…we have an industry that asks one question it’s giving the answer to, and a second question that assumes that people can accurately describe their risk attitude (which they can’t). This saddens me because, while I think that financial advisors are overpaid for the service they provide, in principle they could contribute much more, and they could even deserve their salary. But only if they start offering a more useful service, one that they are in the perfect position to provide. Money, it turns out, is incredibly hard to reason about in a systematic and rational way (even for highly educated individuals). Risk is even harder.
This is the curse and the blessing of the instantly multiplied audience, I suppose. Whoever has heard this [‘comedic confession’ of a possible date-rape] story before apparently thought it was funny. They don’t seem to have found it creepy, anyway. And it seems to be far from the first time [the open-mic night participant]’s told it, considering that at one point he actually says he’s speaking “the way I tell this story to my friends.”
Maybe it’s not true. Maybe it’s part-true. That certainly matters to the police, and to the woman, and to him, and presumably to his family and friends. But whether he considers this a true story where everyone will be on his side or a comedy routine that will strike people as some kind of a hooray-for-the-underdog narrative, I find it profoundly upsetting. Having it be true is awful, but having it be something he would invent or embellish, either as comedy or as image management, also crawls across my skin like an entire army of cockroaches.
Wow. Just, wow.
Via Geek Feminism, where the entry in a link collection had so many WARNINGs as well as NPR and Jezebel write-ups, I just had to click.
While Americans ought to prepare for the coming storm, federal dollars need not subsidize their preparations. Although it might sound outrageous, the truth is that the National Hurricane Center and its parent agency, the National Weather Service, are relics from America’s past that have actually outlived their usefulness.
Today the NWS justifies itself on public interest grounds. It issues severe weather advisories and hijacks local radio and television stations to get the message out. It presumes that citizens do not pay attention to the weather and so it must force important, perhaps lifesaving, information upon them. A few seconds’ thought reveals how silly this is. The weather might be the subject people care most about on a daily basis. There is a very successful private TV channel dedicated to it, 24 hours a day, as well as any number of phone and PC apps. Americans need not be forced to turn over part of their earnings to support weather reporting.
No, that’s not The Onion. Fox News, via researchers the Competitive Enterprise Institute, published a myopic-at-best piece calling for the end of the National Weather Service. …Because people could look at apps or the Weather Channel instead. Or that businesses would pay for it, if they really needed it.
I like to think I have decently thick skin for dumbass political rhetoric from any part of the spectrum. However this one hit a nerve. Not only for the snarkily advantageous timing as Hurricane Irene began its east coast crawl (which we all followed because the NWS was doing its job) but also the weak attempt to over-inflate a government bloat argument. C’mon, you have to try better than that—this could be a madlib for other absurd combinations: IRS on April 15th. The Presidency on Inaugration day. NOAA during a tsunami warning—which, in fact, is the parent organization of the NWS.
The countering posts/articles are decent, particularly those adding real-world context around the allegation that the NWS is more inaccurate than private company’s models (that still rely heavily on NWS data and infrastructure). From TheWeatherSpace.com:
There is a legit reason that National Weather Service is said to be more inaccurate by the general public than other private stations. The National Weather Service has guidelines, and these guidelines prevent their meteorologists from issuing some products until that criteria is set. Private offices do not have this responsibility like a government office so they can go all out, sometimes days before NWS even talks about it.
I should note that it was hard to find responses that actually backed the anti-NWS position and put real thought and data behind it. Most sympathetic posts simply repeated the content. The best I saw is that the piece was misunderstood, that they mean NWS should stop issuing ‘inaccurate’ warnings. I think that’s a bit generous.
So are we stuck between a fiscal policy rock and an economic hard place? Not necessarily. It’s possible to stimulate the economy further, now, without increasing the 10-year deficit. It would mean steering funds away from spending and tax cuts that offer low “bang for the buck” economic stimulus and toward higher “bang” policies.
Then the deficit would be no higher but the economy would improve. That growth, in turn, would help brighten our debt outlook, as our economy would be better able to keep pace with our still-growing debt.
What shifts would be needed? The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office lists payroll tax cuts and aid to state and local governments high on its list of fiscal policies designed to stimulate demand. Care to guess what falls dead last on that list? Extended income tax cuts.
