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January 29, 2012

Shorter reports are not better science

IN recent years, a trend has emerged in the behavioral sciences toward shorter and more rapidly published journal articles. These articles are often only a third the length of a standard paper, often describe only a single study and tend to include smaller data sets. Shorter formats are promoted by many journals, and limits on article length are stringent -- in many cases as low as 2,000 words.

This shift is partly a result of the pressure that academics now feel to generate measurable output. According to the cold calculus of "publish or perish," in which success is often gauged by counting citations, three short articles can be preferable to a single longer one.

But some researchers contend that the trend toward short articles is also better for science. Such "bite size" science, they argue, encourages results to be communicated faster, written more concisely and read by editors and researchers more easily, leading to a more lively exchange of ideas.

In a 2010 article, the psychologist Nick Haslam demonstrated empirically that, when adjusted for length, short articles are cited more frequently than other articles -- that is, page for page, they get more bang for the buck. Professor Haslam concluded that short articles seem "more efficient in generating scientific influence" and suggested that journals might consider adopting short-article formats.

Second, we challenge the idea that shorter articles are easier and quicker to read. This is true enough if you consider a single article, but assuming that there is a fixed number of studies carried out, shorter articles simply mean more articles. And an increase in articles can create more work for editors, reviewers and, perhaps most important, anyone looking to fully research or understand a topic.

Third, we worry that shorter, single-study articles can be poor models of science. Replication is a cornerstone of the scientific method, and in longer papers that present multiple experiments confirming the same result, replication is manifestly on display; this is not always so with short articles. (Indeed the shorter format may discourage replication, since once a study is published its finding loses novelty.) Short articles are also more likely to suffer from "citation amnesia": because an author has less space to discuss previous relevant work, he often doesn't do so, which can give the impression that his own finding is more novel than it actually is.

The Perils of 'Bite Size' Science
Published: January 28, 2012
The pressure to publish short-format articles is bad for science.

Marco Bertamini and Marcus R. Munafò are psychologists at the University of Liverpool and the University of Bristol, respectively.

January 22, 2012

Bigger apartments for NYC

Mr. Walsdorf said that when Flank began selling condos at 385 West 12th Street, a building completed last year, buyers were interested in combining the smallish units, and "we hadn't really allowed for that possibility in the layouts." This time the firm decided to build large units and stuck to it, even after the financial collapse of 2008. (VillageCare, which operated the nursing home, agreed to sell the building in 2007 but was unable to move out until 2009.)

The conversion of public or institutional buildings into upper-class housing has a long history in New York. The former police headquarters at 240 Centre Street is a condo building, as are the former Y.M.C.A. on West 23rd Street and several former school buildings around the city. The onetime New York Lying-In Hospital, at 305 Second Avenue, is the Rutherford Place condos.

To housing advocates, those conversions represent a victory for the wealthy. Jerilyn Perine, the executive director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, an advocacy group, said it was important that the city adopt regulations "so that denser housing, particularly for singles, has a fighting chance in the market." She added, "It's great to have people with a lot of money living here -- we need their taxes and spending power -- but the loss of density is tragic, especially where mass transit access is so great."

But at least in the case of the Village Nursing Home, the rich will not be the only beneficiaries. A few years ago, residents there were crammed into outdated rooms that averaged less than 300 square feet per person (current regulations require at least 500). VillageCare was able to build a more modern facility, the VillageCare Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at 214 West Houston Street, using money from the sale of the Hudson Street building. A spokesman for VillageCare, Lou Ganim, said residents remaining in the Village Nursing Home at the time it was sold were transferred to the new facility.

Indeed, sometimes preservation advocates look to condo developers as white knights. Since the Bialystoker Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation on East Broadway closed last year, Laurie Tobias Cohen, the executive director of the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy, has been "extremely eager" for a developer to buy the historic building and convert it to co-ops or condos. The closing of the nursing home was a great loss, she said; the goal now is to prevent the demolition, or further deterioration, of the building. "What we don't want," she said, "is to lose any more of the built historic fabric."

