Read Lemon socialism (Wikipedia)

Lemon socialism is a pejorative term for a form of government intervention in which government subsidies go to weak or failing firms (lemons; see Lemon law), with the effective result that the government (and thus the taxpayer) absorbs part or all of the recipient's losses. The term derives from the conception that in socialism the government may nationalize a company's profits while leaving the company to pay its own losses, while in lemon socialism the company is allowed to keep its profits but its losses are shifted to the taxpayer.

Mark J. Green coined the exact phrase in a 1974 article discussing the utility company Con Ed.

Read Privatizing profits and socializing losses (Investopedia)
Privatizing profits and socializing losses refers to the practice of treating company earnings as the rightful property of shareholders, while losses are treated as a responsibility that society must shoulder. In other words, the profitability of corporations are strictly for the benefit of their shareholders. But when the companies fail, the fallout—the losses and recovery—are the responsibility of the general public. Popular examples of this include taxpayer-funded subsidies or bailouts.
Listened to The "Pentagon Papers" Of Our Time by Bob Garfield from On the Media | WNYC Studios

A monumental report from the Washington Post reveals years of lies, futility and corruption.

On Monday, the Washington Post released the fruits of a three-year investigative effort: the "Afghanistan Papers," a once-secret internal government history of a deadly, costly, and ultimately futile entanglement. The hundreds of frank, explosive interviews — along with a new tranche of memos written by the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld — revealed the extent to which American leaders misled the public on their efforts to hunt down Osama Bin Laden, rout the Taliban, expel Al Qaeda, install democracy, and undo corruption. In this podcast extra, investigative reporter Craig Whitlock tells Bob about the monumental story that the Post uncovered — and the extraordinary effort it took to report it out. 

Read Opinion | How Professors Help Rip Off Students by Tim Wu (New York Times)
Textbooks are too expensive.
OER is a nice way to go, but I’ve also mentioned before how to restructure the textbook business so the economic balance is righted.

tl;dr: Professors aren’t doing the learning, so at most they should recommend one or more textbooks, but never require them. The students should choose their own textbooks or otherwise fend for themselves (many are already doing this anyway, so why disadvantage them further with the economic burdens) and direct market forces will very quickly fix the problem of run-away book prices.

Professors should not be middle-people in the purchase decisions of textbooks.

Read “Link In Bio” is a slow knife by Anil Dash (Anil Dash)
We don’t even notice it anymore — “link in bio”. It’s a pithy phrase, usually found on Instagram, which directs an audience to be aware that a pertinent web link can be found on that user’s profile. Its presence is so subtle, and so pervasive, that we barely even noticed it was an attempt to kill the web.
This is another good example of how social media is destroying value and preventing new value creation to keep the power for itself. 

I like how Anil has managed to find a purple colored knife for the featured image.

I originally read his post on my cell phone and was surprised that it tool almost 30 seconds for the post to resolve because it’s apparently hosted on Glitch and it took the app ages to start itself back up. Not necessarily good UI for hosting a personal website, but bully to Anil for selfdogfooding his own work to host his site. I’m sure the speed will improve in the future.

Read What’s the LMS Worth? by Jim LukeJim Luke (EconProph)
Herein, against my better judgement, I wade into the Great Instructure social media wars of 2019. Last week, Instructure Inc., the publicly traded (NYSE: INST) company announced it had agreed to go private and sell itself to private equity firm Thoma Bravo. For people who teach in higher education this is big news. Instructure, is the current name for the company founded in 2008 that created and sells the Canvas LMS. Canvas in the last decade has toppled the previous king-of-the-LMS’s, Blackboard. Canvas is now widely reported to have largest market share of higher ed LMS market at least in North America. Moodle, the open source system, appears to dominate outside North America.

Capitalists and market-thinkers inevitably seek to enclose the commons, privatizing benefits and externalizing costs onto society.

It’s nice to see this reminder every now and then.
–highlighted December 09, 2019 at 09:00PM

Some pragmatic and solid analysis here. Better than some of the FUD I’ve seen bandied about.

