Friday, February 25, 2011

elastic prices

price goes up, number of things sold goes down.  simple enough.  economists, being what they are, have given this wonder phenomenon the fancy name "negative price elasticity."  here's how it works in practice.  price of silver line ride: free if you have a day pass, or $6/day.  here's the northbound silver line during evening rush hour:

pretty much every seat is taken.  i know this picture isn't the greatest of evidence, but i didn't want to be the weirdo taking pictures of everyone (even though i was).

now, price of 450x: $1.40/ride even with a day pass, or $8.80/day in practical terms (day pass plus taking the 450x once in each direction).  here's the northbound 450x during evening rush hour:

you can see the back half of the bus is nearly empty and the front half is only about half full.  price goes up, riders go down.  that's negative price elasticity.  see, econ's not so hard.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

lambda, lambda. alabama.

as the train rolls in, i see a wheelchair through the doorway i'm about to use -- with two bricks in the seat.  though i step back to let the disheveled man behind the wheelchair out, others press forward.  eventually, he realizes it's not his stop.  he wheels his chair out of the way and puts one brick down in front of each back wheel to keep the chair from rolling around before wandering off to stand somewhere else.

he ambles back over before we get to his stop, picks up the bricks, puts them back on the seat and readies for disembarkation.  "people try to rob me, i wish i could grow wings," spills out from a meth-addled auctioneer's voice.  "someone tried to rob me the other day, i laid em flat with a brick."  no one expresses disbelief.  "really, just the other day, someone tried to rob me."

normally, i try not to get involved, but he seems harmless.  "i won't try to rob you, but i wish i had wings too," i say.

"fly to heaven.  tell jesus i'm on my way.  i spent 50 years livin satan's way, now i'm tryin to live a different way.  i'm lookin forward to seein jesus an' i hope he has a seat for me in heaven."

"he's probably got a few for you."

"tryin to be a new person.  the only way to win a fight is to not get in one.  people start with me, i hold up a brick and they go runnin.  i got three of em.  these two and one more under the newspaper," he says, pointing to the pouch on the seatback.  "i'm about to go to wendy's for some food.  could you spare some change?"

while i could definitely spare some, i quite honestly don't have any on me.  i shrug my shoulders and say, "sorry."

"god bless you.  i really love wendy's."

title of this post inspired by "aqua teen hunger force"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


m and m.  that spells mmmmmm.  and so sparkly too.

as much as i hope someday people will pay me for the right to wear me on their shirt, i'm glad i'm not a bag of candy-coated chocolates.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

packin em in

east coast subway riders usually marvel at how empty the l.a. trains are.  if you're willing to make someone else move, you can almost always get a seat.  so, how do you pack a train in l.a.?  simple.  let one train break down.  here's what a train, even in car-centric l.a., can look like when all the passengers of one train are packed on to the next train.

when gas prices spiked back in the summer of '08, i actually witnessed scenes like this pretty regularly even without a break down.  supply and demand, i guess.  more econ coming up in a future post.

Friday, February 4, 2011

the odd couple

well, isn't that a nice dress.

and purse...

and t-shirt and jeans?