Real Estate
Buildings Once Institutional, Now Exclusive
Published: January 19, 2012
The creation of a small number of high-end units from buildings that once housed multitudes may seem incongruous, but developers say the decision is driven by the market.

January 21, 2012

Commercial Real Estate (Re-)Finance, NYC Offices 2007-2012

Some deal detail:

Instead of foreclosing on the 39-story building, which stretches from 52nd Street to 53rd Street, the lenders agreed last month to reduce the principal and defer some of the interest payments on the interest-only loan and extend its maturity for two years, until February 2019. In exchange, Kushner and its powerful new partner in the deal, Vornado Realty Trust, agreed to pour tens of millions of dollars into the building to improve its leasing prospects. The 1.5-million-square feet office building is currently 30 percent vacant.

Real Estate
Surviving a Big Risk on Fifth Avenue
Published: January 17, 2012
The Kushner Companies' $1.8 billion deal for 666 Fifth Avenue in 2007 quickly ran into trouble as the recession took hold. But with the help of another investor, the loan has been modified.

January 20, 2012

Wallabout, Brooklyn

The area has long been populated by members of the working and creative classes, joined recently by professionals.

Doug Bowen, a resident and senior vice president of CORE real estate, said the average house price last year was $975,000 or $395 per square foot, virtually unchanged from 2010. Andrea Yarrington, a vice president of the Corcoran Group, said houses took an average of 136 days to sell, versus 347 in 2010.

Ms. Yarrington added that 15 condos sold in 2011, for an average of $452 per square foot. A search on Streeteasy.com showed four co-ops, three condos and three town houses on the market.

Real Estate
Where History Meets Industry
Published: January 20, 2012
For all of this Brooklyn neighborhood's isolation and industrial grit, many of its residents describe it with immense pride and fondness.

January 19, 2012

Republican delegate count: Romney Gingrich Paul Santorum ?

Will be following the 2012 election season, and tracking the Republican delegate count.

Santorum ?

And do not forget Huntsman, stand-in for Vice President.

See also the Obama is Stupid meme deconstructed, and Obama Will Win the Long Game.

January 18, 2012

Junk Munis ? Market Vectors High Yield Municipal Bond ETF (HYD)

Market Vectors High Yield Municipal Bond ETF (HYD)

This ETF was one of our picks for 2011, and delivered such an impressive return that we felt compelled to include it once again for the upcoming year. As the name suggests, HYD focuses on debt securities from municipal issuers that receive below investment grade ratings. Specifically, the underlying index consists of a 75% weight in below investment grade securities and a 25% allocation to Baa / BBB-rated bonds. Many of the securities found in HYD come from arrangements between municipalities and private corporations, which explains why about a quarter of the portfolio is dedicated to tobacco-related issuers [see High Yield ETFdb Portfolio].

Given the anxiety over the health of the muni bond market-especially high yield muni bonds with less-than-perfect credit ratings-it shouldn't be surprising that HYD can make a potentially attractive payout. For investors in the 25% tax bracket, the tax equivalent 30 day SEC yield is in the neighborhood of 7.7%; those in the top 35% bracket can get a return equivalent closer to 8.8%.

January 17, 2012


Words: From a sufferer's perspective, anxiety is not epochal. It is always and absolutely personal.

January 15, 2012


Liquid Space is like an AirBnB for coworking space and real estate: blog.

Big in San Francisco, California and NY.

January 14, 2012

$380,000 is middle class on Long Island, NY

Financial benchmarks in this area can differ radically from those in places where more people are struggling to put food on the table. Many of Nassau's affluent families think of themselves as practically middle class, saying that property values and taxes are so high that $380,000 does not go very far.

"On Long Island, it's barely a living," said Steven R. Schlesinger, a lawyer and professional poker player. "In Plano, it's a living."

