Craigslist’s Dirty Little Secret

This piece is from 2007, so I wonder if this is still true.

Craigslist’s Dirty Little Secret

It’s no wonder that Craigslist is champion of the online classifieds revolution… Analysis of eight major American cities shows erotic services consistently garners the highest number of individual visitors for February — almost always twice as many as the next ranking category, averaging 265,000 people per city. Equally racy lists that consistently score high visitor volume are the section for casual encounters as well as personals for women seeking men. The most commonly frequented venue outside of this virtual red-light district? Cars for sale.

(via compete pulse)

Understanding human mobility with machine learning and a billion check-ins

Understanding human mobility with machine learning and a billion check-ins:

At foursquare, we believe there is a huge opportunity to apply machine learning algorithms to the collective movement patterns of millions of people and build new services which help people better understand and connect with places… In the slides below, we talk briefly about the data at foursquare and some interesting applications of machine learning. Enjoy!

Machine Learning and Big Data at Foursquare


(Via Foursquare Engineering Blog)

Microsoft COSMOS at HPTS

Microsoft COSMOS at HPTS:

Rough notes from a talk on COSMOS, Microsoft’s internal Map reduce systems from HPTS 2011. This is the service Microsoft uses internally to run MapReduce jobs. Interesting, Microsoft plans to use Hadoop in the external Azure service even though COSMOS looks quite good: Microsoft
Announces Open Source Based Cloud Service
. Rough notes below:

(Via Perspectives)

World power swings back to America – Telegraph

World power swings back to America – Telegraph:

The American phoenix is slowly rising again. Within five years or so, the US will be well on its way to self-sufficiency in fuel and energy. Manufacturing will have closed the labour gap with China in a clutch of key industries. The current account might even be in surplus.


Forget the top 1% — Look at the top 0.1%

Forget the top 1% — Look at the top 0.1%:

click for larger chart

(Via The Big Picture)

QOTD: The Illusion of Skill

QOTD: The Illusion of Skill:

Our quote of the day comes from an article in this Sunday’s NYT magazine, Don’t Blink! The Hazards of Confidence by Daniel Kahneman:

“The illusion of skill is not only an individual aberration; it is deeply ingrained in the culture of the [financial] industry. Facts that challenge such basic assumptions — and thereby threaten people’s livelihood and self-esteem — are simply not absorbed. The mind does not digest them. This is particularly true of statistical studies of performance, which provide general facts that people will ignore if they conflict with their personal experience.”

(Via The Big Picture)

Fighting the Last Monetary War

Fighting the Last Monetary War:

William Jennings Bryan. 1 negative: glass ; 8×...

Image via Wikipedia

by Tim Lee

In 1896, Williams Jennings Bryan captured the Democratic nomination for the presidency with a rousing speech that ended with a theatrical challenge to advocates of the gold standard: “You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”

The United States had adopted a gold standard 20 years earlier, and the supply of gold had not been keeping pace with the rate of economic growth. The result was deflation at an annual rate of 1.7 percent a year. This was particularly hard on farmers, many of whom had mortgages that got harder to pay off as dollars appreciated.

Bryan was calling for a return to the bimetallic monetary standard that had prevailed before the Civil War…

I just finished reading Money Mischief, a collection of essays by Milton Friedman published in the early 1990s. One of the striking things about Money Mischief is how much more attention it devotes to the dangers of too much inflation than too little. Friedman famously blamed the Federal Reserve’s deflationary policies for the Great Depression, so he was certainly cognizant of dangers of deflation. But his analysis of the Great Depression gets only passing mention in Money Mischief. The phrase “liquidity trap” does not appear in the book’s index, and there’s no discussion of what a central bank should do in a situation like today when conventional monetary easing fails to spark a robust recovery.

Friedman’s focus on inflation made sense in 1991, because inflation was still relatively high and there was a real danger that the Federal Reserve would relapse into excessive money printing. Yet the Federal Reserve has been steadily reducing inflation over the last year. Still, there’s a significant faction on the Fed, and among conservative politicians more broadly, that continues to worry about the dangers of inflation despite the nation’s high unemployment rate.

Indeed, there’s evidence that Friedman himself would be with the inflation doves if he were alive today. In 2000, Friedman argued that the Bank of Japan, which had already pushed nominal interest rates down to zero, should buy long-term government securities to further expand the money supply—a policy strikingly similar to the QE2 policy that inflation hawks have warned will spark inflation…

Monetary policymakers have a tendency to fight the last war, making mistakes opposite to the ones made by their predecessors a few decades earlier. In the 1970s, a Federal Reserve terrified of another Great Depression gave us a decade of stagflation. Is today’s Fed, terrified of stagflation, giving us an unnecessarily long and severe recession?

(Via Disruptive Economics)

Occupy Wall Street, Social Unrest and Income Inequality

Occupy Wall Street, Social Unrest and Income Inequality:

By Rick Bookstaber

We are seeing the specter of instability in the growing protests of income inequality, economic distress of the middle class, and economic and political power of the very wealthy. There is Occupy Wall Street in the U.S., and similar protests ranging across the globe. In parts of Europe there is rioting in the streets, in parts of China protests have turned deadly.

A microcosm for these protests can be seen in Israel, which is among the first of the countries to stage such protests. In a one of my recent posts, “Workers of the World, Goodnight!“, I recount my experience in the egalitarian Israel in the early 1980s, and contrast that with the Israel of today, where a handful of families basically have a controlling interest in the economy proper, and where the concentration of wealth at the top that makes the U.S. look like a commune. This transformation over the past few decades tells us something about the roots of social unrest that have spread recently from Occupy Wall Street to other countries. The Israeli society that I saw three decades ago was one that faced the unrelenting specter of war. During times of crisis, of war or natural disaster where there is a randomness to existence that extends beyond wealth to issues of life and death, people choose to be more egalitarian. People know they might end up with the short end of the stick with the next roll of the dice, and that whatever they acquire will likely be transitory. So they first and foremost focus on keeping a social system and its support structure in place.

Unerring stability leads to the opposite course. For example, in the medieval societies where position remained unchanged for decades, even centuries, where land, the key source of wealth, passed inexorably from one generation to the next, where class distinctions dictated the path of your life and that of your children, an egalitarian notion was not even in the realm of consideration. There were the rich and there were the poor. It was as simple as that…

(Via Credit Writedowns)

For developers Amazon’s cloud is a harsh mistress

For developers Amazon’s cloud is a harsh mistress:

Andy Parsons CTO of Bookish

Developers at the Surge conference in Baltimore have a love-hate relationship with America’s largest online retailer and cloud provider. But repeated tales of Amazon Web Services’ failures were immediately followed by assurances that the service was cheaper and better than buying your own hardware.

As for other cloud providers, Andy Parsons, CTO for startup Bookish, summed it up after being asked if he had even looked at other cloud service providers: “Yes, but the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.”

(Via Cloud)

‘Princess Bride’: An Oral History | Inside Movies |

‘Princess Bride’: An Oral History | Inside Movies |

Wove. Twue wove. That’s what fans of The Princess Bride clearly feel for director Rob Reiner’s 1987 cult comic fairy tale. If you woved our cast reunion photo and you ate up the tidbits from our oral history in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly (on stands now), and yet, inconceivably, you still want more… well, as you wish. Here is an expanded version of our in-depth oral history on the making of The Princess Bride.