Tag Archives: Technology

How Many Techno- And Bureaucrats Are Enough?-David Greene At NPR: ‘Rochester Focuses On A New Piece Of American Manufacturing’

Full piece here.

We’ve got holes where the jobs are and will be, holes where the people looking for jobs and passing through our education system can’t/aren’t able to fill some of the new jobs being created, and automation is going to make fewer manufacturing jobs in many fields, pound for pound.

Greene on the new business in an old manufacturing town:  Rochester, New York.

‘That said, this picture is far from perfect. You look at this factory: making incredible things with machines both old and new, but there’s almost no one here. The factory has more than 16,000 square feet, but only 80 people work here.’

Imagine some process with which you involve yourself daily:  Driving, for example.  Right now teams and teams of people are designing the hardware and software to automate that process, and some will make a healthy dollar doing so. Think about how important your mobile device has likely and/or could become in your life.

Now, imagine our founding fathers getting around:  Bumping over rough, dangerous roads over a period of many days, weeks and months, hearing of important news through the grapevine and horseback. Activities in our lives which already consume much time, sweat and labor, or with which we often engage mindlessly/habitually etc. will continue to be made easier or simply done for us by new technology. That rate of change is pretty high at the moment.

New jobs are gong to come out of that process, but not always where and how many we think.

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As to NPR and keeping the activists from putting techno- and bureaucrats in charge: NPR has great production values, but their particular ideological preferences lead to less overall wealth and dynamism in the economy; an over-promising, under-delivering American government, or some Americanized version of European-style Statism sold as ‘private/public partnerships’ coming with lots of bloat, byzantine laws and bad incentives.

We can do better than that.

Warmed-over 60’s activism and Left-liberal populism often drives the car, and those along for the ride can be blind to how local politics actually functions, especially in our cities, and to many abuses of power and corruption that go hand-in-hand with politics across the political spectrum.

Often, I suspect that many NPR listeners are there for the culture, the quality of reporting, and the lack of advertisements.  Many listeners probably don’t pay particular attention to the deeper way in which events are being interpreted for them; the possible contradictions between their commitments and the activist, ideological base which often drives the next issue for debate.

Instead, there’s a lot of literature and poetry, an exposition of secular humanism and a rather modern liberal worldview, softly material, usually pushing environmentalist, feminist, and multicultural causes.

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Larry Summers via the Democracy Journal has an easily-accessible review of Piketty’s ‘Capital In The Twenty-First Century‘, called ‘The Inequality Puzzle.’

Among other interesting thoughts, there’s this.  Globalization is at play, as well:

‘…there is the basic truth that technology and globalization give greater scope to those with extraordinary entrepreneurial ability, luck, or managerial skill. Think about the contrast between George Eastman, who pioneered fundamental innovations in photography, and Steve Jobs. Jobs had an immediate global market, and the immediate capacity to implement his innovations at very low cost, so he was able to capture a far larger share of their value than Eastman. Correspondingly, while Eastman’s innovations and their dissemination through the Eastman Kodak Co. provided a foundation for a prosperous middle class in Rochester for generations, no comparable impact has been created by Jobs’s innovations’

Eastman Kodak is going through Chapter 11, as those Kodak innovations have been surpassed as well (I remember family gatherings around the slide projector, holding strays up to the light).

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The idea of Singapore is bandied about in the piece.

David Brooks-style NPR house conservative praise for authoritarian Singapore is at least a step in the right direction:  At least it isn’t Mao nostalgia but it’s still…pretty top-down and authoritarian.

You won’t buy or sell gum in Singapore, damn it.  And you’ll only chew it under doctor’s orders.

David Brooks got in on that action:

‘In places like Singapore and China, the best students are ruthlessly culled for government service. The technocratic elites play a bigger role in designing economic life. The safety net is smaller and less forgiving. In Singapore, 90 percent of what you get out of the key pension is what you put in. Work is rewarded. People are expected to look after their own’

Let’s be a little more autocratic, America, at least at the national level.  It’s just so we can compete and plan for the future.  Someone’s got to take hold of the meritocracy.

