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3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yield management
Many sources of the higher standard of living are not included in GDP at all, starting with the enormous advance in the quality of housing represented by the replacement of outhouses by indoor plumbing and the replacement of wood fires and potbelly stoves by central heating. The invention of the antibiotic penicillin might save thousands of lives, each of great value, but the GDP statistics would record only the expenses of the labor and equipment used in its discovery and production. Other similar examples include Pasteur’s germ theory of disease and the attendant emphasis on soap and cleanliness, the development of urban sanitation infrastructure that made indoor plumbing possible, and the realization in the late nineteenth century that some food being sold was tainted, adulterated, or diluted. A final dimension of improvement is the indirect effect of increased life expectancy in providing leisure and locational choice after retirement from work.
In addition, urban conditions differed substantially from the housing owned by the average American farm household. A continuing theme of this chapter is what the households of 1870 “did without”—that is, those major sources of improved living standards that were invented and developed over the subsequent seven decades, between 1870 and 1940. The share of homes that had electricity in 1870 was exactly zero. The share of central heating and indoor plumbing was very close to zero. For instance, the hot water radiator was invented only in the late 1850s, implying that there was little central heating in 1870.39 The lack of central heating meant that a fuel, whether wood or coal, had to be hauled into the dwelling unit and the ashes removed. Despite all the work that this hauling entailed, the dwellings of 1870 remained cold in the winter. “Rags stuffed into cracks provided the only insulation.
Unless home-grown, fruit was all but unavailable except during the summer months, and vegetables available in the winter were limited to a few root vegetables that could be stored. Clothing was crude and, for most women, home-made, and the labor needed to create clothing before the invention of the sewing machine created a further burden for the rural and urban housewife. Dwelling units in 1870 universally lacked indoor plumbing, running water, waste disposal, electricity, telephone, and central heating. Although middle-class and upper-class families built homes in cities and nearby suburbs that today constitute cities’ historic districts, farmers and members of the urban working class faced much more difficult living conditions. Although many farmers in 1870 had detached farmhouses of six or more rooms, this amount of space was rare for urban residents.
The Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen
Asian financial crisis, Bernie Madoff, en.wikipedia.org, financial innovation, Flynn Effect, income inequality, indoor plumbing, life extension, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Peter Thiel, RAND corporation, school choice, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban renewal
Not only did the United States reap a huge bounty from this free land (often stolen from Native Americans, one should not forget), but abundant resources helped the United States attract many of the brightest and most ambitious workers from Europe. Taking in these workers, and letting them cultivate the land, was like plucking low-hanging fruit. 2. Technological breakthroughs The period from 1880 to 1940 brought numerous major technological advances into our lives. The long list of new developments includes electricity, electric lights, powerful motors, automobiles, airplanes, household appliances, the telephone, indoor plumbing, pharmaceuticals, mass production, the typewriter, the tape recorder, the phonograph, and radio, to name just a few, with television coming at the end of that period. The railroad and fast international ships were not completely new, but they expanded rapidly during this period, tying together the world economy. Within a somewhat longer time frame, agriculture saw the introduction of the harvester, the reaper, and the mowing machine, and the development of highly effective fertilizers.
Educating many of these students is possible, it is desirable, and we should do more of it, but it is not like grabbing low-hanging fruit. It’s a long, tough slog with difficult obstacles along the way and highly uncertain returns. A lot of the growth of the United States, up through the 1970s or so, has been based on these three forms of low-hanging fruit. Each of them is pretty much gone today. We still have electricity and indoor plumbing, but most people already use them and we take their advantages, economic and otherwise, for granted. The problem is not that we are likely to regress, but rather where the future growth in living standards will come from. It’s harder to bring additional gains than it used to be. You might be thinking that Americans have enjoyed more forms of low-hanging fruit than those I have listed. Some other nominations for low-hanging fruit would be cheap fossil fuels and the genius of our founding fathers, as embedded in our Constitution.
3D printing, Airbnb, American energy revolution, autonomous vehicles, Bakken shale, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, gig economy, global supply chain, global value chain, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge economy, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, means of production, new economy, performance metric, pets.com, price mechanism, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reshoring, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, software is eating the world, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, very high income, working-age population
In the 2000s Robert Gordon began posing a thought experiment to his audiences: would they, he wondered, prefer a world with all the available technology up to 2000, or one with all available technology up to the present day except for indoor plumbing? His little test effectively made the point that what occurred in the second industrial revolution was powerfully transformative, in a way the advances of the internet age simply weren’t. Google is grand, but it’s not as transformative as running hot water. What I like about this thought experiment, however, is that it unintentionally also makes the contrary argument. When Gordon began posing this question in his papers, the answer was so clearly the option with indoor plumbing as to make the question something of a joke – which is what Gordon intended. But with each year that passes, the choice becomes less clear. For many people in developing economies, a smartphone is obviously more important than indoor plumbing: the latter is nice, but the former provides an invaluable economic and social link to the global economy.
Technological progress peaked during a period from the late nineteenth century to the mid twentieth century, they assert, an era sometimes called the ‘second industrial revolution’ (the first having been the initial factory boom in Britain, built on the taming of steam power). This second revolution wrought fundamental changes in the world: fantastic, one-off transformations that can’t be repeated. It was during this period that rich economies became electrified. This was the era in which modern sanitation and indoor plumbing were developed, and in which cities grew to truly modern size, in scale and population. It was the period that gave us what are still today the most advanced personal mobility technologies: the automobile and the airplane. It was this period that made the modern world what it is. It was also the era in which the modern job evolved: shaped by the rise of the factory economy, by unionization and the political mobilization of the working class, and by the construction of a social safety net.
But that is no protection; machines are much better at becoming smarter than people are. THE PARADOX OF POTENTIAL A dose of perspective is in order. It is important to remember that major technological revolutions usually generate enormous benefits alongside the disruption they cause. Higher productivity levels mean that firms can afford to pay higher incomes. Just as important, the march of technological progress has lengthened, improved and enriched our lives. Indoor plumbing helped to make cities tolerable, non-deadly places to live. Assembly-line techniques dramatically reduced the cost of goods such as cars and televisions, in the process turning them into basic consumer goods rather than the playthings of the very wealthy. Electrification upended all sorts of industrial processes, and also gave us electric light, telephone calls and rock music. The digital revolution is no exception to this pattern.
How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
If Ceres was to be thought of as just the largest of the vast collection of asteroids and thus not a planet, why should Pluto not suffer the same fate? What, after all, was a planet? Chapter Three THE MOON IS MY NEMESIS When I first started looking for planets, I lived in a little cabin in the mountains above Pasadena. I have a feeling I was the only professor at Caltech at the time who lacked indoor plumbing and instead used an outhouse on a daily (and nightly) basis. I worked long hours, and it was almost always dark, often past midnight, when I made my way back into the mountains to go home for the night. To get to my cabin, I had to drive up the windy mountain road into the forest, past the national forest parking lot, and down to the end of a dirt road, and finally walk along a poorly maintained trail by the side of a seasonal creek.
But on days with no moon and no clouds and only the stars and planets to light the way, I would shuffle slowly down the trail knowing that over here—somewhere—was a rock that stuck out—there!—and over here I had to reach out to feel a branch—here! It was a good thing that my skin does not react strongly to the touch of poison oak. These days I live in a more normal suburban setting and drive my car right up to my house. I even have indoor plumbing. The moon has almost no direct effect on my day-to-day life, but still, I consciously track its phases and its location in the sky and try to show my daughter every month when it comes around full. All of this, though, is just because I like the moon and find its motions and shapes fascinating. If I get busy, I can go for weeks without really noticing where it is in the sky. Back when I lived in the cabin, though, the moon mattered, and I couldn’t help but feel its monthly absences and the dark skies and my own slow shuffling down the trail.
Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff by Dinah Sanders
Atul Gawande, big-box store, carbon footprint, clean water, clockwatching, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, credit crunch, endowment effect, Firefox, game design, Inbox Zero, income per capita, index card, indoor plumbing, Internet Archive, Kevin Kelly, late fees, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, Merlin Mann, side project, Silicon Valley, Stewart Brand
Let the rest of that dumb stuff go; aggravation is a bad investment of your time and energy anyhow. Don't sweat it. Get some perspective. A lot of things that may aggravate you only do so because you have the luxury of not wrestling with bigger issues. Today, be thankful for everything you have: being alive, your friends and family, your health, a roof over your head, something to eat, clean water to drink, indoor plumbing, heating, air conditioning, clothes, shoes, a job, and freedoms. Many, many people have it worse. Bad drivers in front of you or annoying coworkers or technical difficulties aren't that important in the grand scheme of things. Yeah, okay, they’re irritating, but are they important? No, not really. In those far less common situations when it really does matter, be kind and hold your ground.
After I visited the home of a woman named Miriam in an informal settlement in Soweto, and chatted with her as she cooked on a paraffin stove in her two-room, jury-rigged shack, the quantity of stuff in my apartment alarmed me. Miriam didn't have many things, but everything in her possession had a purpose. Her home was painfully simple—and I hope that she realized her dream of moving into a more solid home with indoor plumbing—but she had put her heart into it and made it clean and cheerful. She crafted her wallpaper from bright green wrappers from a household product and painted the exterior brightly. She swept the dirt floor scrupulously and a few plants were growing in her yard. After visiting Miriam's house, a girl's orphanage near Nairobi, and a Maasai village, it was very clear to me that it is not the number or newness of possessions that make a happy home.
$2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn Edin, H. Luke Shaefer
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, clean water, ending welfare as we know it, future of work, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, impulse control, indoor plumbing, informal economy, low-wage service sector, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration
Already in 2001, 63 percent of very low income households were putting more than half their income toward housing, leaving too little for other necessities. As of 2011, that figure stood at nearly 70 percent. What has caused this ongoing rise in housing costs? Taking the long view, one of the factors driving this trend is the across-the-board improvement in the quality of housing in America. Sixty years ago, lower-end housing was likely to lack such basic amenities as indoor plumbing. Since that time, these features have become standard, even in the cheapest units. This has been a great advancement for our society, but it also means that low-cost housing has become less affordable as a result. Further, families like Jennifer’s are subject to different rules today than they once were. In Chicago, as well as in virtually every other jurisdiction in the country, child welfare officials deem it inappropriate for a brother and sister to sleep in the same bedroom once they reach a certain age.
Along 65th Street just past Clark Street, truck after truck belonging to full-time scrappers—including criminal scrappers who strip houses, even churches, of valuable metals—pulls into the large semicircular driveway of West Side Metals. Some of the trucks are shiny and new, others are beat-up and barely running, but they are all full of metal junk of all shapes and sizes. These vehicles wait to deposit their loads into one of several bays, where each item is weighed and its value assessed. This is probably where the lengths of copper piping from Rae McCormick’s basement ended up, leaving the tenants without indoor plumbing. West Side Metals isn’t a place for small-time operators, though, so folks like Paul usually continue south along 65th. On the east side of the street sits a strip mall, formerly anchored by the neighborhood’s Kmart, the very one where Rae worked for several years. Currently, there’s nothing in the massive big-box space, and its signage has been removed. Only a Payless shoe store, a Subway restaurant, and a few other low-rent businesses survive.
Halting State by Charles Stross
augmented reality, call centre, forensic accounting, game design, Google Earth, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, impulse control, indoor plumbing, invention of the steam engine, Necker cube, Potemkin village, RFID, Schrödinger's Cat, Vernor Vinge, zero day
“So that’s everything settled,” you say. “So how about we go someplace where there’s some signal and place some calls?” JACK: Schrödinger’s Girl You emerge from the depths of Bannerman’s blinking like a hung-over bat, and glance up and down the canyonlike length of the Cowgate. Someplace where there’s some signal indeed: The stone tenements to either side are nine stories high, and they predate lifts and indoor plumbing. Michaels spots an on-coming taxi (subtype: one with a human driver) and flags it down without waiting for you, so you glance over your shoulder at Elaine, who is glaring at her mobile and fuming. “Come on, let’s take a walk,” you propose. “We’ve got work to be doing,” she points out. “Well, the hotel is about a mile and a half that way”—you point along the canyon towards the Grassmarket and beyond, in the direction of Tollcross or maybe the West End—“and we need to talk.
