“Actually, of the top 20 tourist attractions in Britain, only one of them, number 17, is related to the royal family: Windsor Castle. Ten points ahead of it is Windsor Legoland. So using that logic, we should have a Lego man as our head of state instead of these people.”—
[…] a couple of years ago, Google waved a magic wand that transformed millions of Android phones into sophisticated navigation devices with turn-by-turn directions. This was functionality that people had previously paid hundreds of dollars for in stand-alone devices. Now it’s just another feature that comes with every Android phone, and the cost of Android phones hasn’t gone up. I haven’t checked, but I bet that this wealth creation was not reflected in GDP statistics. And it’s actually worse than that: as people stop buying stand-alone GPS devices, Google’s innovation will actually show up in the statistics as a reduction in GDP.
Cowen writes that the Internet is producing wealth that “is in our minds and in our laptops and not so much in the revenue-generating sector of the economy.” This isn’t exactly wrong, but it fails to appreciate the extent to which the software industry is entangled with the “revenue-generating sector of the economy.” The digital revolution isn’t just introducing novel ways to amuse ourselves, it’s rapidly displacing a wide variety of “revenue-generating” products and services: typewriters, newspapers, magazines, books, maps, cameras, film development, camcorders, yellow pages, music players, VCRs and DVD players, encyclopedias, landline telephones, television and radio broadcasts, calendars, address books, clocks and watches, calculators, travel agents, travelers checks, and so forth.
Paul Graham and Reihan Salam have been popularizing the term “ephemeralization”, originally coined by Buckminster Fuller, to describe this process whereby special-purpose products are replaced by software running on general-purpose computing devices. As the list above suggests, ephemeralization is affecting a growing fraction of the economy. And with technologies like self-driving cars on the horizon, its importance will only grow in the coming decades.
Ephemeralization offers an alternative explanation for the puzzling growth slowdown of the last decade. Every time the software industry displaces a special purpose device, our standard of living improves but measured GDP falls. If what you care about is government revenue, this point might not matter much—it’s hard to tax something if no one’s paying for it. But the real lesson here may not be that the American economy is stagnating, but rather that the government is bad at measuring improvements in our standard of living that come from the software industry.
The most stark everyday example is the cord cutting going on based on high bandwidth connectivity to the home. The first to fall? Landlines and plain old telephones. Next? Blockbuster, DVDs, cable television networks, movie houses. Billions of dollars in stuff no longer being produced, fees no longer being charged, movie seats no longer being filled.
So how to count the benefits if not in GDP? How can we track the value for the individual who has great movie options on his laptop — maybe he doesn’t have a TV, either — in his apartment? The decrease in fees and goods he no longer pays for!
Here we may be seeing the emergence of the no-growth, no-stuff economy. The web converts the old economy of arranging and transporting atoms into arranging and transporting bits, and with that flipflop we need to measure value based on savings to the user instead of earnings for the manufacturer and distributor.
Now if only we had money that wasn’t based on our imaginations! ;)
Actually, that might be an interesting comparison. For much of the last hundred years, we’ve had money that wasn’t based on anything tangible. Now, we’ve found a bunch of the things we used to pay for now deliverable/obtainable for free, or very nearly free, and made of nothing immediately tangible.
I’m not sure where else to go with this, but I think it’s an interesting way to think about it.
One other point I wanted to make—from the piece Boyd quotes:
Every time the software industry displaces a special purpose device, our standard of living improves but measured GDP falls.
This is why we need to stop thinking of money as a measure of prosperity and success. It’s simply not accurate (has it ever been?) and trusting the numbers is like asking a T-Rex for hunting advice. We really need to stop relying on the old ways and start feeling out the new ways.
It’s like these unemployment and/or job numbers that keep suggesting to some that the American economy is improving. Like looking at the GDP, those numbers are not accurate for what they are being used for. We need more manufacturing jobs, we need new small businesses. We need the destruction of the big box stores and the faux-jobs they “create”. (Sorry, America was not made great because of our abundant supply of Wal-Mart greeters.)
Likewise, we need to get away from this thinking that money is all that matters in life. We need to look at the advantages of connectivity. Thomas Barnett said in his famous brief, most of the violence in the world comes from those who lack connectivity.
So, not only does this new technology mean I get to stream Mythbusters on my Blu-ray player without paying for cable TV, but it also means people in Egypt can have a revolution that is largely peaceful.
Contrary to popular belief, Easter does not represent the “historical” crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In reality, the gospel tale reflects the annual “crossification” of the sun through the vernal equinox (Spring), at which time the sun is “resurrected,” as the day begins to become longer than the night.
