Amit's Planet

November 29, 2018

Official Google Blog

Google Open Source team

The Google Code-in contest is now open! Students ages 13 to 17 gain real-world software development experience by building open source software with the support of mentors.

by Mary Radomile at November 29, 2018 01:00 AM

April 01, 2018

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

April Fools: John Cochrane Obtrudes Himself on My Consciousness Again...

It's time to spin the Big Wheel for April Fools' Day! Who will it be this year? Cliff Asness? Doug Henwood? Niall Ferguson? Donald Luskin? David Graeber?... No! The Big Wheel stops on... John Cochrane!

Alas! The smart Martin Sandbu has been sold a pile of horseshit by the clown John Cochrane. (No: I don't know why John Cochrane decided to become a clown in 2007, and has remained a clown without interruption since. But we describe the world as it is, not as it ought to be.)

Martin Sandbu: Free Lunch: Can the US return to high growth?: "There has been much harrumphing about Jeb Bush's pledge to target a real economic growth rate of 4 per cent... so far beyond the realm of possibility as to be irresponsible.... John Cochrane begs to differ.... From the 1950s to 1973, growth fluctuated around, yes, a 4 per cent average annual rate. For the next three decades it averaged between 3 and 3.5 per cent except for the early 1980s.... Cochrane's conclusion... "avoiding a recession and returning to pre-2000 norms gets you pretty close".

Free Lunch Can the US return to high growth FT com

The scorn that the idea has received elsewhere is no doubt a reaction to its somewhat crank pedigree. But it also reflects a certain disregard for the historical record. Mother Jones claims no president since FDR has managed to sustain a 4 per cent average growth rate throughout his presidency. But this is just false. Truman, Kennedy and Johnson all did: Notice a pattern there: the best growth spurts all happened under Democrats. In fact, with two exceptions, every postwar Democratic president has overseen faster growth than every Republican one. The first exception is the second-worst performing Democrat, Jimmy Carter, who with 3.3 per cent was pipped to the post by Ronald Reagan, the best-performing Republican with 3.5 per cent. The second exception is Barack Obama, who was elected seven weeks after the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered the worst financial crisis since Harry Truman was a county court judge. This prompts two thoughts. The first is that 4 per cent may be hard, even unrealistic, but certainly not impossible. The second is that Democratic presidents - and by extension, Democratic policies - have been historically much more successful at making it a reality (Obama's record, shaped by the financial crisis, is hardly representative). And there is good reason to think this may still be true. Raising growth from its lacklustre rate means bringing output closer to its potential in the short term and raising the potential growth rate in the long run. The short-term imperative involves fiscal and monetary stimulus - ie worry less about the budget deficit and don't tie one arm behind the Federal Reserve’s back. These are positions more associated with Democrats than Republicans, to put it mildly. The long-term goal can only be achieved with contribution from all the components of GDP growth: faster productivity growth, faster population growth and greater labour force participation. That observation immediately invites more policy ideas to warm a liberal's heart: boosting public infrastructure, a more open immigration policy and copying the countries that are most successful at getting people into employment: Canada, Germany and the Scandis. Indeed getting the US employment rate to the Swedish level over 10 years would entail a 1 percentage point higher growth rate a year in that period, other things being equal. Why, then, are liberal economists and policy types so up in arms against a 4 per cent target? One possibility is the fear expressed in Carole Binder's intelligent blog: targeting the growth rate may favour short-termist stimulus to boost growth rather than a long-term measure. But that could be a whole lot better than the status quo - at least if it involves broad fiscal and monetary stimulus rather than Florida-style housing bubbles. A "high-pressure economy", which prominent centre-left economists call for, may well make longer-term structural policies easier, too. Another possibility is the fear that a Jeb Bush administration would use the 4 per cent target to push through policies, such as tax cuts for the rich, that they claim will raise growth but don't. If that's the reason, it reflects a sad lack of political confidence. A more inspiring response to Jeb Bush's growth target would be to match it and try to force the politics to be about which policies are most likely to achieve the goal. On the current state of US politics, that's a fight that the centre-left can and should win.

by J. Bradford DeLong at April 01, 2018 12:22 PM

November 02, 2017

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

har ek nazar idhar udhar... ik nayaa taraanaa

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

har ek nazar idhar udhar hai beqaraar mere li_e
mahafil kaa dil dha.Dak rahaa hai baar-baar mere li_e

huu.N mai.n 
ik nayaa taraanaa ik nayaa fasaanaa ik na_ii kahaanii huu.N mai.n
ek ra.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ek mast jawaanii huu.N mai.n

ruup kii raanii naam hai meraa dil ta.Dapaanaa kaam hai meraa
ko_ii kahe matavaalii koi kahe bholii bhaalii ko_ii kahe diiwaanii huu.N mai.n 
ek ra.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ...

merii adaa_e.N mere bahaane ko_ii na samajhe ko_ii na jaane
ik pavan jhakolaa ek u.Dan khaTolaa ek yaad khaanii huu.N mai.n
ek ra.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ...

Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2017 01:35 PM

jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo a.Nkhiyaa.N do chaar kar lo
suno ye raat nahii.n hai ek tiin chaar kii
suno ye raat hai bas do dilo.n ke pyaar kii

dil hai diiwaanaa samaa suhaanaa 
uff ye jawaanii uff ye zamaanaa
jab tak hai.n jhuum sako jhuumate jaanaa haay re jhuumate jaanaa
jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo 

ra.ngii.n fizaaye.n mast hawaaye.n
kal kaun jaane aaye na aaye
jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo 

ulfat ke pyaale pii le pilaa le
kar de ye duniyaa dil ke hawaale
jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo 

Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2017 01:18 PM

ek raat kii ye priit

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

ek raat kii ye priit ek raat kaa hai giit
kahii.n to.D ke ye sapane ye raat na jaa_e biit

ai chaa.Nd na jaanaa so ai taaro na jaanaa kho
jo bhii ho so ho jag me.n ek bhor kabhii na ho

ye uu.Nchaa aasamaa.N ik baar jo kah de ho
to ye raat maa.Ng luu.N de ke dono.n jahaa.N

Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2017 01:06 PM

dil churaa luu.N

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

dil churaa luu.N churaa luu.N dil me.n chhupii baat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii rah jaa_e.N malate haath

subah kii a.Nga.Daa_ii huu.N mai.n raat kaa huu.N mai.n Kvaab
duniyaa kii mahafil me.n huu.N mai.n apanaa aap jawaab
mukh dekhe to, dekhe to chandaa khaa_e maat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii ...

muskuraake jidhar dekhuu.N khilane lage phuul
aane jaane waale raahii rastaa jaa_e.N bhuul
mai.n chaahuu.N to, chaahuu.N to din ko karuu.N raat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii ...

bhole-bhaale suurat waale matavaale diladaar
bachake rahanaa phir na kahanaa kiyaa na Khabaradaar
ba.Dii hai zaalim, hai zaalim in naino.n kii ghaat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii ...

Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2017 12:57 PM

October 06, 2017

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii

Album: Navrang

naa raajaa rahegaa naa raanii rahegii
ye duniyaa hai faanii aur faanii rahegii

na jab ek bhii zi.ndagaanii rahegii
to maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

dikhaayegii raaNaa ke raN kii nishaanii
kahegii shivaajii ke praN kii kahaanii
bataaegii muGhalo.n kii baate.n ajaanii
us Gaddaar jayacha.nd kii zi.ndagaanii
ye aapas kii sab badGumaanii kahegii
ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

jo the desh dushman Ghulaamii ke raahii
lage pherane is vatan par siyaahii
videsho.n kii karane lage vaah-vaahii
gayaa desh haatho.n se aayii tabaahii
ye bhar-bhar ke aa.Nkho.n me.n paanii kahegii
ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

fir swaata.ntra kaa aisaa sa.ngraam aayaa
ki har aadamii desh ke kaam aayaa
la.Dii viir jhaa.Nsii kii raanii bhavaanii
hazaaro.n ne laakho.n ne Jauhar jalaayaa
ye kurbaaniyaa.N Khud zubaanii kahegii
ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

swaata.ntra kaa sa.ngraam nahii.n vo baGaavat thii,  yahii itihaas kahataa hai

(jalaa do)-2 ye itihaas jhooThe tumhaare
yahaa.n zarre-zarre pe sach hai likhaa re
zulam vo tumhaare sitam vo tumhaare
karo yaad uf kaaranaame vo kaare
ki patthar se aa.Nsuu kii dhaaraa bahegii

ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2
ye maaTii hai tab se ki jab tum naa aaye
ye maaTii rahegii na jab tum rahoge
is maaTii ke niiche dabii hai.n kathaaye.n
jo Khud hii kahegii re tum kyaa kahoge
zamii.n aasamaa.N tharatharaa ke rahegii

ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

Contributed by Saket Jain

October 06, 2017 12:37 PM

August 17, 2017

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

mitawaa mitawaa bole miiThe bain

Album: Parichay

mitawaa mitawaa bole miiThe bain 
mitawaa mitawaa mitawaa bole miiThe bain 
saaware kajaraare nain mitawaa bole miiThe bain 

aaj soye tuu saa.Njh bulaaye 
jaage tuu bhor kare saa.Nse.n lete nain
mitawaa tere nain mitawaa bole miiThe bain 

pyaasaa hai aaj bhii tarase pyaasaa hai aaj bhii tarase 
o baraso saawan barase chhalake tere nain 
mitawaa mitawaa bole miiThe bain 
mitawaa mitawaa mitawaa bole miiThe bain 
saaware kajaraare nain saaware kajaraare nain
mitawaa bole miiThe bain

Contributed by Rajeeva Karandikar

August 17, 2017 06:51 PM

August 14, 2017

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

merii nigaah ne ye kaisaa Kvaab dekhaa hai

Album: Lubna

tasavvuraat kii mahafil sajaa rahaa huu.N mai.n
vo kaun hai jise apanaa banaa rahaa huu.N mai.n
ek i.nqalaab saa zer-e-naqaab dekhaa hai

merii nigaah ne ye kaisaa Kvaab dekhaa hai
zamii.n pe chalataa huaa maahataab dekhaa hai

jhukii-jhukii-sii vo aa.Nkhe.n hasii.n kamal jaise
chhupaa-chhupaa-saa tabassum koii Gazal jaise
nazar-nazar hai chaman vo shabaab dekhaa hai
merii nigaah ne ...

ulajh rahii thii javaanii kaI savaalo.n me.n
mile jo vo to huii roshanii Kayaalo.n me.n
har-ik savaal kaa ham ne javaab dekhaa hai
merii nigaah ne...

Contributed by Vijay Kumar K

August 14, 2017 09:04 AM

khushabuu huu.N mai.n phuul nahii.n huu.N

Album: Shayad

khushabuu huu.N mai.n phuul nahii.n huu.N jo murajhaauu.Ngaa
jab jab mausam laharaayegaa, mai.n aa jaauu.Ngaa

merii suurat koii nahii.n hai, cheharaa meraa cheharaa hai
bhiigaa saavan suunaa aa.Ngan, har aaiinaa meraa hai
jab-jab kalii khilegii koii, mai.n muskaauu.Ngaa
mai.n aa jaauu.Ngaa ...

shaam kaa gaharaa sannaaTaa jab diip jalaane aayegaa
meraa pyaar tumhaarii suunii baaho.n me.n ghabaraayegaa
mai.n mamataa kaa aa.Nchal ban kar lorii gaauu.Ngaa
mai.n aa jaauu.Ngaa...

jab bhii merii yaad sataaye, phuul khilaatii rahanaa
mere giit sahaaraa de.nge inako gaatii rahanaa
mai.n anadekhaa taaraa ban kar raah dikhaauu.Ngaa
mai.n aa jaauu.Ngaa ...

Contributed by Vijay Kumar K

August 14, 2017 08:42 AM

May 27, 2017

Barry's news

Ah, Wary and Racy

Wary and Racy are pups that I built from packages compiled in T2. Not that long ago (2013):

Wary runs the old Kdrive Xvesa xorg server. Racy uses the Xorg server and the xf86-video-* drivers.
Although Racy was released as a separate product, Wary could be transformed into Racy by installing a special video-upgrade PET package.

They were, and are, a beautiful creation. I like the theme too. And as was commented on the forum, 2013 is not really that old.

Forum member scsijon would like to keep the dream alive, by compiling updated packages in T2, and using the same Woof from the Wary/Racy days, to build a new updated Racy.

He won't be able to update Wary though, as it uses old Xorg packages that are suitable for Kdrive Xvesa. Many later application packages will not compile with those old Xorg libraries.

I guess that I am doing something similar, compiling everything in OE. I have created binary packages with minimal dependencies. I have compiled for x86_64 CPU, but I could do a i686 compile in OE, for older hardware.

May 27, 2017 12:43 PM

Thunderbolt3, do-everything interface

Intel has made licensing of the Thunderbolt3 interface "free", in an attempt to encourage its adoption.

As reported here:

Fascinating! I look forward to seeing this on a mobile phone.
PCs too. Apparently, Apple and Microsoft are in on this. Intel plan to integrate Thunderbolt3 into the CPU chip, thus ensuring its adoption on the PC platform.

See also the announcement at

May 27, 2017 12:43 PM

Calculated Risk

Schedule for Week of May 28, 2017

The key report this week is the May employment report on Friday.

Other key indicators include Personal Income and Outlays for April, the May ISM manufacturing index, May auto sales, and the April Trade Deficit.

----- Monday, May 29th -----

All US markets will be closed in observance of Memorial Day.

----- Tuesday, May 30th -----

8:30 AM: Personal Income and Outlays for April. The consensus is for a 0.4% increase in personal income, and for a 0.4% increase in personal spending. And for the Core PCE price index to be up 0.1%.

Case-Shiller House Prices Indices9:00 AM ET: S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index for March. Although this is the February report, it is really a 3 month average of January, February and March prices.

This graph shows the nominal seasonally adjusted National Index, Composite 10 and Composite 20 indexes through the February 2017 report (the Composite 20 was started in January 2000).

The consensus is for a 5.8% year-over-year increase in the Comp 20 index for March.

10:30 AM: Dallas Fed Survey of Manufacturing Activity for May.   This is the last of the regional Fed surveys for May.

----- Wednesday, May 31st -----

7:00 AM ET: The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release the results for the mortgage purchase applications index.

9:45 AM: Chicago Purchasing Managers Index for May. The consensus is for a reading of 57.5, down from 58.3 in April.

10:00 AM: Pending Home Sales Index for April. The consensus is for a 0.5% increase in the index.

2:00 PM: the Federal Reserve Beige Book, an informal review by the Federal Reserve Banks of current economic conditions in their Districts.

----- Thursday, June 1st -----

8:15 AM: The ADP Employment Report for May. This report is for private payrolls only (no government). The consensus is for 170,000 payroll jobs added in May, down from 177,000 added in April.

8:30 AM ET: The initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released. The consensus is for 239 thousand initial claims, up from 234 thousand the previous week.

ISM PMI10:00 AM: ISM Manufacturing Index for May. The consensus is for the ISM to be at 54.6, down from 54.8 in April.

Here is a long term graph of the ISM manufacturing index.

