Wednesday, May 5, 2010


The Awl has been all over the Ciudad Juarez story.

Claire McCaskill doing some good: organizing Senators to end secret holds. She’s got 51 committed.

Republicans have an interesting proposal on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that would essentially end them. I’m not sure I disagree with it, and I’d certainly like more detail, but the proposal isn’t necessarily incredibly goofy. Good job Republicans!

Any and all bank taxes appear to be scotched. Excellent. Nothing like not reforming Wall Street while claiming to reform it.

Fraud and the financial crisis.

Foreign Policy has a couple of China hits: the man who’s building a castle in China (a literal, European-style castle) and another advising us not to believe the Shang-hype, which isn’t a great portmanteau.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has a great essay on ignorance. Read it.

The New York Times has a well-reported article on the rise of superweeds, weeds that are resistant to Roundup or other pesticides. Seems to me that’s a fairly common problem—see for instance the superbacteria resistant to antibiotics. Anyway, The Big Money adds some nice grace notes to the article worth considering.

A scary graph in this post calling for a first-world debt conference in the future.

The new Bloomberg Business Week has an interesting article considering immigration (of the low-wage variety) from the business perspective:
…increasing legal immigration can't be the whole answer. The other—less familiar—solution is to reorganize the American workplace to diminish the number of jobs that require low skills and hence command low pay. That would pull in more Americans who have drifted away from gainful employment. Sound far-fetched? In other developed nations, nannies, sales clerks, and waiters are well-trained and earn living wages. A study of labor conditions in six wealthy nations by the Russell Sage Foundation found that the U.S. had the highest share of low-paying jobs, defined as work that paid less than two-thirds of the median wage. The U.S. share was 25%, followed by Germany at 23%, the U.K. at 22%, the Netherlands at 18%, France at 11%, and Denmark at just 9%.

If you, like me, were shocked by Google’s sudden change in interface today (and even randomly did a few searches to make sure it wasn’t a temporary bug), this Bloomberg Business Week article looking into the process Google took to redesign its search. Here’s kind of a tangential paragraph with a throwaway line that’s actually very important:
Some experts are skeptical of introducing complexity to the results pages. "Advanced search almost never works," says Jakob Nielsen, principal of the Norman Nielsen Group and co-author of the book Eyetracking Web Usability. "People don't want to use a search engine. They want to get away from a search engine. That's the reason the advertising works so well—the search engine is one site they want to get away from so they might go to an advertiser." In other words, Google has thrived precisely because it hasn't tried to envelop its users in a full-frills experience.
Does anything sum up the problem for old media so greatly? Google wants you to use the advertisements; old media doesn’t care. Google wants you to leave quickly; old media wants you to linger over its words. And, of course, the cruelest of all: Google makes money; old media does not.

The question we were all asking ourselves: which way to get high is greenest? The answer to which one is greenest is the one that’s green, bud. (God, I just wanted that pun. It’s good, right? RIGHT?)

Are venture capitalists too lazy because they won’t go to Ohio to invest? Is cleantech becoming too corporate and not entrepreneurial enough? And a new prize from the U.S. government to encourage innovation.

The Fed’s selling much of its $2.3 trillion asset sheet. How bad will this be?

A great point from the Wall Street Journal on the DaVinci surgical machine, which leads to a lot of bad side effects if used by inexperienced users (the point is more general than just that machine):
A 14-minute video on the [DaVinci] company's website features testimonials from surgeons and hospital administrators. A key message: The robot has been good for business. One cardiac surgeon in the video says at least 70 of his 250 annual cases are new patients who wouldn't have been referred to him if not for the robot.
One of the underrated problems with the health care system is you and me: when it comes down to it, we might not know much about health care, but we do know that we want the fanciest machine possible. Because newer is always better, right?

Layoffs: more costly than you’d think.

Republican's use of supply-side economics the National Review?!?

How one restaurant is rethinking its payment structure: you buy tickets to eat (inclusive of service), whose prices are adjusted for time and day. Really interesting to think about.

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