The cutoff for the 1 percent varies depending on how income is calculated. On the low end, an analysis of census data puts the cutoff at $380,000 for a household and provides a wealth of demographic characteristics that were used in this article. On the high end, the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances, which uses a broader measure of income that includes capital gains, yielded a cutoff of $690,000 in 2007, the most recent year of data available. The Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan group, makes projections based on Internal Revenue Service data and adjusts for people who do not file taxes. It puts the cutoff at $530,000 per tax return in 2011. Even by that gauge, though, $380,000 would still put a family well above the 95th percentile. There is little current data that would allow a measurement of the 1 percent by wealth.

There is something to that. Aspen's 1 percent is very different from Akron's. In some areas there are so many 1 percenters that the whole income hierarchy can shift. It may take $380,000 to be in the national 1 percent, but it takes $900,000 to be among the top 1 percent of earners in Stamford, Conn. Compared with that, the price of admission to the 1 percent in Clarksville, Tenn., is a bargain at $200,000. Of course, the cutoff is only one measure, and perhaps not the most telling one. The average income of the 1 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center, is $1.5 million, and the superrich -- the 120,000 tax filers that make up the top tenth of this group -- earned an estimated average of $6.8 million in 2011.

The gap between rich and poor also varies widely. The 1 percent in Manhattan makes $790,000 or more, or 12 times the borough's median income. In Macon, Ga., the 1 percent is far less lofty. The cutoff there is $270,000, roughly six times the median income.

Among the Wealthiest One Percent, Many Variations
Published: January 14, 2012
While the 1 percent has become a catch-all to describe the very wealthy, the members of this group are diverse, especially in where they live, what they believe politically and just how rich they are.

January 13, 2012

Yoga, dangerous ?

His approach was almost free-form: he made us hold poses for a long time but taught no inversions and few classical postures. Throughout the class, he urged us to pay attention to the thresholds of pain. "I make it as hard as possible," he told the group. "It's up to you to make it easy on yourself."

A number of factors have converged to heighten the health risk of practicing yoga. The biggest is the demographic shift in those who study it. Indian practitioners of yoga typically squatted and sat cross-legged in daily life, and yoga poses, or asanas, were an outgrowth of these postures. Now urbanites who sit in chairs all day walk into a studio a couple of times a week and strain to twist themselves into ever-more-difficult postures despite their lack of flexibility and other physical problems. Many come to yoga as a gentle alternative to vigorous sports or for rehabilitation for injuries. But yoga's exploding popularity -- the number of Americans doing yoga has risen from about 4 million in 2001 to what some estimate to be as many as 20 million in 2011 -- means that there is now an abundance of studios where many teachers lack the deeper training necessary to recognize when students are headed toward injury. "Today many schools of yoga are just about pushing people," Black said. "You can't believe what's going on -- teachers jumping on people, pushing and pulling and saying, 'You should be able to do this by now.' It has to do with their egos."

In a 2003 article in Yoga Journal, Carol Krucoff -- a yoga instructor and therapist who works at the Integrative Medicine center at Duke University in North Carolina -- revealed her own struggles. She told of being filmed one day for national television and after being urged to do more, lifting one foot, grabbing her big toe and stretching her leg into the extended-hand-to-big-toe pose. As her leg straightened, she felt a sickening pop in her hamstring. The next day, she could barely walk. Krucoff needed physical therapy and a year of recovery before she could fully extend her leg again.

Glenn Black, a yoga teacher of nearly four decades, whose devoted clientele includes a number of celebrities and prominent gurus, was giving a master class at Sankalpah Yoga in Manhattan. Black is, in many ways, a classic yogi: he studied in Pune, India, at the institute founded by the legendary B. K. S. Iyengar, and spent years in solitude and meditation. He now lives in Rhinebeck, N.Y., and often teaches at the nearby Omega Institute, a New Age emporium spread over nearly 200 acres of woods and gardens.

