Link roundup, 2/24/2017

From The Atlantic: The best ‘explanation of everything’ article I’ve read in a long time: Why Nothing Works Anymore.

From The Verge: A look at the impact of our Neanderthal genes.

From Nautilus: How one mathematician may be redefining the discipline.

From the Washington Post: An Iowa Republican wants to force professors seeking employment to disclose their party affiliation.

From Quartz: An essay on the frustrations of watching movies about race with white people.

121 Comments

  1. DOJ has withdrawn from the TX voting lawsuit after six years. It’s no secret that AG Sessions’ hand was all over this. The plaintiffs are appalled – no facts in the case have changed, only those calling the shots – at the highest level of government.

    This portends bad things for voting rights in our country.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/justice-department-changes-its-position-in-high-profile-texas-voter-id-case/2017/02/27/cfaafac0-fd0c-11e6-99b4-9e613afeb09f_story.html?utm_term=.7b02f9f39a09

  2. This one-two hit, right here:

    1) Trump proposes 10% spike in military spending, paid for of course by eliminating everything of value.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/trump-to-propose-10-percent-spike-in-defense-spending-massive-cuts-to-other-agencies/2017/02/27/867f9690-fcf2-11e6-99b4-9e613afeb09f_story.html

    2) Paul Ryan and Trump heading to a clash over entitlement spending.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/us/politics/trump-budget-proposal-republican-ideology.html

    This is Alien versus Predator: no matter who wins, we lose.

    Once again, the thing that pisses me off about this is that Trump shouldn’t be shocking or bothering any single Republican, at all, whatsoever. What have Republicans promised Americans for 40 straight fucking years?

    + Increase defense.

    + Cut spending.

    + Hands off Medicare and Social Security.

    That’s it. That’s their entire platform, and he’s calling their bluff. Of course, he doesn’t know it’s a bluff. He’s a True Believer. And the vice grip of his insistence, plus the rabid base that has been asking for precisely this and expecting it for forty fucking years, are going to make sure there aren’t any Republicans thinking in the back of their mind, “Hmm, maybe I should admit this is a terrible mistake.”

      1. “This is all part of Bannon’s “deconstruction” plan of action.”

        Bannon is a finance / movie nerd who got his widdle tiddums scared by big meanie Muslims after 9/11: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/25/opinion/what-does-steve-bannon-want.html It sent him to dark corners of the Internet where he started dealing with wingnuts and paranoiacs.

        The underlying premise of ‘deconstructing the administrative state’ is the same ‘small government’ nutjobbery that was sold to Bannon throughout most of his life. A libertarian-paranoiac complex that conflates seatbelts with New World Order.

        It’s still the Republicans’ fault for Bannon.

    1. HA! Anyone who had been paying even a little attention could have told this clueless buffoon otherwise. Our Mary could give him multiple earfuls. Sadly all that knowledge would likely drip out the other ear.

      He really thinks that letting ObamaCare wither due to the uncertainty of inaction would stick to the Dems? If so, his grip on reality is more tenuous than I’ve imagined. I’d say “please proceed”, except for the people who didn’t vote for him/ couldn’t vote who will be burned by this.

  3. Anyone have a link to a fairly comprehensive and current website that breaks down how the 3.8 (or 3.9) trillion is spent by the govt. Given that the puppet tyrant just announced an increase of 54 billion for the war machine next year, and plans to counter it cuts to all depts that don’t include entitlements, I want to see how the financial wizards plan to doing this.

    I know that the EPA has a total budget of 8.2 billion, so the fascists are going to have to go after a lot more than that dept.

      1. What you heard is the proverbial tip of the iceberg. One of the truly tragic losses is that the replacement provision of the ACA will repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund. This is an important source of public health funding and essential to the budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (12%).
        Think of what this means for research. Think of what this means when an epidemic (remember ZIKA?), HIV, etc. occurs. To add insult to injury, taxes on pharmaceutical manufacturers (who evidently aren’t making large enough profits to satisfy them) and medical equipment manufacturers will be repealed.

        Read and weep.

        http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/5-takeaways-leaked-republican-bill-repeal-obamacare/

      1. The most salient point is that there was not this sort of social backlash for voting for Romney or McCain or W or Dole, and the reason is Trump’s unprecedented deficits in character, deficits that make him unqualified for this job. This rift is going to be here for a whole, especially with those of us who must deal with split families.