You can discount face recognition, despite all those cameras surreptitiously filing away your misdemeanours for later (like back when you were fifteen and stupid) because it’s CPU-intensive as hell, but your mobie is a tracking device par excellence, and you’ve got to assume that Team Red know who you both are, by now. “Let’s stay off-line until we get to the hotel.” By which point, Team Red won’t have a fucking clue where you are, which is exactly how you want things to be. “I hate being lost,” she mutters. “Really?” You’re taken aback. “It used to be normal.” “Lots of things used to be normal. No indoor plumbing and dying in child-birth used to be normal. Where are we?” “We’re on, um, the road that leads from the Grassmarket to Lothian Road, dammit. I can’t remember.” It’s an itch you can’t scratch, like not being able to check a watch or pull up the news headlines. “Just think, it used to be like this for everybody, just twenty years ago!” “I suppose.” “Imagine you were a time-traveller from the 1980s, say 1984, and you stepped out of your TARDIS right here, outside, uh, West Port Books.”
The Glass Cage: Automation and Us by Nicholas Carr
Airbnb, Andy Kessler, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, business process, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, cloud computing, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, High speed trading, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, natural language processing, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, software is eating the world, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!
We risk, as Latour suggests, replacing our own intentions with those of others, without even realizing that the swap has occurred. The more we habituate ourselves to the technology, the greater the risk grows. It’s one thing for indoor plumbing to become invisible, to fade from our view as we adapt ourselves, happily, to its presence. Even if we’re incapable of fixing a leaky faucet or troubleshooting a balky toilet, we tend to have a pretty good sense of what the pipes in our homes do—and why. Most technologies that have become invisible to us through their ubiquity are like that. Their workings, and the assumptions and interests underlying their workings, are self-evident, or at least discernible. The technologies may have unintended effects—indoor plumbing changed the way people think about hygiene and privacy38—but they rarely have hidden agendas. It’s a very different thing for information technologies to become invisible.
Scarcity: The True Cost of Not Having Enough by Sendhil Mullainathan
American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Andrei Shleifer, Cass Sunstein, clean water, computer vision, delayed gratification, double entry bookkeeping, Exxon Valdez, fault tolerance, happiness index / gross national happiness, impulse control, indoor plumbing, inventory management, knowledge worker, late fees, linear programming, mental accounting, microcredit, p-value, payday loans, purchasing power parity, randomized controlled trial, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Richard Thaler, Saturday Night Live, Walter Mischel, Yogi Berra
A lack of discretion makes for a particularly extreme form of scarcity. This discussion clarifies what we mean by poverty. We mean cases of economic scarcity where changing what you want, or think you need, is simply not viable. Some of these hard-to-change needs are biological, such as hunger for the subsistence farmer, and some are socially constructed. What we feel we need depends on what others have and on what we’ve gotten used to. Indoor plumbing, for example, would hardly make anyone in the developed world feel terribly lucky these days, yet it was pretty much inconceivable until the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and it is still a dream in many places today. To the subsistence farmer, it is a luxury; to someone living in New Jersey, it is a necessity. Driving a car was a status symbol in the fifties and remains so in many parts of the world.
e-mail emergencies hospital empathy bridge employment scarcity work hours entrepreneurship errors pilot slack and everyday life, scarcity in excise taxes executive control exercise experimental psychology expertise Exxon Valdez E-ZPass failure organizational to plan poverty and Family Feud (TV show) farming behavior crop insurance crop yields harvests organic subsistence weeding fatigue fault tolerance Faye, Michael Ferraro, Paul fertilizer financial literacy education firefighting trap fluid intelligence fMRI focus focus dividend food dieting eating while driving fast impulsivity and junk kitchen pantry labels neglect packing prices restaurant scarcity snacks food stamps Ford, Henry 401(k) plan frugality future neglect of game shows gasoline genetics Gennetian, Lisa Germany Gersick, Connie GlowCaps glucocorticoids goal inhibition golf grandparents Great Britain Grondin, Simon guess scarcity Hall, Crystal Handey, Jack Harris, Sandra harvests Hastings, Max Head Start health insurance heart rate Heschel, Abraham Joshua hibachi high school graduates HIV hospitals housing messy Hunton, Brian hyperbolic discounting IFMR Trust impulse control impulse purchases incentives, ineffective India bargaining in poverty street vendors Indonesia indoor plumbing ineffective incentives inefficiency infrastructure inhibition goal Institute for Healthcare Improvement insurance car crop deductibles health unemployment intelligence, fluid interest rates internal disruptions iPhone iPod IQ tests Iron Chef (TV show) Jaikumar, Ramchandran Japan Jenkins, Richard jewel loans Jewish Sabbath Jiaying Zhao juggling junk food Kahneman, Daniel Karlan, Dean Keep the Change program Kenya Killeen, Peter Kimes, Sheryl kitchen pantry Koyambedu vendors Kurtz, Jaime Larson, Dr.
Equal Is Unfair: America's Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality by Don Watkins, Yaron Brook
3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Apple II, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, blue-collar work, business process, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Brooks, deskilling, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, financial deregulation, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, laissez-faire capitalism, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Naomi Klein, new economy, obamacare, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, profit motive, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Uber for X, urban renewal, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor
Between 1835 and 1935, medicine advanced (anesthesia, antiseptics, insulin, penicillin, and pasteurization were all developed during this era, along with huge improvements in sanitation), transportation was revolutionized (the internal combustion engine spawned trucks, cars, tractors, and airplanes, while steam trains became far safer thanks to the development of the air brake), new means of communication connected the world (telegraph, telephone, radio), and entrepreneurs filled Americans’ homes with electricity, incandescent lighting, sewing machines, washing machines, running water, indoor plumbing, air-conditioning, and a whole lot more. Whatever hardships they continued to face, people were eating better, dressing better, living better. By no means were these improvements reserved for the very wealthy. In 1934, in the depths of the Depression, a survey of Pittsburgh found that . . . even in the poorest districts in the city, 98 percent of the dwellings had running water (only half had hot water), 91 percent had electricity or gas for lighting, 75 percent had indoor water closets, and 54 percent had a shower or bathtub.
Experts are in general agreement that the government’s official poverty measure overstates poverty, and that better assessments suggest that poverty has been cut in half over the last fifty years.53 What’s more, most of the people the government classifies as “poor” live relatively comfortable lives. Despite the genuine hardships they face, today’s poor typically enjoy an adequate diet, electricity, indoor plumbing, automobiles, and modern conveniences such as dishwashers, TVs, and DVD players. In fact, the average poor person in America lives in a home that is larger than what the average non-poor person in Europe lives in.54 But we can’t celebrate just yet. Johnson claimed that the goal of the War on Poverty was to give poor Americans “opportunity not doles.” The question is, have the welfare state’s scores of anti-poverty measures succeeded in making poor people independent, or have they simply made it less unpleasant to be poor?
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg
back-to-the-land, British Empire, California gold rush, colonial rule, Copley Medal, desegregation, Donald Trump, feminist movement, full employment, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, joint-stock company, land reform, land tenure, New Urbanism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, trade route, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration
The “Greenbelt towns” of Maryland (just outside Washington, DC), Milwaukee, and Cincinnati attracted an amazing twelve million visitors in 1936–37. Here, federal housing revolutionized methods of prefabrication, laying a strong foundation for the growth of suburbia in the aftermath of World War II. However, the federal government could not bridge the North-South divide when it came to standards of public rural housing; southern projects were administered by southerners who were loath to spend on amenities—such as indoor plumbing. Will Alexander, the Missourian who replaced Tugwell at the RA, and then took over at the FSA, remarked on the persistence of southern backwardness: “If we could house all our low-income farm families with the same standards Danes use for their hogs, we would be a long step ahead.” Southern politicians shortchanged rural Americans in another crucial way: they made sure that the New Deal’s signature Social Security program excluded farm laborers.43 Tugwell’s tenure at the RA was short—just one year—but his influence lingered.
Hazel and her family were part of the influx of poor whites into Little Rock after World War II. Her father was a disabled veteran, unable to work; her mother held a job at the Westinghouse plant. They had left the small rural town of Redfield in 1951, when Hazel was ten. Her mother had married at fourteen to a man twice her age. Neither of Hazel’s parents had earned a high school degree, her father having joined the circus. Their Redfield home had had no indoor plumbing and an outdoor privy; the Bryans’ move to the city granted basic amenities that they had not enjoyed before. The house they purchased in Little Rock was in an all-white, working-class neighborhood in the southeastern section of the state capital.43 Hazel Bryan is the ugly face of white trash in Will Counts’s famous photograph taken on September 4, 1957. Will Counts Collection, Indiana University Archives The day after the photograph appeared, Hazel Bryan made herself visible once more, telling newsmen positioned outside the school that “whites should have rights, too.”
Critics of evangelical hypocrisy vented their rage, and one outraged editorialist attacked President Reagan himself for bringing “white trash front and center” when he entertained Bakker and other televangelists at the White House and told Americans they could learn from them about “traditional American values.” The Bakkers appeared on television day and night, “dressed like pimps,” massacring the English language and defiling religion.40 The Bakkers were not even native to the South. Tammy Faye was born into a poor family of eight children in a small rural town in Minnesota, in a house without indoor plumbing. Her parents were Pentecostal preachers. Jim, the son of a machinist, came from Michigan. They relocated to North Carolina because it was where they knew a market existed for their Pentecostal religious message. Tammy Faye was the charismatic heart of the show, singing, crying, and thriving on her gaudy reputation, “à la Liberace,” as one religious scholar has concluded. Her physical appearance projected a class identity: frosted blonde hair, thick makeup, tanned skin, loud, colorful dresses, and trademark fake eyelashes.
Berlin Wall, California gold rush, cuban missile crisis, facts on the ground, failed state, indoor plumbing, Khyber Pass, megastructure, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, oil rush, Potemkin village, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, telemarketer, trade route
Walt Marshall, a New York–born helicopter pilot who took a job flying for Chevron, recalled when “five cars at a traffic light was a traffic jam” and outhouses dotted the town because the water pressure wasn’t strong enough to activate indoor plumbing. Now the streets were filled with cars, and water was available most of the day, even hot water. Townspeople catering to the needs of foreigners found themselves flush with cash, and that set off a construction boom. Inevitably, corrupt local officials figured out how to skim dollars from some of the projects; they built some enormous brick houses along the riverfront. While the lucky ones were suddenly earning several hundred dollars a month, most Atyrau townspeople remained among the poorest in Kazakhstan, earning an average of less than thirty dollars a month. Yevgeny Karamashin, a twenty-seven-year-old ethnic Ukrainian, longed to find a new home with indoor plumbing for himself, his wife, and a dozen relatives. He survived by poaching catfish, which his wife sold at a nearby bazaar.
Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, clean water, collective bargaining, declining real wages, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, indoor plumbing, informal economy, invisible hand, knowledge economy, life extension, lump of labour, new economy, Nick Leeson, paradox of thrift, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, trade route, very high income, working poor
Families at the twentieth percentile—that is, poorer than 80 percent of the population—may not be legally poor (only about 12 percent of families are officially below the poverty line), but they are likely to regard themselves as very disadvantaged and unsuccessful. So even using the old numbers, most families in 1950 had a material standard of living no better than that of today’s poor or near-poor. We can confirm this with more direct measures of the way people lived. In 1950 some 35 percent of dwellings lacked full indoor plumbing. Many families still did not have telephones or cars. And of course very few people had televisions. A modern American family at the twelfth percentile (that is, right at the poverty line) surely has a flushing toilet, a working shower, and a telephone with direct-dial long-distance service; probably has a color television; and may well even have a car. Take into account improvements in the quality of many other products, and it does not seem at all absurd to say that the material standard of living of that poverty-level family in 1996 is as good as or better than that of the median family in 1950.
business climate, credit crunch, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, facts on the ground, glass ceiling, high net worth, illegal immigration, income per capita, indoor plumbing, job-hopping, Maui Hawaii, price stability, quantitative easing, Silicon Valley, Skype, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, thinkpad, trade route, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban planning, women in the workforce, young professional
Fewer than 10 percent of Western brands selling into the Chinese market in the 1990s actually made money there, in part because no one could afford their products. Another reason was that Western brand positioning often did not fit the aspirations and needs of everyday Chinese people. It is hard to relate to Ralph Lauren, with its preppy lifestyle image of summering in the Hamptons, when you dream of indoor plumbing and eating meat for dinner. The lack of profits and price sensitivity on consumers’ part changed in less than a decade. In its 2010–2011 report, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai found that 79 percent of American companies now make money in China, and 87 percent reported revenue growth in 2010, up from 47 percent in 2009. A thriving middle class, with the desire and the money to sustain brands that focus on more than just price, is fueling these profits.
accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, capital controls, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, credit crunch, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, deskilling, ending welfare as we know it, feminist movement, full employment, gender pay gap, George Gilder, glass ceiling, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, half of the world's population has never made a phone call, income inequality, indoor plumbing, Internet Archive, job satisfaction, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, labor-force participation, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, manufacturing employment, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Naomi Klein, new economy, occupational segregation, pets.com, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, statistical model, structural adjustment programs, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, union organizing, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K
This is a remarkably amnesiac claim. The development of the telegraph, for example, reduced the time needed for communication across oceans and continents from weeks to seconds; surely this was a change far more profound than the development of the first Mosaic web browser. Similarly with railroads, automobiles, radio, television, antibiotics, telephones, electricity, jet travel, plastics, indoor plumbing.... Indeed, someone born in 1870 and Hving the allotted threescore years and ten saw the world change far more than someone like me, say, born in 1952. And, while the number of new products may be larger than ever in absolute terms, the pace of innovation may actually be slower than in the past. JackTriplett (1999) proves this point by looking at the mundane grocery store. In 1948, there were 2,200 products on sale in the average grocery store.
