Occasional reader – Gas prices, trashing hotels, brain chemistry, hunger cafes

Some interesting reads from the past few weeks:

  • Top Car Dealer Says High Gas Prices Are Good for the U.S. Auto Industry (WSJ) — The CEO of AutoNation views high gas prices as just what we need to spur innovation on new technologies. After decades of convincing Americans that they should pay for size and power, he’s now trying to convince them that they should value fuel efficiency. That argument is made easier by $4 gas.
  • Hotels upgrade their ‘no-stay’ lists (MSNBC) — Every frequent business traveler has hotels they’d never stay at again. I hated the Hyatt Rickey’s (now gone) and likely won’t be back to Sheraton Gateway Suites O’Hare. But hotels are also keeping a list of people they don’t want to see again. They’re using chainwide databases to blacklist problem customers who trash hotel rooms or constantly complain about service and ask for comps. I hope my complaint about $80 in erroneous minibar charges from the Westin Bellevue doesn’t land me on the list. It’s a great hotel otherwise.
  • Exploring the neurochemistry of fairness (Ars Technica) — “It’s not fair!” is a common refrain from childhood. Apparently, as a species we have an innate sense of fairness. We do things against our own interests for a “fair” outcome. Participants were asked to play the Ultimatum Game, in which they were offered a percentage of a pool of money by another participant. If they agreed to take it, they’d get that percentage. If they didn’t agree, neither party got anything. The economically rational thing to do is take any percentage offered. Even 1% is better than nothing. That’s not how it played out. And the results could be changed by manipulating serotonin levels.
  • In a Restaurant Row, Drive-Through Charity (New York Times) — One of the toughest things about visiting India is seeing the staggering amount of poverty throughout the country. The Times reports on “restaurants” where homeless sit in rows outside waiting for people to drive by and offer some money that can be used to purchase food. If someone comes the group goes inside and eats. via Chamath Palihapitiya
  • $5+ premium gas in San Francisco


About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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