Monday, January 28, 2013

Domestication of Monkeys

I was really intrigued by the National Geographic article on domesticated foxes. It suggests a business opportunity. Monkeys seem like they would be a great pet, but apparently they are hell-raisers. But why couldn't the same approach be taken to domesticating them?

Android Multi-Tasking Button is Over-Rated...

...On tablets, especially, I find it just as easy to press Home-App versus multi-tasking, possibly scroll, then App. On phones it is slightly more useful--because there is a lower chance that the first home screen has the app you need--but only slightly. So is the functionality at all useful? Sure, but I think the legacy implementation of long-press Home button was fine.

I think the Algerian government did the right thing

This may well seem harsh, but I think the Algerian government did the right thing, in refusing to negotiate with the hostage takers, and instead rapidly bringing the episode to a close. Rewarding a thing can only encourage it.

Same goes for the Somali pirates. I really think the best response would be to fire on and sink the ship. Zero negotiations, zero reward, zero incentive to keep up the piracy. In the end, it will save far more lives.

Arab Spring: Too Much, Too Fast

I wrote the below over a year ago and never posted it. Now we have the bloodbath of Syria, the spillover in Mali, and scary instability in Egypt. It gives me absolutely no joy to be right, but too much, too soon.

Again on the subject of the Arab spring in general, and Libya in particular. So we got rid of a strongman--we did that with Saddam, it didn't necessarily make things so much better. And Gaddafi, while a vile, despicable tyrant, had ceased to be a source of international terrorism. ...I just think sometimes slow is better. I am thinking of cases like South Korea, Taiwan, India. Now I don't want the U.S. to enforce slowness in any way, that would be going far too far, but maybe we shouldn't be so keen to accelerate, especially when that means military involvement?

Brooks on Inequality and Meritocracy

I really thought this hit the nail on the is what I have believed for a long time.

Smart high school students from rural Nebraska, small-town Ohio and urban Newark get to go to good universities. ...In the dorms, classrooms, summer internships and early jobs they learn how to behave the way successful people do in the highly educated hubs. There's no economic reason to return home, and maybe it's not even socially possible anymore. 

The highly educated cluster around a few small nodes. Decade after decade, smart and educated people flock away from Merced, Calif., Yuma, Ariz., Flint, Mich., and Vineland, N.J. In those places, less than 15 percent of the residents have college degrees. They flock to Washington, Boston, San Jose, Raleigh-Durham and San Francisco. In those places, nearly 50 percent of the residents have college degrees. 
As Enrico Moretti writes in "The New Geography of Jobs," the magnet places have positive ecologies that multiply innovation, creativity and wealth. The abandoned places have negative ecologies and fall further behind. This sorting is self-reinforcing, and it seems to grow more unforgiving every year.
The second problem is the focus on income redistribution. Recently, there's been far more talk about tax increases than any other subject. But the income disparities are a downstream effect of the human capital and geographic disparities. Pumping a few dollars into San Joaquin, Calif., where 2.9 percent of the residents have bachelor's degrees and 20.6 percent have high school degrees, may ease suffering, but it won't alter the dynamic.