23andMe, 8-hour work day, Albert Einstein, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, attribution theory, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, Clayton Christensen, dark matter, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Frank Gehry, Googley, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, placebo effect, post scarcity, Ray Kurzweil, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Singularitarianism, smart grid, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Thomas Malthus, upwardly mobile, World Values Survey, X Prize
FIGURE 2.1 REDEFINING OLD AGE Before discussing how new technologies will allow us to live longer, it makes sense for readers to briefly examine how life expectancies have been extended thus far. Tragically, the majority of children used to die before reaching adulthood.4 This was mainly due to infectious diseases, poor nutrition, and sanitation problems. Discoveries such as antibiotics, vaccines, vitamins, and indoor plumbing led to humanity’s rapid gains in life expectancy. What this means is that for most of history gains in human life expectancy were made at the beginning, not the end, of life. It is true that older people have always been part of society, but they were less numerous and more weathered than today’s seniors. As life expectancy rose, so did the number of older people, and that was when chronic diseases associated with aging, such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s, made their way into our common life and vocabulary.
23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bioinformatics, business intelligence, call centre, cloud computing, computer age, conceptual framework, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Danny Hillis, data is the new oil, David Brooks, East Village, Edward Snowden, Emanuel Derman, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Google Glasses, impulse control, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, Internet of things, invention of writing, John von Neumann, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, obamacare, pattern recognition, payday loans, personalized medicine, precision agriculture, pre–internet, Productivity paradox, RAND corporation, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, The Design of Experiments, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!
Linking modern communications to computing, he observes, brought the Internet uptick in productivity from 1996 to 2004, a relatively brief historical period. Since the early 2000s, Gordon sees technological innovation mainly in consumer electronics. Those inventions, he writes, are “smaller, smarter and more capable, but do not fundamentally change labor productivity or the standard of living” in the way that indoor plumbing, electric lighting, and the automobile did. Gordon’s paper brought an outcry from Silicon Valley and technology optimists in academia. In December 2012, Gordon responded to his detractors in the Wall Street Journal. In the article, Gordon observes that he has been accused of a failure of imagination. “But,” he writes, “I am not forecasting an end to innovation, just a decline in the usefulness of future inventions in comparison with the great inventions of the past.”
Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future by Johan Norberg
agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, availability heuristic, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business climate, clean water, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, demographic transition, desegregation, Donald Trump, Flynn Effect, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, Haber-Bosch Process, Hans Island, Hans Rosling, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, John Snow's cholera map, Kibera, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, more computing power than Apollo, moveable type in China, Naomi Klein, open economy, place-making, Rosa Parks, special economic zone, Steven Pinker, telerobotics, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transatlantic slave trade, very high income, working poor, Xiaogang Anhui farmers
Note: An improved water source is one that is protected from outside contamination; improved sanitation is a system that separates excreta from human contact. Sources: WHO 1995, 2015.3 Flush toilets have been used in many civilizations, including the Roman Empire, but the modern water closet was invented in 1596 for Queen Elizabeth I by her godson Sir John Harrington. In the absence of an extensive sewer system it wasn’t very useful. Indoor plumbing and widespread installation of water closets would take another 300 years. There are contemporaneous accounts of aristocrats soiling the corridors of Versailles and the Palais Royal. Indeed, the reason why Versailles’s hedges were so tall was so that they could function as toilet partitions. One eighteenth-century writer described Versailles as ‘the receptacle of all of humanity’s horrors – the passageways, corridors and courtyards are filled with urine and faecal matter’.4 Until modern times, taking a bath was rare, even controversial.
The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge
Ravna didn’t know whether to laugh or cry about that. The half-timbered houses were large, each big enough for a married couple, a young child or children on the way, and one or two pack friends. Oobii was able to keep the buildings warm by shining a very low-power beam gun on the hot water towers that stood next to each house. So the town houses were comfortably warm all year round, with hot and cold running water and indoor plumbing. A large part of Oobii’s tech rent had gone into paying for the Children’s town houses. The second-generation kids thought they were heavenly. Their parents regarded the houses as a small step up from purgatory. “Ha. I felt another pulse,” said Scrupilo. Ravna called the ship. Still no joy. “We’re almost to Cliffside harbor, Scrupilo. I think that’s beyond where the thief could have come.”
Ravna was assigned one of the newest town houses on the Queen’s Road. Bili Yngva showed her around the place and helped her move in. Bili was apparently Nevil’s chief lieutenant. Bili was smiling and respectful. “Nevil wanted to show you this place, but I think he’s discovered just how much work admin can be,” he said, with a disarming grin. They were on the second floor of her new home. Like all the town houses, this had steam heating and indoor plumbing. These new ones had a second flush toilet on the upper floor. The upper floor had both a front stairs and a back stairs. There was a living room with wide glass windows. The southwest exposures gave a grand view across the Inner Channel. “This is the first house with the new optical-grade glass sheeting. It’s almost like having a real display, except that the view menu is a bit limited.” He waved at the swirls of frost that encrusted the margins of the glass.
The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future by Joseph E. Stiglitz
affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, Andrei Shleifer, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, colonial rule, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dava Sobel, declining real wages, deskilling, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, framing effect, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, inflation targeting, invisible hand, John Harrison: Longitude, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, London Interbank Offered Rate, lone genius, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, medical bankruptcy, microcredit, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, obamacare, offshore financial centre, paper trading, patent troll, payday loans, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, very high income, We are the 99%, women in the workforce
Economists have taken a hard look at differences in lifetime income—and, unfortunately, the wish of the Right doesn’t conform to today’s reality: lifetime inequality is very large, almost as great as income at each moment of time, and has increased enormously in recent years.102 The Right also sometimes claims that poverty in America is not real poverty. After all, most of those in poverty have amenities that are not available to the poor in other countries. They should be grateful for living in America. They have TVs, indoor plumbing, heating (most of the time), and access to free schools. But as a National Academy of Sciences panel found,103 one cannot ignore relative deprivation. Basic standards of sanitation in America’s cities lead naturally to indoor plumbing. Cheap Chinese TVs mean that even the poor can afford them—and indeed, even in poor Indian and Chinese villages, there is in general access to TV. In today’s world, this is not a mark of affluence. But the fact that people may be enjoying a small TV doesn’t really mean that they aren’t facing stark poverty—nor does it mean that they are participating in the American dream.104 The third response is to quibble about the statistics.
Of Murrow, a British friend recalled: “He was concerned, very concerned, that his own country wasn’t aware of the facts of life. And that if Hitler & Co. were not stopped here, the next stop was Manhattan.” WHILE ED MURROW and Gil Winant were alike in many ways, their backgrounds were vastly different. Murrow’s father had been an impoverished dirt farmer in Polecat Creek, North Carolina, who moved his wife and four sons to Washington State when Ed was five, to find work in logging camps. The family did not have indoor plumbing until Murrow was fourteen and didn’t have a phone during the entire time he lived at home. Idealistic and at the same time intensely ambitious, Murrow was a critic of unearned privilege who strongly believed that journalists should be champions of the underdog. Yet he also yearned for admission to the clubs and salons of upper-class America and England. In London, he took to wearing Savile Row pinstripes, one of the methods he used to erase the vestiges of his hardscrabble origins.
“Gentlemen,” he told his staff shortly after arriving in London, “we have one chance and only one of winning this war, and that is in complete and unqualified partnership with the British…. I shall govern myself accordingly and expect you to do likewise.” Nonetheless, his introduction into the sniffy upper-class world in which his British counterparts operated was a rocky one. A country boy from Abilene, Kansas, Eisenhower had grown up in a house on the wrong side of the tracks, with no running water or indoor plumbing. “There is no question,” wrote one of his biographers, “that poverty steeled young Dwight’s ambition and his determination to excel [and to] succeed.” Yet, although he concealed it well, his humble roots also left him with a deep sense of insecurity, a fear of being perceived as a country bumpkin—a not uncommon unease felt by other Americans when mingling with upper-crust Britons. “He feared nothing so much as exposure,” said an associate.
Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956 by Anne Applebaum
affirmative action, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, centre right, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, Internet Archive, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, land reform, language of flowers, means of production, New Urbanism, Potemkin village, price mechanism, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Slavoj Žižek, stakhanovite, strikebreaker, union organizing, urban planning
And so even as the Palace of Culture was under construction, the city bureau also began to rebuild Warsaw’s medieval Old Town and its historic main thoroughfare, Nowy Świat, in excruciating, painstaking detail. The party was somewhat embarrassed by this: Bierut explained that healthy, sanitary, contemporary apartments would be constructed behind the old-fashioned façades, and would be handed immediately to worthy members of the working class.58 But despite the addition of indoor plumbing, the Old Town eventually looked so familiar that some found it eerie. One former resident of the medieval city center described the effect years later: “The house I was born in was destroyed violently … but I can go into the bedroom I had as a boy, look out of the exact same window at the exact same house across the courtyard. There’s even a lamp bracket with a curious twist in it hanging in the same place.”59 This, at last, was popular, and for a while the Old Town was a powerful advertisement for the regime.
She almost gave up and went home, but was convinced to stay by Tevan, her work supervisor. Unusually, Tevan had her own apartment: “There was a hostel for engineers but since everybody was a man, I got a separate room in a half-ready building. The walls were not plastered, the room was so damp that I had to sleep with my clothes on and by the morning all my clothes had become wet.” But the apartment did have indoor plumbing and a small kitchen, and Tevan lived alone. Though she didn’t tell Kollár at the time, her fiancé was then in prison, having been swept up with dozens of others in the wake of the Rajk trial. She invited Kollár to stay with her, and the two women lived together until Kollár married a year later. For Kollár, the period that followed seemed, in retrospect, a very happy one. When I met her in 2009 she remembered her first years on the steel mill construction site with immense nostalgia.
Berlin Wall, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, deskilling, Edmond Halley, fear of failure, Honoré de Balzac, indoor plumbing, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, McJob, McMansion, Naomi Klein, Ray Oldenburg, Ronald Reagan, The Great Good Place, trade route
San Francisco proper, with seventy-five outlets for its 744,000 inhabitants (score: 10.1), rates highly; Cleveland, which has just nine of them for its 478,000 people (score: 1.9), not so much. And Detroit (score: 0.4) might want to have its mayor put in an emergency call to Seattle. Consequently, long-struggling communities often react to the arrival of Starbucks the same way some citizens of developing nations react to getting indoor plumbing. When one finally opened in Lexington, Kentucky, in 2002, a local business owner was actually quoted as saying, “Hallelujah!” There’s something almost delusional in the way people talk about their new Starbucks. When the company debuted in Muskegon, Michigan, for example, the president of the local chamber of commerce crowed, “Having them locate in Muskegon is a symbol that we are a community of the future.”
Apple II, British Empire, Claude Shannon: information theory, en.wikipedia.org, indoor plumbing, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, Kevin Kelly, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, social web, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, technology bubble, Thomas L Friedman
Instead, supposedly wide-eyed oracles like myself would be sitting on a panel, taking a deep breath before we pronounced that one day maybe a hundred million people would be on the Net, and, yes, one day every person in this audience might have an e-mail address! Invariably someone would smirk at such lunacy—a fad, they'd say, millennial pap! Remember CB radio? Obviously, the Internet did what CB radio could not and is no more a fad than were language, musical instruments, and indoor plumbing. But as the twenty-first century began, the Internet had not yet fulfilled the dream of CB radio: a people's form of broadcasting. Publishing of the written word, yes—it was easy to start a Web site, and the nascent blogging movement made it possible to distribute one's prose worldwide with a single mouse click. But when it came to empowering potential Edward R. Murrows or Howard Sterns, nothing was happening.
Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi
He pointed at the tent next to ours. “At the very least, you’ll be close to your friend. This is Trujillo’s tent. He and Gretchen will be living here.” “Good,” I said. I had caught up with Dad with Gretchen and her dad; the two of them had gone off to look at the little river that ran near the edge of our soon-to-be settlement to find out the best place to put the waste collector and purifier. No indoor plumbing for the first few weeks at least, we were told; we’d be doing our business in buckets. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to hear that. Gretchen had rolled her eyes a little bit at her dad as he dragged her off to look at likely locations; I think she was regretting taking the early trip. “How long until we start bringing down the other colonists?” I asked. Dad pointed. “We want to get the perimeter set up first,” he said.
23andMe, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, Asperger Syndrome, barriers to entry, brain emulation, cloud computing, cognitive bias, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Netflix Prize, neurotypical, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, phenotype, placebo effect, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture
CHAPTER 14 How Cognitive-Enhancing Drugs Might Impact the Economy CHAPTER 15 Inequality Falling CHAPTER 16 Preparing for the Singularity CHAPTER 17 What Might Derail the Singularity? CHAPTER 18 Singularity Watch ACKNOWLEDGMENTS NOTES REFERENCES INDEX INTRODUCTION We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. —Vernor Vinge1 Economic prosperity comes from human intelligence. Consider some of the most basic human inventions—the wheel, the alphabet, the printing press—and later, more complex and advanced inventions such as indoor plumbing, automobiles, radio, television, and vaccines. All are products of the human brain. Had our species been a bit less bright, these inventions might have escaped us. Yet we can only begin to imagine the many additional wondrous technologies we might now possess had evolution made us even smarter. In the past, human intelligence was a gift of evolution. No more. We are now using our intelligence to figure out ways of increasing our brainpower.
back-to-the-land, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, centre right, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, informal economy, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, lake wobegon effect, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, McMansion, medical malpractice, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, private military company, Ralph Nader, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, South China Sea, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade route, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, working poor, Yogi Berra, Yom Kippur War
—James Baldwin 8 The Politics of Austerity Banana republic, here we come,” wrote Paul Krugman in December 2010 after Barack Obama and the Republicans agreed on a deficit-reduction plan that slashed social spending and continued George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy.1 To be sure, Krugman’s phrase—conjuring up the image of strutting generals, hacienda-owning oligarchs, and tin-shack poverty—was tongue-in-cheek. The United States is not a third-world country. Our generals tend not to strut, our oligarchs don’t typically raise cattle, and our poor usually have indoor plumbing. But just as surely, a rough template of long-term austerity is slowly being fit onto American society. Given the unequal distribution of income and wealth, widely shared prosperity wholly depends on rapid economic growth. The basic arithmetic is not controversial. The workforce is growing at roughly 1 percent per year. Worker productivity, which reduces the amount of labor required to maintain the same level of production, is on a long-term trend of 2.3 percent per year.
Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America by Giles Slade
Albert Einstein, Alexey Pajitnov wrote Tetris, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Buckminster Fuller, Cass Sunstein, Douglas Engelbart, global village, housing crisis, indoor plumbing, invention of radio, Joseph Schumpeter, Marshall McLuhan, Mikhail Gorbachev, more computing power than Apollo, mutually assured destruction, Ralph Nader, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, the market place, the medium is the message, Thorstein Veblen, unemployed young men, upwardly mobile, Vladimir Vetrov: Farewell Dossier, women in the workforce
The fl ors in Alfred’s naval housing during the war and, later, his Cape Cods copied the heating system of his teacher’s Usonian prototype.Although this heating system was not Alfred’s innovation, the publicity that Levitt and Sons derived from the scale and success of the firs Levittown on Long Island virtually eliminated basements in all but luxury-class residential architecture in the decade after World War II. In every major metropolis, from Baltimore to San Antonio, large construction companies appeared which adopted Levitt and Son’s concrete-slab construction.31 If basements became obsolete simply as a matter of economy, the reasons for the appeal of porchless houses was slightly more complex. After World War II, many people came to associate porches with old-fashioned houses whose indoor plumbing, electrical wiring, and other amenities were substandard.32 But in the postwar years, porches suffered from another unpleasant association. They were one example of what the sociologist Sharon Zukin calls liminal spaces—public areas for meeting, mixing, and transit.33 For low-income inner-city tenants, these liminal spaces, including front stoops, hallways, parks, sidewalks, squares, bus stops, and train terminals, can be sites of uncomfortable interactions—elevator silences, excessive noise, physical aggression.
Cultureshock Paris by Cultureshock Staff
By the beginning of the 14th century, its population had reached more than 250,000, cramped in an area perhaps one-quarter of the city’s size today. It may have had an awe-inspiring cathedral and other impressive churches and palaces, and it may have become a renowned centre of learning, but crowded and dank as most cities were at that time, Paris stank. The rich, of course, lived well regardless of the conditions, but with no indoor plumbing or underground sewers; with horses traversing the streets; rubbish piling up and trenches for excrement running open in the middle of many streets—life in the city was not easy for the masses. Houses were heated by fireplaces that smoked and built up soot inside and out; food spoiled quickly; and insects and bugs thrived in bedlinens, clothes and on the people themselves, who went mostly unwashed.
Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, call centre, cuban missile crisis, Exxon Valdez, happiness index / gross national happiness, indoor plumbing, Mikhail Gorbachev, place-making, Pluto: dwarf planet, science of happiness, Silicon Valley, Transnistria, union organizing
Some of Veenhoven’s colleagues still think his old advisor was right, that the study of happiness is misguided, stupid. But they can’t ignore him. His research is out there; it’s cited in journals, and in the academic world that means it matters. The contemplation of happiness, of course, is not new. The ancient Greeks and Romans did a lot of it. Aristotle, Plato, Epicurus, and others sweated over the eternal questions. What is the good life? Is pleasure the same as happiness? When are we going to invent indoor plumbing? Later, the Greeks and the Romans were joined by others, paler-skinned men from lands farther north who spent an inordinate amount of time in cafés, contemplating life’s inextricable quandaries. Men like Kant, Schopenhauer, Mill, Nietzsche, and, later, Larry David. They, too, had much to say about happiness. And then there is religion. What is religion if not a guide to happiness, to bliss?
American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Anton Chekhov, Celtic Tiger, clean water, glass ceiling, indoor plumbing, informal economy, job satisfaction, John Snow's cholera map, joint-stock company, land reform, New Urbanism, Potemkin village, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Steven Pinker, urban planning
It uses water, and what’s so scary about that, when “we wash our faces and hair with water! Humans love water!” I was doubtful. American humans may love water, but not to clean their backsides with. On the Web site of the American Bidet Company, company founder Arnold Cohen, who prefers to be called “Mr. Bidet,” expresses his conviction that the bidet “is the most significant innovation for personal hygiene and sanitation since the introduction of indoor plumbing.” But the bidet has known limited spread beyond its French origins, and even in France it is disappearing. Ninety percent of French homes used to have a bidet; now it’s 10 percent. Yet if logic governed human cleansing habits, the bidet would be as common as the toilet. Instead, it has generally been viewed with suspicion or bewilderment. (One American schoolteacher visiting Paris in 1929 wrote in her diary, “Oh what a mistake we made about the little bathroom for the feet or whatnot.”)
Saturn's Children by Stross, Charles
augmented reality, British Empire, business process, gravity well, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, loose coupling, phenotype, Pluto: dwarf planet, Plutocrats, plutocrats, theory of mind
(Which is perfectly true if you discount eight major planets, thirtysomething dwarf planets, several hundred moons, and the minor point that, as it turned out, just the one planet they started with was more than enough to see them through to extinction.) And so, this huge consortium of government-run space agencies got started several centuries ago with a charge to figure out ways and means, and now, even though our Creators are still dead, and we still don’t know quite how to bootstrap a biosphere they can live in, they’re sending out starships to build cities and install indoor plumbing in preparation for their eventual colonization and conquest of the galaxy. Talk about misplaced priorities! The Bark is a hollow cylinder about two kilometers long and four hundred meters in diameter, packed with ice. When it’s time to depart, the beampower stations inside Mercury orbit will point their death rays at it and punch about ten thousand gigawatts of microwaves at the rectenna on its tail.
The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee
2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, access to a mobile phone, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, British Empire, business intelligence, business process, call centre, clean water, combinatorial explosion, computer age, computer vision, congestion charging, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, employer provided health coverage, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, falling living standards, Filter Bubble, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Freestyle chess, full employment, game design, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, law of one price, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, means of production, Narrative Science, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, payday loans, price stability, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, six sigma, Skype, software patent, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, telepresence, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, Y2K
Unsurprisingly, it turns out that economic growth was, too. As Gordon shows, however, once this growth got started it stayed on a sharp upward trajectory for two hundred years. This was due not only to the original Industrial Revolution, but also to a second one, it too reliant on technological innovation. Three novelties were central here: electricity, the internal combustion engine, and indoor plumbing with running water, all of which came onto the scene between 1870 and 1900. The ‘great inventions’ of this second industrial revolution, in Gordon’s estimation, “were so important and far-reaching that they took a full 100 years to have their main effect.” But once that effect had been realized, a new problem emerged. Growth stalled out, and even began to decline. At the risk of being flippant, when the steam engine ran out of steam, the internal combustion engine was there to replace it.
The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism by David Harvey
accounting loophole / creative accounting, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, call centre, capital controls, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, failed state, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, full employment, global reserve currency, Google Earth, Guggenheim Bilbao, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, interest rate swap, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, land reform, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, means of production, megacity, microcredit, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, place-making, Ponzi scheme, precariat, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, special economic zone, statistical arbitrage, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, women in the workforce
One of my favourite tales, told brilliantly in Greg Grandin’s 2009 book Fordlandia, is that of Henry Ford’s speculative attempt in the 1920s to tame the Amazon for rubber production. He bought up a huge tract of land in Amazonia, called his new town Fordlandia, and sought to impose upon the tropical rainforest an American Midwestern lifestyle for the rubber plantation and factory workers. The idea was to secure the flow of rubber for the tyres of his cars (he had established control over almost everything else). ‘Fordlandia had a central square, sidewalks, indoor plumbing, manicured lawns, a movie theater, shoe stores, ice cream and perfume shops, swimming pools, tennis courts, a golf course, and, of course, Model Ts rolling down its paved streets,’ writes Grandin. Nothing came of it all, even after twenty years of trying and the outlay of astronomical amounts of money. The tropical rainforest won out. Abandoned in 1945, the place is now a ruin in the jungle.
Revolution Business by Stross, Charles
He wanted to put as many of us as possible through the right kind of finishing school-Harvard, Yale, the Marine Corps-in case we ever have to evacuate." "Evacuate." The gears whirred in Miriam's head. "Evacuate the Gruinmarkt?" If that was even on the menu-"Why hasn't it already happened?" "Would you voluntarily abandon your home? Your world?" Brill looked at her oddly. "Urn. It's home, right?" The idea resonated with her own experience. "But there are no decent roads, no indoor plumbing, hedge-lords with pigs in their halls, a social setup out of the dark ages-why would you stay?" "Home is where everyone you know is," said Brill. "That doesn't mean you've got to love it-you know my thoughts, my lady! What you can't do is ignore it." Miriam fell silent for a couple of minutes, thinking. She'd had a taste of living another life in another world-but it had strings attached, and not ones to her liking, in Baron Henryk's captivity.
Family Trade by Stross, Charles
And you know something? They’re wrong and I don’t want to be part of that. You’ve been telling me that I can’t escape the Clan, and I’m afraid you’re right—you’ve convinced me— but that only means I’ve got to change things. To carve out a niche I can live with.” She stood up and walked toward him. “I don’t like the way the families live like royalty in a squalid mess that doesn’t even have indoor plumbing. I don’t like the way their law values people by how they can breed and treats women like chattels. I don’t like the way the outer family feel the need to defend the status quo in order to keep from being kicked in the teeth by the inner families. The whole country is ripe for modernization on a massive scale, and the Clan actually has the muscle to do that, if they’d just realize it. I don’t like the dehumanizing poverty the ordinary people have to live with, and I don’t like the way the crazy fucked-up feudal inheritance laws turn an accident of birth into an excuse for rape and murder.
Clan Corporate by Stross, Charles
He’s whistling past the graveyard, she realized, appalled. “How old are you, Erasmus?” she called through the doorway. “Thirty-nine.” The closing kitchen door cut the rest off. Miriam stared after him, slightly horrified. She’d taken him for at least a decade older, well into middle age. This was a roomy apartment, top of the line for the working classes in this time and place. It had luxuries like indoor plumbing, piped town gas, batteries for electricity. But it was no place to live alone, with tuberculosis eating away at your lungs. She stood up and followed the sounds through to the kitchen. “Erasmus-” She paused in the doorway. He had his back turned to her, washing his hands thoroughly under a stream of water piped from the coal-fired stove. “Yes?” He half-turned, his face in shadow. “Have you eaten in the past hour or two?”