Read Unicorn, e-scooter startup from co-creator of Tile, shuts down with no money for refunds (The Verge)
The company had "totally failed as a business," the CEO said in an email.
This is deplorable behavior. Paying users shouldn’t have to foot the bill. It should be the financial responsibility of the company, its board, and its executives to do better than this. Startups shouldn’t structure their company like a Ponzi scheme and doing so sets a terrible precedent.
Listened to There Goes the Neighborhood: Miami, Part 3 by Kai Wright and Nadege Green from The Stakes | WNYC Studios

Life and loss in Little Haiti, where residents find themselves in the path of a land rush.

Haitian migrants fled a violent dictatorship and built a new community in Miami’s Little Haiti, far from the coast and on land that luxury developers didn’t want. But with demand for up-market apartments surging, their neighborhood is suddenly attractive to builders. That’s in part because it sits on high ground, in a town concerned about sea level rise. But also, because Miami is simply running out of land to build upon. 

In the final episode of our series on “climate gentrification,” WLRN reporter Nadege Greene asks one man what it’s like to be in the path of a land rush. Before you listen, check out parts one and two.

In this episode, we hear from:

  • Louis Rosemont, artist in Little Haiti
  • Carl Juste, photojournalist for the Miami Herald
  • Ned Murray of Florida International University
  • Greg West, CEO of Zom Living development firm
  • Jane Gilbert, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Miami

“NYC

Reported and produced by Kai Wright and Nadege Green. This is the final installment of a three-part series produced in partnership with WLRN in Miami. WNYC’s health coverage is supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Working to build a Culture of Health that ensures everyone in America has a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. More at RWJF.org.

Overall a great series, but their narrative was weakened a bit for me in this final episode with the discussion of the myriad of other economic factors that could potentially be at play. Exactly how much do climate change and gentrification play in the displacement of Little Haiti? What percentage?
Listened to There Goes the Neighborhood: Miami, Part 2 by Kai Wright, Nadege Green and Christopher Johnson from The Stakes | WNYC Studios

The fear of mass displacement isn't paranoia for black people in Liberty City. It's family history.

Valencia Gunder used to dismiss her grandfather’s warnings: “They’re gonna steal our communities because it don't flood.” She thought, Who would want this place? But Valencia’s grandfather knew something she didn’t: People in black Miami have seen this before. 

In the second episode of our series on “climate gentrification,” reporter Christopher Johnson tells the story of Overtown, a segregated black community that was moved, en masse, because the city wanted the space for something else. If you haven't heard part one, start there first.

In this episode, we also hear from:

- Agnes and Naomi Rolle, childhood residents of Overtown

Marvin Dunn, researcher at Florida International University

- James Mungin II, co-founder of The Roots Collective

Reported and produced by Kai WrightNadege Green and Christopher Johnson. This is part two of a three-part series produced in partnership with WLRN in Miami. WNYC’s health coverage is supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Working to build a Culture of Health that ensures everyone in America has a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. More at RWJF.org.

Listened to There Goes the Neighborhood: Miami, Part 1 by Kai Wright, Nadege Green, and Christopher Johnson from The Stakes | WNYC Studios

The sea level is rising -- and so is the rent. It's the first episode in our three part series on "climate gentrification."

In Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood, residents are feeling a push from the familiar forces of gentrification: hasty evictions, new developments, rising commercial rents. But there’s something else happening here, too—a process that may intensify the affordability crisis in cities all over the country.

Little Haiti sits on high ground, in a city that’s facing increasing pressure from rising sea levels and monster storms. For years, researchers at Harvard University’s Design School have been trying to identify if and how the changing climate will reshape the real estate market globally. In Miami’s Little Haiti, they have found an ideal case study for what’s been dubbed “climate gentrification.”

We hear from:

Jesse Keenan, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

- Mimi Sanon-Jules, entrepreneur in Little Haiti

Reported and produced by Kai WrightNadege Green and Christopher Johnson. This is part one of a three-part series produced in partnership with WLRN in Miami. WNYC’s health coverage is supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Working to build a Culture of Health that ensures everyone in America has a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. More at RWJF.org.

