- | Marilynne Robinson, Finding the Right Word
- | Marilynne Robinson, Finding the Right Word
- Norbert Wiener, 1950
Nothing ever is. Nothing is flawless, optimized and suitable for everyone.
Instead, all we can hope for is, "the best we could hope for, under the circumstances."
But, because there are circumstances, whatever happens is exactly what the circumstances created. Whatever is happening now is what's going to happen now. There's no way to change it. Perhaps we can change tomorrow, or even the next moment, but this moment--it's exactly what it was supposed to be, precisely what the circumstances demanded.
Which, if we're going to be truthful about it, is perfect.
In the long run, we can work to change the circumstances. We can start today, right now. We must. It's the only way to make perfect better.
...Yego Moto is a new technology system that allows taxi-moto operators to charge passengers without bargaining. It is a ‘metre’ service which uses Global Positioning System (GPS) devices installed on motorcycles to deliver information about the journey covered by a passenger.
The first Africa Architecture Awards will be held this month. It’s easy to be cynical about handing out trophies when so much development still needs to happen on the continent. Still, judging by the shortlist, the awards could help to identify what a uniquely African aesthetic is, while also highlighting the importance of incorporating environmental requirements and cultural identity. If anything, it’s also a welcome celebration of leaving behind colonial-era building.
There’s a temptation to see burgeoning venture capital, home-grown businesses, freshly minted startups, and the potential for big financial exits as omens of the next Silicon Valley. The Bay Area has become synonymous with a young, digitally-creative generation that connects technology to change. Many believe this culture is now sprouting in Africa...[more]
It's never been easier to find ways to be disappointed in our performance. You can compare your output, your income, your success rate to a billion people around the globe... many of whom are happy to exaggerate to make you even more disappointed.
It's hardly worth your trouble.
The exception is the dissatisfaction that is based on a legitimate comparison, one that gives you insight on how to improve and motivates you to get better.
Get clear about the change you're trying to make and, if it's useful, compare yourself to others that are on the same path as you are.
If the response rate to your website is lower than your competitor's, take a look at what they're doing and learn from it.
If your time in the hundred-yard dash is behind that of the person to your left, analyze the video of their run, step by step, and figure out what you're missing.
You can always find someone who is cuter, happier or richer than you. (Or appears to be). That's pointless.
But if you can find some fuel to help you reach your goals, not their goals, have at it.
Let’s blame the lack of work boundaries on the Millennials, I guess, and not the emotional mining of our lives that the entreprecariat is so willing to accept, or worse, praise:
Firstly it’s important to understand who is driving and shaping the future workplace.
It is of course, Millennials.
This is their era. They already account for close to 50% of the workforce and by 2030 they will occupy close to 70%. Much as it’s tempting to dismiss generational trends, half of your workplace is occupied by Millennials and soon, they will become the majority.
So what do they want? According to a PwC study, above all else, Millennials “value choice, flexibility, and experience in the places they work”:
“As work-life balance is replaced by work-life integration, flexible workplace environments will increasingly be regarded by CEOs, workplace strategists, HR leaders, and real estate executives as the best “talent” solution, thus becoming the new industry standard.”
- Every workspace environment, including those operated by commercial landlords, will be under increasing pressure to transition to human-focused flexible space.
On the whole, work/life balance is something of a myth. What’s much more attainable is work/life integration, and since many business owners and employees are already living this experience, it’s logical to expect more of the same.
This ‘report’ is a sermon preaching the inexorable dissolution of a private life, the rejection of finding meaning and purpose outside of work, and where every place you are is a workplace designed by others serving the needs of the culture of workism.
Hito Stereyl gives us ‘junktime’:
According to William T. Mitchell, the economy of presence1 is characterised by a technologically enhanced market for attention, time, movement – a process of investment that requires careful choices. The point is that technology gives you tools that allow for remote and delayed presence, so that physical presence becomes the scarcest option among a range of alternatives..
According to Mitchell: “Presence choice occurs when an individual decides whether face-to-face presence is worth the time and money”. Presence in fact becomes a mode of investment. It is not opposed to technology but it´s [sic] consequence.
