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Andreas Schou has been at 1 events

HostFollowersTitleDateGuestsLinks
Nicholas Kristof1,339,368The issue of the moment is Syria, so I'm delighted to host a Google+ hangout in which we'll be able to pose questions to Secretary of State John Kerry about Syria policy. I'll be joined by +Lara Setrakian, a journalist whom I've long admired who specializes in Syria. Andrew Beiter, a social studies  teacher and a regional education coordinator for the Holocaust Memorial Museum, will also be in the Hangout. Most of all, we'll be joined by all of you--so jump into the conversation on this page and leave us your questions. In particular, with this Hangout we want to involve teachers and students, so spread the word in the schools, please, and student questions are particularly welcome!This kind of online interview is something of an experiment, and we're still figuring out how to make it work best. So we also welcome your suggestions and guidance before and criticisms after. Syria: Weighing the U.S. Response2013-09-10 20:00:007007 

Andreas Schou has been shared in 75 public circles

You can see here the 50 latest shared circles.
If this is your profile, you can check your dashboard to see all shared circles you have been included.

AuthorFollowersDateUsers in CircleCommentsReshares+1Links
Sunny CT2,281Increase your following with our Amazing CirclesNext circles to include only those resharing thisEven if you are included in this circle,  Add me, +1 , comment and share this to be included in next 2 circles (after 12 Hours)Want to grow your follower list? Need more followers? Join my circles now To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps: 1 - include me in your circles 2 - Click add people and create your circle 3 - share the circle (include yourself) 4 - add +1 to the post(Comment on the original post so that I know you have shared)#powercircle #sharedcircle #topsharedcircle #circleoftheday #sharedcircle #trustinme #circlesharing #circleshare #circles #circleoftheday #sharedpubliccircles #sharedcircles #share #vipsnowballcircle #sharedcircleoftheday #sharewithyou #followme #followers #followback #circle #googleplus #coolpeople #circleshare #sharedcircles #sharedcircle #sharedcircles #sharedpubliccircles #circleshare #circlesharing #fullcircleshare #powercircle #sharedcircle 2014-09-15 09:05:4950111313
Sunny CT1,994Fresh AdditionIncrease your following with our Amazing CirclesNext circles to include only those resharing thisEven if you are included in this circle,  Add me, +1 , comment and share this to be included in next 2 circles (after 12 Hours)Want to grow your follower list? Need more followers? Join my circles now To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps: 1 - include me in your circles 2 - Click add people and create your circle 3 - share the circle (include yourself) 4 - add +1 to the post(Comment on the original post so that I know you have shared)#powercircle #sharedcircle #topsharedcircle #circleoftheday #sharedcircle #trustinme #circlesharing #circleshare #circles #circleoftheday #sharedpubliccircles #sharedcircles #share #vipsnowballcircle #sharedcircleoftheday #sharewithyou #followme #followers #followback #circle #googleplus #coolpeople #circleshare #sharedcircles #sharedcircle #sharedcircles #sharedpubliccircles #circleshare #circlesharing #fullcircleshare #powercircle #sha2014-09-12 13:14:5050111414
Sunny CT1,994Fresh AdditionIncrease your following with our Amazing CirclesNext circles to include only those resharing thisEven if you are included in this circle,  Add me, +1 , comment and share this to be included in next 2 circles (after 12 Hours)Want to grow your follower list? Need more followers? Join my circles now To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps: 1 - include me in your circles 2 - Click add people and create your circle 3 - share the circle (include yourself) 4 - add +1 to the post(Comment on the original post so that I know you have shared)#powercircle #sharedcircle #topsharedcircle #circleoftheday #sharedcircle #trustinme #circlesharing #circleshare #circles #circleoftheday #sharedpubliccircles #sharedcircles #share #vipsnowballcircle #sharedcircleoftheday #sharewithyou #followme #followers #followback #circle #googleplus #coolpeople #circleshare #sharedcircles #sharedcircle #sharedcircles #sharedpubliccircles #circleshare #circlesharing #fullcircleshare #powercircle #sha2014-09-12 07:07:225017313
Colin Wilson56Increase your following with our Amazing CirclesThis is a super Circle and in it I put together a group of really interesting and active people on Google Plus to add in your circles.If you want to be added to the next Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - Include me in your circles 2 - Share the circle (Publicly) 3 - Add +1 to the post #circles #shared #share #add #friends #circle #share #sharecircle #circleshare2014-09-08 06:25:20459111619
Becky Collins13,434Mobile Operator Circle:Circle of very #social #engagerspeople and companiesTo be included in my shares (#sharedcircle), be so kind to:1 - Do +1 t the post2 - Comment the post and specify your "category" (job or interest) Ex: Fashion, SEO, Companies, Social Media Marketing, Sailing, Photography, Bloggers/Writers, Web graphics and design, Italy, Artists, Sport, Finance/Economy ...3 - include the circle among your circles4 - share the circle (include yourself)Improve your popularity, be social be cool !Keep yourself updated, enjoy the Shared Circles Hellenic Alliance, you can share your shared circles inside the upcoming Community:https://plus.google.com/communities/112552559573595396104  #socialmedia  #media  #circles   #circleshare   #circlesharing  #circlecircle   #beckyscircle   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles  #sharedcircleoftheday  +Becky Collins ?2014-07-24 05:16:124763112
Maria Morisot31,837Moan Lisa's All Kinds of People Shared Circle06 June, 2014RESHARE if you want to be includedmoanlisa.org2014-06-06 14:31:022928274100
Becky Collins10,282Mobile Circle :Circle of very #social #engagerspeople and companiesTo be included in my shares (#sharedcircle), be so kind to:1 - Do +1 t the post2 - Comment the post and specify your "category" (job or interest) Ex: Fashion, SEO, Companies, Social Media Marketing, Sailing, Photography, Bloggers/Writers, Web graphics and design, Italy, Artists, Sport, Finance/Economy ...3 - include the circle among your circles4 - share the circle (include yourself)Improve your popularity, be social be cool !Keep yourself updated, enjoy the Shared Circles Hellenic Alliance, you can share your shared circles inside the upcoming Community:https://plus.google.com/communities/112552559573595396104  #socialmedia   #media   #circles   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circlecircle   #beckyscircle   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday  +Becky Collins ?2014-05-28 05:03:174777219
Irina Sadokhina19,423Hello my dear friends!!!This is my weekly #mondaycircle   . This #circle    is very important for me because there are people who were with me last time, commented my funny pics, and just made me happy. Also, there are people who RE-shared my last #mondaycircle  . Thank you so much for this!!! And I would like to ask you Re-share this awesome circle  on your stream, please. If you wanna be included in my next #mondaycircle   . Apr. 21st, just:1) plus2)re-share!!!Thank you. You all have a wonderful week.Make sure you share the original version! #circle   #circles   #circlecirclecircle   #circlescirclescircles   #circleshare   #hyperball   #plusmastermind   #crazycircles   #circleoftheweek  2014-04-14 16:53:094558052121
Irina Sadokhina18,499Hello my dear friends!!!This is my weekly #mondaycircle  . This #circle is very important for me because there are people who were with me last time, commented my funny pics, and just made me happy. Also, there are people who RE-shared my last #mondaycircle  . Thank you so much for this!!! And I would like to ask you Re-share this awesome circle  on your stream, please. If you wanna be included in my next #mondaycircle   . Apr. 14th, just:1) plus2)re-share!!!Thank you. You all have a wonderful week.Make sure you share the original version! #circle   #circleshare   #circlescirclescircles   #circlecircle   #circlecirclecircle   #circles   #hyperball   #plusmastermind   #crazycircles  2014-04-08 12:47:424927248106
Irina Sadokhina17,311Hello my dear friends!!!This is my weekly #mondaycircle  . This #circle   is very important for me because there are people who were with me last time, commented my funny pics, and just made me happy. Also, there are people who RE-shared my last #mondaycircle  . Thank you so much for this!!! And I would like to ask you Re-share this awesome circle  on your stream, please. If you wanna be included in my next #mondaycircle . Apr. 7th, just:1) plus2)re-share!!!Thank you. You all have a wonderful week.Make sure you share the original version! #circle   #circlecirclecircle   #circles   #circlescirclescircles   #circleshared   #crazycircles   #hyperball   #plusmastermind   #circleoftheweek  2014-03-31 18:07:204536655108
Irina Sadokhina16,720Hello my dear friends!!! This is my weekly #mondaycircle  . This #circle   is very important for me because there are people who were with me last time, commented my funny pics, and just made me happy. Also, there are people who RE-shared my last mondaycircle . Thank you so much for this!!! And I would like to ask you Re-share this awesome circle    on your stream, please. If you wanna be included in my next  #mondaycircle   , March 31st. just:1) plus2)re-share!!!Thank you. You all have a wonderful week.Make sure you share the original version! #circle   #circles   #circlecirclecircle   #circlecirclecircle   #circlescirclescircles   #hyperball   #crazycircles   #plusmastermind   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circleoftheweek   #circleoftheday  2014-03-24 18:59:534707753123
Irina Sadokhina15,346Hello my dear friends!!!HELLO! This is my weekly  #mondaycircle . This  #circle   is very important for me because there are people who were with me last time, commented my funny pics, and just made me happy. Also, there are people who RE-shared my last  #mondaycircle . Thank you so much for this!!! And I would like to ask you Re-share this awesome  #circle   on your stream, please. If you wanna be included in my next  #mondaycircle   , March 17th just:1) plus2)re-share!!!Thank you. You all have a wonderful week.Make sure you share the original version! #circle   #circles   #circlecircle   #circlescirclescircles   #hyperball   #rustyball   #crazycircles   #plusmastermind  2014-03-11 16:53:09467664993
Константин Вишневский44,825Circle of the Most Active Users of Google+A Very Social CircleКруг наиболее активных пользователей Google+Если вы поделились этим кругом вчера, вы находитесь в нем сегодня. Если вы разделяете его с друзьями сегодня, вы будете в нем и завтра.If you shared this circle yesterday, you are in it today. If you share today, you'll be in tomorrow2014-02-12 15:12:36462483276
Mikhail Petrovsky64,592Good morning / evening to all.This is a Social Circle of interesting people with an active lifestyle in Google+Это социальный круг общения интересных людей с активной жизненной позицией в Google+You'll love this circle. Photographers, artists and other interesting people!Вам понравится этот круг, добавьте его себе. Фотографы, художники и другие интересные люди!#EarthMyMother #ForFriends #photo2014-02-07 07:45:58497543383
Mikhail Petrovsky76,199Good morning / evening to all.This is a Social Circle of interesting people with an active lifestyle in Google+Это социальный круг общения интересных людей с активной жизненной позицией в Google+You'll love this circle. Photographers, artists and other interesting people!Вам понравится этот круг, добавьте его себе. Фотографы, художники и другие интересные люди!#EarthMyMother #ForFriends #photo2014-01-15 08:21:34499531881
Mikhail Petrovsky61,999Good morning / evening to all.This is a Social Circle of interesting people with an active lifestyle in Google+Это социальный круг общения интересных людей с активной жизненной позицией в Google+You'll love this circle. Photographers, artists and other interesting people!Вам понравится этот круг, добавьте его себе. Фотографы, художники и другие интересные люди!#EarthMyMother #ForFriends #photo2014-01-14 04:50:25498451577
Artur Mashnich43,991A Very Social CircleCircle of the Most Active Users of Google+Круг наиболее активных пользователей Google+Если вы поделились этим кругом вчера, вы находитесь в нем сегодня. Если вы разделяете его с друзьями сегодня, вы будете в нем и завтра.If you shared this circle yesterday, you are in it today. If you share today, you'll be in tomorrow.#Forfriends  2014-01-11 14:37:57478411671
Mikhail Petrovsky61,336Good morning / evening to all. You'll love this circle. Photographers, artists and other interesting people!Вам понравится этот круг, добавьте его себе. Фотографы, художники и другие интересные люди!Это социальный круг / This social circle #EarthMyMother #ForFriends #photo2014-01-09 04:51:54498392268
Mikhail Petrovsky59,714This is a Social Circle of interesting people with an active lifestyle in Google+Это социальный круг общения интересных людей с активной жизненной позицией в Google+You'll love this circle. Photographers, artists and other interesting people!Вам понравится этот круг, добавьте его себе. Фотографы, художники и другие интересные люди!#EarthMyMother #ForFriends #photo2013-12-29 11:29:4447830959
Mikhail Petrovsky73,777This is a Social Circle of interesting people with an active lifestyle in Google+Это социальный круг общения интересных людей с активной жизненной позицией в Google+You'll love this circle. Photographers, artists and other interesting people!Вам понравится этот круг, добавьте его себе. Фотографы, художники и другие интересные люди!#EarthMyMother #ForFriends #photo2013-12-29 11:02:20500341261
Константин Вишневский39,554Circle of people, with active life position in Google+Simple To be added PLUS the post Share the post and Add the circle. Once you have done this let me know in the commentsКруг людей с активной жизненной позицией в Гугле+Просто быть добавлены PLUS сообщению Share пост и добавить круг. После того как вы сделали это, дайте мне знать в комментарияхIf you agree that this is a great circle, please re-share!2013-12-29 06:03:17464422473
Vladimir Samsonov23,289Good morning/evening to all. You'll love this circle. Photographers, artists and other interesting people!Вам понравится этот круг, добавьте его себе. Фотографы, художники и другие интересные люди!Это социальный круг This is a Social Circle#ForFriends #photo #EarthMyMother2013-12-05 12:35:51501533078
Константин Вишневский35,785Circle of people, with active life position in Google+Simple To be added PLUS the post Share the post and Add the circle. Once you have done this let me know in the commentsКруг людей с активной жизненной позицией в Гугле+Просто быть добавлены PLUS сообщению Share пост и добавить круг. После того как вы сделали это, дайте мне знать в комментарияхIf you agree that this is a great circle, please re-share!#ForFriends #photo #EarthMyMother2013-11-24 15:07:31464412067
Jan Havrda20,092Deep Thinkers.2013-11-15 00:06:31141216
Matteo Pelucchi3,024Circle of #topengagers  1. Plus this post. (Original post)2. Comment on this post.3. Reshare this circle publically to your stream.4. Don’t be a blue head.Have a wonderful Wednesday increasing your #popularityTnks to +Alessandro Folghera and +Rusty Ferguson  #tuesdaysharedcircle   #topsharedcircle   #circleoftheday   #sharedcircle #trustinme  #circlesharing   #circleshare        #circles        #circleoftheday   #sharedpubliccircles     #sharedcircles    #share  #vipsnowballcircle #sharedcircleoftheday        #sharewithyou        #circlefriday   #circlethursday  #followme     #followers #followback#circle #googleplus    #coolpeople  #circleshare #sharedcircles     #sharedcircle  #sharedcircles       #sharedpubliccircles    #circleshare    2013-09-11 07:31:19397441745
Alessandro Folghera12,080Another special #sharedcircle  to be added among your circlesTo be included in my shares (#sharedcircles), be so kind to:1 - Do +1 t the post2 - Comment the post and specify your "category" (job or interest)      (ex: fashion, photography, seo, social media marketing)3 - include the circle among your circles4 - share the circle (include yourself)If you come accross Google error messages, incorporating my circles, please provide me the error, I'm classifying these errors. Have a wonderful weekend and a better popularityKeep yourself updated, enjoy the Shared Circles Hellenic Alliance, you can share your shared circles inside the upcoming Community:https://plus.google.com/communities/112552559573595396104   #saturdaysharedcircle   #topsharedcircle   #circleoftheday   #sharedcircle #trustinme  #circlesharing   #circleshare        #circles        #circleoftheday   #sharedpubliccircles     #sharedcircles    #share  #vipsnowballcircle #sharedcircleoftheday        #sharewithyou         #followme     #followers #followback #circle #googleplus    #coolpeople  #circleshare #sharedcircles #afo #myseoissocial     #sharedcircle  #sharedcircles       #sharedpubliccircles    2013-09-07 15:52:43397351953