        The Trump voters should look on the bright side of “swipe left”; you won’t waste your time on someone who is not compatible.

    1. The other day I was going to post that Mr. Trump was a bad president because he was a businessman, that businessmen make bad presidents because they have to answer only to themselves and their immediate circle of advisers, and then I thought of Bill Gates and how it would be great to have him as president.

      1. I’ll see if I can find the link tonight, but I read a good article last week about how Trump was running a family business vs being a CEO of a publically traded company, and that the latter would qualify you better for the Presidency than the former. The key difference would be that a public CEO has to be accountable to shareholders and disclose things like tax returns. The guy running the family business can do what ever he wants, and Trump is trying to continue that practice, which is a very bad idea for government.

      2. Exactly. Maybe that’s why he can’t get it through his head to do it any other way. This is the only way he knows. That’s why loyalty and privacy (aka secrecy) are so important to him.

        I’ve worked for a small company for over 25 years, a mom and pop operation, and my boss will only answer to his wife and to us long-time employees (his “family”). He has tried going into partnerships, but it has never worked, because he’s not used to answering to anyone outside the fold, or he does things without telling anyone, not because he’s trying to hide something, but because the idea just doesn’t occur to him.

      3. Also, my boss considers living under corporate regulations to be a burden, and with regards to us, his employees, he makes up the rules as we go along, so we’ve learned to go with the flow. Let’s just say it’s never boring.

        As you said, that’s probably not the best way to run a government.

      4. Bill Gates vs DJT – not.even.close. Bill and Melinda Gates are giving away their fortune to help others; potus used other people’s money to fund his foundation. That ought to give you a clue about these two men. But, yes, Bill Gates would be a very interesting candidate if one was only looking at generosity, integrity and personal business success.

      5. Fly – This same principle is a reason why someone like Tillerson is not able to transfer his experience in the corporate world to the SOS position. It used to be that people went into office as a public service. Now it is a career option.

        Rachel Maddow had an interesting program tonight on Trump’s complicated relationship with Russia. If you have a chance to view it, it will mesh nicely with the WaPo article you linked.

      6. Get outside our bubble and there is a whole other world of thinking…I simply could not believe that the GOP is willing to slash public and preventative health by 12%. I well recall how the Obama administration had to keep shifting funds around when ZIKA was headed our way…Taking funds from HIV and other infectious diseases in order to have the funds to do early research to develop a means of combatting the virus….It’s not only incredibly foolish, it makes a terrible statement of our country’s priorities. Increase our military budget by $54B and cut medical research…….There are no words…………

    1. I was unable/unwilling to select any area that I want potus to focus on (that was listed), therefore, the only feedback he received was to item #3 which asked what are my ideas to make America great again….

      My answer: Elect a new president.

      I know which pile this survey will land in (-;

  4. Re: why nothing works anymore:

    yes, we should throw away our tractors because they occasionally break down, require periodic maintenance, sometimes don’t start up correctly, and come with other requisite costs in fuel as well as ultimately depreciate.

    Things were so much easier and we had so much less inconvenience when we plowed fields by hand. You know what doesn’t need so much maintenance, fuel, or inconvenience? Hoes. Simple. Understandable. Less breakable.

  5. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this Chelgren guy has zero clue as to how universities hire faculty. In the interview process, you are not allowed to talk about religious or political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, or family situation unless the applicant broaches the subject (for example, they ask about parental leave or child care policies). Also you can have the biggest commitment to diversity in the universe, and desire to increase your roster of “category X” type people by 50%, but if no category X type people even apply, it’s not happening. Speaking for the sciences, there are fewer and fewer conservatives/GOPers in our ranks. This is self-section by people freely choosing their career paths. Scientists don’t want to ally with groups of people who are so openly anti-science. It looks to be similar across other parts of academia- not many conservatives choose that path. Let this guy apply to the local university if he wants to teach his POV.

      1. She’s my hero. Diane Feinstein is another steller female. She cut old Cruz down to size when he started messing with her. But, both these ladies, as smart as they are, are in their 80s. We have got to build leadership beneath them.

        Love the poster. I’ll try to figure out how to print it so I can put it on refrig where my conservative friends/family can’t miss seeing it (-; I’m bad, EJ. It’s the devil in me making me do things like this!

