Assorted links

by on February 23, 2013 at 1:38 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Ripple, or Bills of Exchange 2.0?  And new Bitcoin paper (pdf).

2. The decline of Jewish delis.

3. We buy White Albums (recommended).

4. Is the FAA engaged in political posturing?

5. What it is like to wear Google Glass (piece starts slow, picks up and improves)

prior_approval February 23, 2013 at 2:01 pm

So, when a Republican president caused very notable air traffic delays, did anyone call it ‘political posturing’?

After all, Reagan really showed how to disrupt an air traffic system, and for the good of the taxpayers, to boot –

‘This morning at 7 a.m. the union representing those who man America’s air traffic control facilities called a strike. This was the culmination of 7 months of negotiations between the Federal Aviation Administration and the union. At one point in these negotiations agreement was reached and signed by both sides, granting a $40 million increase in salaries and benefits. This is twice what other government employees can expect. It was granted in recognition of the difficulties inherent in the work these people perform. Now, however, the union demands are 17 times what had been agreed to — $681 million. This would impose a tax burden on their fellow citizens which is unacceptable.

I would like to thank the supervisors and controllers who are on the job today, helping to get the nation’s air system operating safely. In the New York area, for example, four supervisors were scheduled to report for work, and 17 additionally volunteered. At National Airport a traffic controller told a newsperson he had resigned from the union and reported to work because, “How can I ask my kids to obey the law if I don’t?” This is a great tribute to America.

Let me make one thing plain. I respect the right of workers in the private sector to strike. Indeed, as president of my own union, I led the first strike ever called by that union. I guess I’m maybe the first one to ever hold this office who is a lifetime member of an AFL – CIO union. But we cannot compare labor-management relations in the private sector with government. Government cannot close down the assembly line. It has to provide without interruption the protective services which are government’s reason for being.

It was in recognition of this that the Congress passed a law forbidding strikes by government employees against the public safety. Let me read the solemn oath taken by each of these employees, a sworn affidavit, when they accepted their jobs: “I am not participating in any strike against the Government of the United States or any agency thereof, and I will not so participate while an employee of the Government of the United States or any agency thereof.”

It is for this reason that I must tell those who fail to report for duty this morning they are in violation of the law, and if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated.’

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ronald_Reagan's_ultimatum_to_striking_air_traffic_controllers

Adrian Ratnapala February 23, 2013 at 2:18 pm

More people will read these things if you summarise.

prior_approval February 23, 2013 at 2:42 pm

I wouldn’t want to misquote Ronald Reagan – and after his tender concern for the taxpayer’s wallets, his actions in disrupting air traffic led to an airport being renamed in his honor.

JWatts February 23, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Yes, he was really an outstanding President. He won re-election a few years after the Air Traffic Control strike in a historical landslide. It’s nice of you to realize how good a President he was p_a.

anon February 23, 2013 at 5:21 pm

It’s also important to recall that Ronald Reagan gave a big boost to the war on drugs, which is in part responsible for larger government, the largest prison population in the world, and the militarization of the police at all levels of government.

See “Ronald Reagan Was No Libertarian” by Gene Healy
http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/ronald-reagan-was-no-libertarian

prior_approval February 24, 2013 at 12:20 pm

‘Lucky’ – Ronald Reagan was an immensely lucky president. And luck counts – imagine an unlucky president following Reagan’s course in a world were the Soviets took him at his word about starting bombing in five minutes.

And Reagan was a much better president than either the draft dodger Clinton or the apparently missing in flight duties Bush, with his 40 years of youthful indiscretions.

derek February 23, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Were you around at the time? Was there no criticism, was this not on the front pages of all the papers and on TV news at the time, criticizing Reagan?

Was there any delays or disruptions at the time? I don’t remember, there may have been minor ones. The result was that most showed up for work and the union was substantially neutered.

As for the current situation, I love how liberals show up to defend the interests of the sinecured.

prior_approval February 23, 2013 at 2:46 pm

‘The result was that most showed up for work and the union was substantially neutered.’

