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JACK, I WON’T CUT SOME SLACK

The apparel industry has been very ingenious in tempting shoppers by varied discounts. The Jack & Jones store at the Pheonix Mall in Mumbai was availing a discount of Rs. 1000 on a purchase worth Rs. 5000 (and above) and also that of Rs. 2500 on a purchase worth Rs. 12500 (and above) – fair deal. (Also if purchase amount exceeded 18500, the discount totalled Rs. 3500 – the one we irrationally opted for. Let’s see why)

Converted to percentage terms, the former is a discount of about 16% and latter is that of 20%. Since no piece of cloth was exempted from the discount, the apparent reason that the company did not offer a flat sale was that the reduction in margin be offset by the increase in sales – so far so fair. The catch lies in realizing the huge change in preferences.

STAGE 1

Bill shops clothes worth 4000. But then he finds that if he buys that white tee worth a 2500, his total bill would be 5500 and not 6500. Hence the white tee comes to him at the cost of 1500 and not 2500 – a whopping 40% lower in price! Thus the last piece (the trigger) of cloth comes at a higher discount than the original discount i.e. that of Rs. 1000 on a bill of Rs. 6500 which equals 15.3%. And never does the bill amount comes to an exact 5000 which means the discount percentage is mostly below the original 16% and 20%.

STAGE 2

If the bill touches like 7500 or 8000 – say 8000 for now, soon Bill faces another trigger to go for the next level. He buys that red leather jacket worth 5500 which brings the discounted bill to 11,000 and the discounted percentage to 18.5%. This time the jacket (the last piece) came to him (seemingly) at a discount percentage of 45% i.e. at a price of 3000 rather than 5500.

What we see here is that even though he did not wanted to buy the jacket or did not need it, he was tempted to buy it and the shop was successful at making an earlier improbable sale.

STAGE 3

This is a stage which very few ‘deliberately’ try to cross – the discount of 3500 (1000 + 2500) on a bill of 18,500 (6000 + 12,500). Even in the first place, Bill failed to learn that the discount percentage on average here is 18.9% which is still lower than that of the stage 2 (20%) discount. Also if the bill touches somewhere between 15,000 and 17,500, he’s again trapped by the luxury of buying that last piece.

SO WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

You might argue that the last piece is a buffer stock and clothes anyways don’t go in vain then trust me they do (at least a little less than often) – a piece that you buy in extra will either replace a piece that you wear often or die in the almira, given the constant number of clothes that remain in routine use (think it out). You might also argue that even a 16% discount on average is a fair deal;even if you need to buy an extra piece, why not? But then you did not want to buy it in the first place. So in search of a discount of Rs. 1000, you bought an extra piece for 1000 when in fact you didn’t need it.

So when dealing with Jack, better not cut some slack!

 

WHY SWIPE CARDS AT FOOD COURTS OR GAME ZONES?

Swiping cards at food courts or gaming zones (which could use tokens) has been a bit of a hassle. And when you have to wait in a queue to refill your card before you wait in another queue to get the service, and since there is no service charge for a card, you can’t help but wonder why all this extra effort?

CARDS AS BETTER CURRENCY

Money, as we all know as three functions: A medium of exchange, store of value (the amount in your card doesn’t change with time) and a unit of account (a yardstick). Accordingly, the cards at a food court are the safest form of money. However they are not just similar to money but better than money there.

If you had Rs 500 note with yourself and you would want to consume food or games worth 400, you would do so. But given you have recharged your card with 500 and still want to consume worth 400, you would hesitate little to spend it all. Such mentality is evident at a food court where your tummy wishes for a little more seeing that there’s still a 100 left in the card (even though you can get a full refund of the remaining amount).

With high risk factor, the game where you need to pick teddies with the help of a crane entices you a lot when there’s a pretty small amount left in your card; and so do other games. The cost of issuing cards is off course not menial; however the earnings should make up for it.

So the cards are availed to unleash your bullish spirits to consume as much as you can.

