FREAK-est Links

This week, it's official: coffee helps women with depression, charting the world mood through Twitter; our gloomy consumer confidence levels over the last three years; a marijuana DNA database; how geo-thermal plants can help produce lithium for electric car batteries; and Harvard and Yale's endowments post killer returns.

Wanna Buy a Tony Award?

People give to charities for all kinds of reasons – some more noble than others. But one important motivation is recognition. If Yale mandated that it would only accept anonymous donations, its fundraising would be decimated.

There are a lot of different ways to garner public recognition. If I had 3 million bucks to throw around, I’d think long and hard about trying instead to buy myself a Tony Award. For as little as $200,000, you might be able to purchase an 8% chance at winning a Tony.

Let me emphasize that this is at best a crude ballpark estimate. Over the last 5 years, 12.2 new plays have been produced on Broadway each year. For a play, which generally runs about $2.5-3 million these days, my friend Jack Thomas at Bulldog Theatrical tells me you can usually find yourself among those listed above the title for about $200,000. Some investors split this minimum ante and put up or raise just $100,000 each and get listed as Bulldog Theatrical / Cantab Theatrical.

Freakonomics in the Times Magazine: Monkey Business

Dubner and Levitt are writing a new monthly column in the New York Times Magazine. The column, like their book, is called "Freakonomics." The first installment, "Monkey Business," concerns a young Yale economist who is teaching capuchin monkeys to use money. Read this post for bonus matter.