Monday, November 21, 2022

Ivana Marie Zelníčková escaped from behind the Iron Curtain - Motivating Creativity

We have had plenty  of practice dealing with bad news over the last few years. Putting patients in charge of their own surgeries… Clients in charge of their own trials…

Inventing Ivana Trump: Her Improbable Rise and Tragic Death

Ivana Marie Zelníčková escaped from behind the Iron Curtain to storm New York City and help create the twisted miracle of Donald Trump. From her “greed is good” heyday to her post-divorce denouement cavorting with a series of “freaky” Italian lovers, it was Ivana, all along, who gilded the Trump name.

An only child born eight weeks premature on February 20, 1949, she is bestowed with a Russian first name—“Maybe they thought it would help me with the Soviets”—by her parents, an electrical engineer and a telephone operator. The family lives in a concrete house on the grounds of the Bata shoe-factory complex in the town of Gottwaldov, where everyone toes the party line but Ivana Marie Zelníčková. …

Syrovatka moves to London for work but arranges for Ivana to live in his family’s “large and beautiful apartment” in Prague while she earns her master’s degree in physical education at Charles University. Here, she finds true love for the first time, not with Syrovatka but with Czechoslovakia’s premier young poet and songwriter, Jiri Staidl, 30. He writes her love songs; she becomes his muse. A heavy boozer and reckless bon vivant who a friend will say “drove like he was grabbing death by the ass,” Staidl is speeding in his sports car on the night of October 9, 1973, “with several shots in him and an unknown beauty in the passenger seat,” reports a Czech newspaper. When a truck slams into the car, Staidl is propelled out of the vehicle and hits the guardrail, dying on the spot. The unknown beauty is thrown into the back seat, but by some miracle she walks away without a scratch. According to Syrovatka, the newspaper identifies her only by her initials: I.Z.

When should you interact with your boss?

More on the Bahamas response.

Motivating Creativity

I am interested in Danil Dmitriev’s job market paper from UCSD:

How should one incentivize creativity when being creative is costly? We analyze a model of delegated bandit experimentation where the principal desires the agent to constantly switch to new arms to maximize the chance of success. The agent faces a fixed cost of switching. We show that the principal’s optimal reward scheme is maximally uncertain—the agent receives transfers for success, but their distribution has an extreme variance. Despite being stationary, the optimal reward scheme achieves the principal’s first-best outcome provided that the agent’s outside option is sufficiently valuable. Our results shed light on the non-transparent incentives used by online platforms, such as YouTube, and guide how to design incentives for creativity in such applications.

One feature of this model is that extreme uncertainty about rewards motivates project-switching, which is what the principle wants.  Most projects should offer low rewards, but a small percentage of winners should offer very high rewards.  In this model it is also the case that opaque bonus schemes perform better than transparent ones.  As I understand this result, the principal wants the agent to keep on switching and thus does not want to offer any kind of “safe haven” where the agent can rest securely.

AP Exclusive: Google tracks your movements, like it or not

Google agreed to pay $391.5M to settle a lawsuit with 40 U.S. states over allegations that the tech giant was tracking user location data even when users had opted out. A 2018 Associated Press (AP) investigation found that the tracking issue affected as many as two billion people using Google Android devices and hundreds of millions more who used Google Maps.


  • The initial claims made by the AP were confirmed by research conducted by Princeton computer scientists.
  • State officials involved in the suit against Google said that the company used illicitly-gained location information to target consumers with advertisements.
  • State attorney generals claimed that Google misled users about location tracking practices since 2014, violating consumer protection laws.
  • As part of the settlement, Google agreed to make those practices more transparent to users by showing them more information when they adjust location tracking settings.
    • It will also provide a website that allows users to see what data Google is collecting about them.”

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