3D printing, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, debt deflation, deskilling, diversified portfolio, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, Freestyle chess, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, High speed trading, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, liquidity trap, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, Lyft, manufacturing employment, McJob, moral hazard, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, optical character recognition, passive income, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post scarcity, precision agriculture, price mechanism, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, reshoring, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, strong AI, Stuxnet, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Coming Technological Singularity, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Vernor Vinge, very high income, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce
PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel’s famous comment—“We were promised flying cars, and instead what we got was 140 characters”—captures the sentiment of a generation that expected the future to be way cooler than this. This lack of broad-based progress stands in stark contrast to what a person who lived through the final decades of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth would have experienced. Indoor plumbing, automobiles, airplanes, electricity, home appliances, and public sanitation and utility systems all came into widespread use during this period. In industrialized countries, at least, people at all levels of society received an astonishing upgrade in the quality of their lives, even as the overall wealth of society was propelled to dizzying new heights. Some economists have taken note of this plodding rate of advance in most spheres of technology and have tied it to the economic trends we looked at in the previous chapter, and in particular to the stagnation of incomes for most ordinary Americans.
Losing the Signal: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry by Jacquie McNish, Sean Silcoff
Albert Einstein, Clayton Christensen, corporate governance, diversified portfolio, indoor plumbing, Iridium satellite, patent troll, QWERTY keyboard, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs
Hockey stars such as Jarome Iginla, Doug Weight, and Bill Guerin turned to Smith to crawl out of slumps. Often their problems weren’t physical. Players had to get their head back in the game and Smith knew how to get them there. Once Balsillie explained his circumstances, Smith shared his own story. He was one of ten children born into a hard-luck family in Prince Edward Island. According to Smith’s book, Internal Perfection, his parents lacked money for such basic necessities as indoor plumbing or electricity.14 As a young man, Smith battled a drinking problem, moved to Alberta to work as a pipe fitter, corked his alcohol dependency, and parlayed his redemption into a new career as a high-end personal life coach. Smith shared past traumas with clients to put them at ease. Anything bad they were going through had already happened to him. Smith helped clients cage their fears. The trick, he told Balsillie, was summoning a joyful experience.
Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations by Nicholas Carr
Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, centralized clearinghouse, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, computer age, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, deskilling, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, factory automation, failed state, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, game design, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Kevin Kelly, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mental accounting, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, oil shale / tar sands, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Snapchat, social graph, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator
A week ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a move that he said was inspired by the experience of his friend Steve Jobs, announced that Facebook was introducing a new feature that would make it easy for members to identify themselves as organ donors. Should Zuckerberg’s move increase the supply of organs, it will save many lives and alleviate much suffering. We should all be grateful. Dark dreams of the future are best left to science fiction writers. THE HIERARCHY OF INNOVATION May 14, 2012 If you could choose only one of the following two inventions, indoor plumbing or the Internet, which would you choose? —Robert J. Gordon HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW EDITOR Justin Fox is the latest pundit to ring the “innovation ain’t what it used to be” bell. “Compared with the staggering changes in everyday life in the first half of the 20th century,” he writes, “the digital age has brought relatively minor alterations to how we live.” Fox has a lot of company. He points to science fiction writer Neal Stephenson, who worries that the internet, far from spurring a great burst of industrial creativity, may have put innovation “on hold for a generation.”
The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity by Lynda Gratton, Andrew Scott
3D printing, Airbnb, carbon footprint, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, crowdsourcing, delayed gratification, diversification, Downton Abbey, Erik Brynjolfsson, falling living standards, financial independence, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, Google Glasses, indoor plumbing, information retrieval, Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, low skilled workers, Lyft, Network effects, New Economic Geography, pattern recognition, pension reform, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, smart cities, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, women in the workforce, young professional
Looking back 100 years, a present-day centenarian has seen much in their lifetime: two world wars and a shift from soldiers on horseback to nuclear weapons; the Russian Revolution and the rise and fall of communism; an end to the first wave of globalization and the emergence of the second; the collapse and subsequent ascendance of China; the advent of electricity, radio and television; the early days of the Model T; the first-ever commercial air flight; and, of course, the first manned flight to the moon, as well as the rise of the internet. At a domestic level they would have seen the advent of automatic washing machines, the widespread adoption of indoor plumbing in the house, as well as the vacuum cleaner, not to mention the introduction of the zipper and the bra! A moment’s reflection on these changes makes it obvious that being able to forecast developments for the centenarians born today is nonsensical. Dealing with this uncertainty will be a major part of living a long life. Those who live longer – assuming the pace of change will not alter – will experience a great deal more flux than past generations.
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
Albert Einstein, cognitive dissonance, Drosophila, endowment effect, impulse control, indoor plumbing, loss aversion, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Necker cube, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
PART VI Corrigibility corrigibility (kor•i•dzĭ•b´l•ĭ•tee) Capable of being corrected, reformed, or improved. CHAPTER 10 Once Bitten Experience, O, thou disprov’st report! Shakespeare, Cymbeline THE LAST DECADE has seen an explosion of books about poop. When my two-year-old granddaughter crawls up onto my lap, she typically brings with her a fat stack of picture books, including several that explore in considerable detail the miracle of defecation and the mysteries of indoor plumbing. Some offer detailed descriptions for the budding anatomist; some offer little more than drawings of happy children, squatting, standing, and wiping. Despite their many differences, each of these books communicates the same message: Grown-ups do not poop in their pants, but if you do, then don’t worry too much about it. My granddaughter seems to find this message both reassuring and inspirational.
Time Paradox by Philip, John Boyd Zimbardo
Albert Einstein, cognitive dissonance, Drosophila, endowment effect, impulse control, indoor plumbing, loss aversion, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Necker cube, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
PART VI Corrigibility corrigibility (kor•i•dzĭ•b´l•ĭ•tee) Capable of being corrected, reformed, or improved. CHAPTER 10 Once Bitten Experience, O, thou disprov’st report! Shakespeare, Cymbeline THE LAST DECADE has seen an explosion of books about poop. When my two-year-old granddaughter crawls up onto my lap, she typically brings with her a fat stack of picture books, including several that explore in considerable detail the miracle of defecation and the mysteries of indoor plumbing. Some offer detailed descriptions for the budding anatomist; some offer little more than drawings of happy children, squatting, standing, and wiping. Despite their many differences, each of these books communicates the same message: Grown-ups do not poop in their pants, but if you do, then don’t worry too much about it. My granddaughter seems to find this message both reassuring and inspirational.
3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, bank run, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bitcoin, blockchain, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, cloud computing, computer age, connected car, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, Freestyle chess, game design, Google Glasses, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, index card, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, linked data, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Minecraft, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, placebo effect, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Snapchat, social graph, social web, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, transport as a service, two-sided market, Uber for X, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Review
Before we invented automobiles, air-conditioning, flat-screen video displays, and animated cartoons, no one living in ancient Rome wished they could watch pictures move while riding to Athens in climate-controlled comfort. I did that recently. One hundred years ago not a single citizen of China would have told you that they would rather buy a tiny glassy slab that allowed them to talk to faraway friends before they would buy indoor plumbing. But every day peasant farmers in China without plumbing purchase smartphones. Crafty AIs embedded in first-person shooter games have given millions of teenage boys the urge, the need, to become professional game designers—a dream that no boy in Victorian times ever had. In a very real way our inventions assign us our jobs. Each successful bit of automation generates new occupations—occupations we would not have fantasized about without the prompting of the automation.
Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt
What you must do is avoid shooting your ten-year-old grandfather.” Shel and Dave smiled. “I mean it,” he said. “Avoid the irreparable act.” Michael commented that his visitors must be hungry. But nobody was, so he simply had Albertino bring out some wine. “I can’t resist asking,” he said finally. “Where else have you been?” THEY stayed through the night. The beds were soft, and Shel was surprised to discover indoor plumbing, including a flush toilet and a shower. “They’re in common use,” said Michael, in the morning. “You could use some air-conditioning.” Michael glanced over at Dave, who was busily looking elsewhere. “You’re spoiled,” he said. “I know.” Shel sat back. They’d just had a superb breakfast of bacon and eggs and the largest pieces of toast he’d ever seen. “Dad,” he said, “seriously, I’d like not to hear any more talk about happy times in the Renaissance.
The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape by James Howard Kunstler
A Pattern Language, blue-collar work, California gold rush, car-free, City Beautiful movement, corporate governance, Donald Trump, financial independence, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, germ theory of disease, indoor plumbing, jitney, land tenure, means of production, megastructure, Menlo Park, new economy, oil shock, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, postindustrial economy, Potemkin village, Ronald Reagan, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Review, working poor, Works Progress Administration
They had grown increasingly isolated from the benefits of industrial civilization. Medical care often lay beyond their reach. One room schools could be dismally inadequate and hard to get to. A simple trip to the nearest small town might be an ordeal. Henry Ford, himself a Michigan farmboy, had farmers very much in mind when he devel oped the Model T, and they were among his most avid early customers. They emptied their savings accounts and forsook indoor plumbing to buy cars. The Saturday trip to town became an overnight institution all over rural America. Farmers now had regular access to a society beyond their little hill or hollow, to libraries, to popular culture, to ideas besides those in the family Bible. The car also lightened work by serving as a mobile power plant around the farm. With its dr:iving wheel jacked up, its engine could run other machines, saw firewood, pump water.
New blooms of bougainvillea were climbing a homemade trellis, and Khalifa’s five-year-old granddaughter came outside to watch us speak and to play with a hose that had been left running in the dirt under the vines. For some, a little running water could go a long way. Khalifa was old and retired, and maybe a little wired. He and his wife, Afaf, had received a three-bedroom house even though their children were all grown and gone. Afaf even ran a little snack and soda stand nearby. I walked deeper into the settlement and found a few other villagers who said they were adjusting nicely to the indoor plumbing and plentiful electricity of their new homes, but they clammed up when a car appeared and parked about twenty yards away. A lone driver got out and watched our meeting without approaching. “We hass to go now,” the taxi driver said. “He is bolise.” Bolise were indeed everywhere in Egypt. Young men in black woolen uniforms lounged outside the tourist sites pretending to screen visitors for explosives and guns.
SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
agricultural Revolution, airport security, Andrei Shleifer, Atul Gawande, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, call centre, clean water, cognitive bias, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, disintermediation, endowment effect, experimental economics, food miles, indoor plumbing, John Nash: game theory, Joseph Schumpeter, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, market design, microcredit, Milgram experiment, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, presumed consent, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, South China Sea, Stephen Hawking, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, urban planning, women in the workforce, young professional
Parker, two economists who analyzed the data from more than 100,000 Oportunidades clients, found that applicants routinely underreported certain items, including cars, trucks, video recorders, satellite TVs, and washing machines. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. People hoping to get welfare benefits have an incentive to make it sound like they are poorer than they truly are. But as Martinelli and Parker discovered, applicants overreported other items: indoor plumbing, running water, a gas stove, and a concrete floor. Why on earth would welfare applicants say they had these essentials when they didn’t? Martinelli and Parker attribute it to embarrassment. Even people who are poor enough to need welfare apparently don’t want to admit to a welfare clerk that they have a dirt floor or live without a toilet. Venkatesh, knowing that traditional survey methods don’t necessarily produce reliable results for a sensitive topic like prostitution, tried something different: real-time, on-the-spot data collection.
carbon footprint, clean water, collective bargaining, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, Exxon Valdez, Filipino sailors, Google Earth, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, intermodal, Isaac Newton, means of production, microbiome, Panamax, post-Panamax, profit motive, Skype, statistical model, Thorstein Veblen, traveling salesman
Three other seemingly unrelated events coincided with the commercialization of childhood and the infantilization of animals: In 1871, a printer from Albany, New York, named John Wesley Hyatt added nitric acid to pulped cotton, thereby inventing celluloid. In 1873, the first Pekin ducks were imported to the United States from China. And in the 1880s, bathtubs began appearing in middle-class homes along with indoor plumbing. Celluloid eventually evolved into the plastics industry. The Pekin duck eventually became the preferred species of American duck breeders, making yellow ducklings a familiar symbol of birth and spring—familiar and far less alien than the Chinese themselves. And the average American bathroom, which had once consisted of a washtub and an outhouse, was consecrated as a temple of cleanliness. Much as the modern nursery sheltered children from the social contamination of the street, so the modern bathroom protected their naked, slippery bodies from germs.