CAN ORGAN TRADE BE OPTIMALLY ACHIEVED – IRAN’S KIDNEY MARKET

Both ethically and economically, organ trade has never been left to free market or even government intervention in almost all countries except for Iran. With legal and regulated kidney trade, donors receive cash payment from both the government as well as the recipient which totals to somewhere between $2000 and $4000; the government also provides a yearlong medical insurance to the donor. Also neither the transplant centre nor the transplant physicians there play any role in identifying potential donors.

In July, the head of the Health Ministry’s Transplant Department, Katayoun Najafizadeh, said 10 patients who are waiting for kidney transplants die on a daily basis. And there about a 2500 (including those from clinically brain-dead) officially reported transplants while 1000 occur in the black market where rates for a kidney go as high as &160,000. To cater to demand glut, government intervention has resulted in maximization of donors with each year at least 1400 donors giving one of their kidneys to an unknown person.

THE DONOR DILEMMA

Even though market forces had led to a stronger movement towards equilibrium, the real question is how much does this increase the purchasing power of the donor and does living with a single kidney has serious health implications or not. Generally it takes about a minimum of $1000 annually to surface above poverty; so given $3000 (on average) for a kidney donation, almost 90% of the amount will be spent on managing consumption expenditures for a couple of years. Therefore little can be saved.

STRIVING TOWARDS COMPETITIVE EQUILIBRIUM

Since a regulated market is intuitively better than having just a black market, supply might seem to be at the highest possible. This is probably the reason behind such low rates of kidney in Iran (also presumably due to a lower price floor set by the government). The market forces have incited intense competition among disproportionately poor households wherein they advertise their willingness to donate (through blood type, phone number and age) and it is in most cases not easy to find a match for them.

Another reason for such low rates is that living with a single kidney is not such a big deal. Although it does have serious repercussions against rigorous work but it is with little care that casualty can be prevented. The third reason is that both unemployment and inflation are at record high levels with the latter being at around 9.5% and the youth unemployment rate being around 25% while the overall rate being around 30% .

However all of the above reasons have left way for the leadership to set a low price floor; exacerbated by the fact that oil prices have plunged deep trimming the public revenue to a large extent. Revenues were expected to trickle down from the P5+1 nuclear deal lately but they stuck within the corrupt web weaved by the government. Also, having spent a vast amount of the public wealth on interventions in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, and also on terrorist organisations in the Arabian Gulf and Shiite campaigns in Africa, stagflation was imminent.

WHAT EXACTLY IS THE PROBLEM THEN?

The question that we started with was that can we operate an organs market optimally and so focussing just on the model of one such market, taking Iran’s market as the object since it stands against problems common to emerging nations, we have a couple of major difficulties:

Since the prices currently do reflect the value of a kidney – in terms of both health concerns and purchasing power – for a person, we need to first ask what exactly the problem that we seek a solution to is. There are two problems in queue – first the easy money from donation must not turn into a culture and second there is a need to increase the valuation of a kidney. And the last nascent problem will be that both the first and second problems seek counterproductive answers – if government increases the floor on donating, more people might get encouraged to donate.

The model, I believe has no specific internal solution and so will need external influence to keep itself subtle. Firstly there is a need to increases wages to incentivize people to work instead of donating but in face of rising inflation, the only way that this can be achieved is to enhance productivity and investment (also inviting foreign investment through diplomacy). Secondly a pervasive awareness drive should be deployed for enlightening people about the costs and benefits of donating a kidney. And lastly only one person from a family should be allowed to donate while the recipient market should be extended to foreigners as well. These steps can serve both objectives that we hold dear for both the health and economy of households.

 

 

HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE YOU ON TINDER?

Online dating has reached record highs in the western world whereas it has helped break social barriers in on the eastern front.

