Monzo – It's time for a new kind of bank
Looks like a useful bank. Free MasterCard prepaid through Wirecard so they are being charged a lot. Interest as the funding source?
banking  innovation 
How technology amplifies authoritarianism
Amplification was amazing for the Nazis
The Myth of the U.S. Immigration Crisis - Bloomberg View
No mass immigration from Mexico right now. What is it hiding.
2 days ago
Great story on a tiny company doing stuff right.
business  innovation  Music 
8 days ago
SymmetricDS 3.8 Tutorials
Useful sync tool with filters to make sure you get consistent results.
Database  sync 
9 days ago
Daniel Dennett: ‘I begrudge every hour I have to spend worrying about politics’ | Science | The Guardian
Dennett on some stuff. Nothing earth shattering. Pinboard suggested ideas / stuff as tags. Neat.
9 days ago
Colour symbolism chart
Nothing much odd there. But red=cheap?
colour  design 
9 days ago
[Discover China's Next BAT] 8 rising stars, part 2
Another set of interesting startups expected to do well.
China  startups 
9 days ago
A Whirlwind Tour Through Trends in China – Andreessen Horowitz
Lots of good stuff here.

Mobile wallet plus QR codes with a free POS system for merchants?
China  trends  payments  Sappaya  QR 
10 days ago
Stock Trading Bot - Indie Hackers
Building a bot. Reasonable return but looks like it needed manual input in places.
ai  finance 
11 days ago
Ship Small Diffs
I think that your deploys should be measured in dozens of lines of code rather than hundreds.
coding  development 
11 days ago
Stumbling and Mumbling: The trouble with experts
Experts can't forecast (nor can anyone) so why believe them?
11 days ago
Energy and employment report US 2017
Where the solar vs oil figures came from.
12 days ago
Trump / Hitler comparisons
Trump using a Hitler playbook
16 days ago
Amazon reports huge growth in Dash Button orders, adds 60 new brands from PoopBags to Pop-Tarts - GeekWire
For some brands, like Hefty, Peet’s Coffee, and Arm & Hammer, the majority of orders are coming from people using their Dash Buttons for quick refills, Amazon said.
Amazon  IoT  ecommerce 
17 days ago
The Critical Transition: China’s Priorities for 2021 | Chatham House
Research Paper: The Critical Transition: China’s Priorities for 2021
17 days ago
Dynamic DNS service that is free (vs Dyn US$40/year).
17 days ago
A White House With Chinese Characteristics? - China Digital Times (CDT)
Some ways in which the White House is trying to emulate China.
17 days ago
How To Develop An Entrepreneur Mindset – The Mission – Medium
Not a nice way to end this article (losing family over business), but otherwise good.
17 days ago
Wanted: Factory Workers, Degree Required - NYTimes.com
“In our factories, there’s a computer about every 20 or 30 feet,” said Eric Spiegel, who recently retired as president and chief executive of Siemens U.S.A. “People on the plant floor need to be much more skilled than they were in the past. There are no jobs for high school graduates at Siemens today.”
17 days ago
World’s first time crystals cooked up using new recipe | New Scientist
Crystals that show regular motion. But if time doesn't exist, then...
quantum  time 
17 days ago
AI Principles - Future of Life Institute
What should we do with AI and how. General principles for development, not specific sectors.
AI  principles 
19 days ago
Cass Sunstein to change conservatives
As the 2016 presidential election made clear, we live in the era of the echo chamber. To escape their own, progressives need to be reading the best conservative thought -- certainly Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, but also more contemporary figures such as Antonin Scalia and Robert Ellickson. The same is true for conservatives, if they hope to learn from progressives. Here are five books with which they might start.

1: “The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World,” by William Nordhaus. If a Nobel Prize is going to be awarded for environmental economics, Nordhaus may well be the leading candidate: With respect to science and economics, he’s unfailingly scrupulous; he also has a luminously clear mind. This book is the best available introduction to climate change, and it shows why all of us should be worried.

Nordhaus is intensely focused on the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and doesn’t neglect the importance of economic growth. In discussing uncertainty, and in exploring the case for a carbon tax, Nordhaus offers a model for how to think rationally about risks.

2: “Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy,” by Robert H. Frank. In Frank’s view, we overstate the role of individual merit and underestimate the massive role of luck in producing individual success or failure – being born into the right family, finding oneself in the right place at the right time, having a good mentor. He makes “there but for the grace of God go I” into a rallying cry.

Offering engaging stories and a ton of data, Frank reinforces his longstanding claim that all of us now lose from a mutually destructive “arms race,” in which we compete to buy increasingly expensive goods that don’t really improve our lives. With that in mind, he argues for a progressive consumption tax, which, in his view, would produce no unfairness and could benefit essentially all of us, by funding necessary programs to improve education, roads, and railways.

3: “Freedom’s Law: The Moral Reading of the American Constitution,” by Ronald Dworkin. Many conservatives insist that judges should adhere to the “original meaning” of the Constitution. Dworkin offers the most systematic response to this view. He emphasizes that the Constitution contains a lot of open-ended phrases, containing abstract moral language: “equal protection,” “freedom of speech,” “due process of law.”

He contends that whatever judges say, all of them end up as “moral readers” of such phrases -- and so their own convictions must play a significant role. The question, then, is what kind of moral reading we will give, not whether we will give one. Dworkin raises serious questions about the notion of judicial restraint -- and the very idea that judges can simply follow the law.

4: “Scarcity: Why Having Less Means So Much,” by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir. Some people lack time; others lack friends; still others lack money. Mullainathan and Shafir demonstrate that these diverse forms of scarcity have something important in common: They take over our minds, leaving us with limited “bandwidth.”