Rather than being a “Christian” holiday, Easter celebrations date back into remotest antiquity and are found around the world, as the blossoming of spring did not escape the notice of the ancients, who revered this life-renewing time of the year, when winter had passed and the sun was “born again.” The “Pagan” Easter is also the Passover, and Jesus Christ represents not only the sun but also the Passover Lamb ritually sacrificed every year by a number of cultures, including the Egyptians, possibly as early as 4,000 years ago and continuing to this day in some places.
It’s not about our Lord and Savior rising, it’s about our crops, duh.
I mean, come on—don’t take the Bible literally. Christ’s death represents winter, Christ’s resurrection represents spring.
Little Japanese Girl: Why do bad things happen? Pope: Just shut up and trust God.
You have probably heard about the story of the Pope getting nailed by a question from a little Japanese girl (via guardian.co.uk):
Pope Benedict ventured where no pope has gone before on Friday when he answered questions on an Italian television programme – and was stumped by the first. A Japanese girl asked the pope, who, she said, “speaks with God”, why she was having to suffer so much as a result of the earthquake and tsunami that had struck her country.
"I am very frightened because the house where I felt safe really shook a lot and many children my age have died. I cannot go to play in the park. I want to know: why do I have to be so afraid? Why do children have to be so sad?" said seven-year-old Elena.
Benedict admitted: “I also have the same questions: why is it this way? Why do you have to suffer so much while others live in ease?
"And we do not have the answers, but we know that Jesus suffered as you do, an innocent, and that the true God who is revealed in Jesus is by your side."
When I was 12 years-old I asked my Sunday school teacher if God really was in everything.
"Yes!" she told me.
"Even in the middle of this table?"
"But why? That’s stupid." I don’t remember the teacher’s reply, all I know is that on that day, I became an atheist.
Hopefully, that little Japanese girl will become an atheist, too, after getting an equally ridiculous answer.
Pope Benny might as well have said “Just cuz! God’s cruel—I MEAN—cool like that.”
Enlarge imageState Sen. Bruce Caswell suggests foster and poor children should use their state-funded clothing allowance only at thrift stores.
Foster children in Michigan would use their state-funded clothing allowance only in thrift stores under a plan suggested by State Senator Bruce Caswell.
Caswell says he wants to make sure that state money set aside to buy clothes for foster children and kids of the working poor is actually used for that purpose.
He says they should get “gift cards” to be used only at Salvation Army, Goodwill or other thrift stores.
First: so, you want to make sure funds for clothing get spent on clothing—is their an epidemic of wasted clothing money in Michigan? You know they sell video games in thrift stores, too, right? And toys? And other things that aren’t clothes, right?
Second: I’m getting pretty tired of this “guilty until proven innocent” shit in America today. Was their ever a time when we trusted our fellow American to not be a liar and a criminal? Because that time sure as hell isn’t now.
Third: you Republicans use our economy to excuse all sorts of things (like for NOT fighting Global Warming), yet, by forcing kids to buy from thrift shops not only are you inadvertently encouraging kids to recycle, but you’re taking money away from Walmart and Best Buy.
In other words: by playing paranoid and assuming foster kids and their parents are all liars, you’re harming two things you love more than anything: the economy and the Republican quest to destroy responsible consumerism.
I’d like to see one reason why we should trust any politician these days. I used to joke about feeling like I was in Bizarro America. But I think it’s just Braindead America, now, with idiot politicians thinking about something for thirty whole seconds before making a snap decision based on paranoia and classism.
That’s what this really is, by the way. Classism. Poor foster kids and the foster parents that take them in don’t often have a lot of choices open to them and this new “plan” takes away even more of their choices.
Thanks to @KM_Zencat on Twitter for tweeting about this. I hope I’ve explained my point better than I did in a handful of tweets earlier today.
I’ll be talking more about this in today’s 666cast, I think.
“The WORLD is going bankrupt, (what ever that means) because of this idea called debt, which doesnt even exist in the physical reality, its only part of a game we’ve invented. And yet, the well-being of BILLIONS of people is now being compromised. Extreme layoffs, tent cities, accelerating poverty austerity measures imposed, schools shutting down, child hunger and other levels of familial deprivation…ALL because of this elaborate fiction..WHAT ARE WE FUCKING STUPID!?”—
No, we’re not stupid, we’re ignorant. There is a difference. The thing is, our media, our education system and the powers behind both keep us that way. That said, knowing the truth, keeping the system, accepting it and not searching for a replacement isvery stupid.