Listened to Mindscape 72 | César Hidalgo on Information in Societies, Economies, and the Universe by Sean CarrollSean Carroll from preposterousuniverse.com

Maxwell’s Demon is a famous thought experiment in which a mischievous imp uses knowledge of the velocities of gas molecules in a box to decrease the entropy of the gas, which could then be used to do useful work such as pushing a piston. This is a classic example of converting information (what the gas molecules are doing) into work. But of course that kind of phenomenon is much more widespread — it happens any time a company or organization hires someone in order to take advantage of their know-how. César Hidalgo has become an expert in this relationship between information and work, both at the level of physics and how it bubbles up into economies and societies. Looking at the world through the lens of information brings new insights into how we learn things, how economies are structured, and how novel uses of data will transform how we live.

César Hidalgo received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Notre Dame. He currently holds an ANITI Chair at the University of Toulouse, an Honorary Professorship at the University of Manchester, and a Visiting Professorship at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. From 2010 to 2019, he led MIT’s Collective Learning group. He is the author of Why Information Grows and co-author of The Atlas of Economic Complexity. He is a co-founder of Datawheel, a data visualization company whose products include the Observatory of Economic Complexity.

Mindscape cover art

It was interesting to hear Cesar Hidalgo use the concept of “big history” a few times in this episode. I’m not 100% sure he meant it in the David Christian sense of the words, but it at least felt right.

I was also piqued at the mention of Lynne Kelly’s work, which I’m now knee deep into. I suspect it could dramatically expand on what we think of as the capacity of a personbyte, though the limit of knowledge there still exists. The idea of mnemotechniques within indigenous cultures certainly expands on the way knowledge worked in prehistory and what we classically think of and frame collective knowledge or collective learning.

I also think there are some interesting connections with Dr. Kelly’s mentions of social equity in prehistorical cultures and the work that Hidalgo mentions in the middle of the episode.

There are a small handful of references I’ll want to delve into after hearing this, though it may take time to pull them up unless they’re linked in the show notes.

 

hat-tip: Complexity Digest for the reminder that this is in my podcatcher. 🔖 November 22, 2019 at 03:28PM

Liked a tweet by #AbolitionMeansNoPrisons#AbolitionMeansNoPrisons (Twitter)
This is an interesting economic idea…
Bookmarked a tweet by AoverKAoverK (Twitter)
Listened to Hoptopia How the Willamette valley conquered the world of tasty beer by Jeremy Cherfas from Eat This Podcast

Brewers have long appreciated the value of hops from the Pacific northwest, but it was Cascade, a variety practically synonymous with craft brewing, that made the area more generally famous among beer drinkers. Cascade was named for the Cascade Range, which runs down the west coast of North America. The home of the Cascade hop is the Willamette valley, roughly halfway between the mountains and the coast. Cascade was released in 1972, but the history of hops in the Willamette valley goes back to the 1830s. The industry has seen more than its fair share of ups and downs, all examined by historian Peter Kopp in his book Hoptopia.

The whole question of changing tastes in beer, and how that affects the fortunes of different hops, is fascinating. If you’ve been a listener forever, you may remember a very early Eat This Podcast, about the rediscovery of an English hop known prosaically as OZ97a. Deemed too hoppy and abandoned when first tried, the vogue for craft beers resurrected its fortunes. It’s a fun story, though I say so myself.

Notes

  1. Peter Kopp’s book is Hoptopia: A World of Agriculture and Beer in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
  2. Cover photo is Ezra Meeker, the early grower of hops in the Willamette valley who pioneered the global marketing of Oregon hops. The booming hop business made him the territory’s first millionnaire, and perhaps also its biggest bust. Hop King: Ezra Meeker’s Boom Years chronicles that part of his long, rich life.
  3. Banner photo of hops by Paul on Flickr.
I know I’d listened to this a while back, but it is so dense it has a lot to unpack on so many fronts.