28 March 2007

Portrait of France

It's been a slow time for posting, I know, but many of you already know that this has turned out to be a very busy time for me and Esther. I have a couple of posts that I've been preparing and they should be up in the coming week.

In the mean time, here is an article from the New York Times that gives a good look at sentiment in France just before is presidential elections. Make sure that you read all the way to the end as there is a little blurb from the AP about an unrelated event that adds a nice bit of context to the main story. As a teaser, here is the last sentence, "The youths responded by throwing trash cans and other objects at the officers." Ah, la France...

15 March 2007

What's the word...

...oh yeah, that's it, UNCONSCIONABLE.

Have a look at this post on the Freakonomics Blog regarding the markup on generic drugs at pharmacies compared to the price at Costco and Sam's Club. Here's the meat of it:

Even once you factor in the cost of buying a membership at Costco and Sam’s Club, the price differences were astounding. Here are the prices he found at Houston stores for 90 tablets of generic Prozac:

Walgreens: $117

Eckerd: $115

CVS: $115

Sam’s Club: $15

Costco: $12

Those aren’t typos. Walgreens charges $117 for a bottle of the same pills for which Costco charges $12.

Now, I'm all for the market deciding the price of goods in most cases. If someone is willing to pay $20 for a pound of bananas, by all means someone should sell them at that price. However, drugs are not bananas and high prices encourage non-compliance with doctors' orders, thereby putting patients at considerable risk. Furthermore, as the author of the post notes, one explanation for this is that elderly people, the largest consumers of prescription medications, are most likely to continue shopping at the corner pharmacy rather than shop around for a better deal. As the blog author says, "Talk about information asymmetry; talk about price discrimination."

This is a very clear example of "Just because you can, doesn't mean that you should."

Found originally on Boing Boing.

08 March 2007

So French

Some days in France are more French than the rest. Spring is beginning to arrive in Paris and, desiring to take advantage of that, I went to the park and studied a bit. Naturally I took my camera along with me and was able to come up with the following picture.


Accordion, beret, this guy has it all. What's more, when I gestured to him with my camera, asking if it would be OK to take his picture, he gave me a shrug with his accordion squeezing shoulders that said, "I'm so indifferent it actually hurts." Seriously, so French.

(Click for a larger image.)

Film Revenues and Piracy

Here's are some interesting numbers and commentary on last year's film revenues. It seems that the largest increase in film revenues has come in the countries that have the most piracy (Brazil, China, India). Especially interesting is the method that the film industry uses to calculate the losses it has suffered as a result of piracy:

Piracy loss calculations are based on the number of legitimate movies - movie tickets and legitimate DVDs - consumers would have purchased if pirated versions were not available.

Not exactly the method that I would use... How do you calculate this? Any ideas?

50 is a lot of states...

Following up on the previous post, here is a link to the same game for the 50 US States.

Tough, but not as tough. Again, results will go in the comments and thanks to kottke.

192 is a lot of countries...

Here's a great game that will make you feel like an uneducated fool. Try and name the 192 member states of the UN. It's hard, really hard, and it will make you wonder what you were doing in geography class all along.

I'm going to post my results in the comments section (including all of the countries I missed) so as not to give those who read this post an unfair advantage.

Try it, it's fun, and it will make you want to buy a map.

(Found this thanks to kottke.)

07 March 2007

Public Transportation, Detroit Style



This is the entire circuit of light rail public transport in Detroit. It is sped up, I estimate at 10 times, but it still takes only 1:20.

By comparison, here is a link to the Paris M├ętro system (PDF).

Draw your own conclusions from here...

I'm Coming Home

It's all set, I have my ticket home. I'll be back in Michigan on May 29th. I don't yet know how long I will be staying in the US, it depends on the type of visa that I will be returning to France under. I expect to be home for at least a month, probably more. Obviously, I'm seriously looking forward to seeing everybody, I miss you all quite a bit. Ah yes, one caveat, I will be taking the LSAT on the morning of Monday, June 11th which means that I will be spending my first two weeks home preparing for that. I'll see people, go out, hang out, and what not, but nothing too crazy. Craziness starts on June 12th.