How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body
Published: January 5, 2012
Popped ribs, brain injuries, blinding pain. Are the healing rewards worth the risks?

January 12, 2012

Metlife Mortgage, RIP

January 10, 2012
MetLife to Close Mortgage Unit

MetLife, the nation's largest life insurer, announced Tuesday that it would close its home mortgage-origination operation, costing the company at least $90 million. Most of the 4,300 employees at the unit will lose their jobs.

"The majority will no longer have a position," said John Calagna, a spokesman for MetLife. Most of the workers at the business are based in Irving, Tex., Mr. Calagna said.

MetLife said in October that it was seeking a buyer for its mortgage unit after announcing plans to sell deposit-gathering operations to reduce federal oversight. The company reached a deal last month to sell about $7.5 billion of its bank's deposits to General Electric.

The Federal Reserve, which oversees MetLife because of its size and banking operations, rejected its plan last year to raise its dividend and resume share buybacks.

The insurer said affected employees include sales representatives and support staff members. The company has not begun dismissals and will give employees 60 days' notice, Mr. Calagna said. Workers can apply for other positions in the company, he said.

MetLife will continue to service current home-loan clients and offer reverse mortgages, the company said. The wind-down may cost as much as $110 million, according to the statement.

MetLife to Close Mortgage Unit
Published: January 10, 2012
Wanting to avoid further federal oversight, MetLife will no longer originate home mortgages.

January 11, 2012


Formspring is a cross between survey sites like SurveyMonkey and answer like sites like eHow, WikiHow, YaHoo! answers and Quora.

January 10, 2012

Inverse volatility: XIV, not VIX

VelocityShares Inverse VIX ETN (XIV)

This ETN offers daily inverse exposure to an index comprised of investments in short-term VIX futures contracts-a strategy that has struggled mightily in 2011 thanks to heightened volatility and backwardated markets. Though XIV has lost more than 40% of its value in 2011, there is reason to be optimistic that at least the beginning of 2012 will be more favorable. The VIX, a measure of expected equity market volatility, has declined considerably in recent weeks as optimism over the global economy has returned. And more importantly for XIV, contango in VIX futures markets has also returned; the futures curve now has a steep upward slope, a condition that can give a nice boost to the strategy employed by XIV [see also Low Volatility ETFs Attracting Big Inflows].

Given that XIV utilizes a futures-based strategy to deliver inverse exposure, this ETN probably isn't appropriate for risk-averse investors who aren't willing or able to regularly monitor their positions. But for those who grasp the complexities associated with XIV, the current environment might just be perfect for this ETN. XIV might not be a good ETN to own throughout 2012, but it certainly seems to be positioned nicely for a strong start to the year.

January 8, 2012

Lighting apartments

"You want to maximize the amount of times that daylight bounces inside the room," Mr. Tanteri said. To do so, he suggested using light colors that are "close to white" on ceilings, walls and floors, and avoiding glossy finishes. "Glossy surfaces can actually be a detriment because they can create glare," he said. "The safest finishes are matte finishes, because they reflect light in all directions."

¶ Mr. Steinberg also recommends using light hues, and offered specific paints. "Linen White by Benjamin Moore is a very reliable, sell-your-house coat of paint," he said. He suggested another Benjamin Moore color, Decorators White, for the ceiling and trim.

¶ On a related note, Mr. Tanteri said: "You don't want to cover the wall with dark hangings. Paintings and posters will absorb light."

¶ As for reducing light obstructions, "Orient objects in the room to promote the flow of daylight," he said. "So, things like bookshelves and partitions should be perpendicular to the window wall."

¶ Mr. Tanteri also says that light from the top of a window will reach the farthest into the apartment, so it is important not to block that part of the window with heavy blinds or drapery.

¶ He favors Venetian blinds because they provide solar control and can also redirect sunlight to the ceiling. "That's when you get deeper daylight penetration," he said. Another option: shades that travel from the bottom of the window upward, rather than top down. "That's something that works for daylight as well as privacy," he said.

