Listened to The Field: An Anti-Endorsement in Nevada | The Daily from New York Times

The state’s largest labor union has fought hard for health care. And now it’s fighting Bernie Sanders.

Bookmarked Gopher: When Adversarial Interoperability Burrowed Under the Gatekeepers' Fortresses by Cory DoctorowCory Doctorow (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

The Gopher story is a perfect case history for Adversarial Interoperability. The pre-Gopher information landscape was dominated by companies, departments, and individuals who were disinterested in giving users control over their own computing experience and who viewed computing as something that took place in a shared lab space, not in your home or dorm room.

Rather than pursuing an argument with these self-appointed Lords of Computing, the Gopher team simply went around them, interconnecting to their services without asking for permission. They didn't take data they weren't supposed to have—but they did make it much easier for the services' nominal users to actually access them.

Paul Linder‘s retweet of a post by Cory Doctorow ()
Read Gopher: When Adversarial Interoperability Burrowed Under the Gatekeepers' Fortresses by Corey Doctorow (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
When Apple's App Store launched in 2008, it was widely hailed as a breakthrough in computing, a "curated experience" that would transform the chaos of locating and assessing software and replace it with a reliable one-stop-shop where every app would come pre-tested and with a trusted seal of...

The Gopher story is a perfect case history for Adversarial Interoperability. The pre-Gopher information landscape was dominated by companies, departments, and individuals who were disinterested in giving users control over their own computing experience and who viewed computing as something that took place in a shared lab space, not in your home or dorm room.
Rather than pursuing an argument with these self-appointed Lords of Computing, the Gopher team simply went around them, interconnecting to their services without asking for permission. They didn’t take data they weren’t supposed to have—but they did make it much easier for the services’ nominal users to actually access them. 

Annotated on February 23, 2020 at 08:39AM

Today’s Web giants want us to believe that they and they alone are suited to take us to wherever we end up next. Having used Adversarial Interoperability as a ladder to attain their rarefied heights, they now use laws to kick the ladder away and prevent the next Microcomputer Center or Tim Berners-Lee from doing to them what the Web did to Gopher, and what Gopher did to mainframes. 

Annotated on February 23, 2020 at 08:40AM

Legislation to stem the tide of Big Tech companies’ abuses, and laws—such as a national consumer privacy bill, an interoperability bill, or a bill making firms liable for data-breaches—would go a long way toward improving the lives of the Internet users held hostage inside the companies’ walled gardens.
But far more important than fixing Big Tech is fixing the Internet: restoring the kind of dynamism that made tech firms responsive to their users for fear of losing them, restoring the dynamic that let tinkerers, co-ops, and nonprofits give every person the power of technological self-determination. 

Annotated on February 23, 2020 at 08:42AM

Bookmarked The Tragedy of the Commons [.pdf] by Garrett Hardin (The Social Contract | garretthardinsociety.org)
Originally given as an address to the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is copyrighted by the AAAS, and is reprinted with their permission from Science, 13 December 1968, vol. 162, pp. 1243-48.
Read a thread by Imran Khan (Twitter)
Listened to OTM Presents: U.S. of Anxiety's "40 Acres in Mississippi" from On the Media | WNYC Studios

Our WNYC colleagues fact-check a family legend about "40 acres and a mule," and find a story about the promise and peril of the American Dream at the end of Reconstruction.

Elbert Lester has lived his full 94 years in Quitman County, Mississippi, on land he and his family own. That’s exceptional for black people in this area, and some family members even say the land came to them through “40 acres and a mule.” But that's pretty unlikely, so our WNYC colleague Kai Wright, host of The United States of Anxiety, went on a search for the truth and uncovered a story about an old and fundamental question in American politics, one at the center of the current election: Who are the rightful owners of this country’s staggering wealth?

- John Willis is author of Forgotten Time

- Eric Foner is author of The Second Founding

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is located in Montgomery, Alabama. For more information about documented lynchings in Mississippi, and elsewhere, visit the Equal Justice Initiative's interactive report, Lynching in America. You can navigate to each county to learn about documented lynchings there.

