Colour Coded Gender

September 29, 2013

Girls wear pink. Boys wear blue. This seemingly universal gender dichotomy is actually a very recent invention, as this post on smithsonian.com makes clear. At the end of the 19th century, most boys and girls were dressed in ‘gender neutral’ white dresses. These were considered a practical option, convenient for play and easily bleached. Although … Read more

Visualizing Racial Segregation in America

September 10, 2013

Wired has published a series of maps that try to visualize racial segregation in many of America’s biggest cities. From Wired: “The [maps], created by Dustin Cable at University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, is stunningly comprehensive. Drawing on data from the 2010 U.S. Census, it shows one dot per person, color-coded by … Read more

Big Business, small businesses, Death & Profits

August 29, 2013

‘Ask a Mortician’ is a quirky and informative Youtube series with mortician Caitlin Doughty. The most recent video touches on the political economy of the funeral business. The question is based on an anti-funeral business rant on Reddit and asks: “Is the Funeral Industry a Pyramid Scheme?” Doughty quickly sets aside the misleading use of … Read more

Labouring in College Sports

August 21, 2013

Sports writer Patrick Hruby offers a breakdown of recent turmoil over the possibility that Texas A&M football star Johnny Manziel broke college sports rules pertaining to the payment of athletes. The piece provides some insights into the complicated political economy of U.S. American college sports. Billions of dollars circulate around athletes who are prohibited from … Read more

Paying for attention

August 20, 2013

The media company 21st Century Fox has purchased a five percent share of the website Vice for $70 million. The website produces a wide range of content. However, much of what it currently does is rabble rousing investigative reporting, like a recent half hour report  on Sarnia’s ‘Chemical Valley’ and the effect of the pollution generated … Read more

Transportation, Markets and Externalities

August 19, 2013

The Brazilian government is due to spend R$200 billion (US$84 billion) on its ports, airports, railroads and roads over the next two years. This spending highlights the impossibility of separating ‘politics’ from the ‘economy,’ as it is meant to reduce transportation costs, an important – and often overlooked – component of production, distribution and consumption. … Read more

The Price of Human Life

August 16, 2013

This American Life is a great public radio show based out of Chicago. They just hit their 500th episode and to celebrate, Ira Glass talked with his other producers about favourite past episodes. Alex Blumberg, one of the producers of Planet Money, reflected on a particular co-production with This American Life. All the way back in … Read more

Markets and Inequality

August 16, 2013

In the August 16 issue of The Financial Times, popularizing economics writer Tim Harford joined the chorus of voices raising the issue of income inequality. He asked whether or not we should care that the income gap is widening. He suggested there are two reasons we might care: process and outcome. On the process, Harford … Read more

Mediating the Intra-capitalist Struggle

August 14, 2013

U.S. regulators have subpoenaed powerhouses of financial intermediation, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, as part of a probe into metal warehousing. Two companies identified with the supposedly ephemeral world of finance are being called to answer questions as owners of the decidedly concrete warehouses used to store aluminum. The investigation is being conducted by the … Read more

Decapitalization of the human genome

June 13, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that pieces of the human gene cannot be patented. The ruling invalidated two high profile cancer detection patents awarded to Myriad Genetics (MYGN). The ruling upheld the patenting of synthetic DNA. This partial decapitalization of the human genome showed up as decumulation by the company. Compared to the one … Read more

The language of capitalism

June 13, 2013

In a Guardian op-ed, Doreen Massey explains how neoliberalism has altered the way we think and talk about the economy. While the general point is correct, the issue is much more fundamental than neoliberal ideology. The extent of the problem can be seen in the essay’s slugline: We should scrutinise the everyday language that shapes … Read more

Radiolab: Nanoseconds on the Market

June 3, 2013

The second part of this episode of Radiolab talks about the importance of nanoseconds when it comes to profitably making trades. The importance of this small difference led to a land grab as traders tried to get as close to the NYSE’s physical trading floor, since each foot of fiber optic cable between the trader … Read more