Things tagged bestof:
Kim Brooks in The Cut:
The company was called Cognition Builders, and Harris explained that they would send people to a family for a period of weeks to observe everyone’s behavior and to figure out how parents could get better control over their kids. The people they sent were called “family architects.” They’d move in with a family for months at a time, immersing themselves in their routines and rituals. The family architects were the foot soldiers in the Cognition Builders team, but the most critical part of the company’s strategy involved the installation of a series of Nest Cams with microphones all around the house, which enabled round-the-clock observation and interaction in real time. At the end of each day, the architects would send the parents extensive emails and texts summarizing what they’d seen, which they’d use to develop a system of rules for the family to implement at home. Over time, the role of the family architects would evolve from observing to enforcing the rules.
One line that stood out to me was a throwaway from the writer about being a combo of life-coaching with Amazon Echo. But, think for a minute what life is like when the AI’s can parent like this. Robo-nannies will change the world.
No free lunch, hygiene edition:
We assess the effects of rise in minimum wages on hygiene violation scores in food service establishments. Using a difference-in-difference analysis on hygiene rating of food establishments in Seattle [where minimum wage increased annually between 2010 and 2013] as the treated group and from New York City [minimum wage was constant] as the control group, we find an increase in real minimum wage by $0.10 increased total hygiene violation scores by 11.45 percent. Consistent with our theoretical model, an increase in minimum wage in Seattle has no influence in more severe (red) violations, and a significant increase in less severe (blue) violations. Our findings are consistent while using an alternate control group - Bellevue City, King County, located near Seattle.
Tyler interviews Ben Sasse:
I do think that one of the things we misunderstand about our politics — maybe I’ve two things that I think we misunderstand about our politics.
One, most of our political problems are downstream from culture, and we keep acting like we’ll be able to fix our politics with politics, and I don’t really think we can because our politics are a mess because we don’t understand where we are in economic history: this transition from industrialization to whatever the digital economy looks like, and therefore shorter and shorter average duration of jobs, and therefore a transition from villages and urban ethnic neighborhoods where there was known, dense social networks to this new thing.
We’ll produce new forms of social capital, but it might take half a century or a century, and it’s going to be really painful and disruptive as we go through this time.
A film created by Carl Schlesinger and David Loeb Weiss documenting the last day of hot metal typesetting at The New York Times.
“It’s inevitable that we’re going to go into computers, all the knowledge I’ve acquired over these 26 years is all locked up in a little box called a computer, and I think most jobs are going to end up the same way. [Do you think computers are a good idea in general?] There’s no doubt about it, they are going to benefit everybody eventually.”
–Journeyman Printer, 1978
World Press Photo 2017, a must read as always.
General News, First Prize, Singles—Offensive On Mosul: Iraqi Special Operations Forces search houses of Gogjali, an eastern district of Mosul, looking for Daesh members, equipment, and evidence on November 2, 2016. The Iraqi Special Operations Forces, also known as the Golden Division, is the Iraqi unit that leads the fight against the Islamic State with the support of the airstrikes of the Coalition Forces. They were the first forces to enter the Islamic State-held city of Mosul in November of 2016.
Laurent Van der Stockt / Getty Reportage for Le Monde
And the series on Iran is great.
Powerful. And Mr. Parth Shah speaks my mind exactly: “One simple way to assess success is; do people want to go there? Are people going there willing to settle there, open their businesses [ … ] On all of those counts, Gurgaon has been fabulously successful.”
A scattershot short docu on youtube by Oscar Boyson, but a decent intro to lots of things I think about:
Ignore the dumb headline, and stay for this by Steven Pearlstein in The Washington Post:
After all, if Republicans cut taxes — in particular, taxes on investment income — then the biggest winners are going to be the residents of Democratic states where incomes, and thus income taxes, are significantly higher. Governors and legislatures in those states — home to roughly half of all Americans — will now have the financial headroom to raise state income and business taxes by as much as the federal government cuts them — and use the additional revenue to replace all the federal services and benefits that Republicans have vowed to cut.
and think again about how you can move your government more local, and less federal, thanks to republicans.
The holidays are here, and everything in America is going really well. To celebrate Black Friday, Cards Against Humanity is digging a tremendous hole in the earth.
Monte Reel in Bloomberg Businessweek:
Pritchett had no idea that as he spoke, a small Cessna airplane equipped with a sophisticated array of cameras was circling Baltimore at roughly the same altitude as the massing clouds. The plane’s wide-angle cameras captured an area of roughly 30 square miles and continuously transmitted real-time images to analysts on the ground. The footage from the plane was instantly archived and stored on massive hard drives, allowing analysts to review it weeks later if necessary.