¶ And you can supplement the sunlight with strategically placed light fixtures. "Use indirect lighting, aimed at the ceiling," Mr. Tanteri said. A torchier floor lamp near the back of the room could "take over where the daylight on the ceiling starts to fade away."

Matthew Tanteri, principal of the daylighting consulting firm Tanteri & Associates and an assistant professor of lighting design at Parsons the New School for Design

Market Ready
Published: January 4, 2012
Not much natural light? Tips to make your place look brighter.

January 7, 2012

ETF for Greek recovery ?

Global X FTSE Greece 20 ETF (GREK)

This ETF pick is purely a contrarian play-and an admittedly risky one at that. GREK offers a way to invest in the Greek stock market, which has seen close to 90% of its value erased over the last few years as the country has been pushed to the brink of fiscal collapse. While the recent past has been catastrophic, there is opportunity to capture some material gains if Europe is able to pull Greece back from the brink. The developments in the ongoing debt saga have actually been quite positive in recent weeks, as private investors have agreed to haircuts on bond holdings and efforts to implement badly-needed cuts to government spending have gained some momentum [see also Three Long/Short Ideas For Euro Drama].

GREK is perhaps the best opportunity to live out the old Buffett mantra of "being greedy when others are fearful." At a time when most investors won't touch Greece with a ten foot pole, GREK offers a way to tap into a market that could be bottoming out. GREK is essentially a bet that Greece doesn't meet complete collapse in the new year, and can certainly be expected to exhibit a fair amount of volatility. For the risk tolerant crowd, we believe this ETF has some opportunity to surprise in 2012.

January 6, 2012

Wordnik super dictionary 2

Wordnik, which has raised $12.8 million in venture financing, plans to use its vast database of words and word associations at the site and in many business partnerships to be announced this year, said Joe Hyrkin, the president and C.E.O.

The products will be similar to recommendation engines, but more powerful, he said. If you like a particular book, for example, Wordnik can recommend a similar one based on its understanding of words used to describe the book, he said.

"We're not just using tags and descriptors," he said. "Our system understands and identifies matches at a concept level."

The company is already providing many other word-based services, including one used on the Web site of The Times to define words in articles. Wordnik is also providing a financial glossary for SmartMoney.com.

Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley, who talks about language on "Fresh Air," the NPR program, appreciates Wordnik's breadth. "There's a lot of useful information here," he said. (He has also written commentaries on language for The Times.)

But he thinks that hands-on lexicographers could fine-tune the entries.

"The idea that you can pull lexicographers out of the loop and have an algorithm to mediate between me and the English language is goofy," he said. "Without hand citations done by trained people, you get a mess."

To illustrate his point, he noted flaws in a number of Wordnik's definitions. The first definition of "davenport," for instance, in three of the fives sources used by Wordnik is a kind of small writing desk. "It hasn't meant that since Grandma was a girl," he said.

People use a dictionary to find out what is correct, and what is incorrect, he said. "If I were a journalist looking to see if a word was being used correctly," he said, "I wouldn't put my eggs in the Wordnik basket."

Defining Words, Without the Arbiters
Published: December 31, 2011
Wordnik, the online dictionary, brings some of the Web's vox populi to the definition of words. It shows "what's out there right now," one of its founders says.

January 5, 2012

Financial crisis: same facts ?

The recent financial crisis has generated many distinct perspectives from various quarters. In this article, I review a diverse set of 21 books on the crisis, 11 written by academics, and 10 written by journalists and one former Treasury Secretary. No single narrative emerges from this broad and often contradictory collection of interpretations, but the sheer variety of conclusions is informative, and underscores the desperate need for the economics profession to establish a single set of facts from which more accurate inferences and narratives can be constructed.