Jefferson’s initial skepticism about patents led him to insist that patented inventions be useful and non-obvious, the foundational rules of our system. Those rules might actually solve the software patent dilemma for us if we just wait long enough: the gold rush to patent all these fundamental software technologies means that they’ll all be public domain prior art in a few years, and any obvious improvements won’t be patentable. The pendulum swings both ways.
“What about the rat race in the first place? Is it worthwhile? Or are you just buying into someone else’s definition of success? Only you can decide that, and you’ll have to decide it over and over and over. But if you think it’s a rat race, before you drop out, take a deep breath. Maybe you picked the wrong job. Try again. And then try again. Try until you find something that stirs your passion, a job that matters to you and matters to others. It is the ultimate luxury to combine passion and contribution.”—FACEBOOK COO SANDBERG: The Women Of My Generation Blew It, So Equality Is Up To You, Graduates
Watch the Throne then can be seen as a shrewd move to institutionalize Jay-Z’s hegemony in a rapidly shifting and potentially hostile environment through a fully-realized new alliance system. The key moves came years earlier: Jay-Z allowing Kanye to produce Blueprint 3 instead of trying to destroy him after his 2007 diss track “Big Brother”; his signing of key rising stars to Roc Nation and Kanye’s doing the same at GOOD Music; his participation on Kanye’s brilliant GOOD Friday series of free online downloads and on Kanye’s remarkable comeback album My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy; and then finally Watch the Throne.
“When you’re manufacturing anything, even if the work is done by robots and machines, there’s an incredible value chain involved,” Susan Hockfield, the president of M.I.T., says. “Manufacturing is simply this huge engine of job creation.” For batteries, that value chain would include scientists researching improved materials to companies mining ores for metals; contractors building machines for factory work; and designers, engineers and machine operators doing the actual plant work. By some estimates, manufacturing employs about 65 percent of America’s scientists and engineers.
Hockfield recently assembled a commission at M.I.T. to investigate the state of American manufacturing and to offer a plan for its future. “It has been estimated that we need to create 17 to 20 million jobs in the coming decade to recover from the current downturn and meet upcoming job needs,” she said at a conference this past March. “It’s very hard to imagine where those jobs are going to come from unless we seriously get busy reinventing manufacturing.” This logic has been endorsed by Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric’s C.E.O.; Andy Grove, the former chairman of Intel; and Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical’s C.E.O. A widely circulated 2009 Harvard Business Review article — “Restoring American Competitiveness,” by two Harvard professors, Gary Pisano and Willy Shih — has become one of the touchstones of the manufacturing debate. In the article, Pisano and Shih maintain that U.S. corporations, by offshoring so much manufacturing work over the past few decades, have eroded our ability to raise living standards and curtailed the development of new high-technology industries.
When I spoke with Pisano, he noted that industries like semiconductor chips — the heart of computers and consumer electronics — require the establishment of “an industrial commons,” the skills shared by a large, interlocking group of workers at universities and corporations and in government. The commons loses its vitality if crucial parts of it, like factories or materials suppliers, move abroad, as they mostly have in the case of semiconductors. At first the factories leave; the researchers and development engineers soon follow.
The most punishing effect, however, may be the one that can’t be measured — the technologies and jobs that aren’t created because the industrial ecosystem is degraded. The semiconductor industry, for example, led to the LED-lighting and solar-panel industries, both of which are mostly based in Asia now. “The battery is another fascinating example,” Pisano told me. “The center of gravity is Asia. But why?” If you go back to the 1960s, he says, the American consumer-electronics companies decided they were better off in Japan, and then Korea, where costs were lower. “And then you have to ask: Who had the incentives to make batteries smaller or more powerful or last longer? Not the car industry. The consumer-electronics industry did.” This explains why the U.S. is now playing catch-up with lithium-ion batteries. It also underscores the vulnerability of an economy with a shrinking manufacturing sector. “When one industry moves,” Pisano says, “there can be other industries in the future that follow it that you couldn’t even anticipate.”
The short answer is yes and the longer answer is that when you outsource manufacturing, pretty soon you outsource everything upstream of that: research, design, and product management.
It isn’t possible to cut out one element of a supply chain, and export it 10,000 miles away, and not break the ecosystem needed for innovation and competitiveness. This turns out to be one of the largest externalities that is forgotten when considering manufacturing as a mere transaction, instead of as a network of relationships between all the people involved.
This piece by Gertner is a call for protectionism: we need to bring back the manufacturing to the US if we have any hope for competitiveness in the 21st century.