  6. As a sign of how things have changed, my Facebook feed was alive with discussion of Tom Perez being elected DNC chairman (and Keith Ellison becoming deputy).

    As a sign of why this attention can also be bad, not only were anybody left of fascist split in angry debate over whether Perez’s win was a good or bad thing, but the fascists were chortling and egging on the arguments.

    1. At least it’s done. Took them long enough. While “Rome” burned, the DNC dithered. This is a time when you break protocol, call a conference in January, pick the best leader you can get, and start right away to organize.

      At least that’s what I would have done. Let’s hope Perez can get things rolling. He’s got a huge grassroots movement to corral, if he can.

      Had an interesting Town Hall today. Congressman Brady didn’t show. Boo. But the event was extraordinarily well attended to say it was put together in less than one week. I would guestimate 200-250 people in attendance. Should be an article in the Houston Chronicle very soon. The organizers pulled together several local resistance organizations who cooperatively mobilized their memberships. The guest speakers were exceptional – two doctors – one very knowledgeable 28 year old Indian doctor (Baylor) who really, really knew the subject of health care reform, another doctor whose practice centers around a large population of immigrants, an attorney who specializes in civil rights and asylum, and the head of the NAACP locally who spoke about inclusion and engagement. Very very well done. Audience members were given opportunity to come to mike and make statements or ask questions. This group follows up so Brady and the memberships will have audio copies of the proceedings. Very professional. Very civil – not only because of how well organizated it was plus the crowd, but Brady was a no-show. For all the criticism of the liberal protests, I have keen recollections of the noisy Tea Party protests. Goes with the territory.

      1. Perez and Ellison have the chance of a lifetime in their hands, but that’s all it is, a chance. As tonight’s surprisingly strong win for Dems in Delware’s 10th Senate district shows, there’s clearly an reinvigorated grassroots base ready, already mobilizing on their own and plowing full steam ahead. It’s up to the DNC and others to do decide if they catch up.

        This is what activists need to see, winning. We won’t win every battle (Georgia’s 6th district is a tough lift, no matter how much money DailyKos brings in), but our fair share of victories will keep hopes aflame heading into ’18, and there’s plenty of opportunities for that left this year. Connecticut has special elections on the 28th, as do N. Jersey and Virginia, and even Washington has control of the state Senate up for control in November. Democrats could end the year with a solid two more states under their full control if all goes well. Not a bad precursor heading into ’18 at all.

        If we go into the midterms with Democratic state parties reinvigorated, sustained funding given and honest coordination and organization with all of the other groups around the country being made, Dems could end the night very well.

    1. RE: Chait’s article: “Health-care reform failed under Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton because the system is almost impervious to change”

      Not true. It failed because they all tried to reform the system while keeping private insurance. Almost every other country has managed to succeed by cutting out the private sector (at least from the funding part of it). Heck, even we succeed: the sickest patients, ie the elderly, the poor, the disabled, and the military, are covered by public systems that provide better care at cheaper cost with higher patient satisfaction than the rest of us forced to deal with the private system.

      These efforts, including Obamacare, are the very definition of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. That’s why they fail.

      Even with obamacare, >75% of the net increase in coverage was through the medicaid expansion (this despite many of the poorest states refusing the medicaid money). The massive changes and subsidies provided to the private market have to date only provided 25% (and declining) of the coverage expansion.

      When politicians stop bending over for insurance companies, they’ll find the successful plan quite easy to find and implement (I believe the Medicare for all Bill was less than 10 pages). The question is how many people have to die until politicians stop suckling at lobbyist teat and start serving their constituents. So far the number is in the millions and counting, with no end in sight…

      1. And, meanwhile, men, women and children are dying. And, that’s NOT hyperbole.

        The point that resonated with me in the Chait article is that Republicans are really between a rock and a hard place. To avoid blowing up the deficit (nigh impossible with potus holding court, but…) AND offer coverage, they will have to tax somebody somewhere. The good thing about the protest groups is that the average citizen is much better informed about health care, and the ACA, in particular. They are beginning to appreciate its strengths and have now heard enough that they will see through the changes that are certain to be proposed.

        Let me simply say that I feel no sorrow for them. They’ve been milking Obamacare for 8 years without bothering to develop a viable alternative. Tough.