-- Andrew Lo

January 4, 2012

EGShares Small Cap India ETF (SCIN)

EGShares Small Cap India ETF (SCIN)

This pick is more of an opportunistic buy of an asset class that has potential to deliver huge returns over the long run. The Indian economy is expected to eventually become the second-largest in the world, posting growth rates over the next several decades that surpass even China. Small cap companies that rely on growth in local consumption should be ideally positioned to profit from a swelling middle class, ongoing urbanization, and general increases in wealth and improvements in quality of life [see Evaluating India ETFs: Three Important Factors To Consider].

SCIN's struggles in 2011 allow investors to tap into this investment theme at a big discount; this fund has lost more than 40% of its value in 2011 as a result of inflation-related concerns, corruption, and general risk aversion. India is frustrating to many investors: a massive economy with tremendous untapped economic potential that has repeatedly stumbled in its attempt to increase its presence on the global stage. SCIN could definitely have more short-term volatility ahead, but this fund could deliver some impressive returns to those willing and able to hold on for the long haul.

January 3, 2012

Kim Chi, artisanal ?

The first offerings of artisan kimchi comprise the most popular recipes: napa cabbage and daikon (the long, white East Asian radish).

Open the mason jar just a tad and the pungent aroma of kimchi wafts out.
Napa Cabbage Kimchi. Leaves of cabbage marinated in a sauce of red chiles, onion, scallion, chives, salt, sugar, garlic, ginger, anchovy sauce, oysters, salted shrimp, beef stock, sesame seeds and rice flour.

Daikon Kimchi. Crunchy cubes of daikon are easier to eat without dripping the sauce, made of red chiles, onion, scallion, chives, garlic, salted shrimp and beef stock. All flavors combine on the palate: chile flavor (and heat), garlic and approximation of citrus, which isn't an ingredient.


Lauryn Chun, a former wine consultant and founder of Mother In Law's Kimchi, spent nine years ferrying kimchi from her mother's restaurant--Jang Mo Gip in Garden Grove, a city in Orange County, California--to her home in New York City. Her friends couldn't get enough of it. Then the light bulb went on--BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY!--and she began to produce artisan kimchi locally, using her mother's recipe plus napa cabbage and daikon grown by a Korean farmer in New York's Mid-Hudson Region.

1, 2.

January 1, 2012

Forbes: middle class ! Rich starts at 500k

The first challenge was figuring out who exactly is "rich." The Occupy Wall Street movement claimed to represent the bottom 99 percent of the population. The remaining 1 percent, according to the Internal Revenue Service, earn $506,000 or more. President Obama, meanwhile, has set the dividing line at $250,000. Under $250,000, you're middle class; anything over $250,000 and you're wealthy so you should pay higher taxes. Only 2 percent of households in the nation make more than $250,000, according to the IRS, so that seemed like a decent cutoff.

I then asked researchers at Experian Automotive, a unit of the well-known credit information service, to dig into their database of more than 600 million vehicles in the United States and Canada for insights.

Experian looked to see which brands were favored by people in three different income groups: $250,000 or above; $100,000 to $249,000, and less than $100,000. Not surprisingly, the richest people were the most likely to buy luxury brands (39 percent for people with household income above $250,000 vs. 8 percent for people who earn less than $100,000 a year).

But what that analysis also told me was that 61 percent of people who earn $250,000 or more aren't buying luxury brands at all. They're buying the same Toyotas, Hondas and Fords as the rest of us. So what cars are preferred by the rich?

Luxury models led the list of the 10 most popular cars for people earning over $250,000: The Mercedes E-class, Lexus RX 350, BMW 5 Series and 3 Series had the top four spots. But most surprising is the cars that rounded out the top 10: Three Hondas, a Toyota, an Acura and a Volkswagen. Not a single domestic vehicle in the bunch, though Cadillac has at least grown in popularity among the rich for the past two years.

12/30/2011 @ 1:15PM _ 14,028 views
What The Rich People Really Drive

Joann Muller, Forbes Staf