Richard Green25,294Engagers Showcase Circle, September 5 2013If you received a notification, it means that you are included in my Engagers Showcase Circle. “Showcase” means that you are invited to leave a comment (on the original post) with a link to one of your own posts, which ideally should be one of your best recent posts.This circle consists of people who have engaged with one of my recent posts in the form of +1s, comments and reshares. Because I ran out of room, some of the engagers on very recent posts will be included next time.As always, reshares are appreciated, and I look forward to seeing everyone's links. Thanks for reading my posts!2013-09-06 01:37:50501254124248
Brian Wolfe22,328I haven't shared a circle in a long time. Maybe too long.Anyways.. Here is the circle that my browser spends the most time on.   Just in case I become a petulant child and walk away (not that I'm planning on doing so , just in case.)2013-08-22 05:36:251941335
Daniel Mihai Popescu4,968A circle based on +Richard Green's last creation! Add it to yours, share it! They all have some wonderful spark in them!If you're notified, you're in! Sorry to disturb you with the notification! If you want out, just say so :)2013-06-19 09:59:4539032733
Steven Krohn1,616The Popular Choice Circle________________________Richard Green originally shared:Here's version 2 of my Popular Choice circle. The members of this circle were nominated for inclusion here (http://goo.gl/vY07d). Anecdotal evidence suggests that this circle is a pretty good one to add: after the last share, somebody that I follow made the comment:I have to admit I have never had so many people add me back so shortly after adding a shared circle.As guest members of the circle this time, I'm including everyone who has created a circle with me in it in the last four weeks, including +Chris Cota, +Steven Krohn, +Marlo Angelo Tito, +Leo Walsh, +Cesare Riccardo, +Michael Bennett, +1212Scenery, +Daniel Mihai Popescu, +Gai Xinh, +Mithu Hassan, +Daniel Stock, +Marino Puletti, +Christy Sandhoff, +Johnathan Yesson, +Roleta Anedotas, +Linda Dee, +Mariusz Zapart, +César Bustíos Benites, +Andrea Orselli, +Katherine Vucicevic, +Networx, +Rome Heels, +Thumb up your Followers ►, +AyJay Schibig, +Zbynek Kysela, +Ewart Corrigan, +Hamilton Carter, +Don Dobbie, +Brian Buckley, +Wajahat Khan, +Crazy Circles, +Laurent Jean Philippe, +Maria Leoni and +Wolfgang Wodeck.  I'd especially like to thank +Scott Buehler, +Ludovic Moreeuw and +Science on Google+: A Public Database for including me in some particularly exciting circles: the Hyperball, the VIIP Circle and the Smokin' Science Circle, respectively.And now the surprise feature: I invite everyone to leave a comment on (the original post of) this circle share containing a link to one of your own posts. Ideally, this should be something that you posted recently and that you are particularly pleased with. (Don't post spam though; I will delete it.)2013-06-18 14:06:1838425937
Daniel Mihai Popescu4,802I have added version 2 of +Richard Green's  Popular Choice, re-freshed with my nucleus of Invincible circle and brushed of inactive accounts :)If you are notified, you're in, of course :)Thank you for sharing!2013-06-17 10:29:4338924937
Richard Green16,268Here's version 2 of my Popular Choice circle. The members of this circle were nominated for inclusion here (http://goo.gl/vY07d). Anecdotal evidence suggests that this circle is a pretty good one to add: after the last share, somebody that I follow made the comment:I have to admit I have never had so many people add me back so shortly after adding a shared circle.As guest members of the circle this time, I'm including everyone who has created a circle with me in it in the last four weeks, including +Chris Cota, +Steven Krohn, +Marlo Angelo Tito, +Leo Walsh, +Cesare Riccardo, +Michael Bennett, +1212Scenery, +Daniel Mihai Popescu, +Gai Xinh, +Mithu Hassan, +Daniel Stock, +Marino Puletti, +Christy Sandhoff, +Johnathan Yesson, +Roleta Anedotas, +Linda Dee, +Mariusz Zapart, +2013-06-17 04:33:32384693082
Christy Sandhoff10,119Richard Green originally shared:Remember the Much Better than the Average Circle circles I used to share?  Well, this circle is much better even than those.  The people in this circle were recommended for inclusion in response to my call for nominations, and there are some really interesting profiles in here.  If you've never added a circle before, this one would make a good Starter Circle.I'd especially like to thank +Dirk Talamasca, +Ed Ross, +Korinne M Jackman, +Nina MJ and +Tim Utzig, each of whom suggested a large number of profiles for the circle.  I think I added everyone who was tagged in the nomination post; sorry if I missed anyone.And here's the circle.2013-06-04 04:14:1033821830
Richard Green15,407Remember the Much Better than the Average Circle circles I used to share?  Well, this circle is much better even than those.  The people in this circle were recommended for inclusion in response to my call for nominations, and there are some really interesting profiles in here.  If you've never added a circle before, this one would make a good Starter Circle.I'd especially like to thank +Dirk Talamasca, +Ed Ross, +Korinne M Jackman, +Nina MJ and +Tim Utzig, each of whom suggested a large number of profiles for the circle.  I think I added everyone who was tagged in the nomination post; sorry if I missed anyone.And here's the circle.2013-06-02 14:20:43338532176
AyJay Schibig16,440ECLECTIC CIRCLEFeel free to add  and re-share. this  Eclectic Circle of  G Plussers! Circles I am curating:21ST CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHERS (1&2), ALL KINDS, DISCOVERY, FULL CIRCLE,SOCIAL, ECLECTIC,ENGAGERS, AWESOME, NEW HORIZONS and BOOST#circleoftheday   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circlesharingforthepeopleplc   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #sharedcircleday   #publiccirclesproject   #publiccircles   #publicsharedcircles  #sharedpublicircles   #circle   #circles   #circlemeup  #awesomepeople   #awesomecircle   #circleme   #sharedpoint   #sharewithyou     #ShareYourCircle2013-04-13 06:43:023024213
AyJay Schibig15,217ECLECTIC CIRCLEFeel free to add  and re-share. this  Eclectic Circle of  G Plussers! Circles I am curating:21ST CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHERS (1&2), ALL KINDS, DISCOVERY, FULL CIRCLE,SOCIAL, ECLECTIC,ENGAGERS, AWESOME, NEW HORIZONS and BOOST#circleoftheday   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circlesharingforthepeopleplc   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #sharedcircleday   #publiccirclesproject   #publiccircles   #publicsharedcircles  #sharedpublicircles   #circle   #circles   #circlemeup  #awesomepeople   #awesomecircle   #circleme   #sharedpoint   #sharewithyou     #ShareYourCircle2013-03-02 11:23:44245206
Mohammad Rahimi2,027I would like to share this circle of people i follow their posts.2013-02-25 05:38:581061928
Ian Herndon8,223Shared Circle Time! - G+ Community Moderators (4 of x)Re-Share to help moderators easily connect with one another!Now that Google has launched Communities there has been a ton of activity by people to create communities relating to their interests, join ones created by others, and meet other creators in an effort to learn more and more new ways to build and contribute to G+ Communities. +Community Moderators is an example of a page/community dedicated specifically to having a single place where all moderators can join in discussion around just that.I have been hard at work creating Circles that consist of Community Moderators and Owners only. My hope is to be able to help others expand their network of friends to also include like minded people dabbling in the Community space too. In the near future I intend to eventually group these moderator circles into smaller more targeted ones tailored to specific interests. So with that said, here's our circles!G+ Community Moderators & Owners Circle (1 of x) - 12/31/2012https://plus.google.com/u/0/110099838681495349209/posts/ETe6deLAMq2G+ Community Moderators & Owners Circle (2 of x) - 12/31/2012https://plus.google.com/u/0/110099838681495349209/posts/7i2DXeQpknnG+ Community Moderators & Owners Circle (3 of x) - 12/31/2012https://plus.google.com/u/0/110099838681495349209/posts/j1rsi9YGGVgG+ Community Moderators & Owners Circle (4 of x) - 1/12/2013https://plus.google.com/u/0/110099838681495349209/posts/VFUjZcifXPQ#Community   #Moderators   #Owners   #Communities   #Circle   #SharedCircles   #CircleShare2013-01-12 15:28:345005210
AyJay Schibig13,588ECLECTIC CIRCLEFeel free to add  and re-share. this  Eclectic Circle of  G Plussers! #circleoftheday   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circlesharingforthepeopleplc   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #sharedcircleday   #publiccirclesproject   #publiccircles   #publicsharedcircles  #sharedpublicircles   #circle   #circles   #circlemeup  #awesomepeople   #awesomecircle   #circleme   #sharedpoint   #sharewithyou 2013-01-10 07:15:50257003
Nils Tschampel2,828The Cream of the Crop of December 2012What's this?On +CircleCount everyday some very interesting persons are choosen and recommended. These are persons without hundreds of thousands of followers but with a lot of interesting content. You won't find silent people here leading the rankings, but interesting people that are worth to be followed.You can find the Cream of the Crop daily here:http://www.circlecount.com/daily/Past Cream of the Crop circles:November 2012: http://goo.gl/LSQjcOctober 2012: http://goo.gl/ohdceSeptember 2012: http://goo.gl/ie3VNAugust 2012: http://goo.gl/5vUUPJuly 2012: http://goo.gl/oAemEJune 2012: http://goo.gl/YZt1yMay 2012: http://goo.gl/4Tq43April 2012: http://goo.gl/NvbKjMarch 2012: http://goo.gl/3auLoFebruary 2012: http://goo.gl/TWYpKJanuary 2012: http://goo.gl/HBdHbDecember 2011: http://goo.gl/RBCpgNovember 2011: http://goo.gl/x6TJkOctober 2011: http://goo.gl/2xVn92013-01-08 19:52:4728412311
AyJay Schibig12,717ECLECTIC CIRCLEFeel free to add  and re-share. this  Eclectic Circle of  G Plussers! #circleoftheday   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circlesharingforthepeopleplc   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #sharedcircleday   #publiccirclesproject   #publiccircles   #publicsharedcircles  #sharedpublicircles   #circle   #circles   #circlemeup  #awesomepeople   #awesomecircle   #circleme   #sharedpoint   #sharewithyou 2012-12-21 06:26:433277010
AyJay Schibig12,080ECLECTIC CIRCLEFeel free to add  and re-share. this  Eclectic Circle of  G Plussers! #circleoftheday   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circlesharingforthepeopleplc   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #sharedcircleday   #publiccirclesproject   #publiccircles   #publicsharedcircles  #sharedpublicircles   #circle   #circles   #circlemeup  #awesomepeople   #awesomecircle   #circleme   #sharedpoint   #sharewithyou 2012-12-12 04:23:1442210216
Zbynek Kysela1,918BEST SHARED CIRCLE - Share, share, share!===================================HOW TO BE PART OF IT: 1) Add this circle to your circles -> Add circle2) Share added circle with option "include yourself in shared circle". Done. You're welcome :) ZbynekMy entire social presence:*****************************http://xeeme.com/bouchac*****************************2012-12-07 20:33:1441920625
Kurt Smith14,400Thought Provokers Circle Share - Who's Made You Think Lately?Who's Made You Think Lately? Are they in this circle? For me, +Dede Craig King had me really going last Monday, +Lacerant Plainer always gets me thinking, and just a few days ago it was +Randy Hilarski.Here's latest round of the Thought Provokers Circle. This is an #awesomesauce  circle of great plussers who will make you think (we're all trying anyway). The cool thing about this circle is that you had to be recommended by someone else to get in.Add & Reshare so others can discover these awesome people to follow. Current members please update your circle. If you'd like to join in, please suggest 3-5 people and tell why they make you think. #circleshare   #circles   #circlesharing   #circleoftheday   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #sharepubliccircle   #publiccircle   #publicsharedcircles  2012-12-04 15:53:26287653061
Brunner Nathan325Some people that comment and follow back.Don't forget to give a share and a plus one.#circleshare #sharedcircles #sharedcircle #sharedpubliccircles #circlesharing #publiccircle #circles2012-11-29 18:03:5327516419
Mj Bedford0Shared Circle Saturday My #peace   #circle  Thank you allI circle people who circle meand I refresh this circle Peace2012-11-11 04:03:07258426
Kurt Smith6,542Thought Provokers Circle Share -- Plussers Who 'Make You Go Hmm...'Next round of the Thought Provokers Circle. An amazing circle of great plussers who will make you think, well maybe. Here's some of the people and wisdom inside:"And a few of us that make you go "HUH???" from +Bearman Cartoons. " Ummmm.... I suddenly feel like I'm back in grade school again and the entire class is giving me the look... You're going to get your arse kicked at recess!!!! said +Frank Garufi Jr.. Check out and discover some new people - I've met +Dede Craig King, +Susanne Ramharter, +MommyLovesTech.Add & Reshare so others can discover these awesome people to follow. Current members please update your circle. If you'd like to join in, please suggest 3-5 people and why they make you think.#circles   #circle   #circleshare   #circleoftheday   #circlesharing   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #publiccircles   #publicsharedcircles  +Full Circle +Circles +CIRCLES on Google+ 2012-10-31 14:11:37275922881
Kurt Smith4,603Thought Provokers Circle -- Plussers Who 'Make You Go Hmm...'Round 2 of the Thought Provokers Circle. An amazing circle of great plussers who will make you think! New additions include +Thomas Power, +Bobbi Jo Woods and dozens of others.Add & Reshare so others can discover these awesome people to follow. If you'd like to join in, please suggest 3-5 people and why they make you think.#circles   #circle   #circleshare   #circleoftheday   #circlesharing   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #publiccircles   #publicsharedcircles   +Full Circle +Circles +CIRCLES on Google+ 2012-10-17 13:52:172561193675
Tim Moore23,874My Go To Circle when I'm using +Google+ from my mobile --- which is a lot!IF you use +Google+ from your mobile device and want GREAT CONTENT, then this is a money circle for you.  All the guys and gals in here are fantastic and post very shareable items.Created for the circle when you want to reliably find and share great content quickly from your mobile!>>> Help your friends who may be new here to +Google+ - share this circle with them.  They will love you forever......... or at least until payday. :) #greatcontent   #sharing  +Shared Circles on G+ +Public Circles +CircleCount +Nothing but Circles  #sharedcircles   #circlesharing   #circleoftheday  +Shared a circle with you +Full Circle  #mobile  2012-10-02 19:10:48484723561
Kurt Smith3,250Plussers Who 'Make You Go Hmm...' Circle ShareHere's round 1 of the Thought Provokers Circle. Last week I asked who people follow because their posts make you think. The post (  http://bit.ly/WdN9HG) snowballed and here's the result - an amazing circle of great plussers who wil make you think!Add them and check them out, and discover some really cool new people to follow on G+. Please reshare with your followers to expand the thinking.If you'd like to join in, suggest 3-5 people and why they make you think. #circles   #circle   #circleshare   #circleoftheday   #circlesharing  #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #publiccircles  #publicsharedcircles  +Full Circle +CIRCLES on Google+  +Circles 2012-10-02 13:37:49218505056

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Most comments: 130

2014-11-24 21:19:19 (130 comments, 19 reshares, 95 +1s)Open 

Four stories about work:

One: Immediately out of college, I took a job working as the receptionist at a homeless shelter. The social worker quit, and I added those duties to my own, despite not knowing how to execute them. Then the executive director quit, and I took his job.

There was no duty pager for staff. If there were incidents, and there were, the police responded without staff support. I would only find out about the response the next day, from the on-site manager -- who, in general, was a trusted client. The trusted client was cooking meth.

I found a new one. But I took the phone as well. I was the only employee, and so I was the call rotation.