“The country would be well served by a better process for making fiscal decisions,” he said.
Mr. Bernanke said he remained optimistic about future growth — he gave no indication that the Fed would increase its economic aid programs, though he said the central bank’s policy-making board would revisit the issue at a scheduled meeting in September — but he warned that the government had emerged as perhaps the greatest threat to recovery.
…we also decided to look back and see what Jobs is likely to take with him when he steps down, in the way of retirement benefits, severance and the like. The answer: not much.
That’s small surprise to anyone who’s paid attention to his pay in recent years. Jobs has famously been paid just $1 a year in salary since 2003 — and nothing else, whether equity, perks or pension. The nominal $1 salary is more common these days, but mostly among execs facing a tough economy or presiding over big layoffs, to show solidarity with the troops (or just generate some good press). But Jobs has done it even in the absolute best of times: Apple shares have risen more than 3,000% since early 2004, more than 130 times the Nasdaq’s return in the same period.
Jobs does own something like 5.5 million shares of Apple stock — less than 1% of outstanding shares, but still a whopping $2.09 billion at yesterday’s close. That means that the stock’s 5% drop in after-hours trading cost Jobs about $106 million (though AAPL is down less than 2% this morning).
What is journalism worth? That’s the question journalism managers and entrepreneurs have been trying to figure out ever since it became clear, years ago, that the Internet was disrupting local publishing monopolies.
And so we’ve endured years of conference panels, email exchanges, and blog posts about paywalls and paid content strategies, as publishers try to figure out exactly how much people are now willing to pay for news content.
Lost in this is the realization that people have been telling us - for generations - how much they’re willing to pay for news.
The second is that the moral argument should be on the side of redistribution. I am willing to listen to utilitarian arguments against redistribution (e.g., high marginal tax rates reduce the incentive to work, blah blah blah blah blah); I may not agree with them, but they are a plausible position. However, I have little patience for the idea that rich people deserve what they have because they worked for it. It’s just a question of how far back you are willing to acknowledge that chance enters the equation. If you are willing to acknowledge that chance determines who you are to begin with, then it becomes obvious (to me at least) that public policy cannot simply seek to level the playing field, because that will just endorse a system that produces good outcomes for the lucky (the smart and hard-working) and bad outcomes for the unlucky. Instead, fairness dictates that policy should attempt to improve outcomes for the unlucky, even if that requires hurting outcomes for the lucky.
I missed this when Mr. Kwak first posted it. A return to the topic brought it up again and it merits consideration. Nicely written up, too, for these kinds of things.
The dominoes continued to fall. I had thought I was a secularist because I conceived of right and wrong as standing on their own two feet, without prop or crutch from God. We should do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, period. But this was a God too. It was the Godless God of secular morality, which commanded without commander – whose ways were thus even more mysterious than the God I did not believe in, who at least had the intelligible motive of rewarding us for doing what He wanted. And what is more, I had known this. At some level of my being there had been the awareness, but I had brushed it aside. I had therefore lived in a semi-conscious state of self-delusion – what Sartre might have called bad faith. But in my case this was also a pun, for my bad faith was precisely the belief that I lacked faith in a divinity.
I’m glad I saved this for this evening, after chores. Little brain is spinning in the red at the moment.
So I would like to stand up for the language nerds and give some reasons for studying Arabic that have nothing to do with politics. The language of the National Designated Other is bound to switch to Chinese in a couple of years, but until colleges start teaching Martian, Arabic is going to remain the strangest, most interesting language you can study in an undergrad classroom.
And don’t fall for the bait and switch with Chinese or Japanese! They might tempt you with an exotic writing system, but after a few months you find out that the underlying language is pretty vanilla, and meanwhile there is a stack of three thousand flash cards standing in between you and the ability to skim a newspaper.
Basically, we discovered that in any interaction, the person with the higher status uses I-words less (yes, less) than people who are low in status. The effects were quite robust and, naturally, I wanted to test this on myself. I always assumed that I was a warm, egalitarian kind of guy who treated people pretty much the same.
I was the same as everyone else. When undergraduates wrote me, their emails were littered with I, me, and my. My response, although quite friendly, was remarkably detached — hardly an I-word graced the page. And then I analyzed my emails to the dean of my college. My emails looked like an I-word salad; his emails back to me were practically I-word free.