The economy of presence is not only relevant for people whose time is in demand and who could basically sell (or barter) more time than they have, but even more so to those that must work multiple jobs in order to make a living or even not make a living. It is equally relevant to those who coordinate a jumble of micro jobs, complete with the logistical nightmare of harmonising competing schedules and negotiating priorities, or that are on permanent standby in the hope that their time and presence will become exchangeable for something else eventually. The aura of unalienated, unmediated and precious presence depends on a temporal infrastructure that consists of fractured schedules and dysfunctional and collapsing just-in-time economies in which people frantically try to figure out reverberating asychronicities and the continuous breakdown of riff raff timetables. It´s junktime, broken down, kaputt on any level. Junktime is wrecked, discontinuous, distracted and runs on several parallel tracks. If you tend to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and if you even manage to be in two wrong places at the same wrong time it means you live within junktime. With junktime, any causal link is scattered. The end is before the beginning and the beginning was taken down for copyright violations. Anything in-between has been slashed because of budget cuts. Junktime is the material base of the idea of pure unmediated endless presence.
Junktime is exhausted, interrupted, dulled by Ketamine, Lyrica, and corporate imagery. Junktime happens when information is not power, but comes as pain. Acceleration is yesterday´s delusion. Today you find yourself crashed and failing. You try to occupy the square or bandwidth, but who is going to pick up the kid from school? Junktime depends on velocity as in the lack thereof. It is time´s substitute: it´s a crash test dummy.
I got whiplash reading this.
(h/t Silvio Lorusso)
1. William T. Mitchell, ETopia: Urban Life, Jim, But Not As We Know It
Right there, in your driveway, is a really fast car. And here are the keys. Now, go drive it.
Right there, in your hand, is a Chicago Pneumatics 0651 hammer. You can drive a nail through just about anything with it, again and again if you choose. Time to use it.
And here's a keyboard, connected to the entire world. Here's a publishing platform you can use to interact with just about anyone, just about any time, for free. You wanted a level playing field, one where you have just as good a shot as anyone else? Here it is. Do the work.
That's what we're all counting on.
For you to do the work.
Is China a debt risk? Yes.
S.&P. downgraded its rating on the country’s sovereign debt by one notch.
Warnings about China’s borrowing are not new.
In the span of nearly a decade, China went from a country with few loans to one with debt levels comparable to those of the United States. While economists say China has plenty of financial firepower to address debt-related problems, the speed of the accumulation and the heavy lending in particular to rusty old industries such as steel and cement could cause issues.
More recently, many economists have become more sanguine about the potential for short-term problems in China, even as they continue to worry about the long-term impact of the country’s heady growth in debt. Over the past year, China has stanched a huge outflow of money that shaved $1 trillion from its currency reserves, stabilized its currency after a shocking devaluation two years ago and restored some health to its stock market.
The busiest Indian restaurants in New York City are all within a block or two of each other.
Books sell best in bookstores, surrounded by other books, their ostensible competitors.
And it's far easier to sell a technology solution if you're not the only one pioneering the category.
Competition is a signal. It means that you're offering something that's not crazy. Competition gives people reassurance. Competition makes it easier to get your point across. Competition helps us understand that people like us do things like this.
If you have no competition, time to find some.
It looks like Amazon will be bringing one of my predictions to market: Alexa Glasses, where the mobile wearer could communicate with Alexa without having to open a smart phone app. This is a stepping stone to Amazon’s larger intrusion into smart mobile devices, or wearables, the gizmos formerly typified by smart phones and soon to be dominated by glasses and watches.
The company is also bringing out an Alexa smart camera, report Tim Bradshaw and Leslie Hook (paywall):
The glasses are not Amazon’s only upcoming Alexa product launch. The Seattle-based group is also said to be expanding its “smart home” hardware line-up with a new home security camera system. The internet-connected camera would tie into its Echo products, for instance allowing people to view the video feed on Echo Show’s screen, and letting Amazon customers see when their orders from the site have been delivered to their doorstep.
And regarding the glasses:
A wearable, always-on Alexa communicator could allow Amazon to overcome one hangover from its failure in the smartphone market. While iPhone users can call Siri, and Android users can summon Google’s Assistant, simply by speaking their name, the Alexa app can only be accessed by unlocking the phone and opening an app.
In 2014, Amazon hired Babak Parviz, founder of Google Glass, who has been closely involved in its Alexa spectacles project. Several other Glass researchers, engineers and designers also have moved to Amazon’s labs, analysis of LinkedIn profiles shows.
Amazon’s glasses are likely to do away with the camera and screen that made Glass so controversial among privacy campaigners. Dropping those features would also improve the poor battery life that plagued Google’s headset.
The glasses also could provide a platform for Amazon to move into the emerging market for “augmented reality” goggles. Microsoft, Magic Leap, Apple and Facebook are working on various headsets that would display digital images in front of the viewer’s eyes.
Here’s what I predicted back in January:
Amazon will buy Snapchat, and announce a new take on augmented reality glasses, picking up where Google dropped the ball years ago. Building on the success of Alexa-based Echo devices, Kindle, Fire TV, Amazon Prime, and the growing popularity of Snapchat, Amazon Eyes are the hit of Christmas 2017, with over 50 million ordered in November and December.
