Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Real Story of Those Empty New York City Storefronts : Retail employment is rising, in part, because of job growth outside of Manhattan; overall, the number of retail establishments in NYC is up 15% since 2007

The Real Story of Those Empty New York City Storefronts. Michael Mandel. Progressive Policy Institute Blog, Sep 10 2018. https://www.progressivepolicy.org/blog/the-real-story-of-those-empty-new-york-city-storefronts-3/


Last week, the New York Times produced a visually stunning story about shuttered storefronts in NYC. The story’s premise, told in pictures, was a simple one:

*** New York City’s streetscape has been transformed — visually and economically — by the staggering numbers of vacant storefronts now dotting its most popular retail corridors.

We’ve all seen the empty storefronts, and they are certainly striking.  However, while the story had data on retail vacancy rates, there were no figures on retail employment or active retail establishments. I thought I’d fill in the gap.

First, here’s a chart of retail jobs in NYC, courtesy of the BLS. It turns out that despite the empty storefronts, NYC retail employment is at a 30-yr high. Retail jobs even rose in 2018, based on the first 7 months of the year:


Retail employment is rising, in part, because of job growth outside of Manhattan.  For example, retail employment in Brooklyn is up 34% since 2007.  Retail employment in the Bronx is up 30%, albeit off a low base. People can now shop in their home boroughs, rather than coming into Manhattan. This is a good thing:


The BLS also counts the number of retail establishments with employees. This is especially interesting, given the emphasis in the NY Times article on empty storefronts. What we see is that the number of retail establishments has fallen in Manhattan since 2007. But every other borough is up significantly. For example, the number of retail establishments in Brooklyn is up by 31% since 2007. Overall, the number of retail establishments in NYC is up 15% since 2007:


How can we explain this? In part, the vacant storefronts are the unintended result of  prosperity.  New York City has seen an enormous amount of development in recent years, including construction of ground-level retail as part of housing and office construction.  That’s how we can simultaneously get growing retail employment and empty storefronts.

But there’s another factor as well. Government figures tell us that retail is a low-productivity, low-pay industry (auto dealership are an exception).  Real wages for production and nonsupervisory workers in retail are at the same level as they were thirty years ago.   Productivity growth for grocery stores and department stores has been stunningly slow for thirty years (annual productivity growth rates of 0.4% and 0.7%, respectively, since 1987).

So the piled-up mountains of imported clothing and food shipped from afar found in most stores may no longer be the best use of some of the most expensive real estate in the world.  Perhaps we need to be thinking in terms of alternative uses for ground level space, like a return to light manufacturing of custom goods based on advanced technologies.  That may need a change in zoning, and a change in thinking about urban space as well.  But for now, realize that empty storefronts do not mean that the jobs have gone away.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger: Psychological trauma and its relationship to enhanced memory control

Hulbert, J. C., & Anderson, M. C. (2018). What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger: Psychological trauma and its relationship to enhanced memory control. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000461

Abstract: Control processes engaged in halting the automatic retrieval of unwanted memories have been shown to reduce the later recallability of the targets of suppression. Like other cognitive skills that benefit from practice, we hypothesized that memory control is similarly experience dependent, such that individuals with greater real-life experience at stopping retrieval would exhibit better inhibitory control over unwanted memories. Across two experiments, we found that college students reporting a greater history of trauma exhibited more suppression-induced forgetting of both negative and neutral memories than did those in a matched group who had reported experiencing little to no trauma. The association was especially evident on a test of suppression-induced forgetting involving independent retrieval cues that are designed to better isolate the effects of inhibitory control on memory. Participants reporting more trauma demonstrated greater generalized forgetting of suppressed material. These findings raise the possibility that, given proper training, individuals can learn to better manage intrusive experiences, and are broadly consistent with the view that moderate adversity can foster resilience later in life.

Should we men in search of girls feel lonely? Neil Shinhababu says we shouldn't, there are "Possible Girls" somewhere (although it is not really somewhere)

Possible Girls. Neil Shinhababu. 2008. https://philpapers.org/archive/SINPG

Abstract: I argue that if David Lewis’ modal realism is true, modal realists from different possible worlds can fall in love with each other. I offer a method for uniquely picking out possible people who are in love with us and not with our counterparts. Impossible lovers and trans-world love letters are considered. Anticipating objections, I argue that we can stand in the right kinds of relations to merely possible people to be in love with them and that ending a trans-world relationship to start a relationship with an actual person isn’t cruel to one’s otherworldly lover.