Read Mary Ellen Pleasant, one of the first black self-made millionaires, used an ingenious trick to build her fortune by Tom Huddleston Jr. (CNBC)
Born in 1814, Mary Ellen Pleasant became one of America's first black female self-made millionaires by using the fact that she was often overlooked by wealthy elites to her advantage. Here's her story.
Listened to S1 E5: A Level Playing Field? (Contested, Part 5 of 6) by John Biewen from Scene on Radio

Two families, both making big investments of time and money to involve their kids in sports. But the investments they’re able to make are very different. In Part 5 of “Contested,” our series on sports, society and culture: Sports and the American Dream.

Composite Photo: Thomas Schmidt, left, video still by Ian McClerin, and Jalani (“JT”) Taylor, video still by Hannah Colton.

This is an awesome and eye-opening episode. The misconceptions about sports as a “way out” are apparently even worse than I thought they were. The statistics about becoming an elite physician being better than being a pro athlete are just stunning. The availability heuristic we’re given with relation to sports constantly on television and in the media is apparently heavily hampering a lot of people specifically and society at large.

Very few people really make any money through sports. Less than 5,000 men and women all-in make a living by doing it.

There are more black cardiologists in the US than there are black men in the NBA. The odds of getting an elite job by going to medical school are infinitely better than trying to get into professional sports.

📖 I’m 10% done reading Economy, Society, and Public Policy by CORE Team

Finished chapter one. I like that this text has so many linked resources, but some of the links to the sister texts make me think I’d be getting a deeper and more technical understanding by reading them instead of this more introductory text. Still, this has some tremendous value even as a refresher.


Annotations from Unit 1 Capitalism and democracy: Affluence, inequality, and the environment

Government bodies also tend to be more limited in their capacity to expand if successful, and are usually protected from failure if they perform poorly.

They can expand in different ways however. Think about the expansion of empires of Egypt, Rome, and the Mongols in the 12th Century. What caused them to cease growing and decrease? What allowed them to keep increasing?
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 04:50PM


Capitalism is an economic system that can combine centralization with decentralization.

How can we analogize this with the decentralization of the web and its economy?
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 04:50PM


Market competition provides a mechanism for weeding out those who underperform.

Note how this has failed in the current guilded age of the United States where it is possible for things to be “too big to fail”.
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 04:50PM


First, because capital goods do not fall from the sky: all countries that have successfully moved from poverty to affluence have done so, of necessity, by accumulating large amounts of capital. We will also see that a crucial feature of capitalism is who owns and controls the capital goods in an economy.

Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 03:11PM


Yet some things that we value are not private property—for example, the air we breathe and most of the knowledge we use cannot be owned, bought, or sold.

Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 04:49PM


We should be sceptical when anyone claims that something complex (capitalism) ‘causes’ something else (increased living standards, technological improvement, a networked world, or environmental challenges), just because we can see there is a correlation.

Great and ridiculous examples of this can be found at https://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 08:59PM


Figure 1.16 Graph with y-axis that jumps around in scale

Note the dramatic inconsistency of the scale on the left hand side. What is going on here?
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 09:23PM


Firms should not be owned and managed by people who survive because of their connections to government or their privileged birth: Capitalism is dynamic when owners or managers succeed because they are good at delivering high-quality goods and services at a competitive price. This is more likely to be a failure when the other two factors above are not working well.

Here is where we’re likely to fail in the United States by following the example of Donald Trump, who ostensibly has survived solely off the wealth of his father’s dwindling empire. With that empire gone, he’s now turning to creating wealth by associating with the government. We should carefully follow where this potentially leads the country.
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 09:31PM


In some, their spending on goods and services as well as on transfers like unemployment benefits and pensions, accounts for more than half of GDP.

What is the Government’s proportion of the US GDP presently?
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 09:34PM


James Bronterre O’Brien, told the people:‘Knaves will tell you that it is because you have no property, you are unrepresented. I tell you on the contrary, it is because you are unrepresented that you have no property …’

great quote
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 09:53PM


Yet some things that we value are not private property—for example, the air we breathe and most of the knowledge we use cannot be owned, bought, or sold.

Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 04:49PM

Watched Thomas Piketty: The long-run economics of wealth inequality from YouTube

Thomas Piketty, Professor of Economics at the Paris School of Economics and bestselling author of Capital in the 21st Century, tells The CORE Project (http://core-econ.org) how he "tries to be useful" by collecting long-run data into the distribution of wealth - and what it tells us about the effects of wealth inequality on society.

Are you participating in the Marketplace’s Econ Extra Credit and reading Economy, Society, and Public Policy?

