Actually, things just got very bust at work and there was some travel thrown in there too but I'm climbing back in the saddle and just wanted to give you all this little heads up since I think the posts are going to come fast and furious now for a while until I get my mental backlog cleared.
I said off topic but I didn't really mean it. If you haven't read the book Freakonomics, you should. I say this because the book is not so much about economics but about how to ask big questions of large data sets and get really interesting answers. I think that maybe our design of instructional environments might benefit from beig able to better ascertain why people act in certain ways.
All that being said, I currently have a serious hate on for one particular real estate agent and for the fee structure of that industry in general. This is a topic that Freakonomics has addressed multiple times. Leaving the particular agent out of the picture, here is a nice abstract from a paper referenced on the Freakonomics blog (the author is Mark S. Nadel):
"While real estate brokers have long set their fee as a straight
percentage of a home’s sale price, this formula is an anomaly and a
primary reason why such fees may be inflated by more than $30 billion
annually. Although competitive pressures ordinarily produce a fee
structure reflecting costs, real estate broker commissions are
strangely unrelated to either the quantity or quality of the service
rendered or even to the value provided. Rather, this fee has been based
solely on the price of the home. (It is as if tax preparers set their
fee as a flat percentage of a client’s gross income, irrespective of
how difficult the return was to prepare or how much their efforts saved
the taxpayer). Oddly, not only is there no evidence that it is any more
costly to sell higher-priced homes than median-priced properties, but
it is possible that the opposite may be true! Furthermore, the straight
percentage fee formula creates little incentive for real estate agents
to provide home buyers or sellers with additional value."
This is pretty cool. You can nominate someone who isn't using Firefox and if they download Firefox before September 15 2006, you will both be immortalized in the all-digital Firefox Wall. So it has to be someone who isn't using FF and by September 15. Not bad. My problem is that most of the people I know already use FF so if you don't and you want me to nominate you and you'd like to download and start using FF, let me know.
"The hallmark of revolution is that the goals of the revolutionaries cannot be contained by the institutional structure of the society they live in. As a result, either the revolutionaries are put down, or some of those institutions are transmogrified, replaced, or simply destroyed. We are plainly witnessing a restructuring of the music and newspaper businesses, but their suffering isn’t unique, it’s prophetic."