The ISM manufacturing index indicated expansion at 54.8% in April. The employment index was at 52.0%, and the new orders index was at 54.8%.

10:00 AM: Construction Spending for April. The consensus is for a 0.5% increase in construction spending.

Vehicle SalesAll day: Light vehicle sales for May. The consensus is for light vehicle sales to be 16.9 million SAAR in May, mostly unchanged from 16.9 million in  April (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate).

This graph shows light vehicle sales since the BEA started keeping data in 1967. The dashed line is the April sales rate.

----- Friday, June 2nd -----

8:30 AM: Employment Report for May. The consensus is for an increase of 185,000 non-farm payroll jobs added in May, down from the 211,000 non-farm payroll jobs added in April.

Year-over-year change employmentThe consensus is for the unemployment rate to be unchanged at 4.4%.

This graph shows the year-over-year change in total non-farm employment since 1968.

In April, the year-over-year change was 2.24 million jobs.

A key will be the change in wages.

U.S. Trade Deficit8:30 AM: Trade Balance report for April from the Census Bureau.

This graph shows the U.S. trade deficit, with and without petroleum, through March. The blue line is the total deficit, and the black line is the petroleum deficit, and the red line is the trade deficit ex-petroleum products.

The consensus is for the U.S. trade deficit to be at $46.1 billion in April from $43.7 billion in March.

by Bill McBride ( at May 27, 2017 12:11 PM

Wired Top Stories

Take a Load Off With These 6 Swanky Camping Hammocks

Take a Load Off With These 6 Swanky Camping Hammocks
Looking for a free-floating, ultralight shelter on the go? We've got you. The post Take a Load Off With These 6 Swanky Camping Hammocks appeared first on WIRED.

by Chris Wright at May 27, 2017 12:00 PM

Deposit Accounts

Heritage Community CU (CA) Adds Kasasa Cash (2.25% APY up to $25k)

Heritage Community Credit Union (northern California) has added a Kasasa Cash, which earns 2.25% APY on qualifying balances up to $25k.

May 27, 2017 11:33 AM

Dan Ariely

Ask Ariely: On Passionate Presents, Curious Compulsions, and Happiness Hints

Here’s my Q&A column from the WSJ this week  and if you have any questions for me, you can tweet them to @danariely with the hashtag #askariely, post a comment on my Ask Ariely Facebook page, or email them to


Dear Dan,

Before we got married four years ago, my husband and I would give each other amazing, thoughtful birthday gifts. After we got married and set up a joint bank account, our birthday presents stopped being exciting or original—and recently, they stopped altogether. Now we just buy things we need and call them gifts. Is this deterioration because of the shared bank account, or is it just the story of marriage?


Some of it, of course, is how marriage changes us once we’ve settled down. But the shared bank account is also important here, and that part is simpler to change.

In giving a gift, our main motivation is to show that we know someone and care for them. When we use our own money to do this, we are making a sacrifice for the other’s benefit. When we use shared money, this most basic form of caring is eliminated. We are simply using common resources to buy the other person something for common use—which greatly mutes a gift’s capacity to communicate our caring.

The simplest step to restore some excitement to your gifts is to set up a small individual account for each of you for your own discretionary spending. The longer, harder discussion is how to get marriages to sustain passion longer.


Dear Dan,

I recently started investing in the stock market. I know that people who manage to outperform the market buy stocks and then don’t look at their performance for a very long time. But I can’t stop looking at my portfolio every couple of hours. How can I keep myself from peeking so often?


Curiosity is a powerful drive, and it can lead us to expend time and effort trying to find out things that we’re better off not knowing. Curiosity also can create a self-perpetuating feedback loop, which is what you are experiencing: You think about the value of your portfolio, you become curious, you get annoyed by not knowing the answer, and you check your investments to satisfy your curiosity. Doing this makes you think about your stocks even more, so you feel compelled to monitor them ever more frequently—and then you’re really caught.

The key to getting a handle on this habit is to eliminate your curiosity loop. You can start by trying to redirect your thinking: Every time your mind wanders to your portfolio, try to busy it with something else, like baseball or ice cream. Next, don’t let yourself immediately satisfy your curiosity. For the next six weeks, check your portfolio only at the end of the day—or, better, only on Friday, after the markets have closed.

All of this should let you train yourself to not be so curious—and not to act on the impulse as frequently. Over time, the curiosity loop will be broken.


Dear Dan,

Have you found any small tricks you can use to make yourself happier?


At some point, I managed to record my wife saying that I was correct. That doesn’t happen very often. I made this recording into a ringtone that plays whenever she calls my cellphone.

This not only made me happy when I was able to get the initial recording but also provides me with continuous happiness every time she calls.

See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.

by danariely at May 27, 2017 11:30 AM

The Big Picture

10 Weekend Reads

The weekend is here! Pour yourself a mug of Danish blend coffee, grab a seat somewhere out East, and get ready for our longer form weekend reads: • As C.E.O. Pay Packages Grow, Top Executives Have the President’s Ear (New York Times) see also Which Companies Have the Highest Revenue Per Employee? (Priceonomics) • Full interview transcript: The cast and creators…

Read More

The post 10 Weekend Reads appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at May 27, 2017 11:30 AM

Abnormal Returns

Saturday links: using your vacation time

by abnormalreturns at May 27, 2017 11:15 AM

Wired Top Stories

Space Photos of the Week: Jupiter, Is That You?!

Space Photos of the Week: Jupiter, Is That You?!
Jupiter's full of angry cyclones, it's summer solstice on Saturn, and there's a monstrous supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. The post Space Photos of the Week: Jupiter, Is That You?! appeared first on WIRED.

by WIRED Photo Department at May 27, 2017 11:00 AM

Ecologists Are Drowning in Sea of Data. These Tools Could Help

Ecologists Are Drowning in Sea of Data. These Tools Could Help
To assess the ocean's health, ecology's "rugged individualists" learned to get with the big data program. The post Ecologists Are Drowning in Sea of Data. These Tools Could Help appeared first on WIRED.

by John Rennie at May 27, 2017 11:00 AM

Abnormal Returns

Wired Top Stories

Meet the Nerds Coding Their Way Through the Afghanistan War

Meet the Nerds Coding Their Way Through the Afghanistan War
Inside the Defense Digital Service's mission to Afghanistan. Their mission? Make the tech tools used by the US military suck a little less. The post Meet the Nerds Coding Their Way Through the Afghanistan War appeared first on WIRED.

by Issie Lapowsky at May 27, 2017 11:00 AM

Bitcoin Has Come Roaring Back—But So Have the Risks

Bitcoin Has Come Roaring Back—But So Have the Risks
The bitcoin boom is back. But the only real rule with cryptocurrencies is uncertainty. The post Bitcoin Has Come Roaring Back—But So Have the Risks appeared first on WIRED.

by Klint Finley at May 27, 2017 11:00 AM

naked capitalism

Wired Top Stories

After Win in China, AlphaGo’s Designers Explore New AI

After Win in China, AlphaGo’s Designers Explore New AI
Google's DeepMind lab is retiring its Go-playing machine, with an eye on so much more. The post After Win in China, AlphaGo's Designers Explore New AI appeared first on WIRED.

by Cade Metz at May 27, 2017 10:30 AM

Zero Hedge

NYC Mayor De Blasio Staffer Arrested On Child Pornography Charges

Content originally generated at

A 29 year old staffer for NYC mayor Bill De Blasio's office has been arrested and charged with two felonies after police found a massive collection of child porn on his laptop, according to court documents. The NYPD's investigation began March 29th when Jacob Schwartz, 29, handed over his laptop - on which over 3,000 images and 89 videos were discovered depicting sexual acts with children as young as 6 months old.

Schwartz - a computer programmer making $66k / year was also the president of the Manhattan Young Democrats - as well as VP of the NY State Young Democrats. When the NY Post reached the former organization for comment, they said they were "shocked" by the allegations against Schwartz - adding that he is "no longer a member of the board."

Schwartz thought he was hot shit in Democrat circles, rubbing elbows with and promoting Hillary's campaign manager Robby Mook.


Breitbart obtained a now-deleted biography of Schwartz from the Manhattan Young Democrats:

Jacob was born and raised in the heart of Greenwich Village, and was involved in political organizing from a young age. Some of his oldest memories are handing out leaflets for his father, as he campaigned for District Leader. More recently, he helped start the New Democratic Alliance in New York City, and, in 2012, worked for the Obama campaign as a Field Organizer in the Lehigh Valley. A graduate of Lehigh University with an M.S. in Energy Systems Engineering and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Jacob currently works for the New York City Department of Design and Construction on their Build It Back Hurricane Sandy recovery and resiliency program. He is also the founder and executive director of a climate education non-profit called Common Climate, and previously served as Issues Assembly and Policy Director for MYD.

Schwartz was charged with promoting a sexual performance by a child and possessing a sexual performance by a child under 16, both felonies.


Schwartz's father is huge Democrat insider

Jacob Schwartz's father is Arthur Schwartz, a prominent Manhattan attorney, community activist, and DNC operator. Schwartz served as council to Bernie Sanders during the 2016 election. He was also a delegate during Barack Obama's 2008 run for president.

Schwartz has also represented SEIU, several unions, and served as general council to ACORN from March of 2009 to October 2010.

He also made a killing in NY real estate

Arthur Schwartz turned a 2003 investment of $499,000 into $20.89 million when he sold in 2014.

The elder Schwartz has called his son's arrest "a personal tragedy," and told the Post "He's already in therapy for this."

The younger Schwartz is out on $7500 bail.


And poor NY Mayor Bill De Blasio - the vocal Trump critic who headed up an anti-Trump protest in Columbus Circle, clogging up traffic, railed against Trump's Immigration Executive Order - calling it 'Simply Un-American,' accused Trump of being the cause of Anti-Semitic threats (which turned out to be an Israeli guy). De Blasio also refused to assign a label of terrorism to a Sept. 2016 Manhattan bombing carried out by Afghani named Ahmad Kahn Rahimi which injured 29 people. Even though a note left on an unexploded pressure cooker referenced al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

So, a rising star NY Democrat was arrested on charges of pedophilia, and two of Trump's most vocal New York City critics on the left have been thoroughly dragged into the mud. 

Boy was Hillary's timing bad...

During Friday's commencement address at Wellesley College, Hillary tried to smear those investigating high level pedophilia:

by ZeroPointNow at May 27, 2017 10:30 AM

The Big Picture

Bugatti Niniette 66 Yacht

Just in time for the long holiday weekend, from Classic Driver: Using the Bugatti Chiron hypercar as its primary source of inspiration, the new Bugatti Niniette 66 is just about the most opulent sea-based contraption on which we’ve ever set eyes. All 66 feet of the vessel are adorned with the finest materials befitting of the…

Read More

The post Bugatti Niniette 66 Yacht appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at May 27, 2017 10:00 AM

Seth's Blog

Predicting or inventing...

The most common way to deal with the future is to try to predict it. To be in the right place at the right time with the right skills or investments.

A far more successful and reliable approach is to invent the future. Not all of it, just a little part. But enough to make a difference.


by Seth Godin at May 27, 2017 09:32 AM

Official Google Blog

CEO and Co-Founder

AlphaGo has been a tool to inspire Go players to try new strategies and gives us an early glimpse into the potential for AI to help society discover new knowledge.

by Dave Silver at May 27, 2017 08:50 AM

naked capitalism

Why Withdrawal or “Tiny” Living Isn’t a Solution to Sustainability

Tiny but isolated living may not be doing the planet as much of a favor as many like to believe.

by Yves Smith at May 27, 2017 08:00 AM

The New New Deal

The myth of the virtues of markets is past its sell-by date. Time for a new guiding principle, and the New Deal may be the place to start.

by Yves Smith at May 27, 2017 06:41 AM

Planet Python

Nigel Babu: Pycon Pune 2017

I haven’t attended a Pycon since 2013. Now that I started writing this post, I’ve realized it’s been nearly 4 years since and Python is the language I use the most. The last Pycon was a great place to meet people and make friends. Among others, I recall clearly that I met Sankarshan, my current manager, for the first time there. Pycon Pune is also the first time I’m speaking at a single track event. There’s something scary about so many people paying attention to you and making sure they’re not bored.

The venue for the event was gorgeous (as evidenced by the group picture that nearly looks photoshopped!) and the event was well organized, I have to say. My only critical feedback is a space outside of the main conference area for a hallway track. The auditorium had air conditioning and everyone went in thanks to it. If we had a little bit of space with power and air conditioning that you could use if you wanted to have a conversion, that would be highly beneficial. I like attending large events, but sometimes, the introvert in me takes over and I want to spend more time either alone or with less interaction. Linuxcon EU was great about this, going so far as to have a quiet space, which I found useful.

I had trepeditions about my talk. It wasn’t exactly about solving a problem with Python. It was about problems I’ve faced throughout my career and how I’ve seen other projects solve them. Occasionally, those problems or solutions were related to Python, sometimes they were related to my work on Gluster, and often to Mozilla. I’m glad it was well recived and I had a lot of conversations with people after the talk about the pains they face at their own organization. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t practice what I preach. We’re still working on getter our release management to a better place.

Some of the memorable sessions include - Hanza’s keynote about his open source life, Katie’s talk about accessibility, Dr. Terri’s talk about security, Noufal’s talk about CFFI. All videos should be online on the Pycon Pune channel, including mine.

May 27, 2017 05:20 AM

Philip Greenspun's Weblog

Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard Commencement

Mark Zuckerberg showed up this year to give the commencement speech at Harvard. Let’s look at parts of the transcript:

graduates of the greatest university in the world

What better proof of the high quality of a university than that the most successful affiliates are those who dropped out? (See also Bill Gates, apparently too busy saving Africans (or “sharing the load” of housekeeping with his wife?) to give this year’s address.) Times Higher Education gives Harvard a solid #6 ranking, behind such schools as Oxford, Stanford, and Cambridge.

my best memory from Harvard was meeting Priscilla. But without Facemash I wouldn’t have met Priscilla, and she’s the most important person in my life

She faces some obstacles to becoming the most important plaintiff in Zuckerberg’s life, though, because the wedding was deferred until a day after the IPO (see “Zuckerberg’s post-IPO wedding is smart legal move” (Reuters) and our chapter on California family law).

Many of our parents had stable jobs throughout their careers. Now we’re all entrepreneurial, whether we’re starting projects or finding or role. And that’s great. Our culture of entrepreneurship is how we create so much progress.

Young people are better and more interesting than their boring parents. The Harvard graduate who goes to work for the government is an “entrepreneur.”

Millennials are already one of the most charitable generations in history. In one year, three of four US millennials made a donation and seven out of ten raised money for charity.

[Entrepreneur notes that “Despite being the largest U.S. demographic by age, the generation of 18-to-34 year-olds donates less and volunteers less for charitable causes than any other age group.” “Why Are Americans Less Charitable Than They Used to Be?” (Atlantic) says “The average American has grown more tight-fisted in recent years, donating a smaller portion of his or her income to charity than he or she did 10 years ago.” (Of course, the authors note that high-income Americans have become less charitable recently, but don’t consider the possibility that this could be due to higher tax rates, such as the Obamacare tax on investment income.)]

giving everyone the freedom to pursue purpose isn’t free. People like me should pay for it. Many of you will do well and you should too.