Clients would show up drunk. My phone would ring. There would be fights. My phone would ring. The sheriff would show up to serve summonses. My phone would ring. And although my workday wasn't usually any... more »

Most reshares: 30

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2014-11-13 21:02:36 (47 comments, 30 reshares, 80 +1s)Open 

In the 1400s, at the height of the Hanseatic League's power, the Hansa had a simple response to any local lord that barred the passage of river trade: they'd put together an army, burn his castle, and clear the river. They'd then warn the lord not to charge extortionate tolls. The Hansa made a profit, the peasants paid less for their goods, and everyone (save the lord whose castle was burnt) won.

At the time, it was obvious that what was happening was a tariff of some sort. The lord was individually sovereign over a stretch of river, and so had the ability to charge people to cross it. Or seize cargoes. Or charge different trade ships different prices. And once you look at a lord as a governmental entity and not just a private landowner (he was, in actuality, both), it's similarly obvious that what's occurring is a restraint on trade.

But what makes lords... more »

Most plusones: 101

2014-11-19 00:11:27 (61 comments, 12 reshares, 101 +1s)Open 

I do not believe in God. But only in the same sense that I do not believe in a great many other things that I do not have evidence for. For similar reasons, I do not privilege belief in God as being especially pernicious.

People are routinely wrong. I am routinely wrong. I am not so insistent on my own view of the truth, or even the truth itself, that I would deny someone something that gives them comfort, and, more to the point, makes them both desire to do good and actually do good.

I take a kind of rough comfort in the idea that there is no safety net: that if I do not care about doing good, it will simply go undone, because the universe does not care and cannot be made to. But this is a strange position, and I certainly cannot expect that people will believe it for the idiosyncratic reasons that I do. 

Latest 50 posts

2014-11-26 19:19:11 (7 comments, 0 reshares, 25 +1s)Open 

At-Will Employment: Family Feuds

A decade before the Civil War, an itinerant Presbyterian preacher and abolitionist named John C. Ingersoll moved from upstate New York to Illinois with his two young sons, Henry and Robert. As tensions rose in the run-up to secession, the Ingersoll family was burned out of their home and forced to flee back to New York.

In his public life, John Ingersoll was intensely moral, but stern and demanding. Which is likely why his two sons lived their entire lives in an attempt to obliterate their father's memory. In the decades after the civil war, Robert Ingersoll became America's most prominent atheist.

His brother, Henry "H.H." Ingersoll, became a lawyer and tireless crusader for the Lost Cause. After the war, he set up a legal practice in Tennessee, helping to restore the franchise of Confederate veterans. And as... more »

At-Will Employment: Family Feuds

A decade before the Civil War, an itinerant Presbyterian preacher and abolitionist named John C. Ingersoll moved from upstate New York to Illinois with his two young sons, Henry and Robert. As tensions rose in the run-up to secession, the Ingersoll family was burned out of their home and forced to flee back to New York.

In his public life, John Ingersoll was intensely moral, but stern and demanding. Which is likely why his two sons lived their entire lives in an attempt to obliterate their father's memory. In the decades after the civil war, Robert Ingersoll became America's most prominent atheist.

His brother, Henry "H.H." Ingersoll, became a lawyer and tireless crusader for the Lost Cause. After the war, he set up a legal practice in Tennessee, helping to restore the franchise of Confederate veterans. And as Reconstruction began to collapse, he was appointed to the Tennessee Supreme Court, where he wrote a series of intensely anti-free-labor opinions. Including the opinion in Payne v. Western Atlantic  which abolished the duty of good faith and fair dealing in labor contracts.

In the years after the decision, Tennessee's mines and railroads shifted sharply toward the use of unfree labor.  And it was another family feud -- this one between brothers -- that brought it to an end.___

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2014-11-26 00:27:50 (8 comments, 0 reshares, 12 +1s)Open 

From the cringe files, a detailed account of the worst, most bizarre medical accident that can possibly happen to a human being: direct injection of mercury compounds into the central nervous system.

From the cringe files, a detailed account of the worst, most bizarre medical accident that can possibly happen to a human being: direct injection of mercury compounds into the central nervous system.___

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2014-11-25 17:36:53 (11 comments, 4 reshares, 33 +1s)Open 

We talk about grand juries as though they're impartial fact-finders. But the procedures available to the prosecution make them nothing more than a rubber stamp. Which means that talking about the grand jury "doing its job" misses the point. The point is whether the prosecutor did his job.

What's clear to me is that the Ferguson police department was at war with the population of Ferguson well before Brown was shot: it was a town with more warrants than people, and which funded itself from fines and court costs. It failed to adequately investigate the shooting, and the eyewitnesses were unreliable, as eyewitnesses generally are. Then it made the news by fucking up the backlash beyond all human comprehension.

At that point, could they have gotten probable cause on Wilson? Absolutely. Was there a reasonable doubt? Absolutely. If the police don't do their job, the prosecution... more »

Some explanatory context about the lack of an indictment in Ferguson: while grand juries are nominally one of the checks on executive power, with the prosecutors only able to indict someone if they can convince a grand jury, this hasn't really been the case in decades, if ever. In the famous words of Sol Wachtler, former chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals, district attornies have so much influence over grand juries that they could get them to "indict a ham sandwich" if they wanted.

This is because grand jury proceedings are rather one-sided: there is generally no judge involved, nor any defense, but rather the prosecutor simply presents whatever evidence he or she chooses, and has to convince the grand jury that there is "probable cause" that the person committed a crime, i.e. that a reasonable (ordinary) jury could conceivably convict. If this seems like a rather low bar to you, you're right: quite a few people have argued that grand juries are a complete waste of time, and only half of US states still use them. (The federal government is required to by the fifth amendment; no common-law jurisdiction outside the US still bothers)

In those places which still use them, their main remaining function is to provide plausible deniability to prosecutors who don't wish to pursue a case: just like you could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich by only showing one story, you could get a grand jury to refuse to indict Freddy Krueger by showing them enough evidence to make the legitimacy of the state's case unclear.

That's not a common use for grand juries -- prosecutors generally have better things to do with their time than look for plausible deniability. (In the federal courts in 2010, for example, grand juries refused to indict 11 times, out of about 162,000 cases. Given that a prosecutor can generally guess when they don't even have a good enough case to indict, you can assume that those eleven each decided to have the grand jury be the one to say no, instead of them, for a reason)

What this means is that when you're trying to interpret the news and understand what a grand jury verdict means, you can basically take it to be a summary of the prosecutor's decision to prosecute or not to prosecute the case, rather than the verdict of an independent panel. 

(The analysis below notes that, in high-profile cases, there's another important reason that a grand jury may not indict, which is that the prosecutor feels that the case isn't strong enough to actually push through, but nonetheless feels political pressure to try anyway. That's not likely to be the case with today's news, as county prosecutor Bob McCulloch took the rather unusual step of having Darren Wilson, the prospective defendant, testify before the grand jury for several hours. Prosecutors who actually want an indictment generally don't invite the defendant to give their side of the story at length, as this is not considered conducive to getting the desired variety of ham sandwich. So it's fairly safe to read today's headline as "McCulloch decides not to prosecute Wilson," and interpret that as you will.)

If you want to read about the grand jury system in the US, as good a place to start as any is
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_juries_in_the_United_States___We talk about grand juries as though they're impartial fact-finders. But the procedures available to the prosecution make them nothing more than a rubber stamp. Which means that talking about the grand jury "doing its job" misses the point. The point is whether the prosecutor did his job.

What's clear to me is that the Ferguson police department was at war with the population of Ferguson well before Brown was shot: it was a town with more warrants than people, and which funded itself from fines and court costs. It failed to adequately investigate the shooting, and the eyewitnesses were unreliable, as eyewitnesses generally are. Then it made the news by fucking up the backlash beyond all human comprehension.

At that point, could they have gotten probable cause on Wilson? Absolutely. Was there a reasonable doubt? Absolutely. If the police don't do their job, the prosecution can't do its job. And so here we are, pretending that the legal process has done its job. 

It hasn't. It failed. It failed from the day Michael Brown was shot, and failed in increasingly catastrophic ways until yesterday, when the grand jury came back with a decision that had been a foregone conclusion since day one.

2014-11-24 21:19:19 (130 comments, 19 reshares, 95 +1s)Open 

Four stories about work:

One: Immediately out of college, I took a job working as the receptionist at a homeless shelter. The social worker quit, and I added those duties to my own, despite not knowing how to execute them. Then the executive director quit, and I took his job.

There was no duty pager for staff. If there were incidents, and there were, the police responded without staff support. I would only find out about the response the next day, from the on-site manager -- who, in general, was a trusted client. The trusted client was cooking meth.

I found a new one. But I took the phone as well. I was the only employee, and so I was the call rotation.

Clients would show up drunk. My phone would ring. There would be fights. My phone would ring. The sheriff would show up to serve summonses. My phone would ring. And although my workday wasn't usually any... more »

Four stories about work:

One: Immediately out of college, I took a job working as the receptionist at a homeless shelter. The social worker quit, and I added those duties to my own, despite not knowing how to execute them. Then the executive director quit, and I took his job.

There was no duty pager for staff. If there were incidents, and there were, the police responded without staff support. I would only find out about the response the next day, from the on-site manager -- who, in general, was a trusted client. The trusted client was cooking meth.

I found a new one. But I took the phone as well. I was the only employee, and so I was the call rotation.

Clients would show up drunk. My phone would ring. There would be fights. My phone would ring. The sheriff would show up to serve summonses. My phone would ring. And although my workday wasn't usually any longer than ten, eleven hours, several times a week, I would be rousted out of bed to go handle some emergency or another. 

I was bad at my job. This was in part for the usual reasons; viz., that I had no training. But almost every morning at 4 AM, I would wake up shuddering, and drag myself to the bathroom to puke my guts out. I didn't sleep. And so basic things like grant billing and meeting scheduling began to fall apart as fatigue-driven errors crowded in on every side.

Eventually, I left, having kept the organization from imploding. But I did very little other than that: I held on white-knuckled, and managed a hard landing for an organization that could have cratered. But I did an awful job. Even my emails from that era -- some of which I've kept -- are riddled with typos. 

Two: Insofar as I have been successful, I owe my success to that job. Everywhere I've gone, from that point forward, the very first thing written on my resume has been "executive director." It's what took me to ATVP, and what got me into law school, and after law school, this set of things got me my clerkship, and after my clerkship, it convinced people that I was hard-working enough to cut it in the job I got at Google.

And so I've landed here.

Earlier, +David desJardins accused me of being contemptuous of startup culture. I've never worked at a startup. But I've been in a similar place: working insane hours, never being entirely off the clock, cutting my own salary to keep the money from running out before the task was complete. It made me terrible at my job. The more I scrambled to keep the money from running out, the less I deserved it.

There are strong personal incentives to the sort of work which depletes all of your resources; the sort of work that renders you incompetent. I benefited from them. I still benefit from them. But I can still name the people I harmed, and can still trace, in detail, the things I was terrible at.

In the aftermath of negligence, it's tempting to offer yourself the cold comfort that there was no better way. As hard as it is to make decision that makes others suffer, it's tougher still to admit that that decision was unnecessary -- that you passed up an easy win because the incentives were wrong.

Three: We have evidence from medicine that there are probably some easy wins across the board, and across all kinds of high-performing jobs. Since the 1960s, doctors have insisted that working residents 100 hours a week was necessary for training, and that failing to do so would cripple medical productivity. 

The evidence, such as it was, looked fine: doctors unwilling to work the hours washed out, and doctors who worked longer hours were more successful. Not only that, they treated more patients. This seems adequate to empirically demonstrate that working more hours is better.

Of course, when you examine the rate of medical error, you find that overworked doctors are terrible at their jobs. As you would expect, the rate of medical error among people working more than sleeping is tremendous.

So were we rewarding terrible doctors? 

No. Because there's a confound: the same people willing to work hundred-hour weeks are more dedicated to their job, and otherwise better workers. But we had somehow managed to engineer a system which rewarded the production of low-quality work by high-quality workers, and which -- even more perversely -- used the production of low-quality work as a proxy for high-quality status. 

Unless software development is utterly unlike any other human activity -- and the mythical man-month suggests that it's not -- then startup founders are simply engaged in the same status-demonstration game that doctors were, and there's no reason to take them seriously. Conceding that they'd been wasting their time (and others' time) raises troubling questions that they'd rather not answer.

Four: A coda. In medicine, the policy changed. Often, nothing improved, because the incentives didn't change.

Doctors' hours were reduced from thirty-six hour shifts to sixteen-hour shifts. During their previous shifts, doctors slept, but they slept on the job. Now, working sixteen hours at a time, doctors never slept. The fatigue issues that were the core of the problem? They didn't go away. Doctors still needed to signal that they were working hard; the incentives to ignore the policy and exceed its bounds were still there.

Caring about incentives and caring about outcomes are often deeply at odds. Even knowing what I know now about work, I wouldn't change what I did: it was absolutely, unequivocally in my best interest. But the evidence is good that exhaustion makes us vulnerable to catastrophic failure, and that the incentives within subcultures of workaholism are deeply broken.___

2014-11-22 00:08:02 (12 comments, 0 reshares, 22 +1s)Open 

At-Will Employment: Even Weirder

There's another simple liberal narrative about at-will employment. It goes like this: in the late 1870s, Horace Gay Wood decided to put his thumb on the scale in favor of employers. He was, after all, a railroad attorney. He worked for some of the most abusive employers in America -- businesses that broke strikes using lethal force, and for whom shedding unions was critically important.

But that's not true, either. Either he thought it would be an improvement over the status quo, or he just made a terrible mistake.

It's true that Horace Gay Wood was, at one point, a railroad attorney. He contracted tuberculosis, quit that job, and retired to Vermont to write legal treatises. Thumbing through his books, it seems as though he was a pretty mainstream reporter of the law. On a random sample of politically sensitive topics of... more »

At-Will Employment: Even Weirder

There's another simple liberal narrative about at-will employment. It goes like this: in the late 1870s, Horace Gay Wood decided to put his thumb on the scale in favor of employers. He was, after all, a railroad attorney. He worked for some of the most abusive employers in America -- businesses that broke strikes using lethal force, and for whom shedding unions was critically important.

But that's not true, either. Either he thought it would be an improvement over the status quo, or he just made a terrible mistake.

It's true that Horace Gay Wood was, at one point, a railroad attorney. He contracted tuberculosis, quit that job, and retired to Vermont to write legal treatises. Thumbing through his books, it seems as though he was a pretty mainstream reporter of the law. On a random sample of politically sensitive topics of time time, he seems to have gotten the law pretty much right. In the aggregate, he doesn't seem to have been biased in favor of employers.

As you would expect.

Because Wood was, among other things which we'll get to later, a member of Vermont's very liberal Whig party, and was elected to the state legislature on that platform. Though the Whigs had largely been broken up by the Civil War and replaced by the Republicans, the few stub Whig parties remaining in northern states were generally advocates of public education, public infrastructure, and free labor. Though there's little indication that he was a trade unionist, he seems to have been a fellow traveler with them.

I mention this not because he was a Whig or a lawyer-- being one in the 1870s was an extremely eccentric political position, the party having effectively dissolved in 1856 -- but rather because he was also a prominent Theosophist. Relatively early on in his career, he wrote a book about his extremely ecumenical, extremely peace-love-and-flowers personal philosophy. 

Sorry, sorry -- I buried the lede.

He didn't really write a book about his personal philosophy. Thomas Paine wrote a book about his personal philosophy. Horace Gay Wood, accidental author of the American doctrine of at-will employment, was just the spirit medium that channeled it. Its general political tenor is anti-wealth, anti-accumulation, anti-monopoly, distributist and ... well ... remarkably progressive for its time. He imagines the afterlives available to Indians and Muslims, condemns the pursuit of wealth, and exalts the spirit of Reason.

I find it hard to believe that this guy -- railroad attorney, sober legal reporter, progressive, and batshit crazy spirit medium -- was somehow acting to sabotage American law. No, that was actually someone else's fault.

