Monthly Archives: September 2018

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How economic hardship traumatizes people individually and as a culture

This piece, Opinion | Still Haunted by Grocery Shopping in the 1980s – The New York Times, by a Brazilian economist highlights the emotional scars that economic hardship has on a person. Key quote for me was this:

Research has found that children living in poverty are at increased risk of difficulties with self-regulation and executive function, such as inattention, impulsivity, defiance and poor peer relationships. It takes generations until society fully heals from periods of deep instability. A study in the early 2010s showed that Germans were more worried about inflation than about developing a life-threatening disease such as cancer; hyperinflation in the country ended almost 100 years ago.

Not only does it touch people individually, but you could make the case that it gets embedded into the culture. Germans are still worrying about inflation! Indeed, I remember my mom telling me how the Great Depression affected her mother to the point that she adopted behaviors she could never shake, not matter how much she had in the future.

Economics can seem dry, especially when people focus on numbers. But those numbers paper over how people are really affected. What is the emotional impact of high (or low) unemployment? What do we see happening in the culture when housing becomes unaffordable or work impossible to get. The numbers are an essential part of the story but they are also just the start of the story.

 

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Who is Jeremy Corbyn?


It’s odd but this piece by Andrew Sullivan on Jeremy Corbyn, Face of the New New Left does a better job of explaining the current head of Labour in the U.K. than many other pieces I’ve read. Knowing Sullivan, you may be skeptical, but there is plenty of objective detail here.

Corbyn’s time is coming. Read this to better understand him.

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Why does this not surprise me? Jacobin Accused of Reneging on Wage Deal

The owner of left-wing magazine Jacobin stiffs his workers for his play to take over other property.

In his bid to take over the historic British left-wing magazine, The Tribune, Jacobin publisher Bhaskar Sunkara is being accused of reneging on wage deal by employees of the paper, who kept the publication alive during struggling times. Tribune was once the home of such greats as George Orwell and has since become the leading publication associated with the influential Momentum faction within the Labor Party.

For the details, see this: Jacobin Accused of Reneging on Wage Deal in British Takeover of Tribune Magazine – Payday Report

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Do you know someone who wants to learn how to code? (Maybe it is you!)

Then this is a good page for them to go to: How I Learned How To Code Using Free Resources | Home | Bri Limitless. 

There’s plenty of good links to information, and they are all free. I can vouch for a number of them, such as Codecademy and Coursera.

One problem people run into is: why should I learn to code? One obvious answer is to learn a set of skills to help them gain employment. Two other reasons I have:

  1. build a website to promote yourself or any future business you might have.
  2. automate things you do on your computer

For #1, being able to build a website is a great way to promote yourself and show yourself to the world. As for #2, that’s the main reason I still keep coding. There’s lots of information I want to process, personally and professionally, and coding is the best way to do that.

Regardless of your reason, if you want to learn to code, check out Bri Limitless’s web page.

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How to grow gardens in the desert? Jordan has an answer


How to grow gardens in the desert? If you are the country Jordan, you use a combination of salt water and sunshine. Lots of both. To see how this engineering miracle occurs, see: BBC – Future – How to use seawater to grow food – in the desert.

It’s a great story, well told. Here’s to it scaling up in the future.

Some thoughts on insurance companies and the use of wearable technology

When it comes to insurance and wearables, I think the effect of these devices will be limited. I think this because:

  1. I don’t believe people are consistent about using wearables. I have been using wearables and fitbits for some time. I believe most people are prone to not wearing them constantly. Inconsistent use will make it harder for insurers to guarantee you a  better rate or for you to achieve one.
  2. You are more likely to wear it and use it when you are trying to keep in shape. If you are not, you will likely not wear it. The insurer can’t know if you are getting out of shape or just no longer wearing it. (I used to use a Nike+ device for running, and I ran consistently, but I did not use the device consistently. Many days and weeks I just didn’t feel like it.) The use of wearables is mostly an upside for you, and of limited value to the insurer.
  3. One reason I gave up on using wearables consistently is that they don’t give you much new information. I walk and exercise consistently and so they often give me the same information consistently. Which means I tend to not wear them often. I don’t need the fitbit to tell me I walked 10,000 steps. I know I did because my commute to and from work plus my lunchtime walk consistently gives me that.
  4. My fitbit scale is great for tracking my weight over time, but an insurer could also just ask me my weight, height and waistline and get a sense of my eligibility for insurance, just like how they ask if I smoke. A very low tech way to measure things. Men with a waist over 40 inches are more prone to heart disease then men with much smaller waists, regardless of what a high tech scale says. A insurer needs a limited number of data points to assess your health risks.
  5. I believe there is limited return for insurers to get this much data. I base this on my current life insurer. I can get life insurance from 1-6X my salary (assuming I pay the corresponding rise in premiums) without providing medical data. They only ask for medical data if I ask for more than 6X. It likely isn’t of benefit for them to process the data for lower amounts, so they proceed without it.
  6. Insurers are data driven, for sure, but I think they are good at picking out a limited number of good numbers to determine what to charge you for insurance. I don’t think the numbers coming back from wearable tech is all that good.

So in short, I don’t believe people or insurers will get much benefit from wearable tech. People will not get breaks on their insurance, and insurers will not be able to reduce their risk substantially with the use of wearables.

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MindMup 2: a good web based mindmapping too

I’m a fan of mindmapping tools in general. One I’ve been using and enjoying lately is MindMup 2. 

Two things I like about it:

  1. It’s simple to modify your mindmaps on the go. You don’t need to do much to add or modify your map.
  2. It’s also simple to export your mindmap into a number of different formats. If you occasionally use mindmaps or you want to start with a mindmap to generate ideas but then you want to do the majority of the work in Word or some other tool, this is a good feature.

Mindmup_2 is a good tool. Go map your thoughts.