Category: Possibilities

Raising the Floor by Andy Stern

book jacketRaising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream by Andy Stern (2016)

This is a good book. I am buying this book. I do not agree with everything he says in the book, but the writing is clear and broad in scope. I was reminded of something I knew, that Alaska changed their state constitution to provide a basic income to all resident citizens from the money oil leases and such brought into the state by putting all that money into a dedicated fund to share the wealth. And a Republican governor did it.

I have some doubts about the purported takeover of technology for jobs, but that is probably a prejudice or failure of imagination on my part due to my lack of education and experience (pre-females being allowed to take shop in public schools). It is like watching magic to see a video of the automation that puts car parts together, or the mind blowing details of how the new Bay Bridge was built. Or when I saw the giant machine used to drill out the tunnel under the English channel. For that matter, every day I took the New York subway, especially though the tunnel under the water from Queens or when I drove through the Holland Tunnel and did not drown, well, it just doesn’t seem possible that mere mortals could figure out how to make tools and how to use them to accomplish such feats.

We have people who cannot make change correctly so cash register machines had to be modified to contain a function that simply told workers what the correct change should be. Icons are used instead of words, although I have to say, from a user interface point of view, this actually is a good thing on many levels: multilingual, faster, and more accurate. Translating the abstract concept of FRIES by having a little graphic of french fries in the container eliminates a lot of cross-brain work translating the letter symbols into a word and then punching a value of numbers in the register.

Trust is the number one criteria for people to accept a lot of the mechanization and technology. As a grocery shopped, you select a product based on a posted sign for a particular price. When the item is scanned at the register, can you remember the price of all the items selected to ascertain if the automated system actually priced it as the sale take listed or maybe it added a penny or a dime. Who actually watches the $$ values that are being rung up and are confident enough in their recollection to contest a price? Peer pressure of people standing in line waiting for you, the inability of the register clerk to know anything beyond what the computer tells her is right, having to call a manager over to assess the situation and go back to the shelves to check the sign, all to save 2 cents on a $2.00 purchase. Not a scenario to encourage questioning the accuracy of the technology. Even self-serve registers have this problem, or worse, because you have to do the scanning yourself while watching accuracy and then do the bagging too, again with people standing there impatiently waiting while you try to figure out why your credit card swipe is demanding a pin number you don’t have and it just seems wrong to push the red cancel button to continue.

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David and Goliath by Malcom Gladwell

book jacket title and author and small hole like a rock through paperDavid and Goliath: Underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants by Malcom Gladwell (cd, 2013)

He is an excellent essayist and I have read all his books. I liked some of his other books better than this one. ¬†They were profound insights into things, especially the phenom “The Tipping Point” and “Blink” was cool (first impressions often incredibly complex processing that create to an accurate assessments), plus “Outlier” was fascinating.

book jacket for Blink outliers book jacket book jacket for the tipping pointSince I listened to this, I don’t have a chance to quote from it like I would be able to with the print copy. I would just say anything he writes is worth reading in general.

In this book there was an extensive discussion of a topic I had not paid too much attention too because I found it just so unimaginable: The Troubles. This was the 7os and for decades before and after in Ireland when people hated with a passion their neighbors because some were CATHOLIC and some were PROTESTANT. On the long list of stupid reasons to bomb innocent people and beat them and imprison them, ancient religious dogma — not even YOUR OWN NATIVE religion but one forced upon your country by Kings and Queens, is not one of them. Continue reading