You can join the conversation in a close reading of the book using the free annotation tool Hypothesis. Sign up for a free account here: https://web.hypothes.is/start/
Then join us in reading the book at https://via.hypothes.is/https://www.core-econ.org/espp/

Listened to The three C's of historical economic growth by Candace Manriquez Wrenn and David Brancaccio from Marketplace

The economic boom of the 19th century cannot be attributed to capitalism alone, according to Professor Homa Zarghamee.

This interview is part of our “Econ Extra Credit” project, where we read an introductory economics textbook provided by the nonprofit Core Econ together with our listeners.

For most of human history, the standard of living remained flat, not changing much from year to year, even century to century. Until the Industrial Revolution, that is, when the world population and standards of living skyrocketed.

Listened to What Econ 101 leaves out by David Brancaccio and Rose Conlon from Marketplace

The world is probably more complicated than your textbook told you. Feb 6, 2020

This interview is part of our “Econ Extra Credit” project, where we read an introductory economics textbook provided by the nonprofit Core-Econ together with our listeners.

A traditional introductory economics course might teach you that low unemployment drives up wages. And yet, even though unemployment in the United States is at a 50-year low, we’re not seeing historic wage growth to match. Many economists were surprised to find that the growth of average hourly earnings slowed in 2019, a time when it “should have” sped up.

It’s what University of Connecticut law professor James Kwak has been saying for years: those ubiquitous supply and demand curves aren’t as simple as Econ 101 lets on. Kwak has written about the issue for The Atlantic and in his book “Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality.”

“The problem is not so much classical economics as an academic discipline, but I think the way first-year economics is taught, it focuses very heavily on the simple models, when in fact, the world is a lot more complicated,” Kwak told Marketplace’s David Brancaccio.

And if it’s the only economics class you take, Kwak thinks those simple models can be misleading. Take, for instance, the issue of raising the minimum wage, something a lot of 18-year-olds might walk into class supporting.

“When you learn about supply and demand curves, it gives you a very powerful picture that essentially argues that increasing the minimum wage will effectively just increase unemployment,” said Kwak, noting that economists remain split on whether this is true.

Part of the problem for Kwak is how compelling the economic models seem when they’re taught in Economics 101 under unrealistic assumptions, like pretending that people always act rationally or imagining two people trading on a deserted island. Professors can warn students about the limits of the models, but the models might be more memorable than the disclaimers.

“What I worry about is that after the final exam, or even worse, 20 or 30 years later when you’re a member of the House of Representatives, this is all you may remember about Economics 101,” Kwak said.

Since the Great Recession, there have been efforts among professors to improve introductory classes. There were several projects to write new introductory textbooks that ground economic models in real-world examples, one of which Marketplace is reading for our “Econ Extra Credit” project. Kwak said it’s an improvement.

“I think reading introductory economics is a great project. I think that it’s important to try to bring in context when possible,” he said.

“I think it’s important, and it’s more interesting to think about broader questions about how economic institutions work; about how technology increases living standards but also increases inequality,” Kwak said. “If you think about these kinds of questions at the same time that you’re learning the mathematical models, I think you’ll have a better experience and a better understanding.”

The next segment of Marketplace’s Econ Extra Credit is out today.
Read Take the Quiz: Could You Manage as a Poor American? (New York Times)
See whether you make the kinds of mistakes that can cost poor families food or health insurance.
This is some horrid evidence. 

From a web development perspective, I love the way the mail in this article moves as you scroll. It adds to the overall effect of the story here.

Originally bookmarked on January 29, 2020 at 06:39AM


Debates about how to structure these programs have long been influenced by a related economic assumption: The more people really need a benefit, the more effort they’ll put into getting it. “For decades, economists had this view that burdens could quote-‘help’ separate out those that are what one calls truly disadvantaged versus those who might be more marginally needy,” said Hilary Hoynes, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of California, Berkeley. “Our current research suggests it could be exactly the opposite.” These burdens, she suggested, may instead be tripping up the worst off: hourly workers who can’t shuffle their schedules for a meeting; parents dealing with domestic violence, disabilities or low literacy; families without bank accounts to automate monthly payments; households already facing unpaid bills and late notices when another urgent letter arrives in the mail.

Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 11:12AM


It can be easier to apply for farm subsidies than it is to get SNAP benefits, said Joel Berg, a former official with the Department of Agriculture, the agency that administers both programs.

Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 11:14AM