Another way Obama’s let us down, nicked from last Monday’s Democracy Now which included an interview with Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia:
But if you look at what we really need to have a normal country, we would have to be 23, 24 percent of GNP—that’s just basic arithmetic—to cover our core costs and to be able to face the needs of the American people for education, for roads that don’t collapse, for a climate that doesn’t get wrecked, for a modern energy system, for science and technology, for our competitiveness. So, this means tax—taxes on the rich and on the companies have to go up, if we’re going to have a normal country. But the Republicans are dead set against it. And until now, Obama has just compromised, compromised, compromised.
His job in our constitutional system is to help show a way forward and help to explain, help to say why we need to go this way, not to stand in the back and then announce how historic an agreement is to slash taxes on the rich or how historic an agreement is to cut $38.5 billion that’s going to slash programs for the poor. That’s not his job. His job is to lead.
I don’t understand why Obama is only interested in compromise. Doesn’t he want to stand up for anything?
Found this story (click the headline above to read the whole thing) via a tweet from @jayrosen_nyu:
On December 22nd, in the face of seemingly unanimous bipartisan support, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (Bill S.372) was killed in the final moments of the last legislative session when a mystery Senator placed what’s called a secret hold on the bill. This bill had already been passed by the House and the Senate, but in the final vote on the reconciled bill, it died and no one had to take responsibility.
Why do we care? Because Bill S. 372 is designed to protect government workers from being punished (as they usually are) for exposing illegality, waste and corruption. It was wildly popular - in public. But a legislator (or legislators) were able to kill it, by using an undemocratic device to hide from their constituents.
So, a government is charged with protecting it’s citizens doesn’t even protect it’s own employees. The ONLY reason for whistle blowers to not be protected is so that government can get away with breaking the law. Period.
The USG has been protecting itself from justice for quite a while now and if this doesn’t make you understand how dire our situation is, I’m not sure what will. After all, how can any of us expect to be treated fairly by a government that let’s itself get away with breaking laws it makes?
This comes from a interesting post over on JapanSubculture.com (click the headline for the full post):
It’s well known that TEPCO pays huge advertising fees to most media outlets; it is one of the largest advertisers in Japan. It’s not as well known that the president of TEPCO, Masataka Shimizu, is also the chairman of the Japan Society for Corporate Communication Studies (JSCCS), which includes among its members former and current top executives from Asahi Beer, Toyota, and Dentsu, Japan’s largest advertising agency.
In a nutshell, author/blogger Jake Adelstein suggests we can’t trust Japanese media to report honestly about the Fukushima nuke plant because TEPCO (the guys that run it) have the power to yank serious advertising dollars from the media.
But this gets me thinking—isn’t that the same case here in the US? Or anywhere ads help pay for journalism?
I think this speaks to a fundamental flaw in the way the media works. It pretty much guarantees lies being reported as facts at least some of the time and you’d have to be pretty naive to not know this happens all the time anyway.
However, seeing the structure in this way, doesn’t it seem awfully systemic?
Yeah, this is about as absurd as absurd gets in the “please waste my time” category. Apparently, Crayola has released “multicultural” markers:
Fox News has a problem with this and aimed a camera at conservative apologist Michelle Malkin so she could justify their indignation from a “non-white” perspective:
MALKIN: This is pandering — yes — pandering more to liberal parents than it is to kids who really have no need for such things. The only color this is really about is green. It’s good, smart, savvy politically-correct marketing by Crayola.
Well, Fox News, what do you call using an example of multiculturalism to pander to the fears of your audience?
Oh yeah, pandering. Whatevers. I wish we could all just start ignoring Fox News all together.
Click on the headline of this post to read the full story at MediaMatters.org.
Also: it’s getting pretty tiresome seeing so many of us pretending there isn’t a class system in the US when there so clearly is. I’ll go into this more in episode 51 of the 666cast which I will post tomorrow.
From Fear and Loathing in Georgetown: FLG’s classmate was looking at the construction site of the new science building. His gaze was fixed on some big pipes.
FLG: You alright?
Classmate: Huh? Hey FLG. Yeah, I’m fine. Just looking at the plumbing.
FLG: Know anything about plumbing?
Classmate: A little. Not much. But water and shit are pretty much what defines civilization.
FLG: Water and shit?
Classmate: When people say the words advanced civilization, they usually think about art, literature, architecture, culture…but what really defines advanced civilization is providing water and getting rid of shit cleanly. That’s what made Rome great, not the roads or the legions or the buildings. It was the aqueducts and sewers.