      2. Profile photo of DS DS

        WX,

        With respect, I think your assessment dramatically understates the political complexities of healthcare delivery and reform. The reality of the situation is that, pre-Obamacare, something like 80% of the population had health insurance coverage. The vast majority of those were covered through their employer, making the cost very nearly transparent. As far as most of those people were concerned, the system was working just fine.

        You can blame lobbyists and insurance companies as much as you like, but the reality is that the already-insured represent stakeholders in that system. For them, single payer (or any reform, really) brings few tangible benefits to the table.

      3. Let’s see now. The remaining 20% of 323,000,000 people equals: 64million uninsured. Isn’t that the precipitating factor that drove the creation of the ACA? The 80% who had employer coverage may not have had very good coverage either. Women having to pay “extra” for pregnancy, contraception. Pre-existing exclusions, you know the list.

        I won’t be happy until there is universal coverage. (So, maybe I’ll be perpetually “unhappy”?…….nah, I’ll just keep pushing for what is right.)

      4. DS-

        I respectfully disagree. Ever since Hillarycare was derailed by the insurance companies’ “Harry and Louise” ads, politicians have been deathly afraid of the insurance companies. Even Obama made a secret deal with the insurance co’s months before introducing Obamacare, promising not to push a public option in exchange for insurance company support.

        The difficulty has never been with getting popular support behind Medicare for all. It’s always been defying a multi-trillion dollar industry. Numerous polls from

        Gallup: http://www.gallup.com/poll/191504/majority-support-idea-fed-funded-healthcare-system.aspx

        Kaiser Foundation: http://pnhp.org/blog/2015/12/17/kaiser-poll-58-of-americans-support-medicare-for-all/

        And others throughout the years (for at least the past decade), have shown overwhelming support for a single payer, Medicare-for-all system. This is not a fringe lefty position. It’s the majority opinion.

        And I think you understate the amount of worry about health insurance even insured people have. Yes, 80% of the population was covered by insurance. But only 65% are covered by private insurance. The other 15% with insurance have public plans. These are generally the sickest (poor, elderly, disabled, military) + kids.

        Even among the 65%, plenty of people live in deathly fear of losing their job primarily because of what that means for their insurance. I have friends with pre-existing conditions who cling to their govt jobs because they’re the only ones that provide insurance that can cover them or their family.

        And if you are >50 or have any medical condition, you had better stick with whatever job you can find in a big company because you will be left for dead (literally) in the private market (especially pre-Obamacare).

        Before Obamacare, there were also plenty of people who, for example, wouldn’t get an EKG stress test if they had chest pain because they were worried they’d lose their insurance if it was positive, even if they didn’t actually have a heart attack and could be treated with some cheap generic meds.

        Even now, there are plenty of people in the 55-60 age range who pray to God that they stay healthy enough to hit Medicare before an illness comes along and wipes out their savings.

        These are all people with private insurance. Just because they have a shiny piece of paper saying they are “insured” doesn’t mean they believe for a second that a major illness wouldn’t be financially catastrophic. The only people happy with their private insurance are ones who haven’t had to use it yet, and ones in gold-plated plans costing $30k that provide the type of first-dollar, see-anyone, no-limits coverage that everyone wishes they could afford. And that’s why 60-70% of *all* Americans (not just the uninsured), favor a single payer system any time the question is polled.

      5. DS-

        Also, forgot to add, even in employer-based coverage, the costs are hardly transparent. Most companies, for example, make it very clear that they aren’t able to give people a raise because their health insurance costs went up 10% that year. Furthermore, with increasing deductibles and co-pays, most people with employer-based coverage face difficult out-of-pocket costs every time they see a physician.

        For most people without gold-plated plans, it’s been a very, very long time since health insurance was a transparent “show the card and let someone else take care of the costs” financial matter…

  7. OV, had we known each other as kids, instead of pooling resources to buy books as you suggest, I would have allowed you to check out books from my personal library. Seriously, I enjoyed playing librarian and had a system complete with little pockets and cards at the backs of books and a list of “patrons,” books checked out, and due dates.

    1. David Brin had this the other day: Boing Boing reports: “Two employees at the East Lake County Library created a fictional patron called Chuck Finley — entering fake driver’s license and address details into the library system — and then used the account to check out 2,361 books over nine months in 2016, in order to trick the system into believing that the books they loved were being circulated to the library’s patrons, thus rescuing the books from automated purges of low-popularity titles.

