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Tesla's strategy of aiming for the high-end market first certainly looks wise; they were able to turn electric cars into an aspirational item while spending whatever they needed to spend in order to make the cars work. Now, they can take what they learned and move it down-market.
Smuggling entertainment content into North Korea via USB drives may be a powerful way to undermine a criminally authoritarian regime -- one that just executed its army's chief of staff
A Canadian think tank proposes that possibility
In a week, according to an international agreement. If true, it could be great news.
The human toll of the crisis in Syria and surrounding environs is of the greatest magnitude. Dealing with it humanely is a moral imperative. Failing to deal with it assertively could be politically fatal to the EU itself.
Parties don't break apart or collapse all that often -- but it does happen from time to time
The scientific origins of "RBF"
The majority owner of the Chicago Sun-Times now is the largest shareholder in Tribune Publishing, too
And Sen. John McCain wants Silicon Valley to enlist.
If we don't reverse the direction of public budgeting, the country's going to pay in the not-so-distant future. Interest rates at all-time lows are simply buying us a short-term cushion from the pain.
They claim most were supporting ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh. The suspensions aren't necessarily a perfect idea -- there's reason to believe that by casting terrorist supporters off Twitter, the mainstream may be chasing them to places that are harder to watch. There's quite often more to the story when it comes to cyberwarfare.
And that's how you know it's nothing more than a stunt -- not a serious proposal. At $2 or $3 a barrel, directed specifically at subsidizing a next-generation energy future, virtually nobody could object. At $5 a barrel, it would be a tough sale, but might stand a chance given the right trade-offs. At $10 a barrel (when oil is barely above $30 a barrel), it's a punitive tax. Where they could easily have grabbed low-hanging fruit, the administration instead picks an unproductive fight.
And the great asset sell-off continues
Smuggled, possibly, on the person of a bomber posing as someone confined to a wheelchair
Alphabet had $75 billion in revenues in 2015, with $67 billion of that coming from advertising. Only $448 million in revenues came from "other bets" -- their category for Calico, Google Fiber, Google Ventures, Google X, and Nest -- and that category lost $3.5 billion. Turns out, it's expensive to lay that much fiber-optic cable. Why they don't just buy proven, profitable businesses and find ways to make them more profitable is a mystery. The "science projects" are sexy and headline-grabbing, but from an investment perspective, there may be smarter choices to be made.
Literacy comes in many forms: Conventional literacy with the written word, of course, but also numeracy...and functional literacy with science, technology, and economics. If we're sending 18-year-olds out into the world with high-school diplomas and not adequately preparing them for those "other" literacies, then we're in trouble.
Senator Ted Cruz may be making the most progress with them thus far...to the detriment of the health of the Republican Party.
Verizon is being kicked around as a possible buyer
And for what it's worth, they're not just a security issue. Massive changes in computing capacity and strategy could easily overturn some big business models -- like, for instance, Google's.
The cars will simply become Toyotas
Microsoft's decision to reduce the amount of free storage space offered through OneDrive is making people mad. But it's still a free product!
While that may be making it hard for Harley to sell new motorcycles, it's also a sign they need to find other, related things to produce
People have adapted their usage patterns for the two services to accommodate their relative strengths and weaknesses -- so while Twitter is fiscally vulnerable, it seems less vulnerable technologically
Never forget that the foundations of all rocket-based space travel are shared with the foundations for intercontinental ballistic missiles. On a related note, China has just released some photos from the Moon.
Technology may not be able to biologically solve paralysis yet, but it may be able to give people adequate workarounds
There's no doubt that poverty and a sense of helplessness can incline some people towards extremism. Strategic global thinking would seek to eliminate the worst of poverty in order to choke off the flow of raw material (that is, frustrated people) to extremist movements.
That's no small change -- more than one person in every seven will be let go. The company's press release on the matter calls it "sharpening focus", but digging deeper they claim that they expect to save $400 million a year with the smaller staff.
(Video) In hilarious Taiwanimation
High-speed broadband Internet access just isn't finding its way into sparsely-populated areas, and that could end up permanently crippling rural areas.
And now in Japan, too. It's hard to think of anything that would do more to discourage saving than a negative interest rate.
Basically the same as the regular 737, but with a big boost to fuel efficiency
Government intervention only helps the traders -- real investors want volatility so they can take advantage of cheap prices
They're practicing to deliver Internet access to far-flung users
...but production is ramping up quickly anyway
You can still pay to get it
(Video) The national class clown has lots of ways to make himself look like a fool
If the cost of shipping goods across the oceans is falling dramatically (and there's no sudden rush of new supply to explain the drop), then something is quite likely wrong with trade volumes
A picture is worth a thousand words, and it's worth re-considering the use of images that have been taken for granted for all too long
Public health is a great example of the kind of subject that government is uniquely equipped to address
Their proposed merger with Media General fell apart, but it doesn't hurt Meredith's bottom line to get that cash
What a bizarre circumstance and a pretty obvious violation of common sense
The Iowa Republican and Democratic parties got together to set up an accountable method of collecting caucus results -- it's unfortunate the campaign wants to opt out of a good-faith arrangement that shows the parties can actually work together.
Hard to put it better than that.
White House cybersecurity strategist says we need better ways of developing software that are more rigorous than current standards
On the surface, it looks like they're just using it to pay for the cost of shelter and care. But that kind of confiscation most certainly will have a chilling effect on the interest of any wealthy or middle-class asylum-seekers in going to Denmark, which probably will have the opposite of the intended effect. If you have wealth and you know it will be taken away, you'll probably avoid going there (which means asylum-seekers with advanced skills will be weeded out). But those who don't have anything consequently have nothing to lose.