Multitool Linux: Practical Uses for Open Source Software by Michael Schwarz, Jeremy Anderson, Peter Curtis
business process, Debian, defense in depth, GnuPG, index card, indoor plumbing, optical character recognition, publish or perish, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, SETI@home, slashdot, web application, x509 certificate
Believe me, this can be harder than it sounds when the room is a network and its operating systems. In this chapter, we teach you how to detect the subtle and insidious acts of the typical script kiddie once he gains access to an account on your computer. In the next chapter, we will present a tool that can help you stop the barbarian at the gate so that you don't have to corner him and explain what indoor plumbing is for. A Model of Network Attacks This breakdown of phases in a network-based system compromise is my own taxonomy. I find it a handy way of categorizing the methods attackers use to gain access to a system and to hide their traces. Types of Attack There are two major categories of attacks on network machines. The first is the denial-of-service (DoS) attack. This is analogous to the civil disobedience protester shouting so you cannot communicate.
Our Own Devices: How Technology Remakes Humanity by Edward Tenner
Bonfire of the Vanities, card file, Douglas Engelbart, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, indoor plumbing, informal economy, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Network effects, optical character recognition, QWERTY keyboard, Stewart Brand, women in the workforce
Even when zori were used as house slippers, they were not allowed to touch the sensitive surfaces of tatami mats. Tabi, mittenlike socks with separate room for the big toe, were always worn with sandals outdoors, and sometimes with geta. (Some Romans wore a similar woolen or leather foot covering—called a soccus, whence the English word sock —with a leather counterpart of the zori.) Untainted by the dirt of the street, tabi were ideal for indoor wear. After the introduction of indoor plumbing, users of bathrooms stepped into special zori to protect the feet (and living areas) from contamination, a custom that still prevails. The design of the sandals and clogs permitted people to change pairs rapidly without touching the footwear. So strong was this custom that, according to tradition— or perhaps it is a Japanese urban legend—when the first trains opened service in Japan in the late nineteenth century, travelers left their sandals on the platform before boarding and were surprised to find them gone when they returned.21 Luxurious or simple, geta and zori were hygienic, and not just because they were left outside.
clean water, collective bargaining, Community Supported Agriculture, Donald Trump, happiness index / gross national happiness, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, land reform, life extension, Maui Hawaii, meta analysis, meta-analysis, randomized controlled trial, Silicon Valley, telemarketer
And I certainly don’t want to go back to a way of life as devoid of modern technologies as the Vilcabambans have traditionally known. I’ve lived without having a soft place to sleep and I’ve lived without food refrigeration, so I know it is possible to be happy without them, but I enjoy such comforts and am grateful for them. I do not want to live in a barely heated house with a mud floor, and I’d rather not live without running water and indoor plumbing. I also treasure the low rates of infant mortality that have ensued from advances in public health and sanitation, and I appreciate many of the complexities and challenges of the modern world. I love my life in the modern Western world, and even with all its faults and limitations, I still cherish it as my home. I recognize as well that some of the toxicities of the modern world are beginning to encroach upon and alter the traditional Vilcabamban way of life, a development I’ll discuss more fully later on.
Frommer's Kauai by Jeanette Foster
King Kamehameha IV agreed to sell the island for $10,000. The next year, normal weather returned, and the green pastures withered into sparse semi-desert vegetation. Today, Sinclair’s great-great-grandson, Bruce Robinson, continues to run the ranching operation and fiercely protects the privacy of the island residents. From the outside, life on Niihau has not changed much in 140 years: There’s no running water, indoor plumbing, or electrically generated power. The Hawaiian language is still spoken. Most of the men work for the ranch when there is work, and fish and hunt where there is no work. The women specialize in gathering and stringing pupu Niihau, prized, tiny white seashells (found only on this island), into Niihau’s famous leis, which fetch prices in the thousands of dollars. THE ISLAND IN BRIEF 4 Today, even Waimea’s historic relics are spare and simple: a statue of Cook alongside a bas-relief of his ships, the rubble foundation of the Russian fort, and the remains of an ancient aqueduct unlike any other in the Pacific.
conceptual framework, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, Deng Xiaoping, East Village, financial independence, Gini coefficient, income inequality, indoor plumbing, land reform, Lao Tzu, low skilled workers, market fundamentalism, Mohammed Bouazizi, Plutocrats, plutocrats, rolodex, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, transcontinental railway, Washington Consensus, Xiaogang Anhui farmers, young professional
In 1980 the city had six thousand hutong; over the years, all but a few hundred were leveled to make way for office buildings and apartment complexes. Only one of the city’s forty-four princely palaces had survived intact. I asked around and found a one-story house for rent at No. 45 Caochang Bei Xiang. Most people in these old homes used a communal public toilet around the corner from my front door. But this house had been fitted with indoor plumbing, and renovated to comprise four modern rooms surrounding a small courtyard that contained a date tree and a persimmon tree. When I reported my new address to the Chicago Tribune’s driver, Old Zhang, he did not approve. “You’re going the wrong direction,” he said. “You should be moving from the ground into an apartment up in the air, not the other way around.” The walls of the house were porous; when it rained, the ceiling leaked, and when the winter overwhelmed the heating, I wore a ski hat around the house.
The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives by Sasha Abramsky
2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bank run, big-box store, collective bargaining, deindustrialization, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, job automation, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, microcredit, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, payday loans, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, profit motive, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration
Some of the symptoms of poverty were indeed alleviated, yet the grand goal of the Great Society to actually eradicate poverty—to pull it up by the roots and erase all evidence of its existence—proved to be a bridge too far. Three years after Johnson had launched the War on Poverty, with the country’s attention largely having shifted to the war in Vietnam rather than the domestic “war,” Senator Robert Kennedy would tour the Mississippi Delta and be shocked to see barefoot, malnourished, sickly children living in shanties with no indoor plumbing. By early 1968, as Kennedy campaigned for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, his take on poverty’s unrelenting grip on much of America had gone from surprise to shuddering, incandescent horror. I have seen children in Mississippi starving, their bodies so crippled from hunger and their minds have been so destroyed for their whole life that they will have no future. I have seen children in Mississippi—here in the United States—with a gross national product of $800 billion—I have seen children in the Delta area of Mississippi with distended stomachs, whose faces are covered with sores from starvation, and we haven’t developed a policy so we can get enough food so that they can live, so that their children, so that their lives are not destroyed, I don’t think that’s acceptable in the United States of America and I think we need a change.
Venice: A New History by Thomas F. Madden
big-box store, buy low sell high, centre right, colonial rule, Columbine, Costa Concordia, double entry bookkeeping, facts on the ground, financial innovation, indoor plumbing, invention of movable type, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Murano, Venice glass, spice trade, trade route, upwardly mobile, urban planning
Progress found yet other ways to intrude into late-nineteenth-century Venice. Iron bridges were built across the Grand Canal at two new locations, the Accademia and the train station, thus significantly opening up the city to foot traffic. A cholera outbreak in 1867 led to modifications in water flow so as to allow sewage to more easily be flushed out to sea. Water lines were run into Venice from the Brenta Valley, providing indoor plumbing and bringing to an end the rich culture of campo gossip at the pozzo. The Industrial Revolution came to Venice in the form of the Stucky mill on the end of Giudecca. Giovanni Stucky, the son of a Swiss father and a Venetian mother, built the giant flour mill and granary in a classic industrial mode that stylistically defied the city across the canal. The local government only allowed it because the factory provided much-needed jobs for its citizens.
Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan
Solli, an architect and builder, was a quiet man, unassuming, with daughters named Rosalie and Eively. He spoke Arabic and, according to later generations of Khairis, coexisted comfortably among the town's Muslim and Christian Arabs. Ahmad and Mr. Solli designed large living and sleeping quarters separated by double wooden doors in the center. Workers walled off a small bedroom in a corner. They laid tile, hung wire for electric lights, and ran pipe for indoor plumbing. Zakia would have an inside kitchen with a modern stove. Instead of baking her Arabic bread in the taboun, the open-air, wood-fired oven found at most traditional homes, she now had the luxury of sending her dough to the communal ovens in al-Ramla, to be brought back as warm bread ready for the table. These were new luxuries for the town founded twelve centuries earlier, in 715 A.D., by the Muslim caliph Suleiman Ibn Abdel-Malek.
Atul Gawande, Bernie Madoff, call centre, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, delayed gratification, Edward Glaeser, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, facts on the ground, game design, happiness index / gross national happiness, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, neurotypical, Occupy movement, place-making, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, randomized controlled trial, Ray Oldenburg, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steven Pinker, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Tony Hsieh, urban planning, Yogi Berra
The researchers noted that teens in low-income families often get less supervision from adults, many of whom are working long hours, and so use their laptops mainly for entertainment: to play games, to chat, and to download music and movies.37 Like a television, laptops can be used as an educational tool. But usually they’re not. Negroponte’s utopian vision was intended primarily for developing economies, where the challenges turned out to be different. Many of the proud new owners of the laptops are children without access to indoor plumbing and electricity. One young American electrical engineer who volunteered with one of the first and biggest OLPC programs, in Peru, noted in his blog that the problems could be big (the kids were often sick) or small (easily broken laptop keyboards), but the accretion of obstacles overwhelmed any educational goals. Uncontaminated drinking water was hard to come by in the village, so his students often had diarrhea and were too sick to learn.
A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, airport security, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Duvall, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, call centre, cellular automata, Chris Urmson, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Dean Kamen, deskilling, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, haute couture, hive mind, hypertext link, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, loose coupling, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, medical residency, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, semantic web, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, skunkworks, Skype, social software, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tenerife airport disaster, The Coming Technological Singularity, the medium is the message, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight
“The computer and Internet revolution (IR3) began around 1960 and reached its climax in the dot-com era of the late 1990s, but its main impact on productivity has withered away in the past eight years,” he wrote. “Many of the inventions that replaced tedious and repetitive clerical labour with computers happened a long time ago, in the 1970s and 1980s. Invention since 2000 has centered on entertainment and communication devices that are smaller, smarter, and more capable, but do not fundamentally change labour productivity or the standard of living in the way that electric light, motor cars, or indoor plumbing changed it.”44 In one sense it was a devastating critique of the Silicon Valley faith in “trickle down” from exponential advances in integrated circuits, for if the techno-optimists were correct, the impact of new information technology should have resulted in a dramatic explosion of new productivity, particularly after the deployment of the Internet. Gordon pointed out that unlike the earlier industrial revolutions, there has not been a comparable productivity advance tied to the computing revolution.
Merchants' War by Stross, Charles
The things we take for granted, she thought, relaxing into the tub: the comforts of a middle-class existence in New Britain seemed exotic and advanced after months of detention in a Clan holding in Niejwein. I could fit in here. She tried the thought on for size. Okay, so domestic radios are the size of a photocopier, and there's no Internet, and they use trains where we'd use airliners. So what? They've got hot and cold running water, and gas and electricity. Indoor plumbing. The chambers Baron Henryk had confined her to had a closet with a drafty hole in a wooden seat. I could live here. The thought was tempting for a moment- until she remembered the thin, pinched faces in the soup queue, the outstretched upturned hats. Erasmus's hacking cough, now banished by medicines that she'd brought over from Boston-her own Boston. No antibiotics: back before they'd been discovered, a quarter to a third of the population had died of bacterial diseases.
8-hour work day, Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, call centre, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, game design, hive mind, index card, indoor plumbing, Isaac Newton, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Mahatma Gandhi, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, popular electronics, Ralph Waldo Emerson, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rosa Parks, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, telemarketer, The Wisdom of Crowds, traveling salesman, Walter Mischel, web application, white flight
Other students turn to him for speech lessons; he trains them and they start winning, too. By the time Dale leaves college in 1908, his parents are still poor, but corporate America is booming. Henry Ford is selling Model Ts like griddle cakes, using the slogan “for business and for pleasure.” J.C. Penney, Woolworth, and Sears Roebuck have become household names. Electricity lights up the homes of the middle class; indoor plumbing spares them midnight trips to the outhouse. The new economy calls for a new kind of man—a salesman, a social operator, someone with a ready smile, a masterful handshake, and the ability to get along with colleagues while simultaneously outshining them. Dale joins the swelling ranks of salesmen, heading out on the road with few possessions but his silver tongue. Dale’s last name is Carnegie (Carnagey, actually; he changes the spelling later, likely to evoke Andrew, the great industrialist).
Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism by Elizabeth Becker
airport security, Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, BRICs, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, collective bargaining, colonial rule, computer age, corporate governance, Costa Concordia, Deng Xiaoping, European colonialism, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, indoor plumbing, Masdar, Murano, Venice glass, open borders, out of africa, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, statistical model, sustainable-tourism, the market place, union organizing, urban renewal, wage slave, young professional, éminence grise
“It is a way of seeing the familiar from a different angle—a wild moment,” Zhang said. The three Washington-area couples I met taking lessons in tai chi were her clients. Their three-week tour took them eventually to Shangri-La in the mountain valleys of Yunnan Province bordering Tibet. They went from the plush comforts of Shanghai to the austere beauty of snowcapped mountains, Buddhist monasteries and no heat or indoor plumbing. They told me they felt as if they had gone from modern to medieval times, the reaction that Zhang cultivates to show old and new China. So far, Zhang has been lucky that her competition is largely from the Chinese government. Most of the thousands of Chinese tour agencies that appear to be independent are owned by the government and focused on serving a mass market. They compete by offering the lowest prices.
Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance by Ian Goldin, Chris Kutarna
2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, clean water, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Dava Sobel, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, experimental economics, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, full employment, Galaxy Zoo, global supply chain, Hyperloop, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, low cost carrier, low skilled workers, Lyft, Malacca Straits, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, Network effects, New Urbanism, non-tariff barriers, Occupy movement, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, open economy, Panamax, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, post-Panamax, profit motive, rent-seeking, reshoring, Robert Gordon, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, Snapchat, special economic zone, spice trade, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stuxnet, TaskRabbit, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, uranium enrichment, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, zero day
Assuming she didn’t die early (due to poor sanitation, life expectancy at the time was only 40 years), she lived long enough to witness a world in which people drove cars, flew through the sky, made water appear at the turn of a faucet (and flush away just as easily), commanded lights with the flick of a switch, and employed machines to do everything from wash their clothes to calculate their payroll. In her lifetime, she witnessed the invention of: electricity and all its spin-offs; automobiles and highway systems; running water and indoor plumbing and heating; the radio and the telephone; flight; as well as the vacuum tube, penicillin, radar, rockets and atomic weapons. And anyone born in 1950 witnessed the dawn of the space age, transistors and computers before the age of 30. Together, the above inventions defined modernity. They also imbued people with the expectation that technology would deliver a fantastic future. Now fast forward to today: that expectation has been disappointed.
3D printing, Asian financial crisis, backtesting, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, business climate, business process, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, colonial rule, Commodity Super-Cycle, corporate governance, crony capitalism, currency peg, dark matter, debt deflation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Freestyle chess, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflation targeting, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, Malacca Straits, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, megacity, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, mittelstand, moral hazard, New Economic Geography, North Sea oil, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, secular stagnation, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, smart cities, Snapchat, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, trade route, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, unorthodox policies, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, working-age population
Mortgages were rare in these countries as of 2000 but have since become a multibillion-dollar industry, rising from 0 percent of GDP to 7 percent in Brazil and Turkey, 4 percent in Russia, and 3 percent in Indonesia by 2013. This growing role for credit in a developing economy is referred to as “financial deepening.” For countries where people could not buy a car or a house unless they amassed the necessary cash, the introduction of these simple credit products is as important a step into the modern world as indoor plumbing. The public mood and psychology during a time of healthy credit growth bears no resemblance to the anything-goes atmosphere of a credit mania. In place of shady lenders and unqualified borrowers, responsible lenders are widening the choice of solid loan options available to the average Joe or small business, fueling a period of economic growth that is strong but not too strong to last. When the global financial crisis hit in 2008, all eyes turned immediately to the problems created by the rapid expansion of debt in the United States and Europe.
The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future by Gretchen Bakke
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, demand response, dematerialisation, distributed generation, energy security, energy transition, full employment, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, Internet of things, laissez-faire capitalism, Menlo Park, Negawatt, new economy, post-oil, profit motive, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart grid, smart meter, the built environment, too big to fail, washing machines reduced drudgery, Whole Earth Catalog
Certainly not everyone was jostled into awareness in the same way, but enough Americans had become interested in systemic change that Carter, an unusual pick, was elected to the highest office in the land. By the time Carter took office, every home in America was its own miraculous technological node, built into a complexly woven support net of wires and pipes and ductwork. By 1976 everyone in America who wanted it had electricity, indoor plumbing, central heating, a refrigerator, and a phone. Our workplaces were similarly well served. Living in these homes and laboring in these workplaces changed us. It only took a generation after the end of the Depression for Americans to become consummately modern individuals, until as a nation we had lost working knowledge of a coal brazier, a kerosene lamp, a latrine, an ice box, a well, a mangler, or anything else more complicated than a switch, a button, an outlet, a socket, a tap, or a flusher.
Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
As if were possible for anyone at a We-Sleep factory to do otherwise! Not that Hawke hadn’t earned the reverence in Mayleen’s voice. When Mayleen had been hired last winter, Jordan, only four weeks into his own job as Hawke’s personal assistant, had gone with Hawke to her shack for the interview. Although adequately heated and provisioned 100 nancy kress through the cheap Y-energy that was every citizen’s right under the Dole, the shack had no indoor plumbing, little furniture, and few toys for the skinny tow-headed kids that had stared at Jordan’s leather jacket and lapel comlink. Last week, Mayleen had announced with pride that she’d just bought a toilet and a lace pillow set. The pride, Jordan now knew, was as practical as the toilet. He knew because Calvin Hawke had taught him. Jordan returned to studying the road. Mayleen said, “Expecting someone?”
Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles by Ruchir Sharma
3D printing, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, American energy revolution, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, BRICs, British Empire, business climate, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, cloud computing, collective bargaining, colonial rule, corporate governance, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, eurozone crisis, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, housing crisis, income inequality, indoor plumbing, inflation targeting, informal economy, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, land reform, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, market bubble, megacity, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open economy, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, quantitative easing, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, The Great Moderation, Thomas L Friedman, trade liberalization, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, working-age population
The Technology Edge Today, an interesting debate is under way over whether the digital technology revolution is really a big deal in terms of improving U.S. productivity. Leading skeptics about America’s productivity boom, such as Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon, say the computer and the Internet, even when rendered mobile in handheld devices, do less to raise productivity than inventions from previous technology revolutions—particularly the emergence in the late nineteenth century of electricity, the combustion engine, and indoor plumbing. The technology bulls say we haven’t seen anything yet. Everyone knows that today’s PCs are faster than machines that three decades ago would fill a warehouse. Not everyone is fully aware that the next step—cloud computing—will allow home PCs to tap the computing power of an army of warehouse-size supercomputers. It’s hard to imagine just what gains will emerge from this awesome capacity, but as a demonstration to provoke interest, Google recently used its cloud to decode the human genome . . . in eleven seconds.
Albert Einstein, butterfly effect, California gold rush, Golden Gate Park, index card, indoor plumbing, Loma Prieta earthquake, Menlo Park, place-making, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, supervolcano, The Chicago School, transcontinental railway, wage slave, Works Progress Administration
Moreover, he can hardly have anticipated the effect on his invention of the feral donkeys that wandered down from the hills and did their bit to add to the universal misery – by chewing at the tent canvas, biting down guy ropes and in one case breaking into a tent that was occupied by a snoring drunk and munching away half of the man’s hair. The town was filthy in those early days, and known primarily for rats, fleas and piles of empty liquor bottles. Cholera outbreaks were dismayingly frequent, and in the early years it was common for the bodies of the dead to be abandoned by the shore, in the hope that the tides might carry them off into the open sea. There was little by way of indoor plumbing, and the water supply was halting, with what there was invariably polluted. Gas lights had been invented but not installed, and so the city at night was dark and dangerous, crowded and unhealthy – and yet regarded with tolerant fondness by all who looked back on those heady first Gold Rush years. Those who survived the very early San Francisco were armed with a pride that was quite unknown to the later immigrants.
Frommer's Oregon by Karl Samson
airport security, Burning Man, carbon footprint, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, haute cuisine, indoor plumbing, sustainable-tourism, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Works Progress Administration
. & 503/581-2228. www.salemart.org. Free admission. Wed–Fri 11am–6pm; Sat–Sun noon–5pm. Bush House Museum Set at the top of a shady hill in the 100-acre Bush’s Pasture Park, this imposing Italianate Victorian home dates back to 1878. Inside you can see the original furnishings, including 10 fireplaces and the original wallpaper. At the time it was built, this home had all the modern conveniences—indoor plumbing, gas lights, and central heating. Also on the grounds is Oregon’s oldest greenhouse conservatory. S A L E M & T H E M I D W I L L A M E T T E VA L L E Y 17 Owens St. Portland Salem OREGON Stat e St. WILLAMETTE UNIVERSITY Chu rch S t. Lesli e St. Kearny St. Wilson Park 11 10 Trad e St. Libe rty S t. Com merc ial S t. 8 Bush St. Travel Salem 6 7 18th St. Riverfront Park Cent er St Chem . eket a St. 17th St. 5 13th St. 14th St. 4 15th St. 2 Mar ion S t. 12th St. 99 13th St.
affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, Berlin Wall, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, fixed income, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, housing crisis, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, NetJets, Northern Rock, oil shock, paper trading, risk tolerance, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, supply-chain management, too big to fail, value at risk, éminence grise
“I don’t think I’m the right person to answer that question.” 062 O’Neal was out of a different mold than most of Merrill’s top executives, not least of all because he was African American—quite a change from the succession of white Irish Catholics who had headed the firm in the past. His was, by any measure, an amazing success story. O’Neal, whose grandfather had been born a slave, had spent much of his childhood in a wood-frame house with no indoor plumbing on a farm in eastern Alabama. When Stan was twelve, his father moved the family to a housing project in Atlanta, where he soon found a job at a nearby General Motors assembly plant. GM became Stan O’Neal’s ticket out of poverty. After high school he enrolled at the General Motors Institute (now known as Kettering University), an engineering college, on a work-study scholarship that involved his working six weeks on the assembly line in Flint, Michigan, followed by six weeks in the classroom.
The death and life of great American cities by Jane Jacobs
City Beautiful movement, Golden Gate Park, indoor plumbing, Internet Archive, Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Victor Gruen
Comments were dropped by Council spokesmen, politely, about the numbers of depositors in the district ... the extent of their deposits ... the difficulty of understanding why investment of savings by city dwellers seemed so little available for use in cities ... the soUd concern about the problem within the district ... the value of public understanding. Before the meeting was over, several of the lenders pledged their help—that is, favorable consideration of requests for loans. The same day, the Council began negotiating for a site for forty-nine new dwellings. Soon afterward, the most squalid row of slum apartments was equipped with indoor plumbing and otherwise modernized, by means of a $90,000 loan. Within three years, some five thousand houses had been rehabilitated by their owners, and the number rehabilitated since has been so great it has not been kept track of. In 1959, construction of several small apartment houses was begun. The Council, and people within the district, refer to the banks' interest and cooperation in their improvement with gratitude.
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
she asked, smiling her gap-toothed smile at Kivrin, and Kivrin thought, Maybe they’re taking me to the bathroom, and made an effort to sit up and put her legs over the side of the bed. She was immediately dizzy. She sat, her bare legs dangling over the side of the high bed, waiting for it to pass. She was wearing her linen shift and nothing else. She wondered where her clothes were. At least they had let her keep her shift. People in the Middle Ages didn’t usually wear anything to bed. People in the Middle Ages didn’t have indoor plumbing either, she thought, and hoped she wouldn’t have to go outside to a privy. Castles sometimes had enclosed garderobes, or corners over a shaft that had to be cleaned out at the bottom, but this wasn’t a castle. The young woman put a thin, folded blanket around Kivrin’s shoulders like a shawl, and they both helped her off the bed. The planked wooden floor was icy. She took a few steps and was dizzy all over again.
The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin
airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Anton Chekhov, big-box store, business process, call centre, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer vision, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Eratosthenes, Exxon Valdez, framing effect, friendly fire, fundamental attribution error, Golden Gate Park, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, impulse control, index card, indoor plumbing, information retrieval, invention of writing, iterative process, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, life extension, meta analysis, meta-analysis, more computing power than Apollo, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, placebo effect, pre–internet, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Skype, Snapchat, statistical model, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Turing test, ultimatum game
Our attics, garages, basements, and the junk drawers in our kitchens are in such a state that we hope no one we know ever takes a peek inside of them, and we fear the day we may need to actually find something there. These are obviously not problems that our ancestors had. When you think about what your ancestors might have lived like a thousand years ago, it’s easy to focus on the technological differences—no cars, electricity, central heating, or indoor plumbing. It’s tempting to picture homes as we know them now, meals more or less the same except for the lack of prepackaged food. More grinding of wheat and skinning of fowl, perhaps. But the anthropological and historical record tells a very different story. In terms of food, our ancestors tended to eat what they could get their hands on. All kinds of things that we don’t eat today, because they don’t taste very good by most accounts, were standard fare only because they were available: rats, squirrels, peacocks—and don’t forget locusts!