David Lewis famously holds that reality consists not only of our own universe, but also of countless other universes as real as our own. According to Lewis' modal realism, every possible way that a universe could be is instantiated by one of these .possible worlds.. Lewis calls our world the "actual world," but "actual" signifies only that it is the universe he happens to inhabit. He regards "actual" as an indexical like "I" or "here" - a resident of another world could use it to refer to her world. "Possible" indicates some world that the speaker might or might not inhabit. The reason we never meet the residents of other worlds is that they.re as stuck in their worlds as we are in ours. Their worlds and ours aren.t spatiotemporally or causally connected.

The ability to causally interact with your partner is important to many aspects of happy romantic relationships, but not to all of them. It.s quite pleasant simply to know that your partner loves you and appreciates being loved by you. A loving relationship with a faraway person can enhance one's self-esteem and turn loneliness into contentment. As a lonely philosopher, I've come to wonder: If modal realism is true, can I have a loving relationship with someone from another possible world?

This paper will try to answer that question. The answer, I think, is yes. Given that every possible world is real, I shouldn.t feel lonely. There are many possible girls out there in worlds where modal realism is widely accepted. Some of the girls are single, and are pining for a boy in a world that isn't their own. Some of them are pining for a boy who fits exactly my description, down to the smallest detail. Some worlds hold legions of girls who desire a boy from a world other than theirs, and who fits exactly my description.

Since I.m not good at dealing with lots of romantic relationships at once, I.ll want to pick just one of the girls. It shouldn.t be hard to find one who will suit my desires . the space of logical possibility abounds with kind, beautiful, intelligent girls who want a boy exactly like me. The notion of a closest possible world, used in Lewis. analysis of counterfactuals, might be useful in narrowing down the options. Once I think out the characteristics that I want my girlfriend to have, maybe I''ll just choose the closest possible world to ours where there's only one girl like that, and who wants a boy like me. The girl from that world will be my girlfriend.

There is a problem with this proposal, though. [...]

There is a way to get love letters from your possible girlfriend [...]

While relationships with possible girls involve a broadening of my romantic horizons, some suggest that I’m still being too narrow-minded. They would have me go beyond the Lewisian framework and consider relationships with impossible girls. These girls inhabit impossible worlds where some propositions are both true and false. [...]

There is one more issue to consider. With luck, at some point I’ll find an actual girlfriend. Since I don’t want to be unfaithful, I’ll have to break up with my possible girlfriend if I want to enter into an actual relationship. One might criticize me for this. My possible girlfriend is spending eons of her life singing about me and my world! Isn’t it heartless to break up with someone who has so much invested in a relationship?

This is not as big a problem as it seems. Since all the facts about my doings will be in my possible girlfriend’s song – they’re ways that my world differs from hers – the fact that I’m destined to break up with her will be something she knows from the outset. She could’ve chosen a more permanent boyfriend from among my counterparts. It’s mysterious why she still chose me. But actual girls are mysterious to me in many ways, [...]

Avoiding sedentary behaviors requires more cortical resources than avoiding physical activity: An EEG study

Avoiding sedentary behaviors requires more cortical resources than avoiding physical activity: An EEG study. Boris Cheval et al. Neuropsychologia, Volume 119, October 2018, Pages 68-80. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.07.029

•    Individuals are slower at approaching sedentary than physical activity stimuli.
•    Individuals are quicker at avoiding sedentary than physical activity stimuli.
•    These effects are particularly pronounced in physically active individuals.
•    Avoiding sedentary behaviors is associated with high levels of conflict monitoring and inhibition.
•    Additional brain resources are required to escape a general attraction toward sedentary behaviors.

Abstract: Why do individuals fail to exercise regularly despite knowledge of the risks associated with physical inactivity? Automatic processes regulating exercise behaviors may partly explain this paradox. Yet, these processes have only been investigated with behavioral outcomes (i.e., based on reaction times). Here, using electroencephalography, we investigated the cortical activity underlying automatic approach and avoidance tendencies toward stimuli depicting physical activity and sedentary behaviors in 29 young adults who were physically active or physically inactive but with the intention of becoming physically active. Behavioral results showed faster reactions when approaching physical activity compared to sedentary behaviors and when avoiding sedentary behaviors compared to physical activity. These faster reactions were more pronounced in physically active individuals and were associated with changes during sensory integration (earlier onset latency and larger positive deflection of the stimulus-locked lateralized readiness potentials) but not during motor preparation (no effect on the response-locked lateralized readiness potentials). Faster reactions when avoiding sedentary behaviors compared to physical activity were also associated with higher conflict monitoring (larger early and late N1 event-related potentials) and higher inhibition (larger N2 event-related potentials), irrespective of the usual level of physical activity. These results suggest that additional cortical resources were required to counteract an attraction to sedentary behaviors. Data and Materials [https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1169140]. Preprint [https://doi.org/10.1101/277988].

