The More They Know

Data With Destiny.Title: “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”

Author: Charles Duhigg

Rank: 74

Blurb: “Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential.”

Seemingly Benign Author Quote: “Target studies our habits to see if they can predict major life events. And the company is very, very successful. Oftentimes, they know what is going on in someone’s life better than that person’s parents.”

The Less Benign Version: “My daughter got this in the mail! She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”

Review: “It made me realize that one habit I could try to break is buying books on Amazon based on other people’s reviews.”

Customers Also Bought: “You Are Not So Smart”

Footnote: That’s odd. Duhigg’s “whole new understanding of human nature and its potential” was headlined over his byline in the Times as “How Companies Learn Your Secrets”.

The Power of Habit [Amazon]

Buy or Die [Stinque@Amazon Kickback Link]


Some of it’s a bit self-helpy but the sections on how we develop and change habitual behavior were interesting. Spoiler alert: It takes 30 days to change a habit.

Target studies our habits to see if they can predict major life events.

Oh really? They didn’t see that Target Canada was an utter disaster? Good job US American retailer geniuses.

@ManchuCandidate: Those Canadians are so unpredictable! Why can’t they be exactly like American consumers and fit the models better?

Packers gag away a Super Bowl.

How ’bout that Brady bunch?
SEA/PAC game a real nail biter. Glad I had no dog in that hunt.

More like the inmates have taken over the asylum.

Since American Sniper is on its way to being a monster hit, Warner Bros. has cooked up Armchair Sniper, the sequel that’ll really pack in US audiences.

@ManchuCandidate: I’ve always been mystified that so many wealthy foreigners want to live in this heavily armed madhouse. Seattle, for example, mostly had missed the phenomenon of Chinese millionaires buying up real estate, however this really has taken off over the last two years since they’ve been priced out of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver B.C. Here they can have twice the house for half the price, however I’m curious about their perceptions of our people and culchah versus reality.

I think they don’t know any better. Nouveau riche are usually dumb from any culture.

@¡Andrew!: They don’t want to live here. They just want a place to park their money (and literally store their valuables) and be able to enroll their kids in local schools when they are 10. This explains the fact that in the past year close to one-fourth of all homes sold in certain zip codes on the Peninsula (Palo Alto, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Atherton) were sold for all-cash to foreign buyers. The houses are unoccupied, but in fantastic school districts. Similarly, it’s shocking in the evenings to see how few of the multi-million dollar apartments in the new shiny towers in downtown SF have any lights on.

@SanFranLefty: Very rational. Where would you park your money if you were Over There? And, does anyone among us understand the tsuris about the Swiss franc?

@Dodgerblue: This is a great summary: Here’s What the Swiss Central Bank Just Did and Why It’s Such a Shocker

Switzerland has a long reputation for having an incredibly stable financial system (everyone knows about its legendary banks). In 2011, during the scariest times for the euro zone, the country’s safe-haven status turned the nation into an island of tranquility. Money poured into it from elsewhere in the euro zone as investors sought a safe place to park their cash.

Of course, with everyone wanting to have their money in Switzerland, the franc exploded in value. In early 2010 one franc was less than 0.7 euro. By the middle of 2011 the franc was nearly at parity against the euro, a massive move in a very short period.

Countries typically don’t like it when their currencies zoom like that. The most obvious reason is that it’s bad news for domestic exporters, whose goods become less competitive abroad.

So in the summer of 2011, the Swiss National Bank announced a cap on the exchange rate between the euro and the franc. The euro wouldn’t be allowed to weaken below 1.20 against the franc. The bank maintained the cap by printing francs on a regular basis to buy euros in the market to ensure that the currencies wouldn’t breach that line. The cap held without a hiccup for more than three years.

Without any hint that it was coming, the bank removed the cap, causing the franc to soar against other currencies…the SNB came to the conclusion that it didn’t make sense for it to keep on an endless path of buying more and more euros just to keep the currency down. And that perhaps the bank felt that all the euros it was accumulating on its ballooning balance sheet were becoming a liability.

Furthermore, the European Central Bank is seemingly on the verge of launching its own quantitative easing program, which should put more downward pressure on the euro and further increase the cost of holding the peg.

Well, whenever there are gigantic moves in any market, you can expect that a lot of people just lost a ton of money.

@¡Andrew!: thanks. On the flip side, I guess that, if you’re holding a lot of Swiss francs, you can go to Dublin and buy a tanker full of Guiness.

I have not been in a Target since 2004, yet I fear the author may be right.

@Dodgerblue: If I had money I needed to park, I would head to Norway or New Zealand.

Meanwhile, it’s good to see the mic-dropping Unicorn again.

@SanFranLefty: “UN Convention Against Torture”

[drops mic]

No Justice, No Unicorn.

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