We should probably begin by knowing where South Sudan is and taking it seriously. A civil war that kills 10,000 people anywhere is a tremendous stain on humanity.
Everywhere the global manufacturer looks, it sees signs of pending or imminent economic trouble
If we misunderstand the basis of poverty, then it's going to be hard to get the solutions right. On the other hand, if we recognize that market economics are probably the best tool for creating the wealth that resolves poverty and then deliberately apply lessons for enhancing that growth, then maybe we can do better at eliminating poverty.
Instead of asking people to forecast whether it will happen, a better approach to the story would ask whether the ingredients are in place
The blizzard didn't follow a tidy schedule, so why should people's entertainment choices?
A city official just got convicted on more than 20 counts of bribery and other corruption-related charges. With tens of millions of dollars on the line for the contractor, Chicago's unfortunate reputation for corruption got the best of things.
Smartphones have reached a near-saturation point among the economies where they are plausible and affordable. That forces Apple to look for "what's next", which is the curse of technology giants: It takes a lot of good decisions to stay in the lead, and it's very hard to build long streaks of good decisions when operating on the cutting edge.
That would be a terrific step forward to move from a paradigm built around "mental illness" to one of sustaining "mental wellness". That's where we ought to be -- treating mental wellness as something positive to be sustained as much as possible and promoted holistically, not as something only to be addressed when something has "gone wrong".
That's the trouble with having one genetic line become predominant
It's a strange thing; the world has achieved more useful things in the last couple of decades than can really be counted, yet there's anxiety all over
The economics of modern music favor live concerts, but the long view of history would like us to squeeze as many new creations as possible out of our greatest artists. Too bad nobody's looked hard to find a way to reconcile the two.
While we're fixing that, could we also do away with the whole "princess" paradigm? There are plenty of entries already in the canon, and girls deserve to see female characters depicted in a world free of hereditary monarchy
The decline was dramatic and, it appears, somewhat unexpected
A peculiar development, considering that Tyco has spent the last decade de-conglomerating itself
There have been a couple of thousand demolitions in the city since 2002 -- a worthy reminder that if we don't construct buildings to last forever, then perhaps we should be accountable (at the time of construction) for the cost to tear them down
That might actually beat the recognition rates of a lot of credulous human beings
That's how badly Google wants to make sure its products stay in front of consumers
Streaming audio still has trouble going up against terrestrial or hybrid terrestrial/streaming competitors
If the two parties put forth crazy people, there may be a third lane available to an independent
It does seem like the kind of thing that should be acutely at the top of a person's mind before going through security, doesn't it? Isn't it pretty easy to run through a mental checklist (wallet, keys, phone, gun)?
It's not really that hard to increase the volume of one's reading; over the course of a year, even minor incremental increases stack up
Why governors should get the edge in a Presidential race, all else being equal
Now that's an aggressive vision
Roundtable sessions are happening. The big question is whether having the Vice President chase a subject is enough to catalyze real progress that wasn't happening already.
It's almost surely happened somewhere -- if such a thing is possible. After it emerged on Earth, life began showing a truly stupendous degree of robustness -- it always finds a way to fight its way into even the most inhospitable environments. Is the notion itself of wiping out all life on any planet even plausible, or will evolution always find a way?
In a not-altogether-unfamiliar way, he points out that the medium isn't as important as the people using it
As usual, everything is rumor when it comes to Apple
Everyone is of course welcome to have an opinion (preferably one that is well-informed and reasonable), but sharing it publicly makes the situation different. The exercise of free speech is guaranteed, but that's not a guarantee of freedom from consequences. And a police officer in a place with high tensions between the police and members of the local community (due to a police-involved shooting) ought to have the sense to avoid incendiary public speech -- like suggesting that people run down protesters.
Nobody should have sympathy for the people who were caught -- but was the process right?
His words: "[S]hould not every individual be required to display a 'license plate' on the digital super-highway?" While it probably wasn't intended as much more than a throwaway thought exercise, it does hint at a lack of understanding of how privacy and technology coexist.
For a small fee, of course
That is to ask: Is there any reason to believe that we won't still be talking about Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon ten or twenty years from now as the still-dominant players in consumer technology and the Internet? The honest answer is that they all have big war chests and strong market positions, but they also have to make a lot of right decisions to stay on top -- and long streaks of right decisions in technology aren't often made.
If the figures dredged up by one observer are correct, dead-tree editions of major metro newspapers are becoming a rare find
And it's a big one
There's zero reason to expect the assaults to end
Cheap, storable, clean energy is pretty much the best thing the world could work on right now
They have huge reserves, but these are huge moves, too.
Didn't know they were there? Almost everyone has them -- they're just not activated.
The round-and-round nature of communications industry consolidation looks more like a whole lot of horse-trading than real business-building
Whether we're talking about natural-gas pipelines, airports, levees, dams, water mains, or any other type of infrastruture, there's lots of evidence that we've been underinvesting for too long in maintenance, upkeep, and replacement. We are tremendously fortunate that many of these things were built long ago by people who spent the money and effort to make them last for more than a generation. But we've been on cruise control for a long time -- behaving as though these things represent a free endowment and that no further investment is required. That's a colossal mistake. When we build infrastructure, it typically requires a big up-front cost, followed by a long period of relatively low maintenance cost, followed by a period of rising maintenance/replacement cost until the infrastructure itself reaches a point of failure. We are morally obligated to treat at least the maintenance and upkeep as a pay-as-you-go expense. Just because something was incredibly well-built and then handed to us essentially for free does not give us license to treat it irresponsibly. That's a big cultural problem we need to face -- and it's not just our physical infrastructure that's been on the receiving end of under-investment; the same applies to our public and private retirement investment "infrastructure" as well as much of our educational "infrastructure". Keeping up means paying as you go. It's lazy and freeloading to skimp on upkeep. This is a crucial lesson in our time for both the left (who are too often inclined to think we can just "soak the rich" to pay for things) and the right (who too often resist paying for anything if it means higher taxes). Adults clean up after themselves. We need to behave like adults.
