Saturday assorted links

by on February 17, 2018 at 11:04 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Tony February 17, 2018 at 11:18 am

Pirate certificates will be very useful, once their vessels roam the streets of a New York City innundated by global warming.

2 Charbes A. February 17, 2018 at 11:57 am

It is actually false advertisement: “The MIT Pirate certificate is for entertainment purposes only and does not give the recipient license to engage in piracy or any pirate activities.”

Also, credentialism gone mad: “Non-MIT courses and life experience are not counted towards completing the certificate.” It means there are certificated pirates who never saw a ship and can neiher tell port from starboard nor talk like pirates, but someone who sailed with Blackbeard, Robert Louis Stevenson and Captain Hook themselves would not be able to get the certificate without enrolling at basic courses. Do you understand what it does to social mobility?

3 yo February 17, 2018 at 4:06 pm

Who are you and where is your letter of marque? Tsk, criticizing credentialism as a landlubber.

4 Charbes A. February 17, 2018 at 6:20 pm

I am an independent, enterprising pirate.

5 cjared February 17, 2018 at 12:38 pm

#4 …. context is so important in tech. Sometimes, rarely, a firm has insight into a “universal” context or need. Skype for example. But mostly firms don’t.

6 derek February 17, 2018 at 1:11 pm

6. An anecdote. One of our customers at one time had an arrangement where the temperature and a bunch of other sensors were monitored remotely. They would phone the location when there was an alarm. Alarms occurred 15-25 times a day; someone loading a case, etc. The local staff were expected to respond to alarms as opposed to being aware of what was happening in front of them.

I got a call on a saturday noon. Half the store was warm. By about 11PM I had the thing stabilized. About a week earlier there was one alarm that was important, and neither the monitoring people or the locals who got the call knew what it meant. It was a refrigerant leak alarm.

What this lady is suggesting is installing a system where the accuracy and function of the sensors would need to be checked regularly, and where there would be dozens of false alarms for every one which needed attention. The labor required to maintain the system if allocated to simply doing periodic checks would do a far better job.

So what she is suggesting is a return to the system of building operator with a very large upfront installation cost, as well as an ongoing cost to maintain and replace the sensors.

7 derek February 17, 2018 at 1:16 pm

By the way, the gas regulators have what you would call ‘problem transparency’. Mercaptan added to the natural gas or propane is detectable a very low levels by human smell, meaning that someone will notice the leak before there are dangerous concentrations.

But the propane used as refrigerants in ubiquitous coolers and restaurant equipment doesn’t have that awful smell, in fact it smells sweet. And if you have a leak into the cabinet it will create an explosive atmosphere. ‘Problem transparency’ would be to install one of these into every office of the regulators who have foisted this stupidity upon an uninformed populace.

8 dan1111 February 17, 2018 at 4:09 pm

It’s possible to have a system that collects and provides lots of information but also prioritizes and highlights only the essential information.

An overload of information and alarms is certainly a common pitfall when lots of monitoring is going on (hospitals are another example of this). However, it is avoidable.

9 DanC February 17, 2018 at 1:28 pm

As for the gimmick economy.

The ability of the government to grant monopoly power and enforce it with force will quickly solve the problem of excessive free goods.

The need to store and protect our goods will go forward.

There will always be a market for people to do dirty jobs.

I think fears that we will fall into the world of Robocop or Wall-E are overstated.

I would also think that market economies evolved based on comparative advantage and the gains from trade. How does the gimmick economy prevent this?

10 RafaelR February 17, 2018 at 4:57 pm

Back in the 18th century people were worried that new looms would make all textile workers unemployed. Now people are worried that “software” will replace workers. Guess what: we already have reached a situation where most people have a supercomputer at the palm of their hand, mechanization-automation has been happening for 250 years at and increasing rate and the world economy is in full employment as we speak (with the exceptions of Italy, Spain, Greece, Argentina and Brazil).

11 Anon7 February 17, 2018 at 5:11 pm

Thanks to the reforms of the illustrious President Temer, Brazil’s unemployment rate is declining rápido:

12 anon February 17, 2018 at 5:46 pm

You don’t see any problem or even irony in the fact that having “free” markets will soon require every market actor to have a government granted monopoly over their particular niche? One wonders if the cure is worse than the disease…

13 DanC February 17, 2018 at 8:05 pm

That was my dystopian joke. Too subtle I guess

14 JWatts February 17, 2018 at 4:29 pm


15 LittleJohn February 17, 2018 at 5:26 pm

Kosovo suffered, and still does under the myth that diversity is their strength. It would have been better for everyone involved if NATO had stayed out of their civil war. Now it lives to bloom again, and again, and again…

16 Hoosier February 17, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Wechat sounds like complete crap that is only used because it’s the only thing out there in China. I take it they have some kind of de facto monopoly through close connections w the Chinese government. That article lists a series of functions NOT available, all of which are pretty basic things you have come to expect from a social media platform in the rest of the world.

TC loves to talk about China’s achievements, but the fact remains that it has remarkably little influence outside of its borders for anything money cannot buy. Certainly when it comes to cultural impact tiny Korea dwarfs it. As do most Japanese companies with their products.

We can compare the emergence of China on the world stage to to the US in the late 19th century all we want, but as long as the innovation stifling authoritarian practices of the of the communist government are in place it’s always going to have difficulty ever having the impact on the world that the USA did in the 20th century. This applies especially to the sciences as well.

17 Michael Abrahams February 18, 2018 at 2:30 am

This article could have been about Weibo, Baidu, QQ,…. if you want to see a failure of China’s socialist model look no further.

18 Axa February 18, 2018 at 2:43 am

I hope you’re not posting this from a device made in China.

19 foobarista February 17, 2018 at 6:41 pm

Wechat takes forever to boot on my phone compared with Whatsapp, and its desktop integration isn’t great.

It was the first chat app that I used, but nowadays I’m almost always using Whatsapp, especially after spending a few weeks in India, where Whatsapp reigns supreme.

20 Matthew Young February 18, 2018 at 12:47 am

3. Anthropic capitalism and the new gimmick economy.

The author makes the common mistake of assuming central bank currency is a monopoly. No, the tax dollar system competes, to a certain extent, with alternative monies in the economy.. We don’t talk about it in dollar denominations, it is observable in inflation.

If we account for alternative moneys them we can always see the fiat system pushed back to fundamentals. The sudden rise in interest costs and apparent inflation is the sudden loss of market share by the fiaters, and they bite the bullet in the end.

21 RafaelR February 18, 2018 at 5:17 pm

3. Anthropic capitalism and the new gimmick economy.

He obviously never heard of “Paris gets feed”, which is the same thing as “Anthropic capitalism”: why we assume that social order is mainly coordinated without a lot of breakdown in market clearing and prices tend to correspond to marginal costs? Because it is empirically verified that society works, that’s why: “Paris gets feed”:

22 ScottA February 19, 2018 at 8:48 am

4: most of the article: company allowed to exist by an explicitly totalitarian state that largely determines “market” success through political networks is not protecting user data from the state. Author acts surprised.

It is interesting in that WeChat is at least partially optimized to create the illusion of security and privacy. It stores all messages locally (you own them! unless you know how phones work) and has protections that seem designed to play on psychological misconceptions about what makes something protected and private rather than to actually protect privacy. I fear Facebook and others will take this as a learning opportunity….

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