Sunday, July 31, 2016

"It’s almost like you’re paying to get out of jail" (paying for a service that lets you avoid TSA lines at the airport)

We all know that time is money and that there are things we would rather do than wait in the TSA line at the airport. So if the opportunity cost of your time is high, and you travel often, you might want to pay to avoid these lines.

See The Airport Security Shortcut That Isn’t PreCheck: Clear, a private trusted-traveler program, is expanding thanks to longer TSA lines and a Delta linkup by Scott McCartney of the WSJ. Excerpts:
"Would you pay $10 to $15 a month for a guaranteed cut to the front of some crowded airport security lines, even ahead of PreCheck members and first-class passengers?

Clear is a private trusted-traveler program sanctioned by the Transportation Security Administration. It has lanes at only 13 airports—San Francisco, Denver and Orlando, Fla., among them.

Once enrolled, members go to Clear’s faster lane instead of TSA and have their identity verified by fingerprint or iris scan. Then they go straight to the X-ray machine."

"Clear doesn’t do background checks. It verifies identity by checking passports or driver’s licenses, plus specific questions on past history similar to credit-application type queries. Enrollment can be done in a few minutes. Clear originally issued cards, but now just identifies members by the fingerprints, iris scans and photographs it collects.

At checkpoints, Clear employees verify identity, check boarding passes through TSA’s system, then carry the Clear member’s bags to the X-ray machine belt. All Clear members still go through physical screening.

The cost of such privilege is $179 a year, but Clear does offer discounts, such as a current $59 Groupon for a nine-month membership. Family members are $50 and children under 18 are free. Delta says it will offer free Clear memberships to its diamond-level frequent fliers shortly and discounted rates for all members of its SkyMiles frequent-flier program."

"Some travelers say the certainty of not having to wait in TSA lines at airports with a Clear station allows them to schedule more meetings on business trips or spend more time at the beach. They can show up at the airport only a few minutes before flights start boarding.

“It’s almost like you’re paying to get out of jail,” says John Ormesher, a Florida-based semiconductor distributor who travels frequently for business and pleasure and signed up for Clear in January 2015. He’s loved it so far. “As PreCheck has gotten more and more crowded, it really is nice, because if there are 25 or 30 or 50 people in a PreCheck line, we jump right ahead of all those folks,” Mr. Ormesher says."

"TSA monitors and inspects Clear but doesn’t share data. The agency says getting cleared by Clear only means you go to front of the travel document check line. At some airports, TSA lets travelers verified by Clear go right to screening. At others, TSA officers double-check boarding passes after Clear."

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Who wrote your potential love's online dating profile? (maybe they outsourced it to a professional who specializes in that)

By Danielle Braff of the Chicago Tribune. Output is greater when we all specialize and then trade. So maybe it should not be a surprise that people outsource the writing of their online dating profiles. Why not have an expert do it for you, freeing your time to do something else? Seems like Cyrano de Bergerac was ahead of his time.
"After responding to a Task Rabbit request, Dan Hirsch, a writer who's gay, became an OK Cupid ghostwriter for $55 per week, plus a $10 bonus for each woman who agreed to a date.

Hirsch, who is now an master of fine arts candidate in dramatic writing at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, was based in San Francisco at the time. He would sign into his client's profile, message potential matches for him and arrange first dates.

"His whole rationale was that he wanted to get to the part where he could meet in person as quickly as possible and that the messaging was a big time suck," Hirsch said.

It worked: His client met a match, though the relationship fizzled after a month.

At a time when people are outsourcing nearly everything, including putting together Ikea furniture, it's not surprising that they're outsourcing parts of their dating life.

"When my client told his girlfriend about his scheme, she seemed to appreciate him for what he was: a life hacker of sorts," Hirsch said.

But he's not the only one doing it, and if you're looking for a match online, you've probably been reading through plenty of profiles that weren't written by the person in the profile.

If the profile looked too good to be true, it probably was.

It may have been written by Lisa Hoehn, New York-based founder and CEO of Profile Polish, and author of "You Probably Shouldn't Write That: Tips and Tricks for Creating an Online Dating Profile that Doesn't Suck."

After conducting in-depth interviews with her clients and choosing and editing photos for their pages, she creates their profiles. Each week, she does between four and 10 profiles, and work has been steady since she launched her business in August 2013.

"A profile is your way to get your foot in the door with a potential match," Hoehn said. "It's all that you have to entice someone into talking to you.""

"Gandhi's company (Bela Gandhi, Chicago-based CEO of Smart Dating Academy) does complete online profile makeovers but draws the line at taking over the entire account, and it won't message anyone to score potential dates, though people have requested this many times.

She does help her clients learn how to date, though, and encourages everyone to take the process slowly, emailing and speaking with love interests over the phone before meeting them, just in case the person on the other end is a professional posing as a date."

