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Whilst I’ve been away from posting on this blog, I haven’t been away in checking the traffic to it. What I consistently find is that some of the most popular posts belong to the series I had written about online dating. Apparently, it’s such a hot topic somebody actually did research on the validity of some of my claims.  As an analytical person, I couldn’t be happier to see real data to back up my own experience.  A summary of the findings is below, but here is a link to the research for those of you interested in diving deeper into the raw numbers.

  1. More isn’t always better when it comes to the introductory email. In the study, the author correlated the time it took to write the email (and indirectly the number of characters in the emails) with the email response rate.  Not surprisingly, brevity trumps ramble: “The shortest messages get almost the best absolute response rate, and the reply rate actually goes down as messages approach extreme length.”
  2. There’s a magic number — cross it and you start to scare people off. According to the research, once you approach 360 words (or 1800 characters), the effectiveness of your email goes way down.  THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY words??!  I don’t even read emails that long from people I know, much less a stranger!
  3. Men don’t actually read women’s opening email. Their conclusion is based on the fact that the most effective outreach from a woman to a man is 50 characters long!  Just to give an idea of how long 50 characters is, write the entire alphabet twice but stop at the letter “X” the second time. I don’t know about you, but that’s simply not long enough to convey any kind of message, really!

Personally, I find the result fascinating.  I am awaiting the next installment of their research to see what other findings are up their sleeves.

I was trained as a scientist and enjoy doing social experiments even today. So I was curious to know how traffic to this blog would be affected if I stop writing for one week. The result is unbelievable:

  • Traffic to the site dropped 72%
  • Search referrers dropped 51%
  • In-page clicks dropped 70%

This, of course, is not a scientific experiment.  The statistics I provided above are merely correlated with one writing-free week, not caused by it.  Perhaps only a scientist would appreciate this post, but I thought I would share it with you anyway.

As much as I surf the web, I am a bit shocked I am late to this. Apparently, The Story of Stuff has been making its round virally with more than 1.5 million views already, but I’ve only discovered it a couple of days ago. While entertaining and insightful, the video is quite a bit left-leaning, so if you are a right-wing Republican, please hit the “back” button now — the video won’t be half as entertaining to you as it is to the rest of us.

There are three levers in marketing: Fear, Hope, and Love. Admittedly, this video plays to the fear factor, but I think it works.

So what exactly is The Story of Stuff? It is a 20-minute, fast-paced look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. It exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. The video certainly reminds me how wasteful I am (my biggest sin isn’t so much consumerism as much as not recycling and using reusable products whenever possible) and how I should change my way, even if the changes do not become permanent. Maybe we should all watch the video every few weeks or so to remind ourselves we need to conserve more — our future certainly depends on it.

Without further ado, please click on the image below to go to and watch The Story of Stuff.

I was surfing the web and came across an excellent illustration of how the subprime mortgage crisis came to be. Again, it is simply too good to keep it to myself. Click on the link at the bottom of this post to go to the Google Doc where the document is housed, but first here is a summary:

  • Eager to make a buck while cashing in on the generous money liquidity policy and (artificial) rising housing value, mortgage brokers and banks began to qualify anybody for housing loans.
  • In order to minimize their own liability with these subprime loans, they created CDOs, disguised them as highly rated bonds and sold them to unsuspecting investors.
  • The problem was exacerbated by the lack of transparency among these financial transactions.
  • When the rates of these subprime mortgages began to reset, mortgage holders began to default. Problems with non-payment eventually trickled down to the CDOs holders, i.e. the institution investors, who have to sell other profitable investments to cover their losses and hence the market downturn.

If, after you’ve gone through the illustration, you still want more information, I highly recommend the classic Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis. The book is highly entertaining and contains detailed description of the birth of our current mortgage crisis.

Click to go to The Subprime Mortgage Crisis illustration

The following is a guest post by my friend “Joe Harvard”. For a listing of all of Joe’s posts, click here.

Human history can be best summarized by the following: Countless episodes of gory blood letting warfare, and death interspersed by periods of intermittent peace brought to us via the courtesy of the winner(s) of the blood letting contests. These epochs of peace, Pax Sinica/Romana/Britannica, and most recently Pax Americana are all product of an overwhelming military might supported by a giant every growing economy.

But like all good orgies, they come to an end. In the case of the Romans, excessive frivolous government spending on things such as 120 days of gladiator games (game days in Rome are public holidays) coupled with lack of economic growth (Rome ran out of places to plunder) and inflation (Rome printing coins with ever declining silver content), led to severe reduction in military funding, and finally resulting in total economic collapse and ass kicking by the barbarians at the gate.

Unfortunately, I think Pax Americana is heading toward a similar fate as our party loving Roman brethrens. First, the US economy, the sole source funding for US military, is structurally floundering at its core. The US dollar has been the world’s reserve currency for the past 60+ years. As a reserve currency, all major global financial transactions (e.g. oil, gold, copper trades) are carried out in US dollars. The dollar’s special status confers upon it unprecedented global financial power. The US is the only country that does not need to keep a foreign reserve, thus enabling it to run much higher budget deficits than any other country. The US currency also influences interest rates across the globe enabling the country to affect monetary policies, and thus, the world’s economy.

But the US reserve currency status is under tremendous threat. In fact some experts have argued that US dollar has already lost its venerable status, and that the Euro is the new reserve currency. Read the rest of this entry »

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