While the BLS website makes mention of the possibility that hedonic quality adjustments occasionally go the other way, i.e. quality has declined, it’s clear this almost never happens. “Innovations” are always improvements.
I propose we start tracking anhedonic quality adjustments, i.e. significant declines in quality, durability, utility and the pleasure derived from the product or service. (Anhedonia: inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable.)
American Kakistocracy (blackeagle)
Awful as the grifterish mentality and behavior may be, worse is the other part of kakistocracy—inept, corrupt, and disruptive governance. Impulsive, stream-of-consciousness communications from the president by tweet are one thing. Examples like a budget that aims to knock out our weather satellites and cut our ability to respond to a pandemic, along with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) removing from its website information about the disastrous conditions in Puerto Rico while pumping up the good news, are another.
The advertising agency Warda Network, who was at the McShark opening, wrote on its Facebook page. “Today we were at the McShark store opening and our shark mascot received a fine from the Vienna police because of the new ban on face-coverings. Life is not easy.” Elsewhere in the Austrian capital, a cyclist was said to have been arrested and fined for wearing a scarf over her face, according to local media.
“The decision shows the extent to which the authorities did not want the operations that were going on in Turkey’s southeast to be reported on,” Albayrak said in a statement. Dow Jones, which publishes the Wall Street Journal, said an appeal was already in the works.
Turkey jails more journalists than any country in the world, according to the CPJ and Amnesty International.
The Coming Software Apocalypse (blackeagle)
It’s been said that software is “eating the world.” More and more, critical systems that were once controlled mechanically, or by people, are coming to depend on code. This was perhaps never clearer than in the summer of 2015, when on a single day, United Airlines grounded its fleet because of a problem with its departure-management system; trading was suspended on the New York Stock Exchange after an upgrade; the front page of The Wall Street Journal’s website crashed; and Seattle’s 911 system went down again, this time because a different router failed. The simultaneous failure of so many software systems smelled at first of a coordinated cyberattack. Almost more frightening was the realization, late in the day, that it was just a coincidence.
Hotel California and the Federal Reserve (GE Christenson)
In the financial world, where actions eventually have consequences, debt is growing explosively, fiat currencies are continually devalued and currencies are issued by insolvent central banks and insolvent governments.
Many young girls are expected to work rather than go to school. And many marry young, ending any chance of an education.
UN figures indicate girls are more than twice as likely to lose out on education in conflict zones.
The postal service reasons the experimentation is less risky on rural routes, which have less traffic and fewer pedestrians and cyclists, “and are therefore more forgiving of an imperfect AV model.” It’s exactly the reason vehicle tech developers like Tesla and Cadillac have released semiautonomous features for highway-only driving. With wide, open, well-marked roads, it’s a much less complicated environment for a robot to navigate.
There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called “continuous partial attention”, severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ. One recent study showed that the mere presence of smartphones damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off. “Everyone is distracted,” Rosenstein says. “All of the time.”
New Iran Sanctions Could Send Oil Prices Higher (Michael K.)
FGE’s president is also part of the group of industry experts who think that oil prices may never return to $100, and expects prices in the long term to remain not much higher than $70 per barrel.
“You can’t have a balanced market at $100, when every single project will happen. We therefore have to get used to long-term prices not much above $60 or $70,” said Brown, who sees peak demand around 2030 due to the rise of EVs and improved fuel efficiency.
Even FEMA’s newer maps are likely to fall short as an accurate indicator of flood risk because they don’t account for rapid rain accumulation, how buildings are constructed, climate change or expected population growth, among other things.
“Until they do that, these maps will always be obsolete the day they come out,” said Larry Larson, senior policy adviser and director emeritus for the Association of State Floodplain Managers, a professional organization focused on reducing losses from flood damage.
Gold & Silver
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