[… on average not as well as folks who chose to become California prison guards.]

We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful.

Maybe Facebook can re-hire Chia Hong to measure the meaningfulness of jobs within the company?

We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things. … In a survey asking millennials around the world what defines our identity, the most popular answer wasn’t nationality, religion or ethnicity, it was “citizen of the world”. That’s a big deal. Every generation expands the circle of people we consider “one of us.” For us, it now encompasses the entire world.

UBI will enable everyone to start a company. Certainly no American would use his or her UBI to become an opiate addict, as has been common with SSDI and Medicaid.

[If you’re a citizen of the world and also support universal basic income (UBI), shouldn’t everyone on the planet get a handout? Why does someone who happens to be physically in the U.S. have a greater entitlement than a fellow citizen of the world in Bolivia, India, or China? We take the total wealth we’re going to hand out and divide by 7.5 billion? Or do we exclude citizens of the world who live in the richer-than-the-US countries from joining the check-of-the-month club?]

We’re going to change jobs many times, so we need affordable child care to get to work

Guy with a kid says that people with no kids should work harder and pay higher taxes to subsidize his child care costs.

We get that our greatest opportunities are now global—we can be the generation that ends poverty, that ends disease. … How about curing all diseases and asking volunteers to track their health data and share their genomes? Today we spend 50x more treating people who are sick than we spend finding cures so people don’t get sick in the first place.

There is no way that viruses will turn out to be smarter than humans. Certainly throwing money at a problem will solve it. Maybe a War on Cancer instead of these ongoing battles we’ve been funding?

How about stopping climate change before we destroy the planet

There is no better way to conserve the planet’s resources than tearing down four houses and rebuilding them in the same location.

Readers: What struck you about the dropout’s speech to the graduates?


by philg at May 27, 2017 03:56 AM

Zero Hedge

Amid Russia Crisis, Trump Prepares "War Room", "Big White House Changes", Loss Of Twitter

In lieu of the Friday night "Trump bombshell" deliverable from the NYT-WaPo complex, today it was Reuters' and the Wall Street Journal's turn to lay out the suspenseful weekend reads, previewing major potential upcoming changes to the Trump administration.

First, according to Reuters, Trump's top advisors are preparing to establish a "war room" to combat negative reports and mounting questions about communication between Russia.  Steve Bannon and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, both senior advisors to the president, will be involved in the new messaging effort, which also aims to push Trump's policy agenda and schedule more rallies with supporters. This "most aggressive effort yet" to push back against allegations involving Russia and his presidential campaign, will launch once Trump returns from his overseas trip.

Upon Trump’s return, the administration will add experienced political professionals and possibly more lawyers to handle the Russia probe, which has gained new urgency since the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to head the investigation, the sources said.

On Thursday, NBC News reported that Kushner, who held several meetings with Russian officials following the election, is himself a focus of the probe, making him the first current White House official to be caught up in it, although Kushner, who is Trump's son-in-law, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. On Friday afternoon, the AP quoted Kushner's lawyer that if the FBI wants to talk to Jared Kushner about his Russian contacts, he stands ready to talk to federal investigators as well as Congress about his contacts and his role in Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

FBI probe aside, Kushner and Bannon will work to step up the White House’s strategic messaging. Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski - who has been seen in the White House recently - is also expected to be part of the messaging operation according to Reuters. Bannon and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus have been laying the groundwork for the messaging operation this week, sources told the news outlet.

“Since the firing of Comey, that really exposed the fact that the White House in its current structure ... is not prepared for really a one-front war, let alone a two-front war,” a person who remains in regular communication with the White House told Reuters. “They need to have a structure in place that allows them to stay focused, [while] also truly fighting back on these attacks and these leaks.”

The "war room" is just one of the steps Trump and his advisers plan to take to respond to the probe into Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump reportedly hired Marc Kasowitz as his personal attorney earlier this week to represent him and guide him through the Russia investigations following the appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation. The president and his team are putting together a legal team of prominent lawyers who can help him best proceed through the questions surrounding whether his campaign colluded with Moscow.

Quoted by Reuters, Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media and a Trump friend, said he expects the president will travel more when he returns from overseas and encouraged the White House to focus on issues that pump up his base voters. “From my perspective, I think the president should be doing the stuff that he does best, which is talking about his agenda: jobs, trade and security,” Ruddy said.

Republicans in Congress are aching for Trump to leave the distraction of the Russia probe aside and focus on legislation and nominating officials to fill the hundreds of vacant slots across the administration. “What we really want to be able to do is tend to our business,” Mike Rounds, a Republican Senator from South Dakota, told Reuters. "We've got a healthcare bill we're working on. We've got tax reform that we think is important.”

Earlier on Friday, former House Speaker John Boehner said that Trump's time in office has been a "complete disaster" aside from foreign affairs. Boehner told an energy conference he supported efforts to "get to the bottom" of any potential interactions between Trump associates and the Russian government but described any calls to impeach Trump as the purview of "the crazy left-wing Democratic colleagues of mine."

* * *

Second, in a separate but similar report from the WSJ, the paper writes that Trump is "actively discussing major changes" in the White House, including a shakeup of his senior team, after spending much of his free time during his overseas trip weighing the Russia investigation and the political crisis it poses for him. A flurry of meetings devoted to White House operations are scheduled for next week, officials said, and sparks are expected to fly.

While this isn't the first time a major shake up around Trump was announced as imminent, recalls Axios reporting two weeks ago that an "angry" Trump was planning a huge reboot, and that Priebus, Bannon and Spicer could be fired, this time the urgency is far greater, and the WSJ reports that other revisions on the table include a new filter of the president’s social-media habit and fewer scheduled press briefings, officials and allies said. The anticipated moves are the latest sign of how the investigation into Russia’s interference in last year’s election, and the circumstances of the president’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, is defining the new administration. “Everything is in play,” one Trump adviser said.

The biggest change may be that Trump is about to lose his twitter privileges for good:

One major change under consideration would vet the president’s social media posts through a team of lawyers, who would decide if any needed to be adjusted or curtailed. The idea, said one of Mr. Trump’s advisers, is to create a system so that tweets “don’t go from the president’s mind out to the universe.”


Some of Mr. Trump’s tweets—from hinting that he may have taped conversations with Mr. Comey to suggesting without any evidence that former President Barack Obama wire-tapped Trump Tower—have opened him to criticism and at times confounded his communications team.


Trump aides have long attempted to rein in his tweeting, and some saw any type of legal vetting as difficult to implement. “I would be shocked if he would agree to that,” said Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign aide.

It also appears that Sean Spicer is on his way out:

Other changes under discussion include removing communications director Mike Dubke and installing Sarah Sanders as the main spokesman instead of Mr. Spicer. Another consideration is scaling back on daily press briefings.


Mr. Spicer, one of the only practicing Catholics among Mr. Trump’s senior staff, was a last-minute scratch from the president’s meeting with Pope Francis this week, a move that shocked some senior administration officials.


Mr. Spicer and Ms. Sanders didn’t respond to further questions on any coming changes.

In a a contradiction from the Reuters report, the WSJ notes that neither Bannon nor Kushner themselves are safe.

Mr. Trump consulted Mr. Kushner on the firing of Mr. Comey, officials say. Mr. Bannon opposed the move and was absent from the inner circle who advised the president on the move. Mr. Bannon’s critics say they suspect him of leaking to the press and regard him as too much of a firebrand to massage the president’s agenda through Washington’s traditional processes. Mr. Kushner’s detractors in the West Wing refer to him as the “young princeling.”

But most interesting is the alleged emerging tension between Trump and his Goldman advisors: "Some Trump advisers have also questioned the judgment of communications officials, citing as an example the rollout of a tax-plan outline in April that featured Goldman Sachs alumnae Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and Gary Cohn, the National Economic Council director.

“The left is automatically going to say the tax plan is tailored to the rich and to Wall Street. And we just gave them an image of the rich and of Wall Street,” one Trump former campaign official said.

In an amusing tangent, the WSJ also points out that Trump’s return to Washington will mark the end of a period which, White House staffers said, "brought some relief from the hectic pace of the news surrounding the administration and the Russia investigation. Some noted that it gave them a rare time to eat dinner at home."

* * *

While it could be just another red herring, it is likely that Trump's return may unleash the political chaos that dominated the news cycle for most of May. Alternatively, if Trump is serious about overhauling his communication strategy, his inner circle of advisors - especially those originating from Goldman, as well as cracking down on non-stop leaks, then there just is some hope that the relentless news bombardment may fade, if only for a few summer weeks. One can always hope, even if the odds are stacked very much against.

by Tyler Durden at May 27, 2017 03:43 AM

Planet Python

2 people stabbed to death after confronting a man shouting 'hate speech' at Muslim women on train

2 people stabbed to death after confronting a man shouting 'hate speech' at Muslim women on trainTwo people were stabbed to death on a light-rail train in Portland, Oregon, on Friday afternoon...

May 27, 2017 03:19 AM

Low End Box

HostBrew – New SSD KVM Product Line Starting @ $2.25/month – Los Angeles, CA

Martin with HostBrew sent in an offer to celebrate the launch of their brand new SSD KVM range in LA, with some exclusive plans featuring 25% off the regular prices.

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They offer Credit/Debit Card, PayPal, and Bitcoin as payment methods. Please see the TOS and AUP for further information before ordering.


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by Ishaq at May 27, 2017 03:09 AM

Zero Hedge

Medal Of Honor Recipient Warns: "It's Going To Come Here... Trump Must Release The Gates Of Hell" On Islamic State

Authored by Mac Slavo via,

With British Prime Minister Theresa May warning that another attack may be imminent, Medal of Honor Recipient Dakota Meyer says that it’s time to strike Islamic State strongholds without mercy, because sooner or later we could well witness suicide bombers detonating themselves in the middle of large crowds right here at home.

Arguing that President Obama, who awarded Meyer his Medal of Honor, was weak on ISIS and terrorism in general, he says President Trump should take a completely different strategy.

In short… it’s time to unleash the gates of hell…

I’ve been saying this is going to happen for a long time.


When is it coming here?


I think the only way you get this point across is that we release the gates of hell on them and we start making war so ugly that…their recruitment videos… it won’t be cool to join ISIS anymore.


And at some point we’re going to have to do that… this labeling of ‘it’s a lone wolf’ attack… or saying it’s not connected or this or that…


You can’t just ignore this problem because it’s going to come here…


The only thing I am optimistic about with this situation is that we have a President… think whatever you want about his politics…


At least we have a president that’s in place that’s not going to allow us to be the victims… you can guarantee he’s going to do whatever it’s going to take… no matter if it’s popular in the court of public opinion… he’s going to do what’s right to protect America…

<noscript>Watch the latest video at <a href=""></a></noscript>

Our guess?

President Trump was just warming up when he dropped this mother of all bombs on an ISIS complex in Afghanistan earlier this year:

by Tyler Durden at May 27, 2017 03:00 AM

Boy Genius Report

BMW’s new bike produces zero emissions, and is absolutely gorgeous

bmw concept link

BMW has been showing off its vision for the future of mobility for a while now, revealing numerous concept vehicles that are both extremely futuristic and somewhat insane. The company's newest reveal, called the BMW Motorrad Concept Link, is an all-electric two-wheeler that looks like it would be more at home in Akira than on today's city streets. 

Continue reading...

Trending right now:

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by Mike Wehner at May 27, 2017 02:36 AM

Zero Hedge

The Most Popular Books In History All Shared One Trait

Throughout history, people have turned to works of literature for guidance, entertainment, and education. Modern businesses aim to tell stories that leave a long-lasting impact as well, and should look to examples of historical success to influence how they create their own content.

Today’s infographic comes to us from Global English Editing, and it looks at 20 of the most popular books in the world. As Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins notes, all of the books listed, even those published decades or centuries ago, have made an enduring impact on readers to this day. They have achieved this by stirring discussion and sparking debate wherever they are read.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist


One of the important traits shared by every book on this list is the controversy that has swirled around each of them. This can be seen across different time periods and genres.

People have questioned the identity and authorial authenticity of Homer and decried the upending of creationism proposed by Darwin. Even a children’s book like the modern bestselling series, Harry Potter, can be a magnet for discussion over what is morally right and wrong.

It is often the case the that most popular and enduring literary works will not only captivate, but also address controversial issues in such a way that people will be talking about them for generations.


The recent bestselling streak of George Orwell’s 1984, first published in 1950, is an interesting illustration of this trend.

The dystopian novel was banned upon its translation and release in the former USSR due to its implicit critique of Stalinist political ideology. By contrast, in the 1970s and 1980s, several American counties challenged 1984 on the grounds that it might promote communist ideals. In the 21st century, Orwell’s best-known work has been revisited by a new generation of readers as the American political climate continues to create new uncertainties about governance, the distortion of facts, and social control.


The most popular books ever written can teach modern businesses a great deal about what it takes to make content that is evergreen, meaningful, and primed to engage their readers. Creating discussion is key in the age of the reactive “hot take” style of article. Your ability to stand out in the cultural, historical, or political context for having a point of view that many people find worthy of debating will give your work the staying power it needs.

Considering that within any given minute there are 2.4 million Google searches taking place and over 700,000 people logging into Facebook, this is no easy task. But whether it’s through a new product or via customer engagement, creating meaningful discussion is key to making a business’ voice heard through all the noise.

by Tyler Durden at May 27, 2017 02:35 AM

OANN Releases Report On Seth Rich Murder, Raises Questions About Chinese Corruption

Via Disobedient Media

The San Diego based One American News Network has released a new report highlighting key elements of the mystery surrounding the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. OANN cites a number of inconsistencies and lingering questions in the case, while also noting that Rich's murder occurred in close proximity to the similarly strange death of UN official John Ashe. Ashe was found dead just days before he was set to testify against Clinton in relation to matters pertaining to a corruption case where Chinese billionaire Charlie Trie helped launder $1.2 million dollars as part of Chinese government efforts to influence Bill Clinton's 1996 presidential election. Ashe's death was originally reported as a heart attack, but the story changed after it emerged that the cause was in fact a crushed windpipe in what was labeled a "workout accident." The full report can be viewed here:

On May 25th, one day before OANN's report, a representative of the media company made a post on the online messageboard 4chan appealing for help locating information regarding the doctor who treated Seth Rich for gunshot injuries he sustained during the incident. Within minutes of the post, OANN's website was taken offline in a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack.

Screenshot taken on 5/26/2017 showing that OANN's website was taken offline

The findings of the report offer fresh insights what is appearing to be a story of complex political corruption and Democratic National Committee (DNC) attempts to downplay the scandal. Disobedient Media has previously reported on the extensive ties that key players in the Seth Rich case have to the DNC, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Rose Law Firm, the law firm which was at the center of the 1990's Whitewater Controversy.

by William Craddick at May 27, 2017 02:22 AM

Why Bother?

Authored by Robert Gore via Straight Line Logic blog,

The best strategy for dealing with crazies is to keep your distance.

