Sunday, September 06, 2009

Travelography 155: Our Changing World: Geishas and Satellites

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Geisha turn barmaids to keep Japan’s ‘Floating World’ afloat

A traditional two-hour dinner with a geisha, who will entertain with music, dance performances and conversation, can cost as much as 67,000 yen ($715), more than half of which goes to the teahouse and an arranger, ... "It's a luxury industry, and like the high-end hotels, it has dropped," ... [However,] bookings have declined 50 percent since last October, the month after the collapse of [financial services firm] Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc, ...

Economists Measure GDP Growth From Outer Space

Using U.S. Air Force weather satellite picture composites, they look at changes in a region’s light density over a 10-year period. “Consumption of nearly all goods in the evening requires lights,” ... “As income rises, so does light usage per person, in both consumption activities and many investment activities.” ... For example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, lights suggest a 2.4-percent annual growth rate in GDP, while official estimates suggest a negative 2.6-percent growth over the same time period. The Congo appears to be growing faster than official estimates suggest. At the other end, Myanmar has an official growth rate of 8.6 percent a year, but the lights data imply only a 3.4-percent annual growth rate.