And if they don't, then the supply of oil produced by OPEC will continue to push downward on oil prices. That seems like a lot of fun in the short term (yay, $1.60/gallon gas!), but...people are underestimating the enormous geopolitical implications of an oil-price crash: Saudi Arabia can keep going long after everyone else drops like houseflies. That means they can use oil prices as a weapon against Iran, which can't compete with Saudi Arabia's minimal production costs. Destabilizing Iran is already a dangerous game, but you add in a volatile Russia (which also depends on oil money and also has higher production costs than Saudi Arabia), a Nigeria that could of course fall at any moment to pieces, and other already-failed states like Libya and Syria, and this is a brewing catastrophe of epic proportions.
Cruz is playing up simplistic representations of the world -- particularly one that says there's no room for compromise. And that's -- well, simply -- wrong. Nobody agrees with their own spouse or their own mother 100% of the time, so it's preposterous to think that we can only play brinksmanship games with politics: Compromise is, frankly, a non-negotiable requirement of the job of governing in a democratic society. Cruz seems to actively reject that idea, despite being clearly smart enough to know better. That makes him repellant.
He was working for an NGO, promoting "public-interest litigation" in the Communist state
Some of the most stable micro-economies in the country -- joining forces is probably a good idea
Fun while it lasted, the economic boom in China simply hasn't been designed to remain durable. The government still interferes far too much -- and the costs of failing to provide political freedom alongside (limited) economic freedom have been building. China hasn't been centrally planning its economy in a conventional sense, but with state ownership of enormous shares of the nation's total enterprises, it's a distinction without much of a difference. And when the real costs of holding back on political reform come due (and they will), things are going to get interesting in a hurry. Keep a close eye on developments like the political climate in Taiwan, where economic disappointment seems to have been translated into support for the pro-independence party. The mainland/Taiwanese rift has been a source of friction for a long time, but if the good times are no longer rolling, then that friction may turn into a spark. And Taiwan isn't the only place that it may become politically and economically costly for Beijing.
It's fine to run a deficit if it's smaller than the rate of growth in the economy. That's not the case here and now.
Too little has been said about the attack by Al Qaeda on a hotel in Burkina Faso, relative to what would have been said had the same attack taken place in Tokyo or Berlin or Cleveland.
Blessed with a resource bonanza, Norway was fortunate not to become entirely dependent upon it...which is a good thing, because current oil prices mean there isn't much kick left in the chili.
If the have/have-not gap is expanded by uneven access to communications technology, then the Internet might inadvertently make things tougher for people in some places
An example of a security risk that consumers can't do anything about
Debates undoubtedly play a storied role in our political tradition, and we don't have to do away with them. But they are assuredly not an effective means of really teasing out the information that voters really need in order to make an informed decision about any candidate, particularly not for something as complex as a Presidential race. And the obsession with trying to make use of the "new" in these debates -- via questions from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube -- has to be done in an effort to ask better, broader questions in the debates. Unfortunately, the YouTube "stars" clunkily inserted into the last debate didn't really edify anything. In a far better universe, we would have interesting and thoughtful interviews with the candidates conducted by intelligent interviewers with a solid grasp of the facts and a sense of fearlessness about pursuing lines of inquiry -- not the pandering lap-dog behavior we see all too often today. And in a truly ideal universe, we could put candidates through something like an Oval Office simulator -- though that would probably be impossible to conduct squarely. The next-best thing is probably to give preference to candidates who have served as state governors, which is likely the closest thing.
An astonishing number -- greater than the entire population of Nebraska
Why pay $200,000 to hear a canned speech?
Tools that shine more sunlight are valuable things
Better luck next time. But a really pyrotechnic video survives the latest attempt.
A reminder to America, generally: If you don't want to lose control, don't give up ownership. GE decided it wanted out...but this isn't the first sale of an "American" business to China -- and it definitely won't be the last.
110 people shot in the first ten days of the year. Something's wrong in a great city.
It hasn't happened a lot, but the small number seems to be growing
FDR surpassed them all -- by a long shot
It's not as outlandish a suggestion as it might at first appear. If people in developing countries don't feel secure in their ability to protect what is theirs, then they won't have a lot of investment in protecting the established order. In other words, if the little guy doesn't gain any of the benefits of the law, how legitimate is the law going to really be? But people who stand to benefit from peace and good government help to comprise a bulwark against bad things happening.
Word has leaked out of the chip manufacturer that people aren't buying computers at the expected rate in China. It's another signal that the economy there is slowing down with unexpected speed.
Every public problem has a capitalist solution
These people are human beings first, regardless of where they live, what language they speak, or how they look. Once we adopt that stance, we need to empathize: What would we want others to do for us if we were in their shoes?
Mutual understanding and acceptance across cultures and religions would be ideal, but if we can't have that, we should at least insist on tolerance
Al Gore cashed out on Current TV at a good time, it would appear
A sterling example of using technology to make lives better
This is the kind of wonky bit of economic data that escapes attention from just about anyone -- but it's an important warning signal. If productive capacity isn't being used, the next question is whether inventories are rising. If both are happening, then stuff simply isn't moving through the economy like it might be expected to -- or capacity got over-built, which is also possible in a time of very low interest rates. Signs that corporate earnings may be falling are also unfavorable.