You try to ignore the ravings of the paranoid lunatic on a street corner, but if he’s waving a gun, you can’t.  He may kill himself, but he may kill you. Protecting yourself is your first consideration. You want to get as far as possible from him.

As an intellectual exercise, imagine how the Chinese and Russian leadership look at the United States, its government, and those of its allies. It will get you labeled as a “sympathizer” or “agent,” but take the risk and try seeing the world through their eyes:

We hear the Americans raving about the exceptional and indispensable nation, the American imperium, and maintaining world order. What other conclusion can be drawn: like many lunatics, the US suffers from delusions of grandeur. As we know, it’s difficult to maintain order in one country, and the US wants to take on the whole world? They’re having a tough time maintaining order in the US. Half the country hates the other half, and many of their experts warn of civil unrest that could be ignited with the smallest of sparks. Take it from us, spark suppression is a full-time job in big countries with many people and few common interests, even those with powerful, intrusive governments like the US.


How can the US think that it can rule the world when it can’t win wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq? That’s crazy talk! There are smart people in their military. They must recognize that guerrilla warfare, terrorism, knowledge of the people, language, and terrain, and the availability of cheap but effective defensive weapons and munitions give a huge advantage to nationals resisting domination in their own territory. Why hasn’t the US learned anything from their disastrous wars, or the Soviet fiasco in Afghanistan?


We in Russia are not altogether comfortable with our Syrian involvement and know it poses substantial risks. However, Syria is in the same neighborhood, is a long-time Russian ally, and hosts Russia’s only Mediterranean port. The US has no such compelling interests and is apparently there at the behest of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Turkey, and Israel. (How do these nations get the US to fight its wars? It must be baksheesh.) It pretends to fight Islamic terrorists while aiding them in another idiotic, and so far futile, attempt at regime change. The biggest danger for us in Syria isn’t the rebels, it’s those crazy Yanks.


The US and its allies’ (what curious allies—the US defends them and picks up most of the tab while they fund cradle-to-grave welfare states) interventions have created refugees—some innocent victims, some potential terrorists—who have fled en masse to Europe and trickled into the US. More intervention will create more refugees, yet that is their policy. Russia and China both have problems with native Muslim populations; it’s pure lunacy to import them. Yet, the American and European intelligentsia condemn not the proponents but the detractors of military intervention and refugee creation and admittance.


If those are supposed to be the smart people, it’s no wonder those countries are in such poor shape. A country is only as good as its people. The Americans and Europeans have voted themselves benefits from their governments that can only be paid for with debt. How long can that last? What will beneficiaries do when the well runs dry? The US used to be one of the most industrious countries on the planet. Now most of its people are fat, lazy, and soft, with no idea how to provide for themselves. The so-called smart people worry if transgenders can enter the bathroom of their choice, and cheer a great Olympic decathlon champion who turned himself into an approximation of a woman. These idiots are not useful to anybody.


The only rational policy is to keep our distance from the US, while trying to protect ourselves from its depredations, and concentrate on jointly developing the immense potential of Eurasia. In other words, to continue doing what we’ve been doing. Our primary economic initiatives, One Belt One Road and the Maritime Silk Road, under the auspices of the Eurasian Economic Union, are going well. We will develop extensive commercial and transportation links among nations stretching from China to Europe, an area which encompasses over half the world’s population and natural resources. China will providing much of the infrastructure investment through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Russia will spearhead security arrangements, particularly against Islamic extremists, through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes China and central Asian nations that were formerly part of the USSR, and will soon admit India, Pakistan, and Iran.


Financially, self-protection means moving away from fiat dollars and euros and stockpiling real money—gold. China is reducing its vast pile of US treasury securities, and Russia its much smaller pile. We will continue to advocate for replacement of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, preferably with the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights. The Chinese yuan recently became part of that currency basket. We have also taken steps to develop an alternative to the SWIFT system, the US’s monopoly on international bank clearing.


Militarily, some of the bluster coming out of the US is insanity: the possibility of “winning” a nuclear war. No matter what their computer simulations might suggest, there is no way that a US first strike would wipe out our means and will to retaliate, regardless of their anti-ballistic missile systems in Eastern Europe and South Korea. Sometimes it is an advantage to be underestimated by one’s enemy, but in this case, US underestimation could lead to extinction of the human race. Our nuclear weaponry, military strategies, and defense systems must continue to be state of the art, to assure that destruction in the event of a US attack is mutual.


Keeping our distance from the US certainly does not entail getting involved in their elections. Donald Trump didn’t have a positive thing to say about China during his campaign. Although he made noises about reducing America’s foreign interventions, we heard the same from George W. Bush and Barack Obama and look how that turned out. Trump also made noises about rapprochement with Russia, but it was clear that he’d be fighting his own Deep State if he won, which we did not expect. Why would we poison relations with Hillary Clinton, who we and most experts did expect to win, before she even took office? It’s a further sign of rampant delusion, a complete unwillingness to deal with reality, that Clinton’s Democrats are blaming Russia for problems they brought upon themselves.

Why bother manipulating an election when America seems so bent on self-destruction? It would be like trying to leash a rabid dog.


by Tyler Durden at May 27, 2017 02:10 AM

All Hell Breaks Loose In Toronto's House Price Bubble

Authored by Wolf Richter via,

“It’s fear.”

During the first two weeks in May, according to preliminary data from Toronto Real Estate Board, home listings surged 47% from the same period last year even as sales plunged 16%. The average selling price dropped 3.3% from April – and this, after a 33% year-over-year spike in home prices in March and a 25% surge in April. Something is happening to Toronto’s blistering house price bubble.

Canada’s largest alternative mortgage lender, Home Capital Group, which focuses on new immigrants and subprime borrowers turned down by the banks, is melting down after a run on its deposits that crushed its funding sources. The industry is worried about contagion.

At the same time, the provincial government of Ontario announced a slew of drastic measures, including a 15% tax on purchases by non-resident foreign investors to tamp down on the housing market insanity that left many locals unable to buy even a modest home.

It comes after Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz warned in April that home prices are in “an unsustainable zone,” that the market “has divorced itself from any fundamentals that we can identify,” that there was “no fundamental story that we could tell to justify that kind of inflation rate in housing prices,” and that “It’s time we remind folks that prices of houses can go down as well as up. People need to ask themselves very carefully, ‘Why am I buying this house?”’

A few days ago, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Canada’s six largest banks on concerns over their exposure to the housing bubble and household indebtedness that ranks among the highest in the world.

Now even the relentlessly optimistic industry begins to fret:

“We are seeing people who paid those crazy prices over the last few months walking away from their deposits,” Carissa Turnbull, a Royal LePage broker in the Toronto suburb of Oakville, told Bloomberg. She said they didn’t get a single visitor to an open house over the weekend. “They don’t want to close anymore.”


“Definitely a perception change occurred from Home Capital,” Shubha Dasgupta, owner of Toronto-based mortgage brokerage Capital Lending Centre, told Bloomberg.


“In less than one week we went from having 40 or 50 people coming to an open house to now, when you are lucky to get five people,” Case Feenstra, an agent at Royal LePage Real Estate Services Loretta Phinney in Mississauga, Ontario, told Bloomberg. “Everyone went into hibernation.”


“I’ve had situations where buyers are trying to find another buyer to take over their deal,” Toronto real estate lawyer Mark Weisleder told Bloomberg. Some clients want out of transactions, he said. “They are nervous whether they bought right at the top and prices may come down.” Home Capital had “a bigger impact on the market” than Ontario’s announcement of the new rules, he said.


“Home Capital is affecting things because people who can’t get mortgages from the banks rely on them and other b-lenders,” Lorand Sebestyen, an agent with iPro Realty in Toronto, told Bloomberg. “If you can’t get the mortgage then you obviously can’t buy anything and it’s going to affect the market, especially for the higher-priced properties.”


“It’s fear,” said Joanne Evans, owner of Century 21 Millennium, about the impact of Home Capital on housing. “It’s another contributing factor to the fear of ‘what’s going to happen?”’

And it’s ever so slowly sinking in more broadly.

In Canada, the theory has spread that real estate values can never-ever go down in any significant way – on the theory that they always go up – because they didn’t take a big hit during the Financial Crisis, and because the prior declines have been forgotten. So optimism about rising home prices had been huge. Now weekly polling data by Nanos Research for Bloomberg is showing the first signs of second thoughts. Two weeks ago, the share of people saying home prices would rise in the next six months was a record 50.1%. The following week, it dropped to 47.7%. In the most recent poll, it dropped to 46%.

But those who are able to sell at what appears to be the very tippy-top of the market are not complaining. Bloomberg cites business school professor Michael Hartmann who put his north Toronto home up for sale on May 17 sold it on May 22 for C$1.65 million, C$10,000 above asking price. He and his wife are planning to rent and see.

What are homes & mortgages worth when push comes to shove? Read…  Chilling Thing Insiders Said about Canada’s House Price Bubble

by Tyler Durden at May 27, 2017 02:07 AM

Sears is in 'free-fall' and its rate of decline is 'very concerning'

Sears is in 'free-fall' and its rate of decline is 'very concerning'Sears' shares enjoyed a strong surge this week, soaring as much as 20% on Thursday after the...

May 27, 2017 01:59 AM

Schneier on Security

Zero Hedge

Pelosi Concerned POTUS' Trip Wasn't Alphabetized: "I Mean, Saudi Arabia. It Wasn't Even Alphabetical"

Over the years, Nancy Pelosi has garnered somewhat of a reputation for saying things that don't seem to make a whole lot of sense.  As most will recall, the pinnacle of her illogical ramblings seemingly came in March 2010 when she argued that voters would only be allowed to read the details of the Obamacare legislation after it had been passed. 

For those who somehow managed to miss you go:


Oddly, comments like the one above seem to have had absolutely no impact on San Franciscans who continue to re-elect her to public office year after year.  And while we find that somewhat disturbing, it at least affords us all the opportunity to enjoy an endless supply of gaffes from Pelosi's very active public speaking schedule.

In fact, the latest gift from San Francisco to the world came yesterday when Nancy held her weekly press briefing and was caught completely off-guard by a journalist who asked for her thoughts on Trump's first international trip.  While this would seem like a 'softball question' designed specifically for Nancy to knock out of the park, she proceeded instead to have yet another on-air nervous breakdown that ended with her questioning why Trump's first foreign stops weren't organized in alphabetical order.

“I thought it was unusual for the President of the United States to go to Saudi Arabia first. Saudi Arabia!”


“It wasn’t even alphabetical. I mean, Saudi Arabia.”


She goes on to point out that 4 of the 5 previous presidents all visited Canada for their first foreign trip which she seemed to find more appropriate given its rank in the alphabetical list of foreign countries.  Of course, it does beg the question of why Obama didn't visit Afghanistan first...hmmm, quite suspicious indeed.

by Tyler Durden at May 27, 2017 01:45 AM


When a city decides your business is toxic to their community, buy off the state legislature to overrule them.

Uber, Lyft returning to Austin

Uber and Lyft will relaunch services in Austin on Monday, now that Texas lawmakers have passed a bill overriding local regulations on ride-hailing companies. [...]

Uber and Lyft left Austin after the Austin City Council passed an ordinance in December 2015 requiring ride-hailing companies to perform fingerprint background checks on drivers, a stipulation that already applies to Austin taxi companies.

Uber and Lyft fiercely opposed the rules, gathering petition signatures to force a public vote and spending nearly $9 million on an unsuccessful campaign asking voters to overturn the regulations. Following the vote, both companies halted services in Austin, and the resulting ride-hailing vacuum attracted several start-up ride-hailing apps that agreed to comply with the city's rules. [...]

Following the passage of the bill in both chambers, Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued a statement saying he was "disappointed" the Legislature voted to nullify regulations the city had implemented.

"Our city should be proud of how we filled the gap created when Uber and Lyft left, and we now must hope that they return ready to compete in a way that reflects Austin's values," Adler wrote.

Previously, previously, previously.

by jwz at May 27, 2017 01:43 AM

Zero Hedge

On Gold, Dollars, & Bitcoin

Authored by Paul Brodsky via,

We have been bullish on gold – the barbarous relic; King Dollar – the modern hegemon; and Bitcoin – the crypto currency investors love to hate. One might say our feet have been planted firmly in the past, present and future. (We may not have three feet, but let’s go with it.) Are we hedging our bets, being too cute by half, or is there a cogent rationale that unifies bullishness for money forms most would consider incongruous and at-odds with each other?

The short answer is we like:

1) gold, because central banks around the world own it and are buying more, ostensibly to devalue their fiat currencies against it someday, after they are forced to hyper-inflate in order to reduce the burden of systemic debt service and repayment;


2) the dollar, because dollar-denominated financial markets are broader and deeper than any other market and because the Fed is years ahead of other major central banks when it comes to normalizing policy and maintaining bank solvency (i.e., other fiats are in worse shape), and;


3) Bitcoin, the borderless digital currency that is already being perceived as a better store of value than gold and all fiat currencies, and potentially a more expedient means of exchange too. All three should win in different ways.

It may be easier to accept this discussion by first reminding one’s self that monetary regimes come and go every fifty years or so. The last transition was in 1971 and the world is due for another. We have a high level of conviction that the evanescence of the current global monetary system is rooted in sound economics and already has been firmly established. A global monetary reset is necessary and likely.

To understand why we must break down money into its two main components: a means of exchange and a store of value. When it comes to using money in exchange for goods and services, fiat currencies have it all over gold and crypto currencies presently. That’s because governments demand taxes be paid with their fiat currencies (legal tender), forcing producers and labor to demand compensation in those currencies. As a result, banking, payment systems and all goods and service channels are set up to use fiat-sponsored currencies.

When it comes to a store of value, however, the factors of production may choose to save in whatever form of money they want. If the general perception is that government-sponsored, bank system-created fiat currencies will have to be greatly diluted in the future so that systemic debts can be serviced and repaid, then savers will migrate to money forms with capped floats, like gold and Bitcoin.

Prior to 1971, if a major government-sponsored currency was threatened with dilution, global sovereigns and savers and producers would exchange that currency for gold at a fixed exchange rate to the dollar. Or, they could simply exchange that currency for another currency less likely to be diluted. In the current regime, all economies are highly levered and all fiat currencies must be greatly diluted in the future. It comes down to timing and we think the US dollar is the best positioned of all major fiat currencies. That said, it will eventually have to be diluted too and will lose value in gold and Bitcoin terms.

As mentioned above, gold is still owned by the world’s major treasury ministries and central banks. (In fact, it is effectively the only asset on the Fed’s balance sheet that is not someone else’s liability.) If US or global economic growth were to fall enough, or contract, and central bank monetary and credit policies were to fail to stimulate positive growth, then the value of all outstanding sovereign, household and corporate debt (and bank and bondholder assets) would become stressed.

The Fed would have no choice but to devalue dollars against its other asset – gold. Other central banks would either follow suit or go along with a coordinated plan to fix their currencies to the dollar (i.e., a new Bretton-Woods agreement). If this were to happen the price of gold in dollar terms would rise by as much as five to ten times current levels, in our view. (We arrive at this magnitude of change by taking the level of bank assets needed to be reserved and then using the Bretton Woods formula for currency valuation, base money divided by gold holdings.)