Next Up: The two family feuds that sabotaged American labor law.___

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2014-11-21 18:39:24 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 1 +1s)Open 

"""
India has a problem with overly restrictive labor laws. The OECD puts together an index with a bunch of measures of how protected workers are. On a scale from 0-6, the U.S. measures about 0.5; the measure for the high-income OECD countries is roughly 2;  and the measure for India exceeds 3. Many of these rules only apply to firms that hire more than a certain number of people, like 10 or 100. As a result, firms in India hesitate to grow, relying instead on networks of tiny firms and temporary workers.
"""

In developing countries corruption and enforcement problems often mean that worker protection laws do not have the intended effect. In developed countries, stringent protections often result in a sort of suicide pact labor market. In both cases the cause is the same: demand suppression reduces the ability of workers to take other jobs, leaving them,... more »

"""
India has a problem with overly restrictive labor laws. The OECD puts together an index with a bunch of measures of how protected workers are. On a scale from 0-6, the U.S. measures about 0.5; the measure for the high-income OECD countries is roughly 2;  and the measure for India exceeds 3. Many of these rules only apply to firms that hire more than a certain number of people, like 10 or 100. As a result, firms in India hesitate to grow, relying instead on networks of tiny firms and temporary workers.
"""

In developing countries corruption and enforcement problems often mean that worker protection laws do not have the intended effect. In developed countries, stringent protections often result in a sort of suicide pact labor market. In both cases the cause is the same: demand suppression reduces the ability of workers to take other jobs, leaving them, paradoxically, more vulnerable to abuse.

Labor law has to strike the right balance between protecting workers from abuse -- on the millennia old theory that "the strong may not harm the weak". But this is tricky in practice and is more likely well-served by structural measures in corporate governance (like enfranchising workers onto boards) or reducing risks faced by the jobless (tipping the balance of bargaining power away). In many cases, such reforms lead to better functioning labor markets, with workers sorting better into firms and firms policing the abuses of lower management to retain them.___

2014-11-21 17:42:22 (33 comments, 11 reshares, 52 +1s)Open 

At-Will Employment: The Story is Always Weirder Than You Think

In Tennessee, in the 1880s, the state's highest court was dominated by mining and railroad interests. The industries that dominated the court were, themselves, dominated by former Confederate politicians and officers. And those industries rapidly shedding union labor in order to reap a bounty of unfree black labor. And so, when the former Confederate governor of Georgia fired employees for buying goods outside the company store, the Tennessee Supreme Court held that employers had no duties to employees, and they could be fired at will.

This is a tidy liberal story, wrapped up in a bow. Simultaneously, prison-industrial magnates vanquished both unions and the last vestiges of Reconstruction-era law, and America entered the postwar nadir of both labor and race relations. The Long Depression even appropriately... more »

At-Will Employment: The Story is Always Weirder Than You Think

In Tennessee, in the 1880s, the state's highest court was dominated by mining and railroad interests. The industries that dominated the court were, themselves, dominated by former Confederate politicians and officers. And those industries rapidly shedding union labor in order to reap a bounty of unfree black labor. And so, when the former Confederate governor of Georgia fired employees for buying goods outside the company store, the Tennessee Supreme Court held that employers had no duties to employees, and they could be fired at will.

This is a tidy liberal story, wrapped up in a bow. Simultaneously, prison-industrial magnates vanquished both unions and the last vestiges of Reconstruction-era law, and America entered the postwar nadir of both labor and race relations. The Long Depression even appropriately punished us for it.

The story is actually much stranger. Consider how we got here:

In the 1870s, the law was clear: if not explicitly specified, the term of a labor contract was a matter of fact to be determined by the jury. In most places, if no explicit term could be decided, then the default period of employment was a year. By the 1880s, American courts had decided that the at-will employment rule -- the rule that exists today -- dated back to deep antiquity, and had always been the rule.

This is a puzzling result. How did American courts seamlessly flip between one rule and another without realizing that they'd done so? And the answer, basically, is that for some reason or another, a treatise author -- Horace Gay Wood -- misstated the prevailing rule. Courts read the treatise instead of the law. And suddenly, nationwide, at-will employment was the rule.

For complicated reasons, it was both a tremendous liberal victory and a catastrophic blow to free labor.

Before Master and Servant, employees were bound to their employers by a tight network of public-law obligations. These included the right to sue for injuries the employee negligently sustained, on the theory that an employee’s injury prevents him from completing his employer’s assigned duties, as well as the right to intervene in the employee’s suits against third parties for negligent injuries. Central to these causes of actions was the theory that, once the employee had contracted away his labor, the value of his labor belonged to the employer.

This was true for the entire duration of employment. For the entire duration of the labor contract (which was not often well-defined), employers and employees had causes of action against each other: the employee had the right to sue if fired, and the employer had to right to sue if the employee quit. This was a profound constraint on labor mobility.

It gets worse.

In some jurisdictions, employment contracts were considered “contracts entire.” If the contract’s duration was not completed, the employer could recoup the costs of employment over that period. In some cases, this led to tremendous windfalls for employers: in Massachusetts, for example, a farmhand signed a contract to work a year for $120 in wages, but left the farm voluntarily before his contract was completed. Because his employer wouldn’t compensate him for the time he completed, he sued for unpaid wages. Though he won at trial, the Supreme Court reversed: not only was the worker not entitled to the value of the contract, he had contracted his labor away for the period of the contract. In the event that he went to another employer, he was required to remit the value of any labor he performed back to the employer who had originally purchased it -- a huge windfall for the employer.

This rigid labor system was increasingly unsustainable. At the time of Master and Servant, the United States was mired in an apparently unending depression. Speculation in postwar railway development had led to a collapse of the banking system; simultaneously, wars in Europe and demonetization of silver had led to wild fluctuations in price. There was very little net economic growth between 1873 and 1879: disagreements between labor and management were over a small and shrinking pot of economic goods. 

In many places in the country, the right to at-will employment was something we now take for granted: the right to quit your job. In others -- Tennessee in the 1880s -- it shattered the tenuous legal position held by free laborers, provoking labor wars which continued into the 1920s. Was it a good idea, a liberal reform? That depends wholly on the system it's embedded in.

But the story gets even weirder than that. Next up: how theosophists, railroads, tuberculosis, and a family feud changed the face of American labor law.___

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2014-11-20 23:16:43 (94 comments, 5 reshares, 35 +1s)Open 

I am sympathetic to the underlying argument here, but the core of Lanier's solution is perfectly literal Luddism. At the dawn of industrialization, automated looms drove mass unemployment. And so the framebreakers -- people who had once been employed as weavers, but who no longer had a job -- broke up the machines they blamed for their unemployment. 

Never mind that creation of cloth handicrafts was an awful thing to be forced to do: the fact that it had to be done, and that people had to be forced to do it, was the reason the incipient framebreakers were able to subsist at all. In a choice between automation and their livelihood, we will each choose our livelihood. 

But we do not have to choose.

The catastrophe that faced the framebreakers, and the catastrophe that faces us, isn't caused by automation. Since the 1980s, the American companies that once employed theb... more »

I am sympathetic to the underlying argument here, but the core of Lanier's solution is perfectly literal Luddism. At the dawn of industrialization, automated looms drove mass unemployment. And so the framebreakers -- people who had once been employed as weavers, but who no longer had a job -- broke up the machines they blamed for their unemployment. 

Never mind that creation of cloth handicrafts was an awful thing to be forced to do: the fact that it had to be done, and that people had to be forced to do it, was the reason the incipient framebreakers were able to subsist at all. In a choice between automation and their livelihood, we will each choose our livelihood. 

But we do not have to choose.

The catastrophe that faced the framebreakers, and the catastrophe that faces us, isn't caused by automation. Since the 1980s, the American companies that once employed the blue-collar middle class have been (a) shedding workers, (b) increasing production, and (c) failing to automate. That persistent growht in production? It's not capital investment. It's caused by employers shedding waste while disclaiming their duty toward their employees.

The more responsible capitalism of the 1950s and 1960s wasn't caused by technological poverty. And the solution is not to throw away our technological progress, wasting entire lives on creating sufficient busywork to justify wages -- it wouldn't work anyway, as first-world busywork cannot sustain first-world standards of living. 

If there's a second automation revolution coming, the solution is to balance the supply of labor against demand for it, not to increase the supply of worthless labor until it justifies the wages we pay for it.___

2014-11-20 22:20:45 (16 comments, 15 reshares, 48 +1s)Open 

In the 1880s, the entire Tennessee prison system was bought out by Tennessee Coal and Iron (TCI). The entire thing. Prison stockades were constructed at coal and iron mines, and  free workers that remained were threatened with replacement by (largely black) convicts who had no choice but to work under unsafe conditions. The unions wouldn't have it. So they started blowing up prison stockades and freeing prisoners. Regular union violence against prison stockades continued until the 1890s, when Tennessee abolished convict labor.

In the midst of the violence, when major employers were trying to rid themselves of free labor and purchase as many convict sureties as possible, Tennessee adopted a mutant version of the prevailing at-will employment rule: employers could fire their employees for any reason, even reasons which breach the duty of good faith and fair dealing.  It's the version oft... more »

In the 1880s, the entire Tennessee prison system was bought out by Tennessee Coal and Iron (TCI). The entire thing. Prison stockades were constructed at coal and iron mines, and  free workers that remained were threatened with replacement by (largely black) convicts who had no choice but to work under unsafe conditions. The unions wouldn't have it. So they started blowing up prison stockades and freeing prisoners. Regular union violence against prison stockades continued until the 1890s, when Tennessee abolished convict labor.

In the midst of the violence, when major employers were trying to rid themselves of free labor and purchase as many convict sureties as possible, Tennessee adopted a mutant version of the prevailing at-will employment rule: employers could fire their employees for any reason, even reasons which breach the duty of good faith and fair dealing.  It's the version of the rule that's stuck around until the modern day.___

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2014-11-20 21:35:10 (9 comments, 1 reshares, 10 +1s)Open 

So, uh. Maybe don't watch this at work. But you should probably watch it. 

So, uh. Maybe don't watch this at work. But you should probably watch it. ___

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2014-11-20 18:25:29 (34 comments, 1 reshares, 21 +1s)Open 

When operating an unlicensed taxi company is criminalized, only criminals will operate unlicensed taxi companies. 

There is basically nothing wrong with challenging monopolies that are enshrined in law. Taxi medallions are, as a rule, a stupid way of organizing people who drive other people around. But if a business model is illegal, whatever the reason, the risk of sociopaths becoming involved is far higher.

This being why prosecutorial discretion on stupid laws is never an adequate substitute for legalization: you're likely to get most of the stupid law's downside (as we apparently have with Uber) while capturing only a fraction of the upside.

When operating an unlicensed taxi company is criminalized, only criminals will operate unlicensed taxi companies. 

There is basically nothing wrong with challenging monopolies that are enshrined in law. Taxi medallions are, as a rule, a stupid way of organizing people who drive other people around. But if a business model is illegal, whatever the reason, the risk of sociopaths becoming involved is far higher.

This being why prosecutorial discretion on stupid laws is never an adequate substitute for legalization: you're likely to get most of the stupid law's downside (as we apparently have with Uber) while capturing only a fraction of the upside.___

2014-11-19 17:26:24 (18 comments, 22 reshares, 84 +1s)Open 

Think, for a moment, about lignin itself.

It's this complex structural biopolymer made by trees. It's what makes trees woody. And it's totally, transcendently worthless to everything else on earth. There's a tremendous amount of stored energy there -- this being why wood burns -- and nothing can get at it. Millennium after millennium, the accumulation of woody debris starves the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and poisons all of the earth's fresh water. Insofar as anything living has the capacity to suffer, everything is.
 
Eventually, bracket fungus figures out a way to break down lignin. In a matter of a few hundred thousand years, the quantity of atmospheric carbon dioxide triples, and the amount of atmospheric oxygen plummets. The giant insects that dominate the Earth begin to die. Temperatures rise. The oceans acidify. Almost everything dies.

Go back... more »

Think, for a moment, about lignin itself.

It's this complex structural biopolymer made by trees. It's what makes trees woody. And it's totally, transcendently worthless to everything else on earth. There's a tremendous amount of stored energy there -- this being why wood burns -- and nothing can get at it. Millennium after millennium, the accumulation of woody debris starves the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and poisons all of the earth's fresh water. Insofar as anything living has the capacity to suffer, everything is.
 
Eventually, bracket fungus figures out a way to break down lignin. In a matter of a few hundred thousand years, the quantity of atmospheric carbon dioxide triples, and the amount of atmospheric oxygen plummets. The giant insects that dominate the Earth begin to die. Temperatures rise. The oceans acidify. Almost everything dies.

Go back further, and disruptive species become increasingly catastrophic. For instance, when cyanobacteria discovered photosynthesis and produced oxygen as a byproduct, nothing respirated. These huge mats of bacteria were producing a waste product more toxic than chlorine gas. And it destroyed almost all life on earth, down to the microbiome, not that there was anything other than a microbiome. The ground corroded, crumbled, washed into the sea.

And then life, by chance, stumbled on a way to use this horrifyingly toxic gas to ride a more efficient biochemical gradient. And that's all there is to it.

In expending all of the Earth's stored carbon, we're acting just like bracket fungus, or cyanobacteria, or the first cycads. We've found a clever chemical trick and are riding the entropic gradient as long as we can, because, at worst, it temporarily relieves suffering, and at best, it gives us more degrees of freedom to someday not act just like bracket fungus.

This is a low bar -- to not be literally as dumb as a mushroom. But the biological incentives of disruptive species, us included, make environmental catastrophe difficult to avert. The dimensions in which disruptive biology is unsustainable will eventually place a burden on biodiversity system-wide.___

2014-11-19 16:41:19 (25 comments, 3 reshares, 40 +1s)Open 

TIL: G+ actually supports Sumerian cuneiform Unicode, even as mixed characters, meaning that you can add the Dingir determinative (𒀭) to your name if you are, in fact, a verified deity.

TIL: G+ actually supports Sumerian cuneiform Unicode, even as mixed characters, meaning that you can add the Dingir determinative (𒀭) to your name if you are, in fact, a verified deity.___

2014-11-19 00:11:27 (61 comments, 12 reshares, 101 +1s)Open 

I do not believe in God. But only in the same sense that I do not believe in a great many other things that I do not have evidence for. For similar reasons, I do not privilege belief in God as being especially pernicious.

People are routinely wrong. I am routinely wrong. I am not so insistent on my own view of the truth, or even the truth itself, that I would deny someone something that gives them comfort, and, more to the point, makes them both desire to do good and actually do good.

I take a kind of rough comfort in the idea that there is no safety net: that if I do not care about doing good, it will simply go undone, because the universe does not care and cannot be made to. But this is a strange position, and I certainly cannot expect that people will believe it for the idiosyncratic reasons that I do. 

I do not believe in God. But only in the same sense that I do not believe in a great many other things that I do not have evidence for. For similar reasons, I do not privilege belief in God as being especially pernicious.

People are routinely wrong. I am routinely wrong. I am not so insistent on my own view of the truth, or even the truth itself, that I would deny someone something that gives them comfort, and, more to the point, makes them both desire to do good and actually do good.

I take a kind of rough comfort in the idea that there is no safety net: that if I do not care about doing good, it will simply go undone, because the universe does not care and cannot be made to. But this is a strange position, and I certainly cannot expect that people will believe it for the idiosyncratic reasons that I do. ___

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2014-11-18 23:19:50 (60 comments, 3 reshares, 26 +1s)Open 

If Udall doesn't do this, then we won't ever see it: the incoming Republican Senate has both the power and the desire to bury it forever, and other than Wyden, the remaining Democratic minority on the committee is wholly owned by the American intelligence community. 

If Udall doesn't do this, then we won't ever see it: the incoming Republican Senate has both the power and the desire to bury it forever, and other than Wyden, the remaining Democratic minority on the committee is wholly owned by the American intelligence community. ___

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2014-11-18 17:37:36 (14 comments, 11 reshares, 47 +1s)Open 

This is our first and last chance at technological civilization. Exponential growth is in no small part due to the exploitation of fossil fuels -- certainly, world-spanning globalization would be extraordinarily difficult if we could not essentially write off the cost of physical transport. Not to mention the cost of electricity. 