The FTC has settled a case against the people who promoted the Lumosity "brain games" products, saying that the company used false advertising to convince consumers to pay up for products to enhance cognition, when those products weren't actually proven to have those effects. Three things are interesting about this case: First, the FTC statement on the settlement specifically notes that the company used not just mass media but specific Google AdWords to target consumers who were worried about things like dementia and Alzheimer's. The fact they used the notion of targeted advertising itself as part of their case should send some shivers down a lot of spines in Mountain View, California. That kind of government action could have a chilling effect on Google's core advertising product. Second, the FTC says it has suspended a $50 million judgment against the company "due to its financial condition after the company pays $2 million to the Commission". In other words, "We could bankrupt you, but we'll just take $2 million instead and leave you to bleed." Interesting. Third, there is a risk that an over-zealous application of the FTC's standard (that the company must "have competent and reliable scientific evidence before making future claims about any benefits") could have a serious chilling effect on future commercial development of these kinds of tools. In other words, just because one company overstated its case doesn't mean the concept itself is bogus -- but by putting the hammer down, the FTC might just be discouraging useful innovations that others might seek to commercialize. A not-insignificant number of scientists have indicated their general worries about this very effect. That doesn't mean the government shouldn't tamp down the hype artists -- but there are other consequences that need to be borne in mind, too.
American systems are likely to be highly vulnerable to cyberattack, too. This should be cause for serious alarm. The investigative work is complicated, but what was targeted (and how) points pretty clearly in the direction of Russian attackers.
Reusable launch technology has moved far and fast since commercial developers got involved
Well-run businesses try to make good use of machine uptime, but what about people's uptime? Putting a lot of people in a room has a meaningful cost, so there had better be a return on that investment.
Why? Probably just because they can. Other sports would probably be more fun to watch in VR mode.
There's very little that is more dangerous or more destabilizing than large populations of young people with nothing productive to do. Yes, it's a humanitarian issue. But it's overwhelmingly a security issue.
Economies of scale seem to be prevailing in wind and solar power. Now we just need to develop better energy storage.
It's just too good a tool to dispose of
If we can't cure the disease, we can at least mitigate the symptoms. A fantastic use of technology to make people's lives better.
Looking for a single sign that China isn't rapidly shifting into a slower economic gear? Keep looking. And that's going to have global consequences -- not just economically. Security becomes an issue, too.
And now there are some real clowns taking shots at her. They are corrosive to principled, reform-oriented conservatism, no matter how "conservative" they claim to be.
Not red as in Communist, either. At least not predominantly. The country's drive to get rid of "corruption" isn't really about anti-corruption efforts (though they need them). It's almost certainly just an excuse for scapegoating and purges. The grain of truth that corruption exists does not change the fact that an authoritarian government needs to create fear and uncertainty among the people generally in order to stay in power. China is about to get wobbly, especially with an economic slowdown underway. This is just a symptom.
That's down from 81% in 2008
Technology isn't just about the possible -- issues like cultural expectations also play a role
They really should have just scooped them all up back when the team was still terrible -- but perhaps they just didn't have the cash to do it
Donald Trump knows terrifyingly little about the economy. He is a promoter and a marketing whiz, but not a brilliant economic or business thinker. Too many people buy the hype and don't see that what he promises is vaporware -- the things he says do not exist and will not exist, nor will they work the way he claims. Things are far more complex than he acknowledges, and what is most frightening is that he seems to believe his own nonsense. His candidacy is a grave threat to good sense, because he's a master at selling total nonsense to a willing audience of indiscriminate consumers.
It's telling that sometimes people refer not to the "War on Terrorism" but to the "War on Terror". Notwithstanding that you can't really conduct a war on a tactic ("terrorism" isn't a group, it's a method of fighting -- and it's been around for all of recorded history), we ought to think more deeply about the question of whether we are doing enough to eliminate needless terror and fear from the world. The more fear being experienced by ordinary people all over the globe, the greater the risk that those who use terrorism as a tool will exploit that fear. A less fearful world is a more open world, and more openness generally means more peace. But reducing fear and promoting openness may take some unconventional and strategic thinking. It's not enough to just put up a few accounts on Twitter.
Nice if you're buying gasoline. Not so nice if you're worried about the stability of countries that depend upon oil exports and that haven't done enough to develop alternative sources of income. With prices this low, the United States probably shouldn't be bothering to export petroleum, but should instead be looking for new ways to store it for the future...not for use in cars, but because fossil fuels are essential to agriculture.
Painting an entire generation with that broad of a brushstroke is a mistake -- but it's worth further examination whether it's a more prevalent view among Millennial workers than in generations past. Also worth examining: Is there just a certain subset of Millennials who think this way? (For instance, those who grew up in professional-class households who think they still have access to a family safety net?)
The Senator from Texas is very smart. But he also appears highly disingenuous. This is worrisome.
Cruelty and inhumanity aren't exclusive to ISIS/ISIL. There are a staggering number of innocent people being harmed and killed in Syria right now, as they are attacked from all around.
The more people depend upon their devices, the more important it becomes for car companies to deliver the experience that consumers want
A certain vanity candidate for the White House is damaging his own brand. May he get the comeuppance he deserves.
Restrictions on foreign manufacturers depress the competitive drive that otherwise tends to deliver interesting new goods to the American consumer. Honda and Toyota are both rare among "foreign" manufacturers in that they build cars stateside, so Honda's new Ridgeline model may give the pickup market a kick in the pants.
In fairness, we may be in a protracted slow-growth period, but we may be due for a recession
We should actually start the fight in the real world and use the virtual to supplement our efforts
That's not a cheap way to get to virtual reality, but it's new
A few countries, like China, are being left out. But much of the rest of the world can now stream content.
Small improvements add up over time.
You should only go for an IPO when you think your operation is at its peak valuation. This is either really stupid or hugely ominous for petroleum.
