Tag Archive: economics

CDs and DVDs Not Worth Stealing

It seems that in Britain, burglars aren’t bothering to steal CDs and DVDs.  Why?

The reason is the falling value of physical media products. The average price of a CD album in Britain fell from £10.77 to £7.32 between 2001 and 2010, according to the BPI, a trade group—almost a halving, in real terms. And the dishonest get their music and films free, via the internet. DVDs are under pressure not just from piracy but also from video-on-demand services.

Instead they’re stealing computers, purses, jewelry, and anything else that has greater value.  Technology has disrupted traditional thievery as well.

How companies can save money and “go green(er)” by simply lowering the air conditioning in data centers.

AdBlock Plus to Allow Ads

In a strange turn-about, AdBlock Plus will now allow “acceptable ads.”  Why?

Starting with Adblock Plus 2.0 you can allow some of the advertising that is considered not annoying. By doing this you support websites that rely on advertising but choose to do it in a non-intrusive way. And you give these websites an advantage over their competition which encourages other websites to use non-intrusive advertising as well. In the long term the web will become a better place for everybody, not only Adblock Plus users. Without this feature we run the danger that increasing Adblock Plus usage will make small websites unsustainable.

It’s an interesting idea.  It allows users to support their favorite sites, without having to deal with obnoxious advertisements.  This also encourages sites to only choose these acceptable or not-obnoxious ads.

(hat tip: Linear Fix)

P is for Pandora

Pandora is “the first Silicon Valley consumer Internet company to join the exclusive one-letter stock ticker symbol club.

So You Can Steal Live Wires Too

Thieves are now stealing live wires in Antioch, California off of the power lines… some of which were live.  So much for the original plans.

First, the triumph of private property in West Bengal, India:

The [Communist Party of India-Marxist] CPI-M won Bengali hearts and minds through “Operation Barga” in 1978 that awarded tenancy rights to poor sharecroppers (called “bargadars”) who tilled farms.  .  .  .

This was not full land reform, since the tenants did not gain ownership rights. Yet the Communists’ move to record and hand bargadars certificates of tenancy represented real progress. It expanded farm productivity, as well as sharecroppers’ freedom. Rights to tenancy also raised expectations of full property rights some day.  .  .  .

In truth, the Communists never planned to grant full property rights, and not just because it violated a fundamental tenet of their ideology. Operation Barga was designed to leave villagers politically beholden to the party. Awarding title, so a bargadar could one day sell his land and move on, would have defeated the strategy.  .  .  .

The combination of partial land reform and complete political control came back to haunt the Communists in the past decade. By 2001, the fruits of capitalism had started to become apparent, especially at the state level where chief ministers competed for investment and jobs.

As people began to see these fruits of private property, the power of the Communists declined and eventually they were defeated.  Private property allowed the people of West Bengal to succeed.

Second, the failure of Salamanca, NY:

In a valley that curves along the Allegheny River is a tract of land built on opportunity, greed and the bureaucratic nightmare of being one city in two nations.

According to state and local authorities, Salamanca is the only U.S. city on an Indian reservation.  .  .  .

Acts of Congress in 1875, 1890 and 1990 created a landlord-tenant relationship between the Seneca Nation and Salamanca’s homeowners and businesses.

Homeowners and businesses occupied their properties in accordance with a 99-year lease originally granted by the Seneca Nation in 1892. It expired on Feb. 19, 1991 .  .  .  15 property “owners” eventually were evicted by the Seneca Nation.

Today, shabbiness blankets what could be a quaint river town, a state park and a national forest. Garish “Nation-owned” cigarette outlets and gas stations produce a city drawn by Norman Rockwell but touched up by Jackson Pollock.  .   .  .

The result, in Salamanca as elsewhere, is sweeping, perhaps irreversible, economic and social devastation.

By contrast, here in the United States, the failure to enact private property reforms has seemingly doomed this unique city.

In a counter-intuitive move, the City of Sacramento, California is keeping its lights on all day to save money by deterring thieves from stealing the copper wire.


The city now figures keeping them turned on will save money, by warding off copper thieves; keeping the lights on mean live wires, and the unlucky thief who doesn’t know better could be electrocuted.

.  .  .  .

“I believe these are 200 volts, and that would hurt,”

Maybe they could use LED lights or some other method to keep costs down.

Attached are the term paper and the presentation slides for Sustainable Energy at Rutgers.

Sustainable Energy Paper


Star Trek Economics

This article gives an in-depth picture of the use of money in the Star Trek universe.  “Gene Roddenberry had a rule — one of those rules that the scriptwriters of Star Trek had to know and follow: in the Federation there is no money, period!”

Of course, money almost certainly has to exist.  Trade is frequently portrayed throughout the show, and real-life societies have failed to come up with a functioning money-free society.

Even in the future, in a time of plenty, the laws of economics continue to exist.

Symbian Closes Its Source Code

Nokia seemed to be making the right move when it opened the source code to the Symbian operating system, which runs on a large number of cell phones and handheld devices.  So when they announced that they were closing their code, the natural question was: Why?

Nokia never reaped the benefits that they wanted from their Open Source strategy.  Nokia was hoping that by opening up the code, other hardware manufacturers and the user community would do the heavy lifting of porting the software to new hardware.

But to get other people to contribute their work, you need an advantage for them as well. What can this advantage be? For Eclipse, most of the companies developing their own integrated development environment (IDE) found it economically sensible to drop their own work and contribute to Eclipse instead. It allowed them to quickly reduce their maintenance and development costs while increasing their quality as well. The Symbian foundation should have done the same thing, but apparently missed the mark, despite having a large number of partners and members. Why?

The reason is time and focus. The Eclipse foundation had, for quite some time, basically used only IBM resources to provide support and development. In a similar way, it took WebKit (which is not quite a foundation, but follows the same basic model) more than two years before it started receiving substantial contributions[.]

(Carlo Daffara)

Also compare Symbian’s Open Source history to that of Mozilla.  After Netscape launched the Mozilla foundation it took years of effort for the critical mass to arise.  Evidently, Nokia had no interest in putting in this same level of effort.

Additionally, Symbian had a disadvantage when compared to some of these other projects. Android is open, mobile, relatively easy to port to new hardware, and increasingly ubiquitous.  Large hardware manufacturers have dumped Symbian in favor of Android.  Google understood the importance of the Open Source community and embraced it.

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