Even if we stretch things out to the long run, where "long run" means "tens of millions of years," fossil fuels aren't coming back. Coal is the result of evolution's failure to figure out a way to degrade lignin. Now that white rot fungi exist (a relatively recent development), there's no more coal in the pipeline, and there never will be. 

For a very long time, we thought that kerogen (the precursor to oil) was a pure carbon sink, and that bacteria couldn't metabolize it. Unfortunately, evolution seems to have discovereda... more »

This is our first and last chance at technological civilization. Exponential growth is in no small part due to the exploitation of fossil fuels -- certainly, world-spanning globalization would be extraordinarily difficult if we could not essentially write off the cost of physical transport. Not to mention the cost of electricity. 

Even if we stretch things out to the long run, where "long run" means "tens of millions of years," fossil fuels aren't coming back. Coal is the result of evolution's failure to figure out a way to degrade lignin. Now that white rot fungi exist (a relatively recent development), there's no more coal in the pipeline, and there never will be. 

For a very long time, we thought that kerogen (the precursor to oil) was a pure carbon sink, and that bacteria couldn't metabolize it. Unfortunately, evolution seems to have discovered anaerobic extraction of energy from kerogen, and it appears as though that's being broken down faster than it's being renewed.

For hundreds of millions of years, life hadn't found a way to take the energy sequestered in these chemicals. Now it has. And there's no route back.___

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2014-11-17 18:19:23 (59 comments, 13 reshares, 42 +1s)Open 

This Saturday, I went to a debate between John Zerzan, an anarcho-primitivist, and +Zoltan Istvan​, a transhumanist. It was disappointing in the typical sort of way: the speakers weren't familiar enough with the others's evidence to really dig in. I did, however, take some notes on problems with both of their positions, presented here in their entirety. 

Re: Zoltan Istvan

(1) Most of the problems cured by civilization are, themselves, pathologies of civilization. The first outbreaks of influenza, of smallpox, and of typhus are historical events: they occurred not just after the development of domestication (which John Zerzan takes as some sort of watershed event) but after the development of written language.

There is a legitimate debate about whether civilization until the Malthusian inflection point in the 1800s was actually worth it. We have hadse... more »

This Saturday, I went to a debate between John Zerzan, an anarcho-primitivist, and +Zoltan Istvan​, a transhumanist. It was disappointing in the typical sort of way: the speakers weren't familiar enough with the others's evidence to really dig in. I did, however, take some notes on problems with both of their positions, presented here in their entirety. 

Re: Zoltan Istvan

(1) Most of the problems cured by civilization are, themselves, pathologies of civilization. The first outbreaks of influenza, of smallpox, and of typhus are historical events: they occurred not just after the development of domestication (which John Zerzan takes as some sort of watershed event) but after the development of written language.

There is a legitimate debate about whether civilization until the Malthusian inflection point in the 1800s was actually worth it. We have had several thousand years of evidence that civilization sucks, and a few hundred years of evidence that civilization is great. If exponential growth stops in relatively short order, it might be reasonable to conclude that agriculture was a mistake. 

(3) All exponential trends are sigmoidal. In a finite universe, exponential growth cannot continue into infinity. Thermodynamics prevents it.

At some point, there was an inflection into exponential growth. There will someday be an inflection back to flat growth. At some later point, either due to local or global entropy, there will be a decline. We do not know when that will occur. We know that it will.

(4) Neither the physical universe nor human biology nor basic mathematical laws have consented to make transhumanism possible. We may live in a universe which imposes hard barriers to exponential growth well before we make ourselves immortal, find a limitless source of energy or computation, or upload our brains into computers. 

We may not have hit those barriers yet, but we haven't proven they don't exist.

(5) Biological immortality -- Istvan's hobby-horse -- is especially problematic. The human body has self-repair systems, but it's unclear that those self-repair systems are robust enough to hold off entropy forever. Even if we fix all known biological failure modes, fixing them will uncover new tiers of failure modes: subtle defects in human design which we cannot detect because more spectacularly fatal defects kill us first.

Re: Zerzan

(1) Some pathologies of civilization result from having fixed other problems. Take, for instance, cancer: Zerzan believes that cancer was caused by civilization. Which is in fact true! But it's caused by living long enough to die of cancer, not by some inherent carcinogenic property of modern living.

(2) Zerzan is correct that hunter-gatherer societies work less, live longer, are far more egalitarian, and are much less violent than societies before the Malthusian inflection. These are general principles, however, not unconditional facts: there are hunter-gatherer societies without domestication, but with most of the pathologies of civilization.

The Chinook, for instance, engaged in warfare, slavery, political stratification, capitalism, and status competition, and did not practice domestication. The North Sentinelese try to murder anyone who gets close to their island. (Though this is reasonable -- see below for what happens to uncontacted tribes when contacted.)

(3) Returning to hunting and gathering would require the death of more humans than have ever lived as hunters and gatherers. I mention this because it's a bullet that anarcho-primitivists need to bite.

Of course, compared to nuclear omnicide or grey goo or another technological armageddon, this may be preferable -- but if we're judging anarcho-primitivism, we need to judge it against catastrophes that kill nearly everyone, not human civilization as it exists.

(4) There is a plausible argument that hunting and gathering was a fine lifestyle because we outran our parasites and predators. Outside of Africa, hunters and gatherers do fine. Inside Africa, we were plagued by parasites that evolved alongside us -- things like malaria, black plague, guinea worms, river blindness, and yellow fever. Once we spread outside of Africa, the intermediate hosts for our parasites didn't follow us.

When we encounter uncontacted tribes outside of Africa, they frequently die of parasites and diseases that are endemic in the outside world: pathologies of an evolutionary arms race which, not coincidentally, have now become pathologies of civilization. If we return to hunting and gathering, we don't return to an Edenic state. We return to a world wracked by parasites toughened by civilization's war against them. 

(5) We also don't return to a world without domestication. Within a few generations, corn is dead, but sweet potatoes, amaranth, manioc, cattle, sheep, and horses remain. If we decided en masse to return to hunting and gathering, the world still contains the basic building blocks of agricultural civilization. Under those conditions, there is an ontological failure of primitivism -- we attempt to return to hunting and gathering, but the world provides simple targets for domestication. ___

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2014-11-13 21:02:36 (47 comments, 30 reshares, 80 +1s)Open 

In the 1400s, at the height of the Hanseatic League's power, the Hansa had a simple response to any local lord that barred the passage of river trade: they'd put together an army, burn his castle, and clear the river. They'd then warn the lord not to charge extortionate tolls. The Hansa made a profit, the peasants paid less for their goods, and everyone (save the lord whose castle was burnt) won.

At the time, it was obvious that what was happening was a tariff of some sort. The lord was individually sovereign over a stretch of river, and so had the ability to charge people to cross it. Or seize cargoes. Or charge different trade ships different prices. And once you look at a lord as a governmental entity and not just a private landowner (he was, in actuality, both), it's similarly obvious that what's occurring is a restraint on trade.

But what makes lords... more »

In the 1400s, at the height of the Hanseatic League's power, the Hansa had a simple response to any local lord that barred the passage of river trade: they'd put together an army, burn his castle, and clear the river. They'd then warn the lord not to charge extortionate tolls. The Hansa made a profit, the peasants paid less for their goods, and everyone (save the lord whose castle was burnt) won.

At the time, it was obvious that what was happening was a tariff of some sort. The lord was individually sovereign over a stretch of river, and so had the ability to charge people to cross it. Or seize cargoes. Or charge different trade ships different prices. And once you look at a lord as a governmental entity and not just a private landowner (he was, in actuality, both), it's similarly obvious that what's occurring is a restraint on trade.

But what makes lords special?

Land. Physical territory is unlike every other capital asset, in that it is entirely nonfungible. If your goods are in one place, and they need to be in another, there are a finite number of routes to get from one space to another, to get to market. In addition, there is only one ideal route; the more trade routes plotted into a single space, the more elaborate (and thus costly) they become. This allows the owners of roads, rivers, canals, ports, railroads, and other channels of trade to extract other entities' returns to innovation and trade as rents on land. They can do this through extortion, tariff, legal right, or discriminatory pricing, but every method is essentially identical in its result.

Which is a long way of getting around to Net Neutrality.

Comcast and other telecommunications companies are not "competitors" to the companies that serve over their lines. They're channels of trade, like roads, rails, and rivers. This is more literal than you would expect: if you take a cursory glance at the histories of companies like Sprint and AT&T, you'll find that they descend from entities that once owned a huge number of easement rights -- largely telegraph and railroad easements. There aren't any more of those entities, and the easement rights are rivalrous: just as you can't build a more efficient road to a city that's already wreathed in freeways taking the cheapest routes, you can't lay new cable to compete with Comcast without zigzagging around the places where line is already laid.

This is precisely why common carriage laws exist. This is why they have existed since the 1100s. When allowed discriminatory pricing power, common carriers can free-ride on others' innovation, turning public pain into private profit.  ___

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2014-11-12 23:20:24 (74 comments, 7 reshares, 31 +1s)Open 

"Jobs are obsolete" does not lead to a libertarian conclusion. If jobs are obsolete, then the primary mechanism for allocating material surplus will have permanently broken. In a world without jobs, the bulk of humanity does not generate demand, and one of two things must be done:

(1) Productive capital must be reallocated to the people who would be otherwise working, so that they can afford goods, or;

(2) The goods themselves must be allocated outside the market, leading to massive allocative inefficiencies.

Of the two, the former is probably less disruptive to pricing mechanisms than the latter. But as the amount of productive labor to be done narrows to a very small range of very high-skill occupations, the prudential case for strong property rights in capital diminishes to almost nothing.

"Jobs are obsolete" does not lead to a libertarian conclusion. If jobs are obsolete, then the primary mechanism for allocating material surplus will have permanently broken. In a world without jobs, the bulk of humanity does not generate demand, and one of two things must be done:

(1) Productive capital must be reallocated to the people who would be otherwise working, so that they can afford goods, or;

(2) The goods themselves must be allocated outside the market, leading to massive allocative inefficiencies.

Of the two, the former is probably less disruptive to pricing mechanisms than the latter. But as the amount of productive labor to be done narrows to a very small range of very high-skill occupations, the prudential case for strong property rights in capital diminishes to almost nothing.___

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2014-11-11 18:56:12 (16 comments, 3 reshares, 26 +1s)Open 

In a sense, all contracts are trades in possible futures.

So long as my future is no worse than this, you agree, then your future will be no worse than that. And if there's some discrepancy in the desirability of the futures we're trading each other, or one of the futures we promised does not occur, then we'll settle it out in cash. Simple.

At the center of the contract, there is the primary trade: cash for a house, for instance, or work for insurance. Near the margins of every contract, there are trades in unlikely contingencies. If the house I'm paying you to build burns down, then who has to bear the risk of loss? If the market collapses, who has to eat my losses? As contracts grow longer and more important, the risk of ruinous coincidence grows increasingly well-allocated.

But ruinous coincidences and breaches of duty still occur. They have just been... more »

In a sense, all contracts are trades in possible futures.

So long as my future is no worse than this, you agree, then your future will be no worse than that. And if there's some discrepancy in the desirability of the futures we're trading each other, or one of the futures we promised does not occur, then we'll settle it out in cash. Simple.

At the center of the contract, there is the primary trade: cash for a house, for instance, or work for insurance. Near the margins of every contract, there are trades in unlikely contingencies. If the house I'm paying you to build burns down, then who has to bear the risk of loss? If the market collapses, who has to eat my losses? As contracts grow longer and more important, the risk of ruinous coincidence grows increasingly well-allocated.

But ruinous coincidences and breaches of duty still occur. They have just been traded for cash or other futures entirely. As a result, the dominant parties in contracts can buy a risk- and duty-free path into the indefinite future, limited only by the imagination of their actuaries and lawyers and their ability to pay. Which brings us to Scott Alexander, who complains -- not unreasonably -- that there are certain risks he can't sell:

I would really like to be able to ask my patients to sign a contract saying they waive their rights to sue me if things go wrong. Actually, I want to be even more evil than that. I want to ask my patients to sign a contract waiving their rights to sue me, and threaten to commit them to hospital against their will if they refuse.

Putting aside the primary objection (viz., that Scott is a psychiatrist and his patients, who are crazy, ought not to be making contracts under duress), there is still a problem here: he is a doctor. As a society, we only allow certain people to exercise medical judgment; in return, we require those people to use their best medical judgment. Accordingly, we cannot allow them to sell the risk of bad medical judgment to someone else. 

The problem, in other words, is exactly the converse of Scott's point. The problem isn't that the patient can't waive his rights. The problem is that a doctor cannot discharge his responsibility to use sound medical judgment in any other way than using sound medical judgment. 

The same principle follows elsewhere. A board of directors can't discharge its fiduciary responsibility by asking you to waive your right to sue. A lawyer can't discharge his responsibility to give sound legal advice by demanding that you waive malpractice. A bank can't defraud you by requiring that you consent to be defrauded. Where there are rights that are inalienable by contract, they often correspond to a risk that is inalienable by contract.

We tamper with those at our peril.___

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2014-11-07 22:45:35 (30 comments, 10 reshares, 99 +1s)Open 

So close and yet so far.

So close and yet so far.___

2014-11-07 17:03:54 (30 comments, 10 reshares, 64 +1s)Open 

Something most people don't know, but which still shapes my feelings about pure contractualism:

For a brief period following the Civil War, slavery was reinstituted behind a fig leaf of legal process: labor contracts for freedmen would specify that the freedman would obey his master, "as it had been in slave times," subject to criminal enforcement of his labor contract. Any black freedman traveling without papers from his master would be subject to imprisonment. Considering that this seems perfectly identical to slavery, and that slavery was illegal, the Supreme Court struck it down.

During Reconstruction, the law briefly stabilized, and slavery -- such as it was -- paused. But then something peculiar happened. No particular law re-instituted slavery, and no particular bond later established constituted slavery-qua-slavery. There was no particular point at which the... more »

Something most people don't know, but which still shapes my feelings about pure contractualism:

For a brief period following the Civil War, slavery was reinstituted behind a fig leaf of legal process: labor contracts for freedmen would specify that the freedman would obey his master, "as it had been in slave times," subject to criminal enforcement of his labor contract. Any black freedman traveling without papers from his master would be subject to imprisonment. Considering that this seems perfectly identical to slavery, and that slavery was illegal, the Supreme Court struck it down.

During Reconstruction, the law briefly stabilized, and slavery -- such as it was -- paused. But then something peculiar happened. No particular law re-instituted slavery, and no particular bond later established constituted slavery-qua-slavery. There was no particular point at which the weight of the regulations binding black Southerners became slavery itself.

By the 1880s, however, involuntary labor laid at the end of every branch of a freedman's decision tree, and any misstep or misfortune lead to bondage. Violating the apprenticeship statute led to criminal sanctions; criminal sanctions led to convict labor. The death of one’s parents led to orphanage, which led to apprenticeship. Reneging on a labor contract led to criminal sanctions, then back to convict labor. Losing your job led to criminal sanctions, and therefore convict labor. Debt led to a debtor’s prison, and therefore convict labor. At each stage in the process, the government reaped the benefits of convict leases, and employers reaped the benefits of inexpensive black labor.

The key takeaway is this: when black workers found themselves reduced to peonage, as they frequently did, they had inevitably breached some obligation found in public or private law. It became easy to blame them: they had defaulted on their debt, or committed a crime, or escaped an apprenticeship. All of these things were true: in some limited sense, they knew the consequence, and intentionally committed the act which invoked it.