The new gold price would reflect a level at which gold holders would be willing to exchange their gold for the diluting currency. This dynamic is basically what happened in another form with US interest rates in 1980/1981. US treasury yields were forced higher by the Fed (22 percent to 15 percent along the inverted yield curve), a level at which trade partners like OPEC would accept dollars with a floating exchange rate.

Finally, Bitcoin. The BTC/USD exchange rate has gotten a lot of notice lately because it has almost doubled in the last month (se chart below)...

To listen to financial media commentary, the extraordinary move must be the result of unsophisticated financial rubes looking to get rich quick on the latest tulip fad.

We disagree. While the dollar price of BTC may drop significantly any time as it reflects people’s understanding of dynamic global economic and monetary conditions and of Bitcoin itself, we are highly confident the exchange rate will appreciate dramatically from current levels over time.

To be sure, faith in the flexible exchange rate fiat monetary system remains strong in G7 economies and those that actively trade with them. But major currencies require continued faith in perpetual growth without recessions and that highly leveraged, irreconcilable balance sheets will never have to be diluted.

Meanwhile, access to Bitcoin takes only internet connectivity, it is free to store, and there is no need to hide it traveling across borders. Bitcoin, itself or as a proxy for all crypto currencies, is quickly becoming a more reliable and accessible store of value for 5 billion people across the world residing in economies without major currencies, strong central banks or stable pegs.

The store-of-value benefit is beginning to make itself clear to wealth holders in developed economies too, those becoming aware of the need for future fiat currency inflation by monetary authorities.

Those unfamiliar with crypto currencies tend to fear bubble bursting outcomes. While this fear is understandable given its newness, complexity, past volatile market action and lack of a central or sovereign regulator, it is not reality-based. Bitcoin cannot be successfully hacked due to its underlying block chain recordkeeping system, which documents every transaction and every sequential custodian in the chain (all anonymously to the world). No one can create Bitcoins outside its system or sell Bitcoins that do not exist.

Further, Bitcoin’s float cannot be diluted without the express agreement of 51 percent of all Bitcoin holders. Bitcoins are widely dispersed across the world and there is no central authority with a political agenda. It is inconceivable why Bitcoin holders would agree to being diluted anytime soon.

At a $50 billion total market valuation, of which Bitcoin is about $30 billion, crypto currencies have almost incalculable appreciation potential vis-à-vis fiat currencies. They should gain significant market share for store of value purposes, and this could be sped up if payment systems adopt Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, or another crypto currency as a global means of exchange. After all, global fiat money amounts to nearly $100 trillion.

Many of us who have toiled over the years as professional investors are deluded with the explicit or subconscious expectation that the perception of wealth and markets will someday revert to what they were five, ten or twenty years ago. They will not, in our view. Yes, this time IS different (as it always has been). Our money will change (as it always has).

Given the highly leveraged state of the current monetary regime, the most dominant variable for future wealth maintenance and creation, in our view, may not be asset selection but rather money selection. Something to think about...

by Tyler Durden at May 27, 2017 01:20 AM


Boy Genius Report

Get Android O features on any Android phone right now with this free launcher

Android O new features

We're likely still a few months out from the release of Android 8.0, but we got a glimpse at some of its most interesting new features and additions at Google I/O earlier this month. One of the features that Google showed off during the event was called Notification Dots, which are small dots that appear on apps when you have a notification. You won't be able to try notification dots until Android O rolls out later this year, but you can add an unofficial version of the feature to your phone right now.

Continue reading...

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by Jacob Siegal at May 27, 2017 01:01 AM

Zero Hedge

Connecticut Credit Risk Soars To Record High As Tax Receipts Tumble

Connecticut’s general-obligation bonds are riskier than ever as plummeting income-tax collections and a $2.3 billion budget deficit moved all three credit rating companies to downgrade its debt.


As Bloomberg details, tax receipts for the current fiscal year ending in June will be about $451 million short of estimates from January, prompting Governor Dannel Malloy to empty the state’s already small budget stabilization fund. To help close the gap, public employees agreed to accept a 3-year wage freeze and to contribute more for their pension and health-care benefits under a tentative deal that would save more than $1.5 billion over the next two years.

As we previously detailed, The state of Connecticut has been hit hard by the double whammy of a deteriorating local economy, coupled with a plunge in hedge fund profits - as well as hedge fund managers permanently relocating to Florida - leading to a collapse in tax revenues. According to the the latest Connecticut budget released last week, the state is reeling from the consequences of sliding tax revenue from the super-rich, i.e. the state's hedge fund managers. The latest figures showed that tax revenue from the state’s top 100 highest-paying taxpayers declined 45% from 2015 to 2016. The drop adds up to a $200 million revenue loss for Connecticut.

In a dramatic, if of questionable credibility, soundbite Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin Sullivan says these wealthy people are “dramatically less wealthy than they were before.” He was referring to annual income, not actual asset holdings, because judging by the all time high in the S&P, the local financial elite have never had a higher net worth.

“When you look at the top 75, top 50 ... this is a group of wealthy people who are dramatically less wealthy than they were before,” said Kevin Sullivan, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services. “These folks, for a number of reasons, are either not realizing as much income or don’t have as much income.”

Just don't expect tears from the general public. Sullivan also noted how several international hedge funds have recently failed, resulting in “significant retrenchment” from investors. That drop in tolerance for risk brings smaller margins and ultimately less personal income for the state to tax, he added. It's fascinating how the Fed's central planning, superficially meant to restore "confidence" in a rigged, manipulated market is having such proound and adverse 2nd and 3rd order effects on state budgets.

Sullivan also acknowledged part of revenue decline can also be attributed to “a handful” of wealthy individuals who moved to more tax-friendly states — an issue frequently raised by legislative Republicans, who argue Connecticut’s tax policies encourage the state’s super-rich to move out.

None of this should be a surprise... it's no wonder more people than ever are looking to leave the increasing tax burden of this troubled state?

by Tyler Durden at May 27, 2017 12:55 AM

Daring Fireball

Washington Post: ‘Google Now Knows When Its Users Go to the Store and Buy Stuff’

Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg, writing for The Washington Post:

Google has begun using billions of credit-card transaction records to prove that its online ads are prompting people to make purchases — even when they happen offline in brick-and-mortar stores, the company said Tuesday.

The advance allows Google to determine how many sales have been generated by digital ad campaigns, a goal that industry insiders have long described as “the holy grail” of online advertising. But the announcement also renewed long-standing privacy complaints about how the company uses personal information.

Here’s Google’s announcement about this. I can’t figure out how it works. But it sounds creepy as hell. This is why I don’t grant Google access to any background access to my location data.

by John Gruber at May 27, 2017 12:38 AM

NYT > Economy

China Moves to Stabilize Currency, Despite Promise to Loosen Control

Beijing may make the renminbi less responsive to market moves, which could stem a flight of money out of the country but undermine earlier promises.

by KEITH BRADSHER at May 27, 2017 12:29 AM

Expecting a Big Economic Bump? It’s Looking Less Likely

With headwinds from trade, forecasts for this quarter are turning more tepid and point to a continuation of steady but not stellar growth.

by NELSON D. SCHWARTZ at May 27, 2017 12:10 AM

Planet Python

Sandipan Dey: Some Image Processing, Information and Coding Theory with Python

The following problems appeared in the exercises in the coursera course Image Processing (by NorthWestern University). The following descriptions of the problems are taken directly from the assignment’s description. Some Information and Coding Theory Computing the Entropy of an Image The next figure shows the problem statement. Although it was originally implemented in MATLAB, in … Continue reading Some Image Processing, Information and Coding Theory with Python

May 27, 2017 12:09 AM

Boy Genius Report

Researchers force AI to teach itself how to beat ‘Super Mario Bros’

ai training

Most of the times you hear about AI it's in context related to virtual assistants, or maybe even the virtual driver piloting a self-driving car, but training an artificial mind to fetch the weather report or do a lap around the block is a bit different than teaching it to teach itself. A team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have been working on just that, and in a newly published paper the group reveals the tool they used to keep their self-taught AI motivated: Super Mario Bros.

Continue reading...

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by Mike Wehner at May 27, 2017 12:01 AM

The Big Picture

System Sounds: Trappist-1 System Jazz Version

Inspired by the discovery of the remarkable TRAPPIST-1 planetary system, an astrophysicist, a musician, and an astrophysicist/musician decided to see what happens when the rhythmic and harmonic structure of planetary systems is translated directly into music. The result is SYSTEM Sounds, a collection of music and animations generated by numerical simulations, real data, and a…

Read More

The post System Sounds: Trappist-1 System Jazz Version appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at May 27, 2017 12:00 AM

May 26, 2017

'This is serious': Jared Kushner reportedly tried to set up a secret Trump-Russia back channel

'This is serious': Jared Kushner reportedly tried to set up a secret Trump-Russia back channelJared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and top White House adviser, was willing to go...

May 26, 2017 11:53 PM


Some Men Are Furious Over A Female-Only Wonder Woman Screening

via Twitter

Although the film industry is often seen as a liberal pillar of American culture, Hollywood has a major problem with sexism. Studies show that only 22 percent of protagonists in American films are female. So with the upcoming release of Wonder Woman, women have good reason to celebrate with a strong female lead. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in New York City decided to commemorate the event with a women-only screening of the film, and some men are furious. 

The cinema’s announcement:

“Apologies, gentlemen, but we’re embracing our girl power and saying ‘No Guys Allowed’ for one special night at the Alamo Ritz. And when we say ‘People Who Identify As Women Only,’ we mean it. Everyone working at this screening—venue staff, projectionist, and culinary team —will be female. So lasso your geeky girlfriends together and grab your tickets to this celebration of one of the most enduring and inspiring characters ever created.”

But what appeared to be a good-natured celebration of women ruffled the feathers of some men on Twitter. A group of guys who completely misunderstand gender dynamics thought the event was a form of reverse sexism.

Of course, one dude had to take it way too far. Like, way too far.

Some women thought their reaction was pretty sad.

The Alamo Draft House got the last laugh because the screening sold out in an hour.

Those who believe that holding a female-only screening of a film is sexist against men are indulging themselves in a major false equivalency. For most of human history, men excluded womem from everything from voting to owning land. Women have a long and deep history of being oppressed that men simply do not share. Therefore, saying that excluding men from an event is equal to excluding women is a major logical fallacy. 

Plus, in the end, the men should be happy they were excluded from the screening. Does anyone really need to sit through another CGI-ridden superhero movie? Even if it does star a woman?

by Tod Perry at May 26, 2017 11:50 PM

Daring Fireball


Yoink is a terrific utility for MacOS by Matthias Gansrigler. It gives you a shelf at the side of your screen where you can drop files (or clippings, like URLs or text snippets). Think of it as a place to park drag-and-drop items temporarily, while you switch apps or whatever. Cheap too: just $7 (here it is in the Mac App Store). Be sure to check out the usage tips — I’ve been using Yoink for over six months, and I learned a few things just now.

Back in 2012 I recommended a similar utility called DragonDrop, but DragonDrop is on hiatus, and I think I much prefer Yoink’s interface.


by John Gruber at May 26, 2017 11:33 PM

Follow-Up on Edition Numbering and the Marc Newson Hourglass

Small point of follow-up regarding my post the other day about Hodinkee’s $12,000 hourglass designed by Marc Newson. I wrote:

I do find it odd that every unit is numbered “1/100” rather than giving each piece a unique number.

I later clarified that to:

I do find it odd that every unit is numbered “1/100” rather than giving each piece a unique number — “1/100”, “2/100”, … “100/100”.

But I keep getting email about this. I am aware that this is how edition numbering works:

Edition Number: A fraction found on the bottom left hand corner of a print. The top number is the sequence in the edition; the bottom number is the total number of prints in the edition. The number appears as a fraction usually in the lower left of the print. For instance the edition number 25/50 means that it is print number 25 out of a total edition of 50.

That’s exactly what I think Hodinkee should be doing with these hourglasses, but from their own description, they’re not:

The Marc Newson Hourglass for Hodinkee is a limited edition of 100 pieces. Each is numbered “1 of 100” just below the “Hodinkee” signature on one side, with Marc Newson’s signature on the opposite side.

That says to me that all 100 pieces are numbered “1 of 100”. My guess is that the nature of the glass makes it difficult to print a unique number on each piece, but for $12,000 I would expect no expense to be spared. Also, when you label each piece with a unique number, owners of the pieces can feel more confident that theirs is unique. E.g. if it were ever discovered that two of them were labeled “12/100”, you would know something fishy is going on. I don’t think Hodinkee is secretly selling more than 100 of these, I’m just pointing out why it would be nicer if they were sequentially numbered.


by John Gruber at May 26, 2017 11:32 PM


English Bar Reminds Men To Stop Confusing Kindness For Flirting

via Twitter

There’s a terrible dilemma that comes with being a woman that most men will never understand. In many cases, when a woman is nice to man she has just met, he misconstrues her kindness for sexual attraction. In fact, a study released by Psychological Science found that men who viewed images of women misidentified their body language and facial expressions as sexually suggestive 12 percent of the time. This dilemma is especially difficult for women in customer service.

A bar in Exeter, England, became so tired of its male customers confusing its female bartenders’ friendliness for flirting, they purchased a sign to spell it out. The Beer Cellar recently tweeted a photo of the sign with a message alongside that reads, “...if dudes could stop trying to kiss our female bartender’s [sic] hands that would be great.”

“We basically just printed it out after we had a very sex-pest heavy weekend about three months ago,” bartender Lauren Dew said. “People really laugh, people support it. One percent think it’s a bit offensive, which is funny to me because those are the people it’s aimed at.” The sign was created by illustrator Charlotte Mullin, who had to deal with creepy men when she worked in retail. “I wanted to make it clear that female staff are nice to you because they have to be!” Mullin said. “And, of course, most of us are decent human beings and would be nice to you anyway, but in no way does this mean we’re dying for your d**k.”



by Tod Perry at May 26, 2017 11:25 PM

Boy Genius Report

Students can get a 6-month Amazon Prime trial right now, then 50% off after that

How To Get Free Amazon Prime

It’s graduation season right now, which means thousands upon of thousands of students are in the process of leaving school and entering the real world. Poor, poor students. If you’re lucky enough to not be among the classes that just graduated, enjoy it while you can. And as if your life doesn’t already have enough perks, here’s one more for you: Amazon has a special promotion right now gives students a 6-month trial of Amazon Prime. Once the trial is over, you can either cancel and never pay a dime or keep your Prime subscription for 50% off Amazon’s normal price for Prime.

Here’s a quick blurb from Amazon on the promotion and the benefits of Prime:

This is a great deal for your readers. Students with an active college email address (ending in .edu) can sign up to try a Student Prime Membership FREE for 6 months and get two-day free shipping for any of their last minute needs. Perfect timing for graduation period as well as summer break.

Once they finish with the 6-months free trial, they will enjoy Prime Membership at 50% off the regular price ($49 instead of $99 per year). Prime Student membership offers many of the same perks as regular Prime, including free two-day shipping, unlimited photo storage with Prime Photos, and exclusive discounts available only to students. Amazon Student subscribers also have access to Amazon’s streaming service, Prime Video, so if they feel like procrastinating during final exam study period, they can stream the thousands of movies and shows offered as part of their membership for free.