Nope – and though I recognize actually providing information is considered in bad taste in some quarters here, let us review the history (which I did live through, by the way) -

‘Ronald Reagan declared the PATCO strike a “peril to national safety” and ordered them back to work under the terms of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. Only 1,300 of the nearly 13,000 controllers returned to work.[4] Subsequently, Reagan demanded those remaining on strike return to work within 48 hours, otherwise their jobs would be forfeited. At the same time, Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis organized for replacements and started contingency plans. By prioritizing and cutting flights severely, and even adopting methods of air traffic management that PATCO had previously lobbied for, the government was initially able to have 50% of flights available.[4]

On August 5, following the PATCO workers’ refusal to return to work, Reagan fired the 11,345 striking air traffic controllers who had ignored the order,[6][7] and banned them from federal service for life. In the wake of the strike and mass firings, the FAA was faced with the task of hiring and training enough controllers to replace those that had been fired, a hard problem to fix as, at the time, it took three years in normal conditions to train a new controller.[2] They were replaced initially with nonparticipating controllers, supervisors, staff personnel, some nonrated personnel, and in some cases by controllers transferred temporarily from other facilities. Some military controllers were also used until replacements could be trained. The FAA had initially claimed that staffing levels would be restored within two years; however, it would take closer to ten years before the overall staffing levels returned to normal.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional_Air_Traffic_Controllers_Organization_(1968)#August_1981_strike

derek February 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm

So indeed the current fluff about a few cuts is posturing. You describe a situation that is pretty extreme and for some reason or other life went on without the sky falling.

It is almost like the vast majority of the government machine is unnecessary overhead.

Brandon Berg February 23, 2013 at 2:42 pm

I don’t think you understand what “posturing” means.

prior_approval February 23, 2013 at 2:48 pm

On this comment section? Posturing is one of its major attractions, after all.

anon February 23, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Dissent is patriotic when your team isn’t in charge.

prior_approval February 24, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Well, since I have never voted for either a Democrat or Republican in my entire life (nor will I ever), it seems my dissenting patriotism is perfect by a certain standard.

Though sometimes I wonder – how many of the American commenters on this site can even conceive of political thought that is not reducible to simple binary frameworks?

Anon. February 23, 2013 at 2:53 pm

That’s a good speech. Who wrote it?

prior_approval February 24, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Well, I would actually assume Reagan in general – the man apparently had a certain flair in delivering his lines, and part of that was seemingly related to the fact that he wrote them, to a noticeable degree.

He was apparently indignant at the strikers breaking their oath, and fired them for that reason – a framework supported in the text.

Careless February 24, 2013 at 8:07 pm

yes, there was once, many years ago, a squirrel. Well spotted, PA. And so timely, too. What was our president when this squirrel died, a state senator?

What would we do without you? And as another commenter pointed out, that squirrel does not give the lesson you intended

prognostication February 23, 2013 at 2:13 pm

2: Note that the LA Times commenters point out that the trend is discussed in the context of three delis, one of which was only questionably a deli in the first place, and one of which was replaced by a similar establishment after closing. Just saying.

Mark Thorson February 23, 2013 at 8:45 pm

This guy lives in Burbank and has his own comments about that LA Times article. He thinks the author is a bit off the mark in a couple of ways.

http://www.newsfromme.com/2013/02/22/deceased-delis/

mw February 23, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Can’t wait for Glass to go mainstream–just when you thought they couldn’t further expand the supply of your friends’ stream of awful smartphone photos that hurt to look at…

I’ve seen the future, and it’s covered in veiling flare and shot noise! Not even Daguerre himself could have imagined it.

Adrian Ratnapala February 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm

5: From the department for Revisionist Chronology: “Human beings have developed a new problem since the advent of the iPhone and the following mobile revolution: “

AndrewL February 23, 2013 at 2:26 pm

#5, that last photo made me cringe a little, how’d he get his eyes to do that? Also the privacy issue is well illustrated with his trip to starbucks — there are certain places where you just should not have a camera out and be able to record at all, that means you have to remember to take the glasses off and put them away. (like public restrooms, dressing rooms, monasteries ) I think a physical “lens cap” for the camera would suffice.