But speaking about the consequences piecemeal, as though they had independent purposes, obscured the scope of the crime: blacks were no longer free, and they would remain unfree until the entirety of the system was given a single name.___

2014-11-07 05:24:58 (2 comments, 1 reshares, 16 +1s)Open 

Imagine that I've built a building and, when asked about a change I'm contemplating, I say that the building is about selling coffee. In furtherance of that claim I show that I'd spent a lot of time talking to the architect about selling coffee, how coffee shops are best laid out, and so on.

But then you drop your objection: the coffee shop is a 500 sq. ft. space in an 80 floor skyscraper with residences and businesses and more besides. Clearly, the building is about being a skyscraper, not selling coffee. I may do that incidentally, but it's obvious there are other, perhaps many other motives in the building. Perhaps I should rethink that change, you suggest, in light of this fact.

Which is a reason Judge Sutton's opinion in the recent Sixth Circuit case on gay marriage is so strange. Sutton asserts that the procreative possibilities of heterosexual relationships... more »

Imagine that I've built a building and, when asked about a change I'm contemplating, I say that the building is about selling coffee. In furtherance of that claim I show that I'd spent a lot of time talking to the architect about selling coffee, how coffee shops are best laid out, and so on.

But then you drop your objection: the coffee shop is a 500 sq. ft. space in an 80 floor skyscraper with residences and businesses and more besides. Clearly, the building is about being a skyscraper, not selling coffee. I may do that incidentally, but it's obvious there are other, perhaps many other motives in the building. Perhaps I should rethink that change, you suggest, in light of this fact.

Which is a reason Judge Sutton's opinion in the recent Sixth Circuit case on gay marriage is so strange. Sutton asserts that the procreative possibilities of heterosexual relationships can strike a difference, allowing it to pass review under rational basis. But he doesn't look at what the whole of state marriage policy is.

While it's true that there are clear procreative intents within the marriage policies of states, there are many others. Marriages factor into adoptions, inheritance claims, statutory rights, tax benefits, subsidies from the state, and so on. Many of these have no clear link to procreation even though, really, it would have been simple to create them. It may be that the policy started with procreation but -- just as I must have stopped talking to my architect about coffee and more about towers -- at some point marriage policy became more about the relationship between the adults, not the possibility of children.

Rational basis is highly deferent to the legislature, requiring only that something be rationally related to the policy a state is pursuing. The state doesn't get to just say what that policy is, though. The whole of the policy must be looked at, not just any single part, no matter how important historically. It's that policy, the skyscraper policy, which must be judged under the rational basis standard.___

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2014-11-06 23:35:34 (8 comments, 0 reshares, 26 +1s)Open 

Neat. So, it turns out that a Chinese fan of my SCPs -- who has only ever encountered them in translation -- has done a couple pieces of artwork inspired by them. 

They're here:

Neat. So, it turns out that a Chinese fan of my SCPs -- who has only ever encountered them in translation -- has done a couple pieces of artwork inspired by them. 

They're here:___

2014-11-06 20:46:37 (8 comments, 0 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

If you'd like an Inbox invite, I have a couple.

If you'd like an Inbox invite, I have a couple.___

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2014-11-06 18:22:07 (2 comments, 5 reshares, 50 +1s)Open 

https://twitter.com/Harkaway/status/530319563880427520
#nerdhumour   #nerdhumor   #geekhumor  

https://twitter.com/Harkaway/status/530319563880427520
#nerdhumour   #nerdhumor   #geekhumor  ___

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2014-11-05 22:37:23 (6 comments, 11 reshares, 32 +1s)Open 

So, about a week ago, a UK suicide prevention charity launched a tool which notifies people when tweets turn toward the suicidal. People lost their shit about the privacy implications. This was unexpected to the people responsible.

Some thoughts on why:

(1) Programmatic intrusions into human social space are new. Each new programmatic intrusion is unexpected. Increasingly, your interactions with others are mediated and shaped by technology. For many of you, the majority of your speech acts are mediated by social networks: however little time I spend on this post, more people will have read it than will hear anything else I say today. 

Which people read this post will be determined, at least in part, by opaque algorithms. Certain things that I do -- +1ing posts, for instance -- will result in ancillary speech acts that I did not, and could not, intend. When Google... more »

So, about a week ago, a UK suicide prevention charity launched a tool which notifies people when tweets turn toward the suicidal. People lost their shit about the privacy implications. This was unexpected to the people responsible.

Some thoughts on why:

(1) Programmatic intrusions into human social space are new. Each new programmatic intrusion is unexpected. Increasingly, your interactions with others are mediated and shaped by technology. For many of you, the majority of your speech acts are mediated by social networks: however little time I spend on this post, more people will have read it than will hear anything else I say today. 

Which people read this post will be determined, at least in part, by opaque algorithms. Certain things that I do -- +1ing posts, for instance -- will result in ancillary speech acts that I did not, and could not, intend. When Google screws this up for me, it feels like a faux pas is being attributed to me, personally. We have come to understand and expect this, to some extent, but in order to make social technologies scale, the programmatic intermediation of our speech is escalating, not declining.

When a speech act so personal is attributed to you without your consent, there are necessarily consequences. They will be negative.

(2) Strong inferences are no longer necessarily human-legible. We can no longer be sure what we're revealing. This is a dumb regexp. But even with a dumb regexp, we can no longer tell what will result in a suicidal intent being attributed to us -- and if we're unwilling to bear the risk, it forces us to withdraw from the public square.

When we're no longer sure what private inferences our public acts will allow, it makes the public square much less safe. We can't fully halt this without halting the development of social technologies. But we need to pay attention.

(3) "Public" is much more public than it used to be. By writing this post, I'm communicating with thousands of strangers, a hundred acquaintances, a dozen friends, and my family. (Plus a few thousand spambots.) 

That means that this post will have wider distribution than any book written in the 1500s, and any non-celebrity speech act in the 1980s. This has consequences. Even as the behavior of social technology has become more unexpected, the potential consequences of unexpected speech acts has increased.

There's a reason that we have to be careful about this sort of thing: we're in uncharted territory, and need to keep an account of how things are changing.___

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2014-11-04 23:19:25 (6 comments, 0 reshares, 6 +1s)Open 

Good news all around. 

Iran's nationalist fervor in favor of its nuclear program initially didn't make much sense to me: in the West, nuclear energy is a technology from the 1950s, considered and -- perhaps imprudently -- discarded as unsafe. But because of the dangers associated with nuclear weapons, it's also historically been something that every country has to individually retreat: it's not a cheap consumer good from afar, but the result of genuine engineering prowess. And once you have it, everyone will be afraid that you have a bomb, or will be able to acquire one.

It's somewhat perverse to say so, but it is a tremendous national achievement that Iran's been able to get so close to nuclear power under such adverse conditions: unlike North Korea, they lacked the patronage of an aligned nuclear power; unlike Pakistan, they've been working under one oft... more »

Good news all around. 

Iran's nationalist fervor in favor of its nuclear program initially didn't make much sense to me: in the West, nuclear energy is a technology from the 1950s, considered and -- perhaps imprudently -- discarded as unsafe. But because of the dangers associated with nuclear weapons, it's also historically been something that every country has to individually retreat: it's not a cheap consumer good from afar, but the result of genuine engineering prowess. And once you have it, everyone will be afraid that you have a bomb, or will be able to acquire one.

It's somewhat perverse to say so, but it is a tremendous national achievement that Iran's been able to get so close to nuclear power under such adverse conditions: unlike North Korea, they lacked the patronage of an aligned nuclear power; unlike Pakistan, they've been working under one of the most austere sanctions regimes in postwar history. If they can walk away from the path to a bomb without sacrificing the achievement, there's really no good reason they should be forced to.___

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2014-10-31 20:01:23 (21 comments, 0 reshares, 22 +1s)Open 

No, Keynesianism does not predict that across-the-board wage cuts would stimulate demand. Both the assumptions Caplan makes are wrong:

First, he argues that demand for labor is elastic, and would increase if wages declined. This is somewhat true. However, when Keynesians advocate for looser monetary policy, it's not just to resolve wage stickiness. It's to resolve debt stickiness as well. Reducing wages without reducing the concomitant debt burden merely diverts a greater share of GDI to debt repayment than demand. 

Even if the wage cuts are greater than demand for labor is elastic, he argues that it's no problem -- the money will go to profits, and become someone else's income. The problem here is that money has a decreasing marginal propensity to create demand. In other words, your first dollar creates more demand than your millionth dollar.

The problem is... more »

No, Keynesianism does not predict that across-the-board wage cuts would stimulate demand. Both the assumptions Caplan makes are wrong:

First, he argues that demand for labor is elastic, and would increase if wages declined. This is somewhat true. However, when Keynesians advocate for looser monetary policy, it's not just to resolve wage stickiness. It's to resolve debt stickiness as well. Reducing wages without reducing the concomitant debt burden merely diverts a greater share of GDI to debt repayment than demand. 

Even if the wage cuts are greater than demand for labor is elastic, he argues that it's no problem -- the money will go to profits, and become someone else's income. The problem here is that money has a decreasing marginal propensity to create demand. In other words, your first dollar creates more demand than your millionth dollar.

The problem is that dividends, share repurchases, and capital gains are far more likely to become someone's millionth dollar than their first, and far more likely to contribute to the global savings glut than to contribute to aggregate demand. 

While you might be able to get some leverage by lowing wages across the board, I'd expect it to be considerably worse than a dollar-for-dollar exchange.

(Dug out of private, shared to public.)___

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2014-10-31 19:28:32 (3 comments, 1 reshares, 10 +1s)Open 

"The thing about Bibi is, he's a chickenshit."

This quote from an unnamed senior US official leads Goldberg's story about the current state in US-Israeli relationships, and the problem with this quote is that it's extremely, sadly, accurate. Goldberg's discussion of Netanyahu's leadership is scathing and detailed, and is right on the mark: he's a man who is willing to engage in as much violence as he needs (whether it be shelling the crap out of Gaza, or forcing people out to build settlements) so long as there's no risk, and who can be counted on to shy away from anything actually risky. He's encouraged and amplified the worst actors in Israeli society, and done everything he could to let the discourse in the country ride off the rails to the right, because he knows that the right wing -- including the quasi-fascist parties that people like his Foreign... more »

"The thing about Bibi is, he's a chickenshit."

This quote from an unnamed senior US official leads Goldberg's story about the current state in US-Israeli relationships, and the problem with this quote is that it's extremely, sadly, accurate. Goldberg's discussion of Netanyahu's leadership is scathing and detailed, and is right on the mark: he's a man who is willing to engage in as much violence as he needs (whether it be shelling the crap out of Gaza, or forcing people out to build settlements) so long as there's no risk, and who can be counted on to shy away from anything actually risky. He's encouraged and amplified the worst actors in Israeli society, and done everything he could to let the discourse in the country ride off the rails to the right, because he knows that the right wing -- including the quasi-fascist parties that people like his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have been stirring up -- are a reliable source of votes. And he's created an environment in which nobody feels like they can have any sort of discourse around "wait a moment, is what we're doing actually right, or a good idea?" without being branded a traitor. 

And the worst of it is, Netanyahu has been able to get away with it so far, because he's managed to create a situation inside Israel where the voting public is largely insulated from, and as a result unaware of, the consequences of his actions. The war with Gaza? People were living in terror of missile attacks for months, waking up every night to run to shelters as the sirens went off, but almost nobody in Israel was actually hurt. Fear, but no damage. The collapse of relationships with the US? People are angry and annoyed, but it reads to the Israeli public like the usual failure of communication -- and the average person gets swamped with the official line that it's because Obama doesn't understand the realities of the Middle East. The idea that Netanyahu has been systematically sabotaging the relationship doesn't show up.

(And incidentally, this should surprise nobody. This is exactly what Netanyahu was like the first time he was PM, and it's exactly what he's always been like.)

I put part of the blame for this on Netanyahu and his allies, and part of it on the pusillanimous Israeli media, which has been persistently unwilling to challenge the official line. During the latest Gaza war, where were the articles asking questions about its morality? Where were the interviews with Israeli officials -- to say nothing of Palestinians -- asking about the consequences of this war for Gaza, for the long term of peace, for anything other than the rate of rocket attacks by Hamas? Where, now, are the articles asking hard questions about settlement policy?

Unfortunately, there is a nasty right wing of Israeli politics, created and coddled by cynical opportunists like Netanyahu and Lieberman, which has managed to squelch and marginalize dissent. The few news outlets which question them have themselves been marginalized, as the public is too afraid to question the story.

When everything is promoted to an existential crisis, total bastards can get away with anything.

Those of you who have heard me speak about Israel in the past know that I'm no bleeding heart. I don't believe for one second in the good intentions of Hamas, or that they have any interest in ever being a partner for peace. I know damned well that there are genuine existential threats out there, that the war in Syria and Iraq is a nonstop factory of possible lethal spillovers, that the Palestinian leadership is ultimately at least as cynical and violent as the Israeli leadership.

But I do believe in the good intentions of the people as a whole, both Israeli and Palestinian, and I do not believe that the state of perpetual war is inevitable. In fact, I would say that the transformations of the Middle East in the past several years -- the civil war in Syria, the rise of ISIS reminding most of the Arab states that supporting extremist groups is actually a terrible idea, and so on -- could have easily been an opportunity to really restructure Israel's position in the Middle East as well, and build a new alliance that would have ensured the country's long-term stability and a set of meaningful accords with its surviving neighbors. But doing this would have required a meaningful accord with the Palestinians to begin with, and this administration lacked the courage or the inclination to make even the slightest concession or change. Rather, they aligned themselves with the mob, with angry masses looking for someone else to blame, and cheerfully build Apartheid, 2.0. 

I'm not, as usual, feeling very hopeful about this situation. The US-Israel relationship has (IMO) been key to maintaining a lot of stability in the Middle East, and it's far more critical to Israel than the Israeli public seems willing to admit. Yet especially with the coming US elections, that relationship seems primed to degrade even further. Goldberg suggests several consequences which may come of this; I suspect he may be right. The longer-term results remain to be seen.

(Incidentally, another good report about the current situation in Jerusalem is here: http://www.vox.com/2014/10/30/7131507/jerusalem-is-on-fire-why)___

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2014-10-30 20:30:38 (22 comments, 0 reshares, 15 +1s)Open 

Here, +Freddie deBoer complains about the irrefutability of oppression claims on the left. It's hard to get into whether this is correct without first having a theory of blameworthiness. 

In everyday thinking, things you've done on purpose are highly blameworthy, risks you understood but disregarded are less blameworthy, and risks you didn't understand but should have are even less so. On the other side of the equation, risks that you had no reason to understand, or risks so remote that they couldn't have reasonably been avoided, are basically not blameworthy at all. They may have bad effects, but we can round those bad effects down to zero and ignore them. 

On the activist left, some of these rules are ignored or inverted. Intentional, reckless, and negligent offense are all lumped into a single category, and the intensity is turned up to ten. Defenses like "Idid... more »

Here, +Freddie deBoer complains about the irrefutability of oppression claims on the left. It's hard to get into whether this is correct without first having a theory of blameworthiness. 

In everyday thinking, things you've done on purpose are highly blameworthy, risks you understood but disregarded are less blameworthy, and risks you didn't understand but should have are even less so. On the other side of the equation, risks that you had no reason to understand, or risks so remote that they couldn't have reasonably been avoided, are basically not blameworthy at all. They may have bad effects, but we can round those bad effects down to zero and ignore them. 

On the activist left, some of these rules are ignored or inverted. Intentional, reckless, and negligent offense are all lumped into a single category, and the intensity is turned up to ten. Defenses like "I didn't mean to" or "I didn't know" are no longer taken seriously, or are taken as exacerbating rather than exculpatory.  Once you have made a mistake, there is no good way of backing out of it or mitigating your responsibility.

From the outside, this seems wrong. It makes more sense once you reverse-engineer it from an inside view.