Baghdad at Sunrise: A Brigade Commander's War in Iraq by Peter R. Mansoor, Donald Kagan, Frederick Kagan
The next thirteen months would be just that. The alarm on my watch sounded all too early. The ﬁrst order of business was to ﬁgure out a personal hygiene routine. I quickly discovered that there was little routine to this matter anywhere in Baghdad. Latrines consisted of plywood stalls with metal cans to collect waste, which soldiers burned daily after mixing the foul gruel with the Army’s common fuel, JP-8. The indoor plumbing of the Martyr’s Monument was woefully inadequate and often backed up, creating smelly cesspools in the basement. There were no sinks, and the few showers consisted of solar-heated, gravity-fed water tanks perched atop plywood structures with canvas or plywood dividers. I made a note to centralize hygiene and waste management as a critical task before dysentery and diarrhea brought us to our knees.
Albert Einstein, British Empire, business intelligence, centralized clearinghouse, City Beautiful movement, estate planning, glass ceiling, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, indoor plumbing, Livingstone, I presume, new economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, refrigerator car, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, young professional
With Phillips in place, Fred expanded the Florence hotel and restaurant even further, adding not only more dining space but also offices, hotel rooms, and large “sample rooms” where traveling salesmen could show their lines to local customers. He also gave the place a proper name; instead of the Santa Fe depot hotel and eating house, it would now be known by the more elegant appellation “The Clifton.” Fountains and a new sign were installed out front; inside were luxuries Florentines had yet to enjoy—even indoor plumbing. “Every Tuesday and Friday, the ladies of Florence can have use of the bath rooms at The Clifton Hotel,” the Herald proudly announced. “This will be a luxury which will be duly appreciated. All other days the bath rooms are open to gentlemen.” CHAPTER 9 COWBOY VICTUALER LAKIN, KANSAS, WAS ONE OF MANY DUSTY WESTERN TOWNS willed into being by the arrival of the railroad. In fact, it was one of the first in which the Santa Fe acknowledged its creationist powers, naming the hamlet after one of its employees, D.
Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman
3D printing, additive manufacturing, affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, business process, call centre, centre right, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, demand response, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Erik Brynjolfsson, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Ferguson, Missouri, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Flash crash, game design, gig economy, global supply chain, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, Internet of things, invention of the steam engine, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John von Neumann, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, land tenure, linear programming, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, pattern recognition, planetary scale, pull request, Ralph Waldo Emerson, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, Thomas L Friedman, transaction costs, Transnistria, urban decay, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Y2K, Yogi Berra
Since productivity improvements drive growth, that is an important and now a hotly debated subject among economic writers. The economist Robert Gordon has made a compelling case in his book The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War that the days of steadily rising growth are probably behind us. He believes all the big gains were made in the “special century” between 1870 and 1970—with the likes of automobiles, radio, television, indoor plumbing, electrification, vaccines, clean water, air travel, central heating, women’s empowerment, and air-conditioning and antibiotics. Gordon is skeptical that today’s new technologies will ever produce another leap forward in productivity comparable to that special century. But MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson has countered Gordon’s pessimism with an argument I find even more compelling. As we transition from an industrial-age economy to a computer-Internet-mobile-broadband-driven economy—that is, a supernova-driven economy—we are experiencing the growing pains of adjusting.
Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield by Jeremy Scahill
air freight, anti-communist, blood diamonds, business climate, citizen journalism, colonial rule, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, failed state, friendly fire, Google Hangouts, indoor plumbing, Islamic Golden Age, land reform, Mohammed Bouazizi, Naomi Klein, private military company, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, WikiLeaks
Noor was educated in London and managed his family’s business investments outside of Somalia. When his father died, he left his life of safety and comfort to return to Mogadishu, where he was given the title of minister of state for the presidency. Noor, however, still enjoyed the luxuries of the West. He rolled around Mogadishu in an armored SUV with animal skins over the seats. He set up a wireless Internet network in an ASWJ camp outside of the capital that didn’t have indoor plumbing and his Koran was housed in a shiny new iPad. He showed me an e-mail from Ethiopia’s minister of foreign affairs on his recently acquired white iPhone. Noor, who regularly met with Western officials and intelligence agents, declined to outline who exactly was funding ASWJ from the outside, but he did single out the United States as Somalia’s “number one” ally. “I’m here to thank them, because they are helping us, fighting against the terrorists,” he told me.
Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Atahualpa, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Columbian Exchange, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, defense in depth, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, Doomsday Clock, en.wikipedia.org, falling living standards, Flynn Effect, Francisco Pizarro, global village, hiring and firing, indoor plumbing, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, knowledge economy, market bubble, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, New Journalism, out of africa, Peter Thiel, phenotype, pink-collar, place-making, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Silicon Valley, Sinatra Doctrine, South China Sea, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, upwardly mobile, wage slave, washing machines reduced drudgery
It struck some as an age of vulgarity, a world, one poet put it, where … residents from raw estates, brought down The dead straight miles by stealing flat-faced trolleys, Push through plate-glass swing doors to their desires— Cheap suits, red kitchen-ware, sharp shoes, iced lollies,* Electric mixers, toasters, washers, driers— A cut-price crowd, urban yet simple, dwelling Where only salesmen and relations come. Figure 10.9. Never had it so good: the author and his toys, Christmas Day, 1964 Suburbs and satellite cities unfolded around every exit ramp and bypass, from America’s Levittown to Britain’s Telford, offending the aesthetes with their boxiness and monotony; but they gave the people what we wanted—a little space, indoor plumbing, and garages for our shiny Fords. The twentieth century was the age of everything, of material abundance beyond the dreams of avarice. Cheap coal and oil generated electricity for all, turning on engines and lighting up houses at the flick of a switch. More than two thousand years earlier Aristotle had observed that slaves would always be with us, unless people had automata—self-moving machines—to do the work for them.
Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America by Rick Perlstein
affirmative action, Alistair Cooke, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, cognitive dissonance, cuban missile crisis, delayed gratification, desegregation, East Village, European colonialism, full employment, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, immigration reform, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, index card, indoor plumbing, Mahatma Gandhi, Marshall McLuhan, Monroe Doctrine, New Urbanism, Own Your Own Home, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, the medium is the message, traveling salesman, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, walking around money, War on Poverty, Whole Earth Catalog
From the time he was a boy in the Southern California citrus groves, staying up half the night to man the creepy little potbellied orchard heaters that kept the frost from the trees but not the black smudge from the boy tending them, to stain his clothes for school the next day; from the time his father built a combination grocery and gas station and made it his second son’s duty to begin each day in the dark, at 4 a.m., driving to the Los Angeles market to select the day’s produce; from the time he was denied a chance to go to Harvard because he could only afford to live at home; from the time he was blacklisted from his little local college’s single social club because he was too unpolished; from the time he was reduced to sharing a one-room shack without heat or indoor plumbing while working his way through Duke Law School; from the time, finishing third in his class, he trudged frantically from white-shoe Wall Street law firm to white-shoe Wall Street law firm and was shown the door at each one (he ended up practicing law back home, where, forced to handle divorce cases, he would stare at his shoes, crimson-red in embarrassment, as women related to him the problems they suffered at the marital bed).
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Bonfire of the Vanities, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, card file, centralized clearinghouse, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, desegregation, Donald Trump, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, global village, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute cuisine, Honoré de Balzac, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, index fund, indoor plumbing, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, Marshall McLuhan, medical malpractice, merger arbitrage, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, NetJets, new economy, New Journalism, North Sea oil, paper trading, passive investing, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Nader, random walk, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, shareholder value, short selling, side project, Silicon Valley, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, telemarketer, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, War on Poverty, Works Progress Administration, Y2K, zero-coupon bond
Born in West Germany in 1946 as Astrid Beaté Menks after her parents “walked out of Latvia when Russia took it,” Menks had emigrated to the United States at age five with her parents and five siblings on a converted, broken-down battleship. Her first sight of America as they pulled in to the harbor was a huge object approaching through a fog bank—the Statue of Liberty. The Menks family was assigned to sponsors in Verdell, Nebraska, where they lived on a farm with a potbellied stove and no electricity or indoor plumbing. When Astrid was six, the family moved to Omaha. Shortly afterward, when their mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, Astrid and her two younger brothers entered the Immanuel Deaconess Institute of Omaha, an all-purpose facility operated by Lutheran sisters that included a retirement home, an orphanage, a hospital, a church, and a recreational hall. Her father, who spoke little English, worked as a maintenance man on the grounds while the children lived at the orphanage.
Southeast Asia on a Shoestring Travel Guide by Lonely Planet
active transport: walking or cycling, airport security, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, British Empire, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, clockwatching, colonial rule, Google Earth, haute cuisine, indoor plumbing, large denomination, low cost carrier, Mason jar, megacity, Skype, South China Sea, spice trade, superstar cities, sustainable-tourism, trade route, urban sprawl, women in the workforce
Blue Lagoon Resort GUESTHOUSE $ ( 08 6330 0094; Ao Khlong Prao; r 600-1000B; ) Rustic bungalows overlook a serene lagoon in this shady grove of a guesthouse. A wooden walkway leads to the beach. There are also exceedingly friendly Thai cooking classes. Tiger Huts GUESTHOUSE $ ( 08 1762 3710; Ao Khlong Prao; r 600B) The only thing that separates these wooden huts from labourer shanties is indoor plumbing. They are low on comfort and hospitality, but high on location, claiming the widest and prettiest part of the beach. The neighbouring resorts must be very jealous. Buzza’s Bungalows GUESTHOUSE $ ( 08 7823 6674; Hat Kaibae; r from 400B; ) Solid concrete bungalows with porches create a laid-back travellers ambience. It’s a short and hassle-free stroll to the beach. Porn’s Bungalows GUESTHOUSE $ ( 08 9251 9233; Hat Kaibae; www.pornsbungalows-kohchang.com; r from 800-900B) Kaibae’s resident rasta scene hangs out in a shady coconut grove beside the beach; wooden fan bungalows with hot-water showers.
Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson
biofilm, Broken windows theory, clean water, deskilling, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, Indoor air pollution, indoor plumbing, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Own Your Own Home, sensible shoes, spice trade, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer
The eponymous bunny of The Velveteen Rabbit has to be saved by magic because it is to be burned, along with all the other fabrics that touched the skin of the child who has just survived scarlet fever. Scientific research confirms that microorganisms—bacteria, viruses, yeasts—survive on fabrics for significant periods of time and survive transfer from one cloth to another. One study, in fact, has found that some fibers are more hospitable than others to certain viruses. In the age of antibiotics, advanced indoor plumbing, and vaccinations, however, sickroom routines that were familiar in every household through the early twentieth century are now forgotten. No smelly disinfectants are used to wipe down every surface and utensil near the sick one. No linens are burned or boiled, and handkerchiefs, “body linen,” and bed linens of the sick are not laundered separately. By and large, this is as it should be. In every household, however, there are times when it is valuable to exercise a degree of special caution—for example, in the case of infectious illness, dirty diapers, or flood-contaminated textiles.
Lonely Planet China (Travel Guide) by Lonely Planet, Shawn Low
Albert Einstein, anti-communist, bike sharing scheme, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, credit crunch, Deng Xiaoping, haute couture, haute cuisine, income inequality, indoor plumbing, land reform, place-making, Skype, South China Sea, special economic zone, sustainable-tourism, trade route, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, Xiaogang Anhui farmers, young professional
Jinzhanghan Grasslands Set along a winding river about 40km north of Haila’er, this grassland camp (Jinzhanghan Caoyuan %133 2700 0919; hJun–early Oct) has a spectacular setting, even if it is designed for tourists. You can pass an hour or so looking around and sipping milk tea, spend the day horse riding (per hour ¥200) or hiking, or come for an evening of dinner, singing and dancing. If you want to stay the night, you can sleep in one of the yurts (per person ¥100). There’s no indoor plumbing, but there is a toilet hut. To get here, you’ll have to hire a taxi from Haila’er (about ¥300 return) or join one of the Chinese group tours (sign up at your hotel or at the booth at the Haila’er train station). About 2km before the main camp there are a couple of unsigned family-run camps. Prices for food, accommodation and horse rental are about half what you pay at Jinzhanghan, but they are rather less organised.