Lion of the Blogosphere

Archive for July 2014

Don’t fly on Malaysian airlines

Weird stuff keeps happening to their planes.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 17, 2014 at 5:36 PM

Posted in News

It sucks to have a part-time job

Mort Zuckerman writes in the Wall Street Journal:

There has been a distinctive odor of hype lately about the national jobs report for June. Most people will have the impression that the 288,000 jobs created last month were full-time. Not so.

The Obama administration and much of the media trumpeting the figure overlooked that the government numbers didn’t distinguish between new part-time and full-time jobs. Full-time jobs last month plunged by 523,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What has increased are part-time jobs. They soared by about 800,000 to more than 28 million. Just think of all those Americans working part time, no doubt glad to have the work but also contending with lower pay, diminished benefits and little job security.

Theoretically, people could choose to work part-time because they value their leisure more than they value extra income, but the reality of how our labor markets work is that there are no good part-time jobs even for people who want them. Good jobs in good career tracks are all full-time jobs. Part-time jobs are crappy jobs like working at Walmart. Thus last month’s “improvement” in the employment numbers are hiding the reality that labor markets are getting worse for the median employee.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 17, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Posted in Labor Markets

David Brooks on the end of individuality

David Brooks says that life is like soccer and not baseball. (Thank you to the commenter who provided the link as well as the headline.)

We think we individually choose what career path to take, whom to socialize with, what views to hold. But, in fact, those decisions are shaped by the networks of people around us more than we dare recognize.

Yes, your career path, and thus how much money you will make, is heavily influenced by your social network. Libertarians think that your career path is 100% about being able to “create value,” but that that’s only half the story. Maybe even less than half the story. (And even the part about creating value is not about creating value. It’s about creating profits for your employer, which is not the same as value. A business organization can be very profitable even though it creates no value for society. And in such an organization, nerdy engineering types will create most of the profits but the rewards will go to the people who were better at getting promoted rather than to the true profit-creators.)

It’s too bad that Brooks didn’t have more to say about how the views we hold are influenced by whom we socialize with, because I find that the most interesting. If you believe in Jesus, Obama or Climate Change, it’s because other people you socialize with believe in that stuff. In the 1970s no one believed in Climate Change (at least not caused by carbon dioxide), but even though there have been no scientific discoveries that change our understanding of how energy interacts with atmospheric gases, now almost everyone believes in Climate Change.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 17, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Enclaves for the intelligent but poor

Randall Parker writes:

Millions of very decent and good people can’t afford to live in upper middle class cocoon cities like what San Francisco is becoming. We need to allow the responsible members of the shrinking middle class and growing lower classes to isolate themselves from the worst members of the lower classes. People who lack the buying power to move to nice protected towns full of professional workers need ways to separate themselves from social pathology. Our current elites inflict section 8 housing and a growing immigrant lower class on the responsible people who can’t afford bubble city life. This is just so wrong of them. Our elites are our enemies.

If enacted, this would be a great idea. Create segregated enclaves for people who obtain a specified score on the SAT or some other well-calibrated test that’s highly correlated with IQ, but who can’t afford a market-rate apartment in Manhattan. Unfortunately, this won’t happen because liberals would consider the outcome to be racist.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 15, 2014 at 3:22 PM

Posted in Biology

Jeff Goldblum in the NY Post

61-year-old Jeff “The Fly” Goldblum is engaged to a 31-year-old woman. His fiancée is a former Olympic gymnast. Wow!

I don’t think he looks especially good for his age.

She looks kind of skinny for a gymnast. I thought that gymnast girls had muscles.

UPDATE:

Emilie participated in rhythmic gymnastics which doesn’t require the upper-body strength of regular gymnastics. Thus the mystery of her non-muscular arms has been solved.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 15, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Posted in News

More Larry Summers and robots

In an article at The Week about how FoxConn is adding more robots to its factories to make iPhones, there is this:

Larry Summers, former U.S. Treasury secretary during the Clinton Administration and former head of Obama’s National Economic Council, predicts technology will have a profound effect on the average employee. “We are seeing less and less opportunity for what average people — people lacking in certain skills — are going to be able to do,” said Summers in May at the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism.

“It is not true that innovation always makes more employment…There is nothing in the logic of the market or human experience to suggest that it must necessarily be so that there will be jobs for all at acceptable wages, no matter how technology evolves.”

Has Larry Summers addressed the higher-level question of why people will need jobs at all in a future when robots can do everything?

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 14, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Posted in Economics, Robots

Larry Summers has been reading my blog

He writes in the Wall Street Journal:

The great economic problem for millennia has been scarcity. People want much more than can be produced. The challenge has been to produce as much as possible and to ensure that everybody gets their fair share.

In important respects, the problem has changed. There are many more Americans who are obese than who are undernourished, for example. But that is only a harbinger of things to come. The economic challenge of the future will not be producing enough. It will be providing enough good jobs.

Then most of the article is about how technology is destroying jobs faster than it’s creating them. And he concludes:

So the challenge for economic policy will increasingly be generating enough work for all who need work for income, purchasing power and dignity. What will this require? The role of government was transformed to meet the needs of an industrial age by Gladstone, Bismarck and the two Roosevelts. We will need their equivalent if we are to meet the needs of the information age.

This stuff is right out of my blog. Even if he hasn’t read my blog, you knew about the problem of the post-scarcity economy before prominent people like Summers were aware of them.

A few months from now, will Summers suggest that the solution to unemployment is paying people to play World of Warcraft?

* * *

Curle writes:

I think he’s also proven some of your theories about connections and value transference given that he publishes your ideas, perpetuates his reputation as a genius and then scores big dollar gigs (and maybe even hot women) whereas you get the satisfaction of knowing you kept your small horde of bored undersexed guys distracted for yet another day.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 10, 2014 at 11:08 PM

Posted in Economics, Robots

Eliot Spitzer taking advice from Lion

I’ve previously advised men that they are much better off having a nice girlfriend from a good family who graduated from a good college rather than hanging out with high-priced call girls.

Eliot Spitzer, notorious for not following that advice in the past, is now following it, and he has a new girlfriend who is an Ivy League grad and young enough to be his daughter.

The mystery, however, is why a quality woman like that would want to hook up with an old dufus like Spitzer? Maybe Spizter is also taking advice from Roissy and he now has “game”?

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 10, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Posted in Males and Females

Massive drop in crime in NYC

According to NYPD statistics there were 100,280 reported “robberies” in 1990 and only 19,129 in 2013. That’s a pretty massive decrease in muggings. New York City is way safer today than it was in the 1980s!

So one factor of quality of life has improved immensely over the last 23 years, for people who can still afford to live in NYC. But now that De Blasio is mayor, I predict that crime will start going back up, although year-to-date crime is down again compared to the same YTD period in 2013, so the De Blasio effect will maybe take a year or two before it starts showing up in the crime stats.

* * *

Of course, whenever a person or organization reports numbers, and that organization has a strong interest in what those numbers should be, you should assume that cheating is happening unless the results are audited by independent auditors.

Here is a law journal article criticizing the statistics.

We’ve seen the same problem with No Child Left Behind progress reporting, law school job placement statistics, global warming measurements, etc.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 10, 2014 at 7:10 AM

Posted in Crime

Google exec killed by high-priced call girl

Google exec killed by high-priced call girl.

She injected him with heroin, and then when she saw he was having some sort of bad reaction to it, she lets him die instead of calling 911.

The moral of this story: you are better off having a nice girlfriend from a good family who graduated from a good college rather than hanging out with high-priced call girls.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 9, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Posted in Crime

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