      Ah, to live in a society where that is the epitome of official corruption.”

    2. Profile photo of EJ EJ

      That sounds like a fantastic library, Tutta. I would have loved to use it as a child.

      We moved around a fair bit when I was a child, but I always tried to find a nearby library to go to regularly. There’s something magical about physical paper books when they’re assembled by the thousand.

    1. Despite all we know about this election, and the many mistakes that were made, I still count Comey’s announcement and follow up as the tipping point in the election’s outcome. I don’t have a clue but if he cares to look in the mirror, he might find it more appealing if he applied a higher standard of justice. I am not a fan. He is all over the map.

    1. Power run amock. Is it any wonder people of color fear ICE agents? But, this lady? Wha? Police states happen when people use power indiscriminately. Such is the case as noted below but there will be countless other events repeating this stupidity and insanity. Under the DHS Memorandum, ICE agents can literally detain anyone who they think “looks” suspicious. Item #7 in the memorandum. Wow.

      http://m.chron.com/news/us/article/Muhammad-Ali-s-son-detained-at-airport-Are-you-10958691.php

      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/25/australian-childrens-author-mem-fox-detained-by-us-border-control-i-sobbed-like-a-baby

  8. On the Atlantic piece, here’s another view:

    No mention was made of the obvious benefits to sanitation associated with IR faucets, flush handles, and towel dispensers. I suppose the author would prefer bathroom attendants? Now there’s another low-skilled occupation we’ve killed. How I miss them.

    The iPhone’s autocorrect feature can be disabled. Don’t like it? Don’t use it.

    Regarding Amazon, the author suggests that having to search a bit for options like color or size or shipping is somehow worse than those Antediluvian times when we drove from store to store to find exactly what we were looking for, with no destination providing all options, nor any good way of even knowing what those options were.

    On digital media, he bemoans having to pay for some content, while simultaneously forgetting that before the “revolution” he would have been faced with having explain to his daughter why “The Mickey Mouse Club” wasn’t on until Saturday morning, or why she needs to use the scary toilet, even though she might miss Annette, because the TV cannot be paused.

    Efficiency, in everything from manufacturing to distribution, to customer support, has made this technology affordable to the masses. The author is apparently not old enough to remember when a color TV cost about $495 in 1960 – which was about the average monthly income for a family of four at the time.

    And Google? The internet has democratized information. While it is true that is has also intermingled a ton of misinformation with truth, before the information revolution, what does he think the frequency of library visits per person? What percentage of the population even knew how to use a card catalog?

    I won’t even touch on self-driving cars here.

    For someone with the author’s credentials, this piece is embarrassing – both from the standpoint of balance, and accuracy. Pitiful.

      1. The library was not the only source of information. You could buy books, newspapers, and magazines at the drugstore or grocery store or second-hand bookstore for much less than the price of a computer and internet service.

        You could hang out with well-read people who could answer many of your questions, from whom you could learn a lot.

      2. Despite all this information that’s now available to us in abundance, I don’t think we’re smarter as a society. You would think we would be the most intelligent society ever. Yes, we are always occupied, busy with our typing and swiping, filled to the gills with information, but dumbed down, addicted to trivialities and frivolity like never before.

      3. Tutt – Ferreting out the wheat from the chaff is a skill, just like using a card catalog. At least library theory was taught back when. I don’t thing we can say the same for learning how to use search engines, today.

        And you comments regarding libraries vis-a vis other sources of information is pretty accurate. But none of the alternatives necessarily provided ready access, not covered even a tiny fraction of the information we now have literally at our fingertips.

        And remember the cost of encyclopedias. At $300-400 in the 60’s, they weren’t very ‘democratic’. And they were useless for recent data. Even the geography in the set my grandmother bought for us a volume at a time was out-of-date the first day a new volume arrived.

      4. Not only were encyclopedias expensive, but few families could afford them. With a smart phone, anyone today has a wealth of knowledge and information available to them. Digitization, though I am hopelessly limited in using it to its fullest extent, is one of the most wonderful leveling forces for societal development ever.

        Or, so I believe.

      5. Mime and Fifty, encyclopedias were expensive, but immigrant families like mine saved up for them, paid for them in installments — ANYTHING to help their kids get ahead.

