“So what? Above a certain count, do the numbers even matter? Well, yes. The difference between the two estimates is large enough to change the way we look at the war. The new estimate suggests that more men died as a result of the Civil War than from all other American wars combined. Approximately 1 in 10 white men of military age in 1860 died from the conflict, a substantial increase from the 1 in 13 implied by the traditional estimate. The death toll is also one of our most important measures of the war’s social and economic costs. A higher death toll, for example, implies that more women were widowed and more children were orphaned as a result of the war than has long been suspected.
In other words, the war touched more lives and communities more deeply than we thought, and thus shaped the course of the ensuing decades of American history in ways we have not yet fully grasped. True, the war was terrible in either case. But just how terrible, and just how extensive its consequences, can only be known when we have a better count of the Civil War dead.”
‘While Adam Smith may be known as the philosopher who first promoted the idea that “greed is good,” his earlier work suggests we are not condemned to exploit others for the benefit of a few. In his book The Theory of Moral Sentiments, written in 1759, Smith proposed that sympathy for the plight of those who suffer is an inherent part of human nature.
“When we see one man oppressed or injured by another,” he wrote, “the sympathy which we feel with the distress of the sufferer seems to serve only to animate our fellow-feeling with his resentment against the offender.”
With the current occupation of Wall Street and the international condemnation of an economic model that would take advantage of those most in need, we are witnessing Smith’s prediction in action. It is only when the reality of people’s suffering is hidden that greed is allowed to dictate policy. While our current system has chosen the greed of the few over the needs of the many, the intellectual founder of modern capitalism suggests it doesn’t need to be this way. “When we think of the anguish of the sufferers, we take part with them more earnestly against their oppressors.”’
“So who was responsible and when is it from? Since the sheet is neither signed nor dated, we can only make this assertion thanks to the sleuthing done by earlier scholars, most importantly by John Dreyfus for his collection of type specimen facsimiles, and the source of much of the information I give here.1 This sheet can be connected to its type caster thanks to the detailed records kept by the Dutch printer Christophe Plantin and the remarkable longevity of his press, now the home of the Plantin-Moretus Museum. Plantin’s 1575 inventory of fonts includes the double pica italic typeface shown on this sheet (it’s the largest size of the italic face, on the right-hand column), with a note on the facing page identifying it as “Ascendonica Cursive de Guiot.” François Guyot was a type caster in Antwerp who worked from the 1540s until his death in 1570, and who was the main caster for Plantin from 1555 onwards; he also seems to have worked briefly for John Day in London.”
In other words, a standard Open Space:
“Essentially, it’ll be Wurman and 100 of his pals (and as he so eloquently put it, “I know fucking everybody”) talking about a particular topic for a certain amount of time. The “intellectual jazz” will be filmed in black and white, and then later released as an interactive app. ”I’m terrified,” said a coy Wurman, looking absolutely nothing of the sort. ”I don’t know if I can pull it off.” And while a gathering of 100 bigwigs in some ways sounds like the worst kind of elitist horror show, I actually found myself rooting for him. I mean, the world needs contrarians, and Wurman sure is one of them.”
“We Can’t Afford to Just Be Consumers Anymore
In the classical model of economics, a self-interested consumer like Josh would readily accept Interstate’s offer, seeing no downside.
But Josh is part of a new class of consumers who understand the idea of “voting with your dollar”, and it goes well beyond which brand of toilet paper you bring to the checkout line. There are several immediate downsides to the “resolution” Interstate brought to the table:
Firestone would be rewarded for their ridiculous 2-hour-minimum policy to change the battery.
Interstate would continue to be unable to enforce their warranty.
The customer (Josh) would have no reason to believe he’d be able to get a new battery in the future without all of the nonsense implied by the resolution — namely, paying for the 2 hours of labor himself and then securing reimbursement from Interstate.
Josh looked at the options and decided not to enable the vendors in their bullying of Interstate, and not to encourage Interstate to bend over for them. And he realized his time in chasing down his due was worth more than the value of the product in question.”
“The theory of patent law is based on the idea that a lone genius can solve problems that stump the experts, and that the lone genius will do so only if properly incented. We deny patents on inventions that are “obvious” to ordinarily innovative scientists in the field. Our goal is to encourage extraordinary inventions – those that we wouldn’t expect to get without the incentive of a patent.