  • In 2015 15% of all adults in US used online dating sites or apps.
  • Between 2013 and today, the share of 18 to 24 year olds who use online dating has roughly tripled from 10% to 27%. For 55 to 64 years old this number has gone from 6% to 12%.
  • Nearly 70 million adults use online dating in UK. (http://www.datingsitesreviews.com/staticpages/index.php?page=Online-Dating-Industry-Facts-Statistics)
  • India has witnessed a 400% increase in tinder downloads in the past year. (The Hindu)
  • China and the middle-east have seen a boom in online dating primarily because of – in the former societal pressures to get married in the right age (the one child policy has resulted in a highly skewed sex ratio) and in the latter again societal pressures to get married and avoid flings.

Statistics reveal that the attractiveness of a particular person on such an app or site is dependent on a lot of factors which also include the relative attractiveness of the people visible before that person in the swipe deck.

THE RELATIVITY OF BEAUTY

Many a times your profile is judged in relevant terms to the profile just before you – if you are more attractive than the previous profile, you can successfully gain a like. (http://www.datingsitesreviews.com/staticpages/index.php?page=Online-Dating-Industry-Facts-Statistics). But then if you are likeable enough why does is matter how likeable the previous guy or girl is?

This type of relativity is also explained by Dan Ariely, a prominent professor of behavioural economics, in his book ‘Predictably Irrational’. He explains when a choice between two pretty faces is difficult and thus a person is indifferently attracted to both, including a much lesser pretty face in the deck (a decoy) incites the person to make a clear choice between the former two by virtue of which of the two is clearly superior to the decoy. He exemplifies,

“…..the existence of a colonial-style house needing a new roof might push you to choose a perfect colonial over a contemporary house – simply because the decoy colonial would give you something against which to compare the regular colonial….”

DON’T LOOK TOO GOOD

A lot of people also get intimidated by extremely good looking people and dislike the profile out of inferiority complex.

Since women use more of retouching and men use more words (21.9% more words than women do!) and more messages, the only way that you can look beautiful online is by posting your candid images and just trying to look better than the previous people (which anyways you have to in order to not give the other side a surprise when you meet). So if you look like George Clooney, nobody’s gonna believe you but if you accept that you look like Leonard, there’s a Penny who’d adore your honesty.

BOLT COULD DO IT IN 19 SEC IF HE WERE TYSON GAY

A 100m in 9.58 sec and a 200m in 19.19 sec. This brief intro is sufficient for Usain Bolt, the fastest athlete on the planet. Widespread opinion about his large stride length and scientifically accurate technique of running gathered a lot of support for his claim of completing the 200m in under 19 sec. After declaring his retirement and a performance at Rio which although sustained his legacy but could not break his own records, it will be rather interesting to ask whether or not he could have done it under 19 sec.

But to start with, by layman logic, if 100m are completed in a certain stipulated time then 200m must take at least the double of that. But then it is pretty clear that the launch consumes a lot of time which is not to hinder during the later 100m of the race. Consequently the 4x100m relay world record being 36.84, the individual average run amounts to a 9.21 sec which has never been done for the 100 m sprint ever (however an 8.65 sec 100m stretch has been achieved by bolt in 4x100m in 2015).

Now even if we take the 9.81 sec of Bolt for the first 100m, he’ll have to cover the rest of the track in 9.19 sec to have a total timing of 19 sec which seems possible after the abovementioned discussion. But to prove it technically is how we can go about it:

  • Being the tallest sprinter (6’5”), in Berlin (100m) his single stride measure 2.44m which is also the longest.
  • It takes an average speed of 10.52 m/s to complete 200m in 19 sec.
  • Given his stride length, bolt will have to take an average speed of 4.31 steps (strides) per second.
  • Even while making his world record of 9.58 sec, he achieved 4.28 m/s.
  • His closest competitor in 100m, Tyson Gay (5’11”), with a record of 19.58 sec for 200m, had a stride length of 2.20 in Berlin.
  • Thus given the stride length, his speed was 10.21 m/s. Not being an impressive speed though, the speed in terms of steps per sec was 4.64 – much better than that of Bolt! In fact with this speed it would be possible to run the 200m in under 18 sec.

Experts opine that even if Bolt could take his step frequency to 4.5 – a little closer to his competitors he could have run the 100m in a mere 9.11 sec!