But if the money isn't there, it isn't there. A system with serious design flaws has met its reckoning.
AirBNB and other "sharing-economy" models aren't going to replace conventional hotels, but Hyatt probably deserves applause for takings steps to learn from them
Things went very wrong in Cologne on New Year's Eve as large numbers of men sexually assaulted and harassed passing women. There's no guarantee that anyone can pass through a sufficiently large mob without being hurt, but there's also something to be said for defending yourself in such a way that the beaten pulp of one seriously injured attacker is left to serve as a warning to others.
Regrettably, though, it's dredging up feelings among some of his supporters that they shouldn't be proud to display
It doesn't matter so long as people understand that the market isn't the economy and the economy isn't the market. The marginal behavior of the stock market is erratic and irrational, but so long as people train themselves to think of the value of the companies they own through stocks and to generally ignore the price, there's no cause for actual alarm.
A stunning number of shootings and killings. And these things can be "contagious", in a sociological sense, which makes the problem worse.
The list of actual patent violations coming out of China would blow the minds of anyone willing to try comprehending it, but this is an unusually dramatic move. Things like these self-balancing "electric skateboards" are pretty silly on their own, but they do point towards big and useful improvements in technology down the road.
That's a bit impractical
The hints are pretty hard to miss. 10,000 may be a high-side estimate, but it definitely looks like a serious plan is underway to increase the character limit. Art is in the constraints.
Seeing no future of victory against YouTube and others, they're cutting their losses
The world situation calls for seriousness. Anyone who continues to entertain the idea of voting for one of the unqualified nuts (from either party) should pay attention and straighten up. South Korea is worried, Japan is on edge, and the United States is the boogeyman for the Communist dictatorship. The real trouble is not so much the actual weapon (and whether or not it actually works) so much as the massive signal that the regime in Pyongyang intends to behave erratically and disruptively. Predictable opponents can lead to tension but at least remain stable. Unpredictable and irrational behavior is quite another thing. North Korea isn't just threatening Western notions of security with this test, it's also slapping China in the face.
The minimum wage probably should track along with inflation (like the cost-of-living adjustments applied to many other things, including government employee pay and many entitlement benefits). But the minimum wage is a terrible tool for alleviating poverty. It's poorly targeted and it quite likely creates not only additional unemployment but also a serious hidden cost. That hidden cost is in the form of a deficit of opportunities for young workers to get starting jobs. The longer we artificially obstruct young people from entering the labor market, the longer it takes for them to start accumulating the work experience and soft skills that permit them to rise up the economic ladder later on. It's a hidden cost -- but yet it's not. Any place that has relatively high youth unemployment is also likely to have relatively high rates of trouble with mischief and even crime among those young people. Put plainly, teenagers and young adults need productive things to do and a clear trajectory towards a rising standard of living. Those needs can be satisfied in a number of ways, including enrichment education, extracurricular activities like sports, volunteerism, and organized clubs. But there are plenty of young people for whom a job is just the right thing. It's conceited and myopic to think otherwise. While everyone is responsible for their own decisions and nobody has a right to pursue crime and chaos, a society has only itself to blame if it fails to provide adequate opportunities for young people to have something productive to do -- and then suffers any number of ills from truancy to rioting as a result. Most people are, by nature, good -- but they also need sufficient opportunities to be good. Anything that puts up artificial roadblocks to those opportunities (like the ridiculous notion that the minimum wage should be nearly doubled to $15 an hour) is an exercise in economic and sociological illiteracy.
Why they would try it in the short run is easy to see. That it's a really dangerous thing to try (and, if it continues, could make things much worse in the long run) should be equally obvious. Someone needs to introduce them to the economic concept of marginality -- much of the behavior we're seeing suggests that it's not understood.
Art is in the constraints. Take away the 140-character constraint, and Twitter may very well find itself consigned to the trash heap of history.
The longer this kind of thing goes on, the more obvious it becomes that the people trying to command the Chinese economy miss a fundamental point: Starting from a low base, an economy can gain a lot by industrialization. But its long-term growth will be capped severely if people are not free to think for themselves -- politically, economically, technologically, socially, or otherwise. Freedom of thought doesn't really know boundaries, and if people fear that they may "disappear" for publishing the wrong content, then they plainly do not have freedom.
All of the signs point towards the Chinese economy hitting the skids much more abruptly than the official figures show. Combine that with the imposition of new regulations on equities trading and the fact that a not-insignificant number of businesspeople have gone missing in China lately, and nobody should be surprised to see big shocks in the stock market there. It's long been less a matter of "if" than "when".
An attorney working for the City of Chicago has resigned after a judge found he misled a court case about a police shooting that happened in 2011. Whether or not the police officers were justified in the shooting, the importance of carrying out the legal process with transparency and honesty is paramount. If we don't have that, then any other purported civilian oversight of police work is meaningless. Process matters.
See a picture of the New York Times with an "offensive" story removed. It's jarring. But it apparently really happens when the paper is printed around the world and stories offend local sensibilities.
That's a huge investment -- part of which is intended to boost self-driving car development.
If demonstrators in some foreign country had overrun our embassy, we would consider it a massive act of provocation. It is the same for the self-appointed "militia" that has taken over the headquarters of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon. It doesn't need to come to a shootout with them (nobody wins when that happens), but they've stepped outside the boundaries of political expression into outlaw behavior.
A young mother from Omaha and her 2-year-old daughter were killed, apparently by a boyfriend she feared, shortly after police showed up to check on her welfare. Something better needs to be done.
And his reviews can give a decent bump to book sales. If you're not reading 50 books a year (and most of us probably aren't), it's worth considering that Gates probably has a lot more on his plate than most of us do, and a lot less to gain financially from learning new skills. Also worth noting: He prefers print to digital.