The canonical story of the lone genius inventor is largely a myth. Edison didn’t invent the light bulb; he found a bamboo fiber that worked better as a filament in the light bulb developed by Sawyer and Man, who in turn built on lighting work done by others. Bell filed for his telephone patent on the very same day as an independent inventor, Elisha Gray; the case ultimately went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which filled an entire volume of U.S. Reports resolving the question of whether Bell could have a patent despite the fact that he hadn’t actually gotten the invention to work at the time he filed. The Wright Brothers were the first to fly at Kitty Hawk, but their plane didn’t work very well, and was quickly surpassed by aircraft built by Glenn Curtis and others – planes that the Wrights delayed by over a decade with patent lawsuits.
The point can be made more general: surveys of hundreds of significant new technologies show that almost all of them are invented simultaneously or nearly simultaneously by two or more teams working independently of each other. Invention appears in significant part to be a social, not an individual, phenomenon. Inventors build on the work of those who came before, and new ideas are often “in the air,” or result from changes in market demand or the availability of new or cheaper starting materials. And in the few circumstances where that is not true – where inventions truly are “singletons” – it is often because of an accident or error in the experiment rather than a conscious effort to invent. ”
“In the middle east, we’ve seen the power of the Internet in the Arab Spring. I believe we are in for a lot more of that sort of thing and that it will not be limited to repressive governments, but to all large institutions that seek to control people and their free will. This is the cultural revolution that I referred to in my talk with Erick at Disrupt.
I think investors should be aware of what is coming and seek to invest in it where it is investable. I’m curious what the AVC community thinks of this investment thesis and where we should be looking for opportunities that fit into this thesis.”
“I think there’s at least one more possibility:
3. Sodium’s isn’t a causal agent of disease but instead given that processed foods are phenomenally high in sodium, is a useful biomarker for the degree of processed foods a person’s consuming, and that it’s the huge volumes of sugar and pulverized flour (that’s more often than not packaged with gobs of sodium) that’s actually causal for cardiovascular disease and death.”
“First thing we’ve got to do is tell the truth. We live in an age where lies are just ubiquitous. The biggest lies are that free markets are self-corrective, that individuals are rich because they’re smart, and that somehow America became great because of economic growth as opposed to the moral courage of the citizens of all colors to fight for freedom. We need a democratic awakening. We need organizing, mobilizing. We need to be willing to take a risk to change the world. The Obama moment of hope is over. ”
“You know what this means? It means that those who claim the GPL isolates itself from standards bodies’ IP pledges are wrong. It *is* possible to come up with language that satisfies the GPL and still acknowledges patents, and this is the proof. That means Microsoft could do it for OOXML if it wanted to. So who is isolating whom? Thank you, Red Hat, for innovating again to protect the FOSS community.”
“The potential home buyer today has seen pictures of Detroit, with former neighborhoods being gradually reclaimed by Nature or plowed under into farmland. Recognizing that his or her own city could become like that in 20 years time, the buyer will factor that into the price he or she is willing to pay. In the event of a Detroit-style decline, the house becomes worthless and the cost of ownership for 10 years or so effectively tripled (10 years x 5 percent is approximately equal to 50 percent of the home’s value, then add another 100 percent for the cost of throwing the house away). Suppose the buyer thinks that this has a 20 percent probability of happening. Given a typical person’s risk aversion, that might reduce the market-clearing price for a house by 25 percent.”
“The point is that in fast moving markets, one needs something a little better than simple historical moving averages of daily closing prices. This is better, and extending the idea of ‘volume time’ vs. ‘chronological time’ is an intriguing direction. But one can also look at bid-ask spreads directly, or the VIX futures, or its etf, the VXX, and combinations, to gauge intraday volatility as well. Further, one can better estimate ‘buy volume’ using the transaction price relative to the then extant bid-ask spread, rather than if the price was weakly increasing, though this then involves syncing the trade information with quote information, and for academics such data are often hard to come by (further, quote information is often 10 times as large).”
“My daughter was first sued in the womb. It was all very new then. I’d posted ultrasound scans online for friends and family. I didn’t know the scans had steganographic thumbprints. A giant electronics company that made ultrasound machines acquired a speculative law firm for many tens of millions of dollars. The new legal division cut a deal with all five Big Socials to dig out contact information for anyone who’d posted pictures of their babies in-utero. It turns out the ultrasounds had no clear rights story; I didn’t actually own mine. It sounds stupid now but we didn’t know. The first backsuits named millions of people, and the Big Socials just caved, ripped up their privacy policies in exchange for a cut. So five months after I posted the ultrasounds, one month before my daughter was born, we received a letter (back then a paper letter) naming myself, my wife, and one or more unidentified fetal defendants in a suit. We faced, I learned, unspecified penalties for copyright violation and theft of trade secrets, and risked, it was implied, that my daughter would be born bankrupt.”