        I was always hungry for books, and my mom never denied me my books. I would get 20 paperbacks at a time from those bookmobiles at school, and I practically lived at the library.

      6. And when your mom needed your help, you gave her your undivided attention. How special for both of you. I was one of six so there was never the opportunity for undivided attention. Of course, it was special to have siblings – at least the ones that I like!

      7. Yeah. The three of us were “only” grandchildren. Both of my parents were only children, so we had the undivided attention of our grandparents. We’re it not for them, and my parents were of modest means, I doubt we’d have ever had an encyclopedia. (But I read that damn thing cover, to cover, to cover, to…) I think it was Colliers.

      8. Tutt, We would have been best buddies if we would have known each other when we were little. (We could have pooled our resources to buy books!) I never had enough to read. Do you remember poring over Scholastic Book Club order forms at schools? There were always so many books I wanted to buy!

        Libraries were heaven. I had the same hunger for books as you did. I loved going to the library. Before my mom learned to drive, we walked there. Even after my mom got her driver’s license, I did a lot of walking since we only had one car and my dad had to use it to drive to work.

        My two favorite things to do in life are still reading and walking. (I confess, sometimes I do both at the same time.)

        My immigrant mom also bought encyclopedias on installment. My family did not have much money but considered education important. I know my mother did without many things so that my brothers, little sister and I could have opportunities to learn.

      9. One year, for some reason, I arrived way too early. Can’t remember why. It was too cold to wait outside so I went into the library. I remember looking at the huge encyclopedia set with awe and thinking, everything known is in those books. So after browsing, it occurred to me to start in the beginning and read them all. I’m not sure if I finished or not but I do remember M – Mines and minesweepers.

        Come to think of it I don’t know anything about anything that starts with N or O.

      10. Arrived at school early.

        I really did start and read through most.

        I remember that a grocery store or gas station was giving out a cheap version of an encyclopedia on a weekly basis. It was good enough for homework. But it worked out that we were always couple of books short of a complete set.

      11. Such lovely memories . . . !

        I still have the World Book Encyclopedia set my mom gave me when I was 14 — the fancy version, deep burgundy with gold-colored trim. She really went all out. I keep it in the china cabinet, protected behind glass doors.

        Today knowledge is overly accessible and therefore underappreciated. Not only that — it’s often just plain wrong.

        Obtaining knowledge and facts was once a wonderful treasure hunt. I prefer to wrack my brain, or ask someone if they know or remember a certain piece of information. Google searches are too easy and therefore no fun. All it requires is typing, and no thinking.

    1. 50,

      Those are all good points. I took the piece as a reference to a problems that occur at a certain evolutionary stage in which the pace of mutations accelerates to an unstable level. This gradually leads to the development of ‘antifragile’ systems (yes, a Taleb reference), but first you get a burst of unstable, untenable developments. In other words, as the pace of innovation accelerates, you hit a stage during which “nothing works.”

      We seem to be in this stage where it feels like everything is wonky. There may be a wave of breakage before we arrive at a more stable environment.

      1. Chris – Interestingly, your comments dovetail a bit with the piece from Nautilus. As systems become more complex, they become inherently less predictable. At some point, though based on a simple set of rules, their behavior becomes chaotic.

        There are many examples of this phenomenon even outside of technology. As tax laws became more and more complex, new methods for gaming the system popped up that were never predicted by the architects. The social ‘sciences’ appear to be broken for, I would submit, the same reason.

        So complex systems, while easy to build, require much more time to become entirely predictable. We have long ago given up hope of “bug-free” software, in favor of additional layers of code that merely catch and correct errors from further down stream, or we rely on periodic updates to squash bugs as they are discovered.

        In control theory, the more nonlinear a system response to input is, the more challenging stability is to achieve.

        In the early days of the automobile, the accident rate was horrific. Taming that beast required complex systems of traffic control, vehicular safety engineering, and most importantly, driver education. Arguably, these were much more difficult problems to solve than simply building the first cars. In fact, now nearly a century and a half on, we’re still working on them!

      2. Chris-

        I understand your point, that we may be at the “cambrian explosion” point of technological evolution, and it’s a good one, but there’s a social aspect as well: things are allowed to be wonky because no one has any responsibility for when things go wrong.