On the outside, we can safely round down the effects of small everyday harms to zero: we all take our share, and the universe doesn't take account of fairness. The problem, of course, is that the harms we can disregard fall on the powerless, because the powerless have no right to complain. And so by behaving perfectly normally, and letting incidental harms fall where they may, they (not coincidentally) fall on those least able to protect themselves

That being the case, how do we get to a place where the burden is evenly distributed?

Well, we could raise the status of powerless individuals (and, more problematically, their proxies) who are willing to push back when their interests are disregarded. We could have their back. And we could also expect that they would push back harder than I might on an issue of the same magnitude: in the aggregate, the burden of small, similar harms is basically the same. 

For those responsible for the harms but still sympathetic, we could establish a norm of ceding ground when others ask for it. Even if they ask for it in a way which would be unacceptable from someone with more institutional power. This, again, does not seem unreasonable from an internal perspective.

This has its own failure modes. When all blameworthy acts are treated similarly, hostile rhetoric is common, and standing up for the powerless is critical, important issues are indistinguishable from minor ones. Worse, bad faith is indistinguishable from good faith. Actual discourse without constant reassurances of good faith becomes hard.

This is annoying. It is only annoying. Furthermore, others have the unqualified right to annoy me, especially where my overreaction would not be as understandable as theirs. Outside a small cadre of moral bullies with outsized influence, this unfortunate asymmetry in human relations is just not particularly important.___

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2014-10-29 19:45:58 (20 comments, 4 reshares, 19 +1s)Open 

This is basically right. If you declare yourself to be the successor state to one of the world's largest empires, you'd best be able to deliver on your promises, or you're rapidly going to be out of a job.

By comparison, think hard about the various European groups that -- with or without support -- declared themselves to be new successor states to the Roman Empire. The one thing they had in common? They made that declaration when they were actually occupying a significant fraction of important Roman territory, rather than when they were a couple of thousand paramilitary fighters.

This is basically right. If you declare yourself to be the successor state to one of the world's largest empires, you'd best be able to deliver on your promises, or you're rapidly going to be out of a job.

By comparison, think hard about the various European groups that -- with or without support -- declared themselves to be new successor states to the Roman Empire. The one thing they had in common? They made that declaration when they were actually occupying a significant fraction of important Roman territory, rather than when they were a couple of thousand paramilitary fighters.___

2014-10-28 20:01:18 (11 comments, 1 reshares, 23 +1s)Open 

I'm not sure if I should feel satisfied that people are finally hearing that the Church sees no conflict between our faith and evolution and the big bang theory, or annoyed that they think this is something new and radical that just happened under Pope Francis. It's really weird the way the stories are presented about what Pope Francis says, but at least people are somewhat paying attention, I guess, even if they're rather selective of what they pay attention to.

Next week, maybe he should just start reading through the Summa Theologica, just to see what gets picked up as a historic shift in Catholic teaching.

I'm not sure if I should feel satisfied that people are finally hearing that the Church sees no conflict between our faith and evolution and the big bang theory, or annoyed that they think this is something new and radical that just happened under Pope Francis. It's really weird the way the stories are presented about what Pope Francis says, but at least people are somewhat paying attention, I guess, even if they're rather selective of what they pay attention to.

Next week, maybe he should just start reading through the Summa Theologica, just to see what gets picked up as a historic shift in Catholic teaching.___

2014-10-28 19:53:59 (1 comments, 1 reshares, 15 +1s)Open 

Here's a bit from the archives, relevant to +Yonatan Zunger's recent post on black Americans and gun control.

What happened in the aftermath of Reconstruction was the same as what happened in early Nazi Germany. The disarmament of innocents didn't cause rise of the Nazi party. Rather, it ratified what was already true: radical right-wing paramilitaries had seized a monopoly on political violence.

Had Weimar Germany successfully disarmed the Nazis, or had the US successfully disarmed Confederate revanchists, history would be much different than it was. But note that the relevant part here is not whether people have guns: it's who has them.

So, would an individual right to bear arms have improved former slaves' position as against their former masters? I don't necessarily think so.

In the postbellum period, there seemed to be basically no conception of an individual right to bear arms. On reflection, however, the distinction between a collective and individual right to bear arms was far less clear: in the 1870s, ubiquitous state militias had always been, and continued to be, the main reason for gun possession or ownership. Furthermore, there was little meaningful difference between military and civilian man-portable firearms: the rifle a citizen was expected to own for militia drills was perfectly adequate for civilian applications, and vice versa. Larger ordnance, like Maxim guns and cannon, was well beyond the threshold of reasonable private ownership. In other words, there was no weapon sufficiently common, sufficiently dangerous, and sufficiently cheap to raise a legitimate question about its private ownership.

Keeping in mind the fact that freedmen were largely poor, and that militias were the primary framework for gun ownership, it was largely the disbandment of militias, and not door-to-door gun confiscation, that disarmed the South's black population. This militia disbandment occurred as part of a larger policy of Southern demilitarization provoked by the political unrest in the aftermath of the disputed 1876 Presidential election.

The existence of armed paramilitaries loosely controlled by any centralized authority had become a threat to the federal government, and especially to political stability in the occupied Southern states. At the nadir of organized paramilitary violence, coups overthrew the state governments of South Carolina and Louisiana. In other words, by the time black Unionist militias were disarmed, they had already lost their political power at gunpoint. If increased black gun ownership or militia participation might have saved Reconstruction, it would have had to have been before 1877.

Before the Hayes election, both the Democrats and Republicans operated party paramilitaries in the occupied South. In plurality-black states like Louisiana and the Carolinas, the Union League ran majority-black paramilitaries which operated in parallel to the occupying Union troops. Democratic militias were more loosely confederated, and mostly loyal to local former-Confederate warlords: though by the 1870s, the Ku Klux Klan had largely been contained, party militias like the Red Shirts (in the Carolinas) and the White League (in Louisiana) were committing mass political violence.

Because the Union League militias were effectively paramilitary auxiliaries to federal troops, they were infrequently expected to operate independently. Even where black political power was sufficiently concentrated to elect black politicians, organized black freedman militias lost against white militias dominated by former Confederates: they were outnumbered, poorly trained, and underequipped. Looking through the historical record, I can't find a single instance of black militiamen independently winning a major conflict with a white paramilitary.

There is one caveat. In the places where the violence was worst -- Louisiana and the Carolinas -- Republican governors had not just permitted African-Americans to bear arms, but actually armed them at public expense. By contrast, the occupation government in Alabama had raised a loyalist militia, but declined to provide them with arms. Not coincidentally, Reconstruction ended three years earlier in Alabama than it did elsewhere across the South: it elected its first Democratic governor in 1874.

If Alabama is a model for "the South without widespread black gunownership," then paramilitary (and private) force likely staved off white supremacy for a few extra years. But neither the economics nor the dynamics of the paramilitaries support the argument that more gun ownership would have made an enormous difference.___Here's a bit from the archives, relevant to +Yonatan Zunger's recent post on black Americans and gun control.

What happened in the aftermath of Reconstruction was the same as what happened in early Nazi Germany. The disarmament of innocents didn't cause rise of the Nazi party. Rather, it ratified what was already true: radical right-wing paramilitaries had seized a monopoly on political violence.

Had Weimar Germany successfully disarmed the Nazis, or had the US successfully disarmed Confederate revanchists, history would be much different than it was. But note that the relevant part here is not whether people have guns: it's who has them.

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2014-10-27 21:41:21 (39 comments, 3 reshares, 36 +1s)Open 

Most of you certainly know this, but just to reiterate; I am a pro-life libertarian Catholic. What that means is, I strongly believe most of the people I interact with on a regular basis are 1) in favour of killing 40 million children a year, 2) using the aggressive, violent power of the state to prevent people from living their lives in myriad harmless but unpopular ways as well as taking their property by force to expend it on violent repression and destruction across the country and around the world, or 3) indifferent to or actively hostile to the efforts of the God's Church to bring salvation to the immortal souls of billions of people, risking a literal eternity of suffering for both themselves and others. Many people fall into all three groups.

These are strongly held opinions about extremely important issues with tremendous consequences. However, you will also notice that my feed is... more »

Most of you certainly know this, but just to reiterate; I am a pro-life libertarian Catholic. What that means is, I strongly believe most of the people I interact with on a regular basis are 1) in favour of killing 40 million children a year, 2) using the aggressive, violent power of the state to prevent people from living their lives in myriad harmless but unpopular ways as well as taking their property by force to expend it on violent repression and destruction across the country and around the world, or 3) indifferent to or actively hostile to the efforts of the God's Church to bring salvation to the immortal souls of billions of people, risking a literal eternity of suffering for both themselves and others. Many people fall into all three groups.

These are strongly held opinions about extremely important issues with tremendous consequences. However, you will also notice that my feed is not filled with angry "rants" or "takedowns" of people who disagree with me on these issues. This is not simply a PR tactic to keep people from tuning me out; I genuinely don't often get mad at people for disagreeing with me, even when those disagreement are on topics like "Is killing 40 million babies this year a problem?". I do share a lot of articles that support my views, and point out examples of what I consider to be bad consequences of my opponents views, but what I try not to do is mock them. I actively try to avoid echoing the mockery and derision that so frequently pours out at Team Them. I don't always succeed, but I do try.

Every time I see a post about how hopelessly stupid They are, or how essentially corrupt Those Guys are, or how vile and irredeemable That Group is, I lose respect for the poster. I dismiss them a little more. I don't always unfollow them, but they get dismissed a little more quickly and more often.

I am not saying that "if we all just sit down and listen to each other we can work out all our differences." We can't. There are any number of irreconcilable differences people have. What I am saying is that if you can't interact with people who do disagree with you without resorting to mockery, don't bother. Dismissing and dehumanizing those who disagree with you is a terrible habit that never leads anywhere good.___

2014-10-27 19:05:51 (11 comments, 0 reshares, 18 +1s)Open 

Fact: parasitoid wasps, as it turns out, respond to the jasmonic acid released by damaged plants, signaling the wasps to implant eggs in the insects that are attacking. 

#gamergate  

Fact: parasitoid wasps, as it turns out, respond to the jasmonic acid released by damaged plants, signaling the wasps to implant eggs in the insects that are attacking. 

#gamergate  ___

2014-10-24 23:09:33 (42 comments, 0 reshares, 18 +1s)Open 

States are alien things, and not simply aggregates of human action. 

The power delegated to to any formal group renders that group both immensely dangerous and ethically distinct from an individual: relatively inconsequential acts or omissions by states have costs and benefits denominated in human lives, or, if not human lives, misery on a scale which we are unwilling to tolerate from individual acts.  Furthermore, we cannot expect states -- even democracies -- to predictably interpret directives, or, even if they predictably interpret those directives from those in charge, to correctly apply the facts to those directives. 

Misery results.

This is not a direct criticism of states: they have proven themselves useful enough that the vast majority of humans live under their jurisdiction. I would say that they do more good than harm, but of course the question is,&q... more »

States are alien things, and not simply aggregates of human action. 

The power delegated to to any formal group renders that group both immensely dangerous and ethically distinct from an individual: relatively inconsequential acts or omissions by states have costs and benefits denominated in human lives, or, if not human lives, misery on a scale which we are unwilling to tolerate from individual acts.  Furthermore, we cannot expect states -- even democracies -- to predictably interpret directives, or, even if they predictably interpret those directives from those in charge, to correctly apply the facts to those directives. 

Misery results.

This is not a direct criticism of states: they have proven themselves useful enough that the vast majority of humans live under their jurisdiction. I would say that they do more good than harm, but of course the question is, "Compared to what?" I don't know. So I remain unconvinced.___

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2014-10-24 16:41:06 (8 comments, 3 reshares, 16 +1s)Open 

Insofar as I'm concerned about US spying on Germany, it's for this reason: "[T]he conflict with Germany also has underscored concern that intelligence agencies lack any good risk-assessment model to judge the benefits of operations against friendly powers against the potential risks."

But I think people are a little naive about our spying on friendly nations: this was a huge violation of trust, but we still ought to be spying on each other.

Technically, most espionage is illegal under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. However, the Vienna Convention's restrictions on espionage are not followed by anyone, have never been followed by anyone, and were signed with the expectation and tacit understanding that it was unenforceable garbage law. As you can tell by the fact that it was signed in 1961, which was not in any meaningful sense a downward inflection... more »

Insofar as I'm concerned about US spying on Germany, it's for this reason: "[T]he conflict with Germany also has underscored concern that intelligence agencies lack any good risk-assessment model to judge the benefits of operations against friendly powers against the potential risks."

But I think people are a little naive about our spying on friendly nations: this was a huge violation of trust, but we still ought to be spying on each other.

Technically, most espionage is illegal under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. However, the Vienna Convention's restrictions on espionage are not followed by anyone, have never been followed by anyone, and were signed with the expectation and tacit understanding that it was unenforceable garbage law. As you can tell by the fact that it was signed in 1961, which was not in any meaningful sense a downward inflection point in the use of prohibited espionage.

With that in mind, international "restrictions" on spying are best understood as a set of shared, tacit understandings about which espionage can and cannot be rightfully demagogued during UN sessions and parliamentary elections. Normal, workaday espionage -- the sort designed to reassure politicians that they're not being screwed in treaty negotiations -- is probably, on balance, a good thing. But there is a line. And we have crossed it.

Chatting up undersecretaries at formal events and leaving recording devices in conference rooms at trade meetings? Great, fine; everyone does it, and everyone should. Tapping a friendly Prime Minister's phone, though? Are you crazy?

Apart from the damage done to a foreign democracy -- which is not inconsiderable -- there's also the fact that this was always a risk. None of our interactions with Germany are high-stakes and negative enough to warrant this sort of intrusion.___

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2014-10-23 20:14:47 (2 comments, 1 reshares, 25 +1s)Open 

Oakland's new ordinance is unconscionable for a spectacular number of reasons.

First, it has no mechanism of due process whatsoever; a person can be evicted, either by their landlord or by the city attorney, simply on the basis of an accusation without any recourse.

Second, it gives several groups which already have great power over the poor an even greater power over the poor. This is not, normally, something one considers to be a positive objective.

And third, this gives police even more egregious power over sex workers, as simple arrest is now enough to get someone evicted from their home. Given the tendency of police to abuse such power in the past, e.g. to forcibly extort sex and money, I cannot imagine any reason why it would be reasonable to give them a far-more-serious club to hold over people's heads.

I would be quite shocked if this law were to... more »

Oakland's new ordinance is unconscionable for a spectacular number of reasons.

First, it has no mechanism of due process whatsoever; a person can be evicted, either by their landlord or by the city attorney, simply on the basis of an accusation without any recourse.

Second, it gives several groups which already have great power over the poor an even greater power over the poor. This is not, normally, something one considers to be a positive objective.

And third, this gives police even more egregious power over sex workers, as simple arrest is now enough to get someone evicted from their home. Given the tendency of police to abuse such power in the past, e.g. to forcibly extort sex and money, I cannot imagine any reason why it would be reasonable to give them a far-more-serious club to hold over people's heads.

I would be quite shocked if this law were to survive a court challenge, as it seems to directly contradict constitutional guarantees of due process. However, it is also structured so that its victims are likely to be the ones least able to defend themselves, and to not be "attractive defendants" in the resulting case, which will make it harder to find a test case to take to court and get this overturned. That could leave this reprehensible ordinance on the books for years until it is finally resolved.

This sort of law cannot be allowed to stand: pressure needs to be placed on Oakland's city council to reverse its decision immediately.___

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2014-10-23 18:17:54 (38 comments, 2 reshares, 18 +1s)Open 

In other fusion-related news, I'm skeptical about Lockheed's new fusion project too. Not as skeptical as I am of the eCat, but still somewhat skeptical. The reason has to do with hot, hairy balls.  (Not as NSFW as it sounds.)

So, here's the basic problem with fusion: you have to contain a volume of very hot, very unstable plasma. And you have to do that without touching it, because anything you touch it with will instantly vaporize, because plasma is hot. This means that we have to use some force to contain the plasma.

