Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Well Said...

"I argue -- as I always have -- for engaging with technology as conscious human beings, and dispensing with technologies that take that agency away."

~ Douglas Rushkoff

Dr Douglas Rushkoff (1961- )

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Well Said...

"If you think you're boring your audience, go slower not faster."

~ Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

James Kunstler: How Bad Architecture Wrecked Cities

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Scale Implosion Hits America

According to James Howard Kunstler (2013) in Huffington Post:
What we're on the brink of is scale implosion. Everything gigantic in American life is about to get smaller or die. Everything that we do to support economic activities at gigantic scale is going to hamper our journey into the new reality. The campaign to sustain the unsustainable, which is the official policy of US leadership, will only produce deeper whirls of entropy.
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The term "scale implosion" is an apt description for what I see occurring across America and perhaps globally in both the private and public sectors. The drive to scale large businesses and governments is apparently hitting a ceiling not only in terms of the devastation left in its path, but also the inefficiencies that ironically accompany size. The phenomenon of scale implosion is emerging as both a business and political issue in the new economy.

Source: Kunstler, J H (2013, February 20), The Era of Giant Chain Stores Is Over -- And They've Ruined America, Huffington Post.

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lawrence Krauss: Teaching Creationism is Child Abuse

Prof Lawrence Krauss takes an interesting stance regarding the teaching of creationism to children.

Perhaps the world may someday become enlightened...

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day in R

Here's a quick Happy Valentine's Day plot coded in R (Project R):

# Source:
heart = function(name){
t = seq(-1,1,len=5000)
x = sin(t) * cos(t) * log(abs(t))
y = sqrt(abs(t)) * cos(t)
text(0,.38,"Happy Valentine's Day",col='red',cex=2.5)

heart1 = function(name){
t = seq(0,60,len=100)
x = -.01*(-t^2+40*t+1200)*sin(pi*t/180)
y = .01*(-t^2+40*t+1200)*cos(pi*t/180)
text(0,7,"Happy Valentine's Day",col='red',cex=2.5)

cat("Type (1 or 2)? ")
type = readLines(n=1)
cat("Name? ")
name = readLines(n=1)

if(type == 1)heart(name) else heart1(name)

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Future of Work is About the Sizzle

According to Prof Walter Russell Mead in the American Interest (2013, January 30):
The jobs of the future are going to be about life’s sizzle rather than about life’s steak, and that’s a good thing. We will spend less and less time and effort manufacturing stuff, while more time and resources will go into the production of experiences, the creation of ambience, and the personal services that make life richer, more engaging, more rewarding. As a species, we will be putting more of our time and effort into culture, leisure and the quest for meaning, and less into the grunt work of coaxing potatoes and pig iron out of the earth.
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I tend to agree with Prof Mead. The economic future of the US is unlikely to be grounded in industrial manufacturing. In fact, the US should be balking at further industrialization. Society has learned the hard way that manufacturing is a "dead-end" economic path that can only be sustained via reliable access to cheap labor and large domestic markets (the US has ready access to neither). The prudent way forward is for the US to embrace technological innovation as our source of growth and competitive advantage in the new global economy. The sooner our nation can converge upon innovation as the smart way forward, the sooner the nation's economy can complete the transition from its industrial past into a highly-charged technological economy structured to succeed and thrive in the 21st century and beyond.

During the 1800's, the world's transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy was painful. Likewise, the ongoing global transition from an industrial to a technological economy is also challenging. Progress compels us to keep our eyes fixed on the road ahead and the promise for a better future. Said another way, don't look back...

Source: Mead, W R (2013, January 30), Life After Blue: The Middle Class Will Beat The Seven Trolls, American Interest.

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Sunday, February 03, 2013

US Employment to Population Ratio Continues to Stagnate

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the US employment to population ratio* for January 2013 stood at 57.9%, down from 58.5% the previous month of December, but up slightly from 57.8% the previous year. The US employment to population ratio has been trending downwards since 2000.

Many economists believe that reporting the number employed as a percentage of the civilian population provides a more accurate description of the current state of employment than conjecturing the number of "unemployed" in a population. The US employment to population ratio reached an historical peak of 64.4% on an annual basis in 2000.

*The BLS defines employment and population (civilian noninstitutional) as follows:
Employment consists of all persons who, during the reference week (the calendar week including the twelfth day of the month), (a) did any work at all (at least 1 hour) as paid employees, worked in their own business or profession or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family, or (b) were not working but had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons, whether or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs.... The civilian noninstitutional population consists of persons 16 years of age and older residing in the 50 States and the District of Columbia who are not inmates of institutions (for example, penal and mental facilities and homes for the aged) and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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