So I was wrong about Snapchat, and the product might not roll out till next year, but it’s coming. And AR will be the real lift, although they’ll start with Alexa Show display, and then richer AR.
Amazon is going to change the game, while Apple’s $1000 iPhone X will characterize peak phone when we look back a year or two from now.
The best way to plan a house on a vacant piece of land is to move into a tiny shepherd's hut on a corner of the property. It's not fancy, and it's not comfortable, but you can probably stay there for a week or two.
And during that week, you'll understand more about the land than you ever could in an hour of walking around. You'll see how the rain falls and the sun shines and the puddles form.
As you've probably guessed, you can do that with the job you're thinking about taking or the project you're thinking about launching. Show up in the market and make some sales. Take a role as an intern and answer the customer service hotline for a day. Get as close as you can to the real thing, live it, taste it, and then decide how to build your career or your organization.
If the shepherd's hut feels too uncomfortable, it might not be the land you wanted in the first place.
| Andrea Kowch
- | Stefan Wolff | Can Forced Population Transfers Resolve Self-determination Conflicts? A European Perspective
Our leaders have totally let us down on global warming. Like the debt owed on pensions and infrastructure, our leaders have dithered for generations until the point that global warming is an inescapable present reality. Even if we shift to a wartime footing to counter global climate change now, it will take at least 1000 years for the world to start cooling.
Justin Gillis, in this empassioned piece, lays out much that we have gotten wrong, but like so many others fails to mention that it is too late to head off worsening impacts of climate change:
Because of atmospheric emissions from human activity, the ocean waters from which Harvey drew its final burst of strength were much warmer than they ought to have been, most likely contributing to the intensity of the deluge. If the forecasts from our scientists are anywhere close to right, we have seen nothing yet.
In their estimation, the most savage heat waves that we experience today will likely become routine in a matter of decades. The coastal inundation that has already begun will grow worse and worse, forcing millions of people to flee. The immense wave of refugees that we already see moving across continents may be just the beginning.
Scientists urged decades ago that we buy ourselves some insurance by cutting emissions. We yawned. Even today, when millions of people have awakened to the danger, tens of millions have not. So the political demand for change is still too weak to overcome the entrenched interests that want to block it.
In Washington, progress on climate change has stalled. The administration has announced its intent to withdraw from the global Paris climate accord. And top Trump appointees insist that the causes of climate change are too uncertain and the scientific forecasts too unreliable to be a basis for action.
This argument might have been halfway plausible 20 years ago – or, if you want to be generous, even 10 years ago. But today?
Today, salt water is inundating the coastal towns of the United States, to the point that they are starting to put giant rulers in the intersections so people can tell if it is safe to drive through. The city leaders are also posting “no wake” signs — not on canals but on the streets, to stop trucks from plowing through the water so fast as to send waves crashing into nearby homes.
We all see the giant storms, more threatening than any in our lifetimes — and while scientists are not entirely comfortable yet drawing links between the power of these hurricanes and climate change, many people are coming to their own common-sense conclusions.
As the challenges in the real world worsen, some senior Republicans continue to question the link between human-caused emissions and rising temperatures. Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said this on CNBC in March:
“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”
Note that he acknowledges the planet is warming. Note that he offers no alternative hypothesis about the cause of that warming — nor will he ever, for the simple reason that there is no plausible alternative. But still, he clings to uncertainty as a reason to do nothing.
It’s farcical at this point.
The strangest thing is that no one is actually talking about plausible outcomes. We’re careening toward ecological collapse, like the die-off of huge forests the world over and the death of the barrier reefs, but the popular press and our leaders are talking about rebuilding devastated communities in Houston and Florida, even as the next wave of hurricanes are bearing down.
Over the last few decades, there's been a consistent campaign to sow confusion around evolution, vaccines and climate change.
In all three areas, we all have access to far more data, far more certainty and endless amounts of proof that the original theories have held up. The data is more accurate than it's ever been. Evolution is the best way to explain and predict the origin and change of species. Vaccines are not the cause of autism and save millions of kids' (and parents') lives. And the world is, in fact, getting dangerously warmer.
Poll after poll in many parts of the world show that people are equivocating or outright denying all three. Unlike the increasingly asymptotic consistency in scientific explanations, the deniers have an endless list of reasons for their confusion, many of which contradict each other. Confusion doesn't need to be right to be confusing.