You can sign up for your free 6-month trial of Amazon Prime right here on the Amazon website.

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by Maren Estrada at May 26, 2017 11:20 PM

Remembering JFK on his 100th birthday

John F. Kennedy was born on May 29th, 1917 in Brookline, Mass. The youngest president elected in the United States was assassinated just two years into his presidency, but still left a lasting legacy. Here is a look back at moments of JFK’s life in his home state.

Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. with sons John F. Kennedy and Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., 1920. (John F. Kennedy Library)

May 26, 2017 11:13 PM

Calculated Risk

Vehicle Sales Forecast: Sales below 17 Million SAAR in May

The automakers will report May vehicle sales on Thursday, June 1st.

Note: There were 25 selling days in May 2017, up from 24 in May 2016.

From Reuters: U.S. auto sales seen up 0.5 percent in May: JD Power and LMC
U.S. auto sales in May will edge up 0.5 percent from a year earlier, despite consumer discounts remaining at record levels, industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive said on Thursday.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate for the month will be 16.9 million vehicles, down from 17.3 million last year. ...

The consultancies cut new vehicle sales forecast for 2017 to 17.2 million units from 17.5 million units. U.S. sales of new cars and trucks hit a record high of 17.55 million units in 2016. But as the market has begun to saturate, automakers have been hiking incentives to entice consumers to buy.
emphasis added
Overall sales are mostly moving sideways (and down a little from the record in 2016).

by Bill McBride ( at May 26, 2017 11:02 PM

Cramer shows you how to double your money in 7 years

Cramer shows you how to double your money in 7 yearsJim Cramer explains why young investors stand to benefit from the magic of compounding.

May 26, 2017 10:43 PM

Cramer breaks down your bond exposure by age — how to protect yourself from market volatility

Cramer breaks down your bond exposure by age — how to protect yourself from market volatilityJim Cramer addressed the lingering question of how much is the right amount of bond exposure.

May 26, 2017 10:43 PM

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Weekend Reading: The Deleted Passage of the Declaration of Independence (1776)

The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed: _The Deleted Passage of the Declaration of Independence (1776) _: "When Thomas Jefferson included a passage attacking slavery in his draft of the Declaration of Independence it initiated the most intense debate...

...among the delegates gathered at Philadelphia in the spring and early  summer of 1776. Jefferson's passage on slavery was the most important section removed from the final document. It was replaced with a more ambiguous passage about King George's incitement of "domestic insurrections among us." Decades later Jefferson blamed the removal of the passage on delegates from South Carolina and Georgia and Northern delegates who represented merchants who were at the time actively involved in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Jefferson's original passage on slavery appears below:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.  This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain.  Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce.  And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

Sources: Thomas Jefferson: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Being His Autobiography, Correspondence, Reports, Messages, Addresses, and other Writings, Official and Private (Washington, D.C.: Taylor & Maury, 1853-1854)

by J. Bradford DeLong at May 26, 2017 10:42 PM

Weekend Reading: RIch Landrieu: Address on Confederate Monuments

Mitch Landrieu: Transcript of Address on Confederate Monuments: "Thank you for coming...

...The soul of our beloved City is deeply rooted in a history that has evolved over thousands of years; rooted in a diverse people who have been here together every step of the way–for both good and for ill.

It is a history that holds in its heart the stories of Native Americans: the Choctaw, Houma Nation, the Chitimacha. Of Hernando de Soto, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the Acadians, the Islenos, the enslaved people from Senegambia, Free People of Color, the Haitians, the Germans, both the empires of Francexii and Spain. The Italians, the Irish, the Cubans, the south and central Americans, the Vietnamese and so many more.

You see: New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling cauldron of many cultures.

There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum — out of many we are one.

But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.

America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.

So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame… all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans.

So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission.

There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth.

As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”

So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other.

So, let’s start with the facts:

The historic record is clear: the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity.

First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy.

It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.

These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.

Should you have further doubt about the true goals of the Confederacy, in the very weeks before the war broke out, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, made it clear that the Confederate cause was about maintaining slavery and white supremacy.

He said in his now famous ‘Cornerstone speech’ that the Confederacy’s:

cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth...

Now, with these shocking words still ringing in your ears, I want to try to gently peel from your hands the grip on a false narrative of our history that I think weakens us and make straight a wrong turn we made many years ago so we can more closely connect with integrity to the founding principles of our nation and forge a clearer and straighter path toward a better city and more perfect union.

Last year, President Barack Obama echoed these sentiments about the need to contextualize and remember all of our history. He recalled a piece of stone, a slave auction block engraved with a marker commemorating a single moment in 1830 when Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay stood and spoke from it.

President Obama said:

Consider what this artifact tells us about history… on a stone where day after day for years, men and women… bound and bought and sold and bid like cattle on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet. For a long time the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as history with a plaque were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men.

A piece of stone – one stone. Both stories were history. One story told. One story forgotten or maybe even purposefully ignored.

As clear as it is for me today… for a long time, even though I grew up in one of New Orleans’ most diverse neighborhoods, even with my family’s long proud history of fighting for civil rights… I must have passed by those monuments a million times without giving them a second thought.

So I am not judging anybody, I am not judging people. We all take our own journey on race. I just hope people listen like I did when my dear friend Wynton Marsalis helped me see the truth. He asked me to think about all the people who have left New Orleans because of our exclusionary attitudes.

Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it?

Can you look into that young girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too?

We all know the answer to these very simple questions.

When you look into this child’s eyes is the moment when the searing truth comes into focus for us. This is the moment when we know what is right and what we must do. We can’t walk away from this truth.

And I knew that taking down the monuments was going to be tough, but you elected me to do the right thing, not the easy thing and this is what that looks like. So relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, this is not about blame or retaliation. This is not a naïve quest to solve all our problems at once.

This is, however, about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile and, most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves, making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong.

Otherwise, we will continue to pay a price with discord, with division, and yes, with violence.

To literally put the confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past, it is an affront to our present, and it is a bad prescription for our future.

History cannot be changed. It cannot be moved like a statue. What is done is done. The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it. Surely we are far enough removed from this dark time to acknowledge that the cause of the Confederacy was wrong.

And in the second decade of the 21st century, asking African Americans — or anyone else — to drive by property that they own; occupied by reverential statues of men who fought to destroy the country and deny that person’s humanity seems perverse and absurd.

Centuries-old wounds are still raw because they never healed right in the first place.

Here is the essential truth: we are better together than we are apart. Indivisibility is our essence. Isn’t this the gift that the people of New Orleans have given to the world?

We radiate beauty and grace in our food, in our music, in our architecture, in our joy of life, in our celebration of death; in everything that we do. We gave the world this funky thing called jazz; the most uniquely American art form that is developed across the ages from different cultures.

Think about second lines, think about Mardi Gras, think about muffaletta, think about the Saints, gumbo, red beans and rice. By God, just think. All we hold dear is created by throwing everything in the pot; creating, producing something better; everything a product of our historic diversity.

We are proof that out of many we are one — and better for it! Out of many we are one — and we really do love it!

And yet, we still seem to find so many excuses for not doing the right thing. Again, remember President Bush’s words, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”

We forget, we deny how much we really depend on each other, how much we need each other. We justify our silence and inaction by manufacturing noble causes that marinate in historical denial. We still find a way to say “wait, not so fast.”

But like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “wait has almost always meant never.”

We can’t wait any longer. We need to change. And we need to change now. No more waiting. This is not just about statues, this is about our attitudes and behavior as well. If we take these statues down and don’t change to become a more open and inclusive society this would have all been in vain.

While some have driven by these monuments every day and either revered their beauty or failed to see them at all, many of our neighbors and fellow Americans see them very clearly. Many are painfully aware of the long shadows their presence casts, not only literally but figuratively. And they clearly receive the message that the Confederacy and the cult of the lost cause intended to deliver.

Earlier this week, as the cult of the lost cause statue of P.G.T Beauregard came down, world renowned musician Terence Blanchard stood watch, his wife Robin and their two beautiful daughters at their side.

Terence went to a high school on the edge of City Park named after one of America’s greatest heroes and patriots, John F. Kennedy. But to get there he had to pass by this monument to a man who fought to deny him his humanity.

He said:

I’ve never looked at them as a source of pride … it’s always made me feel as if they were put there by people who don’t respect us. This is something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. It’s a sign that the world is changing...

Yes, Terence, it is, and it is long overdue.

Now is the time to send a new message to the next generation of New Orleanians who can follow in Terence and Robin’s remarkable footsteps.

A message about the future, about the next 300 years and beyond; let us not miss this opportunity New Orleans and let us help the rest of the country do the same. Because now is the time for choosing. Now is the time to actually make this the City we always should have been, had we gotten it right in the first place.

We should stop for a moment and ask ourselves — at this point in our history, after Katrina, after Rita, after Ike, after Gustav, after the national recession, after the BP oil catastrophe and after the tornado — if presented with the opportunity to build monuments that told our story or to curate these particular spaces … would these monuments be what we want the world to see? Is this really our story?

We have not erased history; we are becoming part of the city’s history by righting the wrong image these monuments represent and crafting a better, more complete future for all our children and for future generations.

And unlike when these Confederate monuments were first erected as symbols of white supremacy, we now have a chance to create not only new symbols, but to do it together, as one people.

In our blessed land we all come to the table of democracy as equals.

We have to reaffirm our commitment to a future where each citizen is guaranteed the uniquely American gifts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That is what really makes America great and today it is more important than ever to hold fast to these values and together say a self-evident truth that out of many we are one. That is why today we reclaim these spaces for the United States of America.

Because we are one nation, not two; indivisible with liberty and justice for all, not some. We all are part of one nation, all pledging allegiance to one flag, the flag of the United States of America. And New Orleanians are in, all of the way.

It is in this union and in this truth that real patriotism is rooted and flourishes.

Instead of revering a 4-year brief historical aberration that was called the Confederacy we can celebrate all 300 years of our rich, diverse history as a place named New Orleans and set the tone for the next 300 years.

After decades of public debate, of anger, of anxiety, of anticipation, of humiliation and of frustration. After public hearings and approvals from three separate community led commissions. After two robust public hearings and a 6-1 vote by the duly elected New Orleans City Council. After review by 13 different federal and state judges. The full weight of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government has been brought to bear and the monuments in accordance with the law have been removed.

So now is the time to come together and heal and focus on our larger task. Not only building new symbols, but making this city a beautiful manifestation of what is possible and what we as a people can become.

Let us remember what the once exiled, imprisoned and now universally loved  Nelson Mandela and what he said after the fall of apartheid:

If the pain has often been unbearable and the revelations shocking to all of us, it  is because they indeed bring us the beginnings of a common understanding of what happened and a steady restoration of the nation’s humanity...

So before we part let us again state the truth clearly.

The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered.

As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history. Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost cause.

Anything less would fall short of the immortal words of our greatest President Abraham Lincoln, who with an open heart and clarity of purpose calls on us today to unite as one people when he said:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to do all which may achieve and cherish: a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations...

Thank you.

by J. Bradford DeLong at May 26, 2017 10:40 PM

Boy Genius Report

How to play the ‘ARMS’ Global Testpunch on Nintendo Switch this weekend

ARMS Global Testpunch times

While Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2 are sure to hog the spotlight on the Switch in the second half of 2017, there's another first-party game from Nintendo that has piqued our interest. ARMS -- a fighting game that utilizes motion controls -- will be the first big Switch game to launch after E3 2017 and will serve as the bridge to Splatoon 2, which doesn't come out for the Switch until late July.

If seeing the game in action during the latest Nintendo Direct wasn't convincing enough, Nintendo is holding a stress test for the game this weekend which any Switch owner can participate in.

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by Jacob Siegal at May 26, 2017 10:30 PM

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Should-Read: Chad Stone: Donald Trump's Indefensible Economic Growth Forecasts: "The 1.1 percentage point gap between the Trump annual growth forecast over the next decade and CBO's is the largest on record and much larger than any since the Reagan-Bush era...

Donald Trump s Indefensible Economic Growth Forecasts Economic Intelligence US News

by J. Bradford DeLong at May 26, 2017 10:29 PM

Where US Manufacturing Jobs Really Went: No Longer So Fresh at Project Syndicate

Il Quarto Stato

Project Syndicate: J. Bradford DeLong: Where US Manufacturing Jobs Really Went: In the two decades from 1979 to 1999, the number of manufacturing jobs in the United States drifted downward, from 19 million to 17 million. But over the next decade, between 1999 and 2009, the number plummeted to 12 million. That more dramatic decline has given rise to the idea that the US economy suddenly stopped working–at least for blue-collar males–at the turn of the century...

But that thought-nugget way of putting it—that manufacturing was fine, with no massive destruction of manufacturing jobs until 2000—is wrong. There was enormous destruction of manufacturing jobs: but destroyed jobs in one region and sector were more-or-less matched in absolute numbers—but not in shares of the labor force—by rising jobs in another sector and region.

A little family history: Consider the career of my grandfather William Walcott Lord, born early in the twentieth century in New England. The Lord Bros. Shoe Company in Brockton, MA, facing imminent bankruptcy in 1933 at the nadir of the Great Depression, had to close up shop. They moved to and reopened in a place where wages were even lower: South Paris, ME. The workers of Brockton were devastated by this and all of the other southern New England destruction of relatively high-paid blue-collar factory jobs in the Great Depression and afterwards. But in the aggregate statistics the closing of their factory in Boston was offset by a bonanza for the rural workers of South Paris, ME: to move from near-subsistence agriculture for a steady job in a shoe factory.

But that lasted for only fourteen years. In the aftermath of World War II, fearing the return of depression, the Lord Brothers liquidated their enterprise and split up, one brother moving to York, ME; a second to Boston, MA; and my grandfather to Lakeland, FL, halfway between Tampa and Orlando, where he speculated in real estate and engaged in non-residential construction. The effect on the aggregate statistics was again small: fewer workers in boot and shoe manufacturing, but more workers in chemical manufacturing and in construction building and operating the turnkey phosphate processing plants and other factories that the Wellman-Lord Construction Company built. The net factor content of the domestic employment induced by the Wellman-Lord Construction Company was very much the same as that induced by the Lord Brothers Shoe Company in Brockton, MA: the same kinds of people in terms of skills and education—but very different people, in a very different place.

The post-World War II period of apparent stability in manufacturing employment nationwide in reality saw manufacturing (and construction) jobs move from the northeast and midwest to the sunbelt. Those job losses were as damaging to those New England the Midwestern communities then as the job losses of the 2000s were more recently.

And even in the 2000s we had, up until 2006, not blue-collar job loss but rather job churn. The fall in manufacturing jobs was offset by a rise in construction jobs. And in 2006 and 2007 the fall in residential construction jobs was offset by a rise in blue-collar jobs supporting business investment and increased exports. Only with the coming of 2008 and what people still call the Great Recession—although soon “Longer Depression” is likely to be a better name—do we see not blue-collar job churn but blue-collar job loss in America.

