Linklist: February 29, 2012

The Speculist (via Kottke): In the Future Everything Will Be A Coffee Shop

Marginal Revolution: Probability fact of the day:

“The average class size experienced by students is almost always larger than the average class size experienced by professors.
More at God Plays Dice. I recall a JEP piece (?) many years ago which used the same idea to explain the “road curse”–given two equally good roads most people will always choose the more crowded!”

I use this example to explain transit ridership. Two buses, 1 carries 50 people, 1 carries 1 person. 50 people observe a bus with 50 people, 1 observes a bus with 1 person. Perceived average ridership is about 49, actual average ridership is about 25.

Standing There Like Idiots

There are many useless traffic signals. (Some are also useful).
The most useless traffic signal I see everyday (multiple times) is at the intersection of Beacon St. and Harvard Avenue. Not only is there little traffic for the traffic light, so a stop sign (or better a yield sign, roundabout, or shared space) would do, the pedestrian signal has Beg buttons. I just saw someone who looked a lot like Eric Kaler (who is obviously not an idiot) waiting and needlessly obeying the law while pushing the pedestrian signal actuator multiple times to call for a walk signal, which eventually came. If no one pushes the actuator, you actually don’t get a walk signal, so it is working, just pointless.
Why do we have these signals, on a university campus of all places, making pedestrians (who probably are equal in number to cars at this intersection) stand there like idiots while cars can drive through, and even make a “right turn on red”?