Lucid nightmares: A survey of their frequency, features, and factors in lucid dreamers

Stumbrys, T. (2018). Lucid nightmares: A survey of their frequency, features, and factors in lucid dreamers. Dreaming, 28(3), 193-204. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/drm0000090

Abstract: This article reports the first systematic study on lucid nightmares—terrifying lucid dreams with a lack of dream control. An online survey was completed by 634 participants, of whom 574 had had previous lucid dream experience. According to the reports of lucid dreamers, less than half of them had experienced a lucid nightmare, and only 1% of them could be considered as suffering from lucid nightmares—experiencing them once a week or more frequently. Lucid nightmares appear to be as distressing as ordinary nightmares. Lack of dream control and intense fear are among their most common features, followed by violent autonomous dream characters and the inability to wake up. Lucid nightmares are more likely to occur for women and nightmare sufferers, yet also for more frequent lucid dreamers and for those who experience lucid dreams spontaneously rather than them being induced deliberately. Key methodological points, for example, whether the awakening criterion in the definition of lucid nightmares should be included, are addressed, and suggestions for future research are provided.

Immunocompetence Handicap Hypothesis fails; but a context-dependent tradeoff between energetic investment in male reproductive effort and some aspects of immune function (complex interactions between physical characteristics, physiological processes, and immune activity)

Life History Tradeoffs Between Testosterone and Immune Function Among Shuar Forager-Horticulturalists of Amazonian Ecuador. Theresa E. Gildner, PhD Thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Jun 2018. https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1794/23822/Gildner_oregon_0171A_12256.pdf?sequence=1

The sex hormone testosterone supports male reproduction. However, testosterone is hypothesized to suppress immune activity, resulting in a tradeoff between energetic investment in reproductive ef fort and immune function. The Immunocompetence Handicap Hypothesis (ICHH) therefore argues that testosterone-linked masculine traits honestly signal health status to prospective mates, as only uninfected males should be able to maintain high testosterone levels. Still, this proposed tradeoff remains poorly tested among human men, especially among natural fertility populations experiencing high infectious disease burdens. This dissertation therefore tested the ICHH among indigenous Shuar men of Amazonian Ecuador. Specifically, this project examined testosterone variation patterns and assessed how male investment in reproductive effort is associated with reproductive success and immune function.

The first study tested testosterone level variation among Shuar men in relation to body composition, age, and style of life factors. This study demonstrated that age and BMI interactions shape testosterone levels in complex ways, such that the relationship between body composition and testosterone profile varies throug hout the life course. The second study investigated whether individual reproductive success was significantly influenced by masculine trait development and parasite load. These results failed to v support the hypotheses that masculine traits increased reprod uctive success or honestly signaled lack of parasitic disease. Instead, a significant positive association was observed between a composite score of masculine traits and Ascaris lumbricoides infection load; suggesting that male investment in reproductive effort may increase parasitic infection risk.

The final study assessed whether testosterone levels were negatively associated with four measures of immune function (parasite load, C-Reactive Protein [CRP], Immunoglobulin-G [IgG], and Immunoglobulin-E [IgE]). Testosterone levels were inversely associated with CRP levels and a positive relationship between testosterone levels and Trichuris trichiura infection load was documented, suggesting increased investment in reproductive effort may suppress some aspects of immune function and increase parasite burden. Overall, these studies fail to support the ICHH, but do indicate a context-dependent tradeoff between energetic investment in male reproductive effort and some aspects of immune function; thereby demonstrat ing complex interactions between physical characteristics, physiological processes, and immune activity in human men.

Arising out of the experience that other people see the world differently: The others, for some basic intellectual and moral defect, are unable to see things “as they really are” and to react to them in a “normal way”

From the Fundamental Attribution Error to the Truly Fundamental Attribution Error and Beyond: My Research Journey. Lee Ross. Perspectives on Psychological Science, https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691618769855

Abstract: This essay traces continuities and changes in focus of research and theory in my career. I describe early work on insensitivity to role-conferred advantages in self-presentation (and the personal experiences that prompted that work) and the subsequent identification and naming of the “fundamental attribution error.” I next describe my work on the role that construal processes play in determining responses to various decision-making and attributional contexts. That work, in turn, culminated in identification and exploration of what I now deem the truly “fundamental attribution error”: the illusion of superior personal objectivity and its various consequences for interpersonal and intergroup interactions. I conclude with the lessons I have drawn from my applied work on conflict resolution.