        Microsoft doesn’t have any responsibility when a bug crashes Windows 10 and you lose several hours of work, while a civil engineering firm can face lawsuits if a bridge fails. Is it therefore any surprise that Windows 10, which is basically a refinement of technology several decades old, is buggy, while bridges, subject to the massively accelerating improvements in technology, materials science, design, etc. are becoming *more* reliable?

        Technology companies embrace slogans like “move fast and break things”, and think of words like “disruption” as positives. In my field (healthcare), I shudder when I hear technologists say those things. As Elizabeth Holmes, the once-darling of Silicon Valley and now disgraced CEO of Theranos is learning, if you break things in health care, people die and they sue.

        There’s the apocryphal story that Bill Gates said if GM ran like Microsoft, cars would cost $2.50 and get 1000 mpg. And GM’s CEO apparently retorted that if they built cars like Microsoft builds software, your car would spontanously explode every mile while randomly steering into a tree. That’s the difference between companies that shoulder product liability and those that don’t.

        You’ve written before that you think of product liability laws as burdensome costs on business, and in many ways, I agree the system needs to be reformed. But there are also many good results from forcing companies to face consequences for their mistakes.

      3. Yes, regulations serve an important purpose in keeping us all safer (airbag anyone?) …. Where the environment is concerned, who else is going to protect it from discharge of coal sludge into navigable streams, or the release of CO2 into the atmosphere? I think about infants and children who are so much safer because of the rules that required they be secured safely, and all of us who had to be learn that wearing seat belts saves lives.

        Love your GM/Microsoft story. I hadn’t seen that one! And, yes, too much of a good thing can result in over-regulation, but if its purpose is to protect against harm, I’d rather err on the side of excess and work it backwards from there.

      1. Well, not until now, mime! At this time there is a massive pork shoulder in the sous vide bath for tomorrow night. Nevertheless, the coonasses can cook like like no one else. They’re of Canadian origin, don’t ya know. Canada is a vast food wasteland, (excepting Quebec for certain, or maybe PEI, or Nova Scotia,or Newfoundland), and much like the UK 20 years ago, or the US when we were kids. Wanna get a burger in a restaurant that isn’t cooked like a hockey puck in Ontario? Fuggitaboutit.

        But this Aye Bears of yours is most interesting! We’ll give them a go this week. Thanks for the tip!

      2. Here’s a link. Everything there is good and they offer fresh, unfrozen items as well as frozen. They ship their turduckins all over. I buy their: crawfish pies, boneless chickens stuffed with crawfish dressing, bacon wrapped pork tenderloin stuffed with jhalopeno and cream cheese, boudin, and other items as I feel an “envie”.
        There’s a couple in your general neck of the woods.

        http://www.hebertsspecialtymeats.com/?_vsrefdom=adwords&gclid=Cj0KEQiA88TFBRDYrOPKuvfY2pIBEiQA97Z8MROlREWR7lkD8aTMFCKSjA73fmNXts4RsQEGQshgdEQaAmSO8P8HAQ

        In response to your comment about cajuns being from Quebec – that is half correct. People immigrated to Canada/Nova Scotia from French areas and migrated to LA. They were referred to as Acadiennes. They spoke “proper” French but over time, the lack of formal education for working class people introduced a French dialect commonly referred to today as “Cajun French”. What’s interesting is that when “Cajuns” go to France, they can understand the French; however, the French aren’t as fortunate in understanding them! Another patois emerged among Black people who shared the same area as the French residents which is known as “Creole”…a mixture of French and English and Cajun…..Black friends of mine went to Japan to pitch their oil field business. The Japanese business people would lapse into speaking Japanese in front of them to discuss the negotiations. Being savvy people and coming from a long line of Black French LA natives, they excused themselves, went into the hall and made a plan. They were not going to be insulted nor excluded from the discussion of the business proposition without a fight. The next time the Japanese asked them a question, they turned to eachother and started talking in Creole, then faced the (English speaking Japanese business men) and responded in English. From that point on, all the conversation was in English. Wonderful story and great people. Phyllis Mouton went on to become Secretary of Labor in the Buddy Roemer administration.