Get on board!:

‘The answer is to use Lee Kuan Yew means to achieve Jeffersonian ends — to become less democratic at the national level in order to become more democratic at the local level. At the national level, American politics has become neurotically democratic.’

That’s the father of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew.

We need to restrict freedoms in order to get more freedoms, you see.

We are getting a good look at the kinds of people NPRites are putting in power, and it ain’t pretty.

We can do better than that.

Adam Kirsch At The New Republic-‘Technology Is Taking Over English Departments’

Full piece here.

What to take, and what to keep?  How to teach?

Worth a read:

‘Both of these errors derive from a false analogy between the humanities and the sciences. Humanistic thinking does not proceed by experiments that yield results; it is a matter of mental experiences, provoked by works of art and history, that expand the range of one’s understanding and sympathy.’

Related On This Site: Roger Scruton At The New Atlantis: ‘Scientism In The Arts & Humanities’

From Scientific Blogging: ‘The Humanities Are In Crisis-Science Is Not’

Repost-Adam Kirsch At The New Republic: ‘Art Over Biology’…

Repost-Stanley Fish At The NY Times Blog: ‘The Last Professors: The Corporate Professors And The Fate Of The Humanities’

Evolutionary psychology and moral thinking: Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’From The Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy: Charles Sanders Peirce

Pipelines Of People-James Panero At The City Journal: ‘Net Gains’

Full post here.

‘Since 2007, billions of dollars have poured into New York’s “Silicon Alley,” which recently vaulted ahead of the greater Boston area to become the nation’s second-largest tech hub behind California’s Silicon Valley. For a city that has long relied on its financial industry to spur growth and innovation, the resurgence of the tech sector is welcome news.’

Here’s a video from TheStreet, posted two years ago now with a Bloomberg rep (this blog stays on the cutting edge).

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As to the city government and the politics of the thing, if you want cash, you need cows.  From the NY Daily News on how the De Blasio administration is handling this development:

‘Alicia Glen, Mayor de Blasio’s deputy for housing and economic development, pledged to create a “real pipeline” of New Yorkers equipped for the new jobs in the city’s new economy.’

That won’t happen overnight, and for some people it won’t ever happen. It remains to be seen if labor activists can build pipelines that don’t primarily move labor activists and tax revenue around.

Related On This SiteJames Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

The Cresting Of A Hipster Wave?-From The New York Observer: ‘Brooklyn Is Now Officially Over: The Ascendance of Brooklyn, the Lifestyle, Above All Else’

Some Links On 5Pointz, Graffiti, & The Arts–Property Rights & The Rule-Of-Law

Two Monday Links On Media-Who Do You Pay For Information?

Thanks to readers.

From The Economist: Rethinking The Bundle:

‘With NYT Now The Times is trying to keep readers in its embrace, rather than have them wander in and out through social networks or search.’

If the purpose of mass media communications is adapting the latest technology to the greatest number of readers possible in order to broadcast information, then many print publications still lag behind the tech curve. They’re making pronouncements from older soapboxes and not necessarily from the device in your pocket.

So, who’s doing well?

One answer may surprise you. From Forbes on Vice Magazine:

‘Vice has relentlessly pursued every possible profit opportunity, including becoming a sort of in-house ad agency for its client, and aggressively pursuing branding opportunities and other non-standard advertising opportunities, rather than simply splashing banners on its website. It has focused heavily on video–good, watchable video–, the most lucrative segment of online advertising.

But other than just “news can make money”–which is still something–the other less on Vice might be: target a demographic and own it. In a sense, that’s always been true in media, but Vice shows it especially works on the internet.’

It’s tough to imagine older readers going in for VICE, but that’s much the point. Maybe it’s just as important to be ahead of a cultural curve.

A diversion to politics:  One demographic danger on the liberal end of the spectrum may well be observable at NPR: Aging liberal/progressive boomers need the support of young people in order to pledge and keep them in business, and also to transmit principles. They need a younger cohort, but many possibly future NPR listeners don’t have the money and inclination in their youth to support Terry Gross and The Splendid Table, at least not until they age-up.

