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  • Commented on A nation of slaves
    Thomas Piketty, an economist who is probably the foremost expert on income distribution, has just published a book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which argues convincingly that de facto slavery for the great majority, and misery for the majority of...
  • Commented on Implications
    Re oaks: I agree with Bear. An oaken chair (in a castle or a town) implies oaks near either navigable rivers or fairly dense settlement; probably both. Hence lowland, hence temperate climate. Tropical montane oaks won't cut it, except in...
  • Commented on Implications
    "You can just make anything up, can't you..." Pratchett's response (in the mouth of Vetinari, a world-builder within a well-built world) is apposite: "You think that just because I can do anything, I can do anything". Unfortunately interlocutors smart enough...
  • Commented on A deceptively simple question
    The implications for surveillance have been alluded to. Airport security theatre around every large downtown, intensification of infowar arms races, etc. GMF. Economic geopolitical effects: Reducing the cost of land transport relative to that of sea transport will increase the...
  • Commented on The latest news
    > The GCC contributors page lists hundreds of people. Most probably wouldn't notice your addition, but it would be hubristic to think that at least one of those contributors isn't at least as clever as you. And as willing to...
  • Commented on The latest news
    > Dammit, why couldn't this have stayed as a light escapist fantasy series? You mean like The Secret World Chronicle, The Red (your guest blogger Linda Nagata), guest Cat Valente's works...or the Laundry series? I dunno, perhaps it's that "mundane...
  • Commented on On Syria
    Fifty years ago, WMD was the Domino Theory. Eighty years ago, there was the Red Threat. Before that, the Yellow Peril. It's all b___sh_t. Simple-minded propaganda for simple-minded proles. Please stop shoving down our throats....
  • Commented on On Syria
    Congrats on getting a piece published in FP, Charlie. You're part of The Establishment now. ;-) The efficient cause of Syria's strife is an epic drought that lasted from 2006 to 2011 ... just after al-Assad sold Syria's emergency wheat...
  • Commented on Marking time, more thoughts
    automation is put in in order of profitability... If unions were still strong, and the share of income going to wages and salaries had not declined by 20% the point would be moot. As Warren Buffett said in a...
  • Commented on Marking time, more thoughts
    Socialism and communism, at least as historically practised, both preach the dignity of work. Of course, and in the Star Trek world, people have work. It's just not (mainly) for money. Removing work entirely, as in the Culture, is a...
  • Commented on Marking time, more thoughts
    Turning to the question that Charlie asked, "what are our options?"), Peter Frase's essay in Jacobin Magazine, "Four Futures", http://jacobinmag.com/2011/12/four-futures/ is essential reading. Out of the four, the first, Communism as depicted in Star Trek, seems the most desirable. How...
  • Commented on Marking time, more thoughts
    I want to push back on the idea that automation was the cause of the "employment gap"-- mainly because I used to think so, too, and there's none so virtuous as a former sinner, etc. One of the first charts...
  • Commented on Marking time, more thoughts
    Employment to population ratio:- If people are interested, the Federal Reserve Economic Database is the most comprehensive and easiest-to-use DIY tool for Economic charts. Paul Krugman uses FRED a lot on his blog, and once you've been there, you'll start...
  • Commented on Crib Sheet: Glasshouse
    I'm sceptical of Altemeyer. He makes great sense, and I want to believe what he says. I'm now old enough to realise that that is an alarm bell. A year or two ago, I went looking for critical appraisals of...
  • Commented on The permanent revolution
    Exactly right, Charlie. Thank you for articulating my thoughts so well. The "doctrine of continual change through technology" has been a major bulwark of capitalism, and it is exactly right to say that Fascism, Communism and Republican Democracy are merely...
  • Commented on How I feel this morning
    OK, I've tried out Tiny Tiny RSS. It works as per the tin, but the default user interface needs attention from someone with good knowledge of typography for computer displays, and UX in general. The main page looks exactly like...
  • Commented on How I feel this morning
    The Goolge Reader business model (cribbed from an Ars Technica comment, IIRC): 1. Introduce a free service that outcompetes all the existing free and paid alternatives. 2. Discontinue the free service. 3. ??? ---- (There is no 4.)...
  • Commented on How I feel this morning
    Greg: Real world analogy. Clicking on each bookmark to see if there's something new is like going around your town knocking on people's doors and asking them if they have somethng to say. An RSS feed aggregator like Google Reader...
  • Commented on Thinking the unthinkable
    I expect the first consequence to be a legal challenge to the referendum. (The government will covertly fund some group to do this, in an attempt to make the referendum non-binding.) If that doesn't work, the most likely next consequence...
  • Commented on Women in SF and Fantasy
    I recall that on reading "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" as a youngling, I had something of a "so what?" feeling. Nowadays I'd say: Ivan's wife would probably have swapped with him. His grandmother, almost certainly. Before...
  • Commented on Unbreakable (part 1)
    Toughness is absolutely the right word for shock resistance. Women are emotionally tougher than men. (Please, please, someone shoot* Nassim Taleb's editor for allowing him to print the dreadful neologism "antifragility". It's toughness, damn it! Hardiness if you really must.)...
  • Commented on What are the big issues of 2013 going to be?
    Slightly bizarro-world predictions:- Apple TV turns out to be a flop - who watches TV or films any more? Aren't there enough cat videos on YouTube? The smash hit, though, is Apple iMoney: Apple figures out how to do phone-based...
  • Commented on What are the big issues of 2013 going to be?
    The big issue in 2013 will be the same as the big issue in '12: a global political and wealth elite that has collectively decided that the world is zero-sum, and has set out to get as much as it...
  • Commented on 2512
    The trend (if it exists) of having children later will put persistent downward pressure on population, by stretching the time between generations. This creates a headwind for entrepreneurs: when the population was growing at 2% per year, people could start...
  • Commented on 2512
    500 years isn't what it used to be. It was 20 to 30 generations, depending how you count and where you lived. If gains in longevity are retained, 500 years will be 15 generations. (Today at the supermarket I saw...
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