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Unfairness of Unattractiveness

See The Unfairness of Unattractiveness by Julian Savulescu. He is the Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics Director, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford. Excerpt: 
"In the job market being attractive is advantageous. According to economist Daniel Hamermesh, an attractive man can earn, over a life time, $230,000 more than an unattractive one[1]. Attractive solicitors raise more money for charities[2].  Very attractive individuals are less likely to engage in criminal activities, whereas unattractive ones have higher propensity for crime[3]. Attractive criminals are punished less severely than unattractive ones[4].

Both children and adults judge attractive people to be more helpful, more intelligent, and more friendly than their unattractive counterparts[5].

Cute infants elicit stronger motivation for care-taking than less cute ones[6]. Moreover, cute infants are rated as most adoptable[7].

Adults have higher expectations of attractive kids compared to non attractive ones[8] and mothers of attractive infants tend to be more affectionate, playful, and attentive when interacting with their children than mothers of less attractive infants[9]. Teachers expect better performances from attractive students[10]. Transgressions of unattractive children are judged more negatively than transgressions of attractive ones[11].

Being attractive is also an advantage in romantic relationships[12] as there is a positive correlation  between physical attractiveness and dating [13][14]."
Here are some related posts:

Better Looking Real Estate Agents Make More Money
Do looks matter?
Do Good Looking People Get Better Loan Terms?
Do Looks Help In The Job Market? 
From The Life Is Not Fair Category: Better Looking, Tall, Thin People Make More Money

Friday, July 08, 2016

The unemployment rate rose to 4.9% in June from 4.7% in May (but other stats show no bad news)

See U.S. Job Growth Roars Back in June: The nation adds 287,000 jobs, the strongest month of hiring since last October, after a disappointing May. From the WSJ.

The percentage of 25-54 year olds employed is 77.8% for June. No change from May. It was 79.7% in December 2007 when the recession started. See Employment-Population Ratio - 25-54 yrs. from the BLS.

The percentage of the population (16 and up) employed is 59.6546% in June and was  59.6286% in May. So that was down slightly. See A-1. Employment status of the civilian noninstitutional population 16 years and over, 1981 to date from the BLS

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Odysseus Started The Industrial Revolution

Factory work may have been a commitment device to get everyone to work hard. Odysseus tying himself to the mast was also a commitment device. Dean Karlan, Yale economics professor explains how commitment devices work:
"This idea of forcing one’s own future behavior dates back in our culture at least to Odysseus, who had his crew tie him to the ship’s mast so he wouldn’t be tempted by the sirens; and Cortes, who burned his ships to show his army that there would be no going back.

Economists call this method of pushing your future self into some behavior a “commitment device.” [Related: a Freakonomics podcast on the topic is called "Save Me From Myself."] From my WSJ op-ed:
Most of us don’t have crews and soldiers at our disposal, but many people still find ways to influence their future selves. Some compulsive shoppers will freeze their credit cards in blocks of ice to make sure they can’t get at them too readily when tempted. Some who are particularly prone to the siren song of their pillows in the morning place their alarm clock far from their bed, on the other side of the room, forcing their future self out of bed to shut it off. When MIT graduate student Guri Nanda developed an alarm clock, Clocky, that rolls off a night stand and hides when it goes off, the market beat a path to her door."
 See What Can We Learn From Congress and African Farmers About Losing Weight?

Something like this came up recently in the New York Times, in reference to factory work and the Industrial Revolution. See Looking at Productivity as a State of Mind. From the NY Times, 9-27. By SENDHIL MULLAINATHAN, a professor of economics at Harvard. Excerpts:
"Greg Clark, a professor of economics at the University of California, Davis, has gone so far as to argue that the Industrial Revolution was in part a self-control revolution. Many economists, beginning with Adam Smith, have argued that factories — an important innovation of the Industrial Revolution — blossomed because they allowed workers to specialize and be more productive.

Professor Clark argues that work rules truly differentiated the factory. People working at home could start and finish when they wanted, a very appealing sort of flexibility, but it had a major drawback, he said. People ended up doing less work that way.

Factories imposed discipline. They enforced strict work hours. There were rules for when you could go home and for when you had to show up at the beginning of your shift. If you arrived late you could be locked out for the day. For workers being paid piece rates, this certainly got them up and at work on time. You can even see something similar with the assembly line. Those operations dictate a certain pace of work. Like a running partner, an assembly line enforces a certain speed.

As Professor Clark provocatively puts it: “Workers effectively hired capitalists to make them work harder. They lacked the self-control to achieve higher earnings on their own.”

The data entry workers in our study, centuries later, might have agreed with that statement. In fact, 73 percent of them did agree to this statement: “It would be good if there were rules against being absent because it would help me come to work more often.”"
The workers, like Odyssues, tied themselves to the mast to resist the temptation of slacking. This made it possible for factories to generate the large output of the Industrial Revolution.