National / International News
The Reddit “Button” that started out as an April fool’s prank has turned into an internet obsession. As of this writing, nearly 750,000 people have pushed it.
What exactly is it? It's a button with a timer that counts back from 60 seconds. Anyone who had a Reddit account before the day the button launched can push the button and reset the clock. But they can only push once. And no one knows what happens if the clock gets to zero.
So what’s the big deal? “I think the short answer is, there’s a lot of reasons,” said Kelly Goldsmith, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Northwestern University. She’s been reading what a lot of people have said online about their experience of pushing the button, which range from competition to status.
“But it also seems like there’s a strong sense of affiliation and a strong sense of community,” said Goldsmith. “But on the other hand, it could just be driven by curiosity.”
Curiosity about when the next person is going to push it? Or how long it’s going to keep going? Or what might happen if no one pushed it?
“That’s really what keeps it so mesmerizing,” said Goldsmith.
Although a strong sense of community is making people push the button, Goldsmith said, “the motivating power of curiosity” was part of it too.
“I don’t think gets enough attention in the academic literature, but it’s (curiosity) definitely a strong driving force,” said Goldsmith.
When she first heard about it, she admits she was in favor of people banding together not to push the button so they could see what would happen. But since then she’s changed her mind because she think so many people working together to keep the button going is a positive affiliation. But that doesn’t mean she’s going to push the button right away.
“I would absolutely be of the group that waits to get the clock as low as possible,” said Goldsmith. “Again, just for curiosity's sake. How low can it go? What would happen if no one pushed it?”
How did the Pentagon's F-35 fighter jet program, which was originally thought up as a way to cut costs, end up becoming the most expensive weapons program in history?
Mackenzie Eaglen, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, says policymakers boxed themselves into this expensive fighter jet. "By canceling the F-22 air superiority fighter," Eaglen said, "it made the F-35 fighter the only fighter option available to the Pentagon."
Eaglen says the original concept behind the JSF program—that creating a single, unified aircraft for all branches of the military would lower costs—has been discredited. "It's never truly joint; these are fraternal twins," Eaglen said.
Ben FitzGerald, Senior Fellow and Director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, says today the debate all centers around one question: "how do we manage the cost."
Canceling the F-35 is no longer an option, he said, because the Pentagon has put all its eggs in one basket.
If you’ve been thinking about visiting Europe, but haven’t wanted to pay top dollar, now is a pretty good time to take out your wallet. With the dollar creeping up on the euro, American tourists are modifying their summer itineraries.
University of Texas-Austin student Neena Malhotra is taking advantage of the weaker euro. She’s planning on traveling to Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France and Spain.
The price of everything from paella to train tickets has dropped –
“And when looking at the prices to determine whether it is a good idea or not,” she says, “it seemed more feasible than it had another time we had tried to do it.”
According to TripAdvisor, the average nightly rate for a European hotel this summer is $133. That’s compared to $164 last year. And the average cost of a one-week European trip has dropped by 11 percent.
Kathryn O’Kane of Brooklyn had budgeted $200 plus a night in Madrid and Basque Country.
“We were pleasantly surprised to find hotels about $100 a night,” she says.
And with the extra pocket money, O’Kane says her family will be able to do a lot more shopping, and take advantage of opportunities to see Spanish Guitar or Flamenco. That will no doubt please a lot of local businesses in Europe.
The dollar’s surge will also benefit travel agencies and tour companies. Paul Wiseman is president of Trafalgar Guided Vacations.
“We're having a very good year to Europe,” Wiseman says. “We’re seeing double digit growth in Italy and Great Britain and I’m sure that’s on the back of a very strong U.S. dollar.”
But is a 90 cent cheaper café au lait enough to tempt people to go to Paris instead of Mexico?
Who better to ask than Paula Serrano, a travel agent in the city of Paris, Texas.
“No, [travel] has not picked up,” Serrano says. “I sell more Mexico than anything.”
After all, in Cancun a dollar gets you not just one, but fifteen pesos.
On Tuesday, JP Morgan and Wells Fargo begin a week of big bank earnings reports. But we got a preview of the state of the big banks last week, when GE announced it would wind down and sell off most of the assets of the seventh-largest bank: GE Capital.
"The primary lesson is: If you don't have to be a bank, don't be one," says Fred Cannon, global director of research at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. Cannon also says the fact that GE is selling most of the financial assets to smaller institutions is an indication of what sector will see faster growth in the years to come.
But bank analyst Nancy Bush says there is one area where the so-called “universal banks” have an edge this quarter: Trading on the volatility in the currency and commodities markets.
Last week, one of my colleagues was sounding a little tense as he set out to work on his taxes. Radio producer Josh Woo fills in here as a director on the Marketplace Morning Report and the thing is during 2014 tax year, Josh won big on a TV game show. Four years earlier, Josh had also won prizes on another show, The Price is Right, and a dozen years before that, when just a kid, Josh won two grand on Jeopardy. With Josh's tax return now signed and delivered, I wanted to see if with all this experience, if he managed to avoid the classic mistake or forgetting to pay estimated tax on extra income.
Click on the multimedia player above to hear more on what Josh's big win means to him this tax season.