There is always churn. That's the reason I think that looking at the share—which shows a smooth decline—yields much more insight than looking at absolute numbers of manufacturing workers. The meme that things were stable for a long time, and then they collapsed with the rise of China is wrong. The right ways to look at it are, instead, two: The first is that things were stable in terms of absolute numbers of blue-collar jobs—with construction booms alternating with manufacturing booms—until 2008 and the financial crisis. The second way to look at it is that there was an extremely large and powerful long-run decline in the share of American jobs that were manufacturing jobs from World War II to the present. To throw out some numbers:

  • The United States was never going to permanently have the 38% of its nonfarm labor force in manufacturing that it had in 1943: that was only if we were building little but bombs and tanks.

  • Instead, the United States’s post-World War II normal was about 30%.

  • Had the United States had been a normal post-World War II industrial powerhouse economy like Germany and Japan, by now the evolution of technology would have carried that share down from 30% to about 12%. Instead, the United States has gone from 12% to 9.2%, because, since the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, the United States has on the whole followed dysfunctional macroeconomic policies that have made us a savings-deficit rather than a savings-surplus country.

  • Instead of the United States, as a rich country, financing the industrialization of the rest of the world and developing economies using that financing to purchase US manufacturing exports; the United States has, instead, been instead acting as... a money laundering center?, a provider of political risk insurance?, a place to put your money so that it will be safe?

  • Morever, if you are not a rich person in a developing country but a developing country, it is nice to have large dollar assets if you want to avoid being subject to the tender mercies of Christine Lagarde of the IMF.

  • Then there is a further decline, from 9.2% to 8.7%, because of changing patterns of trade, primarily the rise of China.

  • And the manufacturing share went from 8.7% to 8.7% because of the result of NAFTA: NAFTA is a nothingburger as far as the fall in the manufacturing share of the workforce is concerned.

  • And the manufacturing share went from 8.7% to 8.6% because of “bad trade deals” the United States made with China, with Mexico, with Canada—and of course, there are substantial and powerful countervailing gains in other sectors that the United States has gotten from the trade negotiations that led to the shedding the extra 0.1%-point of its manufacturing labor force.

In an era of fake news, astroturf social movements, and exceptional and misleading anecdotes, getting the numbers right and getting the right numbers out into the public sphere is the first and most essential task of anybody who wants to play a constructive role in humanity’s long-term planning. It was Abraham Lincoln—did you know he was a founder of the Republican Party?—who said: “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it…”

by J. Bradford DeLong at May 26, 2017 10:22 PM

Trump's handlers want to start vetting his tweets so they 'don't go from the president's mind out to the universe'

Trump's handlers want to start vetting his tweets so they 'don't go from the president's mind out to the universe'The Trump administration is looking for ways to recalibrate its affairs back home as President...

May 26, 2017 10:16 PM


Hillary Jokes About Trump Being Impeached During Commencement Speech

“History repeats itself” may be one of the most overused clichés in the English language, but these days it definitely applies. In a speech to the graduating class of 2017 at her alma mater, Wellesley, Hillary Clinton, drew comparisons between today’s politics and when she graduated. In 1969, Clinton and many of her fellow graduates shared concerns over Republican Richard Nixon, a “law and order” president whose underhanded campaign led to his impeachment. The graduating class of 2017 faces an eerily similar situation with Donald Trump. 

“We were asking urgent questions about whether women, people of color, religious minorities, immigrants would ever be treated with dignity and respect,” Clinton said. “And, by the way, we were furious about the past presidential election of man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice.” After the crowd erupted in laughter, Clinton pointed out another similarity between Trump and Nixon. “After firing the person running the investigation into him at the Department of Justice,” Clinton said.

Although Clinton’s comparisons between Nixon and Trump are jest, they do share a few similar characteristics: xenophobia, disdain for the press, and a persecution complex. But Nixon was an establishment, career Republican, whereas Trump is a political outsider and never held office before now. Nixon was also statesman who was fascinated with Foreign policy, while Trump has very little knowledge of the world stage and is most interested in his own self-aggrandizement.

Former Reagan policy advisor, Bruce Bartlett, may have said it best with this tweet:

by Tod Perry at May 26, 2017 10:00 PM

Boy Genius Report

I am absolutely addicted to this idiotic online claw game

toreba online crane game

I really don't need to explain to you the appeal of the classic "claw game," and even if I tried it would probably just sound silly. Navigating a flimsy toy crane over to some cheap trinket and then praying that the weak little arms actually make it move is an exercise in frustration, and paying a dollar or more for every attempt is downright stupid. That being said, there's something extremely addictive about the entire exercise, and now that I can play dozens of different claw game machines from the comfort of my a browser, iPhone, or Android device, someone might need to stage an intervention.

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by Mike Wehner at May 26, 2017 09:43 PM


This Mexican Politician Keeps Insisting He Meant To Use ‘#campaignhashtag’ As His Campaign's Hashtag

There’s no shame in not being able to keep up with all the social media platforms out there, especially if you hail from an older generation. But when you’re running for office, as Javier Zapata is, you’re a public figure, so even if you don’t a retweet from a subtweet from a Snapchat, you might want to enlist the help of people who do. 

It appears from the Mexican politician’s social media campaign that Zapata didn’t have those people around. If he did, he should probably fire them and find some new ones. 


Because his election team landed on “#campaignhashtag” as his, uh, campaign hashtag. 

For what it’s worth, the hashtag is garnering a lot of attention, but probably not in the way a campaigning politician would want. 

Here’s the tagline’s dubious debut: 

Either the sign company erected a draft mock-up of the final product or this guy really doesn’t know how hashtags work. Regardless, he’s getting hilarious criticism from even mainstream publications. El Mundo, not pulling any punches, asked if Zapata’s campaign was the worst in known history

Some think that this was an act of subversive genius, drawing attention to the candidate. However, that plan’s only sound if the attention drawn to the candidate helps get him elected and doesn’t just make him look like a bumbling caricature who can’t even get a sign right. 

Netflix got in on the fun, mocking the billboard in a promotional tweet for an upcoming release, featuring a far savvier campaigner, Frank Underwood: 

Before you feel too bad for Mr. Zapata, it may behoove you to learn that his platform as a Social Encounter Party candidate is rooted in the rejection and repudiation of gay marriage, abortion, and pornography. 

If you still feel pity for the hapless Zapata, you might take some solace in knowing that his original campaign hashtag was “#PorMisBigotes,” which translates to “because of my mustache.”

Yes, really. 

Thanks to the attention (and the beyond-awful alternative), Zapata has embraced the goofy hashtag, saying in a statement, “I’m convinced that ordinary people have more experience in creating political campaign ‘hashtags’ than parties themselves or the many campaign consultants that charge millions.”

That’s some quality spin there, Javier. Mistake or not, this guy sure is owning this new asset. Look no further than the header image on his campaign’s Facebook page.


by Penn Collins at May 26, 2017 09:40 PM

The tech industry is dominated by 5 big companies — here’s how each makes its money

The tech industry is dominated by 5 big companies — here’s how each makes its moneyMore and more, everything crucial about the present and future of consumer tech runs through at...

May 26, 2017 09:37 PM


T-Mobile LG V20 receiving update with security patches and bug fixes

It’s been awhile since the LG V20 has gotten a software update, but that drought is ending this week. T-Mobile is now pushing an update to the LG V20 that bumps it to software version H91810k. TmoNews reader AlwaysSmile got the update on their V20 today, and the phone is now on the May 1, 2017 security patch level. According to T-Mobile’s support page, this LG V20 update also includes an e911 timer fix and ... [read full article]

The post T-Mobile LG V20 receiving update with security patches and bug fixes appeared first on TmoNews.

by Alex Wagner at May 26, 2017 09:33 PM


4 Ways to Secure Your Authentication System in Rails

May 26, 2017 09:23 PM

Arun Shourie - Google News

The Mind of the Saints: Speculations around Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Ramana Maharishi - The Indian Express

The Indian Express

The Mind of the Saints: Speculations around Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Ramana Maharishi
The Indian Express
Arun Shourie may not be a saint. But he is a genuine seeker. He wields a sharp, long blade on undergrowth that he thinks obstructs our passage to clear thinking. Whether you think the result opens a path to illumination or even slashes genuine thought ...

May 26, 2017 09:21 PM


Adorable Golf Ball Retrieving Dog Raises Money For Charity

A Minnesota dog named Davos scours a local golf course on the hunt for wayward golf balls, which he brings to his human, Al Cooper. The pup’s passion has been put to use raising money for a cause that’s near and dear to the dog’s heart. While watching TV with Davos, Al noticed that whenever a Humane Society ad would come on the television, “He would just cry his little heart out when he’d see those commercials.”


“It gave me the idea that that's probably where some of the proceeds from the sale of the golf balls should go is to the Humane Society to help those dogs that were so neglected,” he said. 


The balls are priced at 25 cents each. Davos’ work quickly netted the charity $100, and Al wanted to ensure that Davos was the one who presented the funds to the charity. Al attached a $100 bill to Davos’ paw and told the dog, “Show her the money, puppy.” The dog then lifted his paw to present the gift to Deanna Kramer, senior philanthropy advisor for the Humane Society. 

"That was probably the cutest donation presentation I've ever had the pleasure of being part of," said Kramer, speaking to KARE 11-TV.


by Penn Collins at May 26, 2017 09:20 PM

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Procrastinating on May 26, 2017

We re All Public Intellectuals Now The National Interest

Over at Equitable Growth: Must- and Should-Reads:

Interesting Reads:

And Over Here:

Perhaps Worth Looking at...

by J. Bradford DeLong at May 26, 2017 09:13 PM

Schneier on Security

Friday Squid Blogging: Squid and Chips

The excellent Montreal chef Marc-Olivier Frappier, of Joe Beef fame, has created a squid and chips dish for Brit & Chips restaurant.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

Read my blog posting guidelines here.

by Bruce Schneier at May 26, 2017 09:12 PM

Boy Genius Report

Apple is working on a ‘Neural Engine’ to improve AI in iOS devices

Apple is developing a processor dedicated to AI-related tasks, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Gurman's source says that the chip is known internally as the 'Apple Neural Engine,' and that it will be used to improve the way that Apple's myriad devices respond to requests that typically require human intelligence, including facial recognition and speech recognition.

Continue reading...

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by Jacob Siegal at May 26, 2017 09:07 PM


Motivation to Get Up: Make Work Worth Your Time

Motivation to Get Up and Make Work Worth Your Time!


What pulls you out of bed in the morning?

It’s not because you need to. There’s something more.

When your life feels like an adventure — when you’re making choices, when you’re navigating the way — then we’re talking.

Find a career path where you’re the one creating the path.

Because life isn’t about walking; it’s about traversing.

The post Motivation to Get Up: Make Work Worth Your Time appeared first on Gapingvoid.

by David Essman at May 26, 2017 09:00 PM

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Should-Read: Kavya Vaghul: Weekend reading: the “fantasy budget” edition: "Greg Leiserson discusses... fantasy budgeting around policies and plans that have yet to be developed...

...Ammar Farooq, which takes a close look at the proportion of college-educated workers in occupations that don’t require a college degree.... Nick Bunker also writes on the incidence of over-education across a lifetime.... The Trump administration proposed large cuts to the U.S. Department of Labor... explains Elisabeth Jacobs.... John Schmitt sits down with Sandra Black.... The fiscal year 2018 budget put forward a 13 percent spending cut for the U.S. Department of Education.... Kavya Vaghul unpacks....

Dylan Matthews... calls out the “magical economic assumptions”.... Why has wage growth stagnated...? Pedro Nicolaci da Costa explores.... The American Health Care Act was scored by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office... explains Casey Quinlan.... “Inclusive prosperity”... has become increasingly unattainable, writes Richard Florida.... Lawrence Mishel and Josh Bivens strike down on the argument that increasing automation—the robot apocalypse—leads to inequality and job displacement..."

by J. Bradford DeLong at May 26, 2017 08:54 PM

Deposit Accounts

ableBanking Raises Money Market Savings Account Rate to 1.30% APY

ableBanking increased the rate today of its Money Market Savings account to 1.30% APY. This is currently the top rate that’s available from an internet savings account.

May 26, 2017 08:47 PM

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

The Future of Education and Lifelong Learning: DeLong Opening DRAFT

Preview of The Future of Education and Lifelong Learning DeLong Opening DRAFT

Harvard Class of 1982 35th Reunion :: Science Center B :: Saturday, May 27, 2018, 10:45-12:00 noon

  • Seth Lloyd, MIT: Moderator
  • Brad DeLong, U.C. Berkeley
  • Ivonne Garcia, Kenyon
  • Noel Michele Holbrook, Harvard
  • William Sakas, CUNY
  • Carol Steiker, Harvard

In the spring of our freshman year, then-young economics professor Richard Freeman came to Ec 10 to tell us that going to Harvard would not make us rich.

He was wrong.

Up until 1980 America was winning, and Richard Freeman expected it to keep on winning, the race between education and technology: Thus there were ample numbers of people to take the increasing number of jobs requiring formal education for first class performance. Thus the amount the market paid you extra for taking a college requiring rather than a high school requiring job was modest: 30% or so--not enough to make up for the income you would've earned, had you taken the tuition you would not have spent and the extra wages you would have made from working, and put them into some reasonable investment.

But after 1980 America began to lose the race between education and technology.

The expansion of American higher education slowed massively. Higher education for native-born males simply froze in its tracks. As a result, in the world in which we have worked for the past 35 years employers have been betting up the relative price of college graduates: Rather than making 30% more than our counterparts who went straight into the job market after high school did, we have on average received double.

The freezing and of the relative numbers of native born American males taking advantage of hire education as demand, supply, and heterogeneity components.

On the demand-side, states withdrew tuition subsidies. Public college ceased to be free. Those whose parents were not rich worried about their student loans: what if they didn't succeed and finish and could not get one of those high paying jobs? How were they going to pay back their loans? Americans almost surely over worry about this. But people are who they are, and not who economic theory dictates they should rationally be.

On the supply side, states stopped building campuses. Getting the courses you wanted and needed at public universities became iffy: five or six years rather than four.

And on the heterogeneity side, our colleges are designed for those who take to print literacy and to Arabic mathematics like ducks to water--if you do not have that, or are not trained to have that, learning the way we are taught to teach becomes much more difficult. We economists see this every semester, as even Ec 10 requires great facility in reading, in arithmetic, in algebra, and in algebraic geometry. The extra slice of the population that we would have been sending to higher education in a better counterfactual world in which America had not lost the race between education and technology would have been less well prepared and less suited to benefit.

What is the balance between these supply, demand, and heterogeneity considerations? That, we say, is a research problem.

How important is all this? I would say that about 1/3 of the problem is with America that have developed over the past 35 years--1/3 of the ways in which I see America today falling far short of what I confidently helped America would be by now--are due to our losing the race between education and technology.

Let me make one final point: Over the past generation, Harvard has not helped. We had 1600 in our class. Last week's graduating class was essentially the same size. Worldwide, between five and ten times as many people are well-qualified to join my niece as freshmen this fall. In our class there were perhaps four times as many people well-qualified to attend as Harvard admitted. Today there are between twenty and forty. Yet Presidents Bok, Pusey, and Rudenstine seemed to have little interest in helping America and the world in the race between education and technology. Contrast that with the University of California, which, under Chancellor and President Clark Kerr and California Governor Pat Brown, set in motion the plan to clone itself across the state and increase enrollment tenfold.

