"Weird" Al Yankovic, on producing his own music videos
Dire predictions about jobs being destroyed spread across California in 2012 as voters debated whether to enact the sales and, for those near the top of the income ladder, stiff income tax increases in Proposition 30. Million-dollar-plus earners face a 3 percentage-point increase on each additional dollar.
“It hurts small business and kills jobs,” warned the Sacramento Taxpayers Association, the National Federation of Independent Business/California, and Joel Fox, president of the Small Business Action Committee.
So what happened after voters approved the tax increases, which took effect at the start of 2013?
Last year California added 410,418 jobs, an increase of 2.8 percent over 2012, significantly better than the 1.8 percent national increase in jobs.
Slavoj Zizek (via blackestdespondency)
The U.S. government is rapidly expanding the number of names it accepts for inclusion on its terrorist watch list, with more than 1.5 million added in the last five years, according to numbers divulged by the government in a civil lawsuit.
About 99 percent of the names submitted are accepted, leading to criticism that the government is “wildly loose” in its use of the list.
Last month a federal judge in Oregon that found people placed on the list have no adequate means to challenge their status.
Republican state Sen. Brandon Smith of Kentucky has a new theory on why climate change couldn’t possibly be slowly warming the earth’s temperature, resulting in legions of effects to the environment and its inhabitants.
The reason, according to alternative paper LEO Weekly, seems to be that since Mars and Earth have identical temperatures, Earth’s climate cannot possibly be the result of human activity.
“As you sit there in your chair with your data, we sit up here in ours with our data and our constituents and stuff behind us. I don’t want to get into the debate about climate change, but I will simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that,” said the senator in a video posted by the weekly publication. “Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There are no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.”
As Rebecca Leber noted, it’s worth remembering that Brandon Smith just “happens to own a few coal mines.”
This shouldn’t be necessary, but let’s go ahead and highlight some of the rather important flaws in his truly awful argument against climate science.
Smith insisted, for example, that “nobody will dispute” the assertion that Mars and Earth have “exactly” the same temperature. In reality, everyone will dispute that – NASA reports that the average temperature on Mars is about -81 degrees Fahrenheit. The average temperature on Earth is 57 degrees Fahrenheit. To see these numbers as “exactly” the same is to believe temperatures have no meaning.
This has been one of the most hilarious things all week.
Ever since “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” everyone is either disrupting or being disrupted. There are disruption consultants, disruption conferences, and disruption seminars. This fall, the University of Southern California is opening a new program: “The degree is in disruption,” the university announced. “Disrupt or be disrupted,” the venture capitalist Josh Linkner warns in a new book, “The Road to Reinvention,” in which he argues that “fickle consumer trends, friction-free markets, and political unrest,” along with “dizzying speed, exponential complexity, and mind-numbing technology advances,” mean that the time has come to panic as you’ve never panicked before. Larry Downes and Paul Nunes, who blog for Forbes, insist that we have entered a new and even scarier stage: “big bang disruption.” “This isn’t disruptive innovation,” they warn. “It’s devastating innovation.”
Things you own or use that are now considered to be the product of disruptive innovation include your smartphone and many of its apps, which have disrupted businesses from travel agencies and record stores to mapmaking and taxi dispatch. Much more disruption, we are told, lies ahead. Christensen has co-written books urging disruptive innovation in higher education (“The Innovative University”), public schools (“Disrupting Class”), and health care (“The Innovator’s Prescription”). His acolytes and imitators, including no small number of hucksters, have called for the disruption of more or less everything else. If the company you work for has a chief innovation officer, it’s because of the long arm of “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” If your city’s public-school district has adopted an Innovation Agenda, which has disrupted the education of every kid in the city, you live in the shadow of “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” If you saw the episode of the HBO sitcom “Silicon Valley” in which the characters attend a conference called TechCrunch Disrupt 2014 (which is a real thing), and a guy from the stage, a Paul Rudd look-alike, shouts, “Let me hear it, disss-ruppttt!,” you have heard the voice of Clay Christensen, echoing across the valley.
