Archives for culture



Recession Culture: And Bring My Slippers, Too

If cigars were the big-money culture item of the booming 1990′s, and ever-larger SUVs and McMansions were the status symbols of the mid-2000′s, maybe it makes sense that we’re wrapping ourselves in Snuggies as the recession sets in. Read More »



What Accounts for the Difference in Autorickshaw Driver Behavior in Mumbai and Delhi?

A reader named Abhishek Rawat writes in to describe, and then solve, a puzzle he has noticed in his native India:

In India all major cities have public transport vehicles called autorickshaws. They are mounted on three wheels, operate on very low horsepower, and have a center of gravity that allows them to swivel in impossible twists around the traffic. In short, they’re the perfect transportation vehicle for people who do not have a personal transport and do not wish to take the bus.

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A Beet Paradox

Photo: Darwin Bell Beets are the new broccoli. Or at least they will be after Obama takes office on January 20, as the president-elect recently revealed his distaste for this vitamin-laden root vegetable. And Obama is not alone: Even as beet salads have become popular in trendy eateries, most American kids I know also reject […] Read More »



Who Are the Outlaws? A Freakonomics Quorum

Photo: soundfromwayout By now it’s a common phrase: “When X are outlawed, only outlaws will have X.” The X has been filled in by, among others: guns, perfume bottles, and Wonderbras. But who are the modern-day outlaws? Do we still have outlaws or did they die off with the last of the frontier towns — […] Read More »



The Economic Consequences of My Dislike for Blutwurst

Blutwurst was on the menu last night at the local restaurant where we ate. Yuck! And I imagine most Americans would agree. They would also agree about Vegemite, Scotch eggs (probably the single worst food I ever made the mistake of eating), and gusanos fritos. No doubt we can think of examples from many countries’ […] Read More »



"We Are a Great Nation of Pie Eaters"

Pity the poor pasty. As if it weren’t bad enough that Anglo-illiterate writers don’t know the thing exists (and need to be set straight by proper stewards of the mother tongue), the traditional Cornish pasty has suffered because of copycats and counterfeiters. Photo taken from The Cornish Pasty Association According to the BBC, pasty makers […] Read More »



Keep the Cheap Wine Flowing

I blogged last week about blind wine tastings — my own casual experiments as well as some more serious academic ones. The bottom line is that in blind wine tastings, there is a zero or even slightly negative correlation between the ratings of regular people and the price of the wine they are drinking; for […] Read More »



Cheap Wine

I spent three years at Harvard in the Society of Fellows. I had no obligations there except to spend my Monday nights eating fancy meals in the company of some of the world’s most brilliant thinkers: Nobel Prize-winning scientist Amartya Sen, philosopher Robert Nozick, etc. Dinner was always accompanied by expensive wine from the society’s […] Read More »