Assorted links


2. The economics of Amazon.

As others have pointed out, Amazon's consistent lack of profit has been and continues to be a huge disincentive for potential competitors.

But if you click the link you will see that Amazon has plenty of gross profit

Sloppily worded. See

I'm extremely skeptical of that argument. The number of competitors in Amazon's primary space - online retail - has only increased over time, not decreased. All of the major brick-and-mortar retail chains (such as Walmart and Target) have online websites with competitive shipping prices, there are a bunch of online retailers still in business, and Google has made some moves into same-day and express-delivery systems. Even their other businesses are under aggressive and increasing competition. Their phones are competing with Apple, Samsung, and anyone else producing smartphones; their online content is in competition with Netflix, Vudu, Youtube videos-for-sale, etc; and their Amazon Web Services is under increasing competition from Google and Microsoft.

It's the same arguments that were thrown out for how Walmart would someday jack up prices and crush the competition. That day never came, because there was no lack of people who were willing to fight it in the discount retail market if there was even a chance of making money off of it.

"he often awoke in his 66,000-square-foot home on the eastern bank of Lake Washington and walked downstairs to his private gym in a baggy T-shirt, shorts, sneakers and black socks yanked up to the mid calf": brilliant, the sort of journalism that makes the US newspapers unreadably boring. Oi, mate, you forgot to tell us which firm manufactured his knicker elastic.

Ah, but you see they were ankle-length socks when they left the factory. Gates, by the power of his will and the yanking strength of his hands, remade them into mid-calf length.

Setting the scene with warm, friendly home irrelevance is a fundamental pillar of democracy. Crisp writing that sticks to the point reeks of upper-class domination, like an officer barking orders. Brevity was invented British editors who wanted to scare away the plebeians. It has no place in the great republic.

4. Maybe universities should actually require faculty on sabbatical to write a blog chronicling what they are learning or doing?

Sounds interesting, but a) watchful eyes are not conducive to creativity, soul searching, ability to explore crazy ends of ideas, etc., and b) it would largely amount to descriptions which read like "reading, reading, reading, wrote some notes, then reading, then more notes, then sketched out some ideas, trashed ideas, sketched out ideas, trashed more ideas, burned all the books and order 20 more books from Amazon, sketched out ideas while waiting for new books to arrive, reading, writing, reading, more reading, more writing, called upon some old friends/colleagues who might be able to provide clarification to a general sense of confusion dominating, followed by several sketches and aborted plans to write because a few books are still in the mail, renewed vigour in reading when the books arrive, disappointment that they didn't result in the perfect coalescence of brilliant ideas, writing out unsatisfactory sketches, and finally went back and hashed out something sufficiently credible from one of the three main thesis ideas started with.

Really, on sabbatical, professors should be required to account for their time by producing SOMETHING, but those lazy days down at the river in contemplation of EVERYTHING, over numerous bottles of wine, or who knows OEs with the homeless dudes down by the bay, well, maybe they never would have bothered to do any of that and come across special insights which made their research worthwhile, if required to document their every move while on sabbatical.

1. Bill Gates doesn't seem to realize that the great majority of grade-school teachers are incapable of teaching the things he wants them to teach. A good many of them aren't even capable of understanding those things. Terrific programs that can't be run by the people who will be appointed to run them are lousy programs.

Indeed, that's one of the reasons why the fancy reforms of math education that the US has been doing from at least 50 years have been unsuccessful: most of the teachers don't know the stuff, so they can't teach it effectively.

Gates just watched DVDs. Why not just sack all the teachers and start a Youtube channel. Then all you need is testing, testing, testing.

One of Gates' Common Core compatriots is none other than Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch may make many hundreds of millions of dollars though his News Corps' recent acquisition of the education tech company, Wireless Generation, which he bought for $360 million in cash). Wireless Generation has already snagged lion's shares of the Common Core's testing contracts.

“Amplify,” the newly-created education division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, parent company of Fox News. News Corp is on the ALEC Education Task Force. In 2010, News Corp hired former New York City chancellor Joel Klein to run its education division, which includes the for-profit education company formerly known as Wireless Generation. The firm has big plans for a specialized “Amplify Tablet” that would provide lesson plans, textbooks and testing to cash-in on new “Common Core” required state standards."

Gates and Murdoch, strange bedfellows, indeed.

Personally, I'd be much happier if most youngsters were Cryranoids.

#3..."No longer are we roaming the savannah, braving the harsh retribution of nature and a life on the move. The instinct that protected us through most of the years of our evolution is now often a drag – threatening our intimate relationships and destabilising our teams at work."

So, before we were roaming the savannah, we were programmed to do what? Hide in caves? Is this any more interesting than merely being careful wherever we find ourselves? Doesn't this make sense?

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