24 Mar 2017

Friday party

Some people seem to be losing their ability to pay attention to the people and issues in the world around them. This video should help you understand the problem.



How can you make a difference? Read this post (by a friend of mine) of how she "gave a voice" to a Vietnam Vet facing poverty and eviction in Pittsburgh -- and how people stepped up to help him out [link to come!]

23 Mar 2017

History never repeats but it rhymes

Foreign Affairs (1930):
Hitler's adversaries are right in charging that such an audience can easily be misused. Hitler's utterances on the subject of propaganda, both from the platform and in print, show in fact that he is willing to use any means which he judges serviceable in winning adherents to his cause. He fans the flames of hatred just as unscrupulously as he arouses the most exaggerated hopes.

However, let us keep to his audiences. What is it that stirs them? What keys can Hitler strike with such effect that he can drag millions of people whithersoever he chooses?

Fundamentally it is a question of the hard times which have settled over Germany ever since the war. Great fortunes have come into being, though they are probably more apparent than real. Meantime, statistics show that as regards the middle classes, which used to be Germany's backbone, the standard of living is far below the pre-war level. Since 1929 it has sunk to unprecedented depths. Hitler turns his guns against those people who have increased their fortunes disproportionately to the general average of wealth accumulation in Germany, and especially against the anonymous wealth of the trusts — "coupon slavery."
Read the whole article [pdf]

22 Mar 2017

Links of interest

  1. "The contemporary shadow of the Scramble for Africa", i.e., colonialism has enduring, negative impacts
  2. Competition! "From April most businesses and organisations in England will be able to choose which company will supply their retail water services"
  3. What Do Economists Actually Know?, few useful details but many promising ideas
  4. "In one generation, the Internet went from opening up new free markets to creating a series of Fake Markets that exploit society, without most media or politicians even noticing."
  5. Using serious games to manage water in Kenya
  6. "The US has a lot of money, but it does not look like a developed country." These data don't lie.
  7. Dams were a bad idea when overbuilt. Now we have to deal with their collapse.
  8. A really interesting conversation with Malcolm Gladwell
  9. A Dutch couple sold all their possessions and jumped into a VW van to see the world
  10. UC Berkeley will remove 20,000 lectures from public access due to a complaint that they violated the rights of deaf people because they lacked subtitles as it was cheaper to remove them than add subtitles (curiously, it seems that computer generated subtitles may be banned by new video standards). Luckily, a start up has copied the archive with a promise to host them for free. Even more luckily, my UC Berkeley lectures are still up -- and they have subtitles!
  11. An analysis of how the Clean Water Act failed Flint and will fail the rest of the US -- assuming Trump doesn't destroy the EPA!
  12. Bad regulation on water pollution is worse than none at all
  13. Join the International Summer School on Regulation of Local Public Services (Sep, Turin, Italy)
H/Ts to RM and MV

21 Mar 2017

A thought on bitcoin and the blockchain

Happy Spring!

Bitcoin (and other crypto-currencies) have the potential to replace gold as a store of value that cannot be debased by government interventions and replace dollars ("hard currencies") as a medium of exchange that cannot be regulated by governments.

The Blockchain (and other crypto-registries) has the potential to replace banks and other registries as a means of confirming ownership and method for transferring ownership. Just 10 days ago, the SEC declined to certify a bitcoin-based ETF, which sounded like bad news to some but not to others:

I have some money in bitcoin (market data), and I think they will only grow in value and importance in the coming years. With so many examples of poor economic governance, there is sure to be a huge demand from people in developing countries who are looking to secure their wealth from corruption and incompetence.

(I also say these things because some people are losing long-term perspective over short-term concerns over various programming choices. I think these will be resolved because $billions will be lost by failure to agree on fixes to known issues.)

20 Mar 2017

Monday funnies

Trevor Noah nails the Dutch elections (i.e., Wilders isn't #1 but he's #2...)



If you're feeling better about the retreat from stupid in the Netherlands, then don't forget that it's full steam ahead on stupid (evil?) in the US, with the proposed replacement of #Obamacare (helps people!) with #Trumpcare (fuck those people!)



NB: If you agree that journalism provides a valuable service, then subscribe or donate to make sure they have the $$ they need to get the job done! Public Radio International is one such outlet (I've also donated to EFF, ALCU, and Propublica), but choose anyone. In these days of #MakeAmericaFailAgain, we need reporting and analysis of Trump's idiotic short-sighted policies.

18 Mar 2017

Flashback to March 2009

These posts are still relevant after 8 years!