Worth noting that this response doesn't happen around things that are far more complicated or scientifically controversial (like gravity and dark matter). It's the combination of visceral impact and tribal cohesion that drives the desire to deny.
Cigarette companies were among the original denialists (they claimed that cigarettes were unrelated to lung cancer, but that didn't work out very well for them), and much of their confusion playbook is being used on these new topics..
To what end? Confusion might help some industries or causes in the short run, but where does it lead? Working to turn facts into political issues doesn't make them any less true.
If this growing cohort 'wins', what do they get? In a post-science world, where physics and testable facts are always open to the layman's opinion in the moment, how are things better? How does one develop a new antibiotic without an understanding of speciation and disease resistance?
I know what the science p.o.v. gets us if it prevails, if evolution is taught in schools, if vaccines become ever safer and widespread, if governments and corporations begin to ameliorate and prepare for worldwide weather change.
What's a mystery is what the anti-science confusors get if they prevail. What happens when we don't raise the next generation of scientists, when vaccines become politically and economically untenable, when we close our eyes and simply rebuild houses on the floodplain again? Gravity doesn't care if you believe in it, neither does lung cancer.
Ask a confusor that the next time he offers a short term smoke screen. If this is a race to be the most uninformed, and the most passive, what if we win?
For many hospitals in rural parts of the developing world, electricity is unreliable at best. In the course of one day there can be brownouts and power spikes. Electricity may cut off for hours or even days at a time, without any warning.
If this happens during surgery or forces surgeons to postpone operations — and it does — it will often cost people their lives.
But an innovative device called the Universal Anesthesia Machine (UAM), from nonprofit medical device company Gradian Health Systems, allows health workers in countries like Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Zambia to deliver anesthesia without any electricity, and helps save patients' lives in the process.
Has sent candidates to Amazon, Google and more...
Founded in 2015, LaborX is an online platform that matches high-tech employers with skilled but nontraditional job candidates — such as those with technical training but no college degree. Taglined “the LinkedIn for the LinkedOut,” LaborX highlights candidates’ qualifications with video resumes and work samples.More here
Trump grandstanded during the election and since about how he was going to save – or restore– the jobs of coal miners, and deregulate so that coal could remain in use for the indefinite future. But, even with Scott Pruitt’s insanity at the EPA, it’s not happening, because coal is stupid. So, in case you needed proof, Trump, and the coal-belt hopefuls that voted for him, are idiots.
The New York Times Editorial Board | Using the E.P.A. to Prop Up Big Coal
“We’re not going to build any more coal plants; that’s not going to happen,” Chris Beam, head of Appalachian Power, West Virginia’s largest utility, bluntly told the state last April, despite President Trump’s phantasmagorical campaign promise to resurrect lost jobs for coal miners. No less candid, Lynn Good, the head of Duke Energy, America’s largest utility, defended the closing of 12 coal plants across five years, with more to come, in order to cut the company’s coal-fired energy output by a third: “Our strategy will continue to be to drive carbon out of our business.”
While environmental rules have played some role in the closing of coal-fired plants, the main driver is cheaper and abundant natural gas. Coal’s use in power generation has been declining since 2007, and by 2016 coal-fired plants produced only 30 percent of the nation’s total generation, compared with 50 percent in 2003.
The trend will continue; an estimated 46-plus coal-fired units will close at 25 electricity plants in 16 states over the next five years, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. In its outlook for 2017, the institute skewered Mr. Trump’s campaign vows, saying, “Promises to create more coal jobs will not be kept — indeed the industry will continue to cut payrolls.”
About 60,000 coal industry jobs have been lost since 2011, and three of the four major mining companies have gone bankrupt, according to a new study by Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. Even so, Mr. Trump remains obstinate in his “war on coal” statements and steadfast to his bloated campaign promises to laid-off miners, despite expert opinion, expressed in the study, that lifting vital environmental controls “will not materially improve” the coal industry’s prospects.
It is shocking that an administration led and staffed by supposedly shrewd business executives deliberately overlooks the blossoming of profitable and cleaner energy products simply because of Mr. Trump’s hollow showmanship before his campaign base.
One by one, all his lies are piling up. He’s made thousands of empty claims, but this one is just egregious. He’s the bigliest idiot alive, I think.
We should get around to restructuring the economies of coal regions so that the tens of thousands of former coal industry workers can be put to doing something beneficial. Like solar power, infrastructure, and so on. Wait, didn’t Trump make noises about infrastructure investment? How’s that going?
Some people like really spicy food. Some people like bland food. Building a restaurant around sorta spicy food doesn't make either group happy.
It's tempting to look at pop music, network TV and the latest hot fashion and come to the conclusion that the recipe for success is to focus group everyone, average it up and make something that pleases the big hump in the middle, while not offending most of the outliers.