FLG: Funny, years ago, I did a presentation on the Paris sewers. It was one of the first orders of business for Napoleon once he became emperor. Perhaps that set the stage for the subsequent artistic explosion there later that century.
Classmate: Can’t discount the relationship. It’s not just the foundation of advanced civilization, but the very definition of advanced civilization itself.
FLG: I’m not sure, but I don’t think that Classical Athens had a great water or sewage system. Yet, it certainly had advanced civilization.
Classmate: If there was an advanced civilization, then they had an effective way of getting clean water and rid of shit. If experts don’t know of one, then they merely haven’t discovered it. Water and shit are the hallmarks of advanced civilization. Dark Ages? Little water, lots of shit.
He doesn’t post much. Go follow him, too, and maybe seeing new followers will encourage him to post more :)
“And while observing the Soviet difficulties in Afghanistan with a certain sense of vindication, the US military are at the same time reminded of the difficulties of defeating a determined guerrilla opponent who enjoys sanctuaries and is fighting in rugged terrain. After all, if a country with relatively few public opinion concerns or moral compunctions about its tactics cannot beat a bunch of ill-equipped Afghan tribesmen, what does that say about the ability of the United States — with its domestic constraints, statutory limitations, moral inhibition, and zealous investigative reporters — to carry out a successful action against a guerrilla force?”
— From now-General P.’s Princeton Ph.D. dissertation.
Wow, not only did I find another great example of USGs wanton stupidity (or of its corrupt, amoral behavior) but I also found a new blog to follow on Tumblr. Sheesh, like I need another blog to follow on Tumblr! >_<
Bacteria containing an antibiotic-resistant “superbug” gene have been found in 2 of 51 tap water samples in New Delhi and in dozens of puddles and pools that children could play in, according to a report published Thursday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases. A team from Cardiff University in Britain found the gene, NDM-1, in 11 different types of bacteria, including those that cause cholera and dysentery. Bacteria with NDM-1 have caused fatal infections in people hospitalized in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and in a few foreigners who visited those countries for surgery, but this is the first time they have been found in the environment. Their presence in water has not caused any known outbreaks of untreatable disease, but experts fear it could, especially in the rainy season.
Crunchy, yummy, anti-bacterial-resisting superbugs! See, these little guys are tiny, boring and don’t blow shit up. Therefore, no one will be worried about them. Americans don’t do “subtle”.
Turns out that, in the early days of nuclear reactors, Jimmy Carter was exposed to one-thousand times the current safe limit of radiation. And he’s alive today. This is not an endorsement of nuclear power. It is simply an endorsement of calm, rational thinking. Like any good atheist, look at the evidence for the existence of something before you go being afraid of it.
The plan is so crazy, it just might…um…drive the country off a fricking cliff and screw the GOP’s reelection chances in perpetuity.
I think we need to build a reeeeally big mental home and lock up every GOPer there. THEN we force every Dem to leave office and work as nurses at said mental home.
ONLY THEN will America be truly great once more.
PLEASE NOTE: I don’t like Obamacare. But Medicare and Medicade are (reasonably) fine the way they are (though I’d really prefer a UK-style NHS thing). Let’s cut the fucking defense budget, goddamn it!! We’re spending more now, while fighting a tiny group of terrorists, than we were when we were fighting the evil Soviet Empire! Come ON, USG!! FUCKING FIGURE IT OUT!
You know what? I’m all for a strong defense. HOWEVER, short of ALIENS, there are simply no more threats of note. No matter how scary the press and the politicians make them sound, Al Qaeda (or any other group/country that hates us) comes close to us. SO CHILL WITH THE DEFENSE SPENDING, ALREADY.
Brian McCarthy ran a website, channelsurfing.net, that linked to various sites where you could watch online streams of TV shows and sports networks.
From Demand Progress:
A couple months ago, the government seized his domain name and on Friday they arrested him and charged him with criminal copyright infringement — punishable by five years in prison.
It’s against the law to link to sites that allow circumvention of digital copyright protection. Yep—that’s the equivalent to linking to a website that teaches you how to pick locks. It’s called the DMCA.
Not me, that’s for sure. No one cares that the Fed is basically just a bunch of high priests in a temple, pretending to possess vast, secret knowledge, that only they can understand. But really, they’re just giving out free money to banks they like and keeping it from banks they don’t. All along the way, they continue to drive down the value of the money in our bank accounts right now.
Why would anyone care which banks took imaginary money from the wizard behind the curtain? It’s the same place all banks (and us) get their money from, really.