Assorted links

by on April 23, 2011 at 6:29 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 RM April 23, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Hate to be the first to comment here, but the vibrators link is not working. R.

2 Jens Fiederer April 23, 2011 at 11:10 pm

It worked for me, took me to the Volokh Conspiracy

3 Slocum April 24, 2011 at 8:22 am

Pan thinks the findings show that the males viewed the mug as a displayable trophy to the rest of the group, and their desire to win the affection of their peers spurred them to shift their behavior away from self-interest toward a strategy that was better aligned for team success.

Away from self-interest? I don’t think so. The simple, obvious explanation is that gaining a credible, displayable signal of status is in the self interest of males — males are interested in status because females are interested in males with status. How are helmet stickers any different than military medals or indian feathers?

4 FYI April 24, 2011 at 10:00 am

I was going to comment on the Jetsons but i started to read the other comments and just gave up. Man, when did Yglesias public went that far to the left?

In any case, the post is interesting but the answer seems obvious as faras inequality: the Hardworkers couple would be forced to send an even larger chunk of their income to the Jetsons of that world. Maybe that is why the Jetsons can afford their stay at home mom and their very short work week.

The reason why this is obvious? If you wrote the same post 100 years ago and imagined the future in 2011 you could ask yourself: do you think the rich people of that world will have to help ‘poor’ people who have cars, large HD TVs and cell phones?

5 Mike April 24, 2011 at 10:03 pm

What about the economics of Star Trek?

In First Contact, Picard tells Lily:

“The economics of the 24th century are a little different. Money no longer exists. The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity”

B.S. The acquisition of power and prestige would become the driving force of their lives. There is still scarcity among positions of hierarchy. There can be only one captain of a starship, and only one leader of a science academy.

What would we do with the overabundance of Philosophers? Research would become noise, and the new hierarchy would be the filtration of ideas. Sure, everyone could publish anything, but most ideas would be buried under a mountain of information.

Time would become the most precious commodity. Time in the holodeck would have to be rationed as would all leisure time. With everyone having basic necessities provided for them, new “necessities” and arguments over entitlements would take their places.

Who would do all the difficult and dangerous chores which machines could not do? Why would they volunteer for them?

If Einstein were right about time, then anybody leaving Earth would return centuries later even after a short jaunt to a nearby star. Everyone they knew would be dead. The driving force of humanity would be the exploration, terraforming, and colonization of new worlds, with new scarcities, and new necessities for hierarchies, organization, rationing, distribution, and governance.

Substitute spices for oil for iPads for starship commands – nothing about economics changes at all except the identity of the relatively scarce resource and the manner of distributing it.

Land would still be scarce – they ain’t making any more of it. To be sure, there would be lots of other habitable places, but still only a limited number of people could LIVE in New Orleans, Paris, Berlin, San Francisco, and Rio. You could build high-rises and subterranean domiciles, but then the essential character of the cities would change. New cities would develop in remote areas to replicate the lost cultures of Bourbon Street, the Champs Elysees, Ku-Dam, Haight-Ashbury, and Carnival. Soon, these would be overrun and altered.

Birth rates and death rates would drop, aging the population – not necessarily for the worse, but we would lose a culture of CHILDREN. We’d end up with perverse societies like San Francisco that has more dogs than kids.

We would completely sanitize our environment, but even a slow population growth would eventually take up every square inch of land (and water). What impact would that have on the “environment?” How many preserves would we have to create for animals and at what point would we FORCE humans to leave the planet?

I’m not suggesting a dystopia. Quite to the contrary, I think money will survive and ration the new relatively scarce resources in remarkable ways. High-valued professions would still have higher pay and privileges. Even with genetic engineering and remarkable education, there will still be some semblance of a bell curve in ability, even if it’s only a matter of personal choice rather than potential.

I cannot imagine how, when the body of knowledge becomes so large, that we will be able to teach people fast enough to assimilate it. I don’t think we’ll have fourth graders doing calculus and eighth graders learning warp field theory on a large scale.

The human brain has evolved very little in the past 15,000 years despite wondrous advances in technology. Marginal evolution in the next 400 years will be even smaller. Only genetic engineering would alter that, and there are many ethical issues associated with that.

We’d become almost entirely a service oriented economy. We’d still have prostitutes, drugs, violence, harassment, infidelity, etc. The human condition won’t be changed by replicators, transporters, anti-matter reactors, and space travel.

Artifacts and memorabilia would still be scarce, and therefore valuable and tradable. We’d have new kinds of money through barter if not money itself.

6 Mike April 24, 2011 at 10:38 pm

4. “Give me a handful of ribbon, and I’ll conquer the world.” – Napoleon.

Never underestimate the power of token gestures of appreciation, merit, and service.

In the US military, there is only ONE award that confers additional pay – The Medal of Honor.

Awards do add promotion points for enlisted soldiers, but only up to a certain limit that is quickly reached.

But that doesn’t stop people from trying to collect ribbons and badges.

More than half of US Army awards and decorations are obsolete, redundant, or unnecessary. Frankly, the whole badge thing has gotten out of hand. A soldier can get numerous ribbons for essentially the same service. They’re beginning to look like Russian generals. For example, if a National Guardsman served one tour in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, he’d get two Bronze Stars or Army Commendation Medals, Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Army Overseas Service Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal (with M), Combat Badge, Division Combat Patch, Overseas Service Bars (officers). Then there are oak leaf clusters, numerals, and other devices for multiple awards.

If your unit performed well, everyone in the unit would get a permanent Unit Citation.

And that’s not even for heroic service. Get even a minor wound inflicted during contact with the enemy – Purple Heart.

If you parachuted into an operation, you’d get a combat star on your jump wings. Serve three years on active duty as an enlisted soldier, add a Good Conduct Medal.

If you had served in the Persian Gulf War, you would have also received Saudi and Kuwaiti medals on top of your US medals. If you served in Kosovo or Bosnia, you’d get a UN or NATO medal in addition to the US campaign medal.

Fire a foreign weapon with a foreign unit, and you earn a foreign marksmanship badge. Jump with a foreign unit, and get foreign jump wings.

Too many awards devalues them, and focuses too much effort and attention on preening rather than training. Compare what soldier earn today with the medals given to soldiers in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Soldiers back then realized that service and duty were more valuable than awards. The soldiers of yesteryear faced horrendous dangers while today’s soldiers “in the rear with the gear” figure out how best to configure their rack of fruit salad.

In Viet Nam, you had to practically die for your country to earn a Bronze Star. Today, the Bronze Star is called the “Combat Army Commendation Medal.”

7 Ted Craig April 25, 2011 at 8:57 am

2. We’re talking about an economy where two of the biggest companies make sprockets and cogs.

8 techreseller April 25, 2011 at 11:37 am

On the Helmet Stickers. All I can say is duh!. Did anyone of you play any team sports as a kid or coach your kids?

When I coached both my son’s rec soccer teams when they were little I emphasized assists. At the end of a period or at the end of the game I always called out the players that assisted on a goal. We never honored the goal scorers, always the assisters. Players would pass up easy one on one goals to find a teammate to pass to so that the teammate could score. By the way, we always won the vast majority of our games, going undefeated in two seasons.

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