“The same month Elman wrote Biernacki a letter ordering him not to publish his work or discuss it at professional meetings. Doing so, Elman wrote, could result in “written censure, reduction in salary, demotion, suspension or dismissal.“
Elman did not respond to a request for comment. But his concern, according to his letter to Biernacki, was that Biernacki’s research and manuscript “may damage the reputation of a colleague and therefore may be considered harassment.“
The Academic Senate’s Representative Assembly voted overwhelmingly Tuesday in favor of a resolution decrying the situation after hearing a detailed and strongly worded report from its Committee on Academic Freedom.”
“Graham notes that funding, while easy to measure, isn’t necessarily the best way to gauge the success of the program’s startups. “Getting funded is not success. It’s just something that makes success more likely.” But if the standard measurement for success is value, and if value is measured by exits, then the 6 years of YC’s existence isn’t quite long enough to adequately assess this. Of the 300-plus startups, “just” 25 YC companies have been acquired, 5 of them for over $10 million, and Graham says that he’s estimated the values of the rest of the companies based on these acquisition figures in order to gauge that the average value of companies Y Combinator has funded to be roughly $22 million.
But coming up with an adequate measurement for success isn’t really the point, says Graham. “The real lesson here though is how long it takes to measure performance in this business. We’re 6 years in, and we could easily be off by 3x in either direction. Startup outcomes are unpredictable, and the outcomes of their investors doubly so, because it’s hard to say whether the big successes are repeatable, or if the investors just got lucky. Even 6 years in, all we can say is that the numbers look encouraging so far.””
“…But this is America. If you want to have the procedure, so be it. You get to choose. That’s the way we roll.
My question is, did your doctor recommend it? Did your doctor tell you about this study? Do you think that those who recommend and perform this procedure don’t know about this study, and that if only they had this evidence they’d stop?
Or, do you think physicians are influenced by biases and their personal beliefs? Me? I think they’re human.”
“When I walked into the offices of Dr. Ken Cirka, I was looking for cleaner teeth, not material for an Ars Technica story. I needed a new dentist, and Yelp says Dr. Cirka is one of the best in the Philadelphia area. The receptionist handed me a clipboard with forms to fill out. After the usual patient information form, there was a “mutual privacy agreement” that asked me to transfer ownership of any public commentary I might write in the future to Dr. Cirka. Surprised and a little outraged by this, I got into a lengthy discussion with Dr. Cirka’s office manager that ended in me refusing to sign and her showing me the door.”
“The issue of whether Americans should receive subcutaneous wireless RFID chip implants that can link to their electronic medical records emerged again in Wisconsin this week, where former governor and Bush Administration secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson is considering a run for Senate. Thompson was a former board member of VeriChip, the company that renamed itself PositiveID, and once appeared on CNBC with PositiveID CEO Scott Silverman to advocate that everyone receive a chip from birth…”
“Cultural CoWorking: CultureWorks is currently developing Philadelphia’s first coworking space specifically for the culture community in Center City. This space will provide networking, peer-to-peer support, technology, and other resources to individual creative workers, start-ups, and small organizations.”
“I use the term “debate” in quotes because it is fraudulent. Even advocates of the viewpoint of the “godless Constitution” (such as historians Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore) fully understand the religious base of American history. They suggest simply (as Jon Stewart was trying to get at) that the framers rather deliberately excluded religion, not because they sought an exclusion of religion from the public square, but simply to avoid any special privileges for it at the federal level. Eventually, those views were incorporated into state laws through the 14th Amendment, through the pluralization of American life in the twentieth century, and through the epochal court cases of the 1940s through the 1970s.
The Christian Nation “debate” is not really an intellectual contest between legitimate contending viewpoints. Instead, it is a manufactured “controversy” akin to the global warming “debate.” On one side are purveyors of a rich and complex view of the past, including most historians who have written and debated fiercely about the founding era. The “other side” is a group of ideological entrepreneurs who have created an alternate intellectual universe based on a historical fundamentalism. In their drive to create a usable past, they show little respect for the past as a foreign country. ”
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“Patent Publication Eliminates Trade Secret: In a straightforward opinion, the appellate panel held once published, the information in a patent application should be considered “generally known and readily available” and therefore are no longer amenable to trade secret protection. ”
“…They then got attorneys who demanded that we settle for 2,000 or they would appeal. We again refused and told them we would see them in court. They filed an appeal and a hearing date was set. We prepared ourselves, deciding to forgo an attorney after discussing the case with one. However, two days before the hearing we received a notice from them informing us that they would not pursue the appeal and would be paying us. We received the money in April. This was our little moment of victory. Collection companies have no right to harass anyone. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is very clear regarding calls to people other than debtor.”