If you’re focused on how to pay next month’s rent, you might not be able to think about much else -- how to handle a looming health problem, how to make sure that your teenage son stays out of trouble, and how to get training for a better job. Mullainathan and Shafir show why many public policy initiatives, which impose “bandwidth taxes” (for example, by making people fill out complex forms to receive financial assistance), turn out to be unhelpful and even counterproductive.

5: “The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War,” by Robert J. Gordon. Americans are proud of their long tradition of economic growth; they also believe in equality of opportunity. With a massive amount of data, Gordon demonstrates that both are in serious jeopardy. He places a spotlight on multiple headwinds, including rising inequality (which means that any gains from growth are concentrated among those at the very top) and slow increases in educational attainment (which will dampen productivity growth).

As a result, Gordon contends that the U.S. has “virtually no room for growth over the next 25 years in median disposable real income per person.” He argues for a more progressive tax system, improvements in preschool education, and an increase in the size and availability of the earned income tax credit.

After reading these books, conservatives are hardly likely to rush out and volunteer to work for the Democratic Party. But they will end up a lot more humble. They’ll also have a far better understanding of why so many of their fellow citizens disagree with them -- and on one or two issues, they might even change their minds.
19 days ago
Cass Sunstein to change liberals
If you think that Barack Obama has been a terrific president (as I do) and that Hillary Clinton would be an excellent successor (as I also do), then you might want to consider the following books, to help you to understand why so many of your fellow citizens disagree with you:

“Seeing Like A State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Conditions Have Failed,” by James Scott. In this wildly imaginative book, dealing with agriculture, urban planning, and Esperanto, Scott argues that modern governments, relying on top-down knowledge, tend to be clueless, because they depend on “thin simplifications” of complex systems -- and hence lack an understanding of how human beings actually organize themselves.

Evidently influenced by Friedrich Hayek’s powerful arguments about the inability of planners to capture the dispersed knowledge of individuals, Scott goes even further, arguing that both faceless bureaucrats and free markets can do violence to sensible local practices. After you read him, you’ll never see the Clean Air Act or the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or any proposal for large-scale reform, in the same way again.

“A Matter of Interpretation,” by Antonin Scalia. Many progressives understand Scalia, and other conservative judges, in crassly political terms -- as opponents of affirmative action, abortion, gun control, and campaign finance legislation. But what Scalia cared most about was clear, predictable rules, laid down in advance. In this book, he argues for approaches to interpretation that produce clarity, generality, and fair notice, and that sharply constrain the discretion of federal judges.

Scalia’s plea for adherence to the public meaning of legal texts, and to the original understanding of the Constitution, derive from his commitment to rule-bound law. Even if you are unconvinced by Scalia’s arguments, they will get under your skin -- and you are likely to agree on the importance of finding ways to accommodate his concerns.

“Side Effects and Complications: The Economic Consequences of Health-Care Reform,” by Casey Mulligan. Economists love to draw attention to the unintended consequences of apparently public-spirited reforms. For example, big increases in the minimum wage can increase unemployment, and expensive environmental controls imposed on new cars might actually increase environmental harm, by increasing the prices of cleaner vehicles and thus decreasing fleet turnover.

Mulligan’s central claim is that the Affordable Care Act is imposing large implicit taxes on full-time employment, producing real reductions in wages. The result, he argues, is that many employees would do far better if they worked fewer hours per week -- and in some cases, if they didn't work at all. He projects that by creating a disincentive for full-time employment, health care reform will produce “about 3 percent less employment, 3 percent fewer aggregate work hours, 2 percent less GDP, and 2 percent less labor income.”

As he acknowledges, Mulligan’s particular numbers are highly speculative (and in my view, they are unsupported by current evidence). But he is certainly right to emphasize the importance of asking about the potential adverse side-effects of any significant social reform -- and at the very least, he offers cautionary notes about the need to monitor the actual consequences of the Affordable Care Act.

“The Righteous Mind,” by Jonathan Haidt. Do conservatives have moral commitments that progressives may not even recognize? Haidt says yes, and he identifies three: authority, loyalty and sanctity. If, for example, someone has betrayed a trust, or treated a boss or a parent disrespectfully, conservatives are far more likely to be outraged than progressives.

Haidt is not himself a conservative, but he offers a sympathetic explanation of why progressives often fail to understand their political adversaries. He also shows that the moral commitments that resonate among conservatives have deep roots in human history -- and that it is a form of blindness not to acknowledge and respect those commitments.

“Order Without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes,” by Robert Ellickson. Progressives tend to believe that without a strong government, social order just isn’t possible; you would have anarchy. An impressive body of research -- much of it by Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom -- demonstrates that this belief is wrong. Sometimes people can sort things out well enough on their own, benefiting from social norms that have nothing to do with government.

Ellickson offers one of the clearest and most convincing demonstrations of this point. He shows that in many domains, neighbors find good ways to cooperate and to settle disputes, and that their voluntary practices work to their mutual advantage. His book can be seen as a companion to Scott’s, showing that if you don’t limit yourself to the narrow perspective of a government planner, you can see far more, and in particular the possibility that local practices are doing just fine.
Having read these books, you might continue to believe that progressives are more often right than wrong, and that in general, the U.S. would be better off in the hands of Democrats than Republicans. But you’ll have a much better understanding of the counterarguments -- and on an issue or two, and maybe more, you’ll probably end up joining those on what you once saw as “the other side.”
19 days ago
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