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Showing posts from January, 2016

If you run into a bear while walking in the woods

If you run into a bear while walking in the woods, you have a serious problem. If you turn and run, it will give chase and you will get mauled. And if you walk towards it, it will feel threatened and attack you.

At first glance, it seems like the only solution is "Just don't run into a bear." Obviously, you don't want to run into a bear. So that's useless and frustrating advice. It doesn't in any way help you if you do run into a bear. It gives you nothing constructive to try when the thing you wish would not happen happens anyway.

From what I gather, if you do run into a bear, there is a technique that sometimes works to get you out of there unscathed. If you continue to face the bear but slowly walk off sideways or move off at a diagonal, with a little luck, you can sometimes manage to get safely away without provoking it or inciting its chase instinct.

So, if you find yourself needing to walk through bear filled woods, I assume you would rather know …

The Conversation We Need to Have Instead of Talking About a UBI

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, people worked 12 to 14 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week. As productivity went up and machines replaced manual labor, the trend was towards high unemployment. In response to this crisis, employees organized and we created the 40 hour work week. This improved quality of life across the board, freeing people from gruelingly long days and making a decent paycheck available to relatively large numbers of people for the first time in human history. Prior to that, most human cultures were subsistence cultures. 

We currently have a similar scenario to the crisis that birthed the 40 hour work week. A new level of automation is raising productivity, but the benefits are being concentrated in the hands of the 1 percent while millions struggle to get by.  Many people are suggesting that the only possible solution to this very serious problem is Universal Basic Income. 

I have thought for some time that, instead of Universal Basic Income, we need another solu…

Basic Income: We tried this before and its failures are quite famous

So, in that same discussion on Metafilter, I stated that "I am skeptical that the UBI would do the things people think it would." and that was rebutted with this:
Every time this comes up I post the same links to the same studies where UBI have been actually field tested out in the real world, and here's the thing: they do exactly the things people think. Look up the MINCOME experiment done in Manitoba; workforce participation only dropped for those for whom it's a good idea to not be working--high school students and young parents (mothers, in that case; it was the 70s). Doctor and emergency room visits dropped. Mental health interventions dropped. Public health went up--sick people were much more comfortable taking a day off work to recuperate instead of spreading germs to others. General happiness and quality of life? Up. So, I looked up the Mincome experiment on Wikipedia. It went on for about five years and here is a quote from Wikipedia:
It allowed every f…

The dubious UBI and the delusion that unpaid women's work is about oppression

In this discussion on Metafilter: UBI in NYT someone posted this long quote: By denying housework a wage and transforming it into an act of love, capital has killed many birds with one stone. First of all, it has got a hell of a lot of work almost for free, and it has made sure that women, far from struggling against it, would seek that work as the best thing in life (the magic words: “Yes, darling, you are a real woman”). At the same time, it has disciplined the male worker also, by making his woman dependent on his work and his wage, and trapped him in this discipline by giving him a servant after he himself has done so much serving at the factory or the office. In fact, our role as women is to be the unwaged but happy, and most of all loving, servants of the ‘working class’, i.e. those strata of the proletariat to which capital was forced to grant more social power. In the same way as god created Eve to give pleasure to Adam, so did capital create the housewife to service the mal…

Before HN

This is a fairly heavily edited excerpt from a private email discussion about sexism on HN that isn't moving forward as quickly as I wish it would. It is entirely my email, so I don't need anyone's permission to post this. It is all my writing. I edited it to try to scrub it of identifying information of various people I comment on from a forum I used to participate in, before HN. I am terrible at titling things and "Before HN" was the title of the email that I took this from.
It took me a long time to conclude that one of my problems on HN was my gender. It took me a long time to see the sexism on HN in part because it is a big forum with limited social features, so I could not readily tell I was prominent for a woman, and because the sexism on HN is relatively subtle, much more subtle than what I have seen in other settings. However, there do not appear to be any women on the leaderboard, so I hope you can just accept that there is sexism on HN and that it i…