If you are thinking about giving money to help America win this race with education and technology, I would not recommend Harvard. U.C. Berkeley, Columbia, and MIT for moving people whose parents' were in the bottom quintile into the top 1%. And for overall bottom fifth to top fifth mobility? CUNY. U.T.-Pan American. TCI. SUNY Stonybrook. Pace. and Cal State-LA. That is what Yagan, Turner, Saez, Friedman, and Chetty say…

by J. Bradford DeLong at May 26, 2017 08:47 PM

Planet Python

Enthought: Enthought at National Instruments’ NIWeek 2017: An Inside Look

This week I had the distinct privilege of representing Enthought at National Instruments‘ 23rd annual user conference, NIWeek 2017. National Instruments is a leader in test, measurement, and control solutions, and we share many common customers among our global scientific and engineering user base.

NIWeek kicked off on Monday with Alliance Day, where my colleague Andrew Collette and I went on stage to receive the LabVIEW Tools Network 2017 Product of the Year Award for Enthought’s Python Integration Toolkit, which provides a bridge between Python and LabVIEW, allowing you to create VI’s (virtual instruments) that make Python function and object method calls. Since its release last year, the Python Integration Toolkit has opened up access to a broad range of new capabilities for LabVIEW users,  by combining the best of Python with the best of LabVIEW. It was also inspiring to hear about the advances being made by other National Instruments partners. Congratulations to the award winners in other categories (Wineman Technology, Bloomy, and Moore Good Ideas)!

On Wednesday, Andrew gave a presentation titled “Building and Deploying Python-Powered LabVIEW Applications” to a standing-room only crowd.  He gave some background on the relative strengths of Python and LabVIEW (some of which is covered in our March 2017 webinar “Using Python and LabVIEW to Rapidly Solve Engineering Problems“) and then showcased some of the capabilities provided by the toolkit, such as plotting data acquisition results live to a web server using plotly, which is always a crowd-pleaser (you can learn more about that in the blog post “Using Plotly from LabVIEW via Python”).  Other demos included making use of the Python scikit-learn library for machine learning, (you can see Enthought’s CEO Eric Jones run that demo here, during the 2016 NIWeek keynotes.)

For a mechanical engineer like me, attending NIWeek is a bit like giving a kid a holiday in a candy shop.  There was much to admire on the expo floor, with all kinds of mechatronic gizmos and gadgets.  I was most interested by the lightning-fast video and image processing possible with NI’s FPGA systems, like the part sorting system shown below.  Really makes me want to play around with nifpga.

Another thing really gaining traction is the implementation of machine learning for a number of applications. I attended one talk titled “Deep Learning With LabVIEW and Acceleration on FPGAs” that demonstrated image classification using a neural network and talked about strategies to reduce the code size to get it to fit on an FPGA.

Finally, of course, I was really excited by all of the activity in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which is an area of core focus for Enthought.  We have been in the big data analytics game for a long time, and writing software for hard science is in our company DNA. But this year especially, starting with the AIChE 2017 Spring Meeting and now at NIWeek 2017, it has been really energizing to meet with industry leaders and see some of the amazing things that are being implemented in the IIoT.  National Instruments has been a leader in the test and measurement sector for a long time, and they have been pioneers in IIoT.  Now it is easy to download and install an interface to Amazon S3 for LabVIEW, and just like that, your sensor is now a connected sensor … and your data is ready for analysis in Enthought’s Canopy Data platform.

After immersion in NIWeek, I guess you could say, I’ve been “LabVIEWed”:

The post Enthought at National Instruments’ NIWeek 2017: An Inside Look appeared first on Enthought Blog.

May 26, 2017 08:44 PM

The death rate from Alzheimer's disease increased 55% over 15 years — and it points to an important problem

The death rate from Alzheimer's disease increased 55% over 15 years — and it points to an important problemAlzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia, affects about 5.5 million...

May 26, 2017 08:44 PM

Boy Genius Report

Add two fast-charging USB ports to any wall outlet without messing with a single wire

USB Wall Outlet Amazon

Everyone wants to add USB ports to their home wall outlets these days. After all, what’s the point of old school wall adapters when most of your devices ship with USB cables? The problem, of course, is that most people don’t want to have to bother with shutting their power off and fumbling with wires. And the idea of paying an electrician to install them is just crazy. Here’s another option: check out the White Rock 3.0A Smart USB Wall Outlet. It’s basically a brilliant cover plate that snaps on in place of your old one, and it auto-magically draws power without you having to mess with any wires. It also includes fast charging capability as an added bonus.

Here’s what you need to know from the product page:

  • Easy and quick to install on any existing power outlet at home. No wiring. Just replace the plate with the plate provided. It takes 30 seconds only!
  • Both USB ports have smart power transfer management controllers for fast-charging iPhones, iPad, iPad mini, Samsung, LG and other Android phones and tablet.
  • Tamper-resistant material for maximum electrical safety. Full certifications for USA. 2 year warranty.

White Rock - 3.0A Smart Fast Quick Charger USB Wall Outlet - 30 seconds to get 2 USB sockets on…: $14.99

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by Maren Estrada at May 26, 2017 08:38 PM

Macron was warned about Trump's awkwardly aggressive handshake before their meeting

Macron was warned about Trump's awkwardly aggressive handshake before their meetingThe new president of France was warned about US President Donald Trump's aggressive hand-shaking...

May 26, 2017 08:36 PM

There’s a 'Boneyard' in Arizona where most US military planes go to die

There’s a 'Boneyard' in Arizona where most US military planes go to dieAt the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, also known as the "Boneyard," US military planes go to die.

May 26, 2017 08:15 PM

Dronescapes: beautiful photography from drones




Dronescapes is an art book of some of the most visually arresting drone photography collected from Dronestagram.

Readers will see the planet from entirely new vantage points, whether it’s a bird’s-eye view of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, a photograph taken inches away from an eagle in midflight, or a vertiginous shot taken above Mexico’s Tamul Waterfalls. There are extended commentaries on how individual images were created and a separate, concise guide containing technical advice on how to use a drone and select the right model.

God knows we can all use a shot of the mini-overview effect right now.

Tags: books   drones   Dronescapes   photography

by Jason Kottke at May 26, 2017 08:10 PM


How to Make a Knife Show Display, an Outdoor Storage Bench, the "Don't Drive Yourself Crazy" Approach to DIY & More

Knife Show Display

Jimmy DiResta uses everything from forging techniques to a CNC plasma cutter to create a knife display system for a client:

Tall Bookcase, Clever Jigs

Matthias Wandel builds a tall bookcase out of scraps, coming up with a variety of clever jigs and techniques along the way. In particular, watch how he makes his own wood tap using an angle grinder:

Wood Turned Thin Walled Maple Bowl

Frank Howarth pushes his skills to the limit with this exercise, patiently trying to figure out how to solve problems that crop up as he goes:

The "Plan, But Don't Drive Yourself Crazy" Approach to DIY

From design to execution, Steve Ramsey shows you how he typically tackles your average DIY project:

Carving A Totem Pole

Here's a look at an interesting craft many of us don't get to see. The Samurai Carpenter visits Tom Lafortune, a carver of traditional totem poles and masks:

Outdoor Storage Bench

Bob Clagett bangs out a simple, sturdy outdoor storage bench:

May 26, 2017 08:10 PM

Boy Genius Report

This is your best chance to play Overwatch for free

Overwatch Anniversary event: free trial

If you haven't already tried out Blizzard's insanely popular online FPS, this weekend could be your best bet. To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the game's launch, Overwatch is free to try from 2PM EST today.

Continue reading...

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by Chris Mills at May 26, 2017 08:06 PM

Wired Top Stories

War Machine Is Your Sneak Peek at Netflix’s Blockbuster Future

War Machine Is Your Sneak Peek at Netflix’s Blockbuster Future
Brad Pitt's combat satire is the streaming service's riskiest original film yet. But where does the company grow from here? The post War Machine Is Your Sneak Peek at Netflix's Blockbuster Future appeared first on WIRED.

by Brian Raftery at May 26, 2017 08:03 PM

The Big Picture

Succinct Summation of Week’s Events for 5.26.17

Succinct Summations for the week ending May 26th, 2017. Positives: 1. U.S. stocks made new highs after shrugging off last’s week worst day in eight months. 2. Q1 real GDP rose 1.2% Q/O/Q, up from the 0.7% initial estimate. 3. Corporate taxes rose 12% y/o/y. 4. Jobless claims remain low, at 234k. The 4-week average fell…

Read More

The post Succinct Summation of Week’s Events for 5.26.17 appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at May 26, 2017 08:00 PM

“App: The Human Story” Screening in San Jose

Here’s the scoop. It’s Sunday, June 4 at 5 pm. There’s a panel afterward with a bunch of people from the movie (including me).

You can get tickets. You should get tickets — the event benefits App Camp for Girls.

Plus I think you’ll enjoy it. :)

May 26, 2017 07:57 PM

800 CEO Read

Wild Ride: Inside Uber's Quest for World Domination

Wild Ride: Inside Uber's Quest for World Domination by Adam Lashinsky, Portfolio, 240 pages, Hardcover, May 2017, ISBN 9780735211391 

I’m pretty thoroughly uninterested in Uber. As a father of two young children who still need to ride in car seats, I need my own vehicle to get us around—and I am fortunate enough that I don’t need to use that vehicle in the side hustle Uber provides. That said, I’ll read anything Adam Lashinsky writes, so I picked up his new book, Wild Ride: Inside Uber's Quest for World Domination, and was immediately hooked. I’m glad he wrote about Uber, because most of what I know about the company comes from its seemingly endless string of bad press and the more brief examples of it’s success found in business books, and the story of Uber has a lot more to teach us as it moves from upstart Silicon Valley start-up to giant global corporation.

Because Uber’s story is largely the story of CEO Travis Kalanick—and vice-versa—it is a biography of a man as much as a narrative of a company. Key to both are what Kalanick learned in previous start-ups—Scour, a movie and music file-sharing service that predated and was, in some ways, preyed upon by the larger Napster—and Red Swoosh, which essentially tried to pull the same file sharing trick minus the copyright infringement. Red Swoosh did this in a way that would be echoed by Uber’s business model: by leveraging the personal computers of its clients, and in so doing bypassing the need for its own massive servers and data centers. Lashinsky explains the similarity:


Where Red Swoosh dreamed that the “unused capacity of the desktop PC represents 3,000 times the available capacity at all the CDNs [content delivery networks] worldwide,” Uber would eventually assemble a fleet it didn’t own that would dwarf the number of cars operated by any competing taxi service. In short, Scour and Red Swoosh represented, at least for Travis Kalanick, a direct through-line to Uber.


Red Swoosh was eventually bought Akamai, leaving Lashinsky with a couple million dollars in his pocket, which he would use to become an angel investor and entrepreneurial community builder in San Francisco. And that is where the story of Uber begins to form—both the longer story as it emerged in (StumbleUpon co-funder) Garrett Camp’s mind beginning in the summer of 2008, and the conversation between him and Kalanick at the top of the Eiffel Tower during a snowstorm that would become the creation myth spun by the company. It took another two years for Kalanick to join the company, and controversy would dog him from the start. The day he became CEO was the same day Uber was handed a cease-and-desist letter from the San Francisco Metro Transit Authority. At the time, the company was called UberCab, and Lashinsky tells the story of that letter arriving and what happened next:


“The name UberCab indicates that you are taxicab company or affiliated with a taxicab company, and as such you are under the jurisdiction of the SFMTA,” it read. Kalanick’s response was straightforward. The company would drop the word “cab” from its name and otherwise ignore the letter.


Uber is one of the first companies to succeed in what Travis Kalanick calls a “bits and atoms” business model—one that differs from pure technology companies like Google and Facebook in that it relies on pairing software with real-world assets, even if it doesn’t own those assets. (Airbnb is the other oft-cited, successful example.) But the Uber Kalanick took over as CEO in 2010 looked much different than it does today. It started as a more expensive, upscale service that used the professional limousine drivers with a fleet of black cars and limos—marketing itself as “Everyon’s Private Driver.” It’s a service that still exists as UberBlack, but it has been dwarfed by UberX, the service provided by private drivers and their cars that most of us are familiar with. It entered that market only in response to Lyft’s service. To tell the story of how they entered the fray with Lyft (Kalanick had learned to take such threats seriously when Scour saw Napster blow by them with what seemed like a lesser service), Lashinsky weaves in the story of that company’s much different origin story. 

And because “the global infrastructure it had built around human drivers” faces an existential threat from self-driving cars, Uber has entered that fray, as well. So Lashinsky gives the history behind those efforts at Google, Uber, Tesla, car manufacturers, and elsewhere—and where they interconnect and compete with each other. 

He also tells the story of how Kalanick built out his executive team, added process and structure, and scaled the company. The details of how Uber moved into new cities by going to meet with individuals in the tech communities there, doing real world, word-of-mouth marketing of the service while researching local regulations and recruiting drivers, are wonky and wonderful and full of hustle. Much of that work was done by Austin Geidt, who began as an early intern at the company and would end up running a team that oversaw the launch of the service into cities around the globe. It grew so quickly, so fast, that…


[M]ere years into its existence it had so insulated itself into the cultural zeitgeist that it joined an elite group of corporate names that double as verbs: No need to drive to the event, I’ll just Uber there.


But as much as it gained accolades everywhere it went, it has also courted almost constant controversy, and Lashinsky shows how, and how quickly, “the company’s reputation shifted from disruptive darling to brash bully, a sneering brawler waging a multifront war against all comers.”


Taxi companies, regulators, politicians, competitors, journalists, its own drivers, even women: all could justifiably feel aggrieved by something Uber said or did.


And its story of growth isn’t without its bumps in the road either. The story starts in, and eventually comes back to, China—where Uber competed fiercely with Chinese rival, Didi, losing billions of dollars a year before striking a deal that got them out of that competition with a lucrative stake in the company it was competing with. The tale is almost operatic in its drama: In the self-driving overture, Apple is a large investor in Didi; In the Lyft competition aria, Didi invested heavily in Lyft in the U.S. and other Uber competitors elsewhere. It’s a fascinating tale that, as always, has Kalanick at the center of it. In this case, the quest for world domination came ended in what looks like a good deal and smart partnership.

I’m still not a big fan of Uber or its CEO (headlines like "Uber admits underpaying New York drivers approximately $45 million" don't help, though I suppose they're at least admitting it?), but I’m glad to have Lashinsky’s reporting, and a better understanding of the company and its history. As he writes:


Uber’s story remains a tale of our times: of the transformative power of technology, the impermanence of long-term employment, and the opportunity of Silicon Valley and virtual communities like it to turn scrappiness, moxie, and smarts into vast fortunes.


It’s a story worth telling and knowing, and I'm glad it was Adam Lashinsky who took on the formidable task.

by Dylan at May 26, 2017 07:56 PM