Cornices are a beautiful architectural element, and so rarely acknowledged as such
They are people just like any of us. Just people. Anyone who would diminish their humanity to score cheap political points ought to be ashamed.
Launched by the local independent ISP on Christmas Day to a pair of communities with a total of about 6000 people
Reuters may have triggered the announcement by pursuing a story that suggested that the Chinese government had intercepted the data of some users, though Microsoft says it doesn't have firm evidence that it was, in fact, a Chinese government incident. But they do say that "We will now notify you if we believe your account has been targeted or compromised by an individual or group working on behalf of a nation state." Here's an interesting corollary question: What about groups like ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh, that have many of the trappings of nation-statehood but no formal recognition? As always, the use of strong passwords and two-factor authentication is recommended practice for anyone.
Ohio State University is testing a "meniscal implant" that could offer a substitute for knee surgery in patients who have damaged the meniscus of the knee
It certainly has its adherents among seniors
The bug definitely caused its share of confusion going into the end of 2015. It was probably due to a Unix date calculation bug.
And what a lot of people share with Facebook is...a whole lot.
Twitter shut down an account belonging to the wrong person -- thinking it was a terrorist they were blocking, they actually shut down a reform activist. And it's probably because someone just didn't read the names correctly.
It's not conservatism he's selling; it's a lowbrow populism. And it's really just a vanity exercise intended to give him free publicity -- a marketing scheme in which the news media have been utterly complicit. The excuse that he's a serious candidate because people are talking about him is nonsense; even a modestly intelligent and informed interviewer with even the slightest determination to hold him to a Presidential standard could take him down like an Olympic wrestler. That no examples of that come to mind suggests that there aren't enough good interviewers in circulation, and that's a problem for the public good.
That, unfortunately, is causing the government to do things like revoking eligibility for the remains of women who served in a paramilitary role during WWII. That just doesn't sit well.
Recommended charities for your giving
2015: The year investors didn't make any money
Bill Cosby charged with assault
The case is from 2004
George Pataki drops out of 2016 race
Russia views SpaceX as a competitor
Twitter imposes new rules to cut off hate speech, intimidation, and harassment
There's simply no perfect solution for companies like Twitter. The new language codifies a philosophy that intimidation is as rivalrous to free speech as explicit censorship. And yet there's the ironic condition that letting hateful people use platforms like Twitter for speech makes them easier to find, call out, and counteract. Sometimes, it's even useful to let terrorists tweet (it can help identify where to drop bombs, just for example). The problem is that services like Twitter and Facebook land on a nebulous boundary between "open" and "closed" societies and ways of thinking. The evildoers who wants closedness also want to take advantage of the tools of openness.
El Nino to really screw up our weather in 2016
MasterCard says online sales rose 20% this holiday season
Who knew there was still upside to be gained?
"Wave of regulation looms in 2016"
Alternate title: "America about to give itself yet another graduate course in the Law of Unintended Consequences".
A new generation of Google Glass is coming
The FCC leaked pictures
Saudi Arabia tightens budget in anticipation of continued low oil prices
A resource bonanza is a lot of fun while it lasts, but it takes serious discretion and foresight to reinvest bonanza profits in long-term growth
Priest rides "hoverboard" during Christmas Eve Mass
At least he wasn't wearing Heelys?
Mature savings bonds aren't much fun to keep around
Once they stop earning interest, they need to be converted to something productive
Spider silk plus carbon nanotubes equals incredible strength
Facebook's "Free Basics" app: Game-changing public utility or violation of net neutrality?
Or maybe both?
House Speaker Paul Ryan has exactly the right vision for government
"Then the people will know that we stand for a more prosperous, a more secure, a more confident America. And the rest? Well, the rest will be up to the people -- as it should be."
Truck driver crosses 6-ton bridge with 30-ton load -- bridge collapses
The driver was pretty dumb here, saying she didn't know how many pounds were in a ton (If you don't know how much a ton is, Google it.). But what's the point of letting nostalgia get in the way of modern infrastructure needs? A "historic bridge" is usually just another way of saying "something we should have replaced a long time ago, but now have 'the feels' about and refuse to pay for the proper maintenance thereof." The pictures show a rusty old pile of iron.
Collapse of oil prices crushes the Alaskan state budget
Lifeguards from Spain try to save refugee lives in Greece
Don't click "Like" on Facebook pictures
Doing so only encourages "like farming"
ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh issues rules for treatment of slaves
Slaves! In 2015! The word "outrage" isn't close to being enough. We also need to clean up our own domestic problem with sex trafficking, which really ought to be known as enslavement rape.
Mozilla to kill Firefox OS, spin off Thunderbird, and focus on the browser
The potential orphaning of Thunderbird is sad
Chinese government uses anti-terrorism cover for anti-liberty lawmaking
Never give power to yourself that you wouldn't want your opponents to have available to use against you
The most popular baby name in Israel? Muhammad.
Cheap oil is causing the shale-oil business to collapse
Very bad news for Canada and for North Dakota, indeed.
What 50 states of equal population might look like
Nothing more than an artistic experiment, but interesting nonetheless
Cat-and-mouse game between consumers and advertisers continues
Ad blocking is on the rise, and that's going to push advertisers to stuff more advertising into unexpected places than before -- particularly in pictures. First there were banner ads, then there were pop-up ads, then there were pop-under ads, then there were autoplay commercials. Then there was "content advertising", embedded links, and advertising-supported apps. Funny thing: When radio was new, it was often supported solely by individual companies (like WHO-AM in Des Moines, which was a tool of the Bankers Life Company, or WLS-AM, which was an arm of Sears -- the "World's Largest Store"). In other times, individual companies have supported entire publications (as the Bell System did back in the day, or as Shell does today with "Impact" and Chevron does with "Next"). Aside from tricks like stuffing ads into visual media, there's been a modern revival of the house publication -- the content website, like AT&T's "Thread". Of course, the content has to be useful, interesting, and also somehow profitable for the company producing it.