THE SOCIAL CONTRACT BOOK REVIEW

The book very strenuously excavates into history and logical reasoning, the premise on which the state was established and how further must it sustain…

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in this work, has submitted to answering the question – ‘Can there exist a political society wherein morals and justice converge?; where man’s social limitations meet natural limitations and where men acquire a fair ground?’ In answering this question, the author accomplishes the most important feat which demands that the ladder of questions aroused inside the reader be climbed step-by-step.

The book is divided into 4 parts. Part 1 is given a head start by establishing what the first societies were like and how slavery cannot be enumerated in them. Also to further prove his opinion he explains how the right to kill or force is no right in itself and cannot even be justified in any case. Thus he relates the primitive conditions to the need of a social pact.

The second part, in essence, strains on how the state functions through the common interest of its people and in what particular way can laws, which are also in obedience to this common interest, be set to the govern the state. And to a great extent, the reader will recognize the principle importance of such laws both from the perspective of the people towards the unit sovereign and the sovereign towards its people.

In respond to this, the reader might fairly be expected to ask whether there can prevail a form of government suited to every environment and if it does not, then what form of government caters to what type of sovereign. Part 3 not only answers this question but also, in general, scrutinizes the cogs, in separate, of every mentioned governmental mechanism so that the reader can criticize various aspects of various forms of governments. Part 4, while, explains last step towards sustaining the sovereign – electing the incumbent.

In general, the book serves to present efficiently the crux of the subject, however the reader might find it entangled with obsolete examples and incomplete chain of reasons, especially in the part where he mentions that people submit to public subsistence, the surplus of what they produce and later he explains that the sovereign must strive to make every citizen independent of every other’s resources but fails to dismiss the contradiction.

To sum it up, The Social Contract is a must read for those inquisitive about the possible political systems and their successful or unsuccessful existence. 

Next read: Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

 

WOULD WE EVER NEED A SUPERMAN?

“Men with power obey neither policy nor principle, no one is different, no one is neutral”.

Do our overarching natural tendencies towards making Gods out of heroes and legends out of leaders defeat our common sense.

But what if we needed a superhero now more than ever to tackle the virus of terrorism and insurgency and crime? Considering how wise in face of good and evil Clark Kent is, why is there to be a reason to expect him to take drastic biased actions? After all if the Superman saves the earth from extra-terrestrial villains and nerdy maniacs, there are expected to be some casualties on the war field. But then the important question is, ‘how accountable is Superman in the eyes of the public (owing to his messianic image)?’

“Men like that, words don’t stop him. You know what stops him? A fist”.

Because it will take only an equivalently imaginable force to stop the Superman, which then is just imaginable, his accountability is not even questioned. He is the sole author of who survives and who dies (as casualty), of how to act in a given situation. And there’s no one as powerful as him to neither question his methods as to what could have been done instead, nor to stop him for his misadventures (A simple example of an antidote would be the principle of separation of powers in India).

But then again if the people claim Superman to be their messiah, what vested interests can he have to act against them?

Martha Kent: People hate what they don’t understand. Be their hero, Clark, be their angel, be their monument, be anything they need you to be, or be none of it. You don’t owe this world a thing, you never did”.

Faith is the most dangerous thing today. It can bring people to bow down and congregate; it can also incite people to head up for war. That is exactly what the Superman represents – faith. Faith in him is like faith in God. People expect their messiah to be a projection of themselves. Hence their own definitions of God, Messiah or Hero (the ‘S’ sign on the Superman’s chest is symbol in the Kryptonian language to which the earthlings assign the name ‘Superman’ which reveals their ability to project their notions of a messiah on him).

“We have always created icons in our own image. What we’ve done is we project ourselves on to him (Vikram Gandhi)”.

All sorts of religions, ideologies and faiths exist in clashes today. If the Superman were to exist as loyal and prudent as expected, his interests could have been a projection of a particular vision. Having someone who could wipe out the entire universe to represent anything finally means claiming that a certain vision beholds the universe’s present and future. Why would humanity ever want that?