Traditionally, this is done using gravity, which is why stars work so fantastically well: the necessary volume of plasma compresses hydrogen so tightly that it begins to fuse. Unfortunately, gravity is an exceptionally weak force (and we don't have any way of controlling it), which means that we have to look at other ways of containing plasma withoutt... more »

In other fusion-related news, I'm skeptical about Lockheed's new fusion project too. Not as skeptical as I am of the eCat, but still somewhat skeptical. The reason has to do with hot, hairy balls.  (Not as NSFW as it sounds.)

So, here's the basic problem with fusion: you have to contain a volume of very hot, very unstable plasma. And you have to do that without touching it, because anything you touch it with will instantly vaporize, because plasma is hot. This means that we have to use some force to contain the plasma.

Traditionally, this is done using gravity, which is why stars work so fantastically well: the necessary volume of plasma compresses hydrogen so tightly that it begins to fuse. Unfortunately, gravity is an exceptionally weak force (and we don't have any way of controlling it), which means that we have to look at other ways of containing plasma without touching it with anything we can't instantly vaporize. 

That leaves two options: touching it with stuff we can instantly vaporize, and using magnetism to contain the plasma.

That first option? It's a hydrogen bomb. We conveniently vaporize a plutonium core around a fuseable nucleus, resulting in an enormous surplus of fusion power. So, hurray! We solved our problem. But unless our desired result is "vaporization of everything in a huge radius," we have succeeded catastrophically. 

Which leaves magnetic containment.

It's a basic result in topology: you can't comb a hairy ball.*  Or, to get more technical, there's no nonvanishing continuous tangent vector field on even-dimensional n-spheres. If you attempt to paint a sphere with vectors like magnetic field lines, you'll always end up with at least one tuft -- vectors pointing away from the surface of the sphere.

In a fusion reactor, that tuft is a superheated jet of plasma. It's one you can't get rid of, no matter how hard you try: unless you put a hole through the sphere -- this being what Tokamaks do, resulting in a rotating plasma donut -- you end up with a migrating jet of plasma shooting off the surface of your ball and ruining all of your expensive electronics.

It's possible that Lockheed's magnetic-mirror works, and they've  figured out something clever and consistent to do with that jet. But magnetohydrodynamics in a complex and evolving plasma? That's really, really hard. I'd be surprised if they had a working solution yet.___

2014-10-23 17:29:03 (14 comments, 4 reshares, 71 +1s)Open 

The correct decision, given a trolley problem, is to switch the track, then wonder for the rest of your life whether you made the right decision. Anyone who could confidently switch the track and then never think about it again is a sociopath, as is anyone who fails to switch the track and believes his decision entirely exculpates him.

Trolleys and certain deaths don't reflect moral decisions in the real world. Not only do you not know precisely the consequences of your actions ahead of time, you certainly don't know the consequences of the counterfactual. An anecdote:

In 2004, I had a homeless client with either severe Korsakoff's psychosis or a brain injury which caused  severe anterograde amnesia. I never discovered which. After trying to figure out who he was and switching on his disability pension, he stumbled on a way to get alcohol. Because we hadn't yet... more »

The correct decision, given a trolley problem, is to switch the track, then wonder for the rest of your life whether you made the right decision. Anyone who could confidently switch the track and then never think about it again is a sociopath, as is anyone who fails to switch the track and believes his decision entirely exculpates him.

Trolleys and certain deaths don't reflect moral decisions in the real world. Not only do you not know precisely the consequences of your actions ahead of time, you certainly don't know the consequences of the counterfactual. An anecdote:

In 2004, I had a homeless client with either severe Korsakoff's psychosis or a brain injury which caused  severe anterograde amnesia. I never discovered which. After trying to figure out who he was and switching on his disability pension, he stumbled on a way to get alcohol. Because we hadn't yet switched the pension over to a trustee, he was acting as an alcohol buyer for the entire program, including dual-diagnosis clients who couldn't otherwise prevent themselves from acquiring booze.

I should have done the trustee first. I didn't. In a sense, this was my fault.

Bottles started showing up. More bottles than just he could have drunk -- even an alcoholic wet enough to come down with a case of Korsakoff's. But I could only discover that this particular client, who was almost certainly being manipulated into buying for more than just himself.

It was February, North Idaho, and cold. I was 24, and had precisely no experience running the sort of program I had found myself running. My degree was in anthropology, not social work. So in order to avoid a metastasizing insobriety problem, I gave him a sleeping bag and kicked him out for reasons which he did not, and could not, understand. He was certainly violating the program rules. But how was he culpable, when he couldn't organize his behavior sufficiently to follow the rules?

I prefer to think that by handling the problem with the completely guileless buyer, I was able to get people whom I otherwise wouldn't have been able to help into housing. But I don't know, and can't know, what happened to this guy. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that I sentenced someone helpless to death by exposure to prevent a contingency which would not otherwise have happened.

This isn't an open wound. This isn't something I worry about on a daily basis: I had to make a decision, and the decision I made was justifiable on some grounds. But I can't pretend that acting otherwise would have been unjustifiable, and might have had better results, or that there might have been some other plan which I was unaware of which would have saved me from making this particular decision. 

The universe offers no moral guarantees. We make decisions, and live with them, and never know the results of the decisions we didn't make. This is the best we're offered.

(Reshared from private.)___

2014-10-22 03:24:17 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 7 +1s)Open 

"In this Cormac McCarthy novel, we never learn the name of the father. (Or for that matter, his son.)"

I believe that's Cormac McCarthy's novelization of Ghost Dad.

"In this Cormac McCarthy novel, we never learn the name of the father. (Or for that matter, his son.)"

I believe that's Cormac McCarthy's novelization of Ghost Dad.___

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2014-10-20 04:02:42 (11 comments, 0 reshares, 22 +1s)Open 

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2014-10-20 04:02:14 (5 comments, 0 reshares, 9 +1s)Open 

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2014-10-19 04:35:36 (13 comments, 2 reshares, 26 +1s)Open 

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2014-10-18 18:50:32 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

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2014-10-17 23:43:59 (2 comments, 5 reshares, 22 +1s)Open 

In grade school, you probably learned about the average, also known as the mean. You may have learned about other numbers, like the median and the mode, which also characterize how things are distributed. These numbers, however, tend to conceal more than they reveal: when you really want to understand something, you look at a curve called the distribution instead. That curve is simply a plot of how often each possible outcome occurs, and all of the numbers above -- numbers called "measures of central tendency" -- can be calculated from that curve, and summarize various aspects of the curve.

The reason that professionals care about the curve more than the numbers is that the curve is full of secrets of its own. One of the most interesting secrets is what's called "universality:" it turns out that there is a very small set of shapes, and almost every distribution curve you... more »

In grade school, you probably learned about the average, also known as the mean. You may have learned about other numbers, like the median and the mode, which also characterize how things are distributed. These numbers, however, tend to conceal more than they reveal: when you really want to understand something, you look at a curve called the distribution instead. That curve is simply a plot of how often each possible outcome occurs, and all of the numbers above -- numbers called "measures of central tendency" -- can be calculated from that curve, and summarize various aspects of the curve.

The reason that professionals care about the curve more than the numbers is that the curve is full of secrets of its own. One of the most interesting secrets is what's called "universality:" it turns out that there is a very small set of shapes, and almost every distribution curve you actually encounter in the world, whether you're measuring the frequency at which people use words, or the time it takes to get through a checkout line, or the number of marmots in a field, turns out to have one of these shapes. 

(Or more specifically, real distributions are almost always combinations of these shapes, say a bump of one shape here and a curve of another shape there. That always means that two distinct things are going on, each contributing a single shape, and it can be one of the fastest ways to understand how the system is really working.)

Why are distributions more interesting? Apart from being able to read the secrets of their shapes, the problem with just looking at numbers is what they hide. There's an old joke about two guys in a bar in Seattle, grousing about how broke they are, when Bill Gates walks in. One of them pauses for a sec, thinks hard, then jumps up and yells "Drinks are on me, everyone!" His friend asks him, "Are you crazy? I thought you said you were broke!" "No, I just did the math! On the average, everyone in here is a millionaire!"

So let's talk about these shapes a bit more. There are four particularly common shapes. (There are a few others as well, but 99.5% of the time what you see are combinations of these four)

The first is the Gaussian, or bell curve. Gaussians generally happen when there's something that happens roughly the same way every time, and the deviations from that "same way" are completely random and uncorrelated noise. For example, if you measure how long it takes you to walk down the same hallway every day, the distribution curve will probably be a Gaussian. The position of the center of the bell curve tells you the average, and its width tells you how frequent random disruptions are.

The second is the exponential curve. This looks like a sharp spike followed by a decay. (Specifically, a decay shaped like F = e^−(ax), where x is the value that we're measuring, F is the number of times we saw x, and a is a constant) This is most often a sign of queues. For example, if you measure how long it takes to read a small file from a hard disk, and do it over and over again, the frequency distribution of times will look like a Gaussian added to an exponential. Why? Because the time it takes to read from an idle disk is a Gaussian -- there's a random amount of time it takes the head to seek to the right position, and then it takes a constant amount of time to do the reading. However, if the computer is busy, then you have to wait in line before that can start, and it turns out that the distribution of the time it takes to wait in line is almost always an exponential. (That fact is something we regularly use in computing to identify when the problem is that things are getting stuck waiting in line)

The third shape is a power law. This looks sort of like an exponential, but it has a much heavier tail. (The formula is F = (x/x0)^−a, and if you plot it on a log-log chart, it looks like a straight line) Power laws turn out to be extremely universal whenever humans are involved: for example, if you look at a large body of text and ask "what fraction of words show up frequently versus rarely," the shape is a power law, no matter what language. (In that case, a is about 1.8, in case you're curious. Syntax words like "and" and "the" are the most common, obscure nouns like "zymurgy" are among the rare ones, and there's a long tail of words that basically appear only once in a corpus) But power laws show up all over the place: look at the number of pictures people take each week. Look at the number of friends people have. Look at the size of cities. 

It turns out that there are some fairly deep reasons that power laws are so common. For example, imagine you're looking at a network -- say, the phone network, or the network of people's friends. If a network formed by "random attachment," that is, any new node that shows up is equally likely to attach to any other node, then the distribution of how many neighbors everyone has is a Gaussian. But if it forms by "preferential attachment," that is, a newcomer is more likely to attach to someone who already knows a lot of people, then you can show mathematically that you get a power law. Lots of real networks do this: new people in a social group, for example, are more likely to start out by meeting the really gregarious person at the middle.

(This is really important for practical applications, too, because preferential-attachment networks have all sorts of other interesting features. For example, a random-attachment network doesn't become disconnected (no longer joining everyone) until you blow up a lot of links. A preferential-attachment network, on the other hand, can disconnect very quickly if you lose the very central nodes. If your network is the Internet, then you really want to keep things from being disconnected, so it's important to know what parts are the most critical. On the other hand, if your network is the graph of people who were in physical contact with each other (a preferential-attachment network), which also happens to be the graph along which contagious diseases spreads, you might be very interested in making this network disconnect: that tells you that investing your money in making sure that contagious diseases don't spread through the people with the highest number of connections is a much better bet than trying to protect everyone equally. It turns out that immunizing a hermit doesn't do nearly as much as immunizing, say, the janitor of a large building.)

And then there's a fourth common shape, the Tracy-Widom Curve. This one looks sort of like a skewed bell curve, Gaussian on the left and exponential on the right. It shows up all over the place as well, especially when studying systems with a lot of strong interactions amongst themselves. However, we don't really understand why it's so common yet: it's proven a tougher nut to crack than the power law. 

However, there's been some recent progress: it turns out that this curve may be happening whenever there's a certain kind of phase transition behavior in the system, similar to ice melting or water boiling. And this article will tell you more about that.

The key takeaways are:

* Distributions matter! Averages and so on lie, because they hide things. If you really want to understand something, always demand the distribution.

* Distributions always seem to be combinations of a handful of standard shapes. If there's more than one shape in a distribution, you're seeing several different physical processes at once, and each shape tells you a story.

* There are four standard shapes, and we understand three of them pretty well and know how to read stories from them: Gaussians telling you about random events, exponentials about something waiting in line, power laws about humans or biology being somehow involved, or about preferential attachment, or a few other similar things. There's a fourth one which we're only starting to understand, but it keeps showing up, too.

* Statistics is cool, because it reveals the secrets of the universe and helps you fix problems.

Via +Jennifer Ouellette​​.___

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2014-10-15 23:51:23 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 41 +1s)Open 

So, it turns out I know the first two same-sex people to be married in my home state. It couldn't possibly be more appropriate. Tabitha and Kathy are absolute pillars of the community -- long-time small-business owners who volunteer an absolutely nuts amount of time and money for good local causes. 

Every legal benefit aside, it's a tremendous relief to see the state recognize what their neighbors already knew wholeheartedly: they are as much (and even more) a part of the community as any of us were.

So, it turns out I know the first two same-sex people to be married in my home state. It couldn't possibly be more appropriate. Tabitha and Kathy are absolute pillars of the community -- long-time small-business owners who volunteer an absolutely nuts amount of time and money for good local causes. 

Every legal benefit aside, it's a tremendous relief to see the state recognize what their neighbors already knew wholeheartedly: they are as much (and even more) a part of the community as any of us were.___

2014-10-14 20:54:38 (59 comments, 13 reshares, 49 +1s)Open 

So, the guy who makes your sandwiches at Jimmy Johns, as it turns out, is bound by a more restrictive contract than software engineers working at Google.

This contract is among the most batshit pieces of legal drafting I have ever seen. I cannot imagine why the person who drafted it thought it was a good idea, cannot imagine why anyone who was not literally starving would sign it, and cannot imagine where in the country it might actually be legal. Some highlights:

(1) The employee starts out by agreeing that the Jimmy Johns menu and preparation techniques are confidential information. This is really interesting, considering that the menu hangs in plain sight when you walk into any restaurant, and that the employees make the sandwich while you watch.

(2) Also, if you invent a sandwich while working at Jimmy Johns, Jimmy Johns owns the exclusive rights to the... more »

So, the guy who makes your sandwiches at Jimmy Johns, as it turns out, is bound by a more restrictive contract than software engineers working at Google.

This contract is among the most batshit pieces of legal drafting I have ever seen. I cannot imagine why the person who drafted it thought it was a good idea, cannot imagine why anyone who was not literally starving would sign it, and cannot imagine where in the country it might actually be legal. Some highlights:

(1) The employee starts out by agreeing that the Jimmy Johns menu and preparation techniques are confidential information. This is really interesting, considering that the menu hangs in plain sight when you walk into any restaurant, and that the employees make the sandwich while you watch.

(2) Also, if you invent a sandwich while working at Jimmy Johns, Jimmy Johns owns the exclusive rights to the sandwich. You cannot own exclusive rights to a sandwich under any sort of intellectual property law.

(3) They then proceed to tell you that you can't work at a sandwich shop within three miles of the place you worked. Or a pita place. Or a place that sells wraps. Or, for that matter, within three miles of another Jimmy Johns. Or at another Jimmy Johns. 

(4) For two years.

(5) And if they have to enforce this contract, you pay the attorney's fees. 

(6) Whether or not they win.

(7) And if none of this is legal, then they get to tell the court to rewrite the contract into something that's enforceable. Not just "something that's enforceable," but the maximum contract that's enforceable.

I cannot imagine that there's a court in the country that wouldn't break down in gales of laughter upon seeing this contract, then rewrite it into basically nothing at all. But the thing that really gets me? For some reason, they didn't draft an arbitration clause. Under one of the worst parts of American contract law, they could have fought this contract into the ground in front of a hand-picked arbitrator over and over again, exempted themselves from class-action lawsuits, and -- in general -- be a huge pain in the ass to their poor employees. 

But they decided not to do that. What the hell?___

2014-10-13 17:19:28 (1 comments, 2 reshares, 14 +1s)Open 

If it's worth reading, it's worth reading charitably.

If it's worth reading, it's worth reading charitably.___

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