But few things are up for a majority-rule vote. Instead, the tail keeps getting longer, and choice begets more choice. As a result, people don't need to abandon their hump to head to the non-existent middle.
Yes, there are true averages (like how high to mount a doorknob). But more often than not, trying to please everyone a little is a great way to please most people not at all.
New cryptocurrencies are emerging almost daily, and many interested parties are wondering whether central banks should issue their own versions. But what might central bank cryptocurrencies (CBCCs) look like and would they be useful? This feature provides a taxonomy of money that identifies two types of CBCC - retail and wholesale - and differentiates them from other forms of central bank money such as cash and reserves. It discusses the different characteristics of CBCCs and compares them with existing payment options.More here
Africa’s urban areas are booming, experiencing a high urban growth rate over the last two decades at 3.5% per year. This growth rate is expected to hold into 2050. With this growth, street food is going to become one of the most important components of African diets. The formal sector will just not be able to keep up!
Enter my company, Musana Carts, which tackles the #FoodRevolution challenge from the end of the food value chain. Musana Carts, which currently operates in Uganda, streamlines and improves the production and consumption of street food.
Why did we decide to focus on street food?
p>| Henry Kissenger
If it helps you, not the customer, why should she care?
Sometimes there's an overlap between your selfish needs and hers, but you can save everyone a lot of time and hassle if you begin and end with a focus on being of service.
In the long run, your selfishness will catch up with you. Day by day, the long run keeps getting shorter.
The Sahara Forest Project is a new environmental solution designed to utilize what we have enough of to produce what we need more of, using deserts, saltwater, sunlight and CO2 to produce food, water and clean energy. The Sahara Forest Project has set out to establish groups of interconnected economic activities in low-lying desert areas around the world. The simple core of the concept is an infrastructure for bringing saltwater inland. Through establishing this saltwater infrastructure, The Sahara Forest Project aims to make electricity generation from solar power more efficient, operate energy- and water-efficient Saltwater-cooled greenhouses for growing high value crops in the desert and sequestering CO2 through revegetation of desert lands...[more]
It seems like a fine way to earn trust. Merely fit in. In every way. Don't do anything to draw attention to yourself, to be left out, to challenge the status quo. Go along with the crowd to get ahead.
That doesn't build trust. It simply makes you easy to overlook.
We build trust when we make promises and then keep them.
And the majority recoils from the challenge of making a promise, because that requires caring and risk and the willingness to make change happen.
You can't fit all the way in, but you can definitely choose to stand out.
I’ve screwed around all summer with the plans and pieces of a writing project, and I think I’ve figured out what I am going to do.
The project is Working Knowledge, a series of essays to be written in the coming months about the past, present, and future of work. I hope that as it develops, opportunities for it to make its way to print will arise.
What has been up in the air is how, and where, it will be published. It’s now live as a Patreon project on my Patreon profile: https://www.patreon.com/stoweboyd.
I’d like to get support for my efforts and to engender a sense of community. So, I considered a few alternatives.
I had considered undertaking this as another Medium publication. But Medium’s direction is tending toward being a sort of Huffington Post for the entrepreneurial technology world, with increasing amounts of that sort of content behind a paywall. I’m part of their paid writers program, so I guess I could have simply marked the essays (posts) as being for fee, and we’d see where that leads. But, among other snags, publications can’t publish for-fee posts, at least not without special permission. It seems that Medium is downplaying publications as the company pivots toward Medium-as-publication away from Medium-as-platform. I could drop the publication aspect, but then the posts don’t hang together as a series, really. And, Medium restricts what you can put inside a for-fee post: in particular, you can’t include a widget for people to sign up to a mailing list, so I wouldn’t be able to build a mailing list of readers interested in being notified about new posts in the series.
Basically, Medium has structured things exactly to thwart someone from doing what I want to do, while trying to make money through their for-fee system.
As a result, I have looked into Patreon, and I will be developing Working Knowledge there. For those who aren’t aware of Patreon, it’s a platform to help creators get paid for their work, relying on patrons – fans – to support the process by getting access to the creator’s work.
I will be developing my launch in the next days and weeks. I’ll be providing various levels of involvement and access to the project, ranging from the most basic (reading the final versions of essays), to the most involved (like early access to drafts, question and answer sessions, and influencing the agenda).
If you are interested, check out my profile on Patreon, and consider becoming a patron of the series. I reposted one of the first essays in the series there, Who Owns Work, and Its Future, available for any to see. The rest, however, will be available only to patrons, and I hope you’ll support the project.