“The first thing you learn in advertising is that nobody wants to read your shit.” According to Steven Pressfield’s latest book Nobody wants to read your sh*t, that fundamental lesson applies to all forms of writing, not just ads. Pressman’s excellent book, however, is full of simple rules designed to help writers tell stories that people will want to read. His book is full of practical pointers for writing ad copy, movie scripts, and works of fiction as well as non-fiction. Here’s one helpful excerpt (p. 81): Continue reading
Why are concessions like popcorn and candy bars so expensive at movie theaters? Is it due to price discrimination (the standard economic answer), to discrete-discontinuous demand (see this paper by Ricard Gil and Wesley Hartmann), to differentials in ticket prices (see chapter 4 of Richard McKenzie’s book on pricing puzzles), or to high clean up costs (the answer the economist Eric Helland once gave me)? Also, if economists cannot agree on the solution to this simple puzzle, what does this say about economics as a discipline? Bonus Question: Why is the popcorn sold at movie theaters so bad? Read more about this puzzle here (via Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution) and here (via Natasha Geiling at The Smithsonian).
Update (6/17): The judge in the Bill Cosby case declared a mistrial. (If the jury had been able to engage in range voting instead (see below), there would have been no chance of a deadlock in the first place.)
The jury in the Bill Cosby case is still deadlocked after a full week of deliberations. It doesn’t have to be this way. We present a simple method for breaking deadlocked juries in our 2015 paper “Why don’t juries try range voting” (Guerra-Pujol, Criminal Law Bulletin, Vol. 51, no. 3 (2015), pp. 682-692). Briefly, instead of requiring jurors to vote all-or-nothing, i.e. “guilty” or “not guilty,” we would replace this binary tradition with a more nuanced range voting procedure. Specifically, we would let jurors score or rate the prosecution’s case on a scale of 0 to 10. Under our range voting proposal, with a twelve-man jury the highest possible score the prosecution could receive would be a perfect 120, while the lowest possible score would be 0, and the defendant would be found guilty only if the sum of the juror’s individual scores exceed a certain threshold, say 100.
Via our favorite website Marginal Revolution, we learned that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos wants to become a philanthropist now. Here is an excerpt from Bezos’s “request for ideas” (via Twitter):
I’m thinking about a philanthropy strategy that is the opposite of how I mostly spend my time — working for the long term. * * * I’m thinking I want much of my philanthropic activity to be helping people in the here and now — short-term — at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact. If you have ideas, just reply to this tweet with the idea (and if you think this approach is wrong, would love to hear that too).
As our friend and colleague Robin Hanson might say: philanthropy is all about signaling how great the philanthropist is. If wealthy bros like Bezos (or Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg) really want to do the most good for the most people, they would start another (for-profit) new business venture.