Since the beginning of the year, the Baltimore Police Department had been using the plane to investigate all sorts of crimes, from property thefts to shootings. The Cessna sometimes flew above the city for as many as 10 hours a day, and the public had no idea it was there.
The city wide panopticon that can solve crimes by rewinding time.
Our current globalized capitalist world economy was built on Mercantilist foundations, put in place in the first phase of global European expansion, the second phase being that of the formal European empires of the industrial age. In the case of the “New World” in the Americas, Europe’s Mercantilists were creating entirely new trade networks and hinterlands. In the Old World of Afro-Eurasia however, Europe was rearranging the existing, much older, world economy it had been part of since the Middle Ages (see Andre Gunder Frank’s Re-Orient and Jim Blaut’s The Colonizer’s Model of the World). I wanted to illustrate this first phase of global capitalism with thematic maps.
And he continutes through to the Britsh empire ca. 1750.
Brand New Subway is an entry into the “Power Broker” Game Design Competition. It’s an interactive transportation planning game that lets players alter the NYC subway system to their heart’s content.
Tim Cook at apple.com:
The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.
This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.
About time a corporation stood up, the telecoms sure haven’t, so Apple took on the role, and now have the opportunity to make a needed stand.
Julia Medew in The Age:
The two scientists relished life. They skied, went bushwalking and climbed mountains, often taking their three young daughters with them. Their cultural and intellectual pursuits were many - classical music, opera, literature, wine, arguments over dinner with their many friends. They donated 10 per cent of their annual income to political and environmental movements. Family events were spent thoroughly debating the topics of the day.
As their capacity declined, the conversation about ending their own lives became more serious and their rejection of what Peter called “religious do-gooders” became more fierce.
“It was also a way into their favourite topics; philosophy, ethics, politics, the law …,” says their youngest daughter, Kate. “The idea that their end-of-life decisions could be interfered with by people with the superstitions of medieval inquisitors astounded them, and alarmed them.”
Via Next Draft
Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy:
The Declaration of Independence famously states that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” But, sadly, this is almost never the case in the real world. If it is indeed true, as Abraham Lincoln famously put it, that “no man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent,” that principle has more radical implications than Lincoln probably intended. Few if any of those who wield government power measure up to that lofty standard.
A fantastic overvew of some things I feel very strongly about. And his conclusion is exactly the same as mine:
The nonconsensual nature of most government policies also strengthens the case for devolving power to regional and local authorities in order to increase the number of issues on which citizens can “vote with their feet” and thereby exercise at least some degree of meaningful consent.
Brutal This American Life episode:
Right now, all sorts of people are trying to rethink and reinvent education, to get poor minority kids performing as well as white kids. But there’s one thing nobody tries anymore, despite lots of evidence that it works: desegregation.
The story certainly seemed like a blockbuster: A criminal investigation of Hillary Rodham Clinton by the Justice Department was being sought by two federal inspectors general over her email practices while secretary of state.
It’s hard to imagine a much more significant political story at this moment, given that she is the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for president.
The story – a Times exclusive — appeared high on the home page and the mobile app late Thursday and on Friday and then was displayed with a three-column headline on the front page in Friday’s paper. The online headline read “Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email,” very similar to the one in print.
But aspects of it began to unravel soon after it first went online.
Eric Schwitzgebel at Aeon:
Shouldn’t regularly thinking about ethics have some sort of influence on one’s own behaviour? Doesn’t it seem that it would?
To my surprise, few professional ethicists seem to have given the question much thought. They’ll toss out responses that strike me as flip or are easily rebutted, and then they’ll have little to add when asked to clarify. They’ll say that academic ethics is all about abstract problems and bizarre puzzle cases, with no bearing on day-to-day life – a claim easily shown to be false by a few examples: Aristotle on virtue, Kant on lying, Singer on charitable donation. They’ll say: ‘What, do you expect epistemologists to have more knowledge? Do you expect doctors to be less likely to smoke?’ I’ll reply that the empirical evidence does suggest that doctors are less likely to smoke than non-doctors of similar social and economic background. Maybe epistemologists don’t have more knowledge, but I’d hope that specialists in feminism would exhibit less sexist behaviour – and if they didn’t, that would be an interesting finding. I’ll suggest that relationships between professional specialisation and personal life might play out differently for different cases.
It seems odd to me that our profession has so little to say about this matter. We criticise Martin Heidegger for his Nazism, and we wonder how deeply connected his Nazism was to his other philosophical views. But we don’t feel the need to turn the mirror on ourselves.
In most cases, we already know what is good. No special effort or skill is required to figure that out. Much more interesting and practical is the question of how far short of the ideal we are comfortable being.
Anyone paying attention knows this already, but here is an absolutely brutal article calling them out in detail.
William Saletan at Slate:
The war against genetically modified organisms is full of fearmongering, errors, and fraud. Labeling them will not make you safer.