Distractions, distractions

I watched a really cool video from VW (the motorcar company) that brings home the idea that texting and driving, or more generally distracted driving, is a BAD idea, with serious consequences. Check out the video here. Not only is a great Public Service Announcement, even though it’s an advertisement, it also highlights one common myth about human beings brains. It is commonly believed that humans can multitask, but research shows this to be a myth. Actually humans are really good at switching between tasks very quickly. We can do one thing for a short time, then switch to another task very quickly, then to another, or back again. It –looks– like we are doing many things at once, but we are not. (For those of you who point out we breathe and do other things at the same time, realize that breathing is an involuntary action–we don’t normally decide to breathe, we do it automatically.)

The problem with distractions while driving is they draw our attention away from the primary task – driving – toward other tasks like talking to the kids, reading a text, checking out the wreck and associated traffic slowdown in the other lane… So we have to switch between driving, and the distracting tasks. Unfortunately many or most people underestimate the cognitive requirements of driving in traffic, so even though we can switch back and forth quickly, we end up doing a poor job of both tasks. And doing a poor job of driving is really not an option…

 

Wealthy Inflation

The wealthy might earn a lot (usually in the form of interest and capital gains rather than wages and salary), but they also pay a lot. They pay a lot for housing and food, as well as all the luxury items and toys they have. For example, the wealthy who live in Manhattan are paying increasingly higher prices for apartments and condos: this New York Post article says that apartment prices have risen by 20% in the last year. The average Manhattan apartment costs $1.7million these days, and real estate agents expect that price to rise.
Recent auctions of rare automobiles show that the cars rich people like to have in their garages are getting more and more expensive. The Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII) of classic car prices has risen an average of 43% per year over the last ten years. The same company’s indexes for wine and fine art have risen an average of 18% each year for the last ten years. (The only good news is that the average price for antique furniture has fallen 19% over the last ten years.)
Even though the 1%ers are very wealthy, and they do save more than their less wealthy brethren, they also spend a lot of money (such conspicuous consumption is on display in reality cable shows such as Keeping Up With the Kardashians.) Maybe it’s not a big problem that what they buy costs a small fortune…