A pack of attacking startups sounds something like a pack of ravenous hyenas, but, generally, the rhetoric of disruption—a language of panic, fear, asymmetry, and disorder—calls on the rhetoric of another kind of conflict, in which an upstart refuses to play by the established rules of engagement, and blows things up. Don’t think of Toyota taking on Detroit. Startups are ruthless and leaderless and unrestrained, and they seem so tiny and powerless, until you realize, but only after it’s too late, that they’re devastatingly dangerous: Bang! Ka-boom! Think of it this way: the Times is a nation-state; BuzzFeed is stateless. Disruptive innovation is competitive strategy for an age seized by terror.
Disruptive innovation is a theory about why businesses fail. It’s not more than that. It doesn’t explain change. It’s not a law of nature. It’s an artifact of history, an idea, forged in time; it’s the manufacture of a moment of upsetting and edgy uncertainty. Transfixed by change, it’s blind to continuity. It makes a very poor prophet.
The upstarts who work at startups don’t often stay at any one place for very long. (Three out of four startups fail. More than nine out of ten never earn a return.) They work a year here, a few months there—zany hours everywhere. They wear jeans and sneakers and ride scooters and share offices and sprawl on couches like Great Danes. Their coffee machines look like dollhouse-size factories.
They are told that they should be reckless and ruthless. Their investors, if they’re like Josh Linkner, tell them that the world is a terrifying place, moving at a devastating pace. “Today I run a venture capital firm and back the next generation of innovators who are, as I was throughout my earlier career, dead-focused on eating your lunch,” Linkner writes. His job appears to be to convince a generation of people who want to do good and do well to learn, instead, remorselessness. Forget rules, obligations, your conscience, loyalty, a sense of the commonweal. If you start a business and it succeeds, Linkner advises, sell it and take the cash. Don’t look back. Never pause. Disrupt or be disrupted.
But they do pause and they do look back, and they wonder. Meanwhile, they tweet, they post, they tumble in and out of love, they ponder. They send one another sly messages, touching the screens of sleek, soundless machines with a worshipful tenderness. They swap novels: David Foster Wallace, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith. “Steppenwolf” is still available in print, five dollars cheaper as an e-book. He’s a wolf, he’s a man. The rest is unreadable. So, as ever, is the future.
On his death in 1727, pioneering physicist Isaac Newton left behind a trove of manuscripts that he had shared with almost no one during his lifetime. The long-unpublished papers—containing some 10m words, or the equivalent of roughly a hundred novels—have tantalised scholars ever since. Newton famously left little published evidence of how he made his scientific discoveries. Could these private writings hold the key to understanding his genius?
The papers were in such a jumble that the whole lot—scientific and non-scientific—was sent to Cambridge where a committee was set up to catalogue and sort them. Headed by the co-discoverer of the planet Neptune, John Couch Adams, and Newton’s successor as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, George Gabriel Stokes, that committee failed spectacularly to engage with the key feature of Newton’s great archive: its alchemical and theological dimension.
This was not for lack of time, or through simple ignorance. The committee took 16 years to complete its task, during which time both Stokes and Adams in their own ways grappled with the papers. Stokes was famously prolix, disorganised and dilatory. The result was that he very nearly lost the precious Newton manuscripts amid the chaos of his study, which he’d crammed with as many tables as he could “with narrow passages between, through which to squeeze if you could.” The tables were piled with papers more than a foot high (Stokes’s wife sometimes removed “clothes-baskets full of unnecessary material” when he was out of the house). Little wonder that Stokes kept the Newton material for “so long that there was some anxiety as to whether they had been overlooked.”
Adams, meanwhile, had his own weaknesses as an editor. Famously averse to writing (he did his most important calculations in his head), Adams was a perfectionist. The Newton material with which he grappled was scientific, not religious or alchemical, and Adams gave it the full measure of his attention. The process took years, as he managed to unravel the “enigmas” that the great man had scattered across “stray papers, without any clue to the source from which they derived,” as Adams’s friend recounted. For any other man, such a feat would have been impossible, but Adams’s “mind bore naturally a great resemblance to Newton’s in many marked respects.”
In the 1870s, Isaac Newton’s private papers were turned over to a committee of Cambridge professors and chaos ensued.