RPLong February 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm

#3 is surprisingly awesome.

Chuck Currie February 23, 2013 at 3:50 pm

#3 was a nice break from the madness.

My White Album was a four track reel-to-reel tape (original release, not a copy of the album) sent to me by my father and sister while I was in Vietnam. It was played nightly at our EM club…with a lot of sing along to one particular track. I brought the tape home, played it often, sold my tape deck, the tape went into storage…might still be there.

Cheers

JWatts February 23, 2013 at 4:02 pm

The design of Glass is actually really beautiful. Elegant, sophisticated. They look human and a little bit alien all at once. Futuristic but not out of time — like an artifact from the 1960’s, someone trying to imagine what 2013 would be like. This is Apple-level design. No, in some ways it’s beyond what Apple has been doing recently. It’s daring, inventive, playful, and yet somehow still ultimately simple. The materials feel good in your hand and on your head, solid but surprisingly light. Comfortable. If Google keeps this up, soon we’ll be saying things like “this is Google-level design.”"

Umm, I’m not seeing the beautiful, elegant sophistication here. I think it’s cool tech, but your drinking the Kool Aid if you think it’s particularly beautiful or elegant.

Claudia February 23, 2013 at 4:24 pm

maybe the author just has a different sense of aesthetics? … at least that’s my take on his ‘look’ in the last photo. (it was not the glasses that made me cringe.) I suspect these glasses are going to capture a lot more of the un-beautiful, un-sophisticated than their own appearance.

gwern February 23, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Heh, I was a little disappointed by the Bitcoin link – I was hoping it’d be new to me, but it was the same paper reminiscent of my essay http://www.gwern.net/Bitcoin%20is%20Worse%20is%20Better which I’d already incorporated. Oh well!

mloyer February 23, 2013 at 6:23 pm

I’d mandate my employees to use Glass at work all the time… implying that I’d record everything they do and randomly eavesdrop into their computer, for “quality assurance” and “fraud prevention” of course. This technology has the potential to revolutionize white collar workplaces.

Derek February 24, 2013 at 11:48 am

I read the article yesterday morning and was trying to think of ways that it would be useful. I don’t need the navigation stuff, texting is fine like it is now.
I commonly get calls from my employees where they need help figuring something out. I ask them questions that builds a picture in my mind of what is there and what it’s doing. Having them wear one of these, I could see what they see. On the other hand, I only have to do it a few times with the smart ones as they are learning the art of troubleshooting from my questions.
I see it more of a personal device that is networked. Look at Sign, ocr it, translate it into your native language.

TR W February 24, 2013 at 12:34 am

OMG! RUTHERFORD Chang. Black people may run away from “acting white” but yellow people run toward it.

DocMerlin February 24, 2013 at 4:34 am

” Is the FAA engaged in political posturing?”

Is any part of government ever not?

JJ February 24, 2013 at 9:03 am

The story on Jewish delis is that Jewish youth don’t view deli food as being part of their heritage. Ask your average Ashkenazi 18 year old on the streets of the Upper West Side what Jewish food place he eats at, he’s likely to point to the falafel/shawarma place down the block. “Yeah, that’s great-grandpa’s food, but that’s because he was from Poland, and there’s nothing particularly Jewish about Poland. Actually…probably the opposite.”

Sbard February 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm

It also doesn’t help that a lot of the Jewish deli food consists of things that used to be very cheap but are now pretty expensive. Have you seen the price of brisket lately?

Rahul February 24, 2013 at 12:44 pm

#2 Could there be a sinister antisemitic conspiracy underneath the decline? Hmmm…

Russell, Bertrand February 24, 2013 at 7:45 pm

The decline of the Jewish deli is a lot like the (very real) phenomenon of the decline of the true (Jersey) diner: a giant nothingburger.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: