Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, January 10, 2021

Whatever pangs of guilt I feel over carrying a couple of Lady GaGa songs on my iPod, at least I haven’t gone as gaga as these two GaGa medley-makers:

It is a rather spirited three minutes of musical tribute. I especially like the lyrical intertwining of “Poker Face” with “Paparazzi” — probably more than I like the songs. The gender mismatch in having a guy sing lyrics that were originally delivered by a woman contributes some awkwardness, but I suppose it’s worth it for the overall infectious effect.

This acoustic duo consists of Sam Tsui (voice) and Kurt Schneider (guitar). Since this little video of theirs has racked up one and a half million views as of this writing, it’s safe to assume that we’ll be seeing/hearing more from them.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/10/2021 05:19 PM
Category: Creative, Internet, Pop Culture
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With so many homeowners irretrievably underwater on dollar value of their mortgages, it’s a wonder why more people don’t voluntarily walk away from their homeowner obligations — or why they’re not encouraged to do so by demonstrated economic example:

There are two reasons why so-called strategic defaults have been considered antisocial and perhaps amoral. One is that foreclosures depress the neighborhood and drive down prices. But in a market society, since when are people responsible for the economic effects of their actions? Every oil speculator helps to drive up gasoline prices. Every hedge fund that speculated against a bank by purchasing credit-default swaps on its bonds signaled skepticism about the bank’s creditworthiness and helped to make it more costly for the bank to borrow, and thus to issue loans. We are all economic pinballs, insensibly colliding for better or worse.

The other reason is that default (supposedly) debases the character of the borrower. Once, perhaps, when bankers held onto mortgages for 30 years, they occupied a moral high ground. These days, lenders typically unload mortgages within days (or minutes). And not just in mortgage finance, but in virtually every realm of our transaction-obsessed society, the message is that enduring relationships count for less than the value put on assets for sale.

Think of private-equity firms that close a factory — essentially deciding that the company is worth more dead than alive… Indeed, the owners of any company that defaults on bonds and chooses to let the company fail rather than invest more capital in it are practicing “strategic default.”

I can think of a major macroeconomic problem coming from an en masse default by consumers: A subsequent loss of confidence by lenders. Why should banks make loans available if there’s a penalty-free environment in which borrowers can get out of paying back the money? Without that underpinning of trust — or, absent that, real teeth in default penalties, like the ability to go after the individual’s other cash assets — there’s less incentive to make loans. All that leads to a less-robust economy.

A socio-economic order in which strategic default is a regular go-to option would be disorder — a disaster. It’s unfair that too-big-to-fail companies get to take mulligans when consumers don’t, but that’s the reality. The alternative would be even uglier than the current mess.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/10/2021 03:55 PM
Category: Business, Society
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When it comes to the lifestyle habits of the modern-day urban paleolithic hipster, committing to the raw foods and infrequent eating schedules of our Stone Age ancestors isn’t the weird part. Here’s what is:

Another caveman trick involves donating blood frequently. The idea is that various hardships might have occasionally left ancient humans a pint short. Asked when he last gave blood, Andrew Sanocki said it had been three months. He and his brother looked at each other. “We’re due,” Andrew said.

So amongst the other ill effects of our softy agrarian society is the tendency to bottle up too much of our own blood in our veins. I didn’t realize that one of the definitions of “paleo” was “light-headed”. If I were one of these latter-age hunter-gatherers, I’d chill the hell out and treat myself to a brontosaurus burger.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/10/2021 02:35 PM
Category: Food, Science, Society
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