-Libertarian Reason magazine has an endowment, and compared to Vice shares in a similar spirit of punk, youthful rebellion, and flirtations with anarchy, but also offers deeper discussions on political philosophy and economy. Many libertarian principles are a tougher sell to a broader audience.

-Conservative publications have a tougher slog still. Aside from the general liberal bent of many who work in media, the transmission of conservative values and principles to the young (fiscal responsibility, social and/or religious conservatism, depressive and/or sober realism) has always been unsexy and uncool.  Add to this many recent cultural trends, and those are a lot of grains to run against.

Classic Yellow Journalism by malik2moon

Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon

Related On This SiteFrom io9 Via An Emailer: ‘Viral journalism And The Valley Of Ambiguity’

From The Nieman Lab:-An Oral History Of The Epic Collision Between Journalism & Digital Technology, From 1980 To The Present.

Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Could Amazon and Jeff Bezos Make the Washington Post Profitable?’…‘Sorry, Jeff Bezos, the News Bundle Isn’t Coming Back

Michael Kinsley At The New Republic Via Althouse: ‘A Q & A With Jill Abramson’

From Slate: “Newsweek Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up”

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

You could do like Matt Drudge, but the odds are stacked against you.

Perceptions And Reality-The News Business And Obamacare Overruns

Via Ira Stoll-Marc Andreessen: The Future Of The News Business: A Monumental Twitter Stream All In One Place.

If you’re in the information gathering and sharing business, you’d probably better understand how information is now being gathered and shared in order to broadcast it to as many people as possible (if you’re looking to make money and retain authority).

Many outlets still haven’t figured that out in the new landscape:

‘My take is that the rise of objectivity journalism post-World War II was an artifact of the new monopoly/oligopoly structures news organizations had constructed for themselves. Introducing so-called objective news coverage was necessary to ward off antitrust allegations, and ultimately, reporters embraced it. So it stuck.

But the objective approach is only one way to tell stories and get at truth. Many stories don’t have “two sides.” Indeed, presenting an event or an issue with a point of view can have even more impact, and reach an audience otherwise left out of the conversation.’

Are we back in an age of yellow-journalism, pamphleteering, and voices shouting from the rooftops? A period of unique opportunity before new and different monopolies form?

Check out an oral history of the epic collision between journalism and digital technology, from 1980 to the present, from the Nieman Journalism Lab.

Good for a laugh:-Who reads the newspapers?

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Don’t worry, the current ideological and political interests running our government are on the cutting-edge: Peter Suderman at Reason: Healthcare.gov Cloud Computer System Cost Five Times As Much As Expected:’

‘Asked about the increased cost, a federal health official tells NextGov that “if the additional services were not added urgently, the exchanges would not function as designed and citizens would continue to have issues using the marketplace.” In other words, the original plan had been for a system that wouldn’t work.’

Remember, the winners are many of Obama’s political and ideological allies and some previously uninsured people, not necessarily everyone else.

Suderman’s wife: Megan McArdle At Bloomberg. ‘Latest Obamacare Delay Is Probably Illegal

Still Looking For Alternatives-Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Obamacare vs. Arithmetic’

Avik Roy At Forbes: ‘Democrats’ New Argument: It’s A Good Thing That Obamacare Doubles Individual Health Insurance Premiums’Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘Health-Care Costs Are Driven By Technology, Not Presidents’

Reason Interview Via Youtube: ‘Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe On The High Cost Of College’

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Quite reasonable.

How do we best line-up expectations with aspirations, training with available jobs, and credentials with marketable skills?  Technology and global competition are forcing change rapidly, and Rowe pushes against the oversold idea that everyone should go to college (and many are going into non-dischargable debt to do so, driving-up prices rapidly).

A four-year degree is still worth the investment for many people, and higher annual incomes don’t lie, but there are many escalators leading out of four-year degree programs straight into unrelated cubicle-work, or back to Mom and Dad’s couch in this economy.  Buyer beware.

