Steal our Salt Shakers!

A number of years later, an accountant at Virgin Atlantic called me in to say people are stealing the salt and pepper pots and it’s costing millions a year. He said I had to change the design for one that people wouldn’t want to steal.

I remembered what we’d done with the Manor and said, let’s try this one idea first. On the bottom of our salt and pepper pots we wrote: ‘Stolen from Virgin Atlantic’. We got millions of free advertising as a result as they made people smile. We named them Wilbur and Orville after the Wright Brothers, who pioneered flight. People stole them and put them on their dinner table, and then when they had dinner parties it would spark a conversation about Virgin Atlantic.
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Maybe it’s time for our Economy Measurement Standards to Change: The Cost of Thriving in America Today

Alongside formal “inflation” and a technical “cost-of-living” measure that aims to hold constant absolute material consumption, an accurate depiction of economic trends would track a more dynamic basket of the things that a family would need to retain the financial security and social engagement typical of a flourishing middle class. Call it the “cost of thriving.” Much work could be done in constructing the most accurate possible measure or, more likely, a series of measures that accounts for regional and demographic differences. As a starting point and proof of concept, this paper offers a Cost-of-Thriving Index (COTI) that tracks how many weeks of the median male wage would be required in a given year to pay for a three-bedroom house, a health-insurance premium, a semester of public college, and the operation of a vehicle.

. . .

This report shows that his ability to do so has degraded dramatically. A generation ago, he could be confident in his ability to provide for his family not only the basics of food, clothing, and shelter but also the middle-class essentials of a comfortable house, a car, health care, and education. Now he cannot.

Oren Cass writing for

This week, an economist on Twitter shared this tweet as part of an argument, much to his derision:

Now, some parts make much more sense than that paragraph, but he still struggles:

In my opinion, whether a family has 1 earner or 2, all you have to do is talk to them to know that quality of life isn’t nearly the same as it was 30 years ago, 40 years ago, or 50 years ago. It’s not all economic, there are changes that have happened over the past 40 years especially that affect everything from childhood up, but economics certainly plays a large part.

Pluto is isn’t is isn’t is a planet!

It’s not just that only 424 of around 9,000 IAU members voted on the resolution, nor that hundreds of planetary scientists immediately petitioned against it.

It’s also that Pluto has its own multilayered atmosphere, organic compounds, weather, moons. It has landscapes – rocky mountain ranges and wide plains. It has avalanches, maybe plutoquakes, maybe even liquid oceans. And that the definition based on orbital clearing has no historical merit.

Scientists last year argued that a planet should be defined as an object that has become large enough to become a sphere. “It turns out this is an important milestone in the evolution of a planetary body, because apparently when it happens, it initiates active geology in the body,” explained planetary physicist Philip Metzger of the University of Central Florida.

MICHELLE STARR writing for ScienceAlert

Bourbon Street and the Cat’s Meow

Ever wish you could visit New Orleans without having to fight all the crowds? Well, with EarthCam, you can visit Bourbon Street and watch everything that’s happening without ever having to leave your chair. I recommend turning your volume down though. It’s loud!!!

A realistic look at the Coronavirus (spoiler: you’re probably going to get it at some point)

The Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch is exacting in his diction, even for an epidemiologist. Twice in our conversation he started to say something, then paused and said, “Actually, let me start again.” So it’s striking when one of the points he wanted to get exactly right was this: “I think the likely outcome is that it will ultimately not be containable.”

James Hamblin writing for The Atlantic

If a car dealer tells you to do this, don’t listen to him!

AnnaMaria Andriotis for Wall Street Journal

Roger Miller Medley

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