Why not direct democracy all the time?
Among other reasons, because "Arrested Development" only lasted three seasons on television, but "Big Brother" has made it to 17, totaling 585 episodes of complete, mindless junk. But seriously: Direct democracy is fine on a tiny scale with limited scope, but once any real complexity becomes involved, people are unwilling to invest the time and effort required to come up with good decisions. That's why a democratic republic is the only way to go.
Local news: How about less hype and more analysis?
What we package as "news" is really a combination of news, events, and information, along with elements of entertainment, opinion, and analysis. News is anything that materially changes our understanding of the status quo. If it doesn't do that, it's probably an event or information. Those things can be valuable, but they're not news.
Brazen crooks ask makers of Raspberry Pi to install malware for pay
The Raspberry Pi is an ultra-cheap computer, and the thought that crooks would so openly seek to corrupt any system they could ought to make us all a little uneasy
Huge landslide discovered months later thanks to satellite photos
In memory of Cheryl Pannier
Show notes - WHO Radio Wise Guys - December 26, 2015
Cheap money has skewed the market for IPOs
It's really never been cheaper to borrow money, so that's been fuel for private-equity firms to buy up or invest in companies that would otherwise have turned to equity markets (via IPOs). That's choking off the flow of businesses that might have gone to the public stock markets.
Hyatt payment-processing system hit by malware
Whether anything was actually stolen is unclear, but it's also hard to believe that an infection that gets past what ought to be a well-guarded system wasn't doing at least some damage
First openly gay American servicewoman killed in action
Honor and duty are in no way diminished by a person's sexual orientation
Maps of the world
One of these is a map of public debts compared to GDP. Public debt itself is not a killer, if the debt is used for sound reasons. It needs to buy permanent gains, like highways -- just like a home mortgage can be a "good" household debt if it pays for shelter at a rate less than comparable rent. But if debt is putting current consumption on a credit card, it's death to the future of a country.
Social networking causes lots of things to look more common than they really are
The things that well-connected people think, believe, and share will disproportionately influence the rest of the network into thinking that those things are commonplace, even if they aren't.
Parents are deep in their kids' college debt
Education most certainly does have its own intrinsic benefits, but when we're running up big bills for it, we ought to have a decent idea of the return that's coming from the investment
Apple still wants you to get Apple TV -- but restrain expectations of a revolution
Content providers still aren't feeling an urgent push to deliver their content via an on-demand model via Apple, so the big incentive simply doesn't exist
They just wanted tacos
Las Vegas restaurant owner turns security-camera footage of a break-in into a YouTube ad, complete with mocking captions
Ukraine could be in really bad shape
Political turbulence is causing economic misbehavior that could destabilize the long-term future of the country
Police departments lose their "asset forfeiture" winnings to the Federal government
It's all a highly suspicious practice anyway, but it's alarming to hear that cities are depending on the funding
Billions of dollars are leaving US mutual funds
Maybe people are just doing some year-end tax management, but it's not a great symbol
The private sector is slowing its purchases of durable goods
From the Department of Commerce: "Nondefense new orders for capital goods in November decreased $5.2 billion or 6.3 percent". With interest rates still at basically zero, companies should be buying every bit of productivity-enhancing equipment they can possibly find. A drop of more than 6% is alarming.
Low inflation? Love it. Negative inflation? Not so much.
The hazards of deflation are large, so the economic consensus is around low, predictable inflation
Rdio goes bankrupt and signs off
Not every "disruptor" survives
Oracle ordered to push harder to get you to update Java
While you're at it, update all of your programs
Pebble issues software update to make Classics act like the new models
Pebble still offers the most reasonably-priced, hard-working smartwatches in the market right now
Iowa Department of Education to push for a task force on computer classes
They want a group to review the possibility of requiring all Iowa high schools to offer a "high-quality computer science course", even if it's not required for graduation. In principle, one should be both offered and (probably) required. But in practice, lots of schools would likely have trouble finding the human resources to offer such a course. The need for such education is great, and in theory a course requirement should be as obvious as requiring courses in foreign languages or the arts. In addition to the conventional reading, writing, and arithmetic, today's graduates need to be financially, scientifically, and digitally literate -- not because those things are wants, but because they are needs.
Dual US/Afghan citizen killed in Kabul
An American passport ought to feel like a metaphorical bulletproof vest, and that sense simply doesn't seem as strong as it used to. The principle that our power to protect our own interest extends far beyond our coastlines traces all the way back to the start of the 19th Century.
China suspends human-rights lawyer for microblogging
Found guilty of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble", he's been given a suspended sentence of three years in prison
Iowa to develop a state-level cybersecurity strategy
On a national level, we ought to be strategizing, too. But it makes lots of sense for states to engage in cybersecurity defense, too. A multi-layered approach is inherently more secure than a one-size-fits-all, top-down arrangement. That argument notwithstanding, we probably also need a national cyber-defense corps on a level similar to one of the conventional branches of the Defense Department. There is approximately zero chance that cyberwarfare is going away, and it's an urgent national concern.
German court: Once a relationship ends, consent to hold naked pictures goes away
Perhaps a difficult legal principle to enforce, but the interpretation may leave a door open for the law to prevent "revenge porn"
Grand jury says the jailers didn't commit a felony against Sandra Bland
Another grand jury will consider next month whether to charge the arresting officer. It is extremely hard to believe that no crime was committed at some point in her handling and treatment. The video of her arrest is outrageous, and the thought that she spent days in jail before dying -- over a trumped-up traffic stop -- suggests that something is very, very wrong with the system.
