a Very Homo Economicus Christmas.” Kai RYSSDAL: Time now for “Freakonomics Radio”. It is that moment every couple of weeks where we talk to Stephen Dubner, the coauthor of the books and the blog of the same name. It is, yes, yes, it is the hidden side of […] Read More »
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As part of a broader study of the online presence of parties, party leaders, and Presidential candidates in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S., I tested whether and how rapidly their staffs responded to two types of emails (sent from separate fictitious accounts in the official language of each country): one asking for their positions on taxes (a cross-cutting issue that should not strongly differentiate between different types of parties), the other pledging to be willing to volunteer for them and asking for directions on how to do so. Emails were sent in the two weeks prior to national elections between 2007 and 2010 to a total of 142 parties and candidates. The results speak volumes to the lack of responsiveness among political actors: excluding automated responses, only one in five emails received a reply within one business day.