      3. Well, not from Quebec. There were a bunch of French people in the Maritimes. After the Brits came to power, they were given an ultimatum: either swear allegiance to the crown, or leave. They chose the latter, and began a long migration south which ended ultimately in the swamps of Louisiana. Using traditional French techniques, combined with the vast quantities of unique local ingredients, a style of food and cooking was born that is a unique fusion. It is a true American story, (as all American stories began elsewhere), and is by far the most interesting cuisine the continent has to offer. IMHO. None of this is to endorse pogroms of course, but just to say that sometimes really great things can come of adversity. American diversity. Love it, or leave it!

      1. There’s a whiplash from conservative women to the grabyourwallet initiation. It’s called grab your store credit card and return it to stores who are dropping Ivanka Trump’s fashion wear. Going back to Chris’ earlier post on how you vote with your shopping, this is apparently catching on as a personal reprisal. Meanwhile, retailers are caught trying to please everyone and simply earn a profit….Wegman’s grocery store is the latest to face this push/pull situation. Where is this going to end?

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/a-trump-voters-message-to-retailers-keep-your-mouths-shut-about-our-president/2017/02/25/7aa87228-f852-11e6-bf01-d47f8cf9b643_story.html?utm_term=.664ab4b5eb0a&wpisrc=nl_wemost&wpmm=1

      2. I would still do a headline story. But I would say – “The president said something today and the Spicer tried to explain it. We were not allowed to in to cover it, but it doesn’t matter because it was probably a lie. Now on to other news.”

    1. Do you not see what is happening? Control the source. Limit access to information. That’s why so many potus decisions are made by five people. He can’t trust others and he won’t do the hard work of figuring it out himself through reading and analysis. People who live their lives by their gut are one day going to get an ulcer. Or two, three. From listening to Bannon speak, his is the vision that is being pursued. He is the mastermind, not potus. Potus is purely the mouthpiece.
      IMO.

  9. Regarding the Atlantic article about how nothing works anymore . . . I can tolerate human error and inefficiency, but technological error and inefficiency are unacceptable, and I simply limit my use of all the new, fancy gadgets as much as possible.

    One feeling I get from all the smart gadgets is not so much that they’re inefficient, but that they’re somehow alive, that they have a will of their own, and therefore UNCONTROLLABLE. My bluetooth speaker was recently accidentally paired with my next door neighbor’s device. Photos are so easily taken and words so easily recorded without our knowledge, much less our consent. That’s why I have the camera and microphone completely deactivated on my phone, to prevent accidental captures of voices or pictures. When I get home in the evening, I completely turn off my company cell phone after having forwarded my calls to my landline, and I will often unplug my WiFi box to completely shut off the internet.

    That’s what I detest most, the lack of control.

    1. With respect to the article again . . . it is scary to think that as technology takes over more and more tasks, there is a resulting decrease in efficiency and in quality, which is ironic, because technology is supposed to be superior.

      So how to combat this? Make technology more efficient, less sloppy? Emphasize the efficiency and quality of human intervention so that society gets used to that level of excellence again?

      I prefer occasional human error to everyday technological sloppiness.

      1. Taming that beast required…..some smart, appropriate but not usually welcome, government mandates….When private enterprise works with government with a goal to cooperate rather than obstruct improvement, I believe better changes result. Of course there can be over-regulation, but generally, we seem to agree that the change process is multi-faceted and benefits from all the players working somewhat together. Who would have ever thought we’d get beyond 15 mpg in our vehicles, or would use microwave technology for everything from heating food to diagnostics. (I am tredding cautiously here in your domain, 50, but you get my point).

      2. I think I understand your point about change not being the “end-all, be-all” science, but I differ from you on how technology has advanced quality and efficiency, even as I recognize that it is an ever-evolving process. That, in my view, is what is so exciting about it, is that it does change, is not static. Still, I enjoy sitting on a porch staring at a pretty scene or the quiet time spent reading a favorite book, but when I need to get in touch with someone, I go to technology.

    2. We humans need to make a comeback. We just need to figure out how.

      We need to market human intervention, “sell” ourselves, not as social media celebrities, but as creators, as artists, as doers, in control, and not just as spectators or screen swipers and button-pushers or as consumers whose data is collected.

    3. Tutt,

      I hear you.

      It appears I have fallen into a sorta social media consulting business. Clients use social media platforms to augment their businesses, then are shocked into inaction when the arbiters (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) change the rules.

      How to be a member of social media when it changes is a challenge.

      Is it different than challenges faced by earlier small businesses? I don’t know. But it is definitely faster.

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