Sen. Lindsey Graham drops out of the 2016 Presidential race
Graham wasn't right about everything (nobody is), but he brought a lot of sense to the discussion amid a lot of quackery from some of the other candidates. He may not have been destined for the Oval Office, but we do need voices like his in the public debate.
SpaceX launched and landed a reusable rocket
After three failures, this is a great success. And it looks pretty awesome, too. As the company said back in June, "airlines don't junk a plane after a one-way trip from LA to New York".
Adele stayed off social media to concentrate on her latest album
Putting the important before the immediate -- that takes discipline.
More legal marijuana means more electricity demand
It's not so green after all. The law of unintended consequences strikes again. But let's get one thing straight: Finding sources of non-polluting, ultra-low-cost power would be about the best thing that technology could do for humanity. Not for growing pot, necessarily, but for growing nutritious foods and preparing and distributing safe drinking water. Clean, cheap energy is in fact the single most valuable thing we could get from science and technology right now.
US Air Force to offer $125,000 "critical skills retention bonuses" to drone pilots
They have to promise to stick around for five additional years. Warfare has changed dramatically.
The FAA will require drones to be registered next year
It should never have taken this long for the agency to impose the registration requirement. If they'd implemented a registry back when these things were brand-new, then everyone would see registration as the status quo and there wouldn't be a fight. But trying to implement registration now -- long after drones have hit the mainstream -- is comically incompetent.
A 64-bit version of Firefox has arrived
DNC goes to war with the Bernie Sanders campaign
The two are fighting over access to voter data belonging to the Hillary Clinton campaign that the DNC says the Sanders team took, "like if you walked into someone's home when the door was unlocked and took things that don't belong to you".
Battles, both economic and military
Ukraine says it can't or won't repay $3 billion in bonds owned by Russia. Russia lent the money to prop up the former government, and now Ukraine says it can't pay back in part because it's so expensive to fight with the separatists in the eastern part of the country (who are, of course, backed by Russia).
California is working on rules for self-driving cars
The faster they get something on the books, the better. The technology is moving quickly, and the lack of a legal framework is a serious problem. There is a very urgent public-health case to be made for getting humans as far away from the driver's seat as possible. We are the cause of almost all crashes.
If you think governments can or should control the Internet, you have a friend in the Communist Party
Seven years of 0% interest rates
Even at just slightly over 0%, we still live in remarkable times that will look totally incredible from the perspective of future history
Canadians are selling "bottled air" to China
The smog is so bad in China that people are actually buying it. One thing is for certain: People with political rights and a little bit of prosperity tend to agitate very quickly for changes to environmental conditions that endanger them. Killer fogs in London led to clean-air legislation, and river fires in the Rust Belt led to clean-water legislation well before the Federal government stepped in. But if people either lack the political influence to agitate for a solution or the material well-being to afford the resources necessary to do the cleanup, then no obvious solution exists.
You can try to fight economic laws, but they act like gravity
The Teamsters Union Central States Pension Fund is running out of money and is asking the government to allow it to reduce benefits. One's heart breaks for the pain that cuts would impose on the pensioners who expected to get their full benefits -- but the pension system was inadequately designed: Too many Baby Boomers joined and are now retiring, the workforce taking their place is less interested in joining unions, and the pension fund apparently over-promised what its actual investment returns can do. Perhaps it's a reminder that (a) everyone has to get educated about finances and look out for themselves, regardless of the promises made by employers, unions, or the government; and (b) that it's best to see that labor and capital are mutualistic and that nobody wins when they turn antagonistic with one another. That second part might be a worthy reminder for the short-sighted buffoons who have nothing but bad things to say about "corporate America" without realizing that -- just for instance -- sometimes a union pension fund itself owns a big slice of "corporate America".
New battleship breaks down after 20 days of service
If it were a car, we'd call that a lemon
Could Thursday-night NFL move to a streaming-only model?
Nobody should dismiss the idea prematurely
Dow and DuPont want a "marriage of equals"
A rarity when each of the partners is worth around $50 billion
Microsoft really, really wants you to update to Windows 10
Still free to computers with Windows 7 or 8, at least for the time being. No guarantee that it will last beyond the start of next year.
Federal Reserve decides to raise interest rates to 0.25%
It's non-zero, but barely distinguishable from it
The world "has not grown harder: just more foolish and selfish"
How we treat refugees says a lot about our humanity
Why government needs to evolve with the pace of technology
We don't necessarily need more democracy -- people are inclined to make stupid decisions, especially when decision-making isn't their particular strength -- but we do need to make sure that laws and regulations keep pace with the real world.
Ford will put Gorilla Glass in the new GT
Northrup Grumman touts its 2030s-era fighter jet of the future
Probably jumping the gun a little bit...maybe we should get the F-22 working flawlessly first.
The Midwest continues to experience deflation
Fun in the very short term, maybe. But a real hazard in the long term, since it tends to discourage people from spending money, which is more or less that upon which the entire economy relies.
Civilian oversight of police and the military is critical to a civil society
A Chicago police officer has been acquitted of charges he shoved a gun into a suspect's mouth and pressed a stun gun to the man's groin. It may have been a perfectly reasonable and sound decision -- but it's also worrisome that we can entertain the thought that such a thing could have happened, and believe actively that the allegations might be true. We do these things because there are sufficient examples of brutality and excessive force that they do not seem categorically impossible. That's a problem, and it suggests a failure of civilian oversight.
Alibaba buys the South China Morning Post
An interesting parallel to Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post
Is the end of emojis coming?
Surge in students from China at the University of Iowa
But the boom has created some cultural stumbles for some of the foreign students
The President needs a communications coach
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