This blog holds out hope that a reasonable equality-of-opportunity approach can be maintained out of the mess of grade-inflation, watered-down standards, and the kind of competitive meritocracy that has come about.  I suspect the rise of helicopter-parenting and over-monitored kids has a lot to do with fewer perceived opportunities and more intense competition for those opportunities.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Related On This Site: Should you get a college degree?:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

,,Ron Unz At The American Conservative: ‘The Myth Of American Meritocracy’

Analagous to old media? What to change and what to keepFrom The Arnoldian Project: ‘Architecture, Campus, And Learning To Become’

Two Americas forming?:  Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’

The libertarian angle, getting smart, ambitious people off of the degree treadmill:  From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’ I think it’s going too far, trying to apply libertarian economics onto education, but Milton Friedman on Education is thought-provoking.

From IBTimes Via Youtube: ‘NASA Mars Rover Finds Evidence Of Lake’

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It looks like Gale Crater has its advantages.

Research papers here. A summary of some of what’s been found so far:

‘Research suggests habitable conditions in the Yellowknife Bay area may have persisted for millions to tens of millions of years. During that time rivers and lakes probably appeared and disappeared. Even when the surface was dry, the subsurface likely was wet, as indicated by mineral veins deposited by underground water into fractures in the rock. The thickness of observed and inferred tiers of rock layers provides the basis for estimating long duration, and the discovery of a mineral energy source for underground microbes favors habitability throughout.’

You can also watch a 12/05/13 press briefing from JPL discussing those papers above.  These rocks are much newer than the older wet period theorized.

They’re more focused on the search for organic carbon, now, within the environments they’ve discovered.

Via The Mars Science Laboratory At NASA: ”Mount Sharp’ On Mars Links Geology’s Past And Future’Via Youtube: ‘The Challenges Of Getting To Mars: Selecting A Landing Site

NASA Via Youtube: December 21st, 2012 Mars Curiosity Rover Report

NASA Via Youtube: ‘The Martians: Launching Curiosity To Mars’NASA Via Youtube: ‘Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity Rover) Mission Animation

From HyperAllergic Via The New Criterion: ‘At the Internet Archive, Saving Data While Spurning the Cloud’

Full piece here.

Brewster Kahle is building an Internet Archive which aims to offer universal access:

‘…a Library of Congress for the 21st century built through private philanthropy and sweat equity…’

…How libraries endure was on Kahle’s mind when I visited the Archive in San Francisco’s Richmond District earlier this year. “What happens to libraries is that they’re burned,” he said. “They are generally burned by governments. The Library of Congress, for instance, has already been burned once, by the Brits. So if that’s what happens, well, design for it, make copies.”

You can’t step in the same river twice, and much of our stored knowledge can be gone in the blink of an eye.

Cloud computing seems poised to shake things up, but backup plans are welcome, and Kahle seems motivated to think about where technology and library science are meeting.  He discusses his scanning centers and bookmobiles which are getting books cheaply into the hands of people who may never have held them before:

From Vanity Fair: ‘Reverse-Engineering A Genius (Has A Vermeer Mystery Been Solved?)

Full piece here.

Just as optics revolutionized the sciences and the boundaries of human knowledge, from Galileo to Newton and onwards, Tim Jenison wonders if optics may have revolutionized the arts as well.

‘But still, exactly how did Vermeer do it? One day, in the bathtub, Jenison had a eureka moment: a mirror. If the lens focused its image onto a small, angled mirror, and the mirror was placed just between the painter’s eye and the canvas, by glancing back and forth he could copy that bit of image until the color and tone precisely matched the reflected bit of reality.’

Good Vermeer page here for a refresher on the Dutch master.

Penn & Teller helped make a documentary which has gotten good reviews, entitled ‘Tim’s Vermeer.

They discuss the project and Tim’s theory below (perhaps only the Girl With The Pearl Earring knows for sure if the painter used such a technique):

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Related On This Site: In The Mail: Vivian Maier

Goya, that modern, had to make a living from the royal family: Goya’s ColossusGoya’s Fight With CudgelsGoethe’s Color Theory: Artists And ThinkersNASA Composite Image Of The Earth At Night…Beauty?Garrett Mattingly On Machiavelli-The Prince: Political Science Or Political Satire?

Repost-From The NY Times: Schlieren Photograpy

Who Wants To Help Build A Technocracy? Repost-Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘The Technocratic Dilemma’

Full post here.

Worth revisiting as some ‘tech surge’ folks assist with the failing ACA/Obamacare website.

There are political risks and rewards of course, and maybe a sense of civic duty motivating many, but hopefully there are some serious second-thoughts at this point.

California, where a lot of tech companies are, has a culture where many of the same political factions and ideological interests behind the ACA are well-represented.  Kaiser Permanente, after-all, has worked alongside this administration to help inform the public about its law.  Nancy Pelosi, representing the 12th Congressional District, was instrumental in getting it passed.

***NPR, in conjunction with the Kaiser Family Foundation, not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente, worked to create an ACA-FAQ page.  Ribbing NPR and its mix of aging boomer liberalism and 60’s political activism is a quixotic endeavor of mine.  It shouldn’t give so much pleasure, but it does.***

California’s also a state in which a larger percentage of tax-revenues from tech and other industries go to fund various groups of Left-leaning activists and unions in the public-sector.  Such groups have gained tremendous political power, money and influence as they organize around ideals like women’s freedom and equality, environmental activism and law, and racial identity politics and political activism.

In theory, such groups claim good intentions and to be working for all of the public.  Some of them actually mean well so far as their ideals go.  In practice, however, a system of incentives is created in which competing factions aim to feed at the public trough.   More and more laws and regulations are drafted which shift costs to private-parties and companies while these factions argue more and more over less and less, securing their own narrower interests.  Inertia sets-in as you run out of other people’s money and/or a series of political/budgetary crises occur.

Maybe Jerry Brown hasn’t really balanced the budget.

Everyday citizens, organizations and companies unconnected to the legislative power these factions wield have little recourse once this happens, except voting with their feet or pursuing their own political activism to shake-up the status quo.  Unsurprisingly, after many years of this and due to deeper economic forces at work, California’s looking at a serious pension-crisis, very high-taxes, and a thicket of dense regulations and laws, often redundant and easily corruptible.

McArdle:

‘Washington is in the throes of a rekindled romance with technocracy: the idea that what is most needed to save the economy and the planet is a bunch of really smart people who have spent their lives studying complicated problems like health care finance or renewable energy.  The last time we had this many fresh-faced wonks geting feted for their deep thoughts was the New Deal.’

So, why on earth would we go national with this particular model of governance and progressive idealism now?

Well, ideas and culture matter, I suppose.  Big tech-companies, no matter their intentions, must also play the game.  They have internal politics, public relations, and local, state and national politics to think about.

Perhaps this is why wiser bloggers and tech companies should think twice about getting involved in politics when they can.  Lots of downside risk, and competition over limited resources where someone always loses.

Addition: There’s a database for everything.

-A link for Michael Lewis’ article about California politics, public pensions and Schwarzenegger’s time in office.

Victor Davis Hanson Via Youtube Via Uncommon Knowledge: ‘The New Old World Order’Victor Davis Hanson At The City Journal: ‘California, Here We Stay’

Dream big: Via Reason: ‘California’s Public Transportation Sinkhole’ A great city deserves great art extravaganzas…: L.A.’s New Public Art Piece ‘The Levitated Mass,’ Or As The American Interest Puts It: ‘A Moving Rock’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest

Related On This Site: …Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books Via The A & L Daily: ‘Rescuing The Enlightenment From Its Exploiters’… Behavioral economics and libertarian paternalism and below all that some liberal totalitarianism (the personal is political crowd)…Ross Douthat Responds To Paul Krugman At The NY Times: ‘Can We Be Sweden?’

Are these the enemies of the future?: Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’

Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Delving Into The Mind Of The Technocrat’

Fukuyama has started a center for Public Administration at Stanford…it’d be interesting to imagine a conversation between Eric Hoffer and Fukuyama: Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest: ‘Mexico And The Drug Wars’

Can economic freedom and free markets reconcile the moral depth of progressive big-State human freedom?:  Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’A Few Quotations From F.A. Hayek’s: ‘Why I Am Not A Conservative’…libertarians share a definition of liberty

Some thoughts on Fukuyama and Leo Strauss: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Charles Fried and Randy Barnett among others, testify as to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (Nearly 3 hrs, but likely worth your time.  You can skip to the parts you’d like)

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